She had driven 3 hours to stand in front of a woman resembling a marshmallow that played guessing games with what race Lena actually could be when only to discover that she was still not “urban looking” enough for what the role called for. After all, the puffed woman had pointed out, how many good -looking mulatto single mothers are living in the ghetto. She had “allowed” Lena to read for the part on Lena’s insistence and even supplied, to a near-perfect performance, a brilliant soundtrack of her flipping through the newspaper.
The yellow sheets absorbed the moisture becoming stained with mascara. At Lena’s bare feet, the fat fluffy tabby sun bathed in the afternoon sun. His tail flipped and flopped, tickling her. She reached down to the end of the bed and drew him into her chest. Smelling his fur calmed her. Holding the round kitten she leaned back into her bed pillows and allowed more tears to come. Squirming, the kitten insisted freedom. Sad to let him go, she granted his emancipation. Lying down into the mixed-matched pillows Lena napped. An hour passed and she awoke groggy and cranky. She blindly rubbed her eyes attempting to remove the black streaks.
Lena stood to change her clothing. She remained still in the outfit she had picked out the night before for her film audition. She had spent all week preparing for it; memorizing, backwards and forwards, her 3-lined monologue – the only lines, if chosen, that she would speak in the 90- minute feature film, starring Diane Lane. As an actor however she was trained to accept any and all roles as the rule held there was no such thing as too small of a role. After all Nicholas Cage had began his career as an extra. If she played her cards right, who knows, she too could evade taxes and own ridiculous animals. In hindsight, her trip to Portland seemed a waste of a time, a pipe dream or more suitable, an adolescent fantasy.
Feeling sorry for herself she reached for the kitten’s new black “pillow” or as she had always known it, her laptop. Her mother was notorious for firing off random chain emails about who knows what – religion, politics or random corny send-this-to-all-the-beautiful women-you-know-emails. Aware that her agent would be ringing soon with news of the outcome of her audition, she tried to set her mind at ease by reading one of these illustrious emails. The subject line simply read “Father” curious Lena opened it. The clever creation of Thomas Dolby burst through her cell phone filling the quiet sunny afternoon with a thin trebly dance mix. It was her agent.
His snappy clean voice informed Lena of what she already knew. The part for the feature film, starring Diane Lane was going to an actress in LA but they had done everything they could to take care of their own but alas Hollywood could be very stubborn. She was however not to take it personally and that there would be many more opportunities for the big time.
“Ah!” Lena screamed causing her kitty to race out of the room ala Scooby Doo style.
Lena cursed the bare windows and her and Manny’s inability to afford to cover them as the sun poured onto the poorly maintained hardwood floors. She punched the air imagining her stagnant reception job at the local non-profit arts organization whose Marxist belief held that paying peanuts to its employees was suitable so long as they all believed in its cause. She roared loudly,
“And everyday Manny goes off to that shit for brains job! Seamus O’Flaherty God if I could kill anyone in this world it would be that cheap bastard!”
Exhausted she flopped backwards onto her bed. Manny had left Lena for work hours earlier. He had kissed her cheeks as he always did and told her of his love for her. To keep her going, she often recollected this sweet affection. She lie quietly and let the sun warm her. Opening her legs slightly she gingerly touched herself. Her mind quickly dashed off to the first time she and Manny had met. When remembering this time in their lives she often sang the lyrics of the Shin’s song “New Slang”,
“Turn me back into the pet I was then we met/I was happier then with no mind set.”
She turned over and resumed checking the cryptic email titled “Father.” Her eyes raced across the page. She suddenly shut the top and sat as if in a trance. Dialing Manny’s cell, she reached his voicemail.
Groping the floor she grabbed for her jeans and pink sweater and blew out the front door.
“Lena?” Surprised to see her at the construction site, Manny nearly dropped the pile of wood he carried over his shoulder. Back when she was a pet with less of a mind set, seeing Manny in his element had turned her on, now it only frustrated her.
“What are you doing here?” He asked putting down the wood on the soggy ground.
Lena’s eyes filled up with water. Manny pulled her into his chest and assured whatever it was it would be ok. As they spoke, Seamus O’Flaherty, Manny’s boss demanded that Manny get back to work.
“Has he given you that raise yet?” Lena demanded.
Manny shook his head then squatted down to load his arms with the wood.
“Fuck this.” Lena sneered then darted straight for Seamus.
“Lena don’t!” Manny cried after her but it was too late. She stood face to face with the stout sandy brown-haired Irish-American.
“You piece of shit cheap bastard, you better give Manny that raise or I will beat your balls where they hang.”
Lena sat on the couch anxiously while Manny nearly wore out the carpet pacing. He would occasionally stop to attempt to put his cell phone back together that he had smashed into one million pieces against the wall.
“This is your fault!” He said pointedly at Lena referring to his broken phone.
“To answer your question, yes, I had to…” Lena began then stopped herself.
“I turned off your phone so that you would be late for work.” Lena confessed.
Manny sat now at the kitchen table defeated. He said nothing. In the silence Lena reached to drag her laptop out from under her tabby. She opened it up and quickly signed into her email.
“Are you fucking kidding me? You’re checking your email right now?” Manny screamed not moving from his chair.
Lena ignored him and checking the time, quickly accessed the link. She looked into the raging eyes of Manny then back to her computer. Turning up the volume she hoped he would listen.
The dreary rolling Russian accent seemed trapped in the shitty computer speakers. Boris, with a watermelon-sized head that rested directly on his shoulders, winking, reminded her that Manny needed to be engaged with him in 1 minute’s time. Lena nodded in agreement and glanced back at Manny who now was standing looking in their direction.
“Who the hell are you talking to?” Manny demanded.
Unable to explain or give any indication of what was actually happening Lena simply ignored him. Now irate, Manny stormed across the floor and grabbed Lena by her shoulders.
“You cost me my job and now you just sit there saying nothing. And why didn’t you go to work? Jesus Christ!”
Throwing her back into the couch she looked to the computer knowing Boris was unable to help her.
“Your time runs out Lena.”
Manny, now seeing that there was actually someone on Skype watching and listening to them, stopped.
“Who are you?”
Boris congratulated him,
“You make it with 23 only seconds to spare, Manny.”
Manny looked at Lena, who was simply grinning ear to ear then to Boris.
“Who are you?”
“My name is Boris and I your link to millions.”
“What?” Manny was dumbfounded and annoyed.
“Lena has been playing the lottery or as we know it here in Russia, V Loteryeyu. And once you answer final 3 questions you will be millionaire!”
“What?” Manny looked to Lena.
“Baby, I won the lottery. The Russians have opened up their lottery to America in hopes that it will help to stimulate their economy. So about 3 months ago I played along with thousands of others and I…we won!”
Manny unable to believe her sat on the couch and only barely audibly asked again,
Lena sat next to him and reassured that by answering these final 3 questions he would ensure their winning. Breathing deeply he turned back to Boris.
Boris began “Now that you have gathered self, listen. You have won 25 million already. If you answer 3 questions right then you double money. Would you like to double money?”
Manny looked to Lena who was nodding her head yes. Manny mimicked her back to Boris.
“Good, man. You must answer questions that Lena already answer. They must match exactly as she says them, right?”
Manny nodded in agreement. Boris continued,
“If you don’t answer as she says you lose all, right?”
Hesitating, Manny again looked to Lena who was nodding emphatically. Manny agreed.
“Good man. Ok here is question. When you win millions, what will be first three things you spend money on?”
Manny breathed deeply then using his fingers to count, rattled off in seconds,
“1) An engagement ring for my Lena; 2) a trip to Hawaii 3) the materials to build the house of our dreams.”
Lena screamed in joy.
“Congratulations! You the winner of $50 million dollars!” Boris said almost in shock.
Lena and Manny hugged and kissed one another deeply.
“Our lives will never be the same love,” Lena almost warned.
“Let’s hope not!” Manny said confidently then kissed Lena.