Tommy stared around his dressing room. After so many years on the circuit the routine had all but lost its magic. Everything was there as normal. The rider of bottled water and chilled melon, the fresh flowers, his sequin cape. But something was missing.
He stared into the large mirror and began to reminisce.
He thought of the glory days, when he first made the big time. Back then, he remembered, the cheer of the crowd was all he needed. There were the parties, the drugs, the sex, friends and acquaintances. But the cries of excitement from his fans, screaming for the encore, calling out his name? Nothing, really nothing could rival that feeling.
All the loneliness in his heart would dissolve as he stepped out onto the stage, blinded by the lights and the attention. So what had changed?
A single tear rolled down his face, guided by the deep scar which ran from his left ear across his cheek, and disappeared as it dropped onto the nest of chest hair poking from his purple waist coat. He closed his eyes and thought of Gloria.
When they were still young, Tommy and Gloria had performed as a double act. ‘Tommy Twinkle and Gloria de Glorious’ posters plastered the toilet walls of gay clubs and sea side resorts. They had it all. Two young starlets, enchanting performers, crowd pleasers, passionate lovers. It had to end of course. Even then, Tommy knew it could never last.
‘Beauty blooms when there’s no more to lose, and wilts like a sculptor who longs for his muse…’
Gloria could never have known at the time, but every song he had ever written was about her. He would shrug off her questions about his lyrics, pretending the lines were inspired by the silent movies she never cared for. Gloria was too young to remember the old classics, and although he was desperate to tell her, he feared his true feelings would corrupt their union. How could he announce to the one he loved that every night, as she slept in his arms, he shuddered with the thought that their love would one day wither and die.
There was a knock on the door.
Startled from his daydream, Tommy opened his eyes and looked round. ‘Tommy?’ It was Pistol Paul, Tommy’s new manager.
‘Just a minute Paul ..’ said Tommy, drying his cheeks and wiping away the smudged mascara. Pistol Paul opened the dressing room door, and realising what was happening walked over and threw an arm around Tommy.
‘Tommy boy, come on..’ he said warmly, ‘not again eh? I know it’s hard Tommy, but you need to forget her. Lousy transvestite never loved anyone but herself. And you’re the star, listen…’ he raised a theatrical arm in the direction of the open door. The crowd were chanting from the ballroom.
‘Tomm-ee! Tomm-ee! Tomm-ee!’
Tommy was silent for a moment, then jumped to his feet, straightened himself and inhaled deeply though his nostrils. ‘Thanks Paul,’ he said throwing on his sequin cape. ‘From now on, it’s for me!’ He smiled bravely and marched out of the dressing room as Pistol Paul held his arms high and beamed with encouragement.
As soon as Tommy left the room Pistol Paul’s arms dropped down to his side and the expression of great enthusiasm disappeared from his face. He sat down in front of the mirror, picked up a cigarette and tapped it on the dressing table, as if deep in thought. As the opening lines of the first song could be heard from the ballroom he lit the cigarette and hummed along to the tune.
For a few minutes he sat silently in front of the mirror and mulled away to himself. The crowd continued to cheer from the ballroom. Pistol Paul put down his cigarette and reached into his back pocket for his wallet. He counted the notes inside, looked up at the mirror and smiled across at his own reflection.