Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

The Day of the Emu

Robert N. Jennings


Brandi had had enough of the emu.

“I’m here in Wilmington at Bill Byrd Chevrolet, eastern North Carolina’s low-price—OUCH! Dammit, Dean, he bit me!”

“Cut!” Dean hollered. The man with the camera dutifully lowered it. Dean removed his baseball cap and rubbed his forehead as he stormed over to the pickup bed Brandi had shared with the world’s two meanest emu for the past four hours. “Get down. You and me got to talk.”

“Me? What about these—”

“Get down off the motherloving truck.”

Squinting against the sun, Brandi swung her legs over the side and dropped to the ground. A gallon of sweat shook loose from her brow, dribbling into her eyes and making her wince. The emu, apparently thinking they had successfully driven her away, honked triumphantly. “What?” She snapped.

Dean clenched his jaw. The mirrored lenses of his sunglasses stared back at Brandi with the image of a tarted-up blond in a T-shirt cut way too low and makeup that the July sun had melted into a multicolored nightmare. Behind the truck, the gaggle of car salesmen who had gathered to stare at her backside floated around to the other side to get a better view of her bare stomach.

Dean held his thumb and forefinger less than an inch apart and jammed them at her face. “I am this close to firing you and bringing out that fat receptionist chick from the showroom! Maybe she can act!”

The Daisy Duke shorts crept up her backside and the stench of emu permeated what little clothing Dean had allowed her to wear. Until now, she hadn’t said boo about anything, especially the emu. God help her if she criticized the emu, even if they smelled like buffalo after a good sauna session. These were his directorial masterstroke; emu were birds, and this was Bill Byrd Chevy, see, birds, Byrd, get it? Motherloving genius.

There had been three emu several hours ago, but one escaped. Got off the rope and took off down College Road, legs working like pistons. The other two broke out in insane honking fits, screaming at their comrade to fetch help and get them out of this crappy commercial before Dean ruined their careers like he was doing to this stupid blond chick. Help never came. The remaining birds took out their frustration on Brandi by biting her neck and beaking at her hair.

And still she said nothing, because Dean was going to get her on television and get her a speaking credit to raise her above the ocean of former Dawson’s Creek extras trying to break out of the food service industry. If she pulled this off, she might be able to get an audition for One Tree Hill or one of the Screen Gems productions. So she’d kept her mouth shut.

Until now. “Can’t you put the birds somewhere else?”

“Hey, the emu ain’t the problem! The problem is the mongoloid that can’t say five simple lines!”

The cameraman looked at the ground. Brandi’s face turned crimson and her jaw began to tremble.

Dean shook his head. “You know what? Just shut up. Stand there and look like a bimbo, you can do that, right? We’ll get the fat chick to voice-over later.”

The salesmen sucked in air sharply, as if they were the ones getting punched in the stomach. Customers perusing the selection of shiny new vehicles stopped. Everyone stared at Brandi; somebody snickered.

Her audition for One Tree Hill evaporated then, if it had ever even existed at all. Five years of sending out head shots had culminated in this, a spot in the bed of a pickup truck with two smelly birds, taking orders from a dingleberry with legs who had just taken away her first speaking part. In another few years, she’d be pushing thirty; she couldn’t wait this long again.

Tears welled in her eyes. “I quit.”

“Go ahead. You’ll never work in television around here again…oh, that’s right, you’ve never worked anyway.” He smirked, stepped aside and gestured towards College Road. “Go on. Git.”

Brandi wanted to say something that would reduce him to tears, but the words wouldn’t come. Instead, in front of God and everybody, she tugged her shorts out of her butt crack and headed around the back of the dealership for her worn-out car, parked next to a dumpster under a sun so bright that even when she shut her eyes, she could still see.

***

Robert N. Jennings lives in Mebane, North Carolina, with his wife Angel, his son Jackson, and his Shih Tzu Phoebe. He graduated from UNC-Wilmington in 1999 and received a law degree from Carolina in 2003. He works in Mebane and concentrates his practice in family law, criminal law and personal injury.

© Robert N. Jennings

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012