Friday, August 25, 2006

Better Red Than Dead

Barb was going to be a star someday, a star - she felt it in her GUT. She'd been voted "Best Personality" in her high school yearbook; she'd swept the prizes at the town beauty pageant; her mother proudly showed her scrapbook to everyone from the Avon Lady to the Fuller Brush Salesman.
Barb begged her cousin Howard to take some glamour shots of her. Everyone knew he was the best photographer in Cayuga Heights...he'd had years of training with the coroner! Barb knew that good photos would open doors for her at all the best studios. She wanted to be the next Ann Miller! the next Jane Russell! The next Ethel Merman! California was waiting, just waiting for her. After changing her name to something exotic and French: maybe Lorelei? Laurette? LaFawnduh? Barb could almost feel the Waterman in her trembling fingers, guiding the ink over the lines of that contract that would give her fame and stardom. Her dancing shoes needed some tapping feet, and she had all the right moves. Maybe a musical with Fred Astaire? She'd be happy enough with Danny Kaye. O, sweet smell of success! But first, the head shots.
"Make me look glamourous," she begged. "Like those pinups in my daddy's den."
Cousin Howard smiled uneasily.
"It's about time," he said. "No one ever asks me to take pictures of people who are still alive."
Barb was still lost in her fantasy of Hollywood stardom - riches, swimming pools, a new Rolls Royce, prospective beaux lining up outside her dressing room door, all armed with roses. Dozens of roses. She'd make a dress from the petals of adoration!

Howard, it turned out, was a whiz with costuming and makeup. He'd gotten this practice whilst in the employment of McGhee's Funeral Home, and had amassed quite a collection of clothing. Some of it might have had a few faint stains, but that was the "magic" of photography, wasn't it? He chose for her a snazzy red dress (you could hardly see the blood after a few washes). The tube of lipstick was almost new, too...he'd only used it for Old Lady McGinty and she didn't have a viewing, anyway.

When Barb got back her proofs, she beamed with pride. These were golden, GOLDEN! Farewell, Cayuga Heights! Hello, TINSELTOWN!

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