Finding JuneShannen Crane Camp
Shannen Crane Camp
Cover design by Jackie Hicken
Edited and typeset by Jackie Hicken
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and is not intended by the author.
For Sharon, Ben, Darl, and Dean, who—against my will—taught me to love silent films, and for The Husband, who puts up with my odd taste in movies.
The thick green liquid in the glass in front of me bubbled ominously. I sniffed at it, hoping that it was like the green Jell-O we seemed to have at every church party—pretty disgusting looking, but overall quite harmless and kind of tasty.
“Why am I drinking this, again?” I asked my grandma, who sat next to me nodding her silent encouragement.
“Because, June, it will make your skin glow like a sunrise,” she replied with a grand wave of her hand. I started to relax slightly.
“Okay, so then I’m putting this on my face?” I asked hopefully, praying silently that she would answer in the affirmative. She simply stared at me with one raised eyebrow, wordlessly asking why I was being so naïve. After all, this wasn’t my first encounter with the dreaded health food monster.
“June, do you know what this really is?” she asked, though I was pretty sure it was a rhetorical question. She gave a dramatic pause for effect. “This is the difference between getting cast as the leading lady and being cast as frightened citizen number three.”
“Does frightened citizen number three have any speaking parts?” I asked with a sly grin.
“Drink,” she commanded, getting up from the table to answer her buzzing cell phone.
I sighed deeply and stared the glass down once more, trying to frighten it into tasting like something other than sour, gritty oatmeal. “All right I can do this . . . I think. It can’t be any worse than the time I played a crash victim lying in the rain for eight straight hours.”
The goop bubbled at me again, letting me know that it could, in fact, be worse than that. “You don’t scare me,” I said boldly as I picked up the full glass. I took a few deep breaths through my mouth to prepare myself for the horrid event before gulping the liquid down. Well . . . gulping as well as you could gulp something that was the consistency of applesauce.
My gag reflex instantly voiced its opinion of the health drink but I quickly regained control of my body, making sure I finished the entire glass. I was pretty sure that even if I did throw up, I wouldn’t get out of somehow drinking this monstrosity. Gran would see to it.
My gran and I had a very complicated relationship. As much as I liked to pretend she’s a slave driver, I had to admit I’d be lost without her. After my mom died she moved in right away and took up the role of "woman of the house," which turned out to be a good thing since my Dad constantly traveled for work. He was some sort of math genius, but we didn’t actually know what he did. All we knew was that the government paid for his schooling and most of the time he wasn’t at home. It was like being the daughter of James Bond . . . except with math instead of guns, I guess.
Most of the time it was just Gran and me. In fact, Gran was so much a part of the family that the house had been completely transformed into her own personal "acting Zen zone." I kind of liked it, and Dad wasn’t really home enough to notice the very non-masculine vibe of the house.
“Did you drink it all, Bliss?” Gran asked as she re-entered the room. When she wasn’t being stern or going all "acting coach" on me, she liked to call me "Bliss" because—according to her—June was the marriage month, which made it the month full of bliss. Personally I thought that would make it the month full of chaos and fake tans, but maybe that was just me.
“Down to the last blob of green stuff,” I said, smiling sweetly.
“Throw your sarcasm around all you want, but when Hollywood comes calling, you just remember who helped you get there.”
“Duly noted,” I replied, grabbing a non-fat bran muffin from the counter and taking a sizeable bite. “So, who was on the phone?”
Gran shot me a look for talking with my mouth full, but didn’t scold me. It must have been an important call. “That, my dear little starlet, was a casting director I’ve been talking to. I have an audition for you tomorrow. He saw your headshot and asked to meet with you specifically,” she said with a grin.
I waited to react, knowing that there had to be more since she looked like not spilling the news was physically painful for her.
“It’s for a television show and . . . wait for it . . . it’s a recurring role,” she practically shouted.
My eyes widened slightly at this news. I had been on TV shows before, but never anything big. I mostly played an extra with a speaking part or just did commercials. Actually, my first role ever was for a diaper commercial when I wasn’t even old enough to walk. That first commercial was the thing that firmly cemented the idea that I was destined to become famous. At least, that’s how Gran felt.
“How many episodes do they want me to do? What’s the show?” I asked, excited by the prospect of this new role.
“I can’t quite remember the name of the show but it’s one of those crime dramas.”
“Forensic Faculty?” I offered, naming the most popular crime drama on TV. If I was going to dream, I might as well dream big, right?
I was, of course, completely shocked when Gran said, “That’s the one.”
“Wait, are you serious? The audition is actually for Forensic Faculty?”
“It sure is Bliss,” she replied, tapping her nose knowledgably.
I sat back in my chair happily, wiping a few muffin crumbs off of my yoga pants as I did so. This was really big news. If they wanted me on the show in a recurring role, that probably meant I wasn’t a dead body or a character that they suspected to be the murderer for ten minutes before catching the real killer. This could be a really big deal.
“So, what time is the audition?” I asked, having to pull myself back to reality for a moment, even though my daydreams were a far more pleasant place to be.
Gran looked down at her little black planner where she had quickly scribbled the details. “Twelve o’clock on the dot,” she said, snapping her planner closed in a crisp, precise manner.
“Wait, twelve?” I asked, though I had heard her the first time.
“Is there something wrong with twelve?”
“I’ve got a test at twelve thirty. There’s no way I’ll make it back to school in time,” I said woefully.
“What class is it for?” she asked over her shoulder while she put my now-empty glass in the sink.
“English,” I replied, still trying to work out some way I’d be able to do both.
“Oh Bliss, that’s an easy one. You had half of Shakespeare memorized before you were four. I think your teacher will understand why you can’t make it for her little ‘test’ when you have much bigger fish to fry. Does she think Hamlet would come to school and take a test when the Danes are out there waiting for him to conquer them?”
“Gran, Hamlet was Danish,” I reminded her.
“Regardless, she of all people should understand that sacrifices must be made for art,” she said grandly. Gran always had a way of making everything she said seem grand and important. I wasn’t quite sure if it was her larger-than-life gesticulating or just her grandiose tone. There was just something about her that seemed important. If she were still acting, I bet she’d a
lways get cast as the queen in period pieces. She tucked a bright red strand of her short, curly hair behind her ear.
“I guess you’re right,” I conceded. “I’ll just have to send her an e-mail tonight to see if I can make up the test.”
“That’s my girl,” Gran said with a smile.
“So what else do you know about the role? Besides the fact that it’s recurring.”
“Not much. But Andy did mention something about the whole 1920s thing, which I thought was a bit odd. Isn’t the show modern?”
“It is, but maybe they want to put a different spin on it,” I replied, though I was equally as puzzled as to why a modern crime drama would want me to audition because I look old-fashioned.
It was no secret that I had a very distinct look, which made me kind of a novelty in the acting world. This did prove to be a little troublesome when trying to land more mainstream roles but so far it had actually helped me get a few artsy commercial parts.
When most casting directors met me, they'd say I looked like Lillian Gish reincarnated. Between my pale skin, long, curly, dark brown hair, bee-stung lips, and big brown eyes, I was like a walking silent film. Gran loved it. She said it was yet another sign that I was meant to be a great actor.
“Well, we don’t question our good fortune, Bliss, so get lots of sleep tonight and be ready for me to pick you up from school at eleven. We don’t want to hit traffic coming into L.A.,” she said seriously.
“Aye-aye, captain.” I said with a mock salute. Gran just rolled her eyes with a smile.
“Goodnight Bliss. I love you,” she said.
“Love you too, Gran.”
The second I went upstairs into my room, I pulled my cell phone out to tell my best friend about this unexpected opportunity. Joseph Cleveland had been in my life for as long as I could remember. Our moms had been best friends growing up, and for the short time my mom was with me before she died, she made sure Joseph and I had a play date just about every day. His mom, Claire, had always been like a second mother to me (Gran being the first) so it was only natural that Joseph and I were destined to be best friends.
I fell back onto my black wrought iron bed, which had a bronze and black 1920s art nouveau bedspread, as I dialed his number. I definitely played up my inner silent film star at every opportunity.
“Hey June,” he said by way of greeting, never bothering to do the questioning "hello?" that we all seem to do, even when the caller ID tells us who’s calling.
“Well, Joseph . . . I just thought you would like to know that your best friend might not be able to go out in public without being ambushed pretty soon,” I said, in what I hoped was a cool and matter-of-fact way.
“Oh my gosh, June, how many times do I have to tell you it’s really not that bad? Yes, it kills the first day and your face will swell up like a balloon, but that’s when I’ll come over with about twenty awesome movies and a shake with no straw to make it bearable,” he replied with some exasperation.
“What the heck are you talking about?” I asked, so thrown off by his reply that I couldn’t even begin to understand where it had come from.
“Wait, what are you talking about?”
“I have an audition for a pretty big part tomorrow,” I replied, happy to finally be getting to the big news.
“Oh, okay. That probably makes more sense than my thing anyway,” he said, embarrassed.
“And what thing was that?” I asked with a laugh.
“It’s nothing. I just assumed . . . because you’ve been stressing over it and everything. I thought maybe you were finally getting your wisdom teeth out,” he said.
“Gross, no. I’m putting that day off for as long as possible,” I said with a shudder. I’ve never been very good with dentists. Or doctors. Or even dermatologists, for that matter. There was just something about people poking you and the potential for intense amounts of pain that I couldn’t get over. So unless my Gran was going to heavily sedate me and drag me to the dentist, I was never going to get my wisdom teeth out, which I told Joseph on a regular basis. Thus, any time I called him in a panic (or in this case, in extreme excitement) he assumed the day had finally come. I sometimes got the sneaking suspicion that he wished someone really would pin me down and pull them out so he wouldn’t have to hear me stressing over it anymore. Luckily for him, he had already gotten his out. He called it mission prep.
“We’ll see. One day when you least expect it, you’ll get them out and then you’ll figure out that I was always right and you were always wrong.”
“And then we’ll go to the park to watch the sunset with all of the pigs flying by,” I said with mock sweetness. Joseph just laughed.
“All right, fine, you win for now. So what’s this life-changing audition you have?”
“Tomorrow at noon I’ve got an audition in L.A. for a certain crime drama on TV . . . you might say it’s the best crime drama . . . actually . . . I’m pretty sure everyone would say it’s the best one. But maybe that’s just me jumping on the bandwagon,” I said with a grin, hardly able to contain my excitement.
“Maybe you should just tell me, because I’m afraid I’ll shoot for the moon here, and then you’ll get mad when it’s something not nearly as cool as I’m thinking,” he replied. I could hear the playful tone in his voice, but he was probably right. If he guessed something better than what I was thinking, I’d probably get upset. Luckily, he knew me well enough to figure out how to make me feel better if that happened.
“Smart thinking. All right so the show is . . . are you ready?”
“Yes, just tell me already!” he practically shouted.
“Forensic Faculty,” I said proudly. His end of the phone was silent for a minute, making me wonder if he had heard. “Joseph?”
“Are you kidding me? You’re not joking right now, right? Because I’ll be so mad if you’re making that up.”
“No, I swear I’m not! The casting director saw my headshot and asked for me specifically!” I squealed, happy to be telling someone I knew would be excited for me.
“So basically what you’re telling me is that when you walk down the red carpet, you want me to be your escort, right?”
“Naturally,” I answered with a laugh. “But seriously, this could be a really big deal for me. You’d better be praying all day tomorrow that I get this part,” I threatened.
“Like I wouldn’t already June,” Joseph answered. I smiled up at my ceiling.
“All right, well, I just wanted to let you know so you can send some good thoughts my way.”
“Will do, kid,” he said softly. “Does this mean you won’t be auditioning for Romeo and Juliet with me?"
“Yeah, unfortunately I think my schedule will be pretty full. But hey, maybe Xani will play your Juliet. I’m sure that would make her life complete.”
“Don’t even joke about stuff like that,” he said. I could almost hear his uncomfortable shudder at that unpleasant suggestion.
“You still picking me up for seminary tomorrow?” I asked as an afterthought.
“Dark and early.”
My alarm went off at four o'clock in the morning, making me seriously question why I had decided to take zero period theatre. I had even talked Joseph into taking it with me at six a.m., bumping seminary back to an unhealthy five a.m. As I lay in bed with a pillow over my face to drown out the sounds of Edith Piaf singing, “Non, je ne regretted rien,” on my alarm clock, I contemplated "accidentally" turning the alarm off. I knew, of course, that Joseph would kill me, since he would soon be waiting outside in his car in the pitch-black night. Besides that, Gran was adamant about my going to school and seminary every day, even though she wasn’t active in church anymore and most days she pulled me out of school for auditions.
“Thank you Edith,” I mumbled in agitation at my alarm as I shut it off and rolled out of bed. You’d think that being an actress I’d be all high maintenance and take two hours to get ready for t
he day. But when I heard Joseph pull up outside the house forty minutes later, I had already showered, dressed, and done my hair and make-up. Not bad.
Before dashing down the stairs to meet Joseph, I gave myself a once-over in the mirror. For my audition, I had chosen a mauve and beige polka-dotted top with a big floppy bow attached to the neck, a high-waist beige A-line skirt, and some short close-toed heels. My makeup made my eyes look smoky and mysterious in contrast to my porcelain skin. I let my hair stay exactly how it was when I didn’t touch it: long, dark, and curly. If 1920s was what they wanted, that’s exactly what they were getting.
Gran was still asleep, so the house was dark and quiet as I grabbed a pear and headed out the front door into the cool, dark world. Joseph was standing in front of his old green Volkswagen Beetle, wearing a grin on his face and looking every bit as old-fashioned as me. Pretty much everyone said we’d get married one day because we fit together perfectly. In my opinion, though, it would be really weird to marry Joseph because we just didn’t think of each other like that.
Joseph was a bit taller than me, with chocolate brown eyes and wavy brown hair that always fell right above his eyebrows. Today he wore fitted khaki pants, a white collared shirt with a brown skinny tie, and a gray button-up sweater. Honestly, he was a pretty gorgeous guy and if it weren’t Joseph—who I’d known all my life—I’d probably be madly in love with him. But as it was, he was just Joseph, and that was just the way I liked him.
As I approached the car Joseph spread his arms wide to give me a congratulations hug, which I gratefully accepted, burying my head in his neck. “This could be big,” I said, though my words were muffled on his shoulder.
“I know! This is honestly so exciting,” he replied, pulling away to get a good look at me. “Nice choice for the audition,” he said with a smile, indicating to my outfit.
“Yeah, I thought it would keep the look they’re going for, but also look modern just in case I’m completely wrong and they aren’t going in the old-fashioned direction at all,” I said nervously.