A middle-aged man sat Indian style on the floor of his office with his arms spread out, his hands held with the palms up.
“In with the good,” he said in an Eastern European accent as he breathed in deeply.
“And out with the bad,” he said as he exhaled loudly.
The man’s head was bald save for a patch of blue dyed hair in the middle of his head that came down to a curl over his forehead. His boney, nearly nude body was covered by nothing but a pair of tight, white underpants and a floral patterned silk kimono.
“Yes, very good, Mister Reynaldo,” the man said, referring to himself in the third person. “And now in with the ying….and out with the yang.”
Mister Reynaldo stood up, stepped into a pair of floppy yellow crocs and put on a pair of red shutter shades, the kind with the slats that go right across the eyes that were popular in the 1980s.
“Oh Mister Reynaldo,” the man said as he gazed upon his less than impressive physique in a full length mirror. “You are looking so utterly fabulous. How you do not just stay in this room and have sex with yourself all the live long day I will never know.”
A fist knocked on the door.
“Who dares disturb Mister Reynaldo?”
Mister Reynaldo sashayed to his door and opened it to find his young, sweater vest wearing intern Kevin waiting for him with a water bottle, a clipboard and a Segway.
“Hydrate me, darling,” Mister Reynaldo said as he clapped his hands together. “Chop, chop.”
Kevin, who’d clearly done this many times and knew the drill, held his hand up in the air with the water bottle pointed downward. Mister Reynaldo, much like a thirsty hamster, wrapped his lips around the spout and sucked away for a full minute.
“Ahh,” Mister Reynaldo said as he wiped his lips on his forearm then mounted his Segway.
Kevin shut the door to his boss’s office. Stenciled on the glass were the words, “Mister Reynaldo: Coordinator of Wombat World Performances.”
“Tell me of my schedule this fine day, darling,” Mister Reynaldo said as he took off on his personal conveyance.
“The Power Action Ninja Soldiers have stunt shows at ten, noon, and three,” Kevin said as he studied the notes attached to the clipboard and jogged just to keep up with his boss as he zoomed down the hall.
“Oh those has-beens,” Mister Reynaldo said. “All the jumping and punching and kicking. So blasé. What else?”
“Sal the Sloth’s Ridiculously Slow Hoedown is at one-thirty,” Kevin said as he broke a sweat. “But the performer who usually plays Sal called in sick.”
“Sweet Streisand’s saggy knockers, Kevin,” Mister Reynaldo said. “I swear, no one is willing to suffer for their craft anymore. What’s he got?”
“A mild head cold, sir,” Kevin replied.
“Pshaw,” Mister Reynaldo said. “I once starred in the role of Lazarus Houlihan in an off, off, off, incredibly off broadway show of Sally’s Got a New Harpsichord with a severe case of pneumonia and a herpes sore on my lip the size of a pomegranate and not only did I not complain but the theater critic for Village Semi-Weekly Tattler wrote that my performance was among the best seventeen renditions of that role that he’d ever witnessed.”
“That’s impressive, sir,” Kevin said.
“Call this fool at once and tell him to drag his oily hide here this instant,” Mister Reynaldo said.
“I already called his understudy,” Kevin said.
“Ahh,” Mister Reynaldo said. “Even better. Give another actor a chance to breathe new life into the role of a hilly billy sloth who sings and dances country tunes in a ridiculously slow manner. What would Mister Reynaldo do without you?”
“I don’t know, sir,” Kevin said.
A.J, B.J, C.J, and Davey, the four shaggy haired members of Boyz a’Plenty walked down from the opposite side of the hall. Mister Reynaldo flew into a rage when he saw Davey chomp down on a candy bar.
“Davey!” Mister Reynaldo shouted as he screeched his Segway to a halt. “What is that?”
Davey balled a fist up around the candy bar and then quickly hid both hands behind his back. “What’s what?”
Mister Reynaldo tipped his Segway forward, which allowed him to stare Davey down until the boy band member started leaning back himself.
“Don’t take me for a nincompoop, darling,” Mister Reynaldo said. “I saw that unapproved chocolate treat that you were shoving in your gaping maw as if you were some kind of put of control gorilla with an insatiable appetite.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, bro,” Davey said.
Mister Reynaldo scoffed. “Swear on one of Liza Minelli’s nine thousand black dresses that you are not being a little piggy!”
“What?” Davey asked.
“Swear to me!”
“OK,” Davey said. “I swear!”
The coordinator looked the boy band over. “Weigh-ins are now twice a week.”
The boys groaned in disgust as they walked away.
“Damn it,” A.J. said.
“And I was going to have an almond on Thursday,” B.J. added.
Mister Reynaldo and his intern continued down the hallway.
“Was I too hard on them?” Mister Reynaldo asked.
“Not at all, sir,” Kevin said.
“I hate to be such a catty bitch but I like to think that one day those boys will be in movies and when they’re having the sexy sex with all the ladies they’ll thank me for keeping them from becoming little piggies,” Mister Reynaldo said.
“I’m sure they will,” Kevin said.
“I once lived on nothing but broth and storm drain water for an entire year while I played the role of a lean longshoreman in a high school production of Love on the Wharf,” Mister Reynaldo said. “The authorities eventually escorted me out of the building when they realized I was forty-seven but still, if I can suffer my art then those boys can too.”
“An excellent story, sir,” Kevin said.
“Oh Kevin darling,” Mister Reynaldo said. “Promise me you’ll get out of show business. The entertainment industry has become such a dirty whore in bargain basement pumps that I perish the thought of her getting her claws in another soul.”
“I promise, sir,” Kevin said.
A dozen very angry little people wearing medieval cloaks walked down the hallway towards the duo.
“Mister Reynaldo,” a little person said as he held up a pair of pointy plastic ears in his left hand and a stapler in the other.
“What?” Mister Reynaldo asked as he stopped his Segway. “Why are you vermin in Mister Reynaldo’s way?”
“I need a word with you,” the little person said.
“Fine, fine, Marvin darling,” the coordinator said. “But make it snappy, for Mister Reynaldo is busier than a one-legged prostitute on a pogo stick and he does not have all day to listen to your foolishness.”
“Would you care to explain why the wardrobe manager just informed us that the studio is no longer willing to spring for the non-toxic glue we use to fasten our pointy elf ears?”
Mister Reynaldo clutched his chest. “Surely you are pulling Mister Reynaldo’s leg!”
“No,” Marvin said. “And then we were told if we want to keep our jobs, we need to staple our elf ears onto our regular ears. We realize that most people are too ignorant to treat us with the respect we deserve, Mister Reynaldo, but its downright unconscionable for a multi-national corporation worth billions of dollars to expect us to maim ourselves just so they can save a few bucks on glue.”
“This is an outrage, darlings,” Mister Reynaldo said. “I shall not stand for this. I shall demand that ear glue be ordered posthaste. Ohh…”
“What?” Marvin asked.
“It’s just, when the children visit the elf grotto and don’t see any elves there…”
“We can still dress like elves,” Marvin said.
“Oh no, darling, no,” Mister Reynaldo said. “I appreciate the thought but you see without the pointy ears you are just teensie weensie little people that God took out of the oven too early before you were all fully baked and the children will begin to doubt whether or not elves are real and frankly, they might lose faith in Wombat World altogether.”
Marvin and the rest of the little people looked down at their feet in sadness.
“Gee Mister Reynaldo,” Marvin said as he looked up. “We wouldn’t want that.”
“I know darlings,” Mister Reynaldo. “But really, its fine. We must put your ear comfort above the hopes and dreams of baby children.”
“We’ll do it,” Marvin said as he led the little people off. “Come on, gang, it will only hurt for a minute.”
“Oh what wonderful tiny men you all are,” Mister Reynaldo said as the diminutive actors walked away. “I shall tell everyone they are wrong about little people. They have souls after all.”
“Should I order more elf ear glue, Mister Reynaldo?” Kevin asked.
“Are you kidding me?” Mister Reynaldo asked his intern. “I cut that shit out of the budget because it was either that or my morning espresso and we all know Mister Reynaldo can’t make the magic happen without his jolt of va va va voom.”
The pair pressed onward. As they turned a corner, the sounds of a girl fight filled their ears.
“Ally, you bitch!” Jess shouted. “Take that dress of right now or I will roundhouse kick you right in the cooter!”
“I’d like to see you try it, slutzilla!” Ally replied.
Mister Reynaldo gasped at the sight of Jessica and Ally, both clad in pink Princess Paulina dresses, blonde wigs, and crowns, locked in a rigorous slap fight.
“Ladies, ladies!” Mister Reynaldo said as he beeped the horn of his personal transport. “What is the meaning of this? You know that the only drama Mister Reynaldo wants to see is on the stage.”
“Mister Reynaldo,” Jess said. “Tell this psycho hose bag that I am Princess Paulina.”
“No, Mister Reynaldo!” Ally said as she stomped her foot. “You already gave this part to me.”
Jess’s nostrils flared. “What?”
Mister Reynaldo slowly backed his Segway up, then stopped. Jess confronted him.
“Is that true?” Jess asked.
“Darling,” Mister Reynaldo said. “Didn’t you get the memo?”
“What memo?” Jess asked.
Mister Reynaldo slapped his cheeks with both hands. “Sweet Mariah Carey’s underwire! You didn’t get the memo.”
“No,” Jess said. “I did not get a memo.”
The coordinator turned to his lackey. “Kevin! Why did you not send Miss Flynn a memo?”
“What memo?” Kevin asked. “I didn’t know I was supposed to send anyone a memo.”
Mister Reynaldo looked to the ceiling and rested the back of his hand over his forehead, took a deep breathe, then looked at the young man.
“Darling boy,” Mister Reynaldo said. “Whenever an actor or actress turns thirty they’re supposed to be sent a memo explaining official Wombat World policy which clearly states they aren’t able to play a human character anymore.”
“I’m so sorry sir,” Kevin said.
“Yes,” Mister Reynaldo said. “You really should be darling.”
“Are you kidding me?” Jess asked.
“No darling,” Mister Reynaldo said. “Yesterday, you hit the big three-oh so you playing Princess Paulina is now a no go.”
“But I’ve been playing this part for ten years,” Princess Paulina said.
“Ugh,” Mister Reynaldo said. “Don’t remind me darling. You’re not helping your case at all.”
The coordinator turned to the younger princess.
“Alyson, you are dismissed.”
“Hooray!” Ally said as she strutted away. She assumed a Princess Paulina voice. “Tra la la la la!”
“This is bullshit!” Jess shouted as she took her wig and crown off and spiked them both on the floor. “That is my ‘tra la la la la!’”
Mister Reynaldo’s lips pouted. “Oh you poor, precious thing. You’ve yet to wrap your little brain around the fact that you are aging.”
“I’m thirty,” Jess said.
“Oh please, darling,” Mister Reynaldo said. “Don’t say it so loud. People might hear you. Eat your fruits and vegetables and you might pass for an out of shape twenty-nine year old for at least two more years.”
“This…this…you can’t do this.”
Mister Reynaldo turned his conveyance around and started back the way he came.
“Walk with me, darlings.”
Kevin followed on his boss’s left. Jess took Mister Reynaldo’s right.
“My dear Miss Flynn,” Mister Reynaldo said. “An actress’s career is beautiful, yet tragically short. Like a daisy in a grassy field, she grows, she blooms, she dazzles, she inspires and then, BZZZT! She’s cut down by the lawn mower of time and a prettier, younger flower grows in her place.”
“Thirty is not that old,” Jess said.
“Oh darling,” Mister Reynaldo said. “If you insist on advertising your ghastly age to the world there’s little Mister Reynaldo can do to help you.”
“I can’t believe this,” Jess said.
“Darling,” Mister Reynaldo said. “Little boys come to Wombat World to ride Wombat Copters and dance the Willy Wombat shuffle but little girls? They come to dream…yes! Little girls dream of being beautiful, of being rich, of being famous, of being a princess married to handsome prince but do you know what they don’t dream of?”
Mister Reynaldo laughed. “Oh good for you, darling,” Mister Reynaldo said. “You made a funny. That, but also, little girls do not dream of being thirty. No one wants to age past twenty-ninee. Darling, Mister Reynaldo is fifty-two and he would slaughter a thousand adorable baby kittens with a rusty butcher knife and drink their blood if doing so would cause him to remain twenty-nine or younger forever.”
“Age is just a number,” Jess said. “Its how you feel, isn’t it?”
The coordinator laughed again. “Oh stop it darling! You shall have to try out to be a comedienne of the deaf comedy jams.”
“I’m glad my pain amuses you,” Jess said.
“It doesn’t, darling,” Mister Reynaldo said. “Mister Reynaldo also knows what it is like to be aged out of show business, to one day be twenty-nine, in the starring role of Bartleby Ashcroft in the Sheboygan Dinner Theater production of Bartleby’s Back from War to being thirty and being cast as random peasant number twenty-seven in an indie film about the dark ages produced by three college students. By the ring of Beyonce, so many people were naked on that set and…Kevin?”
“When we’re done here Mister Reynaldo needs you to look into whether or not he might have accidentally starred in a pornography film.”
“Right away, sir.”
The trio entered Mister Reynaldo’s office. The coordinator parked his Segway, hopped off, took Jess’s hand and led her to the full length mirror.
“Do you know what I see, darling?” Mister Reynaldo asked.
“No,” Jess said.
“A beautiful butterfly that is aging slowly, gracefully, thanks in large part to good habits and excellent body maintenance,” Mister Reynaldo said.
“Well,” Jess replied. “I do work out.”
“Oh and it shows, darling, it shows,” Mister Reynaldo said as he placed his skeletal hands on Jess’s cheeks.
“What are you doing?” Jess asked.
“Such distinct features,” Mister Reynaldo said. “Such high cheekbones…such porcelain skin…”
“Umm,” Jess said. “Thank you?”
“But look!” Mister Reynaldo said as he pinched a bit of Jess’s cheek flesh between his left thumb and forefinger. “A wrinkle!”
“You’re making that,” Jess said as she watched the coordinator pinch her cheek in the mirror.
“Am I?” Mister Reynaldo asked.
“You clearly are,” Jess said.
“Oh,” Mister Reynaldo said as he took his hands away. “Aren’t you a smart one.”
“So that’s it?” Jess asked. “Ten years of working for this company and I get tossed out like a piece of trash because I’m not in my twenties anymore?”
Mister Reynaldo chuckled. “Oh darling, don’t be so dramatic. Just because you can’t be Princess Paulina anymore doesn’t mean you can’t still perform.”
“What did you have in mind?” Jess asked.
The coordinator wagged his finger in the air. “Wait right here. I have the perfect role for you.”
Mister Reynaldo opened the doors to a large, luxurious walk-in closet. Kevin and Jess stood in the office and watched as Mister Reynaldo threw all kinds of crazy garbs out of the closet and onto the office floor.
“Where is it?” Mister Reynaldo asked as a big, gray Ernie Elephant mascot suit came flying out of the closet, followed by a Zed Zebra outfit, a Ginger the Fox suit, and a set of leather BDSM gear complete with chains and a red ball gag.
“Woopsie!” Mister Reynaldo shouted. “That last one is Mister Reynaldo’s! Ahh! Here it is!”
Mister Reynaldo walked out of the closet holding a large, furry, googly-eyed Willy Wombat mascot head in his arms.
“No,” Jess said.
“Yes,” Mister Reynaldo said.
“Not happening,” Jess said.
“Darling, please,” Mister Reynaldo said. “You’ll be the star of the show! The character that everyone comes to see.”
“I refuse,” Jess said.
“I’m sorry, darling,” Mister Reynaldo said as he placed the mascot head down over Jess’s head. “But its either this or the unemployment line.”
Jess gagged as she sniffed the putrid, sweaty stink of at least twenty of the past wearers of the suit.
“Son of a bitch,” came Jess’s muffled voice from inside the mascot head. “Do you people even wash these things?”
Mister Reynaldo sighed. “Kevin, you’re not washing the funny animal character suits?”
“Umm,” Kevin said. “I was supposed to?”
Mister Reynaldo threw his hands in the air. “Mister Reynaldo needs an espresso.”