First Twenty Five Pages
The baby pushed against her uterus. A feeling emanated through her body, making her reach under with one hand, providing some support, while she opened the aluminum door to her mailbox. In large, red letters, the City Power and Light stamped the envelope to let her know the bill was past due. She put the notice on top of her protruded, pregnant stomach and removed the key from the lock, dropping the notice on the floor between her swollen, pigeon-toed feet. As she tried to bend down to get it, the envelope was flooded with the juices of an arriving new life. Her skirt was soaked. With both hands between her legs, holding on like the kid was going to plop out right there on the ugly, patterned carpet, in a panic, she clumped down the stairs with her purse rattling off her shoulder and down her arm. When she reached out to push the front door open, as she ran into the street toward the hospital, the purse dropped onto the concrete. To gain a little more speed for the remaining part of the block, she pressed her knees together and ran crazy-legged down the pavement, until she flapped, face down, right over the hedgerow in front of the emergency room entrance of the hospital. Nobody would have known she was there, if it wasn’t for a nurse who stepped out to adjust her buttress, or whatever she was doing, to be able to see the half-aware, pregnant woman in the bushes. The nurse ran in yelling for assistance, while grabbing a wobbly-wheeled gurney, and rushed to the semi-conscious woman’s side, helping to drag her from the shrubbery.
Flat on her back, jiggly-eyed, being rolled on a gurney across the floor at the speed of sound, she rocketed into the double-doors of the emergency room. In staccato, when the wheels were stopped, chocked, she was rolled onto another gurney and she started yelling for her damned husband. Doctors and nurses clanked around the room setting her up in stirrups and draping her from plain view. Being prompted to breathe, told to suck ice and push, she went woozy and her face went pale. When her eyes rolled back into her head and closed, it was for the last time. She died right there in the hospital, yelling for her missing husband to save the baby. The doctors had tubes and wires sticking out of every hole; syringes full of all the elixirs necessary for emergency situations. Those paddles that they rub together and plant on a patient’s chest, convulsing them with enough electrical turmoil that their bodies revolt upward, didn’t seem to do anything more than make the doctors look at each other. A little screen with beeping blips racing from one side to the other told them that there was something wrong, and still they couldn’t make the poor woman open her pretty eyes.
“A redheaded baby,” one of the nurses said, as she washed the quiet baby with warm, soapy water, dried her, made her feet all black with ink and foot-printed her. “A redheaded baby,” she said again, “I haven’t seen one in twenty-some years.” Looking at the mother on the table, seeing her stomach opened up; her womb all red with blood and gaping, the nurse, Fatima, almost choked. One of the other nurses had to leave the room. Somehow the durable Fatima couldn’t comprehend how the kid got out of there with red hair. The mother didn’t have red hair.
Fatima wrapped the baby in a blanket, coochie-cooed the little kid, and went to the nurse’s station looking for any information she could find on the woman who just gave birth to the redheaded baby. There was no identification on her; no license, no purse, just baby. Fatima questioned the attendant who first received the woman, but she didn’t know anything about the woman, other than finding her upended in the petunias by the entrance. So Fatima had a lonely, redheaded, bare-assed baby on her hands and had to call the authorities.
This weasely, wiry woman with a Scottish accent showed up after a couple of days, snooping around the hospital, asking everyone if they knew who the little, redheaded baby belonged to, but no one wanted to talk to her; even if they did talk to her they didn’t know the kid. She had pink forms and blue forms; forms with official seals stamped on the corners, forms with gold embossed lettering that every doctor and nurse involved in the kids delivery had to sign, stamp, lick, kiss and wipe whatever they had on them; to prove that the baby was born, what time it was born, how tall, small, wide, how long the kid was, how it smelled, felt, looked. The woman took the very first stool sample from the redheaded baby, put it in a plastic bag, zipped it up and stapled it to the form. There was going to be no way this kid could be proven to be anything but alone and a product of Scotland until she was eighteen.
Redheaded; the only redheaded kid seen in the world for thirty-eight years they say, and kicked in the ass, handed a fifty dollar bill, a suitcase in her skinny, little hand and put out to stand in the rain outside The Scottish Home For Kids With No Parents. Free at last; they had no more to do with her.
Rain popped and clicked against her broken umbrella. She was holding a little suitcase in her white-knuckled, bony-fingered, skinny hand. Her long wrist and forearm was wet and red, pale, cold. There she was, looking at the street from the curb in front of the orphanage she grew up in; home, now not home. She was out and eighteen years old. Her eyes were bright with long, red lashes, water on her perfect skin; smooth and soft. She was tall and thin, bumped just right. Behind her the building overpowered everything on the block. It used to be a church, then a factory, and now a home for kids with no parents; blackening stone from the years of traffic crossing its face. The upper stories had brighter stones and cleaner mortise between each.
She stood tall and skinny thinking of how to get from there to where. Water raced at her feet in the gutter, falling through a vent louver in the grate to her left; it made the sound of the rain much louder. It drowned the sound of her stomach.
From her right, a car, long and black, rich, slapped the puddle of water it ran through against the concrete sidewalk, spraying a large area where there was no one to get wet, squeaked its brakes and stopped in front of her. The window opened and a burst of warm, smoke-filled air crawled under her umbrella, gathered around her head, it seemed, and hung like a warm, furry scarf around her neck and chest.
God was he ugly, huge and ugly; he smelled of liquor and pot, cigars and last week’s bath water he left in the tub for next week. But she got in anyway; it was warm, and he was rich, richer than anything she could imagine. Sparkling crystal bottles full of brown liquid came out of a shiny, wooden cabinet that opened like a puzzle box she had seen in a magazine. The door latches were gold. There were buttons indented in silk padding along the seat beside her. She sat on silk, black, smooth silk. He gave her a taste of wealth that she thought was only in aristocratic stories in books. She coughed when the scotch went down. He laughed at her and told her to breathe through her nose next time, while he puffed on a hooka hose that came from a cabinet in front of him. The smoke was thick, it tasted sweet and grassy, filling the car until he opened the window to let cool air circulate. She took a deep breath and watched an iron gate open to a driveway paved with stone and lined with brick move under the car as she sat hovering, soothed and embarrassed, until stopping at a doorway taller than the one she left behind her.
Wet and cold, her umbrella was taken from her by a small man who didn’t speak. The same happened to her suitcase. That ugly face and smell peered into her wide, glazed eyes; she backed away a litte bit to refocus. “You are the last redheaded person in the world; do you know that?” She never thought much about her hair, always her stomach. “We are gon’a have a lot a’ babies, you and me; make a lot of money.” He laughed after he told her that, and knew why she didn’t respond.
Better Blonder Blonde is nude and taking a shower in her home. She lathers her breasts with foamy, luxuriously foamy white soap, which has an odor of dandelions; priced for the family. Rinsed with Exogerm, the quality bio-rinse for the masses, she opens her Pittsburg Plate Glass shower door and stands to look at herself in the mirror. Then she grabs a Plushy towel and dries her Better Blonde hair. On the sink, in the background, is a small, brown bottle of Better Blonde hair dye. Her breasts are still bare. She walks through the door into her bedroom. With the curtains from Flip Fast still opened, she goes toward the window; her breasts are still bare. Reaching out with both arms, elbows scrubbed with Pumiscrub, she grabs a curtain in each hand and claps them together. Cameramen’s flashbulbs pop and break against the side of her house.
“I could only get one breast in the shot; damn. I’ve got six kids, they need food and clothes. I’m going to have to do some elaborate graphic design with these photos. Half a’ nude; what’s wrong with her these days?” A short, wire-rimmed man with one muddy shoe asks another cameraman, as he steps out of Better Blonder Blonde’s damp garden. He stomps his foot, leaves a clear, muddy outline of his small foot.
“I got half of both, if that will help ya’ any. We could probably use what we both got to make one Better Blonder Blonde,” another cameraman says.
“Okay partner,” the wire-rimmed cameraman said, as he tries to stomp the mud off his shoe, putting his arm around the other guy for support. “We could paste together one Better Blonder Blonde in an hour.”
“Hey, what about us; we have wives and children, too.”
“Fuck you; your kids are ugly. Unless you grow a red head, we got and you not,” the guy says, still stomping his muddy foot.
In front of channel nine, a very ugly man with very few red hair left, weak and pimply, sits waiting for the mailman. A commercial for Pimpless Creamore comes over the screen. The mailman is heard at the door.
“Pimpless Creamore,” Better Blonder Blonde says on T.V., holding the long tube of cream, showing the label next to her clear, clean face. Then she squeezes the tube, squirting a stream of white cream across, but not touching her face. “Oops,” she says, and tilts her cheek toward the camera and smiles.
Ugly, old, redheaded man walks to the door to get his mail from the box. In the mail is an advertisement for Pimpless Creamore. He separates the page-flap, opens the advertisement to reveal Better Blonder Blonde with open arms, bare-chested, holding an enormous tube of Pimpless Creamore above her head, smiling. He tosses the paper on the table next to the door and looks at the letter he received. “Brunette, it’s from Brunette,” he says out loud. There’s no one there, but he says it out loud anyway. Very ugly men do that sometimes.
Brunette has worked for him for years, though she is so mean that she won’t even talk to him over the phone. She says that he is just that ugly, and will have nothing to do with him. But she works for him because people say he is the father of the last redhead. The world doesn’t count her father. People just stay away; talking about him only in relation to his daughter. Since The Last Redhead was born, his name has become Herfather; just like that, all in one.
Herfather read the letter from Brunette. It stated some stuff about how much she hated working for him, because he was so ugly, and she reminded him that if his daughter was found, he would never see her again, because he was so ugly. But Brunette said that she might know where she was, and that “she was being inseminated by a very wealthy, seeping pustule of a man. The children may turn out to be beautiful, or fetid and ugly, like you. In any case, you are out of luck in the children-saving-your-ugly-pimpled-ass-when-you-start-to-die department. As ugly and alone as you will be in the coming years, you will still have to pay me to make sure your daughter knows you exist. Since, your doubleness, you are stupid, and willing to pay for information, I will charge you double.”
Given two days’ rest, after a series of ten modeling jobs in the past three days, clinking out of bed with a chain handcuffed to each ankle, The Last Redhead mopes to the bathroom, opens the medicine cabinet, gets an industrial size tube of Pimpless Creamore from the shelf, removes the cap, gently inserts the opened end of the tube into her vagina and squeezes. It seems that she found Pimpless Creamore to be a very good lubricant, as well as a spermicide for the spermicidal maniac that keeps trying to inseminate her. As further deterrent for the pimple, she pulled her hair back in a ponytail and cut off the handful of hair, then began snipping at whatever she can get a pair of scissors to cut. For the rest of the red stubble, she used a razor to shave down to her pearly white scalp. She washed her head with Ivory soap, rinsed and looked in the mirror in one swoop. Drops of water splashed the mirror; her reflection distorted. While she was under a soft towel, Spermicidal Maniac walked up and grabbed her from behind. As she defecated in defense, he dropped her to the hard, cold, tile floor. His penis is so small that he has to put his juice in a tube, then use the tube to squirt his semen into her. Every time he can get one live germ of his to shoot out of that tiny penis, he captures it and adds warm water, hoping to get it in her. She has endured this for all of the two days she has between each of her modeling jobs, and is waiting to become immune to what is happening. She knows what he is trying to do, and she keeps telling him that he might as well have her taken to a doctor to inseminate her, if he wants a redheaded child. This time he agrees; the shit on the floor disgusted even him.
Cameras flash, bulbs pop and shoot from each camera. They crash on the pavement in front of Better Blonder Blonde’s house, as she’s leaving to go to the grocery store, dressed in red, with bright, yellow polka-dots, red shoes and a red, clutch purse. Her hair, her Better Blonde hair shines. She has a mirrored barrette, and mirrors dangling from her ears. Her mirrored sunglasses are small, hanging from her nose, but still covering her red eyes. Pushing out her breasts, and pushing out her ass, she walks, pointing a breast with her gaze at a camera and smiling. Twisting her body, pointing a breast, smiling at another camera, she sparkles from her better, blonder, blonde hair. When the cameras flash, the light fills the mirrors and seems to hang in the glass to brighten her image. The light shoots into the air, beaming from her better, blonder, blonde head.
She is Better Blonder Blonde and she sparkles and shines better than any other, while she gets into her Lincoln Continental stretch limousine. Sitting in the back, she tells her driver to pull out of the driveway as slow as possible. While they’re away from the cameras, she rolls up the dark windows, fixes her breasts; pulling here, tucking there, and padding them as she’s driven down the road. When the cameramen develop their pictures of Better Blonder Blonde leaving the house to go to the grocery store, they are nothing but white; glinting white. So they use the photos for a White As That laundry detergent advertisement.
Her body sweeps across the floor of the grocery store. Nothing moves, except her ass and her wiggling breasts in that tight, red, polka-dotted dress. They bounce up and down twice for every step she takes. Her left leg sweeps smoothly across the floor. Her breasts bounce up, then down, then up and down again, as her ass does the same. Then her right leg sweeps across the floor. Her breasts bounce again, twice up, and down, as her ass does the same thing; bouncing up and down twice for every one sweep of her leg. But nothing else moves, her body is as rigid as the clerk who followers her; asking if he can help. Her eyes, her ears, her hair sparkles and beams. The cameras flash, people around her are swooning, calling out to her: Can I touch your dress? Please sign this for me. Are you still single? Do you want to meet my son? They follow and question. She lives in a shining, sparkling, beaming, throbbing world.
She takes a bottle of Better Blonde hair dye from the shelf, holds it close to her cheek and smiles at the people watching her, then throws it into her cart. The grocery clerk darts up to her, asking if he can help her find something. She smiles at him; teeth flashing from their whiteness. The clerk falls face up on the pink and white, square tile floor. From the other shelf, she gets a bar of foamy, luxuriously foamy, white soap and a tube of Pimpless Creamore. Then she finds the isle that has Quick Trim diet pills. By this time, the grocery clerk has gotten up from the floor to ask again if he could help her find something. She says something softly, sweetly in his ear. He covers his pelvic area with clasped hands, and runs toward the frozen foods section and waits. Better Blonder Blonde turns the corner with her grocery cart and aims her breasts at the clerk, who is standing by the frozen chickens. He smiles, hangs on to the low wall of the freezer, drops a frozen chicken in her cart. The chicken rattles around, thumping against the sides of the cart. No one notices; everyone is watching Better Blonder Blonde. She leans toward the clerk and tells him to close his mouth; he does. Then Better Blonder Blonde’s nipples protrude, and the clerk’s eyes shatter from his head. She calmly, slowly bounces away toward the checkout.
Men swarm around her to pay for her groceries. She aims each breast at each man and smiles, thanking them, like she just won the academy award. They leave their money with the checkout girl, who cracks her gum, collects the money, and puts what Better Blonder Blonde owes in the register. Then the checkout girl stands with her arm stretched out with the change. Better Blonder Blonde asks the clerk to take her bag. The checkout girl puts the forgotten change in her pocket, cracking her gum, looking at her nails. The checkout girl, then, reaches for a magazine to leaf through. When she turns the page to the advertisement for White As That laundry detergent, the shining, white pages make her squint. With the magazine at arm’s length, the checkout girl spits her gum, catches it in the magazine, presses the pages together with the palms of her hands and places the ‘zine neatly back on the rack; steals a pack of Juicyfruit.
A long, boring train from Scotland rumbles through the station. (Yea, there’s a train that goes under the ocean from Scotland to the United States, you didn’t know that. Where the hell have you been? It works in the same way as those canisters at the bank work. It has to do with air pressure, electricity, and a lot of plastic. Sometimes the United States forgets to pay their half of the electric bill, and the train stops half way to the U.S.. Then a letter has to be written to the department of electricity, or some such department in that United States’ bureaucratic mess. When they pay the damn bill, the train starts the second half of the trip. Sometimes the train doesn’t get going for weeks. Those poor passengers have to sit in their own stink for all that time, until the bill is paid. Once, the Scottish people paid the bill for the U.S., so those people didn’t have to wait. But, the Scottish people are still waiting for reimbursement, now they say forget you, pay the bill you bastards, or there will be war and we’ll kick your vagrant American asses.)
Brunette stands on the platform watching the train until it slows to a stop. Steam rushes from the undercarriage, lifting a sticky stench into the air. She reaches for her bag, looks up at the advertisement pasted on the railcar in front of her; it’s Better Blonder Blonde holding a tube of Pimpless Creamore against her cheek and smiling. Brunette spits at the photograph. “Phony bitch; bet her vagina has no pimples.”
She throws her bag on the shelf above her seat, sits down and opens a magazine; chewing Juicyfruit, wiping her thumb across her protruding tongue to dampen it, then swiping one page to the next, all in one swoop. She chews, wipes and swipes, as a man sitting across the train car watches her. She stops, looks up at the man, smiles one of those are-you-entertained smiles and goes back to the pages. An advertisement for White As That laundry detergent is stuck to the page next to it. Brunette eases the pages apart and watches the chewing gum stretch across the pages. She sniffs the gum; Juicyfruit, and goes to the next page.
Honestab, from across the train car, latches into position; his forearm across his stomach, his other arm bent out at the elbow and his finger is slightly pointing at Brunette. He is smiling his best tilted-head smile, flashing his whites. “Hey ya,” he says. “I saw your whiter than white smile from over there, and I wondered…” He wears the latest clothes; thin, tight, cotton covered skin. His belly is obviously being held tight by the smile on his face. When Brunette looks at him, his smile drops as well as his belly. The cloth of his shirt stretches thin; thin to the point of invisibility. His belly button is the size of a doorknob, and as deep as his forefinger is long. Brunette makes a sound like she just had a long awaited bowel movement. Then she turns her head to the side, tilted toward the ground, as if there was someone there to support her in her disgust. Of course there is no one there, so she just goes back to her magazine. Honestab walks away dejected, because he knows, now, that his new invention has not made life any better, though his advertisement clearly states that it does.
Lick, swipe, flip; Brunette notices that on the page of her magazine is a photograph of Honestab with his shirt off, showing his flat, muscular stomach. His smile is so stretched that his eyes are almost closed, and a hollow phwoomb sound would be heard if his stomach was flicked. He has a light inside his mouth to make his smile seem brighter for the picture. Beams are shooting out from between his teeth. The advertisement is for his new beautifying, life changing Absynch. “Absynch will make women swoon,” states Better Blonder Blonde, under an insert of her smiling face. The surgical procedure is painless, and will attach smile muscle to muscle you didn’t know you had. When you smile, your stomach will tighten, giving you the look that women are looking for. Smile up, stomach lifted, all in one procedure. There’s a before and after smile, without and with a woman on Honestab’s arm, respectively. There is also an option to attach muscle to the penis, “for a little help there too,” the caption states. The twelve page advertisement is a report of twelve men who have had the procedure, six with the bonus. All the photos are a before and after shot of a man without a smile, and then with the brighter, better, bigger smile. No smile, smile, no smile, smile, no smile, smile; all the ads were the same, one after the other, and it made Brunette hot somehow. She kept flipping the pages back and forth with her wet thumb; licking, swiping, licking, swiping. When she depleted her supply of moisture, she stopped, got another stick of Juicyfruit, sticking the old piece on the page of the magazine.
Herfather is seen through the faded curtains of his window, pacing back and forth, remembering the day The Last Redhead was born. He combs his few, greasy, red hair on his head, breaking open the pimples on his scalp. “I should have been there the day she was born,” he says out loud. “That boardwalk, and that phony blonde.” His tears were real. He held his pimple ridden, mushy face in his hands, crying for the loss of his wife on that day, and for the child with red hair that they told him was not his, taking her away eighteen years ago; eighteen years ago today. It took eighteen years to fade those filthy curtains, so the cameramen could get pictures of how he really felt about being on the boardwalk, instead of being with his newly arriving and dying family. The bulbs shatter on the side of Herfather’s house, breaking against the concrete. The cameramen replace them as fast as they can; reaching into a bulb bag, gripping one by the bulbous end and inserting it into the bulb-hole in the camera. They take pictures of Herfather combing his pimples and crying, then place the photos in an ad for Pimpless Creamore. He is still pathetically ugly, and everyone wonders how he got to be married in the first place.
A dry, brown, crusty spot on the Scottish earth opened like a peeling scab, and out popped a helicopter full of Spermicidal Maniac and The Last Redhead; he piloted, she sat with headphones on, and one of those little microphones that they talk through.
“Whophopop, whophopop, whophopop, whophopop,” Spermicidal Maniac liked to make the sound of the helicopter as he flew. The Last Redhead sat with her mouth opened, head lowered, her eyes peering through her lowered brow, looking out at the lowering ground. She’s trying to think of something to say to him to make him stop saying whophopop.
“Are we at the doctor’s yet,” is all she could come up with.
“Couldn’t you wait until we got outside to relieve your rotting flesh? What the hell did you eat?” The Last Redhead went on like that through the hospital, in the gas-filled elevator, all the way to the obstetrician’s office. Doctor Squishy washed his hands vigorously, as Spermicidal Maniac wrestled, gagged and tied The Last Redhead into the stirrups on the examination table. Her long, bare, lean legs were spread wide. Doctor Squishy’s eyes fictitiously popped from his head and rolled across the floor. Spermicidal Maniac picked them up, rinsed them off and plopped them back into Doctor Squishy’s bald head. Blinking and pushing his eyes into place, he still couldn’t get a clear picture of The Last Redhead’s beautiful vagina. He made the typical sound a person makes when they realize that their eyeballs were seemingly in the wrong sockets. Poulp, poulp; he switched his eyeballs. Then, after warming his hands by cupping them over his mouth to catch his warm, moist breath, he gently, smoothly stroked the inside of The Last Redhead’s thighs. He reached for the visa-probe and inserted the instrument into her vagina. The probe was wired to a microscope that showed The Last Redhead’s insides on a television screen. The end of the probe opened up and swallowed her tiny egg. Doctor Squishy put the egg in a plastic zip-lock, leaving the probe hanging out of her, still wired to the television. Doctor Squishy’s eyes were opened to the point of almost falling out, again, and his mouth was in a te-he sort of grin, as he swiped the pinch-strip, closing the egg inside the bag. “Ocher Ichee,” The Last Redhead mumbled through the gross of Spermicidal Maniac’s gagging hand.
“What, a…my name isn’t Doctor Squishy. I just came in to get one of your eggs.” Then he laughed one of those head-back, deep laughs, like any psycho on television would do, and took a print-out of what was on the visa-probe, as he ran out of the room, bumping into the real Doctor Squishy on the way. Ocher Ichee pushed the exit door opened against the wall, and by the time it closed, he was through the door and out of sight.
The Last Redhead and Spermicidal Maniac started to spit and cuss, as Spremicidal Maniac followed the guy through the door out into the hallway, leaving The Last Redhead tied in the stirrups. But, she spit and snorted through her nose and mumbled at the bastard, until the real Doctor Squishy picked himself up off the floor and walked into the exam room.
“What the hell has been going on here? I won’t tolerate any more of this damnable behavior. This happens every time I have to see a patient.” He brushed himself off, yelling “nurse, nurse.” He called, and continued bellowing obscene orders for them to put things into holes in the human body, which no one could be capable of doing. Everyone started to question the anatomical education this doctor must have had to imagine that someone could actually do things like he suggested. One would have to be built backwards.
While Doctor Squishy calmed himself, Spermicidal Maniac went into sample-room four across the hall, where a television was on the Playboy channel. He looked at the two-hundred pound nurse that saw him go in, and jokingly asked if she would care to have a drink. The funny thing was, she did. Nurse Blemot reached into her uniform, revealed a bottle of ten year old scotch, zipped her uniform open, like she had done it for a living and flopped on the couch in front of the television.
“Oh, I like this one,” she said about the program. “I’ve seen all these flicks.” Nurse Blemot’s flop spread all over the couch. Spermicidal Maniac, as surprised as anyone might be, asked where the glasses were. He stood, wearing nothing but his natural covering of hair, and went to the sink to get one of those glasses like they have in hotel rooms with sanitary paper on them. She filled his glass, then he filled the other glass; drop.
“Pimpless Creamore,” she said, just like she always did in the commercials. Better Blonder Blonde’s face, smiling, was plastered on the television. Spermicidal Maniac asked Blemot to stay while he decided if that one sample was going to be his best. He watched Better Blonder Blonde on the commercial and began to question his taste in women. Nurse Blemot was looking like the only thing in the room, and they both decided to try another sample, keeping an eye on the television.
Herfather tuned through the static to KRED radio, the station that only plays the blues. He wept for himself and the relationship he wanted with his estranged daughter. He knew The Last Redhead would be recognized as his daughter; she had to be. She would change his name from Herfather to Dad. Herfather wept out loud.
The postman put a note in Herfather’s mailbox to let him know that there was a letter with the postmaster addressed to him. He needs to sign for it, and pay the postage. Herfather combed the thin, slick, few strands of hair stuck to his head, dressed in his best jeans and dirty t-shirt and went to the post office to get the letter.
It was from Brunette, who still refused to talk to him over the phone, because he was so ugly. The letter reminded Herfather that he was considered the ugliest man on the face of the earth. And, Brunette let him know that she had taken a train to Scotland, where she was following a man she met in a bar. He may turn out to be the man of her dreams, or he could just lead her to Spermicidal Maniac, who has The Last Redhead in his glass house. Herfather wept again, because he felt like it, so shut up about his weeping all the time. He has a lot of pain to deal with. Anyway, Brunette said that the older Herfather got, the uglier he got, and that’s why she needs more money to get his daughter. Herfather didn’t care about the money she wanted, he just wants to get his daughter back. He wept again at the thought of losing the daughter he never saw, or had spoken to. “P.S.,” the letter stated, “By the way, you are sincerely hated because you are so fucking ugly, you festering carbuncle,” signed Brunette.
In her rented car, Brunette sat watching the man of her dreams leave the bar, singing, so she could follow him home to find out where he lived. Brunette looked at her watch. Suction-cupped to the windshield, she had a notebook full of times, and places, who-did-what sort of things. The entry she made was the time that she got in the car. Brunette figured that Singer had enough time to drink about four beers, between the time that she saw him come in, when she was looking squish-faced at Barman Bob, and the time it took her to finish her sixth whisky and get to her car. And, she had been waiting for Singer for an hour and fifteen minutes. So, Singer must have had about seven beers, altogether, before he got into a Cadillac that was dented from bumper to bumper.
Rust had deformed the quarter panels, but the top of the car was perfect; convertible. Singer’s keys fell to the pavement, she commented out loud about the shape of his ass, and he got into the car after a display of uncoordinated bobbing, weaving and stooping movements, as he tried to unlock the door, even though the top was down. As loud as you please, the radio played a Jimmy Buffet song. His voice was probably the reason the fenders rusted. It wasn’t bad, it was loud. Brunette sang along, as she followed him to a house along a long private drive.
She stopped within sight of him denting the dented fender against the fountain in front of the stone house. The fountain was one of those little kids peeing, but the kid had toppled over, and was peeing over the wall of the fountain onto the driveway. A puddle had formed right where he had gotten out of his car. He stepped in it with his right foot, it squished as he walked to the front door; squish, clump, squish, clump. He was drunk enough not to mind one wet foot. Brunette noted the address of the house in her book, then she sat waiting for the right moment to go to the door. Brunette waited a couple of hours, sipping scotch, to confront the man.
“Now why would I want to be the recipient of the single sperm cell a strangling pig like that took a lifetime to produce. I would sooner fill my ass with books about lampposts.” Doctor Squishy asked if The Last Redhead minded terribly if she talk to him while she was not still spread out like that in the stirrups. “Get me out of here you fucking creep. Everybody is a fucking creep around here.” The Last Redhead spit while she cussed. Doctor Squishy got her to her feet and told her to follow the nurse through the door, into the hallway and out of the building to his car, if she wanted to get away from Spermicidal Maniac. The Last Redhead swiped the keys from his hand and told the nurse to run. Doctor Squishy stood in the doorway holding The Last Redhead’s underwear.
Doctor Squishy’s car was the deep-green, 1966 Mercedes Benz 220 that was parked over the oil spot shaped like a Gray’s Anatomy picture of ovaries with fallopian tubes; he can’t avoid it. The Last Redhead stood for a second just to look at the thing. Opening the door, gently sitting down on the tan, leather driver’s seat, she closed the door and took a deep breath. It smelled like leather, worn leather.
Nurse Blemot and Spermicidal Maniac still had the idea that there was a sample worth keeping. They tried to get a better sample, working hour after hour, drinking orange juice and eating handfuls of vitamin E, but it was no use. The samples he could manage were small. Then he ran out of fluid all together after the third hour. Both of the samples he produced, together, added up, could be called a drop. Zipping her uniform up to her thick neck, Blemot and Spermicidal Maniac came back into the exam room to notify Doctor Squishy of Spermicidal Maniac’s sample, and to try getting The Last Redhead’s eggs to squirt the sample on. But Doctor Squishy had gone back to the cafeteria to see if they had any more tuna salad, and some of those pudding cups he loves so much; butterscotch is his favorite. The exam room was empty, and there was no sign of The Last Redhead. Spermicidal Maniac went nuts. He ran out into the hall screaming The Last Redhead’s name; opening doors to rooms with vomitus flu patients hanging over bedpans, doors with moaning urologist’s patients crawling toward toilets, doors that had patients with arms and legs being cut off because they were gangrenous. But Spermicidal Maniac went door to door anyway, yelling for his redheaded egg manufacturer. He finally got the idea that she must have left the building, and he ran for the heliport. Blemot stood in the exam room holding his smudge of sperm.
The smell of leather stayed with The Last Redhead while she swerved through traffic; darting up and down one way streets, the wrong way, tailgating delivery trucks, cutting off taxi cabs, hiding behind school busses, anything to get out from under Spermicidal Maniac in that fart-smelling helicopter of his, above her. Peeking out from under an overpass, The Last Redhead saw the helicopter circle further and further from where she hid. Finally, Spermicidal Maniac flew off toward Scotland. The Last Redhead sped straight for the train station to get to the other side of the city.
Her fornicatory decision about him was not fully formed, but Brunette went to the front door to Singer’s house. Pieces of stone from the wall next to the door had been falling. The crumbled stone was scattered all over the porch. Brunette studied the pattern of debris. The conclusion was easy to her. Singer had crashed his Cadillac into the wall about a day, or so, ago. She could tell that the stones were recently crushed, and, judging by the way he drinks and drives, he missed the fountain and tried to drive right to his bed inside the house; he didn’t make it.
She picked up the big knocker on the door, flung it against the brass plate and waited for someone to answer. She spit in the bushes while she waited, hitting a kitten that was playing with a piece of string hanging from the side of the porch. She wiped her chin, knocked again, and a woman eating peanut butter from a jar with her fingers opened the door.
“Yes, may I help you?” The woman was a strange shade of pink. Her skin was almost red, like she had slight sunburn. Her eyes were pink, also, her hair was white, as if she was old, but she must have been about twenty, judging by her wrinkle-free, youthful appearance, otherwise. Brunette asked the albino woman if the man who drives the Cadillac lived there.
“Oh, yea, he lives here. But it will be either late tonight, or early tomorrow morning before you can talk sensibly to him. He drinks, and will be passed out by now.” The dollop of peanut butter didn’t fall off her fingertip, as she twisted her hand to look at her watch. “Yea, it will be early tomorrow morning, because he is later than usual getting home from the bar. He usually has a few, okay, seven, after a day of designing the new children’s hospital.”
“The new children’s hospital?” Is he designing a hospital for children?” Brunette said it like, not only did she not believe that this drunk could design something, but he’s designing a children’s hospital. She thought, wow, he really does have a nice ass.
Peanut butter woman asked if there was a message she could deliver for her. Brunette thought of what to say, staring at the ground, blankly. “Ma’am,” the peanut butter lady said. Brunette just said no, and she walked back to the car.
Ocher Ichee ran directly from the hospital to a Seven Eleven. He filled a large Slurpee-cup half way with the frozen slurp, inserted the zip-lock with The Last Redhead’s egg in it into the red, iced treat, and covered it with more red Slurpee to the top, put a lid on it, a straw in it, and went to the counter. As soon as he was next in line, behind a sweaty, homeless man wearing his entire wardrobe, a policeman walked in. The cop looked Ocher Ichee in the eye and passed him, heading for the doughnut cabinet, took a leaf of wax paper from the box, turned his head to look at Ocher Ichee, then picked a cruller, a plain and one of those frilly things with pink icing. He put them in a bag and closed the door of the cabinet, looked at Ocher Ichee and went to the coffee pot. Ocher Ichee started to stop breathing. His pulse went up a hundred beats a minute. The homeless guy bought a lottery ticket and a pack of cheap cigarettes made in Istanbul, or some such place. The cop had his hands full when the walkie-talkie on his shoulder started going nuts about something at the hospital. He dropped his bag and his coffee hit the floor. The lid popped off, splashed Ocher Ichee and puddled on the periwinkle-blue and white tiled floor. Ocher looked down, watching the coffee gather at his feet, until the cop busted through the door behind him, got in his car and went blaring down the road with the sirens on.
Ocher Ichee went through the door in all the confusion, mumbling about his wet pant leg, realizing that he had just made it out the door without paying for the Slurpee. He drew a mouthful of the red concoction, looked both ways and ran in one of them.
The Last Redhead waited with the scattered passengers in the station. People walking by said, “Hey, it’s her; look at her head, she shaved her red hair off.”
“That is her; honey, come here, it’s her, the red head. She’s the one with red hair.”
“She’s the one; she’s the one we see on television all the time? The one in all those pictures in the magazines; the advertisements for condoms, Redy F’redy is ready when you are. I think we used those a couple times, didn’t we, honey?”
The Last Redhead just smiled at the crowd of people who gathered. Everyone wanted her to do something. But The Last Redhead didn’t do anything for her fame, really, other than be a redhead. She sat on the hard, wooden bench looking at all the faces wanting something from her. She realized for the first time that she didn’t have any other talent to give the people. They all stared at her. She thought that she should have handfuls of condoms to give them, or something. She started to explain what she was doing there. In a small, quiet voice, she said that she had been held against her will by a greasy man she called Spermicidal Maniac. “This guy,” she said, “wanted to inseminate me with his tiny penis, to get him a redheaded baby; the last; to be in his collection. The guy is a freak, a screwball, a creep,” she explained. But the crowd looked at her like she spoke a different language. So, she went to the ticket counter to get away from the crowd, and asked when the train was to be there.
As old as the guy was, he could still get up the thin stairway that looked more like a trap-door-covered basement stairway, than an office doorway. The stiff, old man came up the rickety staircase to the ticket counter and shut the door behind him. The entire happening took about three minutes. The Last Redhead asked Stiffy if the train was going to show up, and if it was, when. He told her it will be there, but the man in Washington D.C. has to get the money together for payment of the electric bill before it can get past the dividing line between Scotland and America. “I know,” he said, “unbelievable, right. But it’s true, as true as I stand here in front of you.”
The Last Redhead started to question where she stood. “Okay, so when is this train going to get here?”
“It could be days, or it could be a few hours. There is no way to tell when they decide to pay the bill. The train will just get moving. Those people who are stuck on the train in the middle of the tunnel are the ones who have it bad.”
“But I have to get out of here as fast as I can. There is someone who could still be looking for me, and I don’t want to be found by the rutty creep.”
Stiffy told her that she could hide in the ticket office, if she was worried. The Last Redhead thanked him, and she felt a little more comfortable with an escape route, but waited for the train hiding in front of a magazine stand, out of view of the crowd.
All the faces on the covers were beautiful, smiling, youthful people. Most of the covers had women on them; breasts bulging across the page. Skimpy little outfits they wore had a similar fabric; Flexonoroff. The fabric was invented back in the fifties, when all the women were wearing as tight a sweater as they could find. But, Flexonoroff made it a new, almost-see-through-thin, durable, memory fabric that has similar properties to plastic. Only Flexonoroff was not a plastic, it is made by a bacterium that eats radioactive waste. The bacteria are ground into a paste and spread into sheets, which are, in turn, rolled like paper on large rolls. The fabric was initially used in the production of solar power collectors, but the government had no way to rightfully tax the process, so they used the other material, plastic, for the solar panels. After that, the plans and processes were discarded, forgotten, until they were uncovered by a scholar on a dusty, archaic library shelf, way in the back of the back.
Flexonoroff was eventually brought to market through lies and cheating. But the good thing that happened was that the material could be used for making some very interesting clothing. The material was found to memorize the wearer. It fit exactly like the skin on your body, it even remembers the mole on your ass, though it still flexes as if it was in its un-memorized state. The makers of Flexonoroff would make a dress for someone with a perfect body type, a model, then sold to people that roughly fit the same size. When the wearer tried the clothes on, they would have their body contorted, or shaped exactly like the model the dress was made for. The clothes made the wearer the exact body type as the original, and it still flexed with the wearer. All the jiggly stuff would still jiggle, all the tight stuff would be tight, so everyone loved the stuff. People started to wear nothing else. Of course, the problem was that when they took the clothes off, they went back to looking like themselves. The material never lost its memory, and it never ripped, it was amazing.
She spit out the window onto the street, while Singer passed in his beat-up Cadillac on his way to the bar. Brunette rolled up the window and followed him into the parking lot, got out and walked up to his car grinning at him. He was singing James Taylor, loud until it was over; he noticed her standing at the door, looked tight-faced at her, and asked who she was. He closed his mouth, rolled up the window, even though the top was down, and got out of the car, locked the door and stood in front of Brunette, turned his head and spit. He didn’t spit one of those loogy, hack-too spits. He spit one of those thick, closed-mouth, spoot-ting, dip-spit spits, but without the dip, then looked directly in Brunette’s beautiful, brown eyes, waited for a break, a shift of vision, something; nothing, for the longest time.
“Well, are you going to answer my question? Who the hell are you?”
“I’m Brunette, you worked on that children’s hospital, didn’t you?”
“Yea, I worked that job. It’s built now. Well, my job’s over, anyway. The hospital still needs work. I’m working for a maniac-guy that I never see. He wanted something done for one of his charities, I don’t know. It’s probably a tax write-off. I’ll be done tomorrow. But what the hell am I tellin’ you for, and how the hell did you know I was working at the hospital?”
“I talked to your friendly, peanut-butter-eating friend.”
“Oh, yea, I met her when I was drinking in the bar one late night.”
Brunette seemed to have a good line on him, and made her decision about sleeping with the guy. She thought she could have him easy, but wanted help with finding The Last Redhead. So, she asked him for a drink and they went inside.
Barman Bob, as always, was behind the bar, with, or without pants, no one ever knew, but he was there, stupid and ugly as ever. “Hey, Singer, what the hell did you drag in?”
“Shut up asshole; get us a drink, politely.”
“Yea, Singer, I’ll get your drinks.”
“Bob’s an asshole,” Singer said behind the back of his hand.
She looked into her drink, swirled it, watching the pattern that the water made in the scotch. It mixed and disappeared. She drank it down in one long swill, put it down, looked at the side of Singer’s face, and thought, yea, Brunette, don’t get involved any more than you have to. Get him to help get The Last Redhead out of Spermicidal Maniac’s house; get her to Herfather, the seeping pustule, and get paid, she thought.
“Some nut case was here representing himself as a doctor; me in fact. He looked like he was just released from a concentration camp; skinny as a rail, and toothless as a bicycle accident. The guy was tall, had dark hair, brown eyes, and he ran down the hall, that way.” Doctor Squishy ranted about the egg thief to officer Doughpid. Doughpid wrote every word Squishy said in a little book he kept in his shirt pocket. He used a pen that was sold on television. At least that’s what Doughpid said to Doctor Squishy. Squishy had to stop to ask Doughpid if he heard what he described happened to his patient’s egg.
“Oh, yea, I heard what you said, and I wrote it down too. Look, I got it right here.” He reached into his shirt pocket and licked his thumb, swiped a few pages of the book. “No, that’s not it,” Doughpid said, as he stopped to read what he had written. “That was about the guy who we found naked in the street, right in front of the Pile O’ Patties. The naked guy kept-on with a story about Better Blonder Blonde going there for burgers. He said he didn’t want to miss her again, so he stripped his clothes off and sat in the road waiting for her to show up. What a nut,” Doughpid said, shaking his head, searching through his little book.
Finding his notes on the story from Doctor Squishy, Doughpid held the page toward Squishy to let him see that he had actually written something. Doctor Squishy slapped the notebook out of Doughpid’s hands, and said, “Go…go after the guy, you stupid infection.”
Officer Doughpid looked upset, said it wasn’t necessary to use such hurtful words, picked up his notebook and left; went after the egg thief, Ocher Ichee.
Flash bulbs popped, then popped again against the marble floor inside the mall. Better Blonder Blonde was getting the official fitting for Flexonoroff clothing. To get the best fitting, the tailors undressed her inside a well-lit, frosted-glass room. Cameramen flashed, gasped, stood ready at the mere frosted form of the woman. Better Blonder Blonde was in heaven; being caressed with the ideas of these men. Tape measures were warmed by the tailors, who seemed indifferent to her body, but were excited about the Flexonoroff fabric they were so anxious to use for the first time in their careers. Smooth, tight skin covered the woman. She never works at it, they say. She is the type of person who can eat, drink and be as merry as the most dilapidated beings, but will always be firm and wanted. Her frosted, silhouetted details were evident. Flexonoroff was making clothing for her, only. No one on the face of the earth could possibly fit her design. Some women may be her size, or somehow get their body contorted to fit into her size, but her shape will be written on the wearer. There will be thousands of women trying to pass as having a body like hers. Better Blonder Blonde will go down in history as having the most exciting body that any man would agree to say yes to.
The flashbulbs stopped flashing, cameramen could not move when she walked out of the fitting room. She was covered in Flexonoroff fabric; natural-colored fabric. Somehow, with her body, she took the breath of every man who held a camera. Every part of her body was visible, though covered. Her shape, her lit form, her nakedness was obvious, though was still very safe, covered from head to toe. Some of the men had stated, after she had left their sight, that seeing her in Flexonoroff was better than seeing her nude, because seeing her nude was finality. They all knew that they could never reach the heart of such a person. But seeing her in Flexonoroff was seeing everything and still having something to dream of. Just imagining; decorating the idea was more sensual than just seeing her naked. Flexonoroff has made the lives of every man a better place, more respectful, more conscientious, considerate of how a woman could secure herself to her beauty and not give it away.
The advertisement was a photograph of Better Blonder Blonde stepping from behind the frosted glass; half in. There was no caption in The Digest for the Ordinary Man. What could be said?
(sorry, we can’t give refunds)