Hefty Bag Gal
© John A. Ward
Cooder decided that as long as the big wind knocked down the Rubble Brothers' condominium, he should make use of it as a backdrop for his art. The brothers were notorious hoarders, so there was plenty to work with. He said I could come along if I didn't try to tidy up. It didn't bother him that the Brothers were buried alive when the condo collapsed, or that the rescue team never found their bodies. Cooder didn't believe in zombies.
We watched Chesty stroll up in a blue pullover sweater and jeans, with a snakeskin belt and boots. It was sky blue, which Cooder called cerulean, one of those terms like vermillion that he learned in the art course he took at the University Without Walls, which was in a storefront on Armadillo Street , so it really did have walls. What they didn't have was a regular faculty, so they made do with visiting artists, who were less than reliable. There were a lot of cancellations and rescheduling. Though it wasn't cheap, it was a lot cheaper than the University. The blue outfit complimented Chesty's golden hair.
“You look good, Chesty,” I said, “exceptional I mean. You always look good, but today you are the pinnacle of pulchritude.” Then I handed her the Valentine's Day card that I made.
“Thank you.” She read the sentiment and smiled. “You always know what to say to make a girl feel wonderful.”
Cooder handed her a box of black plastic garbage bags. “Put these on,” he said.
“Excuse me?” she asked.
“You're excused,” he said. “Now put these on.”
“These are garbage bags. Do I look like a garbage bag kind of gal to you?”
“It's in keeping with the theme.” He formed his fingers into a rectangle and viewed the pile of debris through them. “Beauty Among The Trash. It's in keeping with the February theme. It's my Valentine to you.” Fortunately, it was a Southern Fried February, consistent with global warming.
“Am I supposed to cut out head and arm holes and wear one like a pancho?”
“No. Be more creative. Surprise me.”
Chesty shrugged, tip-toed through piles of rubbish and disappeared behind the furnace and water heater. They were among the few structures left standing. She used them as dressing screens. When she stepped out, she had one bag tied around her waist like a wrap-around skirt with a side slit and another tied around her chest, a breast band or halter, whatever they're called. “How's this?” she asked.
“Wow!” I said. “You look great in garbage bags, Chesty.”
“All the same,” she said, “I don't think it will start a new fashion trend.”
“Good,” said Cooder. “Now pose yourself provocatively among the trash. I'll take a bunch of photos and pick the best ones. Then I'll do my drawing and painting from them.”
“You're so creative, Cooder,” she said. “Most of the other artists do mundane things like pose me on the veranda in an ante-bellum gown or in a tree swing wearing those dresses that the sun comes shining through.” Her sarcasm was lost on Cooder.
“Maybe we can rip a few holes in the garbage bags,” says Cooder, “so it looks like you've been ravished.”
Chesty narrowed her eyes into dagger slits and squinched her nose like she smelled a stink. “Now you're getting too creative.”
I got nervous thinking about Chesty and ravishment in the same sentence. I picked up a busted figurine.
“Don't tidy up,” said Cooder.
I put the figurine at Chesty's feet. It was an angel with one wing. When I did, a hand reached up through the debris and grabbed her bare ankle.
I jumped back and yelled, “Cooder! They're zombies!”
“There's no such thing as zombies,” said Cooder. “It's an illusion. The mind does funny things in exotic situations. This is exactly the effect I wanted.”
Chesty shivered and screamed. It was the undead Brothers for sure.
“Don't scream,” said Cooder. “You'll just encourage them.”
Chesty screeched like a rabbit caught in a trap.
Cooder snap, snap, snapped the shutter. “That's good. Keep emoting like that.”
Another hand reached up and stuck a chocolate kiss between Chesty's toes.
Chesty took off running. The hand didn't let go. It broke away from the buried arm and went with her. Cooder followed, taking pictures all the time. I grabbed Chesty's clothes from behind the heater and ran after them. I knew Cooder would scold me for tidying up, but Chesty would want to get dressed when we got the hand off her ankle. I didn't want to go back to zombie town.
John A. Ward was born on Staten
Island, attended Wagner College in the early 60's, sold his first poem