With a bottle of pink hearts gripped firmly in my
right hand, quivering, like I was jerking off and…I
suppose I really am after all.
There must be a hundred of these little heart shaped
pills scored by my flaxen haired roommate from one of
the most “reputable” pharmaceutical firms in Tijuana.
She told me I could take a pill or two whenever I
wanted and since I’ll always be home before she is I’m
not seeing anything particularly wrong with a few
I swallow four, one right after the other, light a
clove cigarette and try to look innocuously through
the window of my innocuous ‘83 Nissan Sentra from my
innocuous parking stall, and into the storefront
window of the Al Phillips Dry Cleaners, only all too
conspicuous in my innocuousness.
She’s at the window. There’s no mistaking the
freckles, the all-American girl next door pony tail.
Kimberly Drummond: convicted of robbing a video store
six months ago. But I fell in love with her years ago;
endless masturbatory sessions in my grandma’s shitter.
It’s not like I don’t have business on this side of
town. My agent on a shoestring got me an audition
down the street forty five minutes from now and I have
uniforms that need to be pressed and creased. It’s not
easy holding down a bohemian lifestyle while passing
for a government employee.
The tell tale heartbeat and adrenal flow begin their
all too familiar buildup from my toenails all the way
up until they hit the top of my teeth which then begin
sliding across the surface of my bottom teeth with a
consistency known by Hell’s Angels and a long standing
ritual engaged in by many a pathetic lonely young man
since the advent of the industrial age.
Am I proud? No. I feel dirty. Would I rather be doing
I hold the uniforms under my left arm, the clove in my
right as I make my way through the front door.
I’d found out she works here at my job, when a Tech
Sergeant said that washed up drug addict actress they
busted last year pressed his uniforms. How to break
“Hey, I’m an actor too.” She doesn’t work the counter
though. I’m stuck with the homely woman who in turn
looks longingly at the slot machines being serviced by
a tech guy on the far side of the waiting room.
I place my order loudly. I want her to notice. Notice
my pungent clove cigarette, which always pisses off
the old Vegas service crowd. She looks right through
me though. My hair is too short. My face is too clean.
I get my suits pressed and creased. She wants a bad
boy. She wants long hair. She wants weed. She wants
blow. How do I tell her?
“Hey, I have weed. Hey, I can get blow from Evil
Knievel. Hey, I’m an actor too. Hey if you quit this
job, join my newly founded theater company and move
into my shared room apartment it’ll help out both of
our careers and you can have the pleasure of knowing
that I am your wonderful savior every time I crawl up
on top of you just to see that crease in your brow.”
Transaction ends. I’m going back to the Sentra. I look
back hoping to find her staring out the window after
me. Too late; she’s at the counter talking to a guy
with a pony tail. Is it…? Goddammit, yes, it’s the
service tech guy. He’s got a pony tail.
Years later of course, I find out what Dana really
wants is something neither myself nor the pony tail
has. Years later I find out she turned down the role
of Regan in The Exorcist and the role of Violet in
Pretty Baby; years later when she overdoses in her
in-law’s bathroom. I still like to think I could have
been all those things to her, a way for opportunity to
translate into, if not happiness, at least a
manageable contentment; a warm body that makes you
laugh & can be counted on to be there.
If only it were that easy.
For now; brain bubbling in a primal cauldron and eyes
exploding, I head to the auditorium at the Summerlin
Public Library for the most prestigious community
theater organization in Las Vegas, which is the
artistic status equivalent of the most prestigious
pantomime troupe in Los Angeles. In front of an
audience of two dozen competitors, a girl younger and
more beautiful than Dana, which is to say less
experienced, melts down completely at the beginning of
her improv assignment and stalks off the stage “I
can’t I can’t I just can’t do this & I guess I’ll see
you guys down at the mall or something.”
I nail my improv. I get the spot in the prestigious
workshop. I know now what I’ll say to Dana. I come
back the next night to pick up my uniforms from the Al
Phillips Cleaners with my rap and my approach down
Dana’s not working that night, something about a hot
date. Heading back to the Sentra it seems to me this
particular dry-cleaning shop does an incredibly lousy
job of pressing and creasing my uniforms and I swear I
will never return to this place for my business again.
I try to convince myself that I am somehow different,
that I am somehow better than the meltdown girl at the
audition sure to be hanging out at the mall I am now
headed towards with a handful of Pink Hearts.
Paul Corman-Roberts toils in a boiler room next
to the edge of a major-interstate highway. "At least
it's job security!" Shoot him if you get a chance. Or
check out his site & stuff at