Another story that came out much choppier than I liked. It’s due to be rewritten or revised, or at least broken up into pages…
I held the small spray bottle of murky-brown liquid. Dr. Cotton watched, smiling at the expression of disbelief on my face. “I’m sorry, Doc,” I said. “Tell me again how this stuff works.”
Dr. Cotton smiled and explained that formula would “awaken DNA patterns from material left in clothing.” According to him, if he were to spray the liquid onto a piece of clothing, it would assume the shape of the person who last wore it. Due to a quirk in the properties of one of the chemicals involved, it didn’t seem to work with men’s clothing, at least not if a man were the last to wear it.
I began to suspect that Dr. Cotton had inhaled fumes from too many experiments. “I would gladly give you a demonstration,” he said, “but I’m still working on it. I can get the clothing to assume the shape, but right now I’m working on getting the clothes to move as if there were someone inside.”
At that moment, I thought the doctor couldn’t have told a funnier joke if he tried. “Doc, you can’t be serious,” I said. “How can you make clothing take shape without a person inside? That’s just not possible. I know all kinds of things can be done with DNA, but this–”
Dr. Cotton sighed wearily. “John, you know I don’t even waste time speculating on things that, as you say, ‘can’t be done.’ I have done it. If you want a demonstration, stay right where you are.” The doctor left the room, returning momentarily with a pair of women’s leggings in one hand and a atomizer in the other.
He said, “I had to find some of the formula from the first
batch, that makes the clothes keep their shape. The stuff I’m working on right now probably won’t do anything yet, since I’m not exactly sure which chemical produces what part of the process. Do both of us a favor and put your finger over your nose.”
I complied, as he held the leggings out at arm’s length. Just as he was about to spray, he said, “It would be more believable if I let them stand.” He then dropped them, not in a heap as I would have expected, but he flattened them out, explaining that he had to make sure that each square inch of the fabric was damp, but not soaked.
He sprayed the leggings. When nothing happened after 30 seconds, I began to joke, “Just as I suspected — you didn’t cover your nose. I think the stuff is turning your brain.” As I wisecracked, I turned away from the doctor. After a few seconds more, he cleared his throat. I turned around to needle him some more, but instead it seemed that the joke was on me.
Not five feet away from me was what seemed for all the world to be the legging-clad bottom half of an invisible woman, lying on the floor with her nicely-rounded butt facing upward. The pair of leggings rolled over onto its behind, using its feet to push itself backward until it was up against a cabinet. It then drew its feet in close, pushed itself up against the cabinet until it was standing up straight, and stepped away from the cabinet, standing on its own.
The leggings described lightly-muscled legs, nice firm thighs, and I’ve already mentioned the butt. It seemed like I stood and stared for an hour, though I’m sure it couldn’t have been more than a minute. Finally the doctor, grinning broadly at my shocked reaction, said, “Well, why don’t you go over and see if it’s real, since you don’t believe?”
I heard him, but the words somehow didn’t register. It was like he was speaking Arabic. My mind just would not accept that there was an invisible woman, or unoccupied clothing, or whatever this was, standing on its/their/her/something’s own. Finally the doctor’s words did sink in, and I walked closer for an “examination.”
I stopped right next to the leggings, at about the distance I would be standing if there were a woman standing there rather than clothing. I stooped over and gently poked at the leggings’ left thigh. There was definite resistance, and yet there didn’t seem to be anyone wearing them. I knew that because my proximity to the leggings meant that if there were an invisible woman wearing them, my hair would have been grazing her stomach.
In response to my poking, the pair of leggings raised its left foot and lightly kicked at my right ankle. I raised my shoe-clad right foot and placed in on top of the leggings’ left foot; the right foot then kicked my left leg, a bit harder than the first kick. I took the hint and took off my shoes. When I put my right foot back on the leggings’ left foot, the left foot slid out from under my foot and placed its toes on top of my right foot. Then it began wiggling its toes and playing with mine. I really didn’t want to move from where I was standing, but I didn’t know how much longer I could stay on my feet. “Uh, Doc,” I began, “could you get us a couple of chairs?”
“A couple of chairs?” he repeated. “The leggings don’t really need a chair, but if you want two chairs, I’ll get two.” The doctor briefly disappeared into another room, returning with two plastic lawn-type chairs. He put one right behind me and the other behind the leggings. I sat immediately but the leggings continued to stand.
“If there’s enough ‘brainpower’ in those leggings’ DNA for it to know how to play footsie, then shouldn’t it know what to do when somebody puts a chair behind it?”
“Like I said, John, the leggings don’t really need a chair. If you had just taken them on a hike, then there might be some fatigue factor. But for what’s going on right now, they don’t need a chair.”
Almost as if that was its cue, the leggings sat down and began easing their left foot up my right leg, flirting with me the only way they had at their disposal. What the heck, I figured, as I returned the gestures, using my left foot to “foot wrestle” with the leggings’ right. I got carried away, taking the left foot in my right hand and kissing the undersides of its toes. The leggings immediately raised their right leg for me to do the same to the other toes. I did, then began massaging its feet, which were now resting “comfortably” in my lap. I guess “comfortably” is a word you can use even if the feet belong to a pair of unoccupied leggings that have been “animated” by a scientist with obviously not enough to do. Then again, here I was playing with said leggings, so who was I to talk about the doctor. He watched silently as I played footsie with a piece of clothing.
Eventually, when it became plain that these leggings had no intention of ending this massage, I began caressing the legs, basically just running my hands back and forth along them. I knew there was nothing inside, that this was just a piece of clothing with stray bits of DNA that had almost accidentally been “brought to life,” but playing with these legs felt good, and whatever “brainpower” was operating them evidently was getting something out of it too. Eventually, as good as this felt, I began to feel kind of silly to be sitting in a science lab playing with clothes, even clothes that seemed to think that someone was wearing them.
I looked up at the doctor, and he was smiling but with a unreadable expression on his face. I had to ask, “Um, Doctor…what’s this good for? I mean, why would anybody want empty clothes standing or walking around?” As the doctor and I talked, I continued to massage the leggings’ feet.
Dr. Cotton replied, “That’s the beauty of science. My job, basically, is to invent. The businessmen and the government can decide what to do with it.”
Something didn’t seem quite right about all this. I looked up and asked the doctor, “Doctor, didn’t you say that the batch you sprayed on these leggings would only give them shape? How are they able to stand, and move around? I mean, right now they’re practically flirting with me.”
He frowned but quickly answered, “I guess because if Janice, the owner of these leggings, were to suddenly find herself sitting on the floor of my lab with little or no idea how she got there, she would at least get up on her feet.”
“Janice? Did you say Janice? Is that Janice Kelleigh, Mike G’s girlfriend?” Before he could answer, an alarm went off in my head. “WAIT a MINUTE!! Are you saying that this spray somehow, I don’t know, duplicates the subject’s personality also?”
The doctor grinned like a kid in a candy store. “That’s the beauty of it. The data contained in the body’s DNA is essentially the same, whether the cell that produced the DNA came from the scalp, the stomach or a fingernail. This formula awakens just enough ‘brainpower’ to be able to heed commands, and respond to outside stimuli, but not enough to be proactive. That is, it can react to you, but it can’t do anything on its own.”
“So, if I read you correctly…” I trailed off, thinking of other things. I walked about five feet from where I had been standing, then, turning to the leggings, I said, “Come here.” The pair of leggings obediently walked towards me, stopping at about the same distance from me as where we first stood and placing the toes of its left foot over the toes on my right. Intrigued even more, I said, “Turn around and walk back to where you were before,” which they did, giving me the first unencumbered view I’d had of Janice’s behind since she began going out with Mike. All kinds of uses for this stuff began popping into my mind.
“Got a girlfriend?” the doctor asked, startling me. I had momentarily forgotten he was there, even though I was in his lab.
“Uh, right now, I’m between girlfriends. Why do you ask?”
“I thought you might like to have some fun with a bottle of this stuff,” the doctor said, grinning. “Any woman whose clothing you have access to that comes to mind?”
“Well, I live with my sister Bonnie, but — no, that’s sick,” I replied, repulsed.
“What’s sick about it? After all, we’re only talking about clothing, remember?” He handed me a bottle of the formula, winking as I took it. “It works better with outer clothing. The effect is not quite the same with underwear, or lingerie, or swimwear, or anything like that. Have fun, but take note of what happens. If you start feeling guilty, try to look at it as field testing.”
Another alarm went off in my head. “Did you say that none of the owner’s personality comes out when you spray this stuff? That the reactions are generic?”
“Yeah. I haven’t been able to make anything that will elicit more individual behaviors. You mentioned that those leggings seem to be flirting with you. As much as that seems to be so, that’s a generic female response, not Janice’s response, if that’s what you’re getting at.”
That was exactly what I was getting at. No matter, though. I now held in my hands a formula that would bring to life any woman’s jeans, miniskirts, or any other article of clothing I might care to spray. I had an idea of where I would use it first, just to cause some unrest.
The lingerie department at Worth’s department store was in it’s usual state, that is, bustling, full of women shopping for themselves, and the occasional husband or boyfriend shopping for his significant other. I figured that after the “ghost” scare a few weeks earlier (see
story), this would be the perfect place to play my trick. I milled around, pretending I knew what I was looking for, fully aware that the formula would only work on something that has actually been worn.
I sprayed a few camisoles, stopping only when one of them came to “life”, and a few slips as well. As the last slip I sprayed began to fill out, appearing to hang in space wrapped around an unseen female figure, it suddenly occurred to me that I never did find out how long the formula lasts, or even if it was permanent. I quickly concluded that it couldn’t be permanent, or else the doctor wouldn’t have given me some to take with me. I stood in front of the slip and poked gingerly at its right breast. There was definite resistance, but it was plain to see that there was no one inside it. I embraced it. It felt strange to be holding in my arms what I knew to be an empty piece of clothing and yet feeling some presence behind the fabric. Or, rather, through the fabric.
I watched as the camisole and slip hung there, laughing at the reactions of the customers who came across them. One time, I was a little too visible with my laughter, I found out. One woman fainted at the “ghostly” sight, and I walked right over to where the camisole was, cracking up all the while. I didn’t notice right away that when I went to leave the area, the camisole and the slip floated along behind me.
I got on the escalator, immediately noticing the people staring and pointing at something behind me. I know how people can be whenever they see someone that strikes them as unusual, so I valiantly fought the urge to turn around. After a while curiosity got the best of me and I did turn around, only to see my invisible lingerie-clad entourage. That is, my entourage of lingerie.
I freaked, thinking that the guards would think this was some crazy shoplifting scheme. In fact the guards had seen my following but were too scared to do anything about it. They thought I was being stalked by ghosts, and they didn’t want to be anywhere near me. Once I realized the guards were not going to give me any problem, I recognized a chance to make it up to Bonnie for all the clothes I had “borrowed” from her for some of the doctor’s past experiments. In other words, I was using this for “shoplifting”, in a way.
I went to the women’s sportswear section, picking out a tan halter with a keyhole cutout, a cropped satin indigo t-shirt, and a neon-green tube top. Rather, I picked out at least four of each, not wanting to spray anything until I had assembled complete outfits.
I went to the jeans area and picked out one pair of blue jeans, six pairs of white stretch cotton jeans, three matching jackets, and three vests, thankful that my sister was not a fancy dresser. Well, she does like to show off her figure, as you might have guessed from the tops, but she generally doesn’t wear things that are so tight that they stick to her, nor does she have expensive taste.
I obviously couldn’t go into the ladies’ dressing rooms, so I had to find a large open (and clean) area in the store where I could spread the clothing on the floor, assembling each outfit before spraying. Fortunately, the first outfit I put together (tube top, denim jacket, blue jeans) came to life right away. Then I had an idea that would save me the trouble of spraying everything I was planning to take with me. Instead of spraying individual articles of clothing, I’d see if I could find a garment that would cover most of the body, a unitard or catsuit or bodysuit or something, that could put other pieces of clothing on over itself.
As I walked around with all these pieces of women’s clothing in a shopping cart, getting angry stares from my fellow shoppers (most of them female), the blue jeans outfit I had already sprayed did its best to stay planted at my right, turning those stares less angry and more frightened. Any time I stopped walking, the outfit would stand up against me, leaning on me actually, almost like a lovestruck girlfriend. As enjoyable as it was to have the full figure of whoever last wore these clothes pressing against me, I didn’t want to be distracted from my real reason for being in the store. “Here, make yourself useful, if you’re going to follow me around,” I said to it, taking items from the shopping cart and placing them in the denim jacket’s outstretched arms.
Before I sprayed anything else I found a grey-heather full-body catsuit in Bonnie’s size, the kind that covers everything but the head (no, don’t even think that — she always said she wanted one, and I had a lot of ruined clothes to make up for). I picked up six of them, spraying each one as I took it from the rack. Each suit filled out immediately (and very nicely, I should add), one of them turning slowly from side to side, as if someone were inside and aware that I was admiring its curves. The woman who had last worn it must have been a bit of a ham, or maybe she was flirting with another customer in the dressing room. Whatever. I took it by the hand and led it to an open area, with the blue jeans outfit and the other catsuits following. I had two of the catsuits put on tan halters with vest and jeans; two put on the cropped shirts with jeans and vest; and two put on green tube tops with jeans and jacket. As the last of the “undressed” catsuits put on the tube top over itself, the blue jeans outfit positioned its sleeves as it it were putting its hands on its hips; after a minute or so it crossed its denim sleeves across its tube top chest and began tapping its black Dr. Scholl’s walking shoes. Could the blue jeans outfit have been jealous, of all things? Not if what the doctor told me was correct.
I uncrossed the blue jeans outfit’s arms and directed it to the shopping cart, which still held the unused items. Then I told the blue jeans outfit and one of the tan-haltered catsuits, “Put the things in the shopping cart back where they belong, then come back here.” The two then left to do as they had been told.
Wherever the two outfits went in the store, people would run screaming to get away from the two “ghosts.” None of them stopped to realize that the outfits weren’t there to do them any harm. Both were only doing as they had been told, but still I got the feeling that, at least with some of these garments, some of the last wearers’ personalities were coming through. Women in general don’t flirt with me, but that was definitely what those leggings were doing. That must have been “left over” from Janice. I was sure of it, even though the doctor said otherwise.
In the meantime, I had another of the suits go to the rack where they came from, remove two more suits from the rack, and spray them. The suit did, and the three suits reported to where I was waiting. I had one put on a pair of white stretch-denim shorts and a matching vest. I had the second suit put on a white sheer lace-mesh t-shirt and white miniskirt that stopped at about mid-thigh. I suppose it could have been a micro-mini for all the difference it would have made. At this point, I was playing “director of a fashion show,” almost forgetting until the first catsuit returned with the blue jeans outfit that these clothes were for my sister, and not for my own enjoyment. Well, I thought, she definitely won’t need all these catsuits. I guess I’ll give her two.
I began to wonder what I would do if the management or security people stopped me. What could I do if they tried to do something about the clothes I was walking out with? Actually, I thought, correcting myself, I’m not walking out with them, they’re walking out with me.
Anyway, the catsuit returned, and I couldn’t resist putting my right arm around its waist as I led it, the camisole, the slip, the blue jeans outfit, and the other seven catsuits out of the store. It returned the gesture, putting its left arm, around me. Then, I had yet another idea. I turned to my entourage and said, “All of you, go ahead of me. I’ll tell you which way to go.” They did, giving me a nice view of seven white-cloth- covered butts. Right away, almost as if it were a jealous reaction (again!), the blue jeans outfit approached me on my left and placed its right denim sleeve around me. I stopped walking, looking down at its rather abundant cloth-covered front spread, and wondered how many guys would have given both arms and legs to be in the position I was in. In the frame of mind I was in at that moment, I was thinking that this might even be better than invisible women. After all, these don’t talk back, I don’t have to feed them, they can’t ever complain about having nothing to wear, or about anything else for that matter, I thought.
On my way to the back entrance of the store, my eyes kept drifting to the miniskirted catsuit. Something about those grey-heather-covered legs extending from a tight white skirt made it stand out among all that white-clad fineness.
I honestly don’t remember another person being in the store when I finally did leave. That may have been because they had all been scared out of their wits by these apparent “ghosts,” or maybe because I was preoccupied with other things. Only when I got to my Grand Cherokee did I realized that I had kind of overdone it. Where was I going to put all these clothes? What was I going to do if I got stopped?
While I tried to figure out how I was going to get all those clothes into my SUV, I noticed that not too far away a young man was watching my procession. He scanned all this curvaceous scenery, then looked quizzically at me. I had
no idea what to do or what to say to him. I just shrugged, with a sheepish grin on my face. He grinned back, bowed, and yelled, “You da man!! I don’t know how you did . . . whatever you did, but you da man!”
I felt like I should do something for him. He was the first person to acknowledge all this without running and screaming. I motioned for the miniskirted catsuit to come to me. While it did, I told the tan-haltered suit on my right, the one I had my arm around, “I think that man over there would like you to go with him.” I moved my arm from its side and took its jacket; it left my side and walked over to him just as the miniskirted sut approached me. I put my right arm around it and watched as the man’s new gift approached him. The man’s smile grew so wide I thought his face would break. When the suit approached him by the trunk of his car, he quickly ran to the passenger door and opened it for his new passenger. “She” got in; he closed the door behind “her”, smiled at me as he gave the thumbs-up sign, and ran to get in the car on the driver’s side. I didn’t stay around long enough to see his reaction when he found out that what he probably thought was some fantasy invisible woman was in fact DNA-enhanced clothing. I’m sure he was happy just the same.
I had the miniskirted suit and the jealous jeans outfit sit in the front seat with me, three more sat in the back seat, two sat in the footwells in front of the back seat, and the rest (including the slip and the camisole) had to lie down flat in the luggage hatch.
We got to my building, fortunately with no audience in sight. Good, I thought. I won’t have to answer any questions. Some of my neighbors are so superstitious, I still shudder to think about what they might have thought, or, even worse, what they might have done, or tried to do. I opened the doors and helped my cloth passengers out of the SUV and led them all to my apartment. I was pretty glad that Bonnie was out of town; I had no idea how I would have explained all this to her. I led the slip, camisole, and four of the suits to the guest room. Why, I don’t know. It’s not like they were going to sleep. Actually they didn’t do much of anything, just kind of vegetated until the formula wore off. The others I led to Bonnie’s room.
I started off towards the living room, stopping to grab two of the suits by the hand, the miniskirted one and the one wearing shorts. I led them to my favorite chair in the living room, right in front of the television. I turned on the TV and sat down, pulling the two suits down into my lap. The suits complied and I put my arms around them. I grabbed the TV remote and began channel-surfing. I stopped at a music video show and instantly the two catsuits were up on their feet, moving to the music. I just sat and stared, not believing what I was seeing. These suits weren’t doing any simple two-step just so it could be said that they were dancing; they were doing some serious Soul Train moves. I watched these suits for a good while, not wanting to ruin their “show” with my pathetic dancing.
Then I thought about Janice, and the bag of clothes she had left with Bonnie just before they went away. I wondered if she knew just what the doctor had in mind when she donated, or lent, him her leggings. I also wondered what she would think if she knew what I was doing with the formula she had indirectly helped Dr. Cotton with.
By the time my usual bedtime rolled around, all the outfits were fully deflated, looking like regular clothing. I was concerned about whether the formula would damage the clothes, so I did a quick inspection and found that everything looked fine. After all, two of the catsuits and all of the other clothes were for Bonnie, or so I kept telling myself. There were, of course, catsuits and other clothes all over Bonnie’s bedroom and the guest room, but I figured I’d clean that up in the morning before I went to work. Or maybe I’d spray one of the catsuits and make it clean up.
I went in the living room and tried to find something on TV to help me wind down so I could get to sleep, but all I could think about was Janice, and her clothes in the shopping bag in the living room where she left them. I figured the least I could do is wash them and have them clean and ready for her when she comes back.
When I looked into the bag I found the top and slacks I had expected to find, and then there was a surprise. Janice had her own full-body catsuit, one with the head attached. I didn’t even see a seam in this thing, other than the seams that held the zipper in place. I wouldn’t have imagined that Janice would wear something like that. Must have been where Bonnie got the idea…
I washed the white jersey and blue slacks, making sure to use stain remover on the food stains that were on them.That was the reason Janice left them here to begin with, because of a mishap at a restaurant just before Janice and Bonnie left town for a few days. After I took them from the dryer and spread them out on the bed to fold them, the formula popped into my mind. No, I can’t do that, I thought. After all, she’s somebody else’s fiancÃƒÂ©e, and I’ve already messed with some of her clothes today. I can’t…
Finally tiring of arguing with myself, I retrieved the spray bottle and a large plastic garbage bag. I ripped the bag open and placed it on the bed and put the catsuit on top of the bag. I sprayed the catsuit, telling myself all along that I shouldn’t but doing it anyway. In two minutes, I was looking down at the figure of Janice Kelleigh lying across my bed.
I took the catsuit’s left hand and pulled ‘Janice’ up off the bed and into my arms. “She” put “her” arms around me and hugged me. I broke away from “her” and turned on the stereo, finding a Spanish language station on the radio. I knew Janice was partial to salsa. Sure enough, Janice’s catsuit started dancing just as if Janice were inside it. I knew how to do those dances, more or less, but salsa was never really my music, so I followed “her” lead.
My brain was having some trouble processing the whole idea. I found myself standing behind the catsuit, meaning to unzip it to make sure there was no one inside. “She” was having none of it; ‘she’ just refused to stand still, at first. After teasing me for a good five minutes or so, she finally relented and stood still. When I finally got the thing unzipped, I saw that there was indeed no one inside. I even waved my hand around inside the suit to make sure that I wasn’t somehow missing something. I wasn’t missing something because there was nothing to miss. After I zipped it closed, it turned to face me, and I could swear that I saw what looked like movement underneath the fabric where the face would be, as if ‘she’ was smiling at me.
“You’re just having all kinds of fun with me, huh?” I asked. “She” nodded her head, still seeming to smile at me. “You’re just a big flirt, you know that?” I asked. “She” nodded and stepped closer, putting her arms around my neck and rubbing her nose against mine. That did it. I was sure that the doctor miscalculated, or else he had finished the final version of his formula, the one that would give some personality along with movement, and unknowingly gave me some of that.
I pointed to Janice’s clothes on the bed and said to the catsuit, “Do me a favor and put these on.” “She” complied, in “her” own teasing way. First, it pulled the jersey on over itself and began dancing again (I hadn’t turned off the stereo). After ‘she’ had danced bottomless for about five minutes while I watched in rapt attention, ‘she’ then took the slacks and put them on, leaving them unzipped at first as ‘she’ continued dancing. I looked at what appeared to be a cloth-wrapped woman in imminent danger of losing her pants. After a couple of minutes I hooked one of the belt loops in “her” pants and pulled “her” close. “She” turned around, and before ‘she’ could react I zipped “her” pants.
“This is so weird, but I’m kind of glad I did it,” I said out loud. “She” responded by turning her back to me and backing up until ‘she’ was leaning against me. The suit then began wiggling its butt back and forth against me. Then I put my arms around the catsuit and lost it. In that moment I was transported. I would have sworn to anyone who asked that Janice herself was there. I began kissing this catsuit on its neck and shoulders. It turned to face me and put its arms around my neck. I pulled it close and almost drunkenly began kissing it…where the lips would be if there were someone inside. My lips were met by . . . well, lips. Cloth-covered lips. “She” was kissing me back.
Just then I kind of snapped back to reality, and despair started to set in. Not enough to end the scene that I was playing out, but enough to dampen my spirits just a little. We stood there holding one another for I have no idea how long. I had long wanted to kick myself for not taking advantage of the opportunity to date Janice before Mike came into the picture, and I didn’t know if I’d ever get the chance to just hold Janice the way I was holding her clothes that night. I sighed when it occurred how futile that whole maneuver was. Then ‘Janice’ seemed to sigh also! There was no sound, of course, but the sensation of “her” chest rising and falling as lungs filled up with air and released it matched to a T what we do when we sigh. Everything seemed to be just what I was sure Janice would do if she were there in person. I realized that I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do with “her” at that point; ‘she’ didn’t have the equipment. There was something I could do, though.
around,” I said. “She” did as ‘she’ was told, turning around and holding “her” arms out at the sides so I could hold these clothes from behind. The outfit began rubbing its behind back and forth against me again as I cupped my hands over “her” chest. I was sure this would make me feel better, but it only made me feel worse. I couldn’t run my fingers through her hair, couldn’t look into her eyes, couldn’t hear her melodious voice. Sure I could have called Bonnie and asked her to put Janice on the phone, but I always let something or other get in the way when decisive action just might have gotten me what I wanted, what I needed. A relationship with Janice.
“Take those clothes off, and put them on the bed,” I said to the suit. Again the catsuit toyed with me, pulling Janice’s jersey over its head slowly to make sure I got a long look at “her” not-exactly-exposed chest. I couldn’t resist. I poked “her” in the chest, since that almost seemed like what “she” wanted me to do. At that point the suit stopped trying to take off the jersey and just sat there with the top pulled up over its head and made the motions of inhaling and exhaling. As I stood there staring at this catsuit with a jersey pulled up over its head, with its upper torso expanding and contracting in what looked for all the world like breathing motions, I realized that up until that point, other than the simulated sigh, there had been no indication of breathing. This outfit was playing this role to the hilt.
“Take as long as you like, but I do have to go to work in the morning,” I said, thinking that might be enough to stir “her” to move a little faster. It wasn’t. Janice’s catsuit sat there with Janice’s jersey pulled up over its head until it was good and ready to take the jersey off. Finally, after I had gotten undressed myself, “she” pulled the jersey off and put it on my bed. Then “she” just sat there with “her” arms crossed.
Instead of just telling her to take the pants off also, I asked. “She” shook her head. “Oh, so you’re going to make me take them off you?” I said, not quite sure that I wanted this challenge. “She” smiled and nodded. “You just wanted me to wrestle those pants off you in my underwear, didn’t you?” I asked. “She” smiled and nodded again. Oh well, at least it should be fun, I thought.
“Fun” doesn’t begin to cover it. It was…ecstasy. We mock-wrestled for a good long while, before “she” let me get the best of her. As much as I hate to admit it, wrestling with this…this catsuit that thought it was my friend’s fiancee felt good. I took the pants off ‘her,’ folded them and put them and the jersey in a shopping bag for Janice to pick up when she got back into town. The catsuit then walked over to me and put its arms around my neck and rested its chin against my shouder. I reached down and held onto “her” behind. I caught myself before I forgot again that this wasn’t an actual woman, and moved my hands. As natural as this might have felt, I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t. Then the clock struck one.
I had lost all track of time. I decided that I needed a snack before I went to bed, and suddenly another job for ‘Janice’ came to mind. I said to ‘her,’ “Go in the kitchen and take a small bowl and a spoon from the dishwasher, then go over to the freezer and fill the bowl about halfway with vanilla-fudge ice cream and bring it here to me.”
“She” got the spoon and bowl, filled the bowl halfway with ice cream, and brought the bowl over to where I was sitting. “She” placed the bowl on the table in front of me, sat in my lap, and pretended that “she” was going to eat the ice cream ‘herself.’ I had to chuckle. “You know you can’t do anything with that stuff, don’t you?” I said to the suit. “She” shrugged and fed me a spoonful of ice cream. Before long I had finished the ice cream; “she” then took the bowl and spoon into the kitchen and washed them in the sink.
Just then I remembered the other clothes in Bonnie’s room and the guest room. “Um…” I started, suddenly realizing I had no idea what to call this thing. I started to call it Janice, then changed my mind. That would have been just too weird, so I just spoke. “We need to do something with all those other clothes,” I said. Of course it couldn’t have had any idea what clothes I was talking about since it didn’t really exist until after the formula had worn off on all the other clothes. I led it into the guest room first, where we picked up and folded each item and put them into a large plasic shopping bag that I was going to surprise Bonnie with.
Then we went into Bonnie’s room. We were doing the same thing, picking up the clothes from the floor, the bed, and wherever else they were in the room, when the suit pointed to a picture and reacted in what could only have been shock. It pointed to the picture with one hand while covering the lower part of its “face” with the other. I looked at the picture in question and recognized it as a photo of Janice with Bonnie and Mike. I had taken the photo just a month earlier.
It seemed like the very essence of the word “eerie” at first, until I thought about how I would react if I came across an exact double of myself in a context that would make it seem as if the double was actually me. Of course the suit didn’t know that it was the double. I knew what I was going to have to do, although up to that point I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to. I put my arms around the suit, sat it down on Bonnie’s bed, and told it, “This may come as some shock to you. I know you think you’re Janice–”
At the phrase “you think you’re Janice” the suit’s head jerked upward, facing me. At that point I wished that somehow this thing could have had a face. I took a deep breath and started again. “I know you think you’re Janice, but you’re not. You’re…you’re…” Dr. Cotton should be doing this, I thought. How can I do this without shocking “her” more than I evidently have to? “You’re actually a DNA pattern left behind in skin flakes that rubbed off Janice when she last wore this catsuit. In other words, you’re basically a clone.”
It flinched in another shocked reaction. I guided it to a mirror. I couldn’t believe that up until this time it hadn’t seen itself in one of Bonnie’s mirrors.
With my right arm around it, I said, as soothingly as I could manage, “See how different your skin is from mine? That’s because it’s not skin, it’s actually fabric. The DNA in the skin flakes reacted to a chemical made up by a doctor friend of mine. The reaction caused the fabric to take the shape of the DNA’s donor, which was Janice. That’s why you think of yourself as Janice, but you’re really not. Janice is out of town with my sister.” Could I really be on some really elaborate version of Candid Camera or Lento Loco or something? I thought.
It went into the bathroom and started to close the door, but I caught the door just before it closed and went in behind it. All it did was look at itself from almost every angle in the full-length mirror behind the door. In the meantime, the clock kept ticking. I wasn’t sure if Dr. Cotton had enough pull to cover for me if I missed work because of his handiwork, but it was obvious that I was going to have to either wait for the formula to wear off, or wash the fabric out of the catsuit. I picked the latter. “I really hate to have to do this to you, but I’m going to have to take you to the shower to . . . to . . . to wash the formula out of you — um, to wash you away. You understand what that means, don’t you?” I asked. “She” shook “her” head no and ran out of the room.
Suddenly I felt very bad for spraying Janice’s catsuit in the first place. It only seemed like a technical point when the doctor gave me the bottle of his formula, but this was basically a life just the same, one that just found out it really had no identity. Just as I was about to call Dr. Cotton to ask him what in the world do I do now, the catsuit returned to the bathroom, looking down at the floor. Slowly it raised its head and pointed at the shower. “You want me to do it?” I asked. “She” nodded. I began apologizing profusely for having to do it before I realized what I was doing. I was apologizing to what amounted to a force field for having to get rid of it. But this “force field” really thought it was human, and was in fact biological, which meant that what I was about to do amounted to killing it. I really did hate to have to do it, but the longer I kept the suit around like this, the harder it would be to get rid of. I sighed, leading ‘Janice’ into the shower. I stood “her” there and turned on the water to wash the formula out of Janice’s catsuit.
That’s when I got two more surprises. First, the suit seemed to have found its lost sense of humor, or flirtiness, or whatever it was. I guess the water shooting against it had something to do with that. I don’t know.
Second, I had expected the suit to collapse as soon as it got wet. Instead, for a good three minutes there was what you could call a wet T-shirt effect. The catsuit appeared to be sticking to the wet curvaceous form of Janice inside it, but of course there was no one inside the suit. At that point, the suit clasped its hands together behind its back, enhancing the wet T-shirt effect on its front spread even more. Even as I was trying to wash the formula out of it, the catsuit flirted and toyed with me.
After another minute, I succumbed to my misguided attraction to the real Janice; I reached into the shower to turn off the water. As I did, the catsuit grabbed my hand and shook its head
no. It wanted to go! I couldn’t believe it. I had to ask…
“You mean you really want to go!?”
“She” slowly nodded yes.
This made sense to me. After all, the poor thing had just found out that its identity really wasn’t its own at all. Also, I realized that if there was actually a touch of Janice’s personality in the left-behind DNA guiding the catsuit’s actions, then stopping me from turning off the water, even after all that flirting, probably meant that Janice herself must have had some attraction to me, but not enough to induce her to leave Mike for me.
With all the confusing and contradictory thoughts and emotions swirling around in my head at that point, I didn’t want to stay in the bathroom and wind up doing something foolish, so I left, returning in five minutes to find a wet empty catsuit in heap in the bathtub. Written in the condensation on the bathroom window was “I © U.”
Talk about your mixed feelings. I felt like I was stuck in slow motion while everything else around me was normal.
I stood and stared at the catsuit in a heap in the tub, almost afraid to touch it. When the thought finally registered that in the shape it was now in it couldn’t exactly place itself in the dryer, I gingerly picked it up, wrung the excess water from it, and delicately placed it in the dryer, as if I could hurt this piece of fabric.
When it was dry, I folded it and placed it in the shopping bag with Janice’s other clothes, and went to bed. Naturally, I didn’t get a lick of rest all night, thinking about Janice and allowing that maybe these catsuits I was thinking about keeping would only remind me of the one who was getting away.
I finally did get to sleep, but it was restless sleep. I kept dreaming about Janice. One of the dreams was that when I placed Janice’s catsuit in the shower I turned my head, and when I turned back, Janice was standing there, fully dressed but soaking wet.
I didn’t get much done at work that day, obsessing mostly about Janice, convinced that I’d never find someone of my own quite like Janice unless I took action. It might mean losing a friend, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
When I came home from work Bonnie was in the living room, unpacking her suitcases from the trip she had just taken with Janice. One hour later, we got a phone call from Derek, Mike’s brother and Janice’s brother-in-law-to-be. Janice had been in an accident.
Mike was inconsolable after Janice died in a traffic accident. He wouldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, was no good at work (and eventually got fired), and was just generally miserable. I guess I would be too, if a helicopter fell out of the sky onto my girlfriend’s car.
“She’s gone, man. She’s gone. I don’t know what to do with myself,” was how a typical conversation would start, before he would begin reciting yet again her perfect face and features (5’10”, 135 pounds, toned but not especially muscular, peanut-butter-colored skin, curly shoulder-length blonde-streaked light-brown hair, mesmerizing gray-green eyes, quick laugh, beautiful figure — 36-24-37, “around-the-way girl” type…I had done my own inventory many times). Sad as the situation was, it was plain that if not for the accident, they would have broken up before long, and I had already made my own plans about making her my girlfriend. But back to the story…
I went home after the funeral and thought about how we never know just how a situation will play out. I thought about what could have been, about the relationship Janice and I could have had if only.
A week after the funeral, Mike and I were hanging out at his place, talking and drinking beer. After about the 25th or 30th time Mike told his sad story, I figured I’d better do something before he made me crazy. “Mike,” I finally told him, “what if I could do something that would help you feel a little better, so you don’t drive yourself crazy, and me with you?”
What did I ask that for? “Feel better, man? I just lost my girlfriend!! I can’t forget her, and I won’t try. It’s just…I wish I could tell you how it feels to be wrapped in the arms of an angel, to feel that figure against mine, to –”
I had heard more than enough. “Mike, I know. You’ve told me many times. I think I have a temporary solution to your problem. You still have her clothes, right?” He nodded yes, unsure of what I had in mind. I wasn’t sure that I should show him Dr. Cotton’s discovery, both because I wasn’t sure he would be able to handle it and because of my own feelings toward Janice that I would never be able to resolve.
I asked him to go and get some piece of her clothing that held special meaning for him, preferably something that showed some of her figure. He made a face when I mentioned figure, thinking that I was just speaking out of misplaced and badly timed jealousy. “Believe me, Mike, you’ll understand why you’ll want to see some of her figure. Remember, you’re the one always talking about her fantastic body and how it felt to have it against you.” Mike gave me a look like he wasn’t sure just where I was coming from, but he went into the bedroom to get something of Janice’s.
While he was gone, I quietly fought with myself. I knew that now that Janice was . . . deceased, the earlier problem didn’t exist anymore. But should I really do this? Provide for my friend what he is sure to think of as his girlfriend come to life instead of a genetic duplicate (a clone)? I was forced to declare a truce when Mike returned with another full-body catsuit, this one covered with random colors and patterns.
“A full-body catsuit? That was Janice’s?” I said, feigning surprise. Mike just nodded and grinned sadly, handing me the catsuit.
OK, here goes nothin’, I thought. “Alright, Mike,” I said, “I’m just gonna spread the suit out on the couch, like this…and watch. I’m spraying every square inch of the fabric with this solution Dr. Cotton put together. I could explain how it works, but I think a demonstration would work better. Prepare yourself, because this is kind of deep.”
In exasperation, Mike turned away from the couch and began mumbling to himself, “Why did I let you do whatever it is you’re doing? I don’t know if I can handle…” As he spoke, he turned back toward the couch, and became speechless. Between him and the couch, about two arms-lengths away, stood the catsuit-wrapped shape of his just-deceased girlfriend Janice.
“What is it?” he screamed. “Is that a ghost? What is that, man?”
“That, Mike, is what happens when the DNA contained in skin flakes react to the chemicals in this spray Dr. Cotton came up with. For all intents and purposes, that’s Janice. It can’t talk, but it can hear.”
“So it’s not a ghost?”
“Come on, Mike! You know me better than that.”
“But what, then? And how…” Mike trailed off, slowly nearing the color-spangled suit as if it might blow up if he approached it too fast.
“Mike, man, do you really want to know how? Or do you want to enjoy another opportunity to hold the awesome figure in that catsuit?”
By that point, Mike had his arms wrapped around the suit, enjoying what he thought was lost forever: the opportunity to hold, kiss, and just be with his beloved Janice. ‘Janice’ seemed to be holding on to Mike for dear life, almost as if “She” were afraid to let him get away. He turned towards me with a puzzled look on his face. “Umm…” he started.
“It’s just clothes, man. Believe me, it’s only a catsuit. But DNA is DNA, so you could say that the catsuit believes it’s Janice. I know it sounds silly, but–”
He cut me off. “Um…John…” He was clearly having some trouble saying something he really wanted to say. “Do you think that I could find a justice of the peace that would, um, you know…”
“Mike! And I thought I sounded silly! Come on, man, it’s only an piece of cloth. Besides, it can’t say ‘I do.’ It could only shake its head.”
Mike fixed me with the boxer’s stare he perfected back when he was an amateur lightweight. “John, I’m completely serious. I’m not talking about actually being married to this thing, but I do want a ceremony if I can have one. You just don’t know, man. I can’t really explain it.”
“You don’t have to, Mike. I think I understand.”
“Well, if you understand, would you be the best man, if I can get this done? And do you think you could use that understanding to persuade your sister to be the maid of honor?”
Bonnie. Mike wanted me to persuade Bonnie to be the maid of honor at a wedding between her deceased best friend’s bereaved fiancÃƒÂ© and his dead girlfriend’s catsuit. Well, what are friends for, right? “Sure, Mike. I’ll try, anyway.”
When I demonstrated the formula for Bonnie, and told her about how I had used it to get full discounts on clothes to replace what I had ruined, she didn’t react quite like I had envisioned. She appreciated my effort to replace what I took, but not my method. She insisted that I return to the store and pay for the clothes that had followed me out.
Then I told her why I had brought up the formula in the first place. Mike wanted her to be the maid of honor at his weird wedding. Surprise of surprises: Bonnie was all for the idea. She actually thought it was romantic. I don’t know if I’ll ever understand women.
of surprises: The town clerk was just as much a hopeless romantic as Bonnie. He agreed to do it. Personally, I think the idea that he was presiding at a wedding where one of the parties was a catsuit with no one inside it was what did it.
The “bride” was a vision of loveliness, in what could only be called a wedding minidress (Bonnie’s idea) over the catsuit. Janice, around-the- way girl that she was, was also a ham, and it showed when the photographs were taken after the wedding. This suit seemed to want its photo taken from every angle, with the town clerk, the best man, the maid of honor, and the groom and every combination thereof. “She” even took some photos of the rest of us.
The “reception,” if you want to call it that, was held in a local restaurant owned by one of Dr. Cotton’s colleagues, in a private back room. Dr. Cotton insisted that we couldn’t call a private affair for four people a proper wedding reception, even if the wedding itself wasn’t quite “regulation.” He insisted on hiring a DJ, telling the college kid who took the job that the bride was really into role-playing games, and couldn’t be out of character at any time, even during her wedding reception. The DJ did ask why he never heard the bride say a word, even though plenty was said to her. We told him that was part of the game. The suit, just like Janice before it, knew all the latest dances, and even made sure that old stiff-legged me did plenty of dancing, mostly with “her”.
Mike and Bonnie really seemed to hit it off. They had always been friends, but the events that led up to that day helped them to see each other in a totally different light. They made a point of insisting that I keep the clothes Janice had dropped off with Bonnie, and the two full-body catsuits. Fear of causing another identity crisis kept me from using the spray on anything but the suit Mike had gotten “married” to, and even then for no more than a few minutes at a time. Then Dr. Cotton showed me his new formula. Rather, three new formulas.
The first one was a refinement of his original formula, one that leads to “clones” that know they’re clones. No more identity crises.
The second was an “antidote” to the first, a spray that neutralizes the first fomula without affecting the DNA. No more need to wait the formula out, or wash it out; now it could be sprayed out (he later came up with a ointment form, which was meant to be more “fun” since it had to be spread by hand over every square inch of the affected garment).
The third was what he called a “DNA spray,” which was the original form with a sample of donor DNA already mixed into the formula. This third formula would reproduce fully the personality of the DNA donor, and could be used on any garment, not only one that’s been previously worn. I took all three formulas and ran with them (so to speak).
With Dr. Cotton’s cooperation I opened the Otherworld Stock Photo Agency. I dealt in all kinds of photos but my specialty was photos of “women” in catsuits. The clients didn’t know any better, so I raked it in. I did “lease” out my “women” for parties, grand-openings, and whatnot. Modeling agencies whould ring my phone off the hook, trying to get me to hire some of their models for photo shoots, or trying to find out which of their competitors was supplying my models. It was all I could do not to burst out laughing whenever a modeling agency would call to find out if I could let them “borrow” one of my models for a day (I never did; couldn’t risk it), or to find out what my fees were. Once in a while a novice photographer would call to find out how I got so many different women to pose in full-body catsuits. When one of them mentioned a fantasy involving an invisible woman in a catsuit, I invited him in to let him in on my secret. He’s now my business partner.
Eleven months after Mike’s “wedding” Mike and Bonnie got married. For real. Bonnie bought four full-body suits and sprayed them with the “clone” formula to use as bridesmaids. Never knew the girl had it in her. That was an interesting wedding for all involved. The Soul Train line at the reception was a blast. I think the groomsmen had a better time at the reception than Bonnie and Mike. And me? Well, let’s just say that thanks to Dr. Cotton and Janice, I don’t exactly live alone anymore.
Categories: inanimate, invisible, mine
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