“A mosquito-repellent commercial,” Jordan’s agent had said, as if it was just another job.
Jordan forced himself to take a long, slow breath. “A mosquito-repellent commercial?” he repeated, in case he had somehow misheard. His agent tended to mumble when she was in a hurry. Maybe she’d said “Libido spelling Urkle,” or “Guido inhalant submersible.”
No, she had definitely said, “mosquito-repellant commercial.” he hadn’t misheard
Jordan loved a challenge, but feared that he wasn’t up to this one. He had no dread of mosquitoes or their anticoagulant-filled proboscises. But to be a nose model in the same scene as an insect required that he transform himself, and he wasn’t sure that he could tap into the right place inside himself to make this commercial succeed. What if he failed? Would others see this as his swan song? Would he become merely a footnote in the history book of nose modeling, doomed to relative obscurity and vague references to “that nose guy in the early 2000s?”
But to refuse would be to kill his career. Not because he had refused a job. Being at the top of his game, he could pick and choose. Nobody would look askance if he said no. But he himself would know that he had been too scared, and so it would be all downhill after that.
There was nothing else to do but accept the challenge. For the next week, he fully immersed himself in the back story he needed to perform well in the commercial. He curled up as if he was an egg. He moved as if he was hatching into a larva. He molted several times and transformed into a pupa, broke free of his pupal case, felt his exoskeleton hardening, and became an adult mosquito. He didn’t imagine himself as sucking blood, since only the female mosquito did that. Instead, he sucked nectar-like drinks through straws. He clung to the wall. He hovered over things.
Finally, he was ready. The animal trainer placed the mosquito on his nose. This particular insect had been trained to remain in one place longer than a wild mosquito, yet even a trained mosquito would only stay put for so long. There was only a matter of thirty seconds to get it right. He thought insect. He breathed insect. He reached deep into his reptilian brain, and then deeper still, until he reached his insectian brain. The film crew and their equipment were forgotten.
“Cut,” said the director. As they reviewed the footage, a production assistant said, “Wow, I thought we were just filming a mosquito on a nose. But there’s something there…I can’t explain it.”
“That’s why you only hire the best talent,” said the director. “That’s a wrap.”
Jordan smiled modestly. He’d succeeded. He still had it.
The side of his nose itched, where the mosquito had plunged in his proboscis. A true professional, Jordan didn’t scratch. He dabbed on some calamine lotion and called it a day.