Charlie Banks Comeuppance

Written in response to: Start your story with a character saying “I can see it now.”... view prompt


American Contemporary Fiction

Charlie Banks Comeuppance—George Davis

  “I can see it now,” Charlie Banks said, looking at the bright sun rising over Hobart Mountain in the small town of Bickford, Maine. My star will rise. Oh, I know it’s only an amateur play, but it will be the beginning of a new career. I just feel it in my bones. Charlie dropped into the Wayfarer Diner for breakfast. His friend, Slim Adams was eating scrambled eggs and toast. He invited Charlie to sit with him.

  “Charlie, we start rehearsals tonight,” Slim Adams passed Charlie a copy of the script.

  “Okay, Slim, I’ll be there.”

  “We are starting at six sharp, Charlie, at the theater.” The two left the diner, each going in different directions. 

  The Star Theater was downtown, a converted movie playhouse. The auditions over, Charlie snagging the lead, the performance of a play by Bickford’s own Nelson Crowe, titled, ‘The Fringe.’ It is a musical story of a young boy and his love of country living. 

  “Okay, take a seat,” Adams waved the script in the air. “By now,” Adams said. “I assume you have all read the script, but if you haven’t let’s go over it now. We need to get busy; opening night is only three weeks away.” 

  Nine-thirty and the cast have been directed to their places on stage, and each read their part as their scene appeared. 

  “Slim,” Charlie asked. “I am not in every scene. Why? After all, my part is the most important role in this play.”

  “Charlie, while I agree your part is very important. Each part is essential to make this effort work.”

  “Let me make it perfectly clear, Slim. I am the star here. If this works for me, I will be Hollywood bound.”

  “I think your aspirations are a little high, Charlie. You are a grocery clerk in Harry Smart’s store. You barely graduated from Bickford High with a C average. Come on, Charlie, come down to earth, realize this is a small community play to benefit the Oakland Street Orphanage.”

  “That’s what you think. I am Hollywood bound, Slim, my friend, and nothing is going to stop me.”? After all, my part is the most important role in this play.”

  “Charlie, while I agree your part is very important. Each part is essential to make this effort work.”

  “Let me make it perfectly clear, Slim. I am the star here. If this works for me, I will be Hollywood bound.”

“Okay, Charlie,” Slim snickered. “In the meantime, we’ve got a play to perform, and may I remind you. We have only two and a half weeks to opening night?”

  The cast assembled, scripts in hand the amateur thespians sauntered onto the stage, each one taking his or her designated place.

  “Okay,” Slim shouted, “act one, scene one. Henry O'Toole is sitting in his living room reading the morning newspaper. That’s you, Charlie. Take your place, and begin the dialogue. Charlie, sure he had every line down pat, sat in the dark-brown recliner. “Where’s the newspaper, Slim? I want you to fire the prop man. I can’t work under these conditions.” 

  “Charlie, this is an amateur community play here, not a huge Broadway production. Jim is doing the best he can. You know he has very little time to spend with us. His dental practice suffers when he is away from his office. Be kind, and try to be more patient,” Slim shouted. 

  “I can’t work like this. I need to know everyone has their lines memorized by curtain time, and I want to make sure the props are in place, or I shall be mortified.” Slim couldn’t tell Charlie how he really felt. “Everything will be ready opening night, Charlie. I guarantee it.” 

  “I certainly hope so, Slim. My career depends on this show coming off without a hitch, and I mean hitch.” Slim was tired of Charlie’s attitude, but he had no chance to replace him with the few short days ’til opening night.

  “Well, folks,” Slim said. “It’s show time. Break a leg all of you.” Nelson Crowe sat front row center, a huge smile on his face. He had spent months writing this play, and was eager to see it come to life.

  “First,” Slim said. “Let me congratulate all of you for your fine performances tonight. You all were perfect.”

  “All but Sadie Groves. She fouled her lines, and made me temporarily lose my mojo.” 

  “The audience forgave her, Charlie. After all, Mary cued her, and she acted like a true trouper.” 

  “I shall never be a part of your local talent show again. I am far above this…hick production.” 

  “I’m sorry you feel that way, Charlie,” Slim said, all the time his fingers crossed behind his back. 

  Well, Charlie went west to Hollywood as he had vowed. The first two years he spent working as a bus boy in a pizza parlor. After forty-one auditions, he landed a small part in a commercial for ice cream. He was dressed as a cone. His role was silent, no voice-over. He was paid scale which was far from enough to carry him more than a month. 

  Returning home much more humble than his exit. He got his old job back at Harvey Smart’s grocery store. While he was gone, Sidney Stone was promoted to the assistant manager, a job Charlie had coveted earlier. 

  “Hey, Charlie, how you doing?” Charlie said, “it’s good to see you again.”

  “Hello, Slim. I’m fine…I guess.”

  “What’s the matter, Charlie?”

  “I’ve got egg on my face. I was such a fool to think I was that important. I learned a lot in Hollywood.”

  “Well, Charlie, life is a learning process, and I’m glad you decided to come home.”

  “I am truly sorry, Slim. I hope I can make it up to you.”

  “You can, Charlie. I’m casting a play for the community. It’s Charlie’s Aunt. Are you interested?”

  “I sure am, Slim. I’ll take any part you want to give me.”

  “I’d like you to take the lead, Charlie. You are a good actor, and I know the rest of the crew will be happy to see and work with you.”

  If I have learned anything at all, it’s; 

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

June 29, 2022 14:20

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.