Flash in the Pan

by: Penbumble | Complete Story | Last updated Nov 3, 2012

This is the third story in the series: Rosemary and Time. A failed actor past his prime has Rosemary to thank for his big break.

Chapter 1

Chapter Description: A failed actor past his prime has Rosemary to thank for his big break.

Flash in the Pan

Rex absolutely hated being strapped into this damnable contraption with vehemence from the very depths of his soul. The sourness of his mood matched the state of his face as he knew another afternoon lay ahead where he was held almost immobile by this horrible device as he was paraded through the public, unable to avoid any encounter of unwelcome adulation. To add insult to injury was the fact that he stopped being perceived as a human being but more like an accessory. Everyone spoke over his head to his girlfriend, while he was seen as just a cute passenger. He was exceedingly tired of his hands being grabbed, his arms waggled or a strange large finger chucking him under the chin. Twyla surely must have gotten the message by now that he didn’t like this vile apparatus, but she continued to blithely put him into it. After becoming a daily occurrence for almost three straight weeks, it seemed that it was her favorite way to tote him around as she went about her day.

As he bounced along in front of her as Twyla walked down a pretty tree lined avenue, he dwelled on the idea that the one good thing about this torture device is that it kept his anger solely centered in the front of his mind. That was only thing that that kept the inclination to accept his new situation at bay. Everyday he could feel the seductive persuasion becoming stronger and stronger to let his adult consciousness slip away and allow him to wallow in the sensations of his renewed infancy. He concentrated on the small red ball of hate he nursed inside him that was his only defense against capitulating to the ominous yet beckoning temptation of babyhood. Unexpectedly, he did not mind having someone take over feeding and cleaning him, he assumed it was because of all the health and beauty treatments he had undergone in the past. It helped him to defy any feeling of humiliation about his absolute helplessness and that he was dependent on Twyla for his very survival.

He sneered as he just knew that Twyla intentionally went out of her way to go new places with lots of people, especially older ones, so he would garner more attention. For all their years together, he had never known her to be so boldly energetic, everyday they were out milling with the crowd. He became aware that they were entering another store at the shopping center in the area surrounded by retirement communities. He was aware that it was just a matter of time before he bear the brunt of another intrusive onslaught of ogling and cheek pinching. He would have gritted his teeth if he had any, he just wanted to go home and stew in his misery of his body’s current predicament.

“Oh! What an adorable baby!” an older woman’s tinny voice cut through the air. Suddenly, Rex found himself starring into a strange fuzzy haired woman’s face a few inches from his own. For a moment, Rex was transfixed by the unreal color of a blue that the older woman had dyed her hair as he looked at her. “Yes, you are. You are just the cutest thing in here!” She said cloying as she emphatically assured him of his cuteness.

“Why, thank you!” Twyla responded proudly and picked up one of his little fists in her hand and stroked it with her thumb. Rex wrinkled his face and pulled back as far as he could in the baby carrier slung across Twyla’s chest, any way to increase the space between him and this impudent stranger who dared to intrude in his immediate personal space.

“How old is he?” The woman broke her fascination with Rex momentarily to look up at Twyla without moving her face from in front of Rex. The older woman smiled at Twyla with an expectant look.

“He’s almost five months.” Twyla stated as she affectionately beamed down at him as her hand moved from his hand and wrapped around his middle where she gave a slow maternal pats on his tummy.

“Well, he’s got such serious little face; but he’s just a cute as a Junebug!” The overly besotted woman announced to Twyla who knowingly nodded. The woman gasped and then bent back down to again hover just inches away from Rex. “HOO’S A WIDDLE JUNEBUG? Huh? Id dat you? Id dat you?” the woman prattled with pursed lips in his face and tried to wheedle a smile by tickling the corner of his mouth with her finger. In response, Rex pulled his upper lip into a snarl as he stared daggers at the unfazed fawning woman. It was moments like these that made Rex truly and painfully regret ever agreeing to see Twyla’s old friend, Rosemary while they made their way up the coast.


Sipping on their second glasses of wine, Rex and Twyla waited at the table at the restaurant for Rosemary and Walt to appear. Twyla had called the previous day and had arranged the dinner date between the two couples to occur while they were in town. The restaurant that they were meeting at was one of the most renowned and swankiest eateries on the coast. After all, it was very important to Rex that he maintain a certain lifestyle, and enjoy and be seen enjoying the finer things.

Almost thirty years ago, Rex and Twyla met when Twyla was a young art student and Rex was the most handsome student in the college’s entire theatre department. Twyla had never felt such overwhelming passion for anyone until she had seen Rex performing in a play. The way he moved, the way he spoke, even the way he tilted his startling pale blue eyes to catch the light made her knees buckle under her. She found that she could not deny him anything, so she blindly offered her heart to him as fodder to trample. Upon graduation, Twyla put aside her own dreams of Paris lofts and lauded art shows and got a job to support Rex’s dream of becoming a famous actor. She dutifully paid for his years of graduate school, his expensive professional headshots, and his private acting and voice lessons. She also supported his appetite for private physical training sessions along with the prerequisite holistic diet counseling. As time went on, she also bore the expense of the personal cosmetic upkeep he demanded which included high priced haircuts adorned with just the right amount of highlights and lavish skin treatments to keep time from leaving an inexorable stamp on his face and body. He was so intent on landing in the limelight; he gave little thought to Twyla’s thoughts on moving to the other side of the country to advance his prospects. He just expected her to provide her constant emotional, physical and fiscal support while he gifted her with his presence.

Over the years, success in show business always managed to elude Rex, but he did manage to accumulate a long history of less than stellar jobs such as an extra or a one line walk on roles. Twyla, on the other hand, went to her adequate but yet personally unfulfilling job everyday to keep Rex in the lifestyle he thought he should be emulating. Despite half heartedly promising to marry Twyla some day, Rex could not foresee doing it in the near future. Although he cared for Twyla, he always wanted to keep his options open if someone else better came along. He knew he was selfish, but at least he was honest about it. He was an artist and his life should never be tedious or mundane.

Finally, from across the restaurant, Twyla spotted her old friend. Standing up, she waved her friend and her husband over. That’s when she saw what her friend was holding as her heart jumped up into her throat. Trying to disguise the grimace that appeared across her face as a smile, she looked nervously over at Rex. She knew this was not going to go well.

Arriving at the table, Rosemary and Walt apologized for being late. Rex lifted his eyes from the menu to greet them and was surprised to see a gurgling baby boy balanced on Rosemary’s hip. The smile chilled on his lips. He really despised people who brought children into clearly adult only environments. Walt set down the baby carrier in hand on the floor and pulled out the chair for Rosemary who moved the baby into lap as she sat down. Walt moved to sit in the chair next to her. Rosemary explained that they had problems with the sitter, so they had to bring their youngest with them.

“I hope you don’t mind. Ben’s going through a clingy phase right now. He screams his head off if I leave his sight.” Rosemary confided as she leaned over the baby in her lap, who seemed to be perfectly content and extremely interested in the shoe laces on one of his tiny shoes.

“Don’t worry about it. He seems to be fine.” Twyla responded, clearly keeping her eyes away from Rex, knowing what his face would be displaying. Rex hated any deviation on what he had planned for the evening. An unexpected baby in a fine restaurant was certainly a deviation. She just hoped his displeasure wouldn’t be too evident to Walt and Rosemary. She intended to have a nice evening with her friend, even if she had to ignore Rex the entire time.

Giving an obvious huff under his breath, Rex motioned for a waiter and asked for a highchair. It took a few minutes before one was located, since the establishment did not cater to children. When the highchair finally arrived, it was situated at the end of the table between Twyla and Rosemary. Ben was summarily deposited into it with a teething ring set in front of him. A waiter soon appeared to take the drink orders of Walt and Rosemary. Walt ordered a beer and Rosemary ordered a sparkling cider.

“Are you sure you don’t want something stronger?” Rex asked across the table. “They have a sublime list of wines here.”

“I’m sure. I’m nursing, so it really limits my drink choices.” Rosemary answered as she stroked the baby’s leg affectionately and looked over at Rex.

His face freezing in skeptical astonishment, Rex suddenly sat back and rolled his eyes. He would never understand why some people seemed to rearrange their lives to cater to ungrateful little attention hogs known as children.

Regardless, the dinner seemed to go quite smoothly. The conversation was entertaining, the food was delicious and even baby Ben seemed to be in fine fettle, just being near his mother. He smiled at all the adults at the table as he happily mouthed the teething ring in his hand. At one point, Ben joined the conversation as he gleefully jabbered in his high chair which brought an arched eyebrow from Rex. Rosemary adeptly stopped the baby from bothering the other stiff clientele in the restaurant by replacing the teething ring back in Ben’s mouth. As the adults were chatting over coffee and dessert, Rosemary noticed that Ben’s face had taken on a look of studious concentration. Scooting her chair back while putting her fork down on her dessert plate, Rosemary picked up the diaper bag from the floor. She stood up and picked up the baby from the highchair, as she excused herself from the table. Twyla also got up from the table, volunteering to accompany Rosemary to the ladies room.

Luckily, the ladies room had a lovely lounge where Rosemary changed Ben’s diaper on a marble topped vanity. While they were there, Rosemary decided to nurse Ben so the girls had time for a little straight talk. They talked about their lives, what they would change and the funny little discoveries that can impact your life. When they returned to the table, Twyla announced that Rosemary had invited them to stay the weekend at their country house.

“Rex, guess what? Rosemary has invited us to stay at their country house this weekend. Isn’t that wonderful?” Twyla prodded Rex as she turned to him expectantly. She hoped that he would just not create a scene, and just this once, acquiesce graciously to her desires. “I told her since we have a few days before your auditions start, we would be delighted.”

“Yeah, delighted.” Rex said with a weak smile as his eyes traveled over the happy baby in Rosemary’s arms.


It had been a tense weekend for Rex and Twyla at Rosemary and Walt’s home. Although Rosemary and Walt did their best to make Rex feel welcome, it was obvious that he would rather be somewhere else. Twyla was not immune to Rex’s sulking about being stuck there for the weekend, as she apologized to their hosts when Rex wasn’t in the room. It was the evening after the first full day that everything blew up between Rex and Twyla in the guest room. Twyla let out all her frustration with Rex’s selfish obnoxious ways; while Rex accused Twyla of trying to use this visit to imprison him with her provincial expectations. He was a gifted artiste who dared to live his dream while she was just a drab clinging old nag. He told her viciously that he was tired of her dragging him down. In his fury, he spat that maybe it was finally time that they think of separating. Twyla ran from the room in tears.

Twenty minutes later, after cooling down, Rex went looking for her but found that she and Rosemary were locked in a room down the hall. He hesitantly knocked on the door and Rosemary stuck her head out, making sure that Rex could not see into the room.

“Hi Rex. Twyla doesn’t want to see you right now. Why don’t you go into the kitchen and wait for me, okay?” Rosemary asked mildly as indicating with her eyes which direction he should take.

Rex took a deep breath and nodded. He didn’t like Rosemary butting in on his relationship with Twyla, but he had no choice but to go along. He felt like a little kid who had been scolded when he turned and went downstairs. Upon entering the kitchen, he pulled out a chair at the breakfast table to wait. One of the kids had left a small plastic ring from a toy on the table; he absentmindedly played with it as he waited.

After an uncomfortable amount of time, Rosemary entered the kitchen. Giving Rex a brief uneasy smile, she topped and looked at her hands.

“Let’s have some coffee, okay?” She said as she made her way over to the kitchen countertop.

“Look, Rosemary. I..I’m sorry you had to be dragged into this.” Rex stammered, almost ashamed of his behavior this weekend. Then his ego made an appearance as he watched Rosemary grab the can of coffee from the cabinet. “I know you mean well, but this is really between Twyla and me.”

“Rex, I’ve been friends with Twyla since we were girls. I may not know her as intimately as you do, but I think I understand her.” Rosemary said as she turned on the coffee maker and turned to steadily look at him.

“I don’t see how you could have known Twyla since you were girls. You’re obviously a lot younger than her.” Rex pondered as he wrinkled his brow looking at Rosemary.

“You would be surprised how far Twyla and I go back.” Rosemary smiled and shrugged.

For a few moments, the only sound in the room was the coffee maker as it filled the coffee pot. Rosemary pushed herself away from the counter and took a few slow steps from the counter to the table where Rex sat.

“Rex, you’ve always wanted to be a star. You know, the adoration and glamour is like a drug to you. Rosemary needs a break.” Rosemary commented and sighed. “She would like to simplify.”

“Twyla and I haven’t been working for a while. Maybe it’s better if we just call it quits.” Unable to look at Rosemary, Rex mumbled as he stared at the centerpiece on the table.

“I don’t think you need to do anything that drastic. Twyla did say that she love you. She wants you in her life, but she can’t continue as you have.” Rosemary turned back to the counter and got two coffee cups down.

“Hey, no coffee for me.” Rex volunteered as he saw the back of Rosemary’s arm bend to pour the coffee. “I need to get some sleep; I gotta go running in the morning.”

“Oops, I already poured you one. Don’t worry it’s decaf.” Rosemary said over her shoulder. “What do you take? Cream? Sugar?”

“If you got non-fat, I’ll take that. Do you have any agave?” Rex said as he relented about the coffee.

“I think I have something.” Rosemary stepped over to the frig and pulled a small carton of no fat creamer from its door.

Rosemary had her back to Rex as she added a small amount of the creamer to one of the cups. She grabbed the bottle of agave with the two cups of coffee and walked over to the table. She sat a maroon mug in front of Rex along with the agave as she took a seat next to him.

“So, Rex, what do you think? Do you think that you can make room for Rosemary’s dreams in your lifestyle?” Rosemary asked as she balanced her cup of coffee between her two hands.

“Look, Twyla and I had a good run. Now that I’m over on the coast, it should be a new start. I’ve got a new agent who’s gone a lot of auditions lined up for me. I just can’t be held back right now. It’s too crucial to my career.” Rex said as he picked up the bottle of agave and squeezed a long stream into his coffee.

“I don’t understand how you can be so cavalier, Rex?” Twyla has stayed with you and supported you all these years.” Rosemary shook her head and brought her cup of coffee up to her lips. “You sound positively ungrateful.”

“Hey, I’m not saying I don’t love Twyla. Part of me always will.” Rex admitted as he ducked his head while stirring his coffee and took a big swig. “It’s just that I’m not in love with Twyla. She needs to find someone who will be in love with her.”

“I think you may be right.” Rosemary smiled as she lifted her cup in a toast. ”I think it is going to be difficult going at first, but I think it will all work out in the end.”

"I’m glad you see it my way.” Rex said. He picked up his cup and drained it. “I guess I better get to bed, if I’m going to get up tomorrow.”

“Oh, sit for a minute.” Rosemary patted the table in front of Rex before getting up and walking over to the sink. “I like having someone down here with me at night. I just need to rinse out these cups.”

“Okay. No problem.” Rex said as he shifted his legs to prop himself up against the back of the chair. He was becoming more and more relaxed. The lights over the kitchen table seemed to become fuzzy in front of his eyes as he began to lose the feeling in his body. He felt like something was swallowing him alive; but he was much too overcome to put up much of a fight. He tried to look over at Rosemary and then the lights went out.


That was over three months ago, Rex thought as he was hung suspended in front of Twyla. Twyla had only taken enough of Rosemary’s formula to regress back to her late twenties. After staying with Walt and Rosemary for a couple of weeks, Twyla with baby Rex in tow continued on their way up the coast. She contacted an old friend, Harlan who lived in the city with his partner, Alberto where he had an upscale art gallery. He was thrilled to see how young his old friend seemed and was overjoyed to meet her new baby who Twyla was calling RJ which stood for Rex Junior.

When asked about the father, Twyla simply said that Rex wasn’t ready to be a father and was no longer part of their lives. Harlan congratulated Twyla on getting rid of the loser. He went on to tell her that he was thought Rex Senior was a supreme waste of skin and only fractionally talented as he thought he was. Harlan stopped himself as he felt the baby’s hard gaze press upon him. He cleared his throat and said he shouldn’t talk in front of the baby about his father; he got the strange feeling the baby wasn’t appreciating it. At the couple’s insistence, Twyla and little RJ moved into their guest house on their property.

As time went on, Harlan and Alberto patently doted on infant RJ. To his disgruntlement, RJ discovered that he was never set down for hours at a time when the pair of men were around. He found himself be bounced and cuddled by them to an impossible degree. Once when Twyla had to run to the DMV, she had asked the pair to watch little RJ. They jumped at the chance for prime babysitting time with the baby. During the interminable afternoon for Rex, the Albert brought out his camera and began taking pictures of RJ. With every shot, the men attempted to get the baby to smile. As Rex maintained his sour expression, both men were incessant in their quest for a smile from the infant. As the afternoon wore on, time slowed down for Rex as he was subjected funny faces, his feet and tummy being tickled and on two occasions found himself being held over their heads while they made flying noises. The only way he discovered to curtail these activities was to issue a whine as if to beginning to cry. The men looked at each other confounded by the baby’s behavior, but neither had had much experience around young babies. When she returned, Twyla just brushed off the men’s concerns about RJ’s temperament. She was confident that if RJ was given enough time, he would become a happy baby. As they walked back to the main house, both men agreed that RJ, although a cute baby, seemed to have a very sour disposition.

Harlan and Alberto also encouraged Twyla to rent an art studio in a nearby artist co-op. Twyla packed up little RJ each weekday morning and off they went to the industrial building that housed several artists. RJ was placed in his playpen while his mother worked on large canvases in the room. Soon, RJ became a minor celebrity in the co-op, drawing the other artists over each day to say hello and dandle him while his mother worked, several even volunteered to take care of a diaper change so Twyla could keep working. Twyla made good friends amongst the artists, even attracting the attention of several single males who had studios there, much to RJ’s disgust. Twyla’s work soon began to get notice as her new artist friend brought their PR reps by to meet her. Before long, she had a major art show scheduled in a few months.

After returning from their day of shopping, RJ was still napping when Harlan and Alberto came knocking with some exciting news. She quietly invited them in and soon they were gathered in the small living room. It turned out that Alberto worked in one of the leading advertising agencies in the city. He had placed a close up picture of a scowling little RJ on his desk. Just that morning, his boss stopped suddenly by his desk and asked about the photo. It turns out that a national campaign was looking for a small child with attitude. They were very interested in Little RJ; they had never seen a baby with such a grim expression. It seems to be RJ’s big break had arrived!

Twyla’s jaw dropped when she heard about the plans for the national campaign. There would be billboards plastered with pictures of the baby’s pouty face and large blue eyes all over the country. There were even plans to film a number of national commercials. His face would appear on everything from t-shirts to bank checks, he would become a phenomenon. There would appearances on the talk shows and even possibly a toy and clothes line in the future. There would have to be a test shoot done first for review.

The following Monday, RJ found himself dressed and taken down to a lot on a major studio. He was confused by the stir of activity as he saw actors in costume walk by as Twyla carried him from the car to the building. There were a number people milling about the set, which confused and excited Rex. Before he knew it, he was being dressed in a cloth diaper while the make-up person combed his hair in a trailer. For a moment, the sour expression began to waver on his face as he realized all this fuss was about him.

When the call from the set came in, Twyla carried little RJ to the middle of the set, where a doll sat in his assigned place for lighting which was perfunctorily removed. Twyla sat him down in a mess of pillows as the director lay on his stomach with a camera lens in front of his face. The man got up and looked through his hands as the formed a box in front of his face and motioned for the camera man to focus on Rex.

“Perfect!” the director exclaimed, looking at Rex. “Little boy, you’re going to be a star!”

With those words, the disgruntled look dissolved on Rex’s face as he soaked in the words he had always wanted to hear. He was going to be a star! It was all he ever wanted. Instead of being some tired looking actor, he was going to start out on top, young and vibrant. And he had all this because of Twyla. He looked over to Twyla who was sitting just off camera to share his triumph. He was so happy that he couldn’t concentrate on his anger. He could feel the walls of his anger fall and the blanket of infancy envelope his mind; but he didn’t care; he was going to be a star! All his adult thoughts swooshed away with the tide of elation coming from his achievement. Very slowly, the corner of his mouth began to creep up. In the next instant, he was beaming at Twyla.

The director pulled back in confusion at the change in temperament in his star. Try as they might, they couldn’t bring back the unhappy look on Rex’s face. He continued to smile broadly at everyone. Finally, the director threw up his hands. Twyla came over and picked up a jabbering, grinning RJ from the set. She placed him on her hip as she nuzzled the cheek of her giggling baby. Several of the advertising executives stood with the director, muttering with their heads together. Eventually, Alberto’s boss came forward and told Twyla that little RJ wasn’t the right fit for their campaign. He was just too good natured.

Twyla didn’t look at all upset at all as she bounced the gleeful baby on her hip. RJ just continued to smile at the lady making noises at his mama. Mama was bouncing him, that was always fun.

“Oh, well. That’s show business.” Twyla said as she kissed the forehead of her happy infant in her arms.



End Chapter 1

Flash in the Pan

by: Penbumble | Complete Story | Last updated Nov 3, 2012


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