An Actor’s Life: A Short Story



My mother loved the phrase, “Justice rides a slow horse, but it always overtakes.” She shared this line with me during some trying times and I have held on to it.  I decided to look it up and found that it was penned by a country singer named Kinky Friedman.

It truly applies to a short story that I recently read called “An Actor’s Life,” by Duncan Whitehead.  The story ends with a clever twist.  Terry Sparkes, an aspiring actor, tells a lie to another actor to beat him out of an acting role.  The man, Sir Michael Brookes, seems to believe Terry Sparks and moves on into other roles.

As fate would have it, Sir Michael Brookes, the deceived one, is about to receive his sixth Oscar while Terry Sparkes has had a series of setbacks.  His success has been short-lived and he now lives in a dingy apartment and  is snorting drugs when the Oscars is about to be televised.  His life has been unhappy and filled with sham and drudgery.

Whitehead’s “An Actor’s Life” reminds me of the writings of O. Henry.  Both writers use the technique of storytelling through short stories which have been described as a “slice of life.” These writers have a short time to captivate the reader and leave them with something to think about afterwards.  According to Wikipedia, O, Henry  was an American writer whose real name was William Sydney Porter.  He was known for his” wit, word play, warm characterization and clever twist.”

Duncan Whitehead’s masterful techniques succeed in all of these areas in a few words. The two main characters are round and clearly felt by the reader. He even finds time to show how some of Terry Sparkes’ coworkers’ lives end in tragedy as well.

Justice truly rides in slowly in this short story.  Most would think that Sir Michael Brookes was so engrossed in his success and fame that he did not remember Sparkes’ slight and betrayal.  But the sharp and surprising turn of events on the last page let the reader see that he was never fooled.

You will have to read ‘An Actor’s Life” to see what happens on the final page.  I believe I got it online either free or for $.99.  This proves that sometimes ‘less is more.”

Can you think of a time when you saw justice finally overtake?


Lynn                                                                                                    August 6, 2014


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