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The Sweet Spot
By Kayla Perrin
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Kayla Perrin
All right reserved.
This is fast turning into the worst day of my life.
My friends will tell you I say that a lot -- that whatever crappy day I'm going through is the worst day of my life -- but this time I mean it. Reeeally mean it. I may as well find a hole and bury myself alive, that's how completely hopeless I feel right now.
I'm stuck in traffic just south of NoHo (a.k.a. North Hollywood), and horns blare as car after car whizzes by me. Like people actually think I chose to break down in a live lane in the middle of busy traffic. And not one person offers to help me.
"Okay," I begin, hoping my calm tone will appease my car. "You can do it, Betsy." I rub the dashboard lovingly, trying to coax my car into submission. "Now come on, engine. Turn over." I turn the key, but Betsy's engine only whines in protest. "Come on!"
The engine sputters and burps, then magically comes to life. Energy shoots through my veins, renewing my hope.
"Oh, thank you, Betsy. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Betsy's clock long ago stopped working, so I glance at my watch as I start to drive. Ten thirty-five. I have to get to the NBC studios by eleven if I want to have a shot in hell of changing my life for the better.
I've been trying not to be too excitedabout this opportunity, but I just can't help it. NBC is launching a new sports show, and I actually have an audition/interview for one of the three host positions. One of the hosts is the legendary quarterback Lionel Griggs, and they're specifically hiring two new faces, probably a man and a woman.
This is the break I've been waiting for. No, the break I've been dying for. The reason I've worked for the past three years at a pathetically low-paying job, in the hopes of building up a decent video reel. Today's audition is the chance of a lifetime in this City of Angels where everyone has a dream but only a small percentage will ever make it.
Something my mother, back home in Cleveland where I was born and raised, reminds me of every chance she gets.
But I'm not thinking about that now. You have to have faith if you're ever going to make it.
My heart pounds as I get closer to Burbank. I want this job so bad, I can practically taste it. Zoe Andrews reporting for Inside Sports! The Lakers will have some tough competition today . . .
A loud screech-thud sound jerks me from my daydream just as Besty's sudden halting jerks me forward in the car. My stomach twists painfully. Oh God. Not again.
And this time, no matter how much I try to get Betsy going, she just won't cooperate. No sputtering, no screaming engine. Nada.
There is, however, a burning smell, and I know that can't be good. Betsy's radiator busted four weeks ago. Two weeks before that, it was the transmission that started acting up. God only knows what it is today.
I try again to turn the engine over, and absolutely nothing happens.
"No, no!" I cry out in frustration. "Not now, Betsy! Please not now . . ." Groaning, I drop my head against the steering wheel, knowing that my situation is grim. What am I going to do? I will never make it to NBC on time now. And I know firsthand that showing up late for an audition is the kiss of death.
I grab my things and jump out of the car, feeling only a mild sense of guilt that I'm going to abandon Betsy here in the middle of the road. She gave up on me first, I justify. And after all we've been through together.
Just like most of the men in my life.
Of course, people protest my leaving Betsy with a barrage of horn-blowing, and one guy even gives me the finger. I ignore him as I dig my cell phone out of my purse. I've got more important things to worry about right now.
I call my boyfriend, Marvin. He was actually sick today and didn't head in to work on the set of Passion's Shore, a soap opera for which he's a production assistant. But like the first time I called him when Betsy began giving me trouble, Marvin doesn't pick up our home line. And he doesn't answer his cell, either.
"Answer the phone, Marvin," I say as I listen to it ring again. "It's not like you were dying when I left you less than an hour ago!"
But Marvin doesn't answer, and I've just wasted a few more minutes I should have used to try and hail a cab, or to even call one. Not that calling a cab would be much help. I have exactly one dollar and twenty-two cents in my wallet.
I start walking somewhat aimlessly along this industrial stretch of road, not sure what to do. Should I hitchhike? I know I'm too far to make it to the studio on time, and I wonder if I should bother going if I know I'll be fifteen to thirty minutes late.
As I realize I'm fighting back tears, I also realize that I can't give up. I have to keep going. I have to hope for the best. I have to believe that when I walk into the studio, some exec will see me and instantly realize that I'm the perfect person for the job. "You're hired," he'll say in a corny Donald Trump-like imitation, which I'll laugh at, relieved that my pitiable life is finally going to take a turn for the better.
Damn it, why don't I have money in my purse?
Marvin always gets irritated with me because I hardly ever carry cash. "You need something in your wallet," he often tells me, "in case of an emergency."
Excerpted from The Sweet Spot by Kayla Perrin Copyright © 2006 by Kayla Perrin. Excerpted by permission.
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