Photo by kind permission of Martin Haworth

Short story winner of the Microcosms Flash Fiction competition – Microcosms 153 – on 14/12/2018.  The rules required a story in no more than 300 words in response to the following prompts. 

Character – Washed-up Actor/ Location – Mediterranean Cruise/ Genre – Romance

The story had to be written and submitted within a one day deadline. ‘The Nostalgia Industry’ was the Judge’s choice as the winner.

The Nostalgia Industry

There was always one.  He was expert at picking them. She looked familiar.  He was confident that they hadn’t met before although, honestly, he couldn’t remember. There’d been so many of them. He’d forgotten them all- names, faces, bodies. This one followed the pattern; young, attractive, available. Each Mediterranean cruise provided a new romance until the cruise ended and he moved on to the next one.

She sat down next to him.

***

It was part of his daily routine;  breakfast, exercise, reading;  lunch, laze on deck, sleep; evening meal, performance, chat to the fans.  Then bed… and rarely alone. He’d accepted that the starring roles were behind him. He could still find ‘mature’ parts- the father of the starlet bride, the boss of the leading man- and also he could make a decent living in the nostalgia industry. An hour each evening in the ship’s theatre talking to the passengers about his film career, showing excerpts from his old movies, telling anecdotes about his co-stars: well-paid with free board and lodging.  The cruise-ship audience were his generation. They’d created the nostalgia industry. The bonus was that his lasting looks and continuing celebrity still attracted their daughters; young woman who enjoyed money, liked being on the arm of a celebrity, wanted a little shipboard romance. It provided an adventure to tell their friends about back home, with the photos to support it.

***

She would be the next to share his bed if he handled it with his usual charm. Still he couldn’t help checking, just in case.

‘Have we met before?   You look a little familiar but I can’t put my finger on it.’

‘No, we definitely haven’t met before. But you met my mother twenty-five years ago. She says that I share your looks… Dad.’

 

 

©David Lewis Pogson 2018