Friday, February 8, 2008

"Warmer"

Benton is a broker though the commodities that he deals with aren’t necessarily traded publicly. His specialties aren’t exactly illegal, yet they are rarely acquired through legal means. Most of the merchandise that he deals with, the public never sees, though some they do: the tabloid pictures and adult videos.

Some of these items were submitted by the owners in a misguided attempt to gain more publicity, but most were turned over by disgruntled employees and enemies of the former owners. So Benton is on the speed dial of many publicists and agents, or eventually they desperately seek his number out.

This arrangement also has created a lot of enemies for him; note the spray-painted “Fucking die, Bent-on, die!” on the side of his McMansion and the same phrase burned into his lawn, albeit misspelled.

Oh, shit, the alarm is off. Common sense would tell anyone to call 911, but Benton can’t risk the police because more than likely, someone is trying to steal their property back. Benton goes back to his Porsche for his gun. As he goes through the front door, he notices that the only lights on, are the ones not connected to the timers. The next thing he notices is a picture covered with rose petals.

Benton picks it up and sees a beautiful pair of immaculate female feet with toes painted bright pink and the words “follow the trail.” He tilts his head as he gazes at the trail of petals that go into the living room and beyond. Benton tucks his gun in his waist and follows the rose-covered road. The petals zigzag up the front stairs and they stop at the landing, right before a picture with shapely calves and the caption, “you are on your own, now.”

He decides to check the guest bedrooms first and he enters the closest one. There is a picture on the bed of a distended belly, bearing the caption: “you’re getting cold.” Benton checks the closet and under the bed to make sure that no one is there, then he goes to the next guest bedroom. He is greeted this time with a picture of a morbidly obese stomach with stretch marks and cellulite, and the caption: “colder still.”

There are no pictures in the guest bathrooms or linen closets. Benton creeps down the hall towards the master bedroom and in there, he shudders: on his bed, there’s a picture of decaying corpse and the caption “coldest yet.” He checks every hiding place in there and he goes down the back stairway.

In the den, Benton gets another shock because the painting that was hiding his safe and the safe’s door itself are wide open. He checks his safe and sees that it’s completely cleaned out, save for another picture and this one is of a slim woman barely covering her breasts with her right arm. This one’s caption reads “warmer.”

Benton is livid and he bites his hand to stifle a scream. He had over two million in bonds, valuable memory cards and photo negatives, as well as the master DVDs that hasn’t been turned over yet for production. The sound of his treadmill running in his exercise room gets his attention, but it doesn't lessen his rage as he runs in there. This time he has his gun out, though there is no one to aim it at. On his treadmill is a picture that seems to be a continuation of the last one. It is the same arm and breasts taken from further back, this time accompanied by slim hips and a thong that just barely covers the thinnest Isosceles of a Venus triangle. This caption read “warmer still.”

The quick whirl of his blender brings Benton into the kitchen and in his wide open freezer is another picture. This photo has the breasts bared and he's baffled because they look natural. This caption said “you’re getting hot” and he agrees, because he is about to blow a gasket.

“You’re red hot” says the woman behind Benton as she shoots him twice. He tries to place her face as he falls to the tiled floor, he guessed from the body in the pictures that she was one of those MTV celebutantes and now he is certain. She was on one of the DVDs, though he can’t remember if he has the sole copy.

As she walks away, he mutters “the joke is on you; your fifteen minutes were up a long time ago.”


Patti Abbott and Aldo Calcagno asked writers to post stories in the spirit of Valentine's Day. According to The Rap Sheet, it had to be 750 words or less and I snuck it in at exactly that.

8 comments:

Gerald So said...

Eerie and well paced with a "Don't go in there" vibe the whole time.

pattinase (abbott) said...

So beautifully written, Cormac. Thanks for coming along.

Anonymous said...

Nice one! You kept me guessing right up to the end.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to sign my name

Sandra

WellesFan said...

Nice story. I like the whole game-playing aspect of the celebutante. Some of them might be crazy enough to actually do something like this.

Cormac Brown said...

Gerald,

Thank you.

Patti,

A big thanks to you and Aldo for having me.

Sandra,

Thank you. It's one of those stories at the onset where the beginning and the ending were crystal clear, and the rest was murky.

Welles,

Thanks and...

"Some of them might be crazy enough to actually do something like this."

...I'm glad the plausibility of that scenario just true enough.

Patricia J. Hale said...

That was a blast following the trail with (like Gerald said) the "Don't go in there" suspense!

Superbly entertaining.

Cormac Brown said...

Patricia J,

Thank you much.