Wray is offered work narrating a book alongside his favorite celebrity.
Wray Nerely stands forlornly at the vending machine. The Styrofoam cup crashes with a thunderous slam against the metal grate, waiting to be filled with rich, smoky, artificial coffee flavor. Instead a thick, gooey paste plops out with a fart followed by a weak stream of greenish water.
Wray cautiously inspects the contents, first with a toothpick that quickly dissolves once it touched the paste, then by taking a whiff. He reels in disgust. “Ugh, god! It smells like a sewage.”
“Begging your Majesty’s intelligence,” a Janitor retorts with heavy sarcasm and a mop bucket. “But didn’t you read the sign?”
Wray shrugs, “What sign?”
The Janitor grabs an Out of Order sign on the floor next to Wray’s shoes and slaps it back on the vending machine, tapping it so Wray understood what it meant. He takes the cup from Wray’s hand and stumbles off to the horizon that is the end of the hallway (muttering something about “outsourcing” and “celebrities”) while chewing down the beverage.
Wray scratches his head, flabbergasted by the event. He suddenly wished he was back signing Spectrum photos and headshots back at the con a block away, but he agreed to do this and by God he was going to do it. Especially when it meant working alongside…Him.
“Mister Nerely?” Wray looks over his shoulder as two men approached. The one who spoke was a tall, lanky, bald man in a very nice business suit, possibly Italian made, he did not know for sure. The other was a stocky hairy man with 1950s thick glasses, bowtie and sweater over worn blue and khaki clothes, but what really made him stand out was his eerily creepy Cheshire smile. “I’m Mister Keye. This is my associate Mister Peel,” the Suit remarked in a baritone voice. Peel enthusiastically grabs Wray’s hand shaking it like a soda can. “If you’ll come with us, please.”
Wray peeled his hand away from Peel as the two escorted him into the booth. “I must say you come highly recommended for this line of voice work Mister Nerely,” said Keye. “Did you read everything before coming?”
“Oh, I blitzed through the whole thing. No problems,” Wray boasts. Truth be told, he only went as far as the part that said he would get five thousand for some voice work alongside…Him, but he sure was not going to let them know that. “Anything I should know before starting?”
Peel waves his finger at Wray while snorting, which made him look creepier to watch. Keye pats Wray on the shoulder then points to a blank flat screen on the outside of the glass. “Just say what pops up here under your name and you’ll do fine.”
* * * * *
Wray jumped to attention as the booth door opened revealing to the overly anxious and enthusiastic actor to…Him. Truly if their was a word to describe such a talented, radiant, seasoned veteran carrying a token bag, Wray could not find a word in his mind. The only thing that appeared was an image of Bobbie in a cheap QVC salesman outfit showcasing a cheaper looking beanbag doll of Wray holding a flashing neon sign inscribed with the buoyant word “Whoopieeding”.
“James Spader,” Wray finally managed to squeak out to…Him. “It’s you.”
“You as well,” James remarks as he shakes Wray’s hand. Wray’s knees nearly collapse buckling under so much pressure. He composes himself in a respectful manner to…Him, but ends up giggling like a schoolgirl. James retracts his hand and takes a seat in the far corner. He rests his token bag on his lap and fishes inside, pulling out a bottle of eight year old scotch, a sipping glass, a pair of sunglasses, a Cuban cigar and box of matches, and a fedora; much to Wray’s astonishment. James notices and remarks, “This helps me get into the mood when I do these things.”
“Everybody ready?” Keye booms over the loudspeaker. James nods before putting on his fedora and sunglasses. Wray continues watching…Him. “All right. Sex By Lady Gaga, narrated by James Spader and Wray Nerely, Chapter One,” Keye booms again over the speaker.
Wray freezes. His eyes bulge out from their sockets. He attempts to speak but suddenly goes cotton mouthed. Music pours into the room that leaves the poor actor dumbfounded. (Is that Slingblade?)
James takes a sip of scotch then leans toward his mic. “I am of chameleon design, both glorificus and audacious. When I see myself in the mirror I regale myself to the story of the Traveling Salesman and the Three Holes. Some days I’m the experienced, doting mother. Some days I feel as an innocent, loving daughter. And some days, I feel hungry like a milk machine, not stopping until three thousand gallons are withdrawn.” James lights his cigar and takes a long puff followed by another sip of scotch.
Wray continued staring in disbelief until hearing a loud tap over the speaker. He clears his throat while gazing at the monitor. “You get me hot,” the words finally squeaked out. “I’ll show you what I’ve gaht. Oh, oh, oh, ooh, ah.” He shakes his head not understanding a single word he just said, let alone how this could be put in “material” like this. He glances at…Him continuing to sip scotch and mouthing “Poker face” in some demented chant.
Keye abruptly cuts through the music. “Damn, it’s getting hot in here guys. We’re starting on Chapter Two; keep it up.”
James leans toward his mic again. “I travelled on a wild, stretch of desert road on the Mexican border listening to an old Spanish to English tape stuck in the player.” He takes a long drag from his cigar. “I thought today instead of going straight up, I’m going with a little flair. So I slipped on my mismatched color dress and fur and wandered along the highway stopping at a truck stop called Bobby Wobbly. A place I fondly remembered from watching Oogieloves.”
Wray again stares in disbelief, not knowing whether to walk out or stay. Sadly, he remembered Oogieloves, (no thanks to Stutter. How he got Cary Elwes to do that in his home still baffled him), and Bobby Wobbly had given him nightmares over several months, which ironically was a step up from the Bourbon Balls and Vegas incident. Another loud tap brings him back to reality. He clears his throat and gazes at the monitor. “Put a little butter, mix it with some ketchup and stick it in a microwave.” He scratches his head in bewilderment. “What the hell does that even mean?”
“Woo!” Keye crackles over the music. “It’s getting steamy in here. I’m sweating like a glazed ham! Lets move on to Chapter Three.”
James refills his glass. This time he takes the mic into his hand. “Today feels like a black and white day. I find myself in an old café diner handing out blue-plate specials en masse to a crowd of hungry entrepreneurs and down on their luck gamblers.” James takes another sip and clears his throat. “Satisfied, I hand each a ticket and notice a lock of my golden, angelic hair happens to fall near the guy from that show with that other guy who played the villain in Buckaroo Banzai, which suddenly gives me a thought: what it would be like to perform for the guy dressed as a Xenomorph. And if I did, would he like it?”
Wray has finally had enough. He grabs his mic, knocking it to the ground and causing a hissing shriek with James’ audio. He waves at Keye and Peel. “Excuse me, but is this supposed to be sexy? Because if it is, it’s having the opposite effect here.”
“I’m a little turned on,” James retorts.
Keye bursts into the booth toting “coffee” from the vending machine and wiping his forehead with his tie. “Is something wrong, Mister Nerely?”
“Yes, there’s a lot wrong here!” Wray shouts. He smells Keye’s “coffee” and almost gags. “Do you have to drink that?”
Keye pats Wray on the shoulder. “Mister Nerely, we respect you. You know that, Boobala?”
“And I guarantee the work you’re doing is phenomenal. Phenomenal! Peel and I are getting goose bumps listening to the tracks.”
Wray notices Peel pinching and rubbing his arms, all with that damn smile. “Okay.”
“So, when I say this I mean it from the bottom of my heart,” Keye says as he pats Wray on the shoulder. “I…Live from New York its Saturday Night!”
Wray stands wide-eyed, mouthing incoherently as saxophone music churns out of the speakers. Peel brushes the actor aside as he and Keye moonwalk to a recorded applause.
* * * * *
Rick Sanchez turns up the volume to his Infinite Dimensional Television as he slurps down a beer. His grandson, Morty, scratches his head in bewilderment as he watches Wray doing the same.
“So in this reality, Saturday Night Live is like, some kind of Ashton Kutcher reality show that pranks celebrities?” Morty grabs a handful of snacks. “I gotta say it’s much better than our version.”
“In this reality the producers knew they sucked, and they couldn’t survive after their drug fueled writing of the Seventies,” Rick answers and belches. “Interesting side note, Wray and the Hole in the Wall really hate each other since the Hole showboated him in Spectrum.”
Morty calmly relaxes in his seat and snacks. He turns back to Rick and ask, “So what exactly is a Bobby Wobbly?”
Rick starts flipping through channels. “Ask Jerry. I’m sure he knows what a Bobby Wobbly is.”
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