The obituary read:
Brad Stevens, known for his role Billy Lewis in the hit play Coming Out, died Tuesday at 71. It was a lucky break that launched his career as he was the understudy to the original actor playing Billy Lewis who was killed in a car accident and Mr. Stevens took over the role and won great acclaim. Coming Out advanced the cause of Gay Rights in America. He toured the country and that experience culminated in a short run on Broadway. He went to Hollywood and had several parts in movies but told an interviewer in 1983: I like the energy from an audience. Playing to a camera leaves me flat. He did some commercial work most notably for Duncan’s Lawn Fertilizer in which he played a blade of grass. He is survived by his manager, Omar Dawson. Donations to the American Cancer Society are requested.
Omar Dawson put down the paper. He was flooded with memories but not feelings. He thought about the time he saw Brad in a showcase production in a church basement in Manhattan probably forty or forty-five years ago and his talent was obvious. He went up to Brad in a bar afterwards and introduced himself. They spoke briefly and Omar watched him afterwards. Brad drank too fast and the actress he was with got angry when he touched her in a way she didn’t like. She walked out on him. Omar saw that Brad needed some help and thought he would make him an offer.
The next night, Omar planned to be in the bar after the show when he guessed Brad would be in. His plan was to talk to him about being his manager for 10% of any jobs he got with his help. He didn’t want to make an offer while he was drinking but to establish a time and place to meet so they could talk. When Omar told Brad what he wanted, Brad grinned and looked around the bar.
“What’s that got to do with it?”
“I don’t want anybody thinking about me like that.”
“Yeah…well, from what I saw last night you didn’t exactly score, did you?”
Brad was angry.
“That Bitch,” he said.
“I think you have talent, but I also can see where you’re working against yourself and if you would let me manage your career, and yes, personal life too, together we could make some money. But we have to like and trust each other. Think about it, and if you’re interested, meet me at the Horn and Hardart at thirty-fourth street at one tomorrow.” and he walked away.
Omar walked the foggy streets and felt good about what he’d done. He played it straight with Brad and gave him the offer and left it up to him. He didn’t try and talk him into anything. Young actors have talent without the belief in their talent so they mess up their lives. If Brad would let Omar guide him, he could avoid those mistakes, but it was up to Brad.
Omar got to Horn and Hardart at twelve-thirty and got a cup of coffee and sat at a table in the middle of the room. He watched the people and saw just what he was thinking. He saw people who by how they dressed or carried themselves or the expression they wore communicated hostility. In show business, if you get big enough, then maybe you can afford to offend people but that only comes after you’ve proved yourself to be a profit. Brad came through the revolving door and looked around the room. He was unshaven and disheveled. Omar raised his hand. Brad saw it and came to the table. Omar pushed a five-dollar bill towards him.
“Here, buy yourself some lunch.”
Brad stupidly stared for a moment before picking up the bill and walking away. Omar studied two ragged women with gaps in their teeth. They laughed a lot, he observed, for women living in misery. After several more minutes, Brad with a tray came back and sat. He started in slurping his soup.
“So, what’s the deal?” Brad said.