By Tim Baker
The silence inside the house was broken by the doorbell.
She studied a group of bugs hovering around the porch light, watching them absently as they bounced off the glass globe only to fly right back toward it. Sweat formed at the base of her spine, either from nerves or the humid Florida night.
Blurred movement through the opaque glass of the door caught her eye. The door swung open and Lorraine found herself face to face with an enigma.
“You must be Lorraine,” the person said. “I’m Passion, come on in.”
Passion smiled widely, showing teeth that were whiter than a snow-covered polar bear, and stepped aside for Lorraine to enter.
The first thing Lorraine noticed about the house was the smell. There were two distinct odors struggling for dominance. One was vanilla, probably a plug-in air freshener. Just beneath the vanilla was the same odor that had lingered in Lorraine’s bathroom for a few days after the workers had finished repairing a leaky shower door. The combination was slightly nauseating.
Passion led Lorraine to the living room and motioned for her to sit on the sofa. The sound of a television came from another room, mixed with the cackling laughter of whoever watched it.
“Now, you just relax,” Passion said in a husky voice. “Ernie’ll be right out.”
Lorraine hoped Passion hadn’t noticed her stare. She prayed that the confusion she felt wasn’t visible on her face. Passion’s appearance was a testament to yin and yang. Thick, bleached blonde hair, penciled-on eyebrows, full—almost too full—pouty lips and D-sized breasts were the yin…while the hard, muscular biceps, strong, meaty hands and the bulge in the crotch area were the yang. Passion was a walking contradiction.
The riddle of Passion’s gender quickly faded as Lorraine suddenly noticed she was cold. A continuous stream of tremors raced throughout her body and she wished Suzanne had come with her as planned; especially since this whole thing was Suzanne’s idea to begin with.
It started as simple office chit-chat. Lorraine mentioned to Suzanne that she needed advice on what to get her husband for his fortieth birthday. Suzanne blurted her suggestion almost as if she had been waiting to be asked.
“Ray is always saying you have no ass, so get one and give him something to hold on to,” Suzanne had said.
Lorraine had laughed about it at first, but since she was having trouble coming up with anything else, she finally gave in and asked Suzanne for more information.
And now, here she was.
A weak smile crossed her face when she remembered the day Suzanne had unbuttoned her shirt and pulled up her bra in the ladies’ room at work, demanding that Lorraine feel her breasts.
“Trust me,” Suzanne said, “In one pumping party, Ernie took me from the Great Plains to the Rocky Mountains. Go ahead, give ‘em a squeeze. Matt loves ‘em.”
It was certainly true, Ernie had greatly enhanced Suzanne’s shape last month and her fiancé was ecstatic about it.
“Was it painful?” Lorraine had asked.
“Once you get past the first ten needles, it’s a piece of cake.”
“What does that kind of thing cost?”
“He charged me four hundred, but he might charge you eight. Still cheaper than a plastic surgeon.”
Suzanne would have been here if she hadn’t gotten sick. Lorraine wondered how her friend was doing—she had to be taken to the emergency room last night and Lorraine thought about cancelling the appointment, but she couldn’t find the paper with Ernie’s phone number.
The anticipation was ramping up and even though she was cold, she felt sweat rolling under her armpits. Eight hundred dollars and an unknown number of needles—Ray better appreciate this, she thought.
Pumping party hardly seemed like an appropriate term.
“Lorraine, are you ready?” a voice startled her.
Ernie stood at the end of the sofa wearing a black polo shirt—collar standing up stiffly—and tan cargo shorts. His piercing blue eyes battled with his jet-black hair for facial supremacy. A thin moustache and sunken cheeks gave him a look that was part sinister, part wimp.
Lorraine stood and extended her hand.
“Hi, umm, Ernie,” she said nervously.
Ernie ignored the hand, turned and walked away. “Why don’t you follow me?”
Despite the inner voice telling her this was her last chance to get away; she followed Ernie through a dining room, down a short hallway and into a small bedroom. Except for the cream colored carpet, ceiling fan and brown window blinds, there was nothing else present that belonged in a bedroom. There was a bed that looked more like a gurney in the middle of the room. A large swivel lamp loomed over it. Beside the bed was a stainless steel platform on wheels, like the kind a dentist uses to hold his instruments. It was covered with syringes.
Against the wall was a set of metal shelves full of small boxes. On the floor next to the bed were three white five-gallon buckets.
Lorraine could still hear the television from the other room—closer now—but now the laughter was deeper, probably Passion’s.
“Ok, sweetie,” Ernie said, “take off everything from the waist down and hop up on the bed for me—face down.”
Lorraine was suddenly struck by the realization that she would have to take her pants off in front of this total stranger. Embarrassment joined the nervousness and she felt a wave of nausea.
“Come on, now,” Ernie said with a mixture of impatience and sympathy. “I see more butts and boobs than you can imagine. Don’t be shy.”
She turned her back, slid her flip-flops off, unbuckled her belt and stepped out of her jeans. As she folded them neatly and placed them on the floor, the inner voice pleaded with her to escape while she could. She took a deep breath and slid her panties off, thanking God she hadn’t worn anything too…personal. She dropped them on top of her jeans to avoid bending over…naked. She climbed onto the bed as gracefully as she could and positioned herself face down, as instructed.
For several minutes Ernie said nothing, but he looked at her buttocks from every conceivable angle—pinched and prodded, then took out a felt tip pen and began drawing on her behind. This was worse than her first trip to the OB-GYN. She wanted to die. She closed her eyes as if it would take her away.
Finally, Ernie spoke.
“Ok, this will pinch, but you’ll get used to it.”
He wasn’t kidding. The first one felt like a hornet had stung her butt cheek, and was followed by the sensation of a worm crawling under her skin.
Tears welled up in her eyes and she began to wish she had bought Ray a new fishing pole for his birthday.
Fifteen minutes into the procedure, as Ernie had promised, she grew used to the feeling, although the humiliation lingered on. After thirty minutes, she had almost pushed the entire experience out of her mind by telling herself it would all be over soon.
Around the sixty-minute mark a new, odd feeling came over her. Writing it off as more nerves, she said nothing and pushed through. Ernie hummed a song Lorraine recognized from the eighties as he worked.
As Ernie began humming a different tune, possibly Michael Jackson – she wasn’t sure - her head began to feel like it was filled with liquid that was constantly expanding and contracting. The sensation brought back the nausea, but this time she couldn’t control it. She willed herself not to be sick, but lost the battle. Before she could say anything to Ernie, she vomited violently. The thick, yellowish mixture of partially digested lasagna and bile hit the wall in front of her and splashed back into her face.
As the room spun out of control, Lorraine tried to find a focal point. She zeroed in on one of the white buckets, but the pooled vomit on the lid only added to the problem.
The situation went from bizarre to surreal. Ernie yelled for Passion, his voice sounding like it came from the bottom of a metal barrel. Through a mental fog, Lorraine heard doors slamming and voices talking in panicked tones, but she was unable to decipher what they said.
The vomiting ceased, but the relief was short-lived. Her breathing became labored. It felt as though an invisible car was parked on her back. With no strength to move, she was pinned to the bed.
Lorraine felt Ray’s presence. He was stroking her hair and telling her everything would be okay.
Finally, her brain told her to stop fighting. The pain went away. She closed her eyes, knowing she would never open them again.