Carl squirmed in the ropes that bound him to the chair. He bit his lip, but didn’t speak.
“Head or gut?”
He glared at the fat man holding the gun, then broke his silence: “What do you want?
“Want? That’s a good one. I want to kill you—that’s all.”
“Cut. Fifteen minute break,” yelled the man with a clipboard.
After Carl unsnapped the ropes, he walked slowly to the edge of the stage curtain with clenched fists.
“What’s wrong?” asked the man with the gun.
“Trying to quit smoking.”
“I got something that might help.”
“Come on, Jim, I don’t need anything illegal.”
Jim walked away.
Carl kicked the curtain. The play and the cigarettes were the problems. He’d taken the part for the money, but doubted they’d have a run of more than a few days. Soon, he’d have another failed gig to keep off his resume.
“Carl, what’s wrong?”
It was the director.
“Do we have a chance?”
The director looked down at the wood floor. “We open in two weeks. You’re doing great but there are too many lines that have been heard before in a hundred film noir movies. We need a big twist to make this work.”
Carl laughed. “How about we change the focus to a play about hard boiled killers trying to quit smoking?”
The director paused. “Bad guys worried about their health. I like it.”
The play ran two weeks.