No, not our fanmail. It’s a story about horrible celebrities!
I love you so so much it makes my chest hurt and sometimes I cant breath but it isn’t going to work out for us and i sent you this list so you’d know why.
1) we are both too busy with our lives, you are an actor and I am in beautician school and if I was your wife I would miss you too much
2) also I live in Minnesota which is really far from LA and I can’t move because I live with my mom and my dogs and they need me to look after them
3) you’re too good looking and our children would also be too good looking
I hope this doesnt hurt you but I think this is the best for us if you understand this now and know how I feel
All my love
“There’s a pendrive with a playlist on it too,” Nico said, as Katya and Matt read the note. It was on thick, good quality paper and smelled faintly of what Katya identified as Viva la Juicy. “And some photos.”
Matt tutted. “You put it in your computer? Dude, you are way too trusting.”
“Was it a good playlist?” said Katya, turning the paper over and peering at the back like a second message was going to reveal itself.
That had been the worst part of it. Nico usually loved other people’s playlists, loved trying to piece together why they’d chosen the songs they had and what they meant, be it nostalgia, a catchy riff, a line that spoke to something deep and inexpressible, or a funny title. But, “It was all Two Routes, so really not my thing. But that’s not the point! This is weird. Why aren’t you weirded out?”
He should’ve expected the Cheshire cat smile Katya gave him. “You know the squishy mouse wrist support I use sometimes? That’s a breast implant someone sent me. I hope it was a dig at my chest, because the alternative is they thought I actually wanted one.”
“They should’ve checked your Amazon wishlist,” Nico said with a nervous chuckle.
“I have a box of teeth,” said Matt.
And then Ted yelled at them to take their places, they were going from the top, and there was no time for Nico to ask why the hell anyone would send his costar a box of teeth or, more importantly, why Matt would keep it. Luckily they were doing the scene where the substitute teacher turned into a Dilithurian fangworm, so Nico’s look of distracted horror went unnoticed.
“Why teeth?” Nico asked the next morning.
Behind his sunglasses, Matt’s expression was hard to read. “Hello to you too,” he said, and gave him a muffin from the box he was holding.
“Sorry. Hi.” Nico took a big, blueberry-flavoured mouthful and tried not to overthink the act of chewing. “Are these homemade?”
“Yeah,” Matt said, offering the box to a passing grip. “Doesn’t really make up for this-” This being torturously early shoot. “-but I’d rather do a five am shoot with muffins than without.”
Not that Nico had never seen Matt eat a muffin. “When did you even have time? Weren’t you at True’s premier thing last night? Do you even sleep? These are good by the way,” he said, helping himself to a second. “Why’d you get sent a box of teeth?”
Matt closed the box of muffins and raised his eyebrows behind his glasses. “You wanna see them?”
It was a box of teeth. Exactly what it said on the tin – the label was in Matt’s loopy, autograph-perfect handwriting. It was more than one person’s worth, and Nico reached out to poke them and then hesitated. “I had a dream like this.”
“I get the ‘I dreamed of you’ thing a lot,” Matt said, draping himself over the trailer couch in a way calculated to provoke that kind of response. “But this is the first time a box of teeth was involved.”
Nico tried to ignore the strip of bare skin and designer boxer exposed where Matt’s shirt hitched up and his pants hitched down. “You weren’t in it. Right after I got the part, I dreamed all my teeth fell out, and I was like ‘oh no, they’re gonna fire me for this!’ So my parents sent me a box of replacements, and I was trying them all on but none of them fit right.” There’d been hundreds upon hundreds of them, white and yellow and ridged with black.
Swallowing his revulsion, Nico touched one with the tip of a finger. It looked like a dog tooth, and it felt cool and dry, rough along the cutting edge. He let his fingers trail over more and they rustled and clattered like beads.
“Wild,” said Matt. “It’s probably cause I did the whole meth addict thing in Breaking Dag. Or there’s some obscure werewolf thing about teeth. Or cause I fucked up a tooth one time surfing.” He bared his teeth and pressed his tongue to the tip of one, presumably to show that it was fucked up.
As far as Nico could tell, it was precisely as white and perfect as the other ones. “You can surf?”
“Nope. Hence the tooth.” he nodded to the box. “I was mostly only holding onto them in case they turned out to be evidence of something. Like, maybe whoever sent them dissolved someone in the bathtub and they had all the teeth left, and they were like ‘how can we launder these?’ so they sent them to a random celebrity.” Matt sat upright, kicking Wally’s sneakers off the couch. “Hey, did you know when the cartels dissolve people, they call it ‘making pozole’?”
“Ohhh, that’s nasty.”
“Yeah!” Matt said. He looked obscurely pleased with himself.
Nico trailed his fingers over the teeth again. They didn’t feel any less weird and gross. Neither did Hollywood. “How does this not fuck you up?”
“Who says it doesn’t?” Matt said with a wink. He shifted on the couch; Nico had noticed he spent a lot of time trying to get comfortable and rarely seemed to succeed. “Kat gets kinda obsessive about repurposing all this shit. Making collages out of the creepy letters and tapestries out of the hair. I’m not that creative though; when they send me clothes it’s fine – you know after Wolf Gang where Ephram gets Arnica’s scent from her sweater? For a while everyone was sending me their shirts which, whatever. I donated them. Teeth, though? No idea. There was this surgeon ages ago who surgically implanted human teeth in chickens, but I don’t have a chicken. You can keep ‘em if you want.”
“And they say romance is dead.” Nico held the dog tooth up to the light and considered pocketing it before dropping it back in the box. “Maybe we could have a funeral. Do the decent thing.”
“The one time I’m not dressed for it,” Matt said, looking down at Wally’s lurid green and purple outfit. “But sure. Lemme see who I can round up. Kat loves a good funeral, have you seen her cry yet?”
Katya crying was, it turned out, well worth the price of admission. Or at least worth digging a hole in a patch of bare ground behind the studio, while a random assortment of runners, hairdressers and lighting technicians watched in solemn silence.
Where Matt did the gifable single tears clumping in his eyelashes and trickling down his cheeks – was doing it now, actually – Katya threw her whole body into it. She sobbed and shuddered and hitched and clawed at her hair until Matt took her wrists, whereupon she threw herself at him and wailed her grief against his chest.
It was like watching a professional mourner in action. Some of the crew applauded.
They were probably expecting something just as showy from the drama school kid, but Nico knew that sometimes less was more. For his own performance, he’d settled on stoicism, with only the faintest trembling to his lip, the slightest clench to his jaw as the best boy lowered the box into the earth.
He caught Matt’s eye, luminous with fake tears, and saw a deeper glimmer of appreciation.
They took it in turns to drop earth into the tooth hole, and Nico added the playlist, the pendrive and the letter.
It was more symbolism than actually addressing the problem, but Nico was an actor and he figured symbolism was more important. “You guys wanna get some pozole?” he said, brushing the dirt off his hands. “I’m really craving it for some reason.”