Behind the Roles
by Charles Matthias


The dark figure stormed off the set, and slammed the door behind him. He really didn't know what to think, but all he knew was that the producer hated him. Here he was, not even a cast regular yet, and he was being denied a chance. He felt his fur stand on end at the indignity. The charecters he usually payed never showed much emotion, or when they did it was of a very intense nature. He looked at himself in his mirror, gazing at the lupine visage that stared back at him. He was a menacing figure, landing him the roles of bad guys in most of the movies he had stared in. On one occasion though he had the chance to play the mysterious benefactor, which was how he had envisioned his charecter's place in this most popular of TV series. However, the producer saw it a bit differently.

He heard the footsteps coming up to his door, and then the knock. He sniffed the air once, knew who it was at the door, and then opened it up.

The figure on the other end was a horse morph who still had half of his costume on. "Hey, I just wanted to stop by and see if you needed to talk." It was the actor who played the role of Bob Stein for The Blind Pig. He had been with the show from the beginning, and he remembered the days watching it while trying to work on his own show. How he envied their position, but there was nothing he could do about it, as he had prior contracts at the time. Here he now finally lands a role on the show, and is about ready to be kicked off by the producer.

"What's there to talk about, he wants me off, who am I to argue?" he lamented, shutting the door behind the actor who played Bob Stein.

"You know that's not what it's about." he cautioned. "Besides, almost everybody out there thinks you do a fine job."

"Yeah, they loved me in this movie, and that one, but let's talk about syndication all right." he belabored.

"Fine, what about syndication?" the actor portraying Bob Stein asked, not sure what exactly he had gotten himself into.

"That they refuse to let me be a part of it! This producer has it out for me, I know it." he declared hotly, still smarting from the sting of rejection.

"The producer is a nice guy, very reasonable." he objected.

"Reasonable?" his eyes flare and his fangs bared. "He told me that he was not going to talk to me of this matter ever again. He told me that it was the end of the discussion when we were only at the beginning. Is that reasonable?"

'Bob Stein' shrugged. "Probably not, but are you acting reasonably?"

"No! Of course not! I am not that arrogant to think that I am always right." he shot back without realizing what it was he was admitting.

'Bob Stein' sighed. "I think you need time to yourself to think about this."

His anger still flaring, though a part of him recognized that he was being insulting to a good man, "Hey look, sorry for yelling, but this thing has got me incensed."

"I understand. Abject rejeciton is always hard to deal with." 'Bob Stein' patted him on the shoulder and then left his room. He glared at himself in the mirror as he thought over what had been said. How could he have been so soundly rejected like that. Here he was making his debut on the TV series, and he is told to take a hike. Being the most popular TV series about, of course everybody wants to be a part of it. So what if he changed a few lines here and there in the script, they weren't major changes, and nothing earthshattering. Besides, they fit his conception of his charecter better. So because of these changes, which were totally blown out of proportion by the producer, he is told to get out of town. That was what had made him mad.

True, he had his movies, and he had stared in a few TV mini-series, but nothing significant, nothing that was watched by millons of viewers about the world. Sure, he had an audience, sure he had a few people who were devoted to his works, but what he truly wanted was to take part in that show, just like any other adult actor did these days. What made him in more demand was that he could do things that others couldn't. The claims of his charecter in shape-shifting were quite nearly available to him in part. Yet, being a younger actor, he had yet to break into the mold. He still had a chance to become a star, of which he was certian he would do eventually, but this was a setback that he felt most clearly to his core.

The knocking that came this time surprised him. He had been to wrapped up in his thoughts to notice it. He lifted up the figure's scent in a moment, and then opened the door to admit him. "I take it that you want to talk to me too?" he asked the lupine figure who was still in costume.

"I just wanted to say that I enjoyed acting beside you, even though you asked me to change my lines a bit as well." the actor protraying Wanderer told him.

"Tell that to the producer." he remarked abyssmally.

"He knows you can act. I'm sure he's aware of the masterful performance you gave in that mini-series Barken, TX." the actor portraying Wanderer assured him.

"He probably resents the fact that I was in a rival show." he muttered.

"Hey, I was in that show too." 'Wanderer' reminded him. "Besides, Barken and The Blind Pig never were in competition anyway."

"Yeah, whatever."

'Wanderer' looked about the room, at the selections of movies in one cabinet, at the stacks of CDs he placed in another. In the books he kept by his bedside,and then finally to the full length mirror that was stationed just beside them. His dresser table was the most unadorned, which was odd for an actor. 'Wanderer' pointed at it and asked, "Your table's pretty bare, is there a reason for it?"

"I want to be able to act with the least amount of makeup. When it gets right down to it, I know that I can look good without many of the tricks and turns of the trade."

"Sometimes that works, but they can help." 'Wanderer' pointed out.

"Yeah, I guess so." he muttered again.

The room seemed eternally silent until 'Wanderer' again spoke, "Look, the thing to remember is that everybody else here thinks that you are a good actor."

"Not everybody, one of the prop boys just told me that I should find a job to infect with my presence. He was very uncomplimentary." the dark-furred lupine moaned.

The actor playing the role of Wanderer sighed. "Look, you can't go through with this if you keep blaming somebody else. The producer has a job, and he does it as he sees fit."

He shrugged. "I guess it was all my fault then? I guess everything's my fault then huh?"

"That's not what I said."


"I'll talk to you later." 'Wanderer' shook his head, and headed for the door.

Once again, hew felt guilty about the way he treated his fellow actor. "I'm sorry about this, but it has me all strung up."

"I hear you." 'Wanderer' said in a low voice, before stepping out the door, and shutting it behind him.

The dark-furred lupine who had felt that he had been disgraced sat down in his chair, and beat the dresser in frustration. Why was it that he had to deal with such people who would reject what he had to offer to the show. He could be a very interesting charecter, a very beneficial charecter, but nope, he was just not the type, becuase he changed a few of his lines.

He stared at himself again. Even before his change, he knew that he was destined to be in movies and TV. Acting was one of the few things that mattered to him. True, he had his other tastes, but this was one of the most powerful. When it became obvious that he was going to become a lupine morph with black fur, he rejoiced, for what could be more sinister than a wolf of the darkness? When he discovered that his powers of shifting extended just beyond that shape, though were centered around that shape, he thought his career was set. A few bad starts, hey, it happens to even the best. Then he landed his first role in the Barken, TX miniseries. After that was basically over, he sought out bigger and better things, and had stared even in a few movies, though he still remained unknown. Now here was a chance for a big break. He could be successful in the Blind Pig TV series, or he could whither and disappear in the unknown. It looked like he was going to whither.

He hated that, why did that producer have to be so unreasonable? Why couldn't things have worked out as he had hoped?

Another knock on his door, and he looked up from where he had crumpled himself. He opened the door, and saw a large reptilian figure standing before him. "Mind if I come in?" the actor who had played Dr. Standards asked.

"Why the Hell not?" the dark-furred lupine shrugged.

"Thanks." The actor who played Dr. Standards squeezed through the doorway, and sat himself down on the floor, his tail flowing out behind him. "I just wanted to tell you that the situation is not dead."

"Oh really? And what would you recommend?"

"Facing the truth." 'Dr. Standards' remarked, scratching at his crocodillian muzzle. "You appeared to violate certain rules. Whether you did or not is not the question. You did it it because you thought that you could, and you gave no thought to the consequences, or whether the producer would appreciate it."

"Well that's a very fancy theory you've conjured up. Did you manage that all by yourself?" he remarked nastily.

"I'm trying to be a friend."

"Then why are you supporting him? Friends are supposed to support each other." he declared hotly.

"Not when the other is wrong, and you are wrong about this." 'Dr. Standards' pointed out. "If you had asked him to let you make the modifications to the script that you so desired, I'm sure something could have been worked out. But you went ahead in pride and did it without consent. Is it any wonder that he demanded that you get off the set?"

"Actors change their lines all the times." he objected.

"Not without permission they don't. You did not have permission."

For the first time since storming off that set, the dark-furred lupine realized that he had caused this situation. For the first time he realized that it was his pride that was preventing him from facing the fact that he had overstepped his authority. He had been the one to make the mistake, the producer just acted accordingly with his job description. For the first time, he actually felt shame for what had happened. All the people telling him that he had done a fine job had only prevented him from seeing what they were trying to say. The revelation of his actions from one close to him had been what it took to make him see his own iniquity.

"So what do I do?" he asked.

"Well, apologize obviously." the actor who protrayed Dr. Standards pointed out.

"You're right. I shall go do that now." he made to get up.

'Dr. Standards' grabbed his arm. "Not yet, give him some time too. Apologize when you both are rational beings."

The dark-furred lupine nodded. "Thank you. I needed somebody to poke a hole in my pride."

"Don't make me do it again either." 'Dr. Standards' warned him sarcastically. The dark-furred lupine lightly chuckled to himself. He was ready to apologize, he felt the shame completely in his heart, he knew that it was he who had been wrong. How then, to word it?

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