Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee(9)

“And cut!” Arliss walks from behind the camera, grabs the container of chicken livers, opens it, pops two in his mouth, drops a couple on the ground for Buford, who looks the most excited he’s looked all day, and takes a couple to Tater, who eats them out of his hand.

“I’ve never attended a dog wedding before,” Lawson says to me as I come off set, leading Tater by the collar.


“It was very romantic. I always hoped Tater would find the right someone.”

This guy is a massive goofball, but a good sport. “You ready for your big dance scene?” I ask.

“I have no idea what I’m doing.”

“Dude, none of us do.”

“Come on. You’re amazing.” He nods at Delia, who’s handing a CD to a decidedly glum Arliss. “Y’all are both great. But you especially.”

I start to respond, but Arliss cuts me off. “Dance party. Let’s go.”

I wave for the twins and Lawson to come. The twins whoop and pull their skeleton masks into position and run on set, shoving our chairs and end table aside to make room. They jump in place, slapping the sides of their heads, psyching themselves up.

Lawson does a couple of quick stretches followed by a few high kicks. Nothing else about him is that impressive, but he moves well—quick and strong. “That’s good,” I say. “Incorporate some of the karate moves.”

Delia and I take our positions; the twins and Lawson are just off set, out of the shot.

Arliss goes over to the light switch and cues up the music on the laptop and speakers we’ve set up. “This music is royalty free, right?”

“Yep,” I say. “And you better believe it sounds like it.”

Delia and I stand there for a moment to give Arliss a space to fade us in.

“Wow, Delilah, this movie sure is a spooky romp!” I say with exaggerated cheer.

“Yes, it is, Rayne. I think—”

Arliss begins flicking the lights on and off. Delia and I look around wildly. Arliss will insert a spooky cackle sound effect.

“Delilah?” I say, voice quavering theatrically.


“I think we’re about to take a trip…to the bone zone!” We say the last part in unison. We pull our capes around ourselves and retreat off separate sides of the set. Arliss begins flickering the lights to simulate dance floor lights and starts the music. Imagine the most low-rent, dollar-store dance music you can. Nope, worse. It’s filled with weird air-horn sounds and sped-up chipmunk voices and this flatulent bass that sounds like stomping your bare foot in a bucket of dead fish. Given the choice, I would prefer to listen to the screaming of the damned.

Lawson hesitates. The twins shove him onto the set, where he stands frozen for a second while the twins take formation behind him. The twins begin dancing wildly. Pelvic thrusts. Pantomiming drawing revolvers from invisible holsters, shooting them, and blowing away the smoke. They jump at each other and chest-bump. Lawson finally gets into the groove a little bit, but then all at once he starts this series of alternating high, strong kicks. The twins whoop and holler encouragement. We make (what I assume is) eye contact, because he kicks harder and higher, jumping and spinning, when I give him a thumbs-up. He’s doing great, especially considering he’s wearing a black robe and a mask.

He’s clearly an inspiration because behind him, one of the twins cups his hands for the other twin to step on to try the backflip again. The flipping twin over-rotates, lands on his heels, falls, and rolls backward off camera. Someday one of them is going to crack open his head and flood the studio with whatever noxious gas is inside.

Lawson looks back, motions for the remaining twin to move, and then executes a textbook backflip, landing perfectly and doing a jumping spin kick. We cheer silently.

There’s no reason Dad shouldn’t love our show the way he loved the Dr. Gangrene, Zacherle, and Svengoolie episodes he watched while I was growing up. I mean, we have people doing karate moves and backflips. We’re not terrific, but we’re unterrific in the ways he always loved.

Lawson comes off set flushed and glowing. He nods quickly to me, and then looks to Josie for approval. She gives him a thumbs-up, and he beams.

Another dude who loves Josie. Color me shocked. I’d comfortably estimate that of guys who meet Josie and me simultaneously—and who are in the mood for love—approximately one hundred percent go for Josie. Almost all have been guys I didn’t care about at all, like Lawson. But I choose Josie over any dumb boy, and plus, I’m used to rejection. Maybe that’s what they see in me. Even more than Josie’s flawless teeth and Scarlett Johansson voice and long, curly hair that’s the color of a jar of dark honey in front of a candle and the couple of inches of height she has on me, I think it’s that they can see there’s nothing with her they need to fix. No baggage. Whereas with me? Mechanic’s special. No one wants the sad girl. Whatever.

“All right, next segment,” Arliss says. He turns to the twins and Lawson and motions with his thumb toward the door. “Leave.”

They drop their costumes in the tub.

“Can I stay and watch?” Lawson asks. He keeps glancing in Josie’s direction. “I’ve never seen a TV show filming.”

“Nope. Too distracting. This job requires tremendous concentration and care,” Arliss says, his voice dead.

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