The Nick Of Time
(and other Abrasions)
Tombs Of The Blonde Dead
Al Bruno III
It was dark now and the sculpted brasiers filled the Garden of Duchesses with flickering yellow light. The grunge band Severe Tire Damage were well into their first set; she sound of cheers and the squeal of distorted guitar riffs filled the night. Judy Bauer was giggling. She had her high heeled shoes in one hand and a plastic margarita glass in the other; she glanced behind her to make sure the man with the leather jacket and the silk necktie was still following her.
But of course he was.
She led him off the winding pathway to the shadowy borders of the elegantly sculpted treeline. Judy’s eyes adjusted quickly to the loss of light- but the darkness rarely held any surprises for her. She didn’t even spill her drink. Her admirer Grady Smith wasn’t so lucky, he blundered through sweet smelling blooms and tried to make his cursing sound good-natured.
The passed close to a brass cage where an exotic bird made irritated sounds. Judy wondered momentarily at the cruelty of keeping the creature caged, alone and far from human sight. Who cared for it? Who took pleasure in its beauty? Did millionaire publisher Larry Gurlich even remember it was there?
Well that was the difference of the sexes wasn’t it? Given unlimited energy and resources male energy would horde and build monument after monument to itself- female energy on the other hand would be caught in a cycle of creation and destruction.
“Julie?” Grady Smith’s voice was somewhere behind her.
“Judy,” she corrected and kept walking.
“Where are you?” He sounded confused and frustrated, and that was just the way Dame Bauer’s youngest daughter liked them.
She finished her drink and tossed the plastic cup aside, she felt a twinge of guilt at that but she was sure there were far worse things found littering the grounds of this place in the morning. Grady Smith headed in the direction of the glass, giggling Judy called back, “I’m over here.”
For a record producer he had a lousy sense of hearing but that was assuming he really was who he said he was. Who knew how many faux producers and directors were out there trolling for bimbos?
There was a building up ahead, for a moment Judy thought it might be some kind of lover’s cottage or an elaborate storage shed but then she saw it was one of the eight burial vaults that had been scattered throughout the gardens.
Actually, she realized, there are nine of them now.
Nine beauties, nine almost celebrities, nine women who died with their dreams and their lives half realized.
Slowing her pace Judy ran her the palm of her hand along the smooth granite wall of the tomb. It was a pitiful thing really, especially when compared to some of the sights offered by the city of Olathoe.
Of course that was to be expected when you considered how much male energy was running rampant around there.
Turning she pressed her back against the stone wall and waited for her pursuer to find her. When he did he pressed close, one hand on the wall the other on her hip. He filled her face with his stale panting breaths and pick-up lines that were staler still.
Why was it the really handsome ones never knew when to shut up?
Finally he had convinced himself that she wanted to be kissed and his head darted forward. She turned at the last moment letting him plant his lips on her cheek. Then she giggled again. She could almost feel his face going crimson, and let him stew for a few minutes before she pressed her lips to his.
Then she slipped out of his embrace and ran to the other side of the burial vault.
And he was hot at her heels asking her “Hey baby, where are you going?” but there was an edge of danger to that Hey baby. She knew it was wrong to be a tease- wrong and dangerous but this was how she liked men best- frustrated and impatient, right on the verge of becoming beasts.
Judy also knew she wasn’t the only woman to play this game but unlike most she knew how to take care of herself; if record producer Grady Smith didn’t know how to take no for an answer he would find choice parts of his anatomy melting away.
The sound of a familiar guitar riff filled the darkness, it was Severe Tire Damage playing their only top twenty hit ‘Lady Snakeskin’. Judy let Grady Smith find her and they were kissing again. He was more insistent now, pressing himself against her, his hands were everywhere.
They lay down on the ground, loosening their clothes in all the necessary places. Judy pushed him flat on his back and she was nibbling here and licking there. He called her ‘Julie’ again but before she could think to scold or correct him the door of the burial vault fell open with a muffled crash.
“What was that?” Grady Smith hissed in what would be one of his final breaths.
A slender shape in a silk shroud stepped out onto the warm grass, it was a shape that dozens of young men had lulled themselves into sleep by dreaming of, it was shape that had even caught the eye of a middle aged Elvis Presley, it was the 1967 Girly Magazine. Duchess of the year Betty Cunningham.
Twenty five years of decay had run riot over that famous figure reducing it to sinew and gristle, her beauty mark was long gone now, along with most of the face that had held it, the only thing that still seemed to have retained its luster was her long blonde hair.
Betty Cunningham’s rot-blinded eyes glared down at the couple sprawled on the grass.