Shortly after Laine drove off, taking my hopes and dreams with her, I landed a new role. No, not a role in a TV show or commercial. This time, I was starring in my very own daytime drama. I call it “Sawyer Fangley: World’s Biggest Moron.”
I went back to the bar where Laine had graced us with her super-famous presence, and downed my second scotch. Hasna, the cute girl I’d been chatting up just moments before, slid onto the stool beside mine. She was sipping a Paloma, and staring at me through large eyes the color of raw honey.
We picked up where we left off. Then she invited me back to her apartment building to “try out the new jacuzzi they just installed.”
I thought at the time that this was just code talk for have sex. You know, let’s watch Netflix and chill. Or, let’s go back to my place and have a nightcap. (Do people actually use the word, nightcap?). But it turned out that she actually meant a real jacuzzi. So that’s what we did. We spent a while soaking in the hot bubbles, flirting and making out.
“You want to come up to my place?” she finally asked, when we were both breathless and drunk on pleasure. Giggling and dripping with water from the jacuzzi, we hurried to her apartment, where we shared the most amazing night of my life together in her bed. Words couldn’t do it justice.
At four in the morning, she shook me awake and rushed me to get dressed and head home. “I have to be at work early,” she explained. So I left. After that, we began to meet on a regular basis — often very late at night, at various bars. We always ended up together in her bed, and I always ended up slipping out before sunrise. I wished we could have stayed wrapped in each other’s arms all night. I could have cooked her some French toast and coffee, and we could enjoy a lazy morning together. But she insisted that it had to be this way, and I didn’t question it.
After one passion-filled night, I woke and realized that something was different. The rays of early morning sunlight were beginning to creep into Hasna’s bedroom. She was still asleep beside me, snoring gently like a purring kitten. I lifted my hand, about to stroke her smooth, bare back with my fingertips, when I heard a sound that made me freeze.
A key, turning in the front door lock.
Just down the hall from where we lay, someone entered Hasna’s apartment. Someone’s footsteps were heading our way. I rocketed out of bed and looked around the room in a panic. Where had I dropped my clothes? Too late, I remembered that I had left them in a heap on the floor next to the dining table, after a meal neither of us would ever forget.
The bedroom door flew open, and there stood a man. The expression of shock on his face must have matched my own. His eyes flicked from me to Hasna’s sleeping form still curled in the bed. His shock gave way to dismay, then anger.
“What are you doing here with my wife?” he demanded.
I nearly choked. “Your what?” It was like someone had adjusted the camera, and everything in the background came into sharp focus. Hasna and I had only been meeting at night. She often did not even respond to the text messages I sent during the day. She pushed me out of her apartment before the sun rose. Before her husband could return from his night job. There were other clues, probably, that I had refused to see, too blinded by the heat and desire of the moment.
“Oh god. I-I’m so sorry,” I stammered, backing out of the room. I raced down the hallway, scooped up my clothes, and got out of there. I could get dressed in the elevator. I didn’t intend to stick around to watch the rest of this episode.
Dim the lights, fade to black, roll the credits.
The Other Man. That was the worst role I’d ever had to play in my life. After that, I began to get focused. Like, really focused on my acting career. Forget all of these pointless distractions, like my obsession with Laine, or affairs with beautiful women. From now on, the only flirting I did was on the set, while practicing for upcoming scenes.
I worked harder than ever at the gym, and spent my free time watching movies in order to study the other actor’s methods.
It was no longer enough for me to break into show business just to catch Laine Starr’s attention. She’d made it clear that I was just another nobody. A scrub. An extra. But I was more than that. The time had come for me to be taken seriously for my art. The time had come for Sawyer Fangley to shine.