I was in the bathroom when the call came. It was a good thing I’d just went, or I would’ve peed myself.
My little sister, Prunie, banged on the door. “Marvin, come out right now. They want you! They want you!”
I zipped my pants. “Who wants me?”
Louder pounding. “Marvin, come out!” This time it was my dad, but he sounded like he was on helium. “They want you!”
“Who wants me?” I asked as I washed my hands. If aliens ever attack or the house is on fire, I hope I’m not in the bathroom, because I have to wash my hands, no matter what. I’m weird that way.
I opened the door and my dad shoved his cell phone in my face. Then he grabbed Prunie and danced a tango with her down the hallway. He was on his way back to me and I still hadn’t answered the phone. “Who is it?” I mouthed. I like to be prepared.
“Lor-raine,” Dad mouthed back.
“Lor-raine,” Dad mouthed slower. “Your new agent. Talk to her!”
I nearly dropped the phone. “They want me?” I asked Lorraine. “Wait. Who wants me?”
“Kid,” Lorraine said, “you are in tall cotton.”
“I don’t remember that script.” I thumbed my brain through the mental file-cabinet of scripts I kept in my head, but it was hard to concentrate. Dad had morphed into Michael Jackson, and he and Prunie were doing Thriller moves. I went to my room and shut the door. “Is Tall Cotton a movie set in the South?”
Lorraine snort-laughed. “Kid, you kill me. I sent World Wide Studios your taped audition--you know the one you did for Uncle Pete’s Peanut Butter? Their casting director wants to screen test you for a new mini-series called Z Street!”
I sat on the edge of my bed. “Z Street? What’s that about?”
“Zombies, kid. Zombies. You’d play the kid in a zombie family, which happens to be the only zombie family in the neighborhood. Kinda like those old black and white monster--”
“Zombies?” I stood up. “Lorraine, I don’t play zombies. I think it’s in my contract somewhere.”
Lorraine laughed. “Kid, this is the part of a lifetime. Do you know how hot zombies are right now? They’re the new vampires. You will be famous, do you hear me? Fa-mous.”
I tried another angle. “You know I’m a method actor, Lorraine. I just don’t think I could convincingly portray a kid who ate his friends.”
“You are too funny, Marv. That’s what I love about you. You’ve got the greatest sense of humor. Bring that with you tomorrow for the screen test. And you don’t have to worry about this zombie family. They don’t eat their neighbors and friends. They only eat evil people. So they’re kind of like heroes, yanno? I’ll meet you in the lobby of World Wide Studios at four tomorrow. Just dress casual. They’ll add the special effects.”
“You know, rotting flesh and whatnot. See ya, kid!”
I sat down in slow motion. Everything got hazy, and I imagined myself on the set of Z Street. I was sitting at a table full of normal, happy kids who were eating regular school lunches. They were having chicken wads and potato wedges with peaches and a no-bake cookie. Me? I was having scrambled brains with sides of eyeball jello and finger fries.
I ran to the bathroom, and this time it wasn’t to pee. One way or another, I thought as I tossed my tuna casserole, I’m getting out of that audition.