Mr. Dawes rewound the tape from the surveillance cameras. Five seconds early five times; he's pretty sure Ray was distracted. It's not as if he's a bad actor but the straight face he's meant to keep was defeated by nerves. Mr. Dawes said that he was a dead man - which was true however you looked at it. The boy playing a zombie in a haunted house gig has made him very mad, the hat was supposed to be pinned in his head. The pork pie falls flat on its crown but no one else notices as they run screaming. Ray kept on acting and swept it up in hast, whistling to deflect detection. Everyone knew the man's always watching; he was the only one that didn't care.
Ray couldn't wait for October to be over. When Dead House was hiring, he should have just passed by. As him and his friends take their break, he sees a gray cloud coming over. This gray clad fat man might as well have been a storm cloud. Ray waited for his lightning to strike him.
"Way to go— Ya dropped your hat!"
Mr. Compton Dawes told them all to keep a straight face, but he was the one throwing tantrums. Ray ruins his by sticking out his tongue in the mirror and thus at the petty boss.
Mr. Dawes sees Ray rushing through his eye-makeup. He is only fifteen years old and has no lines to be repeated over and over, the adviser known as Rita knew the customers won't have time to pay attention to how precise his look was. People who go into haunted houses are just there for a cheap thrill to tease their adrenaline in a phony, nonthreatening way. It wasn't something to go to war over like a sacred play with important costume design or even a story.
Ray thinks that if he was him, he would have focused more on the less talented, younger ones. The little boys and girls making faces in the mirror in an attempt to get into character. Ray thinks the whole thing was silly; there were scripted scenes where they would say lines like 'I'm hungryyyyy!' and it was meant to be taken seriously.
Mr. Dawes gives them his usually piece of advice, "I want a serious, straight face. Those faces are as straight as Karen Thurston."
Karen drops a blue hair tie on the floor from her open fingers. Ray respects her as a better actor than he was; most likely because she was already a cold hearted zombie in reality as she is in Dead House. Everyone thought she was either his sister, cousin, or girlfriend. It was understandable to think them related as they were both close in appearance: copper hair, small eyes, fair skin, deep voices and deadpan faces. He was older by two years so he was almost a foot taller than the thirteen year old.
The girlfriend thing was laughable, taking account to Mr. Dawes' comment. Karen Thurston was the village lipstick lesbian. The only hint visible on her person was the 'G' symbol on her undershirt, complete with crown and subtle Venus symbol incorporated. Most assume it was a band symbol at first sight.
"Ray, look at your left eye," Rita finally spoke after gawking at him for some time.
The boy straightened the point of the pencil to avoid confrontation. Rita walks over in a way the boss never would, friendly but helpful. That unfortunately didn't give Ray reassurance as he sat uncomfortable in front of the mirror.
Rita smiled. "It's really flayed on there - take the pencil and draw straight."
Mr. Dawes instantly pulled up his head to ask who she was talking to. His madness stewed when he learned it was the same boy who dropped his hat during performance. Ray fought to both correct himself while taking as little time as possible. He ended up with a messy ring of gunk around the eye that, while appropriate a horror character, wasn't something the role called for.
"Look at his left eye." Rita kept her gentle voice but said, "it's not looking good—"
"Okay, we have how much time to do this?" Karen snapped the question, clapping hands in frustration.
Mr. Dawes went ballistic. From standing up, unprofessional and threatening, to screaming volumes above what was said. This was far from the first time it happened... but it usually involved the actors' parents.
"Listen - why can't your 'smart friend', do it in his house! Why can't he do the costume on his own!"
Another girl stomps forward with hands on hips. "You know what, Compton—"
"Lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy!"
The next round is neared so the fight drops rather quickly. Ray was forced to finish his makeup, or he gets fired. He lets Karen take over for him and she perfects his eyeshadow, along with his whitening foundation. He liked having a girl like her as a friend. He hoped there won't be a time where their easy relationship would be challenged.
The customers that came in next was a family of four. The typical nuclear family with a mother and father, son and daughter. Fitting, as they look like the stock victims in a horror movie. They probably would be the type to have bought a haunted house by accident and not find out until it was too late. Those were Ray's favorite kind of costumers, they almost made Dead House worth working in.
He picked his target; the younger sibling, the son, whined about how gross the house was. How it was a waste of eight dollars each per person. Ray cancelled him out as he was likely too stupid to scare. Off the top of his hat-choked head, he went for the mother. The sound of her scream may get old, but leaving the adults out felt wrong.
"Amanda, we have to stay together!" The mother warns the daughter, who wanders by her lonesome in hopes to find the exit.
Ray takes cover behind the gawky grandfather clock. His stringy physique enabled him to pin himself at the side and still be unseen. He hated his hat so much, the girl inhaled a gasp at the sight of the protruding rim. He simply revolves around the clock and comes at a stop in front of her mid spin.
In that darkness, he can see her face. The daughter, 'Amanda'; the very pretty daughter of the dimwitted family of mouth-breathers. Her expressive dark eyes glimmered in a kind of fear that was bordering on fascination. Ray liked the way her eyebrows flexed up in a tilt that emphasizes discomfort.
The doe eyed girl does not scream yet. And the actor does not jolt at her. Amanda already was drawn to him the most; he possessed a poised character that outshines the overacting children that were his colleagues. Funny how being the most quiet makes you the loudest. Ray can say the same for her, although her terror wasn't cloaked exactly it was still fronted with silent bravery.
The dark eyes shift to the side, transfixed on Ray among anything else. The never left him for as long as she walked away to tend to her hysterical family. The mother asks where she had been - she answers 'nowhere'.
The first thing Ray does after the last shift was pry those pins out of his skull. The hat left his sweating tuft of rusty curls, he can deal with the layers of makeup for however long but the hat was murder. No one was pardoned to leave Dead House until the stroke of 9:00, which would only be in ten or so minutes. If Mr. Dawes captures his partial costume disrobing he'll throw a bigger fit.
"I knew I recognized you!"
Ray puzzled at the girl's voice from outside, it came from the back where the line begins and ends. He dabbed off the sweat from the light skin of his brow as so not to potentially embarrass himself.
When he snuck out the door, he saw the daughter. Amanda was speaking with Karen in a excited matter that he could only conclude meant they had known each other beforehand. After breaking away from their hug, Karen sees him. She shyly tried to wear down her uncharacteristically bright smile.
She tells him, "Ray, this is Amanda."
"Amanda Benson," the other girl reiterated.
Ray coughs, he mentions the fact he already was familiar with her, as one of the previous costumers. Amanda agrees by saying she remembers him too. The fact that she did made him feel buttery inside, but he couldn't tell if he felt that way as an actor or a lovestruck teenage boy. When she walked away, once again for her family to leave, he turned blue underneath his foundation.
With her gone, he elicits more details. Karen was cheap with details; only saying that her and Amanda met on their old softball team, and that their moms were friends. Ray sees them being best friends as hope for events where they can regularly meet up. Amanda won't just be a person who paid to spend a half an hour in the haunted house only to never see him again.
"She's pretty, no?" Ray said as casually as he could, his deep voice struggling to stay laid back.
Karen smirked crooked and modestly declares, "she's okay."
Ray laughed lowly at that remark. Amanda was her friend, not a pie she baked that he ended up enjoying. It sounded like Karen felt almost guilty for agreeing with him. Ray made a guess why, and was off entirely.
"Don't be jealous." Ray knits his eyebrows, wavering them in a cocky matter.
She didn't react the way he predicted, he expected her to snap at him. The only one scarier than him at Dead House was her, and she held that title in shame. The only one who hated working at Dead House more than him was her.
Karen just massages her temples to ease the anguish. If her face wasn't caked in white, it would be flaming with hot blood zooming to her cheeks. Her face would have matched her hair color in the worse possible way. She wishes she really was undead so there won't be any humane function to react that way. Ray took amusement in seeing a girl with a dry attitude that could rival Daria, having a chemical reaction to a crush. Of course he knew by now that she had feelings, no matter how straight her face or how monotone her voice.
"For what it's worth, I think you're pretty too."
Karen released one of her pigtails, the one she played with and twirled. It swung low and went back to the normal position as its twin, she glared at him.
Ray felt like he had said something dumb, he braced for her black tongue to rip him apart. He thought he had made it obvious it was just a joke and not a true insinuation of a potential crush. He did find Karen pretty of course, but they were too similar to be together that way.
"I'm not interested in you, I'm gay."
He sighed in relief, no awkward love triangle where his best female friend and her also attractive friend fight over him like a piece of meat. There will be no drama, no challenges, his friend was into the same thing as he: girls.
Ray flattened his lips at the insight. "Oh, no."
Karen's chloroform colored eyes weakened with a certain helplessness. She and him carried the same fear, and the same attraction. On either parts it didn't seem fair. The clock stuck 9:00 and they parted for home - dropping the straight faces they were forced to keep for the whole day.
(My Note) as you can see, I watch a lot of Dance Moms lol. If you want me to continue, vampy, I will.