Chapter 3: Call Back
“Kelly? You there?”
Meredith could easily see that something was on her friend’s mind. In fact, she didn’t need to look at her buddy’s face; the car had been in front of Kelly’s house for a solid three minutes, and she hadn’t gotten out yet.
Kelly came to when Meredith started poking her in the head. “Earth to Kelly, come in Kelly, this is Houston, over.”
Meredith ran one of her hands through her short ‘light red’ hair, smiling. “You’ve got something on your mind, and it’s not college applications.”
The ‘King’ sighed; her best friend knew her all too well. “How’s your boyfriend?”
“We already talked about that, Kel,” she reminded her, “he’s fine. You’re just trying to change the subject.” There was no response, so she continued, “Who tried to get into your skirt today?”
“Brunette, was the pep rally cheerleader captain. Had the nose job last year.”
Meredith started laughing uncontrollably. “No way? Emma Domino put the moves on you?”
Kelly smiled meekly, before confirming it. Meredith wasn’t done, however. “Seriously though, what’s going on?”
“That didn’t fool you for very long, did it?”
“That kind of thing happens to you every other day. Now what’s really got your panties in a knot?”
“It’s that theater show.”
“Yea, so?” Meredith was more of a sports girl than an artist.
“I just don’t want to have to deal with the Andresses. I mean, we both know that they’ve got it out for me.”
Meredith nodded, her mind stewing, in the process of creating one of her infamous plans. “It’ll only get worse once Homecoming starts getting closer." Kelly winced as she imagined the prospect of having to fend off hordes of Emmas two, three, four times a day.
“What the hell am I supposed to do?” she asked as she finally opened the passenger side door. “I mean, I know that the whole school can’t possibly be raving lesbians like my mom said, but this whole thing is just getting ridiculous.”
Meredith shrugged her shoulders, a thinking woman’s smile on her face. “I don’t know, I’m working on it. I’ll have something ready by Monday.” With that said Kelly finally climbed out and shut the door behind her, allowing Meredith to drive home.
Erika lucked out the entire weekend; her step-sisters were visiting their equally ‘popular’ cousins in San Francisco, and they wouldn’t be back for a few more hours. Her mother gave her a truckload of chores, but that was normal. The woman always seemed intent on pushing her harder and longer than either of her own flesh and blood. Erika had only asked her stepmother once about this tendency, but didn’t get a straight answer.
Either way, she was in front of Buck’s house once again, but instead of finding a smiling lawyer, she saw two pieces of paper taped to the door, as well as a peeled orange in a bag. This was the first time that Buck hadn’t greeted her in some time, so Erika was naturally confused. The first notes was on a torn piece of notebook paper, but had Buck’s clear and pristine handwriting on it.
Just took a BIG case, real big. Have to do research. We’ll talk after school.
PS: Eat your orange. It’s good for you.’
She giggled when she read the word ‘Uncle’. Buck liked to think of himself as the kind parental figure that she never had, and Erika liked to do so as well. She peeked through the window to wave at him, seeing that Buck was in a crisp suit, writing something down with his trusty pen and clipboard, the special scarlet phone resting between his ear and his left shoulder. He waved almost mechanically at her as he continued talking shop over the phone.
Not that Erika would’ve been able to spend much time today talking to him anyway. The bus had shown up at the house earlier than usual. She got on this bus without a fuss and took a seat, making sure that it was unoccupied. Without anyone to read over her shoulder, she read the second piece of paper, which ended up being a newspaper clipping from the front page of a big newspaper (she couldn’t read the paper title).
It was an article about a recently murdered philanthropist, Jack Stone, and after a page and a half focusing on the family; she noticed that the next paragraph or two had been highlighted. The highlighted text noted that two suspects had been taken in custody. The first suspect plead guilty and said that she and the other suspect conspired to do the deed, while the second suspect claimed innocence and thought his companion was joking. The second person’s name was also circled, with the snippet ‘Ask Jack’ in red ballpoint pen written in the margin.
Erika stuffed the article into her pocket as the bus came to a rest in front of the school. She knew Uncle Buck was a big-time lawyer, but she also knew that he didn’t take cases very often, especially ones like this. The media was going to be all over this one, especially since the victim’s daughter, Charlene, went to her school. Buck NEVER took the reins at media circuses like this, never. It wasn’t his style.
She didn’t remember stepping into the school, but the next thing she knew, her two best friends were by her side.
Mary had a hint of a smile on her face as she asked, “How was your weekend?”
“Chores, bores, but no whores- the usual.”
Kat chuckled; it was about time she started to make jokes! “I guess my brilliant wit’s finally rubbed off on you, eh, Erika?”
Mary modestly replied, “Something rubbed off on her alright.” Before her ‘wife’ could shoot back, Mary changed the subject. “Call back list is up, Erika. So is the designer list, but by and large, no shockers there.”
“I’m lighting and sound designer, as well as the board operator,” Kat continued, “So I’ll be taking my orders from her.” She grinned, before adding, “Just like in bed.”
“KAAAAAAAaaaaaat...” Mary’s face could’ve been mistaken for a very ripe apple.
“Oh, come on. It’s not like Erika didn’t already know that we love each other to bits and pieces! She broke that code before either of us did!” It was Erika’s turn to blush now; as open as her friends were, she still was a little reluctant to discuss these sorts of things seriously.
All discussion was now dropped as they were only yards away from the wall where the long awaited listing of actresses was posted. But right in front of the paper was-
“Congrats, Kelly!” There was a pink haired girl who was gushing over Kelly Kingsley’s being on the call back list.
“I still can’t believe that I got on the list, Meredith. I mean, I can’t believe it.” Meredith looked at her as if she was crazy for a moment before remembering that the woman in charge of the Theatre Department was more impressed by skill than by name.
“Okay, I’ll bite. Why are you so surprised? I know you’re pretty good at acting and all.”
Kelly shook her head, her golden hair dancing in the air. “It’s just- okay, this is gonna sound stupid, but I actually got to see this one girl audition.”
Erika and company all tensed up as Meredith’s eyebrows went up. “They can do that?”
“Not usually. But that’s beside the point,” she said. “The girl that I saw audition, my God, she was incredible. I got shivers from watching her, Meredith. Shivers! The only time I’ve ever felt like that was when I was watching Jackie Daniels in “Black Holes”.”
Meredith gasped. Her best friend, who had seen countless numbers of actors with her father, had just compared this girl that she barely knew to the greatest movie actor of their time.
Erika couldn’t believe it, either. She never ever got to watch any movies- her stepmother had insisted- Jackie Daniels, one of the most decorated Hollywood men in history by winning five Oscars, Jackie Daniels, winner of a Grammy, Jackie Daniels, victim of a tragic drunken driving accident six years ago... she was being held in THAT much regard?!? By THE Kelly Kingsley?!?!?!? She nearly swooned on the spot!
“Ah yes, Jackie Daniels. I seem to recall that if you’d go straight for him if he was still alive.” Kelly laughed nervously; she’d never play ‘Truth or Dare’ ever again.
“You know what’s even scarier, Meredith? She kinda looked like him! I’m dead serious!”
The pink-haired junior scoffed at that claim. “Oh, really? What did our young Daniels double look like?”
Kelly paused, as if she was remembering a fond memory from a day long past. “Her face was softer than his. And the nose was a lot cuter. She had this red hair that would’ve made my mother jealous, and my God. The eyes, Meredith, the eyes were the big one. One look into those deep wells and they make you feel like you’re at home.” She had a far off gleam in her eye that her friend had never seen before. “I just wish I could’ve gotten her name.”
Meredith smirked; she finally had something to say. “Well then, judging by your vivid description, I’d say you should look right behind you.”
“What are ta-” Kelly’s words died as she realized that the red-haired actress she’d been glowing about had been right behind her. She looked back at her BFF, her face giving off the message, ‘And you couldn’t have told me sooner?’
Meredith had a wide grin on her face, before commenting, “I’ve gotta get going. See you at lunch, Kelly.” Before anyone could stop her, she was on her way.
This left Kelly Kingsley with Erika Andress and company. Actually, Kat and Mary seemed to have mysteriously disappeared in the time it took for Erika to realize that she’d been spotted, which took a good ten seconds. Not a word was spoken between the two until Erika finally walked towards the list.
“So... uh... nice day.” Kelly couldn’t believe it. All her scintillating wit and the best ice breaker she could come up with was ‘Nice day’?
Erika giggled a little bit- she hadn’t imagined that THE Kelly Kingsley could be so, so... human. Nonetheless, she still clammed up, meekly replying, “I guess.”
“Listen, I never got to tell you what a great job you did at that audition-”
Despite having heard what Kelly had thought of Erika’s try out twice now, she was still on cloud flippin’ nine from receiving a compliment from her.
“-so, I guess what I’m trying to say is that you were really, really good.” She paused, before asking, “Are you alright?”
That came out of nowhere. “What? Why?”
“You look really flushed.” She put a hand on Erika’s forehead, which made her blush even harder. “You don’t seem to have a fever.”
That entire spectacle felt like something ripped out of her anime; but she never thought someone might do this to her. “Anyway, you probably came here to look at the list.” She stepped aside to allow Erika a better spot to look, finally taking a closer look at whom else made the list.
Erika paused, and asked, “Why?”
“Both of the Terrible Twosome made the cut.” Erika’s self-esteem suddenly shrunk to the size of a slightly salted slug. She’d be going up against BOTH of them? “Well that can’t be right," she continued, "There must be a typo on here- there’s a third entry for ‘Andress’. But this one’s called ‘Erika’, there aren’t three Andresses-”
“It’s not a typo.”
Kelly looked at the redhead that she’d just been gushing over. “What?”
“My name is Erika Andress.” She looked at her idol before awkwardly shrugging her shoulders and apologizing with a “Sorry”.
Kelly shook her head. “It’s nothing to apologize for. It’s just that I didn’t know that those two had another sister.”
“I’m actually a step-sister.” Erika gasped at herself, how dare she be so open with THE Kelly Kingsley!
But despite her honesty, Kelly did not punish her. “Well that explains it! I thought there was something different about you!” She smiled, and in that instant, Erika felt a warm gooey feeling in her heart that she’d never felt before, and her knees felt weak.
But the pleasant sensation was only for a fleeting moment. “Well, listen, I gotta get going, but it was really nice talking to you. I’ll see you at callbacks after school!”
As Kelly walked down the hallway, Erika blinked hard as she gently touched her forehead with her hand. ‘I’m never washing that spot ever again.’
The day seemed to speed by up to Theatre class, when Erika finally got to corner her two scheming friends.
“What were you two thinking?”
They feigned innocence, with Kat asking, “We’ve got no idea what you’re talking about.” The effect was lost immediately, as Mary was giggled like a kid with a secret.
“Seriously, what were you thinking?”
Mary looked her friend dead in the eyes, and said, “We thought that we would return the favor.”
Kat nodded and added, “You helped us find love, and we thought it was only fitting.”
Erika couldn’t deem this at all possible. “Wait, I just told you two what you wanted to hear, I didn’t do anything but!”
The two lovers stared at Erika, their eyes half-shut. “What about the Wood Shaving Incident?”
“That was a total accident!”
That was actually true. A few months after Erika had become good friends with both Kat and Mary, both of them had separately confided in her about their respective crush: each other. A week later, while constructing the set for “Death of a Salesman”, Erika tripped over a discarded two by four, causing the bag of wood shavings she was carrying to fly onto the stage floor. This, in turn, caused both Mary and Kat to slip and fall- on each other. After realizing the position they were in, it took them three seconds to just go for it. They kissed, and there was much rejoicing amongst their fellow theatre jocks.
“Congrats on making it to callbacks, Erika.” Mary had a little smile on her face, while Kat’s was more enthusiastic.
“Yea, you ready to kick some butt after school?”
Erika shuddered for a moment. “I don’t think I can do it.”
Mary’s brows furrowed, while Kat appeared flustered. “What? Gimme one good reason, and don’t you dare say that you’re afraid of Kelly Kingsley.”
“I’m afraid of my sisters.” That tidbit nearly got Kat started again, but Mary whispered some vital information into her ‘wife’s’ ear, and Kat went for a more calm approach.
“Your sisters made it into callbacks too?” Erika nodded. “Well, there’s not much else your sisters can do to punish you.”
“You obviously don’t know them very well.”
But Mary had her cornered with, “They’ve tried to do just about everything to us. So unless they’re going to try and get in your panties, there’s nothing they can really do.”
And that was the end of that. But Erika couldn’t help but remember the look that Jade gave her last Friday...
Indeed the entire day seemed to flash before her eyes faster than Kat could eat a large pizza. Before she knew it, the day was done. Callbacks were to take place in the theatre, so Erika and her friends stayed put. One by one, the various people who had been called back shuffled into the theatre at various points of time.
True to Erika’s luck, Fiona and Jade showed up to do their part, making a beeline for their stepsister.
The tension between both groups would’ve choked lesser women, but no one budged an inch. Jade merely was content to take a seat in the third row after giving Erika the evil eye, but Fiona stayed a bit longer. “Remember what I told ‘ya, Erik.”
Kat nearly rose from her seat to slug her, but Mary intervened. “Fiona, as stage manager, I must warn you: I don’t take kindly to people in the production threatening each other.”
Mary and Fiona stared at each other in silence, while Julia finally showed up. “Hey guys. What’s-” She stopped cold in her tracks as she realized who was right in front of her. The lesser stepsister stared at Julia, and smirked.
The staring contest was between those two now, until Erika finally stood up and said, “Please Fiona, enough’s enough.” But her severe gaze was back on Erika, and if looks were weapons, Erika would’ve been hit with a metal shovel.
“That’s enough, Fiona.” All eyes turned to see Kelly Kingsley and Meredith Alberdeen walking down the stairs to take their seats. “I said that’s enough.” The blunt stepsister might not haven taken orders very well, but even Fiona knew when she was outmatched. She stormed off, firing off one last warning glare before seating herself next to Jade. Julia (who had been given responsibilities over the costumes) finally sat herself next to Kat, while Kelly and Meredith ended up sitting in the second row.
All eyes were now on Mrs. Thatcher, who was proceeding down the stairs and focused on a stack of papers in her hands. She finally came to a halt in front of the gaggle of girls in the audience, and began to speak.
“Good afternoon, ladies, and welcome to callbacks for ‘The Odd Couple’. Now, a few things to get out of the way before we begin. First off, just because you were called back doesn’t mean that you’ll be cast. Likewise, the parts that you’re reading for today are just ideas that I’ve got- it doesn’t mean that you will play that person in the show should you get in. And on a final note, anyone who acts like Keanu Reeves will be shot. One of him is enough, thank you very kindly.” She then sat down in a different section of the theatre, and the call back began.
Two hours later, it was over. Call backs were usually a hit or miss affair, and this was a bit more of the latter than the former. But anyone who stayed for the last block of acting (the director, the theatre jocks, and Meredith) would’ve told you that staying was worth it. Once all was said and done, the remaining audience could see that the duet of Kelly and Erika was nothing short of show stopping in the best possible way.
Erika couldn't believe that she’d kept her cool for so long while sharing the stage with her, nor could she believe that she was in the same car as TH- no, just Kelly Kingsley. Just Kelly Kingsley, and the owner of the car, Meredith something-or-other.
“I’m tellin’ ya Mary, that new Kyle Youtz movie isn’t gonna be that good.”
“And I’m telling you, Kelly, that it looks ballstastic. What about you, Erika?”
The redhead was shocked that someone she barely knew was asking for her opinion. Despite this, she couldn’t really give an answer. “I don’t watch movies.”
Meredith didn’t turn around- she was still driving- but she almost felt like staring. “You don’t watch movies?”
“No. Mom’s never ever let me watch any movies.”
Kelly laughed a little bit. “Never figured Miss Andress for the strict type. Anyway, that’s gotta change.” They finally stopped in front of Buck’s house, and Erika thanked them for the ride.
They drove off as Erika approached the door. It was unlocked as usual, and Buck was sitting at the kitchen table, peeling a banana. “Aftanoon, Erika.”
“Afternoon, Buck.” She noticed several newspapers on the table, along with several legal pads. “Are you going to war or something?”
“Mm? Na, I’m just prepping myself for my big case. Jury selection’s comin’ up, and then the real fun begins. How wus ‘ya day?”
Erika shifted in her seat a little as she said, “It was fine. Callbacks were okay, and Kelly was kind enough to drive me home.”
“Whoa, whoa.” Buck was on good terms with the few friends Erika had- the mention of a new name threw him of his A-game. “Who’s Kelly?”
He began taking a drink of milk as Erika explained. “Her name is Kelly Kingsley. She drove me home.”
Buck swallowed involuntarily and strained his throat in the process, his eyes watering slightly from the pain and shock. “K-Kingsley?”
Erika nodded, and noticed his eyes. “Is something wrong?”
“I defended her father in a case years before you were born. I had no idea that he still lived in the area.”
A ringing breached their ears as the kitchen phone began to ring again. “It’s probably for my case. I’ll get it. Hello?”
Erika could tell after ten seconds that Buck wasn’t going to be happy. “What’d you mean; they might have finally figured it out? ...Uh huh... Are they right? You know that neither of us can answer that! ...They’re on their way to talk to her NOW? The gag order doesn’t expire for a few more weeks!”
Despite Buck’s screaming, Erika could distinctly notice that the red phone was also going off. With Buck yelling nonstop at the phone, Erika decided to try to take a message from the ‘special’ phone.
Trying not to give Buck anymore problems to deal with than he had already, she walked silently into the room with the phone, tore off a piece of notebook paper, and picked up the phone. “Hello?”
“Afternoon Buck, it’s Cheryl. How are you?”
“Um, Buck’s not available at the moment, can I take a message?”
The voice paused for a moment before asking, “Who is this?”
“This is Erika Andress. Uncle Buck’s in the next room.”
Another pause, before there was finally a response. “Could I talk to him for a moment?”
But before Erika could get up, Buck had entered the room. “Why did you answer the phone?”
“WHY did you answer the phone?” But Buck didn’t look angry anymore, he almost look scared.
“It was ringing!” She held out the phone and said, “It’s for you. Some girl named Cheryl.”
Buck strode across the room and took the phone. “Cherry? ...Uh huh, well it’s good ta hear you too. Yea, that was. Mmhmm, she is. ...You are? Really? You both are gonna- The timing is a bit tight you know, what with the gag order about to terminate, and with the press- I’m just worried that it might blindside- ...Alright, we’ll talk about this later. I’m wasting daylight. Good night.”
He hung up the phone, and stopped Erika’s train of thought before it could even start. “No, I’m not going to explain who that was. Just trust me.”
“Can you at least tell me when you’ll tell me? A date, a year, something?”
Buck looked at his watch before finally conceding. “On your eighteenth birthday, I’ll finally explain everything. And I mean everything.” He looked at his watch once more, before saying, “I’ve got a lot of work to do, Erika. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
As Erika began walking back towards her house, she couldn’t help but focus on Uncle Buck’s situation. ‘Is the case stressing him out that much?’