SAD in May, Day Sixteen — Part Two #amwriting
Sweet as Candy
By Lori Carlson
You watch Candy for weeks. Day after day, your desire grows. You have her schedule down to perfection. She is habitual and rarely strays. You are delighted by that one detail. Now you begin your courtship. She arrives at the bar and finds you already there. Is she enough of a snob to ignore your presence? Of course not. She was raised with some Southern politeness after all. You pretend not to recognize her.
“Candy, Candy Osbourne. We met at the Watering Hole,” she says. “You want to photograph me.”
You give her a look of acknowledgement and she giggles.
“Of course, how could I forget you, Candy?”
There, now she knows that you know her name. She introduces you to her companion, her live-in boyfriend, and after a few moments of strained conversation, the two walk away. You have scored the first victory.
You allow some time to pass and then you are at Starbucks ahead of her, already halfway finished with an espresso and the morning paper. She walks in, alone. Will she be brave enough to say hello without back-up? And she does!
Candy walks over to your table and sits her coffee cup down. “Twice in a matter of weeks,” she says.
You look up and smile. “Hello, Candy. Join me?”
She sits down across from you and you fold the paper and place it on the table. She says nothing, but nervously plays with the lid of her coffee cup. You decide to let her sit in her silence for a few more moments as you sip on the rest of your coffee.
“So,” you say, jarring her. She jumps. “Have you given my offer anymore consideration?”
She smiles and the corner of her lips twitch. “I talked it over with my boyfriend, but he doesn’t like the idea.”
You nod and smile, showing that you understand. “But what about you?” She perks up in her seat and laughs. You are in awe of the melody in her laughter.
“I like the idea, but I do want to finish college first. Or maybe do both?”
“That can be arranged. But what about your boyfriend?”
Candy leans in, places a hand over yours and begins to whisper, “To tell you the truth, we’ve been on the rocks for a while. If he doesn’t like me modeling, I will just end the relationship.”
Oh yes, that sweet smell of success! You contain your excitement, but inside you are about to burst with joy. You look down at her hand still over your own and smile.
“So when can I start?” she asks, removing her hand and throwing both hands in the air.
This time you laugh at her enthusiasm. “I’ve had the studio prepped and ready for you for weeks.”
“Seriously?” She moves her whole body back away from you. She is reserved.
You laugh again. “It is always ready for a new model.”
“Oh!” She laughs nervously and relaxes.
“How about you come by my studio Saturday and we can take some prep shots?”
Candy agrees and you make an excuse to leave. You don’t want to create anymore awkwardness between you. You toss another card on the table, just in case she lost or tossed the first one.
“See you on Saturday,” you say, walking away. Inside you are beaming. Candy has a hard shell when in the company of others, but she is soft when alone. And she will be alone a lot come Saturday.
Saturday arrives and you are pacing in your studio. It is nearing noon and Candy hasn’t shown up. You didn’t give her a specific time, but you didn’t expect her to take the entire morning away from your plans.
You check your sit-up: cameras, lights, and fan setting for just the right amount of breeze. You imagine Candy’s beautiful, long auburn hair blowing ever so slightly. You sigh. She will be so perfect for your clients in Paris; if she ever gets here, that is. No sooner does the thought leave you and the door bells chime. You turn and there she is: a goddess in your midst.
“Candy, so good of you to come,” you say, trying not to sound overly annoyed or over-joyed.
Candy smiles and crosses the floor to you. “I am so sorry that I am late. I was at the salon and they were terribly busy.”
You take her by the hand and guide her to a chair nearby to sit her purse down. “You never need to get dolled up for me, my dear. I do all my girls’ hair and make-up.”
“Really? I didn’t know.” She sits her purse down on the chair and then follows you to a nearby table.
“This is my portfolio,” you say, pointing to a thick photo book. “Go ahead and look through it. It will give you an idea of what we will be doing today.”
Candy opens the book and begins scanning the photographs. Every now and again an “oh” and “ah” escapes her lips. “These are so good!”
“Thank you, dear. So how about we begin?” You point to a chair in the middle of the room with lights around it.
Candy nods and settles into the chair. She shifts back and forth for a moment and then places her hands in her lap.
You smile at her awkwardness. “That is perfect, Candy. These first few shots will be my camera getting used to you. Just smile. Not a forced smile, but as though you were smiling at a lovely flower or a small child. Natural. Okay?”
She nods and slowly curves her lips upward, her white teeth glistening in the light. You begin snapping pictures from different angles and locations in the small space. The camera loves her.
“Okay, now I want you to look away from the camera as though you having deep thoughts. Stay like that for a few moments as I shoot some pictures and then, when you are ready, slowly turn your head back to the camera and look surprised. Can you do that?”
“I will try,” Candy says and adjusts her head to the right.
You begin snapping pictures as quickly as possible, capturing her thoughtful moment with perfection. You continue snapping as she slowly turns her head and then stares right at you with astonishment. She is a natural!
Over the course of the next hour, you continue to instruct Candy on the various poses and expressions that you want to capture. She continues to amaze you at her ability to please you. You can tell that Candy is getting tired and decide to call it a day.
“How would you like to see my dark room? I can develop some of these and you can take them with you today.”
Candy’s eyes light up and she jumps off her chair, exclaiming, “Oh yes! I would love that.”
“Very good. Right this way, my dear.”
You lead her to the back of the building and then open a large metal door. “Watch these steps. Sometimes they get slippery.”
Candy nods, holding out her hand for you to guide her. You take it as you smile. This has been too easy, but then it usually was. You get to the bottom of the stairs and turn to the left. Inside is your dark room. You show it to Candy, letting her see all the chemicals and photos that you’ve recently taken. She smiles, laughs, sighs. You almost wish that you weren’t doing this one for clients in Paris.
“Wait right here,” you say, walking to the door and closing it. As you slide the lock over, Candy draws a deep breath. You hear her surprise all the way across the room. “No need to be alarmed, my dear. I don’t have a light outside the room for my assistant to know I am in here working. So just in case she drops by, I look the door.
“Oh! That’s a relief.”
You point to a chair for Candy to sit in and take your camera from around your neck, placing it on the table. You go over to a cabinet and take down some masks and a bottle of ether. You dowse one of the masks with the ether. You slip on the other mask and walk over to Candy.
“I am going to put this mask on you so that the chemicals don’t harm you,” you claim.
She nods as you begin slipping the mask around her mouth. You feel her breathing heavily and continue to hold the mask in place. Her eyes look up at you in terror, but she slowly goes limp.
You pick her small body up and place her over one of your shoulders. She is a lot lighter than the last girl, but then the Moroccans like larger girls. You unlock the door, open it and walk across the hall. You go right and sit Candy down on a couch. You take chains and tie up her legs and hands to the wall, then place a collar around her neck, chaining it to the wall as well. You remove the mask and place a muffle in her mouth, tying it in the back of her head. Her Parisian owners will be so pleased.
You go back to the dark room and get your camera. This time you go left when you enter the room across the hall. You smile brightly. The Moroccans would be here tonight and you want a few more pictures of Amy to remember her. You love your job, but miss the girls as they join their new owners.
“Hello, Amy,” you whisper, leaning in close to the dark-haired beauty. “Tonight begins your future.”