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by Wanderer
Wanderer -- all rights reserved

I listened patiently as Phil explained the whole, sordid mess with the old actress. "Phil", I said at last, my puzzlement and my British accent both showing through clearly, "that's all very well and good ... but what do you expect me to do about it?"

"Well", he responded after a moment, "I was hoping you might have some insights. Like you did with Bix."

I sighed, leaning back against the booth wall as I picked at my salad. Ordinarily, we two would be speaking within the confines of the Blind Pig Gin Mill. But, due to the rather 'sensitive' nature of the conversation, Phil, having a more reliable source of income than an actor like myself, had withdrawn the two of us to a simple vegetarian restaurant some miles away. It was by no means a perfect solution, of course. But at least it made the likelihood of my becoming known as Phil's 'narc' somewhat less.

My only significant complaint was what the lettuce was going to do to my insides. I stifled a belch before I spoke. "The difference, O wondrous one, is that your esteemed client is not, properly speaking, an actress."

"I ... don't understand."

I refrained from answering for a time, composing my words even as I washed down another French-dressing-soaked wad of roughage with enough water to keep the threatened cramp in my abdomen from becoming anything more threatening than advanced nausea. The things I go through to keep friends ... and audiences, too, of course ...

"Phil", I replied at last, stifling another belch, "look at my glass." I held up the cylinder of clear plastic, slightly scratched from the not- so-tender attentions of my teeth. "What do you see when you look into it?"

"Water", he answered honestly, having clearly decided that an explanation was worth putting up with my long-winded delivery.

"Correct", I said, my accent veering toward Oxford for the ensuing lecture. "Now look at your glass." Phil's accompanying cylinder was rather yellow, the prosperity of vegetarian restaurants having denied it a replacement anytime in the recent past. "What do you see?"

"Water." He sent me a long look, as if to say, Your point?

I sighed once more. "But what color is it?"

"Well, it looks yellow, but ... " He broke off as I raised a paw.

"This", I lectured, taking my glass in my hand, "is an actor. Whatever part may fill it, the reproduction will be as true as it can. True, a brandy snifter or a champagne flute may be better suited to certain parts, but this actor will serve for almost any function."

"Your glass", I nodded to my companion, "is a star. Every part that fills it must be calculated to fit the particular cast of its function. Lemonade would suit, being yellow, and possibly tea. Water serves nicely. But most of the darker fluids would suffer from the adjustment."

"A star", I summed up, "is a person who can play one specific role, and play it well. John Wayne, by example, was a star. He could play cowboys, fighting Irishmen, et cetera. But you never once forgot that he was John Wayne. And whenever he was cast against type ..." My lips briefly struggled with the idea of puckering before giving it up as a bad go. "Then you wind up with such debacles as 'The Conqueror', or 'The Cloak'."

Phil looked back across the table at me, puzzled. "The titles aren't too familiar."

"I'm not surprised", I rejoined with a wry twist to my smile. "The second cast him as a Roman Centurion. The first had him playing Genghis Khan." He visibly winced. "You probably forgot them in self-defense."

"Probably", he agreed, and went silent for a few minutes while I struggled with my salad. "So", he said at last, "should I just give up on her?"

I briefly toyed with the idea of an amazed rejoinder about The Great Phil Geusz giving up ... and dismissed it. The inevitable jokes aside, I'm rather fond of the rabbit, and I could easily see that it was a bad time to use that particular angle.

"Well", I told him, "you'll probably want to give up on the acting angle, certainly ... most stars' careers died after their One Big Role was over, anyway. Garland as Dorothy, Nichols as Uhura ... "

I trailed off, as he was no longer listening to me. Something had clearly grabbed him by those long ears, and was whispering in them urgently.

"Thanks, Wanderer", he said at last. "I think I understand a bit better now. See you at the Pig?"

I nodded, and watched him lollop out of the restaurant. As soon as he was out of sight, I put my fork down, pushed my plate as far away as it would go, and shuddered. Carnivores should never eat large amounts of roughage. A pained expression across my muzzle, I made for the restroom ...

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