© Copyright 2003 - The Sweet Count - Used by permission
Storycodes: MM/f; actress; shoot; audition; camera; direction; acting; plastic-crate; encase; carried; truck; kidnap; transport; captives; cons/nc; X
It almost seemed too good to be true. Michelle had come to the city six months ago, hoping to follow her dream of becoming an actress. In those six months, she’d lived in seedy apartments, worked crappy jobs, and had door after door slammed in her face. She couldn’t get into the union; she couldn’t even get an agent. It wasn’t that she wasn’t talented and she certainly had the look.
At 24 years old she still had an innocent “girl next door” quality about her with chestnut brown hair and blue eyes that sparkled when she smiled. It’s just that there were a lot of other girls out there with the same look. Several agencies had even had the nerve to tell her they were looking for someone taller. “What’s wrong with being 5’1?” she wondered. “It’s not like I’m out of proportion or anything”. That was certainly true. Though small of stature, her body had curves that had made the boys back in Westacre drool every time she passed by. Her breasts, though not huge, jutted out deliciously, each about the size of one of her cupped hands (the perfect proportions, she’d read somewhere). Her slender silky legs rose up to a bottom that could stop traffic.
“Under 5’2? It’s like this part was made for me,” she thought to herself. She’d come by to check the casting bulletin board after work on Friday, not expecting to find anything but she was desperate. Rent was due Monday morning and unless she could prove to her landlord that she had money coming in she’d be out on the street. She’d lost her last waitressing job after she slapped the hands of one too many of the many prying hands which tried to pinch her bottom every time she passed. With no job, and no money coming Michelle knew she had to nail this audition.
* * *
Rising early Saturday, Michelle got ready for her audition. She put on her best green and yellow sundress, flat white shoes, and spent some time arranging her hair into something that seemed like a perky young wife and homemaker. This was always the hardest part of these jobs, trying to decide what the casting director would be looking for. When she was relaxing at home in her apartment Michelle liked to dress in a comfortable old pair of peach colored overalls and put her hair up in pigtails, her only throwback to the tiny little farming town where she grew up. Checking the mirror once again, she decided that this would pass. Her sundress was bright and cheery, with a floral pattern and a length that came just to the knee. “Not too frumpy, not too slutty, just right” she thought.
Arriving at the address she’d written down from the notice Michelle was dismayed to see a line up all the way down the block of pretty young women, most in sundresses not too different from her own. “Oh well. That’s a cattle call for you”.
By 3:30, she’d made it into the door where there was a small table where people signed in and chairs all around the room. Finally, at 5:15, she heard her name called and went into the casting studio. A handsome blonde man with a small reddish brown goatee sat behind a table covered with photos and resumes.
“Hi, I’m Ken.” he said standing and offering his hand. “Please excuse the vest. The heat’s not working in here and it gets a little cold after eight hours in the studio.” He wore a navy blue fleece vest over his collared cotton shirt. “I’m the director for this spot, Craig over here is my cameraman.” He waved over to a tall, dark haired man who was peering into his camera lens. Craig wore blue jeans and a black t-shirt that stretched tightly over his muscular chest. “Hi” he said, looking up.
“So Michelle,” Ken said, glancing through her resume “Tell me a bit about yourself”
“Well, I’ve trained in acting for many years back in my hometown and I’ve been taking classes here in the city as well…”
“I see you don’t have an agent”
“Well, no, I’ve been working on that and, um, …”
“Hey, it’s okay. Lot’s of the people who’ve come through today don’t have one. Who needs someone taking away your money anyway?” he said, smiling at her.
“Do you have any friends or family in town?”
“No…not really. Why do you ask?”
“Sorry Michelle, I should have said. It’s just that when someone doesn’t have an agent we like to have a backup number or way of getting in touch with them in case there’s a change in the shooting date or something and we can’t reach them at home.”
“Oh, well, no. Unfortunately there’s no one like that”
“Even back in your hometown? Friends, family?”
“We don’t stay in touch.”
“So no one even knows you’re here?”
Michelle shook her head.
“Hey, that’s okay Michelle. You look like the kind of girl who’s pretty good about checking her voice mail. Alright, take a spot on the green mark on the carpet there”
As Michelle was looking down to find her mark Ken looked over to Craig and gave a barely perceptible little nod.
“Okay,” Ken continued, “what we’re looking for in this spot is a happy, very organized young homemaker sharing some of her household organizing tips. Keep it real, very charming and friendly. Guys should want to be with you, women should want to be you. The product is ‘Clear Tote’ storage bins. They’re a new company and they’re hoping to give the big boys like Rubbermaid a run for their money. Any questions so far?”
Michelle looked back nervously. She was never sure if she should be looking directly at Ken, or looking at the camera so he could see her face clearly in the monitor in front of him.
“Just one question. The ad mentioned ‘flexibility is a must’. Do you mean schedule flexibility, being available whenever you need or…”
“No, we’re actually looking more for physical flexibility. Craig, grab her one of the boxes.” Craig pulled a clear plastic box from a pile that were stacked in the corner. Walking over to Michelle, he placed it on the floor near her feet and opened the lid. The box looked to be about 30 inches long, 15 inches wide, and about a foot deep. The sides and bottom were clear and the top was made of thick green plastic. There were a number of holes punched into the lid, which was attached to the clear sides with three sturdy looking plastic hinges. On the front of the box were two large latches that could be clamped down to lock the lid in place.
“Clear tote is trying to promote a lot of the features of their new line. The sides of their totes are actually made of a special low-grade lexan, the same stuff that they use in bulletproof windows. They’re incredibly strong. They even innovated a new ventilation system in the lid so clothes and linens don’t smell musty after being stored for a long time.”
“I’m not sure what you want for the audition,” Michelle stammered. She hated this part. She always started to get nervous and panicky when she had to talk to people in an audition.
“It’s okay. Let me explain. We’ll be shooting a lot of spots where you’d be a spokesperson and explain all the great things that the Clear Tote can do. The big thing we need you to be able to do is our little hook that we’re going to use at the end of all the spots. We want you to say ‘Clear Tote is so roomy, there’s even space for me!’ then you actually climb inside the box and close the lid so our last image is a close up of the box with your smiling face inside. We want to be sure you can act and fit in the box at the same time.”
“Wow. Sounds like a fun spot. I’m not sure I’ll fit, though. I mean, I’m small but…”
“Don’t worry, we’ve had bigger girls than you in there today. The key is just lie on your back or your side and tuck your knees into your chest”
“Okay….” She murmured uncertainly. “There’s no chance that I’m going to get stuck, is there?”
Ken laughed. “Nope. The plastic on that lid is actually pretty flexible. If you feel like you’re stuck just push up with your legs and it’ll pop right open. There’s no chance of getting stuck in there by accident. Okay, let’s try one. Just give me the line ‘there’s even space for me’ then climb inside. This spot actually ends with your husband picking up the box and carrying it inside but since we haven’t cast him yet we’ll just get Craig to do it. Ready? Look right at the camera. Are we rolling Craig?”
Taking a deep breath, Michelle looked right at the camera lens and put on her friendliest most beaming smile. “Clear tote is so roomy, there’s even space for me!”
Still smiling at the camera, she moved to the end of the box she sat down inside, then lay down on her back. Giving one last playful kick of her legs, she lay down on her side and folded her legs up into her chest so they tucked perfectly into the box. Reaching up with her free hand, she pulled the lid of the box down on herself. Peering through the clear side of the box she kept a smile on her face as she kept looking up at the camera.
She saw footsteps approach and heard an ominous CLACK, CLACK as the lid was latched shut. Suddenly she felt the box swoop off the ground as Craig lifted her into the air. It was actually kind of exciting, being handled like a piece of luggage. She saw a door opened and was surprised to realize that he’d carried her outside into the alley behind the building. They approached a small cargo truck that was parked in the alley and he propped the box containing her on the back bumper for a moment as he rolled up the back door. With a grunt, he slid her into the back of the truck then climbed up and placed her on one of the shelves that lined the interior. To her horror, she saw many more boxes on the shelves, each with a small curled up actress inside. Craig jumped back out of the truck and rolled down the door again, locking it with a sturdy brass padlock.
Inside the truck, Michelle tried pressing up with her legs on the lid but the plastic did not even bend. She kicked at the sides in vain but there was no give. She was trapped in this sturdy plastic prison until someone chose to release her.
Back in the studio Ken turned to Craig
“How many is that?”
“It’s all too easy. These girls do half our job for us. Let’s call it a day, it’s time to find a new town”
While Craig packed up their gear and loaded it into the back of the truck, Ken went out into the waiting room where many more petite, young actresses sat waiting.
“Ladies, thank you all so much for coming in. I’m afraid the role has been cast. If you’d like to leave your resumes and photos on the table we’ll certainly keep you in mind for any upcoming projects.”
A murmur of disappointment swept through the room then the girls began to file out, dropping their photos on the table as they left. Once the room was clear, Ken scooped up the photos then locked up the studio they had rented for the weekend and climbed into the passenger seat of the truck. Waving the photos at Craig he beamed, “Looks like we’ve got some more prospects for next time.”
As they drove past the city limits Ken wondered where their
next “Audition” would be. From the back, he heard the plaintive mewing
of the captive girls. This had been a good stop. Their employer would be