tagAnalB-Day Ch. 06

B-Day Ch. 06

byEmbers_X©

By Friday afternoon, so many head shots had passed over my desk that they began to merge as a composite in my mind. One big, dull blur.

Granted, I was a bit burnt out from the work week. But the simple fact was that, on any given day, none of those faces would have stood out to me. Most of the women were attractive, yes, but vaguely so. We needed someone distinct. Someone memorable.

Exhausted, I flipped open the last folio. More of the same: an umpteenth lady delivering "edgy" affectations with the arch of a trimmed eyebrow and the curl of a glossed lip. So unconvincing. So...boring. Take that back to LA, gal.

I took a deep breath and flipped the page. A bloodless-looking girl with a "deer-in-headlights" expression. I wouldn't be surprised if she'd been forced to model at gunpoint (and given the state of the industry, that may not have been far from the truth). Maybe she'd be a good non-speaking extra in an indie flick, but that's about it.

I thumbed through a dozen more photographs of equal mundanity. I started to lose faith. Soon there was only one more picture left in the folder. If this girl didn't fit the casting bill, I had nothing but more deliberation to look forward to come Monday.

Opening my eyes, a joyous peep immediately escaped my lips.

I immediately knew I'd found the one. The timing of her appearance seemed almost uncanny. Call it fate, call it dumb luck, I didn't care. This was exactly the kind of closure I needed before the weekend.

Her visage was immediately arresting. Her complexion was as deep could be—nearly obsidian in shade, yet warm. Her wide, deep set eyes seemed to leap forward from her smooth oval face. Her hair was gloriously billowy, falling in downy coils. Her expression was unaffected and placid.

This picture exuded such a captivating energy—knowing, yet innocent. And I loved the natural hair! Go girl!

The only other time I'd been so viscerally taken at a single glance was when I'd first laid eyes on Evander. And maybe my enthusiasm now was partially the product of a subtle predilection he'd unlocked within me.

As I looked over this girl's photo longer, I realized this might be quite true. She looked so similar to him in a strange way, age and gender aside. They could almost be related.

"We got it!" I said aloud, springing up from my desk and almost skipping down the hall to the senior casting director's office. In a matter of seconds, the one-sheet was laid out across my boss's desk.

"Hmm," Ms. Zentner creaked as she squinted and frowned severely. I knew this was a bad sign. She was normally blank of expression, unless she disapproved of something, in which case her lips drooped forbiddingly as they did now.

"This girl doesn't seem like an appropriate spokesperson for our brand," she said, pointing to her attached resume. "She's got virtually no work history, for one."

I couldn't argue with that. The girl's resume was strangely light on details; she did some fashion modeling work for a few obscure clients, and a voice-over for a radio spot some years ago, but not much else. Still, she was young, and the industry is hard to break into. I wanted to give her a chance.

"I know, Ms. Zentner. Trust me, I understand your cautiousness. But I really think we should at least interview her. You know my intuitions are usually reliable...we cast Maryann Sherver as the last Clairvisia spokeswoman on a whim, and she went over really well, remember?"

Ms. Zentner turned her head and looked at me with those same squinting eyes. Her thin, salmon-pink lips pursed tightly. She then pointed at something on the resume I had merely glossed over. "But Maryann had experience. Look, there's a 4-year gap in this girl's work history," she said, tapping the paper aggressively with her bony finger.

"She could've been going to college," I said, feeling the sudden urge to defend this girl I hadn't yet even met. I hated how suspicious and conservative Ms. Zentner was when it came to these things.

"Didn't seem to land her a degree, unless it's one she forgot to mention," she snapped back.

"But, Ms. Zentner—"

"We keep our information transparent, Abigail. That's part of our company's identity, our ethos. If we hire a totally green spokesperson, word will get out, and that'll make us look desperate. And if she flops, that'll reflect on us even more poorly. Too risky. You seriously couldn't find anyone else?"

I shook my head. I figured one tacit reason for Ms. Zentner's reluctance was the girl's look. Her purported physical attributes were quite unexpected. I pored over them again.

--------------------

--------------------

Name: Monette Armao-Jones

Age: 22

Height: 5' 11"

Weight: 128 lbs.

Bust: 34"

Waist: 27"

Hips: 53"

Cup: EE

Dress: 9

Shoe: 7.0

Hair Color: Black

Hair Length: Medium

Eye Color: Brown

Ethnicity: Other

Language(s): English, Portuguese

Skills: Modeling, acting, singing

--------------------

--------------------

Honestly, no other girl who applied for this position even came close to those numbers. They almost seemed unreal. I began to wonder if she knew the proper way to take measurements (this is a rampant problem in the industry).

And while it wouldn't have made much sense for her to exaggerate—she wasn't applying for a job at Hooters, after all—that didn't seem entirely out of the question. Tall and chesty was one thing, but the astronomical 26-inch spread between her waist and her hips? Definitely another.

I decided to try withholding my skepticism. If the reality of her physique came anywhere close to those dimensions, then it would take a lot of work to de-emphasize it. My main fear was that Monette was frankly be too sexy and unique-looking for such a boring product.

This was something I sensed drove Zentner's reluctance as well. We were conducting a campaign for pimple cream, after all. We needed a girl who was relatable and imperfect, not someone possessing otherworldly beauty. We needed someone who would compliment our product rather than draw attention away from it. But still, that look in her photo commanded me to petition in her favor.

"Ms Zentner, you have a point. But risk-taking IS part of our company's identity. We took a risk with that PETA spot. We took a risk casting a cancer survivor in our last nightlife campaign. But those worked out, didn't they?"

"Perhaps Abi, but—"

"We're not afraid to challenge, even polarize. That's also part of our ethos, don't you think? So we shouldn't back away now," I said, trying to sound as convincing as possible.

Ms. Zentner paused, shaking her head silently, then standing up and handing me Monette's folder back to me. "Alright, look. This is on you, Abi. I don't think this is the best idea, but do what you need to do. Just don't forget that we have to close this casting decision by Monday afternoon," she said, flicking off her desk lamp and walking to the door.

In the darkness, her body looked more feeble and hunched than I'd realized. She had been in this business much longer than me. It occurred to me that I should be taking her warning seriously, seeing as she'd been in the business for ages and made a good name for herself.

But this was a new age. She hired me to get a fresh perspective, didn't she? This wasn't the 70's anymore, and she knew it. I had to go with my gut.

"I won't fail you, Ms. Zentner!" I said, walking past her swiftly and waving goodnight. I heard her grumble to herself as she locked her door behind me and walked in the opposite direction down the hall towards the elevator.

4:53 pm. I would make the call and then clock out. Simple and easy.

I dialed the phone number on Monette's resume as I stood in my office, my heart beating faster than it should for what was a relatively mundane job duty. But I knew something about this girl was special.

And, though I try to maintain a professional mindset while on the job, I couldn't help but admit to myself that calling her made me slightly aroused. The phone rang a few times, and finally she answered.

"Hello?" she said, her voice soft and squeaky.

"Hello, Monette Armao-Jones? This is Abigail Khaing from Reese-Vinham Merging Markets. Is this a good time to call?"

"Oh...wow. Yeah, now's perfect," She said, her timid, high-registered voice taking me by surprise. It didn't quite seem to match what her photo had me anticipating—I imagined she'd have some kind of smoky, sensual tone—but this curveball only made her more compelling.

"Great. Monette, we received your application for our casting call recently, and we're interested in having you come in for an interview," I said as I paced around my cramped office. "How does Monday, 9:15 am work for you?"

Once back home, I quickly dropped my things and joined Evander on the couch. He sat upright, and I lay by his side with my head on his lap. It was a muggy evening, so I unbuttoned my white blouse halfway to ventilate myself. We were both exhausted from the demands of the day.

I pressed my ear to his stomach, feeling the ripples of sinew beneath his t-shirt. It was good to connect with my lover again. I needed it.

"Hmm. Your day must have been almost as long as mine," he said with a breathy laugh, patting me on the forehead. I looked up, his chiseled face momentarily eclipsed by the mug of tea he raised to his lips.

"Yeah, today was rough," I said, slinging my legs over the edge of the couch and kicking off my heels. Suddenly my calves rubbed against that scratchy spot on the armrest where Mariko had left a stain months ago. I'd never quite managed to scrub it off completely.

My mind briefly exploded back to that time. The pungent scents and cutting words, and ultimately the failure. And then I thought of our Fire Island trip, with all the weirdness and unwanted drama that came with it. Evander's the model of patience, but he's human. Everybody has a limit, and I feared my time was running out. My procrastination and reluctance didn't help, and now my new job now played a role. It was rewarding work, but it was also hard and consuming.

Adding to the guilt, I probably wouldn't have even landed that job if it weren't for Evander's help. That MBA I was riding on didn't come cheap. Even though a good quarter of his paycheck went straight to my bursars for three years, he asked for nothing in return. Well, nothing except that elusive "B" which I had yet to properly deliver to him.

Would my next attempt be my last chance? My "strike out"? I knew he could easily drop me for a better woman. At least that's how I felt, especially now. My anxiety skyrocketed as I lay there contemplating just how close to the edge I was getting.

"Rough day, Abi?" Evander asked, sensing my panic. He stroked my temples a moment, then paused, looking at me curiously.

He has this keen way of reading me. I could see the glimmer of suspicion in his eyes, even as his smile remained. Thinking it best not to open up that looming subject, I wormed my way out of his grasp and sat up abruptly.

"Oh! I forgot to tell you. I should show you the girl we're interviewing next week, I'm almost positive she'll be perfect for the Clairvisia skin care line," I said, dashing over to the portfolio case I had leaning against the living room doorway.

Evander blinked. "Uh. Is that so? Sounds like good news. I remember you were bugging out trying to find the right girl..."

"Just look," I said, grabbing my portfolio case and dropping it on the couch next to him. "Open it up." I heard him unzip the large floppy case. Then he paused, and I heard him push air out through his nostrils.

"Um," he started, his voice full of what sounded like mounting amusement.

"What?"

"She's...she looks very familiar," he said slowly, flipping the page of her portfolio to read her bio and figures. "Very familiar..."

Finding this a curious response, I turned to him. I clutched the sides of my skirt nervously.

"Well Abi. I'm not 100% sure, but...I think this is Majika Starr," he said, looking up at me with a wide grin. I peered into his magnetic eyes uncomprehendingly, wanting to understand.

"Who is that?" I asked. He sat leaned forward on the couch, staring at her portfolio for a few more seconds, then shaking his head.

"Damn. I'm almost positive it's her. Measurements even look dead on," he said, standing up and handing me back the papers. "I want a second opinion, though. Hold on," he said as he dug into the pocket of his khaki shorts and retrieved his cell phone.

He tapped on it a moment, then leaned over so that we could both see the screen. My eyes widened when I saw what he was talking about.

It was a porn site.

To be continued...

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