Deception's Face

by Sam Fickling 3 months ago in literature

Further Adventures of The Barry Humphries Impersonator

Deception's Face

It’s a nice day today, the ideal day to go out for lunch. David, thinking this as he awoke this morning, does exactly that. John left earlier for work, giving David more time to prepare for the day. Again, he chooses a flamboyant dress, but of a different colour and pattern. It’s time to leave, even though it takes him nearly an hour to put make-up on. Little kids with their parents pass David as he moves slowly down various Brunswick streets, hoping to find a reputable cafe to eat at. Nothing interests him save an unknown little place he ends up spotting by chance. 'This is where I’ll flaunt my stuff,' David says under his breath as he pirouettes ridiculously across the road.

The waiter serving David seems slightly scared of him. He thinks he knows who he is or is pretending to be, but isn't sure. David retouches his hair, inspiring the waiter to ask, 'Dame Edna, you’re Dame Edna, right?' David’s impressed, and answers, 'Guilty as charged, possums,' clumsily knocking over his coffee cup in the process of enunciating the last syllable '-sums'. 'Sorry, sorry, my possums,' he says, trying to apologise.

While all this is happening a man sits down opposite David’s table. He’s young and probably someone you’d call an actor: his casual look seems to say it all. David catches his eye for a second, embarrassed. The actor tries not to look back, but he can’t help himself. He knows who he’s looking at, but he’s not sure if it’s the famous man hiding behind the personality. Other people at the cafe, who were once content sitting in the Brunswick sun, have now turned their necks at David, chuckling, finding it hard to turn back. Like the actor, they all know who the character is, but they can’t tell if it actually is who it is.

Still waiting for his lunch order, the actor decides to join David. The waiter suddenly leaves the table. He’s obviously gone to inform management that there’s a celebrated national treasure present at their cafe. Meanwhile, the actor starts asking a now nervous David questions: 'What are you doing to yourself?' and 'What’s all this about?' and the like. David doesn’t answer any of them, preferring to sip his coffee in silence. Without warning, he gets up and dashes, and before the manager can come out to greet him he’s already gone.

The actor follows him, ignoring his lunch. David’s walking faster than he was earlier, feeling ashamed at what happened. The fascinated actor is much shorter than David and finds it hard to keep up with him. 'Hold up a second, mate,' he yells. David complies, spinning around stupidly on pink high heels that are too high for him, nearly falling over.

David, realising his nervousness has become almost unbearable, decides he needs to go home. He runs off in the opposite direction of the actor, not saying a word. 'I’ll call you,' the actor offers, walking off as casually as when he first entered the cafe. He adds, 'I hope to see you again'. 'Shut up,' David yells back, who’s already down the street and almost around the corner, his long dress flapping out from behind him, signifying panic. Several strangers catch a glimpse of him and laugh. David doesn’t notice them, as he’s too intent on disappearing.

At last, David arrives home. John’s still at work, given it’s only three in the afternoon. Feeling tired, David takes a nap. It won’t be too long, however, before he’ll be out on the town playing Dame Edna. He won’t be changing; a quick shower will do. The shows are booked, the audiences have paid, and everybody’s kidded themselves that it is who they think it is.

Later that night at the Princess Theatre, around 8 pm: David’s preparing backstage in his dressing room. A large mirror stands in front of him, and he catches his figure in it. He’s still amazed at his natural womanliness, the knack he has for becoming another sex at will. A man, some assistant or other, knocks on David’s room to tell him the show’s starting in a few minutes. David combs his hair once more and, without hesitating, takes a deep breath. All that can be heard a few seconds later is the incessant click-click-click sound made by his heels. It’s show time.

Great peels of cheering erupt as David walks out on stage. He opens his mouth, following the script, 'Hello, my possums. Hello, hello'. The audience cheers back, laughing. He can’t believe how well he’s doing, how much he’s succeeded at pulling off the deception.

After the show, David’s sitting in his dressing room. The show didn’t go as long as he thought it would, and this leaves him time to recover. There’s an after party going on in the foyer. David avoids it, deciding to leave out the back. Once outside, he bumps into someone he thought he never would—Barry Humphries himself. They stare at each other, bemused. Humphries, grinning that sardonic grin of his, broaches, 'So, you’re the imposter'. David stares, replying slowly, 'Yes, I am'. Humphries laughs, adding, 'Lovely dress you’re wearing. Edna would be proud. What do you say we grab a nightcap?' A light drizzle starts to tumble down. 'Yeah, I’d like that, Mr. Humphries,' David confirms, who finds Barry’s arm draped around his shoulder. They walk off together into the night.

David gets home late. He finds the door wide open as he leaves the steps. To his surprise, he finds John and the family—his father Bill, mother Sue and cousin Bob—waiting for him in the living room. His lawyer Edward Jones is even there, looking like he’s been on the phone for a good while. A hush seems to sweep through the room. Nervously, Sue announces, 'This is an intervention, David. We realised what you were doing. We must help to stop it'. Guilt spreads over David’s face. He knows he's got nowhere else to run.

'We know that you’ve admired Barry Humphries since you were a child. That doesn’t excuse your behaviour,' Bill explains, standing authoritatively. 'I have received calls from the Humphries side telling us to tell you to stop your impersonations, otherwise they threaten legal action,' he warns David, adding, 'We’ll expose you to the media if things don’t stop'. John glares at him, shouting, 'What’s wrong with you, David? I mean, seriously, this has gone too far'. David jumps in, 'But I was wit-' Bill cuts him off, declaring, 'I’ll be meeting with Mr. Humphries tomorrow. As for now, I suggest you get some sleep, son'. Bill and the rest walk out, leaving David and John alone with each other in the silence of the room.

Sam Fickling
Sam Fickling
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