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“The Gowanus canal? Come on, please?”
“You’re in a lot of trouble.”
“But it’s not my trouble.”
By now I am flat out of ideas, though I get the distinct feeling that with very little convincing I could get him to actually do it. He’s just standing there, waiting, while I am transforming back into a girl in a darkened apartment on a perfectly lovely day, wearing rubber gloves that are starting to make my hands sweat. The part of my brain that adrenaline had shut off earlier is waking up, shaking off, asking, Wait, what is all this about? Why are we doing this?
Finally I say, “Um, okay. It’s okay. It’s only a prank.” It must be the most anti-climatic reveal of all times. A flushed and decidedly non-giggly M. emerges and sits on the floor, examining the new rug-induced rash on her bare legs. I explain. He doesn’t seem terribly impressed. As he leaves, I ask, cautiously, “Did you really believe me?” He just shrugs and says, “Hey, you see a lot of crazy things in my line of work. Just – a lot of crazy things. I wouldn’t be surprised.” He drops his sunglasses on to the bridge of his nose and heads back out to his van and towards the luau.
This encounter leaves us deflated. Suddenly there is nothing amusing about what we are doing. We are just wasting a day off – wasting our time, wasting the delivery men’s time – for a half a page of text that realistically, I realize, I could have just invented. M. checks her phone for text messages from her lover. There aren’t any. She goes to the window and looks out. There are things I would like to say to her. Specifically, I would like to say something like, “Look, he’s clearly not going to tell her.” But of course I don’t. I’m not quite nice enough to be that honest, or to release her from dead-girl duty for the day. Anyway, she’s already launched into another tale of R.’s supernaturally charming and romantic ways, so I try to listen sympathetically as I make the apartment look a little more disheveled. A knocked-over chair, it’s perfectly obvious that this is what we’ve been missing. Nothing says murder like a knocked-over chair. And then! The buzzer sounds. Guy #3 is early.
M.: back in the rug. Me: rushing down the stairs. But I can tell, even on my way down, that the spell has been broken. I might as well just tell him over the intercom before making him climb all those stairs. Guy #3 is a twenty-something, flannel-clad student type who’d said “Peace” on the telephone instead of “Goodbye.” He follows me up, sees the dead girl wrap, and shoots me an unforgettable look. “Okay,” he says. I don’t even have time to launch into my spiel. “All right. This is a joke, right? Who put you up to this? Who’s here?” And then, to the invisible prankster friend: “Very funny!” He flips on the light, starts opening closet doors, peeking around corners. “Joey? Ha, ha, you’re very funny!” I protest listlessly for about four seconds before I give up, and M. is born out of the rug-tube for the third and final time. Some journalist I’ve turned out to be, I think, disgusted. Some actress, for that matter. The ghost-Eileen Boevers in the corner shakes her head scornfully and disintegrates.