By Walter Campbell
He took a sip of coffee, doing his best to pretend he liked it, then set it on the dressing room counter, leaned back in the beige swivel chair, and nervously cracked his seventh and eighth index finger knuckles.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Ricklerax Regertata? Did I say that correctly?” a short, young male elf asked, making Ricklerax jump a bit and quickly hide his over-knuckled hands.
“Yes. Perfect pronunciation, but actually, could you remind Mrs. Franklin that I go by Richard, not Ricklerax.” The elf nodded, but seemed to barely hear him.
“Richard. Got it,” the elf replied.
“Great. Thanks so much.” The elf nodded absentmindedly again, and checked something off on his clipboard.
“Of course, of course. Well, Mr. Regertata, we have five minutes until you go on, so is there anything you need beforehand?”
“Actually, I was wondering if the makeup artist was going to stop by. I saw that the dwarf who just went out got makeup, and the unicorn, who I think is going on after I am, got a little eye shadow and had a horn polishing. Will I be getting any makeup?”
“Oh” he said, clearly caught off guard, “you want makeup?”
“Yeah. I thought that was standard operating procedure for TV, right? Just to look a little bit better than normal for the cameras?”
“Right, right, of course. I just didn’t know…I’ll get her right now and tell her to fix you up. Sound good?”
“Sounds great,” Ricklerax lied, knowing as the elf scurried off that there was no way in this universe or the next billion he’d ask the cute little human makeup artist to dab some rouge on the horrendously warted cheeks of the goblin down the hall.
Ricklerax should have taken offense, but this was all too expected for him to get truly mad. Of course they hadn’t thought that the goblin might want some makeup, and of course they wouldn’t give him any. Either they thought he was too ugly for makeup to help, or they wanted him to look as ugly as possible to boost ratings with a stereotypically horrid goblin. He was actually a little surprised they hadn’t sent the makeup artist in with the mission of making him look even worse.
As he thought about it more, he grew a little angry, but he had to keep that anger in check. There would be nothing worse for his cause than if he went on stage growling and gargling at the itsy-bitsy adorable fairy hostess.
Never mind that the elf who’d been on last week had slapped Regina Franklin across the room, breaking one of her wings. And never mind that last year a dwarf had spat on her, leaving her caught under a milliliter of saliva that she’d almost drowned in. Never mind because they weren’t judged like he was. They were “good,” and so if one of them smacked or spat, that was just one bad apple among an otherwise perfect tree, but if he even raised his voice, he instantly became an example for how all goblins were the scourge of the universes, and were by nature nasty and evil and vile.
Forget the statistics, too. The bothersome statistics that showed that dwarves were actually responsible for significantly more violent crime than goblins, and that goblins on a whole, had better public service records than both fairies and elves combined. Their prejudice had no trouble ignoring these contrary easily.
He exhaled, leaned back into his chair, and breathed deeply. In and out, mediation breaths, calmly and coolly.
“Actually, Regina, most dictionaries define goblins as nothing more than ugly elves, and although we don’t like to think of ourselves as ugly,” pause for laughter that wouldn’t come unless there were a goblin in the crowd, and there wouldn’t be a goblin in the crowd because they didn’t allow goblins in the television studio, “we certainly agree with the rest. We’re no different from an elf except in appearance. We’re just as happy and helpful and loving, and while we do understand that we’re not easy to look at, that’s really the only difference between us and the rest of the mystical world. All we’re asking for is a chance to prove our good nature, to prove that we too can be the good guy, we too can save a princess,” Ricklerax practiced for the fifth time, checking the clock on the counter again.
“Mr. Regertata?” The young elf again.
“Yes?” Ricklerax could hear the exhaustion in his voice, and so he took another sip of coffee, wishing it was mud brew. But knowing how it would look if he came onto the show drinking mud brew, he’d settled for the coffee.
“So sorry about the wait.”
“It’s been twenty minutes,” he said, doing his best to fight back irritation.
“I know,” the elf replied, frightened and nervous. The elf had heard Ricklerax’s slight annoyance, and he’d thought of all the maliciously false stories he’d grown up with about goblins murdering elves on whim, unpredictably deadly in their uncontrollable anger; lies and exaggerations, but frequently taught, and thus well-ingrained, lies and exaggerations. “I’m so sorry. We went long with the dwarf.”
“Did the unicorn get to go on?” Ricklerax asked. The elf looked away and shivered.
“We can have you back next Wednesday, if you can make it then.” He was hoping Ricklerax would say no.
“Of course,” he said as cheerily as possible, “that would be wonderful. And can we make sure that I get a makeup artist then? I’d really appreciate it,” he added just as cheerily.
“Uh huh, sure,” the elf said, nodding like before, and walking away casually, his fear and attention having vanished as quickly as Ricklerax’s growl.
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Walter Campbell lives and works in Philadelphia. Recently, his work has been published in Dog Oil Press, Six Sentences, Dogzplot, Weirdyear, Toasted Cheese, Vestal Review, Eclectic Flash, and Flashshot.
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