Pin Up or Shut Up

Cigarette fiction by a woman of excellent breeding and impeccable moral fiber.

Cunning

            “Jesus! You scared me! I didn’t hear you come in!” said Mr. Stephens.

            “Must’ve been these cheap new rugs.”

            “Yes,” he said, suspicious. How long had she’d been there? “But I thought I’d locked that door, earlier.”

            She shrugged and walked behind him putting her hand on his shoulder. Quickly, he shuffled an assortment of papers—half of them blank—into an unmarked folder, then locked them in his briefcase. He stood in front of his confidential folder, making sure whatever it was Mrs. Stephens was trying to be clever about, he’d shoot her dead before she got ahold of any of his private work.

            “John Jr. is washing up and Frannie is almost done with her homework,” she said.

            “Yes, the boy’s been making a heap of noise down there. He must have finished that schoolwork 23 minutes ago.”

Mrs. Stephens looked at her watch. It had been exactly 23 minutes since John Jr. asked if he could go outside.

“But now, who could blame him with the racket that dryer keeps making? THUMP THUMP THUMP! You’d think we were washing gold bricks down there!” he laughed at the idea. HA HA HA! Then wished for it.

            “I’ll turn it off until you finish dear. How long do you suppose that will be?”

            “Well dear, you know I have this report due tomorrow for Mr. Aarons,” Mr. Stephens said. “I don’t need to be rushed on account of you wanting to start dinner. I don’t just fool around up here, you know.” Clenching his jaw, he opened the door to the office as a courteous gesture for his wife who should be minding him and leave.

            “Of course. You just work so hard. I hope Mr. Aarons knows how lucky he is to have you. Let me make you a pot roast tonight. I’ll have that ready for you in thirty minutes,” she said leaving with the information she needed.

            Reaching the foot of the stairs, Mrs. Stephens decided to check on the children’s progress.

            “Mom! You did it again! I’m getting dressed!” said John Jr., throwing a towel over his 10-year-old behind.

            “Sorry son. But if you closed your door while you’re doing something private, you wouldn’t need to worry about me sneaking up, would you?”

            He slammed his door shut.

Just like his father, she thought.

            “Your father wants you to quite down for another thirty minutes while he finishes up his report,” she said through the wooden door the boy’s grandfather, on his mother’s side, had made John Jr. Inside the frame were carvings of his height at different ages. She pressed her finger into the most recent gash in the wood, the one she’d made herself to mark her son’s recent growth spurt since her father had passed and his father was working.

            She went down to her daughter’s room, which was also the laundry room. She turned the knob to the dryer and the THUMP THUMP THUMP-ing stopped.

            Frannie jumped off her bed, handed her mom a workbook and said, “Mom! I didn’t hear you come in. I’m finished with my homework! Can you check it for me?”

            Mrs. Stephens opened the book. Her daughter’s oversized bubbly letters were cuter than they were practical for the workbook.

            “Honey, I thought you said you were going to start practicing smaller writing. They won’t tolerate this next year in the second grade.”

            “Yes mom.” Frannie put her hand out, while Mrs. Stephens reached in her rolled bangs, and pulled out an extra bobby pin. Fannie grabbed it and fasted back her brown bangs to seem like they were rolled, just like her mother.

            “You need to rethink numbers two and six. See if there are some other answers you can come up with,” said Mrs. Stephens as she stood and left Frannie’s laundry room, impressed that her daughter was doing third grade level problems for fun…also like her mother.

            She’d already bought the pot roast at the market, so Mrs. Stephens tried to make noises in the kitchen reminiscent of a cooking wife, humming Ba Da Dee, Ba Da Dumm, a song so sweet, the milkman once told her she belonged on stage next to The King. Time passed quickly when she sang, and before she knew it—

CLUNK.

CLUNK.

CLUNK.

CLUCK.

CLUNK. 

Her husband’s heavyset footsteps were hitting each stair like two cast-iron skillets on their $1,018.99 handmade rugs.

The children raced to get their cups on the table, take their seats, and wait while Mrs. Stephens set down the pot roast at 5:47pm—exactly 30 minutes after she’d informed her husband of the evening’s dinnertime. She took the bobby pin out of Frannie’s hair, fluffed out the girl’s fringed style, and replaced the hidden pin in her rolled bangs.

Mr. Stephens sat in his chair, grabbed a fork, and took a bite. He was shocked to taste a fully cooked roast. He looked up at his wife.

“Quite some meal you prepared in such a short amount of time,” he said, unaware of his jaw clenching as he spoke. “I’ve never heard of a thirty-minute pot roast.”

“Well, we had so much of tonight’s meal already prepared from last night’s dinner,” she said.

The children looked over to the trashcan. The frozen pizza box from the night before was missing. Their chattering teeth ding ding ding-ed on their forks. They shoveled food and drink in their mouths to keep from looking suspicious.

“Oh, that’s right. You weren’t here last night, darling. I just couldn’t get rid of all those leftovers! Trying to save our money for a vacation after you get that raise you might be up for. What do you think?”

Mr. Stephens coughed and set back to eating the rest of his food—waiting until he was finished to wipe chucks of beef off his chin and face. He left the table to sit in his favorite chair, turning on his favorite program and laughing HA HA HA! at the comedy of his favorite actors.

The children also finished, and old enough for responsibilities, John Jr. and Frannie went to work on the dishes.

With the table now empty, Mrs. Stephens checked her watch. Assuming Mr. Stephens wanted to watch both of his favorite programs, she would have an hour to herself.

She brought her dishes to the sink and let the children’s clamor disguise her walk behind the favorite chair, without catching a reflection in the T.V. A joke from the program sent her husband cackling HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! giving her a chance to race to the staircase—where she reached the top unnoticed.

Mrs. Stephens took the extra bobby pin from her bangs and unlocked the door to Mr. Stephens’ office. His briefcase was bolted in the left bottom drawer. She slid on black satin gloves and checked the picture frames, paperweights, and expensive pens on his desk for the key.

            He must have it on him tonight.

            She looked at the drawer, taking in its measurements and dings—sure that her husband, in all of his daydreaming in the home office would have each surface scratch memorized as well.

            She slipped off her shoe and slid off the rubber stopper below the chunky heel. She took out a small (but thick) charade knife and sawed away as the SHHHHHHHHHhhhHHhhHHHHH of the water running downstairs in the sink created a diversion.

            THUMP!  The briefcase and the bottom of the drawer hit the ground.

            “What’s going on up there?” her husband called.

            “Silly me! I just dropped my hairbrush.”

            “Some example you’re setting for the kids! Throwing around your junk..” he said.

            She waited for the comedians voices to return and her husband’s HA HA HA! to fire off like a gun shot from his mouth.

            The claps on the briefcase had long since been broken, but Mr. Stephens had yet to discover this. She ignored the unloaded gun, and opened the folder to find a sloppy report. Mrs. Stephens counted seven grammar errors on the first page then checked her watch. Thirty-eight minutes left—that is, if Mr. Stephens watched both programs. The next page of the report was half complete and the third was just a sentence with a poor doodle of a mouse from the Sunday Funnies.

            Downstairs, the children joined their father in front of the television, either because they took their mother’s absence as a signal or out of sheer boredom.

            Mrs. Stephens started typing up a revised report while her children sang the second musical act’s #1 Hit Single. She worked quickly as the first program ended and everyone said, “Goodnight!” 

Mrs. Stephens stopped typing. There were no actors, commercials or HA HA HAs to be heard. Then, the children whined loudly enough for a mother to hear upstairs.

Mrs. Stephens sorted the original report, placed it back in the folder, and locked it in the briefcase.

            CLUNK.

CLUNK.

Her husband’s cast-iron steps were taunting metronomes coming up the stairs. She didn’t have enough time to repair the sawed drawer.

CLUNK.

She placed the briefcase on the liberated desk-wood. She tore out the sole of her shoe and worked the board back in place using the sole as a lever. The lever had replaced the bottom of the drawer, but was caught in the desk! She tried pulling, twisting, and ripping the sole from her favorite shoe, but it was hopeless. She ran to the door, and stepped into the hallway, wriggling the bobby pin out of the doorknob. Her husband was standing in the hallway as she stood in front of an unlocked door.

            With her shoe’s sole missing, Mrs. Stephens was lopsided. Mr. Stephens looked her up and down, trying to figure out what was different. Steadying her balance was impossible, so she caught her husband’s glances, and let his eyes follow her hand down her leg as she kicked off her broken shoe. Standing in front of Mr. Stephens with one shoe and two black satin gloves, she smiled, but his eyes caught her hand on the doorknob, and his face grew fiery red.

            “What is the meaning of this?”

            “Da da dumm… da da dumm” she began humming and kicked off the other shoe. “Da da dumm…da da da da da dummmm.”

She slowly unbuttoned her cardigan as she walked toward Mr. Stephens. As she let the cashmere slide down her arms, she bit the middle finger of her right glove, pealing it off her hands.

“Mmm hm hummm,” she sashaying herself closer to her husband’s body. He was glaring at her with confused eyes as she reached him.

“Bop! Dadadadadummmm,” sang the love of his life. She continued to pull off layers as he stood, not knowing where to put his hands since she kept sliding back and forth around him. Her itchy stockings made it impossible for him to feel her milky skin’s softness, so they had to go. He tore them off like a rabid dog biting into a pot roasted treat.

            She’d successfully kept his attention—and more importantly, his gaze—on her the whole time. She jumped in his arms and ordered him to the bedroom. “At once!” she said. As they passed the office, she passionately kissed him, making sure his eyes were closed and missed seeing that the office door wasn’t.

            “Dumm deedy DAAAA!” she sang as carried her into the bedroom.

Once they reached the bed, he plopped her down, and helped her out of the other non-returned bridesmaid’s gifts. She unbuttoned his shirt and folded it before setting it on the chair. He replaced his tailored pants on the hanger from which he’d taken them that morning. And they crawled into bed.

It was exactly 23 minutes later when Mrs. Stephens’ husband began snoring.

            She used the buzz of the ceiling fan to conceal the sounds of a wife leaving a bed. She went downstairs and turned the Thump…Thump…Thump of the dryer back on—this time to a lower setting.

            Sitting at her husband’s desk, she went back to work humming her Ba Da Dee song the milkman had once appreciated and typed while the snoring of her children and her husband, the dryer, the ceiling fan, and her humming soothed any sounds that might wake a sleeping dog. I won’t be able to get away like this again, she thought. Then she smiled. On the other hand, that’s what I thought last time too. 

that chocolate, chocolate make it melt
oldhollywood:

Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz (via snap)
“At times we were criticized for doing too much slapstick. I don’t believe in mild comedy, and neither does Lucy.”
-Desi Arnaz

that chocolate, chocolate make it melt

oldhollywood:

Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz (via snap)

“At times we were criticized for doing too much slapstick. I don’t believe in mild comedy, and neither does Lucy.”

-Desi Arnaz

Waisted on a Wednesday

Gil Elvgren, Waisted Effort, 1950. 

Waisted on a Wednesday

Gil Elvgren, Waisted Effort, 1950. 

Report

One thing about The Bus was that it was never late. So when The Blue-Haired Girl stood up for the second-to-last-time she would ever see The Old-Lady-with-the-Hat, she knew it was because of her perfectly timed, hateful comment at 9:17 a.m.—the precise time The Bus arrived.

For only one week, The Blue-Haired Girl and The Old-Lady-with-the-Hat lives’ crossed paths. The Blue-Haired Girl would call it “fake fate” in her diary an hour and a half after their first encounter. Without a working car in The Busy City, she took the bus while her Mr. Fix-It lied on his back under the ‘93 Corolla.

"It’s not even worth repairing. You should sell the parts and invest in a cup of coffee and a metro pass," Mr. Fix-It laughed, while she stood beside his greasy arm. “That’s about all you’d get for this piece of shit.”

His tattoo of the word SOCIALIST written twice in the form of a swastika was funny to her because he was dark haired with brown eyes. Completely ironic. She thought about him often—on the bus, at work, while she waited for him to pick her up from her apartment. He’d be able to afford a motorcycle if he’d stop ordering Four Loko—a discontinued energy/alcohol cocktail and very expensive at First Bar. Second Bar is where his friend hooked him up. She didn’t know why they didn’t just go there. So for now, he just had a bike, a pair of combat boots, greasy arms, and her.

The Old-Woman-with-the-Hat was out of luck that week too because her husband was dead. He died nearly 10 years before, so she needed to make sure her Mr. Fix-It of years past still had perfect arrangements at the graveyard after all these years. She thought of him while she was on the bus, writing grocery lists with all his favorite foods, and then again when she deleted them.

It was Monday, and it was unseasonably cold for The City.

The Blue-Haired-Girl was unseasonably poor and also uncharacteristically early. She had had enough of Mr. Fix-It and his Four Loko breath that morning. The Old-Woman-with-the-Hat was making a list of the things The Ugly Undertaker had told her a year ago as per her requests for Late Mr. Fix-It’s arrangements. 

“You’re being ridiculous,” The Squishy Undertaker said when she wanted to add a tomato plant to her beloved’s memorial.

But Late Mr. Fix-It always loved dipping fresh tomatoes in Low-Fat Ranch dressing, The-Cranky-Old-Lady thought. She remembered that she also needed more Low-Fat Ranch dressing, adding it to the list.

A gust of wind reminded both ladies they were not dressed properly. 

"The news report last night said there would be unseasonably cold weather this week," said the Old-Lady-with-the-Hat, forgetting her husband would not be wrapping his arm around her. She had not yet noticed a Blue-Haired-Punk-Rocky-Girl sitting beside her.

The Blue-Haired-Punk-Rocky-Girl dug her nose under the scarf she grabbed on the way out of her studio apartment to cover a hickey which she’d rather not share with anyone but the Mr. Fix-It who’d branded her like a cattle driver to a calf.

"If you knew that, then why didn’t you wear warmer clothes?" said The Bright-Blue-Haired Girl.

The Old-Lady-with-the-Wide-Brimmed-Hat was dressed, ready for a Diane Keaton stroll in the Hamptons contemplating her relationship with Jack Nicholson in white linen pants with outdated, yet highlighted grey hair. 

The Old-Woman said nothing and took her tush up to the curb. The Bus arrived as if it had been commanded by The Woman. But she’d left behind her hat. The Blue-Haired Girl grabbed it, dropped it on the middle seat beside The Old Woman, then walked to the front of the bus. She checked her diary to see if she had enough money (she was ironically using bills as bookmarks to demonstrate that bookmarks are too expensive) to go out until she got paid again on the 15th. 

Tuesday came.

The Old-Woman arrived and sat at The City bench 16-steps behind the curb. Her white linens made direct contact with the bench this time. That morning, she’d forgotten an old newspaper to sit on as she was distracted from The Boorish Undertaker. He’d been a real stickler about the No Tomato Plant at the Gravesite rule the day before and she had to find a way to change his mind. Otherwise, she’d have an Exhumed Late Mr. Fix-It.

Had she arrived a moment later, The Old Woman would have been less punctual than The Bright-Blue-Haired Girl who was in a pleasant mood since her Mr. Fix-It said he’d only need another day or so with the car. She thought about how wonderful it was to have someone do this labor for free. He can be broke all he wants ‘cause this car and I are getting turned on, she thought.

Smitten with her Fix, The Bright-Blue-Haired Girl skipped her morning routine of hair and makeup that morning (besides her *trademark* wing eyeliner and false lashes) since her cheeks were already flushed and her skin looked warm despite the unseasonable weather. 

"The news report last night said Fish Oil can help your heart and dull hair," the Wintered-Old-Lady said looking across the street. 

Bright-Blue had no idea where this was coming from! But she followed the line of vision across the street to a Little-Girl-in-Saddle-Shoes who struggled to put a letter in The City mailbox. The Old-Woman stood, taking the 16-steps to the curb while across the street, a Young-Woman-in-a-Power-Suit lifted The Saddle-Shoed Girl to help her reach the slot. What a bitch, thought The Bland-Blue-Haired Girl.

Wednesday.

The Old-and-Perturbed Lady-with-the-White-Linen-Pants (now speckled with dirt and smudges from The City’s Disgusting Public Transportation Problems)-and-the-Unreasonably-Brimmed-Hat arrived after The-Less-Than-Bland-Blue-Haired-Girl, who had gotten a haircut, or had stopped wearing extensions. The Old Lady barely noticed the length change because she was so concerned with White Roses The Mean-Old Undertaker had suggested instead of a Jacuzzi the day before. Hideous, thought The Lady. 

She intentionally left her hat behind that day. She no longer cared about anything except her Late Mr. Fix-It’s white rose situation. 

Dropping the hat beside the woman for the third day in a row, the Blue Haired Girl said, “The news report last night said a dog may also be a woman’s best friend.” Why did I just say that? she thought. 

The next day was Thursday.

The Old-Lady-with-the-Hat arrived with The Dog. She wore sunglasses that day, so The Blue-Haired Girl could not see the Old-Lady’s eyes while she was making a ruckus with Mr. Fix-It who was swearing something dirty as he claimed he hadn’t broken The Belt on The Blue-Haired Girl’s car, but he did need $189 to fix it, yet The Blue-Haired Girl could feel The Old-Wrinkley-Eyes burning into her back. The fight seemed to subside as The Girl pulled out her check book. The Mr. Fix-It surprised The Old Lady with Sunglasses, The Dog, and The-Girl-with-Soft-and Shiney-Blue-Hair as he jumped on the very first bus that passed without so much as a kiss goodbye. 

Neither The Old Lady nor The X-Core Girl said anything to each other that day. The Old Woman remembered her hat and the dog as she walked on to the bus, looking back as The Blue-Haired Girl pulled herself up and also entered the bus. The Old-Lady-with-the-sungalsses,-hat,-and-dog sat in the front row. And so did The Blue-Haired-Girl-with-a-checkbook,-diary,-and-No-Mr.-Fix-It.

Friday was next and both The Old Lady and The Blue Haired Girl arrived early.

After a few minutes of giving the dog a treat (Old Lady) and checking her cell to see if Mr. Fix-It had rung her yet (Girl-with-Unwashed-Blue-Hair). He hadn’t. Then, finally, they looked at each other. 

The Unwashed Hair was rather shiny, thought the old woman.

The White-Linens are more sensible on her than on Diane Keaton, thought the girl. 

"The news report last night," both said simultaneously. They laughed nervously. 

"Go ahead," said The Girl, her voice giddy to be present in this moment with this Woman. She’d willfully imparted her (fabricated) report only days before and now a puppy was part of The Woman-with-the Hat’s daily life! Here it comes, she thought. This is what I need to hear.

"Yes, well," said The Woman, lifting the small dog into her lap. The Lap Dog quivered from the unseasonable breeze. He had no fur to keep him warm—only the lap of The Lady. Noticing the small shaking body of The Lap Dog, The Lady thought, no lap is going to keep warm. Then her lap was warm. The Dog, in his fit of shakes and shivers had peed on The Lady’s lap. She sighed and said, “the news report last night said a man who doesn’t kiss a girl at a bus stop doesn’t love her as much as she loves him.” Then she took an old newspaper to try and dry off the moisten spot on her lap. The ink ran onto her pants leaving a big black stain across The Old Lady’s crotch.

“The news did not say that,” said The Greasy-Know-it-All-Blue-Haired-Girl.

“Yes it did,” said The Very-Old-And-Nosey Woman. “And the report said that boy from yesterday is dirt.”

“You don’t even know him.”

“Thank Jesus.”

“Yes, thank your Jesus. Go ahead,” said The Blue-Haired Girl. She thought of Mr. Fix-It and the Corolla and fake fate. The Dog began barking wildly as the wind picked up.

HUSH UP DOG,” said The Lady.

"You didn’t even name him?" said The Girl. She took the bag of treats and started force feeding them into The Dog’s mouth.

"You’re one to talk. Who did you write that check out to? Lost Causes? A real man has his own money to fix your car. He’ll bring home groceries on his way back from work without you having to ask. And every Friday night he’ll make you dinner because he wants you to know you’re what he needs and he’s what you-"   

“YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT, YOU PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE-WRINKLY-ASS-STAINED-WIDOWER!”

"He’s dirt and so is that interesting hair of your’s,” said The Woman.

"Fuck you," said The Girl as she stood to stand by the curb, taking her second-to-last-look at The Woman.

 

Before she jumped on the bus The Blue-Haired Girl called over her shoulder, “and fuck your hat too,” hoping that The Old Woman would remember the hat. Because even when she was enraged, The Blue-Haired Girl was still thinking about that damn hat. 

a little seams so linear
theniftyfifties:

Hosiery advertisement for Jacques Fath, 1950s.

a little seams so linear

theniftyfifties:

Hosiery advertisement for Jacques Fath, 1950s.

it’s an art y’all.
strangerains:

The stunningly beautiful burlesque queen Zorita.

it’s an art y’all.

strangerains:

The stunningly beautiful burlesque queen Zorita.

(Source: )

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