Residents filled Grady’s yard in less than an hour. Some waited in line to try out for a role, others simply milled around, chattering or bragging about the parts they’d landed. Either nobody noticed that every single person passed the auditions, or else they chose not to say anything about it.
Jason and Wes carried glasses of lemonade and water around to keep people cool in the summer sun. They tried to look tough and indifferent whenever anyone remarked about what nice and thoughtful boys they were.
The bathroom in Grady’s trailer became the relief spot for the women. The men, meanwhile, used the big fir growing in Sal Campbell’s front yard. They stood around laughing at the ladies and bragging about the extra convenience that their male parts afforded them until Judy Leavenworth stormed up to the tree, squatted behind the far side, and did her duty.
Everyone broke out in raucous applause at Judy’s exploits. Her husband Dave, two hundred and thirty pounds of tattoos, scars, and stories, paraded her around on his shoulders like the newly crowned champion of the world.
By mid-afternoon, the party had taken on a life of its own. Solomon Haus’s grandkids even wheeled him down for the occasion. Little Bobbie Haus used the old man’s oxygen tank as a pretend rocket launcher for his audition, an innovation that set Solomon into such a fit of laughter that for a little while his family feared they’d have to call an ambulance.
As dusk settled in, Grady’s mother was the only one person who had remained absent from the scene. She’d spent the whole event in her bedroom in the dark, and Grady went inside to find her.
He opened the door just enough to fit his head through. “Why don’t you come outside, Momma? We’re all having a lot of fun.”
She rolled over to face him. A single curler clung to her hair like a burr. “I’m just relaxing, honey.”
“Well, I’d appreciate it if you come out.”
“I tried to, honey. I really did. I was doing my hair up and everything, but then I looked in the mirror and felt like such a fool. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”
“Momma!” The force of Grady’s own voice startled him. “Don’t ever say that in front of me. If you don’t want to audition, that’s fine, but don’t ever call yourself a pig again. I’m serious.”
She pulled the lone curler from her hair, tearing out several strands in the process. “I’m sorry.”
“You don’t need to apologize, but please don’t say things like that. Nobody talks about my mother like that. Not even you.”
“Okay, honey.” She tossed the curler onto the nightstand. “People sure sound like they’re having fun out there. Are the auditions going well?”
Grady grinned like a shark. “Momma, the auditions are going fabulously.”