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My fair planet, p.1
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       My Fair Planet, p.1

           Evelyn E. Smith
 
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My Fair Planet


  Produced by Greg Weeks, Mary meehan and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net

  My Fair Planet

  By EVELYN E. SMITH

  Illustrated by DILLON

  [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from Galaxy Science FictionMarch 1958. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that theU.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

  [Sidenote: _All the world's a stage, so there was room even for this badactor ... only he intended to direct it!_]

  As Paul Lambrequin was clambering up the stairs of his rooming house, hemet a man whose face was all wrong. "Good evening," Paul said politelyand was about to continue on his way when the man stopped him.

  "You are the first person I have encountered in this place who has notshuttered at the sight of me," he said in a toneless voice with anaccent that was outside the standard repertoire.

  "Am I?" Paul asked, bringing himself back from one of the roseate dreamswith which he kept himself insulated from a not-too-kind reality. "Idaresay that's because I'm a bit near-sighted." He peered vaguely atthe stranger. Then he recoiled.

  "What is incorrect about me, then?" the stranger demanded. "Do I nothave two eyes, one nose and one mouth, the identical as other people?"

  Paul studied the other man. "Yes, but somehow they seem to be puttogether all wrong. Not that you can help it, of course," he addedapologetically, for, when he thought of it, he hated to hurt people'sfeelings.

  "Yes, I can, for, of a truth, 'twas I who put myself together. What didI do amiss?"

  Paul looked consideringly at him. "I can't quite put my finger on it,but there are certain subtle nuances you just don't seem to have caught.If you want my professional advice, you'll model yourself directly onsome real person until you've got the knack of improvisation."

  "Like unto this?" The stranger's outline shimmered and blurred into anamorphous cloud, which then coalesced into the shape of a tall,beautiful young man with the face of an ingenuous demon. "Behold, isthat superior?"

  "Oh, far superior!" Paul reached up to adjust a stray lock of hair, thenrealized he was not looking into a mirror. "Trouble is--well, I'd ratheryou chose someone else to model yourself on. You see, in my profession,it's important to look as unique as possible; helps people remember you.I'm an actor, you know. Currently I happen to be at liberty, but theyear before last--"

  "Well, whom should I appear like? Should I perhaps pick some fineupstanding figure from your public prints to emulate? Like yourPresident, perhaply?"

  "I--hardly think so. It wouldn't do to model yourself on someone wellknown--or even someone obscure whom you might just happen to run intosomeday." Being a kind-hearted young man, Paul added, "Come up to myroom. I have some British film magazines and there are lots ofrelatively obscure English actors who are very decent-looking chaps."

  * * * * *

  So they climbed up to Paul's hot little room under the eaves and, afterleafing through several magazines, Paul chose one Ivo Darcy as a likelycandidate. Whereupon the stranger deliquesced and reformed into thepersonable simulacrum of young Mr. Darcy.

  "That's quite a trick," Paul observed as it finally got through to himwhat the other had done. "It would come in handy in the profession--forcharacter parts, you know."

  "I fear you would never be able to acquisition it," the stranger said,surveying his new self in the mirror complacently. "It is not a trickbut a racial ableness. You see, I feel I can trust you--"

  "--Of course I'm not really a character actor; I'm a leading man, but Ibelieve one should be versatile, because there are times when a reallygood character part comes along--"

  "--I am not a human being. I am a native of the fifth planet circulatingaround the star you call Sirius, and we Sirians have the ableness tochange ourselves into the apparition of any other livid form--"

  "I thought that might be a near-Eastern accent!" Paul exclaimed,diverted. "Is Lebanese anything like it? Because I understand there's areally juicy part coming up in--"

  "I said _Sirian_, not _Syrian_; I do not come from Minor Asia but fromouter space, from an other-where solar system. I am an outworlder, anextraterrestrial."

  "I hope you had a nice trip," Paul said politely. "From Sirius, did yousay? What's the state of the theater there?"

  "In its infanticide," the stranger told him, "but--"

  "Let's face it," Paul muttered bitterly, "it's in its infancy here, too.No over-all planning. No appreciation of the fact that all thecomponents that go to make up a production should be a continuingtotality, instead of a tenuous coalition of separate forces whichdisintegrate--"

  "You, I comprehend, are disemployed at current. I should--"

  "You won't find that situation in Russia!" Paul went on, pleased todiscover a sympathetic audience in this intelligent foreigner. "Mindyou," he added quickly, "I disapprove entirely of their politics. Infact, I disapprove of all politics. But when it comes to the theater, inmany respects the Russians--"

  "--Like to make a proposal to our mutual advanceage--"

  "--You wouldn't find an actor there playing a lead role one season andthen not be able to get any parts except summer stock and odd bits forthe next two years. All right, so the show I had the lead in foldedafter two weeks, but the critics all raved about my performance. It wasthe play that stank!"

  "Will you terminate the monologue and hearken unto me!" the alienshouted.

  Paul stopped talking. His feelings were hurt. He had thought Ivo likedhim; now he saw all the outworlder wanted to do was talk about his ownproblems.

  "I desire to extend to you a position," said Ivo.

  "I can't take a regular job," Paul said sulkily. "I have to be availablefor interviews. Fellow I knew took a job in a store and, when he wascalled to read for a part, he couldn't get away. The fellow who did getthat part became a big star, and maybe the other fellow could have beena star, too, but now all he is is a lousy chairman of the board of somedepartment store chain--"

  "This work can be undergone at your convention between readings andinterviews, whenever you have the timing. I shall pay you beautifully,being abundant with U.S.A. currency. I want you to teach me how to act."

  "Teach you how to act," Paul repeated, rather intrigued. "Well, I'm nota dramatic coach, you know; however, I do happen to have some ideas onthe subject. I feel that most acting teachers nowadays fail to givetheir students a really thorough grounding in all aspects of thedramatic art. All they talk about is method, method, method. But whatabout technique?"

  "I have observed your species with great diligence and I thought I hadacquisitioned your habits and speakings to perfectness. But I fear that,like my initial face, I have got them awry. I want you to teach me toact like a human being, to talk like a human being, to think like ahuman being."

  Paul's attention was really caught. "Well, that _is_ a challenge! Idon't suppose Stanislavsky ever had to teach an extraterrestrial, oreven Strasberg--"

  "Then we are in accordance," Ivo said. "You will instruction me?" Heessayed a smile.

  Paul shuddered. "Very well," he said. "We'll start now. And I think thefirst thing we'd better start with is lessons in smiling."

  Ivo proved to be a quick study. He not only learned to smile, but tofrown and to express surprise, pleasure, horror--whatever the occasiondemanded. He learned the knack of counterfeiting humanity with suchskill that, Paul was moved to remark one afternoon when they wereleaving Brooks Brothers after a fitting, "Sometimes you seem even morehuman than I do, Ivo. I wish you'd watch out for that tendency to rant,though. You're supposed to speak, not make speeches."

  "I try not to," Ivo said, "but I keep getting carri
ed away byenthusiasm."

  "Apparently I have a real flair for teaching," Paul went on as, expertlycamouflaged by Brooks, the two young men melted into the densecharcoal-gray underbrush of Madison Avenue. "I seem to be even moreversatile than I thought. Perhaps I have been--well, not wasting butlimiting my talents."

  "That may be because your talents have not been sufficientlyappreciated," his star pupil suggested, "or given enough scope."

  Ivo was so perceptive! "As a matter of fact," Paul
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