She shook her head very slowly. "Wow."
He smiled, came back across the room. "You like?"
She took a deep breath. "Wow", she said again, never taking her eyes off Kristen's statuesque form.
Susan laughed, said sotto-voce: "I think she likes."
Natalie's gaze broke away from Kristen. "I haven't been under that long, have I? You really worked fast with her."
Mitch kept smiling, a little impressed with himself and his beautiful 'creation'. "Yeah, it's only been a few days. I am good." He stepped forward, adjusted one of the bows that tightened Kristen's burgundy and black teddy. She looked perfect. "The really wild part is how much she likes it. She surprised me."
Natalie looked around more widely, noticed Susan in her open robe. "So, it must be time for Frederick's. All three of us, huh?" She looked back at Kristen. "This beauty's going to put us out of work, Susan."
Mitch shook his head, and began sorting equipment. "Nonsense. Jealousy is most unbecoming, ladies. Nat, if you want to get cleaned up quickly, we can finally get ready for the shoot."
Susan said slyly, "I'll make sure he doesn't interrupt your shower."
Natalie shook her hips at them both as she headed back toward the bathroom. "Don't work too hard at it."
As soon as Natalie was out of earshot, Susan said, "We could REALLY surprise her, if you want. As soon as she's in there, freeze her, wait a couple minutes, then bring her back."
"Sues, we've really gotta get to work. Besides, you just took a shower!"
"Mitch, you kept me strumming that guitar for a month. You owe me."
"True. Oh, well, I've still got a lot of stuff to get arranged." He waited
until the shower sound was muted by Natalie's presence, then spun the dial.
The sound didn't change but he knew she was in range and had just become a statue
once more. "I'll bring her back in, uh, five minutes. Okay?"
-- The Interrupted Shower --
He opened the door, expecting a solicitor of some kind. "Look, I really don't think ..."
"Hi, Mitch. Can I come in?" Cindy tossed her long black hair to one side, away from her face. It was still cool and drizzling out, and she was bundled up in a long coat, tied tightly at her waist. Her eyes looked moist.
"Uhh, hi..." She was the last one he would have expected to see, after the way he had treated her before. "Sure! Can I get you something to drink?"
"Yeah, a beer would be great ... " She stopped in her tracks, gazing at the frozen mannequin of Kristen posed in her wine-colored satin teddy. "Sorry to barge in; you must be getting ready to do another of your photo shoots, or something. I don't want to interrupt."
Mitch's mind was swimming. He certainly hadn't expected Cindy to come over. He wouldn't have been surprised if she never saw him again, after her ten unexpected days as one of his living statues. He couldn't imagine why she had come, and why right now. He brought her an opened bottle of beer and a chilled glass. "No, it's no bother. Really."
Cindy poured some beer into the glass, stopped, and cocked her head to one side. "Your shower's running. I really am interrupting, aren't I?"
"Really, it's okay. Let me just go shut off the water."
Cindy stood up. "Hey, I can get it for you. I need to use the bathroom, anyway."
"Well, er, I really don't think..."
"It's no problem, Mitch. I'll just catch the water, and I'll be back in a minute."
Cindy set the beer on a table, and headed back to the bathroom. Inside, she unbuttoned her coat, swept it back, felt the warm damp air against her bare skin. She sat down, and looked at the shower curtain... I could swear there are people in there, she thought. There was no movement, no sound other than the rushing water. Two shadowy shapes were visible through the curtain. What is he up to now?, she wondered. As soon as she finished and washed her hands, she pulled back the curtain. Within was an erotic tableaux.
Two of Mitch's statues were posed in the shower, both of whom she recognized from her previous tour of Mitch's studio before she lost her bet. The shorter, full-chested one - named Nat, she thought - was taking the full force of the water in her back, her head arched back, one hand soaping between her legs, the other poised just below her breasts. The taller one - was her name Sue? - was fondling the shorter one, her hands wrapped around the other's breasts, her crotch grinding against the other's thigh. Cindy's breath caught for a moment - she wasn't sure what to think. She put a hand over her mouth, not wanting to alarm Mitch. Then, she felt an urge to giggle, and she left her hand over her mouth to suppress that. She realized then she found the image disturbingly sensuous, and wasn't sure how to feel about that. It wasn't something she ever wanted to do or be part of, but it made her tingle a little just to see it. Cindy continued to gaze at their naked, glistening bodies for an unknown time; watching the way the water splashed over their motionless figures.
There was a light knock on the bathroom door. "Cindy? Are you okay? Cindy?"
She jumped as if shocked, then tried to keep from sounding startled, partially succeeded. "Uh, yeah! Yeah, Mitch, I'm fine! Just a second!" She reached in and turned off the water, trying hard not to brush against either of the bathing statues. Even so, she brushed against Sue's back and Cindy felt a tiny jolt, like static electricity, shoot up her arm. Pulling the curtain back into place, she tied up her coat, and opened the door.
Mitch was standing outside with a nervous look on his face. "Look, uh, I can ... I mean, what I'm trying to say is, well, there's an explanation, and, uh..."
Cindy walked past him, back out to the main room as if nothing had happened and took a sip of beer. Nonchalantly, "Explanation for what?"
"An explanation for... huh?"
"Explanation for what? Is there something to explain?"
"Well, yeah, I mean, there should... uh, just a second." Mitch dashed back to the bathroom for a moment, returned very puzzled. The statues were still there, frozen in their watery tryst.
Cindy broke up laughing. "The look on your face! It's priceless!"
Mitch took a deep slow breath - he'd obviously been had. "There really is an explanation for why they're in the shower like that."
"You mean like that or like that?" She was fighting not to laugh.
"I mean why they're immobilized in there. I didn't know who was at the door, and I didn't want them traipsing out here, naked, ready to pose. As far as why they're like that, well..."
Cindy downed the rest of the glass of beer. "I think I can figure that question out for myself, thank you very much. They looked like they were enjoying it, anyway, or at least the tall one was enjoying it. Not my thing. Well, don't keep them on hold in there any longer on my account."
"Oh. Yeah. Right." Mitch went to the controls and released both of the girls, with Nat being first by a few seconds. There was a sudden shriek, then another, and then continuous laughter, followed by the sound of the bathroom door closing.
Mitch stepped over to the little conversation area near the front door, bounded by a couch, a couple chairs, and a love seat. "Have a seat?" He was trying to get her attention, and his, away from the scene.
"Thank you." Cindy left the glass behind, started working on the bottle. She sat down on the couch, keeping her coat on, and crossed her legs. She seemed to be waiting for him to start.
Mitch took the other chair - he didn't want to seem pushy. "So, what's going on?"
She sighed. "It's Dan. He's been way over the top since we were here. Let me tell you, he'd just as soon kill you as speak your name right now. He hasn't been very happy with me, either, and it's just gotten worse."
"Gotten worse? How's that?"
"Well ... Dan can be pretty obsessive. He's got it in his head that you and me had some kind of 'thing' while he was frozen, and he can... he can..." She was visibly upset and closing her eyes to try to control her emotions.
"He can what?"
Cindy was on the borderline between angry and downcast, her jaw clenched and eyes tearing up all at once. She paused for a few moments again, then cleared her throat. "All my stuff's in the car outside. He threw me out, and I was afraid he... I was afraid he might... I don't know what, Mitch."
She looked at him, and patted her hand on the couch cushion, beckoning him closer. He moved across cautiously, not sure what to think about what was going on now. He felt bad about her situation, partly responsible, but curious at the same time, and plotting a little. Cindy *had* been a great statue...
She continued on, "Despite all the nasty things I had to say to you the other day, you're a good guy, Mitch. A little weird sometimes, but a good guy."
"Uh, thank you. I think." She was sitting surprisingly close to him, he thought.
"Can I please crash here for a while? I've got nowhere else to go, and I just need to hide out for a while, in case Dan starts hunting for me."
"Sure, no sweat. But don't you think here is the first place he'd come, if he really thinks we're having a - what did you call it? - a thing?"
She hesitated for a moment. "Hmm, I hadn't thought of that. Well, I just won't stay long, then. Anyway, thanks for being there for me." She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. It was just a peck, really...
"Ahem!" Mitch and Cindy both whirled around to see Susan and Natalie standing over them, both with arms crossed and robes tied shut.
Susan's brow was wrinkled in a frown. "Aren't you going to introduce us, Mitch?"
Natalie smiled. "I know who she is, Susan. She's that girl that lost the bet, ended up as a statue because she thought Mitch was kidding. Didn't someone tell you about that little escapade? What was her name..."
Cindy smiled, extended a hand cordially. "Yes; I'm Cindy. And you're Susan, apparently, and you must be Nat, aren't you?"
"My name is Natalie." She pronounced each syllable, icily.
Mitch was a little nervous. "Uh, listen, ladies. How would you like to go out for the evening, have a little R&R before we start the job. I'm not ready yet, and ..."
Susan's brow still hadn't unfurrowed. "You would be ready, if there weren't all of these distractions." She stared pointedly straight at Cindy. "Isn't there a tight deadline on this a really tight deadline?"
Cindy sighed. "Look, Mitch, really, if I'm interfering with your work..."
Mitch forced a smile at Cindy. "Would you excuse us for just a minute, please?" He looked at Susan and Natalie, frowned, and pointed toward the kitchen. They followed him into the other room. As soon as Cindy was out of earshot, Mitch said in a low, strained voice, "What the fuck is going on here?"
Natalie said coyly, "Why, what are you talking about, Mitch? Do you know what he's getting at?" Susan shrugged her shoulders.
"I'm talking about the bullshit way you two are treating Cindy! She's having a really tough time right now, and it's partly my fault."
Natalie's voice was all steel. "I certainly hope you don't intend to add her to your collection right now. Kristen, I'll live with. She seems really nice. This one though, coming in here, playing kissy-face with you, what are you thinking?"
"Nat's right, Mitch. One new face is enough right now."
Mitch tried to ease the tension. "Look, this has nothing to do with you, or this catalog. I meant what I said. Things between Cindy and her boyfriend went south, and it's partly my fault because of that stupid damn bet. Now he's being pretty nasty to her, and she's got nowhere to go. That has nothing to do with the shoot."
"Prove it," said Natalie.
"Prove it. Get rid of her."
Mitch snarled, "This jealousy stops right now! I haven't the time, or patience, for this kind of shit. I'm sure there's other work for a model with your impressive physique and portfolio, if you want to go find it."
Natalie took a half-step back, surprised. "No, Mitch. I didn't mean it that way. Look, I'm sorry. It's not my place to mess with your personal life, or whatever."
Susan cast her eyes downward. "Geez, Mitch. We didn't mean it like that. We want to stay - I mean, I want to stay, anyway. I like it here."
Natalie chimed in, "Oh, I want to stay, too! I ... really, I'm not interested in other modeling work. Really. You can just freeze us up like mummies and stand us in a corner, or whatever - get us out of your way."
Mitch said, "Look, you still don't understand. But I can see how you might have got the wrong impression. Why don't the two of you just go out for the evening. Catch dinner, a movie; live a little. Take the health club passes, if you want. Put this whole Cindy thing out of your minds. It's getting late anyway - we'll start the shoot tomorrow morning."
"Okay," Susan agreed. Natalie nodded, a bit sheepishly.
-- Cindy's Dilemma --
"I guess I can understand how they might feel." She was smiling at him again. That's an improvement, he thought. Rejection is a tough thing to take.
He sat back down on the couch. "You really think Dan will come after you?"
"Oh, I have no doubts about that. It could be weeks, maybe months, before he finds someone else to obsess about. Frankly, I'm glad this happened. I really needed to get away from him."
Mitch's mind was plotting, again. "So where do you go from here? Move back to stay with family until he gives up or goes away? I mean, you can't just hang around town. It's an awfully small place to avoid him in."
"My folks retired. They ditched the house, and they're doing the RV thing now. I don't have any brothers or sisters. I suppose I could scare up some old friends to stay with. I haven't been very good about keeping up any other friendships. Dan saw to that."
Mitch was soothing, sympathetic. "I'm sorry to hear that. I guess I didn't know Dan as well as I thought. I wouldn't have picked him as being abusive."
Cindy sat up angrily. "I never said he was abusive! He's not... he couldn't be..." She stopped, slouched, and was silent for a long time. After a while, she took a long, deep breath. "Maybe you're right, but I just can't put... that word together with him, you know? We were together a long time, most of the way through college and ever since. Obsessive? Yeah, I'll buy that. Demanding? Okay, that's probably fair. But that word, I just can't say it."
"You don't have to. The thing right now is, how can we keep you away from him for a time? A long time. How are you going to go to work?" A leading question...
"Oh, I'm not. I can't. I already resigned. I meant what I said earlier. Everything I own is in the car outside." She stopped, hearing the back door open and close. After a few minutes, the sound of a car pulled away from the far side of the house.
Mitch said, "That's just Natalie and Susan, going into town. They'll cool down. Well, you can stay here for now, but I don't know how we can hide you for ever..." If she's going to bite, it's now, he thought.
She looked at him furtively. "I was sort of thinking, I mean, I don't want this to be an imposition, but I thought maybe you could use your widget again and turn me into a statue for a while, until he settles down. I mean, you could just stack me in a backroom or something, somewhere he wouldn't find me, even if he came looking. I'm ready to do it."
Game, set, and match, he thought. Mitch smiled. "I think you'd be a great addition to my gallery. We'd need to do a standard contract, of course, to cover all the Immobilizer issues and set up display rules, and so forth."
"Can you store my stuff? I figured maybe you could stash my car for me. It'd be easier to hide it than find the cash for a new one later."
"Whatever you want me to do. When you have everything settled, just come back later and..."
"There's nothing to settle. I've made up my mind. Do you have one of those contracts here?"
Jesus, she's moving fast, he thought, either she's really worried or maybe really anxious to be frozen again. Whatever works. He grabbed a clipboard with one of the standard modeling and display contracts, filled in her name and the date. Without asking, he checked the 'unlimited display' category and handed it to her.
She glanced at it for a few seconds. "Is there anything about some kind of maximum term in here or something?"
"What do you mean?"
"Like some point where you'll come back and wake me up, if the coast is clear. It would have to be quite a bit longer than just ten days, this time."
"Believe me, that's no problem. Oh, I wouldn't want to leave you immobilized too long, anyway. No more than a few months at a time, just for safety's sake."
"Okay, then, that's fine." She signed and initialed at all the appropriate
Xs, nonchalant as if she was renting a car, handed Mitch the clipboard
with a brief smile, and stood up. "Any ideas about where to stash me?"
"Well, I was thinking about that. You know, sometimes things in the open are the least... obvious..." Mitch searched around the Immobilizer unit, found the earclip already tuned for Cindy. He never thought it would be used again so soon.
He heard a thump behind him, like a sack of laundry dropping, and turned around. Cindy had tossed her coat on the back of the couch, and stood there waiting, completely naked. Her long black hair was draped down the front, camouflaging most of her average but well-defined breasts. She was very well conditioned, the contours of her abdomen rigidly defined around just the slightest rise below her navel, her shoulders muscular, limbs slender but well toned. Her pubic hair was short and bristly, just beginning to come back from the recent close shave. Her legs were as long as he had remembered them.
Mitch was dumbstruck. "Did you come here planning this?"
She nodded wordlessly. He handed Cindy the earclip, and she put it into place.
Now she could be frozen as a Living Statue at any time. "So, what do you mean
by things in the open being least obvious?"
-- Arts & Crafts --
Cindy's eyes widened. "A haircut?" She looked apprehensive for the first time.
"Is that a problem?"
She brushed back some stray hairs from her face. "I've always had very long hair. Even when I was a kid. I had it cut once. Once. And I cried for a month."
Mitch said quietly. "That would make it even more of a disguise. No one would ever suspect you having short hair. You wouldn't even look like any of your old photos, not even the ones I took recently."
She took a deep, wavering breath. "Fine. How are we going to manage a decent haircut, without me going into town?"
"Hm. I think I can solve that." Mitch walked over the Immobilizer controls, chose the spot marked "Amy", and turned the dial to reanimate her. A few second later he heard a clatter in the kitchen, followed by a "Damn!"
Amy came strolling out in her white lingerie ensemble, the stockings and cream-colored high heeled shoes splattered with dark droplets. "There was still some coffee in that pot, Mitch. Sorry about the st... oh, hi." She strolled up to Cindy like there was nothing strange to see a naked woman standing in the living room - which it wasn't at Mitch's - and extended a hand. "I'm Amy. Are you new?"
Cindy nodded, hesitated a moment, then said, "I'm Cindy." She was trying to get accustomed to seeing scantily-clad models strutting around. Or frozen stiff.
Amy smiled, "And I thought you were just nervous. Mitch stumped trying to decide how to pose you? Shouldn't be too difficult."
Mitch replied, "Actually, I'm trying to decide how to hide her."
"Hide her?" Amy motioned for Cindy to sit down on the couch, sat beside her. "Tell me all about it."
Cindy went through the whole story again for her. Amy listened passively most of the time, punctuating with the occasional biting remark about men and pigs, and the usually close connection between the two.
When Cindy was done, Amy weighed the whole story. "So, you're going to hide out here as one of us statues for a while. Until that moron gives up and finds someone else to screw up?"
Cindy nodded her head slowly, expressionless. "That about covers it."
Amy looked at Mitch. "And so you activated me because?"
"Cindy needs a haircut."
Amy ran a hand through Cindy's hair. "That's a shame. Not many people with good hair like this. But, no one would ever recognize you with short hair, I'll bet."
Cindy nodded. "That's what Mitch said."
"Well, let me get the tools of the trade. Why don't you go in the kitchen, and I'll meet you in there? Mitch, my stuff?"
"All in the back room, with your duffel bag."
"Okay, I'll find a smock or something, and we can get to work."
Cindy sat at the kitchen table, wrapped in a heavy cotton robe. She looked at the floor occasionally, where piles of long, dark hair had piled. Her hair; on the floor. She thought it was strange that the sight of the hair bothered her more than sitting next to the motionless figure of Karen, in her French Maid outfit, coffee mug in hand or Amy, styling her hair while wearing a garter belt and lace bra.
"Almost done," said Amy. "Nervous?"
"Well, you shouldn't be. It's a little wild, since it's always been long for so long. As soon as I clean some of the hair off you, I'll mousse it, so it has some shape when you see it."
Cindy closed her eyes, tried to enjoy the feel of her hair being worked on. She felt a draft on the back of her neck, a very foreign sensation, and it reminded her of the piles of hair on the floor, which bothered her. "Aren't you done yet?"
"Yeah, I'm done. You're going to want to shower, to get the rest of the hair off, and then I'll style it again for you, okay?"
"Okay. Let's see it." She was nervous, but impatient. Amy gave her a large hand mirror, and she held up while looking away, waited a moment, then peered into it abruptly. Someone else looked back at her.
It wasn't as short as she had feared, still hanging down her neck, although Amy had thinned the back quite a bit. The top and sides were in sort of a boyish wedge, heavily moussed to give it extra body.
Amy stood back a bit, giving Cindy's hairstyle another once-over. "Well?"
Cindy kept looking in the mirror, moving it around to see the sides and the back. "It's sooooo different. I don't know really... I'll have to think about it awhile, get used to it, I guess."
Amy laughed. "Mitch won't leave you much time for that, I'll bet. Look, you go clean up, and I'll see if he needs any help getting ready for you."
Getting 'ready' for me, Cindy thought. It sounded ominous and exciting to her
all at once. She thought back over her previous brief experience as a living
Amy ran a little more mousse through Cindy's hair. "That's enough. What do you think, Mitch?"
Mitch stopped fussing with his trunk full of equipment, took a long look. "I think you look simply fabulous, Cindy. Ready to be creative? I am."
"I guess so."
"Do you have any skin allergies?"
"Not that I know of. To what?"
"Have you ever used body paint before?"
She smiled and teared up a little at the same time. "Yeah ... Dan and I ... we ... yeah, I have. It was fine." She blushed.
"Hm, let me see... I had a wild idea. Amy and I worked it through, actually."
Amy smiled. "It's pretty cool."
Mitch walked to the couch. "It's a little hard to visualize, but it'll work fine. You just have to go along with me on this. Come right here, in front of the couch." He moved the coffee table back several feet, out of the furniture grouping. "Now, sit down here on the floor, right in front of the couch. Let me see what I could... okay, might as well stretch out. You won't be moving again for a while."
Cindy tried to control her breathing. The Immobilizer scared her and thrilled her all at once. She remembered the feeling of stiffness from before; tried to ready herself for the sensations she knew would come, but she didn't know how.
"Amy, can you lift the edge of that up a little ... no, the long, thin one. Thanks. Okay, here's what I want you to do, Cindy, so listen closely. Now close your eyes, or you're going to think I'm nuts. It'll only be difficult for a minute or so. I want you to stretch your legs out ... now bring them back toward you by bending at the knees, to about... that angle. Okay, keep your legs like that." She was balancing her upper body with her elbows.
"What are you dragging? Or are those wheels? What are you up to?"
"Be careful with that, Amy. I'll make sure you have pictures to prove it later. Keep your eyes closed. Now, I want you to spread your legs open a little..."
"I'm not going to do anything to you like what you're thinking. You just have to trust me. I mean, if you're going to do this, it might as well be creative, right?"
She nodded, very hesitantly.
Amy chimed in. "It'll be all right. I'll watch after him."
He stopped, knelt down, and laid a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "Really, it'll be absolutely beautiful. Now just bring your legs out to the sides... a little more... a little... okay, hold them there. Here's the tricky part. I want you to take your hands, and rest them between your legs. You don't have to do anything, just rest them there, along the insides of your thighs."
"Okay." She laid down, and placed the sides of her hands on the insides of her thighs. "That was easy."
"It won't be. That's not how I want you to do it yet." The wheeling-dragging sound stopped right next to her. "Now, you'll only have to hold this pose for a few seconds, and after that, it'll be a piece of cake. I want you to keep your torso up, with your hands and legs where they are, using your stomach and back muscles."
"Lift my torso up with my arms out like that? How will I hold myself like that? I don't know if my abs are that strong!"
He looked her over. "I wouldn't worry about that, you'll only have to do it for a few seconds.. This'll really show off your torso. I want you to try and lean your head back a little. You don't want to look tense."
"That's a lot to keep straight. I'm not really ready to try it - it's too difficult!"
"Wait a minute. Suppose I get some support under your back until we're ready?"
"That'd be better. Much."
Amy dragged over one of the posing platforms and piled a few pillows on it. Cindy sat up, then leaned back onto the padding until she was about at the level position he was looking for.
"Okay, you'll feel some weight now, on your upper chest and knees. Just try to relax, don't worry. Amy, help me lift this up here." Amy and Mitch lifted a piece of oval tempered glass, about two and a half feet long and a foot and a half wide.
"Okay... mmpff! What was that? I hope you're hurrying, 'cause my back can't take this weight much longer."
Mitch adjusted some things, and got out a level. He eyeballed the glass
tabletop, and set the level on top of it. "Okay, I'm going to support your
back, and pull out the top pillow. Your stomach ready? Clench those abs.
"I guess so. I trust you, Mitch." Her face was tense.
"Okay. Amy, get ready with the controls, okay? Cindy, here we go."
"Mmpff!! I know that - relax, right?" She slowly, gingerly put her head back,
letting her long neck arch back. She almost touched the floor. Mitch watched
the level carefully. "Okay, deep breath. Push those tits out!" She got a slight
grin on her face. He saw her hands shift out of the corner of his eye as he
watched the level... and gave Amy the thumbs-up to flip the switch on the Immobilizer.
Cindy's lips parted slightly, a barely visible shudder running through her torso.
She relaxed slightly just as the field hit, softening the lines of her stomach, but not affecting the slightly off-balance level. Then she became rigid as a statue.
He took his hand out, and the figure of Cindy, Mitch's new custom coffee table,
stayed perfectly still and level. He moved rapidly now, kissing her on the cheek
then rolling forward. "You won't believe the pictures when I'm done. Have a
good sleep, and I'll make sure Dan can't find you." While Cindy's body was still
slightly pliable, Mitch lifted the big glass slab off her knees and upper chest,
shifting her breasts slightly to remove the marks from the glass and restore
her erect nipples to their original hardness. Moments later, when her skin was
hard as stone, he and Amy set the glass back down, and he checked the level
again. Perfectly true. Do I have an eye or what, he thought. He looked her over,
and smiled. He was right, he had seen her hands shift as she was being frozen,
one massaging her clit, the other insistently prodding at the soft-looking lips
below. That grin had meant something, he thought.
He marveled at her firm, chiseled physique - she was the only one of his statues strong enough to pull this off - he thought. The muscles of her shoulders and upper arms had rippled slightly, and only the barest strain showed in her neck. The definition in her body truly looked as if it had been carved from flawless pale marble.
Amy surveyed the new statue. "Wow, perfectly balanced. You were exactly right. What's next? Can I help?"
Mitch thought about it for a moment. "Yeah, I could use some help. Some live
company would be nice. Bring over that bucket of putty, would you?
Time to finish this little project, he thought, as he set to work...
-- The Hiding Place --
"Did you have a nice time?" he called out.
"Yeah," said Natalie. "I didn't realize how long it's been since I've seen a movie. Some of the movies I missed before have sequels now."
Susan looked around at the mess in the kitchen. "What happened in here. What were you up to?"
"Oh, a little home decorating."
They came into the front room. Natalie smiled. "Hi, Amy. I didn't know you were active."
"I wasn't, but Mitch needed some help with this project. So, what do you think of our new coffee table?"
Susan moved closer. "Nice woodwork." The tabletop was a sheet of tempered glass, resting on a highly polished wooden sculpture of a reclining nude woman. The glass rested only on four small felt pads, two on the sculpture's upper chest, and one on each knee. Some parts of the sculpture were very detailed, like the definition of the torso, the neck, and parts of the face. Other areas were much more roughly hewn, like the wedgy, bristly hair that looked as if carved with a chainsaw, or the hands and feet. The whole piece looked precariously balanced, but proved to be quite solid and stable.
Natalie said, "Looks like an expensive chunk of wood. What is it, walnut?"
"Take a closer look."
Susan and Natalie peered close at the table, looking at the wood grain, the light finish, the detailed bangs descending from the wedgy hair, the wry grin on the sculpture's face ...
"Wait a minute!," said Susan. "I've seen this woman... this is your friend from earlier! The hair fooled me, but I'm sure it's... how the hell did you ...?"
Natalie reached out to run a hand along the smooth lines of the sculpted figure.
Mitch grabbed her arm. "Not yet. I think the finish is dry, but I'm not sure."
"So that's why all your touchup stuff is out. Some pretty fancy airbrushing!"
Mitch smiled proudly. "It's a little more than that, but thank you, anyway. We used putty and resin to build up some spots, so she looks carved, then laid down a wood color, then the grain, then a finish that looks like varnish." He looked admiringly at Amy. "I never could have done it this well or this fast without Amy. So what do you think? If her ex-boyfriend Dan comes sneaking in here, he'll never suspect, will he?"
Susan shook her head. "No, if I hadn't looked really close... I can't figure out how she balanced that glass that way, without busting a gut. She's pretty strong."
Natalie squinted. "Yeah, look at her neck though. And down here. She's straining pretty good. That'll be fun, bringing her out of it. It'll take three of us!"
Mitch stood back, admiring his creation. "So, what do you think?"
Natalie stepped back. "Yeah, it's... really creative. All that work, you must be expecting she'll be there a while. Quite a while. Fine by me..."
Mitch gave her a look that said 'Don't go there', rubbed his hands together, and said, "Well, ready to get to work? Just let me go wash my hands, and you go get into your first wardrobes. I have everything laid out."
Amy sat down on the couch, admiring her collaboration with Mitch, still wearing the spattered lingerie and hose. The result was really striking, Amy thought. She let her eyes wander from one end of the coffee table to the other, and... her eyes widened, eyebrows arched up, and just as she was ready to jump up and say something important, she felt the telltale tingle of stiffness spread through her body as she too became a statue. I have to tell him, she thought, or else everything might... her face wouldn't budge. She was frozen solid in position.
Mitch said to her, "Sorry about that, but I wanted to catch that cute expression! Thanks again for all your help, and I'll bring you out after the shoot's finished."
Inside, Amy was screaming: Mitch, take another look! Mitch! But
it was too late. She was already stiff as a mannequin as she drifted off to
a long sleep.
Read the next part and see if he finally succeeds!