Josiah Erickson wants to be a movie star. The problem with that is so does half of Los Angeles. But he’s on his way, what with memorable roles as a TV show background cadaver and a guy in a commercial for herpes medication. All he needs is his big break. And that break may come in the form of a novelist who goes by the enigmatic name of Q-Bert.
Q-Bert, who is ready to make his directorial debut in a film Josy would be perfect for. Q-Bert, who Josy may or may not have a friend-crush on, and potentially something more. Being demisexual can be confusing.
From the City of Angels to the small mountain town of Abby, Oregon, Josy will give his all to make sure his dreams come true—even the ones he never thought possible.
How to be a movie star
NOW, IT could be said that Josiah Erickson was an actor of the highest caliber. Granted, there were only two people who’d said this in his lifetime, but he believed them completely. They had no reason to lie.
First, his fourth-grade music teacher, the incomparable Mr. Stefan Alabaster IV, who, on the first day of auditions at Cornerbrooke Elementary School in Wooster, Ohio, told his breathless students that he had come from Akron to mold them into the Next Big Thing. He was going to be ruthless, he said, and his critique would be sharp. “There is no time for tears in theater,” he said, straightening his ascot. “Unless, of course, the script calls for it. In that case, there is always time for tears.”
Josiah was enthralled.
And when he won the coveted role as a block of American cheese in a production on the importance of the four food groups, he couldn’t have been more excited. “You must be the cheese,” Mr. Stefan Alabaster IV told him. “There can never be anyone more cheese than you in this entire world. Do you understand me?”
Josiah did. He’d never understood anything more.
His costume had been a particularly violent orange, one that would have been offensive had it been seen outside of a fourth-grade production of health food in a small Ohio town. It was made of Styrofoam and smelled of paint and glue. The fumes made Josiah dizzy, and he usually spent the rest of his day after rehearsal with a headache. It was near impossible to move in, and he ended up falling more than he stood. Mr. Stefan Alabaster IV, as any good theater director should, solved this dilemma by shoving a broom up the back of the costume and telling Josiah he was absolutely not to move. “Sometimes,” his director said, “we must suffer for our craft.”
In his acting debut, Josiah Erickson had one line and delivered it with the grace of a wheel of gorgonzola: “It’s not cheesy to want to be healthy.”
At least seven people in the audience of dozens chuckled.
It was a monumental moment for young Josiah. He understood, then, his destiny.
He would be a movie star.
After he booked his first commercial in La La Land in 2011 (a one-day local production where Josiah told the undoubtedly rapturous viewers who were awake at two in the morning that no one sold mattresses like the Mattress Dictator: “Because he will take all your decisions away so that you have no choice but to do what he says and get a good night’s rest!”), Josiah returned to Cornerbrooke Elementary with a copy on a VHS tape, sure that Mr. Stefan Alabaster IV would want to see what his mentee had achieved in such a short amount of time.
The problem was that Mr. Stefan Alabaster IV was no longer the music teacher/theater director at Cornerbrooke Elementary. He had found himself starring in what was perhaps his greatest role, that of a resident of the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton after embezzling almost fifty thousand dollars from the Wooster City School District. If he were lucky, he would get time off for good behavior and be released in eight years to supervised probation.
But Josiah thought Mr. Stefan Alabaster IV could take comfort from the fact that he was listed under the Notable People section on Wooster’s Wikipedia page, regardless of his crimes. Josiah himself had been on it for sixteen hours before someone had gone in and taken his entry off.
It might have been the greatest sixteen hours of his life up until that point.
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