Saturday, May 15, 2010

Goodbye Leslie Somerset.

Imagine yourself split in two. A mirror reflection. One good side. Strong.  One bad side. Weak. Both sides needing each other co-dependently to survive. Watching. Laying in wait to take over when the dominant is weak. To successfully overthrow the balance...

Goodbye Leslie Somerset.

Rain against the window. Drip drip drop. Shadows come into focus outside in the darkness. Yet another long car pulls up in the drive. The studio sending another person to call. It’s been a madhouse for a week. I’m completely out of the loop. Stuck upstairs out of the way. It wasn’t always like this. Crippled and bound to a chair. I wasn’t always cast aside to the wings of the stage. Pushed aside like an old piece of furniture in a back bedroom. Once, a not too long ago…

Constant limelight.

The cameras have stopped rolling for me.

Smile! A little wink and kiss for the fans into the camera.

I would have given it all up at the height of my personal success. Ironically, I nearly lost it all in the crash. Thankfully, there was Dorothy.

The posters announced us as: The Amazing Identical Dancing Duo, Leslie and Dorothy Somerset. Byline read: Twins so identical their own mother couldn’t tell them apart. And she couldn’t get it right most days. We were exact down to the same birthmark.  

The Venedici Mole. Right next to our left eye. With a wink a grown man would sink to his knees. I can imagine her downstairs cooing and blowing kisses at the camera with that $1000 smile.

Famous dancing girls. People would come as far as three counties to see the show. A little song and dance. Mama taught us early on ‘put your best foot forward,’ and it always seemed to work. For many years we danced in front of crowds onstage at fairs, talent shows, and carnivals. Until that fateful night. The last performance. It was the biggest, the best and the last time we worked as a pair. Before a crowd of 2,000 Dorothy missed her cue and tumbled three steps off stage into the orchestra. The fall shattered her left ankle and knocked out her two front teeth leaving the bridge cracked.

Doctors advised that she’d never dance again. Ultimately ending our run. On the bright side, our mother could always tell us apart from the scar on Dorothy’s leg . Besides that marking we were still practically indistinguishable.

It’s still an early night out. The pops off the flash bulbs echo across the courtyard below. I can hear the reporters spout out their $2 dollar questions. It sounds as though a few were uninvited guests. The studio never mistakenly tips off the wrong press. All publicity is good publicity. Your name in the paper means something.

Although things washed up for the act, the unstoppable Leslie Somerset persevered. My lucky break actually came the same day Dorothy took her final bow. A man with an eye was scouting acts that day. Such a pity. Leaving the act wasn’t planned, it happened.  

There never was any sign of resentment from Dorothy. She had always  been so grateful for my success and supported the pursuit of the dream from behind. Over the years I devoted my earnings toward repairing her ankle and the dental reconstruction of her teeth. No one could possibly notice any evidence of a crack or break.

The horrid treacherous dog reporters have been chased off the property. Looking to print the true story of dark skeletons. Downstairs the door slams shuts shaking the entire room. I can hear the voices loudly carrying on below. The Leslie Somerset trademark laugh and giggle. 

Candid reporters invited in to scoop it: At home with the family. Adulterous husband. Adopted orphan that sleeps in the maid’s quarters. Crippled sister locked away in an upstairs bedroom at the back of the hall overlooking the driveway. Little did the dogs know, the truth wasn’t that far off. If they would have had a ladder I would have sang like a canary.

Mama and Dorothy took to the road to follow until I landed off Broadway work in the Big Apple. Mama passed away the same year we settled in. From then on, it was always Dorothy and I. The work was hard, but the success was smooth sailing. Job after job ensured our security. We always looked out for each other. At least that’s how I thought it was. Never thinking there was hatred and vengeance in the back of her mind. Years of dancing and struggling to make a name for myself, not realizing my biggest opponent was standing right next to me.

Chorus lines to Broadway lead seemed like a natural transition. Of course the offers to move from stage to screen soon followed. Uprooting Dorothy seemed unnatural. After we’d both been through so much. She’d never seemed to recover from the loss of mama. Although a broken engagement seemed to lead to an important suitor, she was always quite distant about things.

Eventually it would be Dorothy that pushed us toward the silver screen. Managing my every detail had become Dorothy’s life; Assistant, manager, mother and best friend. Ultimately she knew best.  Bernard Callis, a wealthy movie producer for CMC and the new love of Dorothy’s life, offered a deal neither of us could refuse. My Star billing and she got her wedding ring. 

These days the wedding ring doesn’t mean much. Almost as much as her name. Leslie Somerset had become a washed up has been. Marriage, adoption and family devotions were the only means to gaining any press.

Five movies into my contract and I’m a success. Pursuit of happiness. Household name. Leslie Somerset wows them at the movies. Leading men to choose from. Parties of all proportions. Completely the toast of the town. Men, relationships and the scene were secondary accessories to my career. Forging onward with Dorothy continually catering to every need of my career. Never did I suspect there was such resentment behind her actions.

Only after it happened… did I understand.

Aside from Dorothy, no one knew I would be driver that day. Rainy days were my favorites to head into the lot alone. Taking the hills for a scenic tour before reporting in for work. Only I would take the curve extra sharp at an accelerated pace. Cutting the brakes wouldn’t have been a stretch.

Winding curve after curve on that rainy Thursday afternoon. Gaining momentum and speed through the wetness. Slowly pumping the brakes as I skid downhill towards fate. Out of control and sliding quicker and quicker, racing to the bottom without brakes.  Momentous Impact. Fading to black.

Bernard insisted on the switch to recoup the cost of my contract. Money over quality. Minus the glasses and hair color we couldn’t be more identical.  And Dorothy always wanted to be the star. Now she’d have her revenge.

As the hospital attendants wheeled me out from the recovery room, I knew that things were different. The press. No men snapping photos. No flowers. No Dorothy to greet me. Alone. Scarred. Broken. A driver to gather me up and put me into the house. Carried upstairs. Push to the back of the hall. Put aside.

Career dwindling. Things couldn’t be saved after she took over. People couldn’t be fooled. A newspaper reporter denounced the performance in my last picture as a fraud. A travesty to the Leslie Somerset name. At least my legacy remained intact… the fans never left me.

Of course here comes the hounds. Press time with the family. The door swings open with a pop of the bulbs.

“Leslie! How about a shot with your sister?”

“Of course. I love my sister. Without her I would have nothing.”

No you wouldn’t.  Smile!

“If it wasn’t for the accident… oh, you poor dear. You just had to go out and get me that script in the pouring rain.”

Melodramatic to the end. Wave. A pause. A near faint.

“Yes, if it wasn’t for the accident that left me scarred and crippled.”

“Oh, you poor dear.”

Deep meaningful embrace for the camera. Smile. Pause. End of story. Exit back out into the hall.

This is the position I’m in. She needs me to survive. I need her. A sick symbiotic struggle for dominancy.  I’m regaining my strength. And one day soon, I’ll be the one to return and succeed...

Goodbye Leslie Somerset.

Evil Twin. Been on this one since last year. Wanted a Baby Jane-esque story. I'm going to say it's a work in progress. Also it was supposed to be one of my Feb extras. Glad to finally get to put it up. This one is dedicated to my other sis. If it helps... I can handle being the evil one. Alright, no one is evil and we can both be the pretty one. Anyhow, told you the next would be related to doubles. I'm pushing to finish three for my other project and three for this stuff. Enjoy. M.

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