It was cold in the building. Maybe ghosts made Oliver shiver. Maybe fear.
An actor's a strange commodity. His most special offering?
His past. Oliver knew it. He also knew he was perfect for this.
The scenes he'd been given involved the fragmented relationship between Father and Son. Attempts at reconciliation. Peace treaties failed. Father and Son too different.
Father grew up in a rough neighbourhood.
Most shootings per capita in the country. Son had grown up upper middle class because Father had married a young woman with rich parents.
He liked her and loved her. Until he met someone he liked and loved more.
Father left when Son was five. Son didn't see him again till Son was sixteen.
Oliver gazed wide-eyed as he'd read the scenes.
Someone had moulded a play from his experiences.
That close in resemblance. That uncanny.
Oliver shivered again, gripping tight to the pages containing the simulacrum.
He knew the lines well. He knew how to approach the test before him. He also knew that if necessary a spanner could be thrown in the works. By himself or the director or writer. Anything could happen. This was fine too.
"Oliver? They'll see you now."
The assistant was young and pretty and smelled good.
Oliver smiled, growing more in confidence as she smiled back, more in power as she blushed.
He was a fine-looking twenty-five year old. Straw blonde Robert Redford hair, a jawline capable of cutting glass, and a physique just short of professional footballer.
He stepped into the room, aware of a sense of ownership. Entitlement. (This was made for him, after all).
For the first time in an audition he felt nothing could go wrong. His only doubt was wondering if that was healthy.
"Mr Keane, how are you? Please have a seat."
"Thanks, I'm well. How are you all?"
Nods and half-mutterings. It was five. He was probably the last in a long line.
The judging panel sat behind a long desk. Six, each with their own say, with their own idea of who was right for the part.
The director gave Oliver a tired smile.
He was a bearded man in his fifties. Debonair; a theatre director.
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Oliver reacted — the spanner!
"You're ... you're asking me that?"
"Asking everything I should've asked when I had a chance, son."
"You have nerve to feed me that. I got questions. I gotta know. Like why you ran. Some foreign belle clicks her heels, you go running?"
"Wasn't like that. I fell, fell in love."
"Where's she now?"
"See. Questions are mine. Try answer the ones ya can. 'What do you wanna be when YOU grow up?' I can fling that one at you too, Daddeo."
"Well, I'm looking at taking an art course. I've always liked drawing."
"That a question too?"
"I'm not alone in hating you. You middle fingered this town when you left. Friends of yours I've met over the years...they said you've nothing going.
"No love. No loyalty. You fly with the wind. And you know what, Daddeo? Know what the worst part of that is? I'm so worried I'll be the same...
"...Meet a special girl. Makes me matter.
"Exist as a man in this world. Fall in love. Settle down. Have kids...
"Then... I'll have an itch. Wind'll come along and pick me up. Carry me someplace.
"Where life is just...
"Sun beats. Woman makes me, king... King betrayed everyone.
"That's my problem."
The writer looked at Oliver knowingly, mouth twitching a little. Oliver knew that look, he was trying not to give too much away.
"OK Oliver, we'll do the next scene now. It's after they've made up...They find, well Oliver finds, that even though they're formally reconciled, there is a gap, more of a canyon between...
"They don't speak the same language because their experiences, their upbringing has been so polarly opposite.
"Takes place in a pub. A football match plays in the b.g.... em, so, yes, lets...try it out.
"I'm seeing this lovely girl."
"When can I meet her — what's her name?"
"Aw, would you look at that, bleedin' weak defence. You have to get tight on him or he'll only skin ya..."
"You should learn that and play it for her."
"The song! Alice."
"Don't know it."
"You don't know that bleedin' song! Has your mother given ya any culture?"
The director chimed in here – ("song begins to play quietly in the b.g") –
"It's a haunter."
"I'll give it a listen."
Something began to happen then.
Into a hole of sound, image, and fury.
Obscure memory struck, like a knife in the ribs. Long-lost treasure plagued him.
Playing with toy cars on the stairs, shouting and slamming and screaming and planning, and moving-outing, and hating now not loving, always forever vowing.
And gardens and roses and summer and Christmas.
He slowly found himself whispering, almost mutely...
"Where'd you go, Daddeo?"
And the song, that song, swirled around his head. He didn't just hear it, (but he'd never heard it?), he saw it.
"It's dreamy weather we're on....you waved your crooked wand
I disapear in your name.....Ice on the pond...Spells Alice
Ice in my drink....All I can think of is Alice
How does the ocean rock the boat, how did the razor find my throat?"
Oliver looked up.
The director stared down at him.
"Are you in love?"
Oliver nodded, slowly.
"Be careful...that's my only advice."
Oliver whipped his coat off the chair and darted towards the door. Masking his face, he managed to conceal most of the tears.