Everything seemed so perfect until the tablecloth. That fucking vinyl red and white checked wipe-me-with-a-sponge-and-I'm-clean tablecloth, held to the picnic table with four rust-covered aluminum clamps.
"Sit down, Jay, quit being so polite."
"Yes Mrs. Timmerly," I said. I squeezed my legs in between the table and bench and sat down on the hard wood. I quickly took inventory of everything in front of me. Paper plates. Plastic fork, knife and spoon. Heinz ketchup (in a real glass bottle) and French's mustard (in a real glass jar). Hamburger buns, hot dog buns, Lay's potato chips, French onion dip. A six pack of Miller Light cans. Macaroni salad in a Tupperware bowl.
"Sure Mr. Timmerly. Thank you." I took the can from him, cracked it open and drank.
"Jay just got a call-back for Six Feet Under, Mom," said Sandy. "He thinks he has a good shot at it, don't you, honey?"
I heard her, but not enough to register a response. I was staring at the can. I'd set it down on the table, on the tablecloth, but hadn't let go yet. One circle. Four squares. Four squares equal one square. One circle. One…
"Oh, sorry. Yeah. I mean, my agent told me it's down to three of us, so I guess I've got a decent shot."
"Would this be a regular role or just one time?" asked Mrs. Timmerly.
It's not right. Not perfect. Too far down, too far right. How far? Two millimeters up, a centimeter to the left? Try it. Just scooch it a little. This fucking vinyl. Can't scooch.
"Jay?" I looked at Sandy. "Hello? You okay?"
"Yeah. Definitely. I'm just, uh, thinking about the audition, that's all."
"Jay's agent told him it would be for six episodes, isn't that cool?"
"You gonna buy us a new car when you're all rich and famous?" Mr. Timmerly asked.
"Sure." Pick up the can, move it, not too much, fuck, pick it up again, there it is, put it down. Perfect. One circle. Once square. Now the plate. No, fuck the plate. Fuck this. Move the can. Pick it up, set it down, don't look, don't care. Just set it down. There. Now relax.
"Ed, you better go check on those burgers," said Mrs. Timmerly.
"I know when the damn burgers need to be checked, and I'll check 'em then."
Mr. Timmerly sat for a couple seconds, then got up and went to the grill. I chuckled as he walked away, following him with my eyes. As I looked back to the table I caught a glimpse of my beer can sitting on the table. On the tablecloth.
"Who wants cheese?" Mr. Timmerly asked.
"I'd like some, please," I answered. The can was in my hand. Don't know how it got there. One circle. Four squares. Four squares equal one square. One circle. One square. How far off this time?
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