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K.J.Hannah Greenberg
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Art by K.J. Hannah Greenberg 2018

The One and Only Alexa Kalekar

 

KJ Hannah Greenberg

 

 

Outside of my window ought to have been a canaille. Devotees ought to have been mobbing the police sent to guard my lodge. Drones ought to have been making fly-bys. Those UAVs should have been dropping love notes on my balcony while trying to surreptitiously take my picture. Plus, the press should have been disguising itself as bellhops, as concierges, and as other members of my staff.

It is me, Alexa Kalekar, the cynosure of Hollywood!

I can hear the officers talk into their handhelds and can see them sneaking glances at their screens, whose displays are visible from far away. Otherwise, discounting the random taxis, which pass my hotel without slowing down, the night is quiet.

In hindsight, perchance, I should have stuck to Barnard’s priorities. It might have been better to please him than to follow Lanthe’s instructions. Barnard wanted me to carry on posturing as the industry’s untouchable kilolumen. Contrariwise, Lanthe urged me to reach out to young audiences via Twitter and Instagram. If social media is good enough for the last two Presidents, she remarked, it ought to be good enough for me, an entertainment superstar.

I stare at my fingernails. They have not perceivably lengthened in the half hour that I’ve stood at my window.

Maybe I was misguided in accepting the titular role in that YouTube video. I know that television is regarded as a demotion for movie icons, but Lanthe assured me that, inversely, playing on the portable screen facilitates a luminary.

I’m sure I’m still a sensation. The world will notice that it’s me, not some would-be, selling toilet bowl cleaner.

Even though every impresario with whom I’ve worked, these thirty endless years, insisted that I brand myself by limiting my endorsements to luxury goods, I’m convinced that Lanthe has my best interests at heart. She explained to me that I could make large sums of money by associating with a multinational manufacturer of household products.

On balance, Barnard seems to have forgotten that even the most dazzling champions can become apostates if pushed too much. He should have remembered that it was not my talent that brought me to the silver screen. Rather, it was my smile and the wag of my hips that first caused most of those dear boys and some of those powerful girls to roll over and to hire me. He oughtn’t to have blamed me for wanting further attention and for going about getting it in the way with which I’m most familiar.

I look onto the streetscape again. A truck rumbles by. If Lanthe hadn’t assisted me in refilling my prescriptions, I’d be crying in my pillows. I’d have lost all scintillae of hope. It’s a blessing that she knows enough docs to keep me afloat.

Interestingly, during this protracted amount of time, when my pretty pills, coupled with generous amounts of red wine (white has little taste) smooth my emotional involvement with the video, Barnard is absent from my life. He took a vacation and didn’t leave his forwarding address. My emails bounce back and I’ve been unfriended from his Facebook page.

At the outset, I worried over Barnard’s absence, but Lanthe promises that she’ll continue to be part of my life and that she’ll continue to abet my acquisition of new groupies. She insists that soon I’ll relive my starlet days (I remember that span fondly. Players offered to bed me, to fly me to exotic locations, and to use me as arm candy.)

Tonight, nevertheless, not a single groupie armed with a selfie stick stands on the sidewalk opposite my resort. No paparazzi appear to be hiding in the bushes, either.

I’m baffled. Like Tom Cruise and Grace Kelley, I mastered the Meisner technique. Like them, too, I was featured on magazine covers as well as wined and dined by royalty. Unlike them, on the other hand, I made a video about a product that cleans, deodorizes, and kills germs in sanitation fixtures used for disposing human waste.

Truth be told, I think the panda suit I wore was adorable. It was realistically proportioned. Besides, the dyed rabbit pelts covering it were textured exactly like I imagine panda fur should feel.

The sun is slowly rising. When colored by muted tones, the city almost looks pretty.

In the past, I survived numerous adversities, including: bad press, money-sucking lovers, and acne. I persevered as a fierce combatant! My status remains impeccable!

Well, I am getting older. I suppose my latest enactment might have left me less of a light than the talking pictures left Louise Brooks or Mabel Normand, and less of a powerhouse than vlogs leave Jenna Marbles and Yuya. Yet, I will forever be Alexa Kalekar, America’s dream girl!

What’s more, when recently interviewed by Hide and Seek Fan Zine, I exclaimed about the importance of embracing the restructuring of artistes’ social stratification. I cried out to my hosts that actors’ ideals and reality should not persist on living far apart. Honestly, we motion picture VIPs ought not to maintain creative fastidiousness. If we reject the majority of the scripts we’re offered, or snub all contemporary forms of expression, we deserve to be toppled.

Whereas, I doubt I’ll ever agree to swim in a vat of jelly, it’s more than okay that I donned a fursuit. I tried a new art form. I refused to become condescending. Fans do measure thespians’ relative elasticity.

Before leaving for Key Largo, Barnard highlighted that I was mistaking a narcissistic act for a noble one. He told me, while I was in wardrobe, stuffing my hands into adorable paw-like mittens, that I looked ridiculous. Worse, Barnard averred that no admirer of mine, existent or future, would recognize me since my costume covered me from head to toe and since my voice was dubbed over by a six year-old’s.

Two by two, the squads are leaving in their cars. I’m beginning to wonder whether or not Lanthe had “fiduciarily persuaded” the station commander to send along those crowd control architects. I hope that if she bribed them that she’s not traced. I also hope that if she didn’t that the police department doesn’t sue either of us for its wasted hours.

All things considered, I couldn’t imagine a minor performer outdoing me. The subtlety with which my character had to stir the toilet brush required a lifetime’s worth of savoir-faire.  The stance my character had to assume in front of the sink, and later, in front of the garbage can could not have been executed properly by a lesser woman. Only I, Alexa Kalekar, could have correctly filled that role!

It’s not for nothing that Randolph loved me and cast me as his leading lady in twenty-two films. Time and again, the power of my presence stayed him from the edge. He did not drink that dreadful potion until after we finished shooting his epic. He was eternally the romantic.

Days later, I used the advent of his funeral as an excuse to color my hair. I had long wanted to go ginger. With Randolph dead, I had one less dear one to loathe and one less person to boss me around over my looks. Unfortunately, my colorist did a crummy job.

For months, I hid in the greenhouse of my Malibu estate. At least, given the volume of deliveries I required during those weeks, I renewed my popularity with the local eateries. Barnard liked the hamburgers and the lobster rolls, but he protested the humidity of that space.

Anyway, by the time that I, “the heartbroken paramour,” resurfaced, I had taken to sighing sea shanties. Barnard commented that those soppy sentiments were unbecoming to the image we had crafted over tens of years. He forbade me to trill them in public.

I snapped that I could readily find a new agent. I shouted that monkeys with typewriters, or simple automatons could as easily sort through drafts as could he, and that the one and only Alexa Kalekar stooped to no one’s heuristics. For effect, I also shed a few tears.

Barnard took a three-day weekend. He visited family in San Francisco. It was during that time, when he was out of town, that Lanthe, Randolph’s widow, pressed me for a meeting.

That pretty girl, who had given up her career as a symphony oboist to support Randolph when she was young and he was younger, was not as pretentious as her millions should have made her to be. As a matter of fact, she was perkier than any other grieving woman of my acquaintance. Either way, had we not met, I would not now be looking out my balcony at city streets slowly filling with traffic.

Lanthe did not seem to resent that I, not she, had watched Randolph’s body harden with rigor mortis. I didn’t expect too much jealousy from her, all the same, since decades earlier Randolph had sworn that he was in an open marriage. I’m certain Lanthe didn’t envy my success; she is richer and far cuter. In addition, she’s mother to Randolph’s children and the sole inheritor of his estate. I have neither nuclear family nor a permanent address. To be honest, destination clubs and timeshares get tiresome.

When sitting in Lanthe’s sunroom and being served tea by her house staff, I spotted a framed copy of the initial page of Randolph’s first screenplay. Reading a mere stanza of my dearly departed’s work caused my heart to recalibrate and my limbs to shake.

Upon observing my disquiet, Lanthe offered to add Scotch to my tea. Unsurprisingly, my response to her hospitality was instinctive. I kissed her head and told her that we would always be good friends. I think Lanthe appreciated my vulnerability.

I admire her. I could never be married. I certainly could never agree to a relationship in which the partners agree to extramarital relationships without being considered unfaithful. I wonder how Lanthe coped.

After I finished two cups of tea and whiskey, that kind woman bade her chauffer to return me to my residence. He and I made small talk. A few times, he abruptly swallowed his words.

The sun is fully up. Rush hour has started. My phone rings with the first of my scheduled wake-up calls. I ignore it.

It’s better to attach life to manageability than to fly high and out of sight. The artists who get venerated are the ones who relate to the common people. I’m glad Lanthe redirected me. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll ring up my YouTube director and accept his second offer. He wants me to star as a basset hound in a clip about dishwasher detergent.







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Art by KJ Hannah Green berg 2019

Boxing Day

 

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

 

 

Oison dripped snow. He looked back and forth from the puddle under one of his hands to the puddle forming under the other.

 

Maebh grimaced. His hands ought to be full of cash, not melting snow.

 

“I was stiffed,” Oison justified.

 

Maebh threw their only table lamp at him. She was a poor pitch. The lamp arched past Oison’s head and crumpled on the floor.

 

He shrugged. “Guess we’ll have to rely on the overhead, now. Anyway, Lovie, I bought you these. Fought off the crowds at the Neasa’s Chocolate Emporium to procure them for you.” He proffered a slightly crushed box of candy.

 

Maebh next attempted to assault her beloved with a framed picture of the two of them standing at the seashore. Ordinarily, that memento stood on their reading table atop of a doily.

 

Oison was slow to duck. The photo hit him on the edge of his forehead. A slow bleed started.

 

“Tosh and assorted relative nonsense,” his partner said. Her words slowly bubbled to her lips, like a poison nearing the completion of its fermentation process.

 

Oison’s head slumped toward his stomach. He slid to sit on their threadbare sofa. It was a two-seater and he had long ago promised Maebh a three.

 

One eye nearly swollen shut, he watched his woman pick up the windowsill pot containing the small cacti that she constantly overwatered. That prickly vegetable was yellow where it should have been green and brown where yellow would not have been a problem.

 

Maebh winged the pot at her much-loved man. She missed, catching a knickknack from their honeymoon.

 

Oison shook his head. They were averaging three lost figurines per month.

“Hurts ya to lose it.” suggested Oison’s mate.

“Yup.”

 

Maebh contemplated the decorative plate that she had removed from the wall. It was a souvenir of the queen’s Diamond Jubilee. They might be ex-pats, but they still revered certain things. “Now you’re telling the truth. So while you’re at it, where’s the money?”

 

“I drank it away at Mac Lochlainns.”

 

Maebh made herself comfortable on the sofa and then wiggled over to Oison’s lap. “Lying doesn’t suit you. I guess you miss home, too.” Although she still clutched the plate in her left hand, with her right hand, she rubbed her dear one’s face, enjoying the contact her fingers made with his beard, his nose, and his eyelids.

 

She carefully traced the surface of his forehead box, too. “Your green light’s so sexy.”

 

“As sexy as Doni O’Shea’s?”

 

“Ain’t no such man in my life.”

 

Sighing and then sighing once more, Oison swiftly grabbed the plate from his girl. In that single gesture he likewise smashed it over her head.

 

She became limp. Her eyes shuttered.

 

Oison tsk-tsked as he fingered her face and the bump on her brow. “Stupid broad! Your light’s red!”

 

 



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Art by K.J.Hannah Greenberg 2019

In Association with Fossil Publications