Mr. Silas strolled across the long warehouse floor. Annie eyed him nervously from her position on a couch placed conspicuously alone in the center of the room. The wooden floors echoed the steps of his hoofed feet. He made frequent stops to shimmy his hindquarters as if there were flies bothering him. The way he sauntered about seemed aimless, almost blind.
“Bonding is not the purpose of the exercise, Ms. Schilde,” Aberto explained. “We don’t expect you to make friends with the thing. Tapirs are fairly anti-social creatures. We just want him to get used to you.”
Annie turned her attention to Aberto. He had the most ridiculous pencil mustache, like something out of an old black and white movie, and for some reason it was bothering her more than usual. Maybe if his hair wasn’t greased back that way. His eyebrows slid all around his forehead while he spoke, forming expressions that lent him a measure of imagined sex appeal she found equally bothersome.
“It was a waste of your time bringing me over here,” she said. “I ain’t babysittin’ no pig. I really need to go change out of costume now.”
Aberto let the frustration show in his voice. “Tapir,” he corrected. “Listen, an expedited production is as important to you as it is to us! At least it should be. The sooner we shoot his scenes, the sooner we can all be done and get him off the set.”
Annie stared at him blankly. Mr. Silas had paced around full circle now and walked in front of her brushing up against her legs, like a gargantuan clumsy kitten sans the affectionate purr. His awkward waddle leaned his weight into her crushing her legs against the couch. “Ummph! God!” She pushed him away, her tiny arms having little effect on on his heavy muscular body.
“Would you just look at this?” She barked at Aberto. “What if he knocks me over and tramples me? Where’s your expedited shoot then?”
Suddenly, Mr. Silas’ ears perked up and what little hair there was on his back bristled. He raced across the room and butted head first into the wall with a thundering crash. The entire building shook. Mr. Silas staggered, dazed briefly by his own blow, then trotted a few steps and stopped to shake his backside again. He was obviously satisfied he had subdued whatever foe had threatened him.
Annie’s eyebrows disappeared completely under her bangs. “What?” shrugged Aberto. “He likes you. He’s already defending you against competition. It’ll be a piece of cake!”
“Okay you know what?” Annie said. “We’re done!” She got up and stormed her way to the door. Aberto started to call out, but she held an open hand up behind her to silence him. “Done, Aberto! Done means done!”
She stomped down the porch and across the set to her dressing trailer. Unbelievable! These directors got more ridiculous all the time! She reluctantly held her hands up to smell them. Oh gross! And that was bathed! She took her disgust out on the steps up to the trailer and then slammed the door behind her. She pulled off the suffocating black dress, threw it in a heap and plopped down on the stool in front of the vanity.
“Stupid people and their stupid script ch… Oh!” She jumped. Missy was sitting behind her in the reflection in the mirror. “You scared me! When did you get here, Miss?” she asked.
Missy looked reluctant to speak. She was too familiar with Annie’s tantrums to want to be involved in one. “You said the shoot ended at 2:00. I got here about quarter after,” she finally ventured nervously.
Annie looked at the clock. “Oh crap, I’m sorry.” She leaned forward and began to unclip numerous blonde extensions from her chestnut brown hair. “My stupid director dragged me over to the animal farm after we were done. He wants me to babysit some stupid five hundred pound pig!”
Missy wrinkled her eyebrows at the extensions. “That’s really quite the look for you, Annie,” she said. “It went really well with the dress too. You could model it!”
Annie sat back and pulled her slip tight, staring dubiously at the result. “Modeling? Yeah, I’ll get right on that,” she said. “Where’s Jessi? I thought you said she was coming too?”
“She should have been here by now,” Missy said. “She was just picking up some coffee and donuts on the way. Maybe she got stuck in traffic.” She looked thoughtful. “Five hundred pounds, that’s a lot of bacon. Why do they want you to babysit a pig?”
Annie laughed. “It’s not really a pig, it’s something called a ‘tapir’ and they have the ugliest faces you ever saw! Their own mothers couldn’t love them! Stupid Aberto added him into a couple of the zoo scenes. He thinks if I spend a day with Mr. Silas, that’s the tapir’s name, it will make him comfortable around me and we’ll shoot less takes that way. It ain’t happenin’!”
She removed the last extension and shook her hair out. She took a deep breath and then planted both hands on the counter and stared straight at Missy’s reflection. “I should call Scott,” she said. “There wasn’t nothin’ in my contract about shootin’ scenes with a tapir.”
Just then a scream came from outside the trailer. The two girls looked at each other in shock. “That was Jessi!” Missy gasped. They jumped up and ran to the trailer door to see what had happened. Aberto had walked Mr. Silas across the set, hoping to make one more attempt at persuading his starlet to abide her co-star for a day. Jessi had arrived with three coffees and the donuts. Mr. Silas had smelled the sweet sugar and trotted straight up to Jessi, bumping her and knocking the treats from her hands. The donuts were gone, along with the box, and Mr. Silas was greedily licking the coffee from the pavement outside the trailer.
Suddenly Annie burst out laughing. Forgetting her attire, she walked down the steps and over to the tapir and petted him behind his ears. “You just love coffee and donuts, don’t you Mr. Silas?” she giggled. “Maybe we really could get along for a day!”
© 2010 Anne Schilde