Cameras flash like rapid fire as you walk down the red carpet. You revel in the attention. You’ve become so accustomed to the bright lights that you stopped blinking decades ago. Fans clamor for attention and beg for an autograph. Photographers shout. You oblige them and stop, striking a pose and flashing your award-winning smile. As a seasoned Hollywood veteran, you possess more poise and grace than any of the ‘up and comers’ you’ve been forced to work with. Why, you’d act circles around them, and have. Your body of work has received a Cecil B. Demille award, for fuck's sake. You laugh at the idea of any of these fools landing such a prestigious honor. You stand still, waiting for the photographer to thank you for the picture. You wait. And you wait. Your lips quiver. You’re struggling to hold the pose.
“You’re blocking the shot!” the photographer shouts and waves you away with a sweep of his hand.
The pit of your stomach boils as you look over your shoulder at the latest crop of tinsel town’s "flavor of the week," and are disgusted by the way the industry has lost its sense of credibility and allows anyone these days to step in front of a camera. All that’s required is a young face, tight ass, and rippling muscles.
You complete your walk down the aisle and take one last glance back out at the crowd. Not one called your name or asked for your autograph.
“Everything okay?” your assistant asks.
You sigh and nod. You’re not about to tell anyone you suddenly feel like a relic.
“Shall we?” The assistant points to the theatre where your latest movie is premiering.
You smile weakly and vow to get through this and on to the after party. Yes. That’s it—the after party. That will take your mind off things. Besides, after parties are nothing without you.
You suffer through the feature. The credits roll and you leap from your seat, appalled by the horrendous acting of your fellow co-stars and that fuck-wit director you didn’t want to work with in the first place. Your heart races and you run up the hall, busting through the doors. Photographers snap to attention and raise their cameras, but quickly lower them when they realize it’s just you, and not the fresh-faced couple Traywen Amber and Drevor Stone.
“Traywen and Drevor,” you say, and chuckle beneath your breath. “Who the hell names their kids Traywen and Drevor?”
The photographers return to their conversation and are no longer paying you an ounce of attention. With all the poise and grace of the Hollywood icon that you are, you offer the group your middle finger and walk to your waiting limousine. Your driver jumps from the car and reaches for the door, but you wave him off.
“Don’t worry,” you say. “I can handle it. Just take me to The Venue.”
Your driver nods and slips back into the car. Immediately, you raise the divider. You’re in no mood to be patronized by your chauffer tonight. You pull down the vanity mirror and inspect your face, scrutinizing every fine line, freckle, and even your hair.
You hiss at your reflection and shove the mirror back in place, hoping it shattered into pieces so you wouldn’t feel tempted to continue over-analyzing nonexistent wrinkles.
The driver slows to a stop next to the curb. You look out your window at the long line of waiting photographers. Your door opens to flashing cameras and you step out, smiling and waving.
“Hey! This way!” a voice calls from the crowd.
You happily turn toward the voice and smile wider.
“How does it feel to be a has-been?” The photographer lowers his camera and laughs.
The smile on your face melts into a scowl. Cameras flash like lightning. You consider approaching the photographer and giving him a black eye or at the very least a swift kick in the nuts, but you think better of it and walk on.
Despite the bile backing up in your throat, you greet the doorman with a smile. He returns the gesture, but holds out his hand, blocking your entrance.
“Is there a problem?” you ask.
“I’m sorry, but you’re not on the list,” the doorman says, apologetically.
You laugh at the absurdity. “That’s not possible. How could I not be on the list?”
The doorman shifts nervously. “I know. I’m sorry, but you’re not. Here—look for yourself.”
You snatch the guest list from his hands and scan the names. It’s true. You’re not on the list and you’re outraged, but remain calm. “An oversight, I’m sure.” You hand the list back to the doorman.
“Of course,” he says. “What else could it be?”
You stare at the doorman. “Well…are you going to let me in?”
He shrugs his shoulders. “Sorry. Can’t.”
You slap the bottom of the doorman’s clipboard. It flies from his hands and you simply walk away, making sure you leave your footprint on the paper.
You plod back down the aisle, taking a walk of shame through the amused photographers who greedily snap your picture. You imagine the cover of next month’s supermarket tabloid. You’re picture splashed across the front and over your face, the caption reads: FROM HOLLYWOOD HERO TO HOLLYWOOD ZERO.
You’re not ready to call it quits. You still have so much to offer, but you’ve been backed into a corner. You jump back into your limo and slam the door. With trembling hands you pull out your cell phone and dial the numbers you swore you’d never dial.
The phone on the other end rings. Deep down you hope there’s no answer. You swallow hard.
“Dr. Skin’s office,” the perky receptionist answers.
You open your mouth to find you’ve lost the ability to form words and quickly close it.
“Don’t worry,” the receptionist says. “Dr. Skin’s been waiting on your call. He’s ready for you.”
A. Vow to save your career, take the appointment and go under the knife?
B. Accept you’re getting older and decide to age gracefully?
C. Go home and eat gallon after gallon of ice cream?