"The key isn't to not be scared, okay? You should be scared. You are in front of a million people it feels like, exposed, vulnerable, and not a single one is going to forgive you if you fuck up, ya know? You gotta get that, be scared. The key, the key here is to not show it, don't think about it. Be scared, don't shake on stage. It'll throw you off your guard. That's the deal Lloyd" the speaker took a long slow puff off his cigarette, as if collecting his thoughts. He let the smoke billow out of his mouth slowly and gazed off into the distance There was a still, gentle silence in the room for a moment, but it was not uncomfortable. The cars outside provided a gentle music, a white noise that grew in intensity depending on the time of day. "Ya know, I was young like you once" the speaker continued. "I got my breaks. I got lucky. But I know what I'm talking about. Maybe a little" he cracked a smile suddenly, and his face lit up like a child's. "Did I ever tell you the zipper story?" Lloyd shook his head and weakly mumbled no. "Ah, well it ain't much ya know? I was out on stage, we were doin' a show called Dividing the Estate. I was playing Lewis. We were over at the Sideways Players, you know where they are at? Yeah? Well, we were there. Little place you know, for a big show. Our director was fucking crazy ya know? This was a big show in a little place, too small. So, anyway, I go out, I'm on stage for a while. and suddenly the old lady playing Stella wanders over to me. I got scared, I thought she forgot her blocking or something, but no. My zipper was down, and I didn't have any drawers on. We just played it off. I dunno if anyone saw anything, but it was small, so I dunno. The theatre, mind you, not my dick. But we just played it off. It was nothing, we just worked it. That's what it is about. Being on your toes. Watching out for the other people on stage. Sometimes shit happens Lloyd. Shit happens, and you can't let it remind you, 'oh shit, I went on stage scared'. Roll with things." Lloyd nodded vigorously. The speaker reached out and patted him on the back, a smile plastered across his face, thoroughly amused. It was clear that the laugh lines on his face were from just that, laughing. "Lighten up young man! Was just supposed to be a story, not a lesson. But maybe I just made it into a lesson. I don't know." He took another slow puff of his cigarette. "Don't take things so seriously Lloyd. You gotta have your jokes when you can. Its the only thing that is going to let you put up with the egos you are gonna bump into."
Lloyd nodded and gently strummed his fingers on his knee, his anxiety seeping through the pores in his skin, manifesting itself as sweat. His friend took another light drag and smiled 'Don't you have somewhere to be?' he quipped. His voice seemed to linger like the smoke from his cigarette. Lloyd hastily nodded, shook his hand, and muttered a 'bye Neil' before dashing out the door.
Neil sat in his chair and closed his eyes, reliving his own glory days.
"Yes" he thought. "He's going to do just fine."
Outside a car beeped, and the birds chattered away.