The Perfection of Human Endeavour (A Short Story)

The man lays back, wearing small blue Speedos that match the blue Addidas t-shirt that lay now like a skin on the pool side, he is floating on the pool in a pink lilo, the rotund mass of his belly causing general weight distribution, making the lilo curve like a smile and take in water, soaking his Speedos at the backside, turning them dark-blue instead of the sky blue he prefers which matched his new-bought Addidas t-shirt skin, stretched from his almost circular belly, covered in tiny white hairs, so white that they looked like snow, like he was a hill during Christmas, but it was the height of summer, and he floated in the pool, letting the air gently push over his white hairs like a miniature winter wonderland, and his sweat dripped off him and his sunglasses hid his eyes so you couldn’t even tell what he was thinking. Ten thousand followers of a man from the north of England now residing somewhere in Hollywood, California, now a respected genius of his kind, who worked long hours in front of a camera, appearing on the television as a number of villains in a number of Hollywood movies earning him celebrity status and earning him a Screen Actors Guild Award, an Academy Award for best actor, Academy Award for best supporting actor, two BAFTAs for best actor on two separate occasions, Actor of the Year from the London Film Critics Circle, Best Actor of the Montreal World Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival and an Honourable Mention in Film Making at the Sundance Film Festival which he subsequently returned having learned that an honourable mention is not as honourable to him as winning would have been. A slight somehow Autumnal English breeze blew silently over the Hollywood hills. The man floated in the pool, the lilo knocked his glass which he had dropped some minutes before, making a clink sound from the still solid ice and pushing the redness of his cranberry and vodka that had turned into a slow moving cloud beneath a slowly spinning paper umbrella, which was pink. His house was large. He’d spent millions of dollars on this house. He’d never seen a house like it before he bought it. It was sand-coloured and had green vines running along the walls like thick veins as if the house was a living organ, the heat making it sweat, its roof only visible with the foreground belly of the man, the white hairs, the stretched skin from excessive eating, the tiredness of his hidden sunglasses-face, which neither smiled nor not smiled as he was able to do on the screen, adapting his facial features and controlling his own emotions and faking his feelings until he forgot, sometimes, what it was he was supposed to be feeling, although he usually took the enthusiastic admiration of the thousands of people who loved him as some sort of ignorant plea to do more, and so he worked and worked, appearing in over 150 movies until his unwilling retirement five years ago, leaving him with a $10 million home in the Hollywood hills, a pool, a lilo and his favourite pair of sky blue Speedos he received for free for a series of Speedo sponsorships, resulting in three television advertisements and innumerable, and hopefully forgettable, appearances on innumerable billboards across the state, at first, and then across the country, making him hope his English counterparts across the Atlantic never discovered this exciting highlight of his acting career, so he chose another sponsorship offered to him, which was Colgate, appearing as a husband with his happy family, brushing his teeth in front of the bathroom mirror, which was the camera, and smiling excessively showing his white teeth, which weren’t his real teeth, earning him several million dollars, though now he appeared on the same Speedo billboards only instead of standing in a pair of trunks, his giant smiling face pressurised poor passing pedestrians to buy Colgate toothpaste if they wanted a smile as handsome as his. The man hardly smiled any more, though, because he hated being retired, and his hand glided lifelessly through the water at the side of the lilo and the Californian sun burnt his English skin, covered in white hairs, still, unmoving, but for the slight breeze, now and then.

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