The dream invaded him night after draining night...
The crowd roared with applause then rose in standing ovation. The two performers bowed deeply, smiling in the life-giving adulation. They knew it was not them, it was what they created together that was important. It had been a long, rocky journey to this point, fraught with danger and disaster other acts failed to avoid. Do I deserve this? How good are we really? Am I an over-praised imposter?
Like a child struggling to walk, one must persevere in faith it will happen. Many are the voices along the way but the feeling is unmistakably good. It's like being in a boat, surrendering to the river's flow, trusting where it will take you, and bathing in the peace of it. When the journey ends one thing is clear above all else: to have taken any other course would have been sheer madness, betrayal, suicide.
They needed the means to live outside society. Only there could they breathe life into their act. It takes a knowing belief to ask to have more. Doing the right thing brought success and success was the right thing to do. To say, "I am not worthy" is to create a self-fulfilling prophesy. Most of all was the sense of freedom, of limitless love, and the eternal satisfaction of having made the right choices. It was the feeling of life for which every life yearned.
It was the dream of this feeling that owned the nights for Oliver. Only for him, it was a nightmare, trying to suppress the dream he'd aborted.
"No! NO! Tell me I did not do that!"
It was like a never-ending film, laying in wait to continue every time he closed his exhausted eyes.
A critic wrote: What's wonderful about this pair of comedians is not only their perfect timing and pleasant air of innocence, but the friendship between the two we know exists even when times get rough and exasperation rises to the surface. "Another fine mess you've got me into!" This catch phrase lingers in our consciousness because we know it comes from love was well as real frustration we all get from time to time with one another. They are but helpless to stick together. We wish to be in their world.
Losing the act made life an impractical hell for Oliver. What ate at him most was he'd done it in the name of practicality. Forced to live within society's confines boxed his soul in dire daily death. His heart drowned in the tears of a lost existence, perpetually tormented by living under the basest of beasts who rule the daily underworld. There he was to spend the rest of his days trapped in unspoken ignominy; to whom could he speak of his unproven dream?
It's true: Ollie had been a true believer. This was the fact he most sought to hide, the deathly desperate shame he hoped to bury. Safe in the stupid world, none dare question him as a bum. No, his fear was to be called talented, professional, and a star. More than once it occurred to him the irony of his once having craved to the bottom of his soul to be ascribed those precious things. He even based his marriage to his wife that none of those traits were within him: a contract of mutual deceit.
Ollie was attacked by the urchins who now surrounded him. Unhappy with their own lives - failures feigning freedom - they'd demand he "pick himself up" and "quit moping." (In an act of unusual defiance, Ollie once grabbed a mop when told to quit moping. When asked what he was doing he replied, "You told me to quit mopping but I'm doing it anyway!" The confused look on his tormenter's face brought back a long forgotten satisfied feeling. Ollie was truly feeling his old self when he then made a fake apology for not knowing how to spell.)
But worst of all was the sickening, frightening, shattered feeling in the pit of his stomach lurking around every corner. No matter what small victory he might achieve to bring a rare smile, the dark clouds overhead reminded him in crestfallen doom of his perpetual predicament, re-breaking his heart. Finding the resources to forgive himself was a constant battle. The killing chores that paid the rent made him cry out in pain when praised in selfish ignorance. In the end, Ollie was left with only one gaping question:
"What is left to do to make amends?"