M. and I discuss, breathless with laughter. He wasn’t un-cute! Maybe M. should take his number, just in case R. decides not to leave his wife today after all! M: unamused. Still, we are more relaxed now, a little looser; I’m feeling slightly less like an actual murderer. But the show must go on. The buzzer rings a second time, M. hamster-shimmies into her rug tube, and I answer the door.
Guy #2 is a shaggy-haired white guy in his late 40s who has apparently decided to make a quick delivery on his way to a luau, the only fathomable explanation for his billowy Hawaiian shirt, Tevas, and the mirrored sunglasses perched on his head. “Okay,” I say, as soon as we enter the death chamber. “We just need to do this as quickly as possible. My husband will be home soon.” I’ve decided to beef things up by adding some back-story. Guy #2 nods, squints, and turns on the light.
I look around, wildly. “What?”
“What’s that?” He steps forward, examines M.’s foot, steps back, and shakes his head. “I’m not touching that,” he says, very quietly. He stands by the light switch, his arms crossed in front of his chest. “Nope. I’m not touching that.”
I’ve gained confidence from my last performance; I move towards him, swiping wildly at my crazied-up hair. I always was told I had great stage presence. “It’s… a mistake,” I say. Where do I come up with these things? I picture Eileen Boevers in the corner, nodding approvingly. “It’s just a mistake. Haven’t you ever made a mistake?” I’m trying to squeeze out a tear. “Just – a really bad mistake?”
He stares at me, deadly calm. “Well, it’s not gonna be my mistake,” he says.
It’s not gonna be my mistake! This line delights me. The whole exchange is gorgeous. Clearly, we’ve both seen too many movies.
Can I also mention that it’s the middle of the day on a blindingly bright, sunny Sunday, on a bustling avenue in innocuous Park Slope? The sidewalks teem with children playing and people walking pugs named Lola. So what I, a small and bespectacled young woman in an apartment full of books, am asking is for him to, in broad daylight, hoist a rug-wrapped corpse downstairs, past the neighbors and out onto the street in front of the busy shop on the first floor of my building and into his van. Just to be clear. So here we are, and the guy with the sunglasses on his head is saying, with narcotic calm, “This is not gonna be my mistake.” But he makes no move to leave, which is interesting, and actually a little annoying, since I haven’t allowed that much time between pick-ups. I wrack my brain.
“Um, please? You have to help me! Look, I’m paying you for your time. This has nothing to do with you. It’s none of your business. You just need to move this moldy old rug for me. Just mind your own business and help me!”
The guy doesn’t budge. “Where am I supposed to move this to?” He is taking it all so seriously. I feel suddenly very, very tired. I consider curling up on the dead girl, who, now that I think of it, must be stifling.
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.