James flicked off his specs and held them limply in one hand while he used his other’s knuckles to knead against the bridge of his nose. He wasn’t even having too bad of a headache. Years before he’d picked up the affectation of removing his glasses for emphasis, and he’d never quite been able to shake it. It was for a part in a TV program that he’d thought would last. It didn’t. Story of his career, really.
James threw what remained in his highball back into his throat, then realized he couldn’t remember exactly how many that had been. Glancing around the room, he worried about the judgment of – well, no, there was nobody looking. No celebrities, no photographers, not even a lonely widow looking for some excitement. No one was paying attention to the man at the end of the bar in a suit that was once expensive and glasses that served no purpose other than gesticulation.
James had been a star once, though. There was a time that everyone in this very bar would have been clamoring for his attention. It was the heyday of the silver screen, too, not the slapped together pictures they were putting out now. Real glamour and romance was played at cinemas across the world, and he was on every one of them. He was a James in a sea of Jameses, but even so, he managed to make his mark.
James wasn’t the handsomest, or the funniest, or the best singer, but he could do one thing really well: hysterics. No one could scream or swing their arms or bawl their eyes out like James. They may talk about that “Stella” scene now, but that East Coast hack took every cue from him.
James remembered a time when people remembered that, too. One time, believe it or not, one of the other Jameses – the one from the horror pictures – asked for an autograph for his niece.
James saw a woman approach, saying, “Excuse me, but are you–” Before she could even finish, he said, “Why, yes. I am.” She looked disappointed, then continued down the bar, asking another man if he was saving an empty seat.