When I arrive at the Avery Photo Studio on main street, it was almost 6pm, so I walked into the front door. I heard the buzzer sound even though there was a woman my age sitting behind a vintage desk looking at a computer screen. The woman was about 30 pounds past the perfect weight. Very little of it was in her breasts most was in her stomach with a little in her ass. She also had very red hair way too red to be natural and I think that was the point. She wasn’t trying to seem natural but rather to stand out.
“Hello, I’m Lucy Avery, I’m here to do some modeling.” I said it mostly to get her attention. She surely had been told to expect me.
“Yes, dad told me you were coming. You do have the right kind of look for the job. Even that god awful hair will work,” she said.
“So you are the fashion expert,” I said with a big smile. It was a bit demeaning I know.
“Dear, I will be shooting your images. Dad is semi retired these days. He takes care of the clients mostly.” she said. “By the way my name is Wilma.”
“So it’s a family thing. That’s always good,” I admitted.
“Well let’s get to it. Dad said I only had an hour to make a billboard style image,” she said.
“I’m here to work, so tell me what you want,” I suggested.
“Let’s go back to the studio and get started then,” with those words she led me from the reception area to a larger room behind it. Inside that room were several backdrops. On a folding table were the three pairs of jeans just as her father had promised.
“Pick the pair you think will fit best then put them on. I’m told you won’t be shy,” she said.
“I haven’t been shy for a long time, if ever,” I agreed. “What about the length?”
“Don’t worry I can fix that with the computer. I would rather not, but we can if necessary.” Wilma informed me.
The smallest pair was marked 00. Those should have been the best fit so I started with them. They fit well in the waist and ass. but were about an inch too short.
“What about a top?” I asked.
“Take off your top and let’s see how that looks,” Wilma demanded.
I did as she said. She directed me to move in different ways. I did as she said and as I moved around lights flashed. I had been moving for fifteen minutes when she said, “Okay, we need to do something for a top. I’m not great at this, but I can do body paint pretty well. It will wear off after a couple of showers. I hope you don’t mind.”
“I don’t think I have ever done it, but sure why not,” I admitted.
She painted the lower part of my small breasts with red a white paint. The top was a star over my nipple and a blue background. Then a black line to simulate a bikini strap. It took about ten minutes to do and looked like a ten minute job, but it was her shoot not mine.
“How about giving me a little extra time. If we can make this work it, will mean more work for you down the road. The exposure will be at least regional, if not national, as well as local of course.”
“You take me to dinner and I’ll stay till you are finished,” I vaguely remembered someone saying never give anything away. If you give it away, it has no value to the receiver.
“I will have to call the sitter, but I can do that,” she said.
“Oh you have children that young?” I asked.
“Yes a son seven,” she said. “My husband and I hoped another child would keep the marriage together. It didn’t.”
“I’m sorry, I am divorced as well. My kids are almost grown. I have a son 19 and a daughter over 21,” I admitted.
“Let’s finish this, I’m ready to get through here.” she said.
I did the move around thing for several more minutes. Some of the moves were not going to make it into any advertising. Unless it was for some porno magazine. I didn’t mind, I had no real inhibitions by that time.
“Tell me Lucy, what are your measurements?” she asked.
“32a 22 33,” I admitted.
“Just for the hell of it, put on the next larger sized jeans and a belt,” Wilma demanded.
“My you are so forceful,” I know it was flirty, but I was really enjoying her company.
I was pretty sure that I looked a little like a street urchin, but I didn’t mind. She even had me put on one of her sweaters, which just swallowed me whole. After I pulled my own clothes on again. I waited to be paid.
“Here you go,” she said handing me the $100 bill. “Do you like Mexican food?”
“I have no idea, but I’m willing to try it,” I admitted.
“I’m not sure I understand but that’s fine. Come on you are my last appointment of the day.”
Once we arrive at Los Pueblo it was obvious that Wilma was well known there. Everyone made a big fuss over her. We got a quiet booth in the back away from everyone.
“You must eat here a lot. You certainly have pull,” I suggested.
“I do, but I also work with the owner now and then. He does wedding catering and I do wedding photography, so our paths cross now and then.”
“That is always a good thing,” I suggested. “Would you order for me. I have no idea what to order.”
“You really never had Mexican before?” she asked.
“Not since I can remember.” I went on to explain everything. “If I ate Mexican since I was released from the hospital, I didn’t make a note of it. I will tonight though.”
“Marie, bring this lady a sample of everything good,” she directed the waitress. “Just a spoonful on a big plate will be fine.”
“Yes Ma’am Miss Wilma,” she replied.
“So what’s your story Miss Wilma?” I asked.
“Not nearly as interesting as yours,” she said. “I worked for my dad growing up. I swore when I got old enough I would never touch a camera again. Too much pressure, I told myself. I married and I didn’t have to work.
When my husband decided that he wanted a younger thinner woman, it all just collapsed.”
“Men can be such assholes,” I said seriously.
“I couldn’t count on his child support, and I knew how to do nothing but make photographs. I swallowed my pride and asked my dad for a job. So here I am five years later.
The funny thing is my family rallied around me and showed me a whole new side of people,” she informed me.
“Oh how so?” I asked.
“For one thing I needed a place to live, since the ex was going to sell the house. His new chick wouldn’t live there. My grand mother had died suddenly the year before, so her house was empty. My dad owned a forth of it and none of his brothers and sisters could decide what to do with it. His sister Lois absolutely refused to allow it to be sold, so it sat empty.
When he approached them, it was unanimous. They gave me the place, if I agreed to renovate it and not to sell it while any of them was still living. It was called a land transfer not a sale or something like that. If I broke the agreement, I could be sued. Plus I’m not sure their names were ever really removed from the deed. I should check that out one day.”
“My dad is like that too. I am the only daughter so the whole family tends to take care of me, or so I’m told,” I admitted.
“Yeah they all took part in the renovations. Some things they helped me do. Some they let me have done, some they refused me permission to do. It was my money, but they had a say in the planning. I was good with that, since I got a updated house practically free.”
“I’m living in a downtown condo. Do you know the old Family Bank Condominiums?” I asked.
“Very nice,” she said. “I am going to Google your ass, when I get home.”
I knew from her demeanor that she was not at all bi, nor was she interested in me that way. She did seem to have fun during the dinner though. When she dropped me at the Family Bank Condo, she said, “I really did have a nice time. Maybe we can do this again whether we get the job or not.”
“I know, I had a great time and I kept my clothes on. Well I did for the most part.” I looked to see if she was shocked. She wasn’t shocked, just not interested. I handed her a card. “Let me know how the images work out and just email me to say hi now and then.”
I slept very well that night for someone who should have been sexually frustrated. Instead I slipped back into my old habit of making plans for the next day even though I knew I would forget them.
When I awoke I checked the file. It was time to stir the Mash again so after breakfast at the same restaurant as before, I stopped by the office.
In the parking lot I caught a mild scent of fruit. It was very mild, but it was there. Inside the office it was more noticeable for sure but still not enough to be overpowering. The intense scent came when I opened the bathroom door.
I stirred the mash and checked on the fermenting, then left the bathroom. The mash seemed to be pretty much at the height of it’s fermentation cycle. I wouldn’t know till it stopped but it seemed to be at the peak. I closed everything down and left the office.
I rode the trike to the park where I sat watching the kids play on the large jungle jim with slides and swings attached. It was one of those magical places for kids under five. There were moms and nannies galore. There was even a couple of men there. It was a good place to sit and think about project moonglow, as I called it, I learned that from the the smart phone. I had converted the plantation recipes from the hand written notes to digital files. First the files were word for word, then a second version had modern updates and measurements attached. I hadn’t even decided which recipe I would cook next. I was determined that the first batch would be modern moonshine to use as a benchmark. I was just considering what batch two would be like.
When I got very thirsty, I went home. At the condo I was drinking a diet soda with lots of ice, when the knock on the door shook me. No one ever came to the condo unannounced. I checked the closed circuit picture. I saw a man a little more than half my age looking into the camera. I scanned the photo gallery on my smart phone and found him. It was Royce. My quick read told me who he was to me. At least who he had been.
I opened the door. “Hello Royce, it is good to see you.” It sounded wooden even to me.
“I have missed you too,” he said with a laugh. “Your personality will take a little getting used to again.”