|Rowena's Page, Rowena Gets Serious.||Rowena Gets A Surprise, Part 12|
Rowena entered her apartment one evening as the phone was ringing. She hurried to the nearest phone, the one in the bedroom, as her dog tried to dodge between her feet. “Linus!” she said. Then, into the phone, “Hello?” She was only somewhat out of breath.
“Rowena!” It was her sister. “I need help!”
So what else is new, Rowena thought. “What is it, Maralynne?”
“I got a frozen pizza! And I cooked it! And it has the face of Elvis on it!”
Rowena waited. “So?”
“So you have to help me get famous!”
Rowena took a deep breath and lowered herself onto the bed. She leaned forward and put her elbows on her knees. “Could you run that by me once more?” she asked.
“Madame Zelda told me just yesterday that it would take a miracle to get my Career off the ground right now, and I cooked up this pizza and there it was! My miracle! Looking right at me! Well, not right at me, he's sort of got his head turned and—”
Rowena closed her eyes. “Maralynne,” she said, “what do you expect me to do about it?”
“Do? You have to call the newspapers and stuff! You have to get me some publicity!”
“Maralynne, I'm not a publicist. Can't your agent—”
“My agent won't do anything. Not even answer the phone. Not even call me back. I oughta—”
I should have known better than to mention her agent, Rowena thought. “What about Madame Zelda?” she asked. Madame Zelda's involvement would not only get Rowena off the hook but would also give Madame Zelda just a taste of her just desserts. “I'm sure Madame Zelda knows something about Elvis.”
“She says she doesn't do stuff like this. She says it's too mercerized.”
It took Rowena a moment to work this out. “You mean mercenary?” It seemed, actually, a pretty fair though inadequate description of Madame Zelda herself.
“Something like that. But I already asked her and she said she's already worn out just giving people advice.”
“Maralynne, I already have a job too. If—”
“Plus she says she and Elvis had an argument last time she contacted him and now the vibes are all wrong. She says if I'd found a picture of James Dean—”
“Better luck next time,” Rowena said.
“So you have to do it,” Maralynne informed her.
“Maralynne. I already told you this isn't my kind of—”
“You're my sister!”
“I know,” said Rowena. “You remind me of that just about every time you—”
“So help me!”
Rowena felt she needed help herself. She wondered when Sammy would come home, and if there were some way he could rescue her. Demand his dinner, perhaps. Not that Sammy was very demanding; he could do it, though, if she needed him to. But Maralynne would only call her back a bit later. Perhaps while she and Sammy were still eating.
“Well?” Maralynne demanded. Rowena got an idea.
“Gee, Maralynne, I really don't know anything about—Show Biz and all that. What exactly do you want me to do?”
“Call the newspapers! Call the TV stations! Don't bother with radio; they can't see me so they're no good.” Almost anybody else, Rowena thought, would have said, “They can't show Elvis on the radio.” “Then call all the producers while I'm still hot,” Maralynne continued, “and tell them. Call everybody.”
“Sounds like you really have it all worked out,” Rowena said.
“You bet! This is my chance!”
“Well, you'd better not risk it with somebody like me who doesn't know anything about it,” Rowena said. “So since you know all about it, maybe you'd better do it yourself.”
“I tried,” Maralynne said. “I called the big newspapers and they told me to call the ones they sell at the grocery store checkout lines. So I called them, and they said they'd already done that story.”
“Elvis does get around,” Rowena said.
“Nobody takes me seriously. One of those papers had a story about a space alien in a glass of milk. Everybody knows aliens don't drink milk.”
“I didn't know that,” Rowena heard herself saying. The longer she talked to her sister, she reflected, the less sense she tended to make.
Maralynne gave a snort of impatience. “All they want to do with cows is cut them up. Duh.”
“Maralynne. Those tabloids—”
“So you have to help me.”
“I don't see where I'd have any more luck than you've had.”
“Nobody takes me seriously. It's 'cause I'm gorgeous. They can even tell over the phone and—”
“Maralynne, your gorgeousness—”
“So you have to help me.”
“Because I'm not gorgeous? Maralynne, for future reference. If you want somebody to do you a favor, especially if she's not your sister and doesn't have—”
“Just—don't, okay? I think it would solve a few of your problems if you just—”
“My honesty,” Maralynne announced, “is one of my charms. One of my many. So that's another reason you should do this for me; you might have to exaggerate a teeny—”
“I haven't even seen this pizza of yours! Maralynne—Maralynne, look. I'll level with you. I don't think you can really get famous this way. I never heard of—”
“But it's my miracle! Madame Zelda said—”
“Maralynne, you're going to have to prove the pizza was like that when you got it. I mean, anyone can take a pizza and—”
“I couldn't! You tell them that!”
“I don't think,” said Rowena, “that this is really going to be your Big Break.”
“But I've tried everything else! I emailed a bunch of producers claiming to be a bunch of other people and sending them the U or L to the GlamCam, but it didn't work. Chester says they probably thought it was advertising Spam even though I didn't mention Spam but he said they thought I was advertising it instead of being a bunch of separate people who really like my page all sending separate letters like I wanted them to think it was but they knew it was me because I sent so many to each producer and I used the same words and also I sent them through GlamCam, even though I wasn't on the cam at all when I sent them but he says I was so he's no help.”
“Well,” Rowena began.
“And I invited a critic to a performance of one of my plays.”
“That's better,” Rowena said, even though she had seen Maralynne act.
“He even came. He said he came 'cause he likes camp, but there wasn't a campground there, it's a theatre, so I think he was disappointed, anyway he should have been 'cause I was an understudy and I didn't appear although I thought I might 'cause it was flu season and I guess the critic had the flu at least 'cause he said the play was a bismol, isn't that stuff you take when you're sick? But he did say one good thing about me, that the actress I was the understudy for shouldn't have been cast, only he didn't use my name so no one knows who I am! And when I called him up to complain he laughed!”
“Well, critics.” Rowena managed. She still hadn't quite recovered from her sister's Spam speech; it took her several seconds to figure out that the critic might have said the play was abysmal. And probably not because of Maralynne's absence from the stage.
“So you have to—hang on a minute.” Maralynne put the receiver down with a clunk! and Rowena, left alone, sat up straight a moment and then, feeling she needed some kind of support, removed her shoes and stretched out on the bed. Caesar jumped up and curled himself against her, within her reach; she took the hint and began petting him. Presently she heard Maralynne fumble with the phone.
“Never mind,” Maralynne said. “Chester's eaten it.”
Rowena put her hand over her eyes. “Chester ate Elvis?” A giggle tried to force its way up and she clamped her lips together and forced it back down.
“I guess I shouldn't have left it out like that,” Maralynne said. “But it's okay. Chester says it wasn't a good enough miracle anyway. He says pizzas with Elvis on them are a dime a dozen, or at least no more than ordinary pizzas are anyway, and I ought to go first class.”
“That's kind of what the tabloid people said,” Rowena suggested.
“That's what Chester thinks. So I'm gonna go look for another miracle, but Chester says I'm already it.”
“That's one way of—”
“So if I have anything else for you to do, I'll let you know.”
“I can't wait.”
“So . . . 'bye.”
“Good-bye, Maralynne. Tell Chester hi from Sammy and me.”
Rowena hung up the phone. She stayed on the bed for a minute or two, then clambered to her feet. Sammy would be home any minute, and dinner wasn't started. Perhaps they should go out tonight, or call for delivery.
“But if we see any celebrities in our food, we're not telling anyone,” she said to Caesar. He got up and came to lean against her, and she bent and scratched behind his ears.
She heard Sammy's key in the lock and hurried to meet him.
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