We’d all heard about Stanley’s wife, of course. From Stanley. He told us endlessly about how beautiful she was, how intelligent, how talented. According to him, the sun rose and fell on his Stella, who possessed endless accomplishments to go with her old-fashioned name. For all we knew she flew like an angel, too, and was followed by a personal escort of sweet-singing birds.
That she was, in addition to all this, simply unbeatable in bed, a sexual queen who reigned over his royal nights, was just too much. God, how we hated this guy.
Why did we believe him, you ask? Why did we believe a fat, balding slob when he rolled his eyes and poured forth a new litany of Stella’s virtues? Maybe it was because we saw what this Stella had accomplished with him since he’d married her. Before that happy day, which he hadn’t even told us about, he’d been a dead, dismal, distant last when it came to selling anything ay Summit Life (Summit Clients Enjoy Peace of Mind at the Peak).
In fact, Miller was even thinking of giving him the ax. But then Stanley returned from a week’s honeymoon a variable ball of fire, reeking with confidence and nailing those leads like he’d had a personality transplant. Soon it became unusual for a client to even think of turning him down. Say no to Stanley? Not on your life, excuse the pun.
Naturally, we all wanted to meet this amazing woman who so turned Stanley around and we pressured him constantly to meet her. After Stanley put us off with one excuse or another, though, Edmund Grady, who used to be number one, snidely suggested that there was no wife and that Stanley had found salesmanship through his nose or at the point of a needle. But that convinced nobody, especially since we all knew that Edmund held a grudge. Thanks to Stanley, Edmund’s string of three straight Salesman of the Year trophies had been broken. Nope, if Stanley was using, then Edmund was a male impersonator who was actually a beer-hall blonde on the weekends. In the end, nobody knew what to think.
Then Stanley invited me home for dinner.
It came unexpectedly. He simply asked me one day after work with that new high-wattage smile of his, promising to drive me back to my car later. Within minutes, I found myself in his new Porsche, zooming down the highway. He lived in a town called Green Haven, which, as near as I could tell, was located midway between Lost and Nowhere. In fact, it was so out of the way and hard to find that the few guys who had tried to drop in on Stanley in order to meet Stella had just given up in disgust.
While driving, Stanley beamed with pleasure as he told me how it had been Stella’s idea to move out there for “privacy and seclusion.” When I asked why none of us had ever been invited to meet Stella, he delivered his stock answer. “Stella’s shy,” he said. “Afraid of meeting people.”
Changing tactics, I asked if he had a picture of the little woman, only to have him adroitly shift gears.
“Ever been married, Myles?”
“Nope,” I said, wishing I could just manage to keep a steady girlfriend. “Might as well serve a life sentence as walk down the aisle.”
“Aw, it ain’t so bad.” He grinned. “Actually, it’s heaven.”
Heaven? Even if he were an over-sexed sultan with a harem, that would be pushing it. Before I could say anything, he pointed up ahead. “Thar she blows. Green Haven.”
Green Haven? If there was anything green about the place, then I was sure missing it. As we entered, I saw parched fields and lawns that looked as terminal as my Uncle George. A few sad, faded homes and narrow, dust ball streets tried feebly to break the monotony, but without much success. Stanley drove up one stunted lane and down another–left, right, and left again in a maze of streets till I was hopelessly lost. At last, he stopped before a white house with a picket fence.
I blinked. It looked like a stereotype. The house even had a gate and roses, for gawd’s sake, their heavy heads drooping over the fence, which looked freshly painted. White, of course.
I got out of the car, wondering at how green and neatly cut the front lawn was. To both sides of it, I saw only brown, bleak fields and what looked like abandoned houses.
“C’mon, Myles,” Stanley grinned. “Let’s go meet the little woman.”
He opened the gate and led me up a stone walk. The only thing missing was a cute mutt running out to meet us. Inside, all was neatness and order, pastels and chintz curtains. On the wall, an embroidered sign read: “A Good Marriage Is Made In Heaven.”
“Sit down,” Stanley chirped, pointing to a pink sofa. “I’ll get us some drinks.”
Drinks? What about Stella? But he proceeded directly to what I assumed was the kitchen. I glanced around, seeing that Stanley’s trophy for being Summit Life’s Salesman of the Year sat on a nearby table, needing only a spotlight and a twelve-piece band to make it more prominent. The gold-plated prize featured a miniature mountain and a man who stood proudly on top of its narrow pinnacle.
I sighed and sat down, thinking that I’d be a top salesman, too, if only people would listen to my presentations. But for some reason, they had great sales resistance when I was around. To tell the truth, my record was getting to be as bad as Stanley’s used to be.
Glumly, I stared at the fireplace. Where was everybody? No Stanley. No Stella. Well, maybe Stella was out in the kitchen and she’d come back with him.
Within a minute, though, Stanley returned alone, bearing a drink in each hand. “I know you’re a beer hound, but I thought I’d try you on this. Stella’s special concoction.”
“Thanks,” I said, accepting a tall, chilled glass. “And speaking of Stella . . . “
He winked and toasted me. “All in good time, Myles boy.”
Something–maybe the cold glass–made me shiver. All in good time, Myles boy. Hadn’t there been a time when Stanley had been almost dour and definitely not the flippant type? I I hoisted my own glass and took a tentative taste.
It was delicious.
Crisp, mildly sweet, and richly layered, the liquid seemed to dance on my tongue and caress my taste buds. Taking another, and immediately yet another, I vowed then and there never to drink beer again.
Stanley winked. “Like it?”
“Like it? It’s the best thing since malt liquor.” I took a deep pull and leaned back on the sofa, which was so soft I seemed to melt into it. Stanley himself sat down in an easy chair next to the table bearing his trophy and hummed a not quite familiar song.
“You know,” I said, trying my best not to finish the drink too son. “You surprised the whole office when you got married like that. And then, you started to sell policies like they were going out of style, you simply blew us away.”
He smiled, humming. “That so?”
“Yes.” I struggled up on the sofa and tried to lean forward. “How does it feel, Stanley?”
I nodded at the trophy beside him, trying to remember the last time I’d had a decent year–or a girl hadn’t dropped me like a tin-plated Edsel. “Yeah, how does it feel to be a hotshot rep? the hottest there is? A few months ago . . .” I stopped, not wanting to embarrass him.
He glanced at the trophy and laughed, his belly quaking like jelly. “A few months ago,” he said, “I couldn’t have given away free ice water in hell.” he nodded. “I know. I was bad.”
“What happened, Stanley?” I sneaked a glance around, wondering where Stella was.
“What happened?” As he glanced at his trophy, his face seemed to darken. Then it was sunny again. “Why, I met Stella, that’s what happened. And when I did my whole life changed.” he took a deep sip of his drink, patted his stomach. “Thanks to Stella’s cooking, I’ve gained nineteen pounds, and thanks to her, I’ve gained peace of mind and a world of confidence. Ya know, used to be I’d go to bed every night worrying ’bout making a living and keeping my job. Now I sleep like a newborn babe.”
“After a little loving, huh?”
“Actually after a lot of loving.” his lips twitched, and he fumbled with his glass as if he’d forgotten what he was going to say. Then the smile was back, brighter than ever. “I’ll tell you something’, Myles. I’ve never been one-tenth as happy as I am now.”
“Stanley,” I said. “Do you mind me asking you why you invited me here? I mean, I’m not the only one in the office.”
He didn’t answer. I watched him look at his glass and take a sip.
Footsteps sounded on the stairs. Footsteps descending.
Stanley put his glass down and rose quickly. Clumsily, I worked my way to the edge of the sofa and gained my feet. I looked at Stanley, who was watching the stairs, then turned to follow his gaze.
Footsteps coming closer. Soft, childlike steps. Then I saw a pair of tiny, delicate feet. On an impulse, I raised my glass and drained it.
A shadow appeared on the lower steps, reaching toward us. I raised my eyes just as Stella began to come into sight.
First, I saw her feet, then her legs, then . . .
Then the whole world simply went away, and I saw only Stella as she reached the floor and came toward me with a smile. I watched her hand reach out and take my free one, holding it between hers.
“Hello, Myles,” she said. “I’m delighted you could come.”
I tried to turn my head to Stanley, but it wouldn’t move. Opening my mouth proved equally ineffective. I could open it all right, but nothing came out.
Stella’s smile widened. I cleared my throat. Despite my bum sales record, I remembered that I sold insurance and made a living with my voice. But nothing had prepared for this beautiful, voluptuous, blonde-haired creature. From her tiny feet to the tip of her chin, she was more curvaceous and delectable than any woman I’d ever seen, a sensual embodiment of all that a man could desire. When I gazed at her face, my stomach twisted, its appearance constantly seemed to change in subtle ways, perhaps because of the room’s lighting. Now there was something strange about her nose, and now her mouth and chin flowed into a shape I could almost define. The illusion made me shiver, and I tried to pin down just what it was that disturbed me. But here features continued to shift and elude my eye, staying just out of reach. They were like slippery rocks on which I could find no footing.
Soon I forgot the matter, for her beautiful, riveting eyes, which I could see clearly, drew my own so strongly that I could attend to little else. During that first minute, therefore, it was her eyes that held me the most. They and her hands on mine, kneading it like a mound of dough.
“I’m delighted we could have you for dinner,” she said brightly.
Finally, I snapped out of my stupor. Her voice, I noted, was sweet and melodious–a little like the drink she had prepared.
“I . . . I’m happy to be here,” I said.
“And hungry, too?”
“Oh, yes. Uh, starved.”
“How delightful! So am I! Stanley,” she said, turning to her husband. “Shall we escort our hungry guest to the dining room?”
Stanley jumped. “Oh, sure! Uh, come on, Myles, it’s over here.”
Stella lead me to the dining room. Dimly, I was beginning to sense that, besides her appearance, there were other things different about her. The way she talked, the way she smiled. There was something about the way she smelled, too. Something I could not name that made me want to pull away from her voluptuous body. And her eyes . . . there was something odd about them as well.
Clutching my arm closely, she winked up at me, licking her lips with a delicate tongue. Though I was mesmerized, something about her lips bothered me, and I sucked in my breath.
In the dining room, she released me and glided toward the kitchen, her hips swaying in her dress, which I noticed for the first time was green. “Seat yourselves and be comfortable, gentlemen. Dinner will be served soon.”
I sat down in a chair at one end of the table, relieved that she was no longer holding my arm. Why did she speak so formally? Was she a foreigner of some kind? Blinking, I stared at the blue tablecloth before me. Plates, glasses, and utensils were meticulously arranged. Napkins lay neatly beside them, their necks inserted through gold rings.
Stanley sat at my right halfway down the table, a knife and fork already in his hands.
As Stella returned from the kitchen with a tray, the smell of food grazed my nostrils. I took one breath and almost moaned. Such fragrance! Never in my life had I smelled anything so delicious, so divine. My taste buds swelled and burst into action, filling my mouth with saliva.
I glanced at Stanley, whose wet lips trembled with anticipation. “I remember you saying she could really cook,” I said.
He didn’t answer, only stared at an ornate silver bowl as Stella laid it on the table. When she lifted the lid, thick steam issued forth, smelling like ambrosia and almost dazing me with pleasure.
“I hope you will deeply enjoy my Padulanka.”
Padulanka? Inhaling, I watched her serve me first, her firm, full breast pressing briefly against my arm. Then she did the same for Stanley who ignored us and started eating at once. Serving herself, Stella sat down at the other end of the table. She licked her lips, smiling down the table’s length at me.
“Please proceed, Myles. I believe the expression is ‘Down the hatch!’ “
I tore my eyes away. Lifting a fork, I studied what looked lake a meat pie. The crust was golden brown, the smell intoxicating. Almost choking on saliva, I broke the crust and stabbed what looked like a piece of chicken. I raised it to my mouth–and swallowed.
It was heaven.
Wave upon wave of flavor filled my mouth, pleasure such as I had never known. If this was chicken, she had done something to it you couldn’t find in any cookbook. Another bite, and I knew that her magic extended to peas and carrots. Potatoes were also transformed, anointing my tongue with delectable dimensions of taste.
Besides the Padulanka, we only had ice water. It didn’t matter. I was so happy. I didn’t come up for air until I was almost through my third helping. Looking around, I saw Stanley forking down the food like there was no tomorrow. Stella herself sat without eating, her eyes fixed on me.
I felt a chill. Her eyes . . . for the first time, I noticed they had no irises. Enormous brown pupils gazed back at me, eyes immensely soft.
“You really ought to get married,” Stanley said.
I started. Stanley stared at me, holding a fork full of food.
“Stanley is correct,” Stella said in her sweet, cotton-candy voice. She eyed Stanley like he was a plump dumpling on a fork. “His work has improved greatly, and he himself has never been so . . . content.”
I gazed enviously at the Salesman of the Year, wishing I had his record. If marriage was what it took . . .
I started to say something, then stopped. It was like I was being petted, stroked like a dog, only from inside. Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. It felt soft and strange, yet at the same time stimulating and arousing. Within seconds, I started to respond to Stella. I thought of what it would be like to strip her luscious body naked, to caress her nipples and smooth round thighs. And then I’d kiss her . . .
I pushed my plate away, wondering why part of me was so repulsed by her. The strong attraction I could understand, but not my fear and queasiness. Surely, her differences were not only elusive but minor. Compared to her sensuous body and hypnotic gaze, which kept drawing my attention, such trivialities should hardly matter. I swallowed. What did theses people want, anyway? Why had Stanley asked me here? And why was I feeling so strange, having such weird thoughts?
Stella smiled, the details of her face subtly changing, slipping away from me. Then, for an instant, I glimpsed something that staggered my mind and made the manna I’d eaten heave in my stomach. It had almost looked like . . .
My mind approached the brink, then cringed, cowered away from knowing. My fingers twitched helplessly. Stella’s sweet voice, though, quickly soothed me, calmed my pounding heart. “Myles,” she said. “I hope you find my food tender and succulent enough. I know that is the way I prefer it.” slowly she licked her lips. “Would you like some more?”
Her eyes, her enormous brown eyes. I could melt in their depths.
. . . Somehow I was out in the chintz-filled living room again, sitting on the quicksand sofa. I blinked and shook myself, trying to remember how I’d gotten out there. Stanley, I saw, sat nearby, next to his proudly displayed trophy. I rubbed my eyes. Somehow he looked as if he were on display himself.
Softly, Stanley started to sing the same song he had hummed before. I struggled up on the sofa, my hands slipping on the smooth surface. As best I could, I tried to catch the words.
“The girl I marry will have to be . . . “
I knew it, a song from “Annie, Get Your Gun.”
“ . . . a girl to possess me, e-ter-nal-ly . . . “
No, wait. That’s not how it goes, I thought. The new version troubled me. Glancing around, I saw no sign of Stella. Could she still be in the dining room?
“Stanley,” I said.
He stopped singing.
“Uh, yes, Myles.”
I thought of him sleeping with her and for some reason experienced conflicting feelings. Envy and pity competed with each other, as did lust and loathing.
“She’s some woman,” I said.
He blinked. “Don’t I know it,” he finally said.
“But she does seem . . . different.”
“Strange,” I said. I searched for a word. “Even . . . unnatural.”
He should have been offended, but he only sighed. “When I first met her, I felt . . .”
“You felt what, Stanley?”
He wet his lips. “Hard to remember. I think I . . . didn’t even find her beautiful then.”
“No, isn’t that strange? I mean her body is so wonderful. I’d never seen anything like it.” a dreamy smile crossed his face. “I even seem to remember that at one time I found her almost repulsive. The way I couldn’t quite see her face, the way she talked and smelled, the way she stared at me with those weird eyes and constantly licking her lips. Though I couldn’t put my finger on it, she made me . . .”
“Made you what?”
“She . . . made me c-c-c-cringe.” his expression tensed, and he gripped the chair. “Isn’t that odd? Why would I say such a thing?” he hesitated, his lips moving silently. “Stella’s the most beautiful, wonderful, kindest woman in the whole world,” he said in a flat voice. I must thank God each and every day that I was fortunate enough to find her, she’s made such a wonderful difference in my life.” he sat still for a moment, then looked at me. “Myles,” he said.
I glanced toward the dining room. “What, Stanley?”
“I have wonderful news for you. You have been found acceptable.”
“Acceptable? Acceptable for what?”
Before he could answer, Stella’s lovely form entered the room. I pulled back, expecting her to stop, but she continued past on those tiny feet of hers. I watched her go to the stairway and gaze up at it.
I swallowed, looked at Stanley. Something was wrong. But what?”
They sounded like Stella’s had on the steps–light and delicate, as if a fairy were slowly descending to Earth.
Stanley squirmed. “Stella told me a secret once.”
“She did?” I waited for the next footstep.
“Stella said she was a mutation.”
“yes. She said she was lonely, almost as lonely as her sister.”
Sister? I found myself remembering the feeling I’d ahd at the table of being stroked from inside by Stella. Why would I think of it now?
“Blanche is even lonelier,” Stanley continued. “She needs someone, Myles.”
I remembered him saying earlier that I should be married, and Stella praising what marriage had done for Stanley. But for some reason, Stanley didn’t look particularly happy at that moment.
Feet appeared on the steps, tiny, delicate ones like Stella’s. trembling, I tried to rise but found my whole body was numb, as if I’d been given a dose of Novocain. Somewhere deep inside me, a small voice started screaming.
No, I mustn’t look. Raising my fists, I drove them against my legs, anything to feel pain, to feel something. Groaning, I managed to rise an inch from the sofa, only to fall back like a flat, overturned turtle. Another try produced the same result.
Stanley stiffened, seemed to come awake. “Myles!”
Abruptly, his mask crumbled, and I found myself staring at the Stanley I remembered. He opened his mouth in horror.
“Run, Myles!” he screamed. “Her sister’s horrible, a THOUSAND TIMES WORSE!”
Panic seared me. With a desperate lunge, I made it to my feet. Staggering, I stared at the creature who had finally reached the bottom of the stairs. If anything, she was even more ravishing than her sister, a seductive goddess beyond compare. But, as with Stella, her features seemed to flow and elude my mental grasp, never quite coalescing into form. Somehow, though, I glimpsed enough to know that Stanley was right, for as bad as Stella’s face was, Blanche’s was immeasurably worse. It kept changing like a bizarre kaleidoscope, bearing Medusan horrors I dared not see.
Stella, who was closer to me than Blanche, swept toward me and reached out.
At last, I roused myself and pulled back, but too late. Her fingers caught my wrist and held tight.
Struggling was useless. It was as if she’d locked a pair of handcuffs on me. Seeing Blanche move towards us, I whimpered. An instant later, I felt an unseen hand stroke me from inside again. STROKE. STROKE. STROKE. This time, the sensation was far stronger. Unlike with Stella, it was intensely sensual, profoundly stimulating, and this time I knew it came from Blanche. I could even sense her feelings. To her, I was some kind of beloved pet, a possession that she not only desired in order to fill her lonely existence but which she also distained as an inferior creature. Despite my horror and disgust, I felt myself begin to respond. In seconds, I grew hard and erect, my body aching . . .
No! The part of my mind that was still sane screamed. Oh, God, no! Anything but THIS!
I wrenched, twisted, shoved, but Stella held me fast. And behind her, just a few feet away, came an even richer prize . . . Blanche.
Desperately, I looked around for something to use, a weapon. An andiron from the fireplace? No, it was too far away. A cup Stanley had set on the floor? No, it was too light. No matter where I looked, there was nothing I could use!
Stretching toward the table, I reached out for the trophy, only to find my fingers were inches away. Pulling against Stella’s grip, aware of Blanche’s approach, I strained again toward the table. This time, I managed to seize Stanley’s golden award by the man perched on its pinnacle, and I turned. Raising it, I struck Stella’s hand as hard as I could. Once, twice, three times, and still she did not let go. My mind screamed. How could she hold on? What kind of creature was she?
Raising the trophy again, I made the mistake of meeting Blanches beautiful eyes.
“Don’t fight, Myles,” she said in a sweet, incomparably lovely voice. “You know you really don’t want to.”
I hesitated, feeling myself weaken. Blanche’s hand reached out and touched my cheek. Almost at once, I felt the rest of my resistance fade. The trophy sank in my hand as she moved close and bore me back to the sofa. I seemed to fall in slow motion toward it, floating down for an endless time beneath her. Moaning, her lips covered mine, moist and soft.
Sometime later, I sat passively watching as she rose and stripped a gossamer-thin gown from her body and cast it aside. She stood there in full magnificence–long, smooth sleek thighs glistening, her firm breasts pointing up. Her nipples, I saw were erect, the aureoles broad and golden.
Kneeling, she opened my fly and teased me out, took me in her mouth. I felt myself throb and snap to attention as if obeying a command. Yet I was numb, couldn’t even move!
“Myles,” she sighed. “Oh, my dear Myles.”
She rose and lowered herself upon me, the golden fleece of her pubic hair feeling like velvet as it slid down my shaft. She was moist and eager, and I smelled the scent I had detected earlier on her sister. Only this was heavier, a musk rich with pheromones and laden with desire. Part of me abhorred and detested it, but at the same time it stirred me profoundly, like the super aphrodisiac I sensed it was.
She started to move, muttering endearments as she feverishly kissed my lips and face. Despite the strange feel of her lips, I responded. My penis throbbed, stiffened still more, and shot jets of sperm deep inside her. The orgasm was so intense as to be painful, seeming to come from the base of my spine. I screamed, and she sobbed, her vagina feeling alive, as if it were a separate part of her with a mind of its own. Grinding against me, she straightened and cried up at the ceiling as her own orgasm approached.
Then incredibly, I was responding again. I gasped–it must have been less than a minute since I’d come the first time! As my excitement rose, I saw that Stella and Stanley were standing there watching us as if sealing our union, witnessing its consummation. This, what we were doing, I realized, was all perverse marriage ceremony–and I was the reluctant groom!
And all the time, Blanche stroked and caressed me and moaned strange endearments. “Oh, my love, my heart’s true cry. I have waited through long, empty nights for you to come and complete me. Please fear me not!”
But fear turned cartwheels even as my orgasm swelled and climaxed again, this time even more violently than before. Despite the intense pleasure, I knew that to her, I was no more than a plaything for which she felt a perverse passion, a drone to serve and perhaps impregnate her. Thinking of what our children would be like, I fought feebly to resist her, only to feel my penis stiffen yet again before it could even soften. Obviously, something in her body replenished my own before it became sated, and could do so again and again!
In the minutes that followed, my body repeatedly transcended its limitations, passing from one shattering climax to another. Clasped and caressed by her vagina, which seemed to possess tiny, silken fingers, I erupted till my voice grew hoarse and I felt faint. For the first time, I realized that she might drain me, wring me dry. My balls ached, and I saw myself shriveling up like a mummy, crumbling to brittle pieces.
Sensing my fear, she shifted her weight, forcing an erect nipple between my lips. Milk spurted into my mouth–thick, rich, aromatic fluid which quickly restored me, flooded me with life and lust.
Oh, God, how was this possible? Desperate, stricken by a vision in which I grew as plump as Stanley, a lamb fattened fro slaughter, I wrenched my lips away as Blanche continued to pound against me. Stella and Stanley, I saw were smiling, their skin flushed. And no wonder, for the union they watched meant they were no .longer alone!
At last, Blanche stopped moving, her beautiful pink skin wet with sweat. She sighed and pressed her face against me.
“Now you are mine,” she sobbed.
The words sounded like a death knell, and I felt my will return, perhaps because she was exhausted. Forcing myself up on the sofa, I shoved Blanche aside, then scrambled to rise as she fell to the floor. Six feet away, Stella started toward me, followed by Stanley.
Staggering up, I snatched Stanley’s trophy just as Stella reached out and seized me again.
I shrieked and struck her face with all my strength. She groaned and sagged, relaxing her grip. A sharp twist, a savage pull, and I was free! But now it was Stanley reaching for me! I pulled back, feinted, and kicked him in the gut, then dodged around him when he fell. As I did, a hand caught my shirt from behind and held tight.
I whirled and swung, smashing the trophy directly into Blanche’s face. Bone broke and blood erupted in a bright spray. As she collapsed, I turned back. The door seemed a mile away. I dove toward it, feeling like a bug trying to run in amber, as if Blanche were renewing her control. Eventually, though, still clutching Stanley’s trophy, I reached the door, tore it open, and plunged into the front yard. Even as I raced across the grass and cleared the fence, I heard Blanches sweet, forgiving voice.
“Don’t run, Myles,” she called. “I LOVE YOU.”
I run for hours, up and down narrow, dusty streets. Sometimes I cross blighted fields, wondering why everything looks so lifeless. Though I don’t have a car, I tell myself it should be easy to get out of a small town Like Green Haven. But every road I take only seems to lead me back where I came from.
Once, during a brief rest, I belch. What rises to my mouth tastes both of Stella’s Padulanka and the delicious drink she made, as well as of Blanche’s rich, thick milk. They all linger on my tongue as if I just swallowed them.
Not only that, I fell something caress me inside. Something that is also familiar.
Stroke. Stroke. Stroke.
I moan as an unseen hand pets me just as if I were a dog. Despite my fear, it feels so soothing.
With an effort, I shake it off and start running again. I stop. I rest. I run some more. No matter where I go, though, it all looks the same.
Eventually, I sense that something more than the town’s layout is to blame.
At last, I approach Stanley’s house once more. The grass seems so lush, the roses supremely beautiful–just aching to be cut. I linger at the picket fence, tempted to pick one, then look up as the door opens and Blanche steps out on the porch. Though I still can’t make out her face, I can tell that it has already healed and bears no sign of my violence.
She stands there and waits, occasionally licking her lips.
Part of me wants to scream. But I know now I can’t run, that all paths ultimately lead right back here. It useless even to think of escaping.
Besides, I find that part of me, a growing part, actually wants Blanche, actually loves her. What did Stanley say–that his Stella was the most beautiful, wonderful, and kindest woman in the world? Strangely, that description seems more appropriate for Blanche as I stop struggling and let my gaze linger. And as I do, I begin for the first time to really see her, to behold parts of her face. Though her mouth alone might unhinge other’s minds, perhaps I need to change my thinking. After all, Stanley did, and look what it got him.
I look down at the trophy I still clutch with white fingers. Odd, the man standing on its mountain peak looks like he’s about to jump. But maybe, just maybe, he can still fight back. I remind myself that the trophy itself can be a lethal weapon. All I have to do is be willing to use it.
I open the gate and start up the walk, seeing Blanche smile. I smile back. How striking Blanche is, how . . . desirable . Dimly, I wonder if she could help me to sell insurance like Stella did Stanley. Somewhere, a fading voice screams at me to resist, and I struggle to remember why I should. After all, I’ve all but reached Blanche now, and her loving arms reach out to receive me.
Laughing, I feel the trophy slip from my fingers as I run up the steps into Blanche’s welcoming arms.