Thursday, August 9, 2012

Foul Play

Foul Play



For my summer holiday, I went to the city. My twin best friends, Lydia and Leah, had moved to Brandon and invited me to visit. 1060 12th Street. Near the railroad tracks. The fairgrounds. The swimming pool behind the Tyndall wall.

In Brandon, the town fathers do not allow women to wear shorts in public places. We dressed u to go downtown. We wore gloves and matching pumps; we carried our vinyl purses like the Queen. We experimented with nail polish for fingers and toes, backcombed and peroxided our hair. We tried cherry-flavoured gloss and siren red lipstick at Woolworth's cosmetics counter, popping and blotting our pouts in the mirrors. We fingered the satin and lace in the lingerie department, longing for boyfriends and breasts. We crowded into one curtained booth and mugged for the camera--four shots for a quarter. We bought two-piece bathing suits and suntanned on the dry summer grass. We played games with our shadows, imagining what we will look like with curves.

We used our nickels to call boys from the pay phone beside the bus stop. The twins' father would not allow us to date. We made secret plans to meet Mike and Danny and Little Joe at the show downtown. Psycho was Restricted. We went to see a comedy instead -- Some Like It Hot -- about a sweet blond girl-singer and two cons on the run from gangsters and police hiding out in her all-girl band. On the beach, Tony Curtis held up a scallop Shell. Tony and Jack Lemmon were trying to walk in heels. They shared a railway coach dressing room with the girls and often appeared to be in pain. The men in the audience laughed. We observed carefully how Marilyn made herself up in the mirror. We marvelled at her beauty, at her breasts, at her sequined gown which was more see-through than seen.

The next matinee we net the boys at the bus stop and rode downtown with them. The movie was The Village of the Damned. Every woman of childbearing age was visited by some alien force. Nine months later the village was blessed with fatherless blond-haired children, strangely distant, with uncanny abilities to tap into the brains of mortals and to communicate telepathically amongst themselves. In order to protect the town, the civilization, Hayley Mills' father built a brick wall across his mind and entered the aliens' classroom with a bomb-fixed briefcase. A kamikaze mission to rid the world of the threatening cuckoos before the wall crumbled and they detected the plot.

When the bomb exploded, Little Joe got scared and grabbed for Leah's arm in the darkness. She got the giggles and ran to the washroom; she waited for us in the popcorn lobby as we made our way back out to the afternoon sunlight.

Saturday night, we met the boys again to go for a walk. Itching for adventure, we reached over a stone wall and hawked some crabapples from a stranger's tree. But a police car cruised by and the boys vanished. We three walked on slowly, not laughing, trying to look innocent. The police did not stop.

In the aching heat of August, sleep was impossible. We took our transistors to the front steps and sat listening in the darkness. The streetlights filtered through the canopy of American Elm and masked the stars of the night. We searched for the loudest rock station, the farthest away -- CKY, Chicago, Cincinnati, San Francisco. Darkness was fading out when the newscaster's voice interrupted:

The nude body of Marilyn Monroe -- movie star, sex goddess, comedienne, actress -- was found this morning at her home in Los Angeles where she lived alone. An empty vial of sleeping pills was found near her bedside. The telephone was off the hook. She was thirty-six years old.

Marilyn was last seen in The Misfits, co-starring the late Clark Gable, and written for her by her estranged husband, Arthur Miller. She had recently been fired from the set of Something's Got to Give. The police do not suspect foul play.