Did you ever know someone who didn't have the sense God gave a stone? Kylie was one of those people. Don't get me wrong, she was a really nice lady. Sweet, caring; yet a complete space case. She was the type who'd forget what a conversation was about in the middle of having one, lose her car for hours at the mall because she had walked there instead, and who dove into things without a second (or even maybe a first) thought.
I'd known her on and off for years, but nine times out of ten she couldn't remember my cell phone number! Being such a ditz, Kylie naturally had a killer body and a face that Helen of Troy would have envied. Not that she was anything like a bimbo blonde stereotype, if you're seeing that picture of her from me. She was sharp, witty, yet completely lacking the gene for commonsense — even though her other genes had overcompensated. Most of the time, for example, Kylie was really really lucky. I always let her buy the lottery tickets...
We were long-time buddies and occasionally more, despite the fact that she was (mostly) into women. Kylie wasn't that shy, you see, especially when her own pleasure was involved. There were always those odd moments where I was between girlfriends - or she was - and we just sort of enjoyed each other's intimate company with carnal abandon, then pretend the next day it hadn't happened. Until the next time, that is...
Anyway, I'd just finished a run, it was hot, and I was looking forward to a shower and an icy beer. Racing into my apartment, I almost bowled Kylie over in the hallway. Did I mention she had a key? Simpler than waiting for her to find my phone number.
"Oh, hi, Doug," she said in a nonchalant way, oblivious to the fact she'd almost gotten knocked on her ass. "Can you help me with something?"
"Babe, I'm not going to be your pimp, no matter how much business you could bring in that way!" I shot back. "Am I missing a costume party?"
For, the middle of the afternoon, she was dressed to the nines; all dolled up as if she was going out for the evening. Make no mistake of it, she knew almost instinctively what to wear to look absolutely stunning. This time it was a simple silvery cocktail dress that seemed to have been sprayed on her sleek figure. She had a dancer's body, slim and chiseled, with breasts that were not overlarge but legs that seemed to go on forever. Her dress emphasized those features, hugging her chest to reveal a lot of cleavage and barely enough to cover her firm ass when she moved. She was wearing black evening hose that sparkled too and silver pumps that matched her dress. Today her hair was a rusty straw shade (that ranged too on her whim from jet black to platinum and everything in between) and styled in a fancy confection. She was wearing more makeup than usual, especially around her hazel eyes, and a lot of costume jewelry. Even though she mostly didn't have use for men, she sure knew how to please their eye.
"You don't have to do much," she continued, glancing down at a slip of paper. "Just pose me, and give the service a call a couple of hours later. They'll take care of the rest. OK?"
"What are you talking about, Ky? Pose you... why?"
"I signed up to be a mannequin. On the web. They sent a little kit, and these instructions." She glanced back into the hall mirror to smooth a lock of hairsprayed curl that had flopped into her eyes, then became preoccupied with checking her already perfect face.
"That sounds absurd; why would anybody do something as harebrained as that?" But a part of me was saying 'Of course, it's Kylie, that figures...'
"Because they're paying me, silly," she countered, finishing her makeup check and moving to the open space in front of the TV. "A lot. More than for most commercials, even. Just help me out, because it's going to start taking effect kind of soon now, at least that's what the paper said."
"What's taking effect?" I began to get a sinking feeling in my stomach.
"They gave me this special formula to drink, kind of like a milk-shake, except it tasted terrible.."
"You drank some kind of drug, a potion, without knowing what could happen, what its effects were?"
"Cool it, mister high-and-mighty; you gave me that Ecstasy last summer and didn't ask a lot..of.. Questions. Wow... Feeling something weird now.. Foot's stuck... in... place..."
"Crap, Kylie, you should have asked someone - me - first!" I yelled, looking at her closely as her movements started getting sluggish and time seemed to stretch out.
"Too... Late..." She said, trying to raise her arms. "Help... "
She wanted me to pose her. Like a mannequin. Her dazzling outfit, the makeup, the jewelry; all her preparations made sense now.
"OK, Kylie, hang in there." I didn't know how much time there was left; the stuff seemed to be taking effect really quickly. I moved her arms, with effort. She was really getting stiff in the joints. I tried to remember how some of those window dummies looked, sort of aloof and artificial. I couldn't believe I was doing this! Long seconds passed as I managed to tilt her head up a little an turn it to the side. Kylie's eyes had started to look really glassy and unfocused. Her breathing seemed to be slowing down also. "There you go, babe," I said to her. She didn't seem to respond. "You're all ready!" I said again, louder, not knowing if she could hear me.
The word was only a whisper: "Than...k..sss..." It was the last thing she ever said to me. Her lips never moved.
Over the next hour her body stiffened completely and her skin began to take on a slight sheen, as if it had been painted. I took the time to read the (painfully brief) instructions that Kylie had followed. The last step was noted as "assistant schedules pickup for assignment" and there was a web link given. Unfortunately, when I pulled it up, there was a 404; unknown.
As were, it turned out, all the other pages she'd bookmarked on my computer from a site entitled "www.MailOrderMannequins.com" They were nowhere to be found and hadn't been online long enough to get saved by any search engines. The place had vanished. Even the package containing the drug had no return address. Sent parcel post, there was no tracking number to be had.
It seems that Kylie doesn't have a return, either. Over a year has passed since that weekend and she hasn't moved a millimeter on her own in that time. She stands, stiff as a statue, in a corner of my bedroom. I try to avoid using her as a clothes rack, but sometimes forget. Crap; that last bit sounds so disrespectful, so morbid, but I don't believe for an instant that she's no longer alive. She's not completely cold and I feel a faint, slow pulse at times. Kylie's just taking a little (well, a long) time-out from mobility, looking achingly beautiful as a still life.
The residue in the cup she'd drank from I sent in to have tested; the lab found a witches brew of ingredients: Curare, perphenazine,scopolamine, pentothal, some kind of spider venom, hydrogen sulfate, and a host of other odd chemicals. Oh, yeah, red dye #2 and artificial strawberry flavoring. They'd never seen anything like it before. The lab recommended sending the stuff in to the police forensics laboratory or the DEA.
Kylie Wolford turned out to be as much a mystery to me as her mail-order package. She didn't seem to have any relatives; her address book had few entries. One of them was mine of course. Another was for her current lover, a model she'd been living with for the past few months, who had been helping her try and break into the business. That girl didn't know much about Kylie either, despite having known her over a couple of years. She did say that Kylie had mentioned Tasmania to her at some point and she thinks Kylie had a passport but I haven't been able to find anything more among her few belongings. Her life is in just as much limbo as she is, it seems.
So, I'm taking this step, among other ones, putting the word out on Kylie's predicament in different ways and different locations on the web. Hoping someone will recognize her and contact us, or maybe has had a similar experience with Mail Order Mannequins.
Return to the Story Archive