A narcissistic actress meets the one man she can’t have. 2,546 words. Illustration by John David Carlucci.
When Jacqui decides to rent a house, the most important item on her wish list is the position of the pool. The wrong exposure, too much shade – deal breaker. No tanning beds or crfeams, Jacqui enjoys the sun. She has zero interest in people who obsess about skin cancer. God created sun, didn’t he? But did he create dihydroxyacetone, the creepy stinky chemical in self-tanners that does who knows what to your immune system? She visits her dermatologist once a year to get checked out and she’s doing just fine, thanks. SPF? Not for Jacqui.
Jacqui never wanted to be an actress. She moved to L.A. with a high school girlfriend who had the acting bug. Jacqui figured she’d get a job, then marry a nice man. Enough of a reason to leave Fresno. The girlfriend took acting classes and one night, after a showcase, Jacqui was approached in the lobby by an agent who said he admired her performance.
“I wasn’t in the show,” Jacqui told him.
“You should’ve been,” the agent told her, not missing a beat.
Jacqui married the agent, did some guest spots on TV shows. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Quantum Leap. She learned her lines, got along with everybody, became known for her pretty face and nice body. But L.A. was filled with actresses like Jacqui. Fortunately, there also were plenty of men who admired them. Divorce, alimony. Another marriage, another divorce. Alimony again. Star Trek: Voyager, NCIS, a couple Lifetime movies. She was aware of getting older, of losing roles to younger women. But Jacqui didn’t care. She had money – not a huge amount, but enough. She still worked. Other actresses talked about their plastic surgeons and line fillers and boob lifts, but Jacqui was oblivious. Because, no matter what, Jacqui always had the best tan.
A stuntwoman turned realtor is suspicious when she finds out A-list celebs are buying from her. 2,937 words. Illustration by John Mann.
"Sorry I’m late," he said.
He walked in holding a stack of binders under his left arm and a coffee in his right hand. He looked sweaty. It was air conditioned in the half-finished showroom almost to the point of catatonia yet Spader was sweating big buttery bullets.
"What’s with the stacks?" said Nicole. She shot him a disgusted look. She could smell him from where she was sitting, and she hated that he could somehow bleed into multiple senses. Nicole had the face of a Midwestern blonde beauty queen but the demeanor of a drill sergeant. She had moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis to become a stuntwoman, but had fractured her leg in multiple places falling down a flight of stairs for a movie shoot five years ago. The filmmakers hadn’t even kept the take. But she’d been left with a limp and been forced to abandon her stunt career. There had been flowers and a brief mention in the press at the time that she had been at fault. She’d since learned to swallow the memories of that whole past life of hers. She rarely thought about Hollywood the same way, and kept her head out of the industry trades. Luckily for her bank account, she had taken to selling real estate like a shark in shallow water. She sometimes wondered what she’d say if the producers of the movie ever tried to buy from her.
Nobody around the table that morning liked Spader except for Pete and even that friendship was tenuous at best, with conversations revolving mostly about the Dodgers’ team troubles. But there would be no talk of baseball today. Out of the four of them, Nicole was the most talented at actually selling. Until this contract was over, they were stuck in this trailer from 10 to 6 every day, without fail.
"These," said Spader, "are for the meeting at 11."
"It’s 11:22, Spader," Nicole said.
"Yeah I know. I had to go and get them. And then make sure they were the right ones." Pause. "I also stopped to get coffee," said Spader, almost out of breath. The table groaned "But I think you’ll find that I did good on finding all these."
Spader was confident, and this was new.