So M. came to my house to pretend to be a murdered girl. Her therapist was not amused. And surely were I a better friend I would have protested, but I really, really needed a dead girl, and they are not so easy to come by.
So M. shows up and launches into an anecdote about the married lover doing something supernaturally charming and romantic. I pat her shoulder sympathetically and roll her up in my rug. I’ve had just enough time to snap on my rubber gloves and swallow another stomach-full of pre-show-jitters/regurgitated bile when the buzzer sounds and we both shriek. Our first victim has arrived. Luckily, I am really freaked-out and authentically covered in sweat, full of guilt and fear – turns out I’m a method actor. Entrenched now in my murderer-self, I lead the man up the narrow staircase to my apartment, gesture at the M. burrito, and say, projecting from my abdomen, “Okay, I just need you to take that and dump it in the river.”
Guy #1 is a smiley African-American man in his 30s or 40s. He blinks and blinks at the rug, clearly trying to ignore the pale little toe poking out the bottom. “Ah, okay,” he says, smiling uncertainly and clapping his hands together. “Let’s, uh, roll this up a little tighter.” He steps closer, focuses in on M.’s dainty appendage, and jumps back about three feet. “What. What is that? What is that?”
My Eileen Boevers Theatre Camp skills kick into intermediate gear. “I just…I need you to help me. I don’t have anyone to help me. What am I supposed to do?” I’m there, I’m in it. I move closer to him, begging. “Please?”
Smiley guy jumps back another three feet, landing him smack in the doorway. “You’re… you’re crazy! You’re crazy!” And – this is by far the best response we get all day – he turns tail and bolts down the stairs, running at sound-barrier-breaking speed, probably to go call the police or at least dispatch. I chase him, laughing, as giggling M. wriggles out of the rug. “Wait! Wait! It’s a joke! It’s a prank!” He stops halfway down the stairs and eyes me fearfully.
Perhaps now is a good time to mention that I am five feet tall, weighing in at around 105 lbs, and, as I have been told my whole life, exceptionally young- and innocent looking. At 29 I get carded for Rated-R movies; I just barely clear the You-Must-Be-This-Tall yard sticks clutched by 2-dimensional clowns outside children’s amusement park rides. M. is a sweet-faced blonde in a sundress, only slightly larger and more menacing than myself. Still, I have to coax terrified Guy #1 back into the apartment with a wad of cash, assuring him that I’m still paying for his time, that it was all just a joke. M. beams and waves. “See!” I say. “Not dead!” He looks at her, looks at me, looks at her, and bursts out laughing.
“Aw shit,” he says. “What’d I say? What’d I say?” We tell him and he starts laughing again. “I don’t even remember! I just went blank!” I give him a glass of water and he stands around for a while, laughing. “You girls are crazy,” he keeps saying, shaking his head. I explain to him about the magazine, about how he should look out for the September issue, about how we eternally adore him for believing us, even for a second, and then for being such a good sport about everything. As he leaves he gives us his card and says, to our enduring bafflement, “You crazy. Call me sometime! Call me!”
This is perfect, just perfect.
Wow, this takes me back. I used to work at Jane, and I was always mystified by the disconnect between how excruciating it was for the staff to have to do these “zany” pranks and the fact that they usually came off as fairly funny and not that contrived in the mag. It sounds like it was a mortifying experience but, see, you have a great story and you were forced to do something really odd and interesting that you wouldn’t have, so it was worth it – or it sort of made you into more of a “Jane girl” – or something?
And the irony here is that your prank actually did end up serving a purpose living on in this here post! Great stuff.
I love guy #3. He was all about the scene setting. Great story.