The Old Boys
A few months ago I did an occasional series of short pieces featuring legends who have somehow slipped into an alternative universe. Good fun to write, and I’ll knock out a few more in 2012. Here’s the first: Bob and Al in Working Blues…
The lights were low, the air heavy with the scent of incense. Smoke appeared like mist in the haze of the lamps. Pacino stretched his neck, heard the cartilage crack. ‘You really need that shit burning?’ he grumbled.
‘Yeah, I do. It helps me get in the zone, and I don’t see it disturbing you.’
‘You used to get in the zone with a pint of scotch. What the fuck happened to you, Bob?’ Pacino winced as he tweezed another hair from his nostril. ‘In fact, what the fuck happened to both of us?’
De Niro shrugged, stared at his aging profile lit by the bulbs around the greasy mirror, could just about remember how good he used to look. ‘A new breed came along my friend. Young and easy, without all the drugs and the baggage. Without the status of legends.’
‘Yeah? Well I liked being a legend,’ Pacino said. ‘What I don’t like is plucking hairs, sniffing your hippy sticks and sitting here in my own sweat.’ He sighed and rubbed a hand across his tired eyes. ‘You heard back from Marty lately?’
‘I leave messages, but he doesn’t return my calls,’ De Niro replied, unable to keep the disappointment from his voice. ‘Too interested in that kid DiCaprio these days.’
‘Fucking loser. I’ve seen no talent in that pretty little shit. And as for Scorcese, what the hell has he done recently? I saw Shutter Island, and it was no Goodfellas, let me tell ya.’
De Niro span around on his stool, the heavy woollen leggings he wore crackling with static. ‘Maybe not. But it wasn’t Rocky And Bullwinkle. And correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you grace the screen in Gigli?’
‘Oh, fuck you.’
‘Al, let’s face it, we took some wrong turns, made some bad choices. At least we’re still working.’
Pacino didn’t answer, just ran black panstick around his eyes and struggled his skinny frame into the thick brown vest that matched the leggings worn by his friend. Both of them stood together, and Pacino scooped up the horse head that lay in the corner, it’s empty eye sockets mocking him. In a few moments he knew his own manic stare would be filling those dark holes. He looked at De Niro for a moment, and in unison they picked up the .45’s from the dresser. There was nothing more to say, only actions to be taken.
A knock on the door, and a moment later a young, blonde man pushed his head around the frame. ‘Two minutes and we’re on, Gents,’ he said, his voice high and grating. ‘If we can just-’ He stopped and shook his head. ‘Jesus, how many times do I have to say it. No guns. This is a family pantomime.’
‘Sorry,’ De Niro said, and they both returned the replicas to the dresser. ‘It’s a hard habit to break, y’know. Right, Al?’ Pacino didn’t speak, just kept his eyes toward the floor.
‘Okay, okay,’ said the runner. ‘Just put your bloody hooves on and let’s move.’
Pacino waited until he’d gone and then slipped the horse head over his own, glad that the tears in his eyes were shielded from his colleague. Behind him he felt Bob grab onto his hips, bend over into a ninety-degree angle, and heard his muffled voice telling him to go. At least he had the head tonight, he didn’t think he could handle being the ass, not the way he was feeling. They fumbled their way out of the tiny dressing room and moved up the corridor, hooves beating a slow and sad melody against the tiles as they headed toward the stage…
(c) Rich Wilson - 2011