A Dream (original)

I first wrote this back in 1999 or 2000, the very first story I wrote and posted online. It was basically a stream-of-consciousness thing, written as it came to me, so there is little continuity as you go along in the story. There is a condensed version, based much more closely on the dream that inspired this story. Here is the original. One of these years I’m gonna rewrite it. I’m in the middle of rewriting this, but I’ve been “in the middle of” rewriting this for years now…

This past Wednesday was just “one of those days.” The phone rang off the hook all day long at work, and work just piled up while I was on the phone. I don’t think I was ever happier to see the end of a workday. I had taken the train to work instead of driving, so normally I would have taken the Metro-North train back home. Instead, I decided to catch the bus, so I’d get a chance to take a nap without having to worry about missing my stop, since I get off at the end of the line.

I walked to the downtown TransCenter terminal to be sure I’d get a seat. The bus is usually full by the time it gets to the stop closest to my job, and I was in no mood to stand. I figured the bus would fill up quickly as usual and stay full almost all the way home. Instead, for some reason, the bus was almost empty by the time it reached the Lexington Avenue stop, the last “downtown” stop in White Plains.

As the bus approached the next stop, at Highland Avenue, the driver pulled over as if picking up a passenger, but there was no one waiting at the stop. I looked up and down Post Road and Highland Avenue and didn’t see anyone running to catch the bus. Then I turned toward the front of the bus and saw…

An invisible woman? I rubbed my eyes, sure that I could not be seeing what I thought I was seeing. That didn’t help, so I pinched myself to be sure I was awake. After all, this wouldn’t be the first invisible woman dream I’d ever had, or even the second. But I didn’t seem to be asleep.

What I saw in front of me was a beautifully filled, glittering white catsuit with what looked like attached gloves. But “filled” with what? Above the neckline was…nothing; no neck, no head, no hair, nothing. Yet this suit seemed to be moving of its own accord, as though a very shapely woman of about 5’9″ was wearing it. But there was no one there.

Was I losing my mind? Did someone slip something in my lunch while I wasn’t looking? Was someone from Candid Camera playing some kind of light trick on me? Things like this just don’t happen. But this was happening. I saw it with my own eyes. The outfit moved beautifully, as if a fine, fine woman was moving around in it, except she wasn’t there.

The shethat wasn’t there appeared to be about 36-24-36, with a slightly athletic build (there were subtly defined arm and leg muscles showing through the suit). The combination of the figure and the all-white outfit made it very pleasing to the eye.

After boarding the bus, the suit stopped at the fare box, reached into the purse hanging from its right shoulder, and took out $1.40 for the bus fare. None of this seemed to faze the bus driver in the least. He just waited for the fare to be paid, then drove off as usual.

The outfit then walked to the back of the bus near where I was sitting, but instead of taking a seat it reached for the overhead “commuter bar” to keep its balance while the bus was moving. The outfit had the perfect shape, the right curves in the right places, and I couldn’t help staring. So fine, but no one seemed to be inside.

After what seemed like an eternity of staring, I spoke. I really wasn’t sure what was going on, so I spoke normally, like I would to any woman standing near an empty seat on the bus.

“Excuse me, miss, there’s plenty of room back here if you would like to sit,” I said, hoping it would sit near me. Sure enough, it walked to the last row of seats, across the back of the bus, and sat down right next to me. “She, or it, can hear,” I thought.

The suit then pulled out a magazine from its purse and opened the magazine out as if to read. I just began shaking my head in disbelief. I was sitting next to what seemed very much like an “actual” invisible woman on the bus. (Surely this couldn’t really be happening, could it?) Since it was right next to me, I couldn’t help but stare some more, mostly at its chest, while it “read” its magazine.

After a second eternity, curiosity got the best of me. I reached out to where I expected to touch an invisible face, figuring maybe she forgot to put on her makeup or mask before sheleft home (I had seen enough of those movies to know the routine). All I felt, thought, was the empty space I saw. Almost as a reflex, my hand then migrated downward a bit. When I touched the suit, at the upper part of the left breast (it sat on my right), I did feel some resistance, as if someone or something really was in there. It also flinched slightly, as I expect any woman would when a strange man touches her chest. But whatever this was, it couldn’t be a woman, not without a head. Could it? I mean, could “she”?

Still trying to figure out what or who this was, I reached inside the suit, below the neckline. Nothing. Something was giving this outfit its fine shape, but whatever it was didn’t seem to be inside, unless…

Could it be some kind of shell, or frame? No, that couldn’t be possible. After all, it flinched when my finger brushed against its chest. Besides, no frame or shell could duplicate a figure like this; it moved so freely. A frame would move with herky-jerky motions, or clink and clank. Just to be sure, I poked it again, on its left side. It reacted just like a woman being tickled. That killed that idea, but gave me another.

“It’s ticklish? I gotta check this out,” I thought.

I placed my left hand just below its left armpit and began wiggling my fingertips, with expected results. It was apparently unable to laugh (how could it?); instead, it fidgeted quite a bit, not trying to get away but unable to sit still. I tried again behind its left kneecap, with the same results. Very ticklish. That would suggest that a person is inside. But inside where? Where is this person, if I can’t see her?

I stopped tickling and gently prodded it along its left side. It flinched but made no effort to stop me or get away. Since the outside gave no sign of being just a frame, I decided to check it out from the inside.

I reached inside the suit with my right hand and ran my fingers along the inside, right where it seemed to be pressing against its chest. I mean, her chest. (As you can see, I’m still so confused by this chain of events that I still haven’t settled on what to call them. Oops, I’m giving away the story already). No reaction, and all I felt inside was fabric. No sign of a frame. I pushed outward, against the fabric, which assumed the shape of the fingertips pressing against it. When I removed my hand, though, the fabric assumed its earlier shape, stretched against an unseen breast.

My head was spinning by this point; this was getting to be a bit much for me. I decided to put off my quest for a while. I was still very curious about this fine specimen sitting next to me, but I more or less proceeded as I suppose anyone else might who had his fantasy woman sitting next to him, one who happened to be invisible. Well, maybe not like anyone else would; like maybe only I would.

I took its left…glove in my right hand, squeezed slightly, and said, “I’m sorry about all this poking and prodding, but things like this don’t happen every day, at least not to me. It was always my dream to meet an invisible woman, one that I thought could never come true. I guess I’m just trying to prove to myself that you’re real. You’re very attractive, by the way. I just wish there was a face I could look into while we sit here.”

The glove gently squeezed my right hand. After sitting hand-in-hand for a few minutes, I raised the gloved left “hand” to my lips, kissed it, and held it. The catsuit then got up from its seat and sat in my lap!!

This confused me even more, partly because… well, looking at this catsuit, all filled out like it was, my mind kind of assigned it some weight, know what I mean? But when it sat in my lap, it turned out to be almost weightless. Not completely weightless, like I would expect of apparently unoccupied clothes, but not the weight I would expect from a “woman” with this figure. All kinds of thoughts ran through my mind, but I finally decided to just sit there and put my arms around it. Somehow the catsuit seemed to like that, because it turned sideways, toward my right, and put its right sleeve around my neck. At that point all I could do was savor the moment. After all, what other guy can say that he has ever had an “invisible woman” sitting in his lap?

During all this time, from Highland Avenue in White Plains to the Fisher
Avenue/Mill Road stop in Eastchester, no one got on the bus. In fact, the few other passengers who were on the bus when it left Highland Avenue were gone by the time it reached Eastchester. It was just me, the driver, and this “invisible woman” in white.

Something was bothering me, and I couldn’t quite put it into words. I couldn’t accept that this was really happening. I was sure that any moment I would bolt upright in bed, secure in the knowledge that I had just had a weird dream and nothing more. I decided that since this would turn out to be no more than a dream, I would play it for all it was worth, whatever that turned out to be.

When we got to Mill Road, the driver got out. Liberty Lines drivers rarely get out of the bus en route unless something is wrong, but I thought nothing of it at first. My attention was being drawn elsewhere, but I did notice that the driver didn’t just stay near the bus; he started walking down Fisher Avenue, as if he were going home or anyway not coming back to the bus. After a minute or so, I started thinking maybe another driver would come and finish the run. Maybe he or she was on the 45 and it was running late. While I was wondering when the new driver would get there, the doors closed and the bus pulled off. There was no driver.

At this point, I just knew I was dreaming. I now had an apparent invisible woman sitting in my lap and I’m riding in a bus moving under its own power, without a driver. How could I not be asleep? What made the whole thing more incredible was that the bus was under some kind of control–stopping for lights, changing lanes to go around turning or double-parked cars, stopping for crossing guards. It even stopped at Concordia College to pick someone up, but when she saw no driver, she wouldn’t get on. But try as I might, I couldn’t wake up. That meant I was in a deep, deep sleep or else this was real.

I was sure that Miss Invisible had something to do with the bus situation, so I resumed my quest. I figured this had to be either some kind of ultra-high-tech robot, or else I was asleep, and only by pushing the envelope would I find out which one. I began intently poking and patting and running my hands over just about every inch of the suit, trying to find, I don’t know, a control panel or something. Since it couldn’t communicate verbally, I wasn’t sure why it flinched, since there didn’t appear to be anyone inside the outfit to register pleasure or discomfort; but it did flinch and fidget while I checked it out, while making no effort to stop me, at least not at first. Around the time we came into Mount Vernon, however, it took my right hand in its left glove, which I took to mean “enough.” So I sat there with the catsuit sitting sideways in my lap, its right sleeve around my neck and its left glove in my right hand.

We approached the intersection of Columbus and Lincoln and the bus pulled over. Again, I didn’t see anyone waiting, and since I was otherwise occupied I wasn’t inclined to look around to see if anyone was trying to catch the bus before it pulled away. “Someone” did, however, get on the bus before it pulled off.

I saw what looked for all the world like Lisa Nicole Carson in a tight-fitting long-sleeved brown knit minidress, with brown gloves and white stockings. All that was missing was Ms. Carson herself. This outfit was…hollow, just like the outfit in my lap. In bewilderment I wondered, “What in the world is going on today?” I might even have said it out loud.

This new creature walked right by the farebox without paying (who was going to stop it, anyway?) and walked — make that swaggered — to the back of the bus and stopped about three feet away from me. Again, just like in White Plains, I was staring. I remember my mouth was hanging open, because the suit in my lap, which (as it happens) was wearing a name bracelet with “Kim” engraved on it, let go of my right hand and reached up to push my mouth closed. I snapped at it when it got close to my mouth and caught the glove tips in my mouth and held them there, still staring at the newcomer, which took full advantage of being watched — make that stared at — by doing a slow, 360-degree turn right there in front of me. By this time, of course, all “scientific” interest I had in how this could come about had evaporated. I was just taking it all in, since I’d had “invisible woman” fantasies ever since I was a little boy.

The newcomer finished its solo slow-dance and sat down next to me on my right, where Kim had been sitting. I was still staring at the newcomer, which seemed to be aware that I was staring, and began squeezing my right knee. Hard. I was near sensory overload. Here I was on a bus with no driver heading west on Lincoln Avenue with what would surely be two Jet beauties-of-the-week if only they could be seen (well you could see them, but…), one in my lap with an arm around my neck and the other next to me squeezing my knee.

At first they seemed oblivious to one another, but then Kim pulled its “arm” from around my neck and extended both sleeves outward toward the newcomer, with both index fingers pointing outward. The newcomer responded by moving its glove from my knee and raising both its gloves to meet Kim’s, also with both index fingers pointing at Kim’s. (Right then I noticed the newcomer had a name bracelet also, this one engraved “Lisa.”) They then locked index fingers, left-right, left-right, and shook “hands” that way.

“A secret handshake?” I wondered aloud. “What are you two planning to do to me?” Of course there was no answer. Not even an acknowledgement.

There I was, excited from having seen a fantasy come to “life” in front of my eyes twice in the same day, and now…what? I really didn’t know what the secret handshake meant, but it didn’t seem entirely harmless. After all, if these were just pieces of clothing, then something happened to them, perhaps while their (former) owners were wearing them and mine could be next, maybe with me still in them. And if these are invisible women, what about their heads? How is it my hand can pass right through them? And…

They finished their handshake, then the brown dress shrugged with its gloves outstretched palms upward, which I took to be some kind of question. The catsuit pointed both gloved thumbs toward itself, an answer to the question. The dress then gave the catsuit the OK sign.

“OK, what?” I demanded. “What’s OK?” The dress motioned downward with its sleeves extended in front of it, palms facing down, trying (I guessed) to tell me to calm down.

“I’ll calm down when I know what’s going on,” I said.

The dress pointed at me, mimed lifting food with a fork, then pointed at the catsuit.

“You want me to eat Kim?” I asked jokingly.

They both clapped at this (how could they laugh), then the dress wagged its gloved index finger back and forth to signal no.

“You want me to take Kim out to dinner?”

The catsuit mimed stroking an invisible chin in thought (what chin? she had to mime) before the dress waved it off. It then pointed at Kim, made a stirring motion, and pointed at me.

“Kim’s gonna cook for me?” The dress gave the OK sign and went back to “massaging” my leg while the catsuit put its sleeve back around my neck.

“I take it the two of you are good friends?” The dress entwined its gloved index and middle fingers of its right hand. “And neither of you is bothered by what the other is doing right now?”

Both shrugged. Good enough for me. I took Kim’s left hand in my left hand, took Lisa’s left in my right, and we sat that way until we got near their stop.

As the bus approached Hartley Park, both began getting ready to get off the bus. Kim moved its left sleeve from behind my neck, and Lisa let go my hand to gather its things, after which it went back to kneading my knee. When the bus turned the corner at Sidney Avenue, they both got up to get off the bus. The bus stopped and the doors opened, without either of them signalling for a stop. We all got off, right in front of 10 East Sidney Avenue, across from the Empress Ambulance garage. We went in, and both Kim and Lisa began digging in their purses for keys. After a few moments, they stopped digging and Kim rang the bell for apartment #2.

The buzzer rang immediately to let us in. When we got to the door, the catsuit knocked and someone inside opened the door. Kim went in and I started in after it, but the dress grabbed my right hand and pulled me back out into the hallway. Once I was facing it, it put its right sleeve on my left shoulder while still holding my right hand in its glove. Then I put my left arm around its waist. It liked that, because it did a little wiggle that made me wish I wouldn’t ever have to let go. But I knew that sooner or later I’d wake up…

We stood there like that for a few minutes. I started thinking about what I would tell the people I was supposed to meet at home at 6:30. Do I tell them I was delayed because I met two “invisible women” on the bus? Do I make up a story? Or do I just play off the lateness, like it was just “one of those things”? I decided I’d deal with that later. Carpe diem, and all that.

Lisa snapped me out of my haze by wrapping its sleeves around me tight. I figured maybe it was trying to prevent me from going inside for some reason. I tried my best not to think too much about it. I was having way too much fun to mess it up with worrying.

After a few minutes, I said aloud, “Do me a favor and turn around.” It did, raising its sleeves so I could hold it from behind. As I did, it began gently swaying back and forth, then just wiggling its butt back and forth against me. It seems like we stood there like that for ages. Then I started smelling food cooking; it was coming from Kim’s
open apartment door. It was time for us to go.

As I let go, Lisa reached into its purse and handed me a card. It had no name, just an address, phone number (don’t know how that worked), and the words “REMEMBER ME.”

“How could I forget?” I said. “You’re the finest thing I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t forget you if I wanted to.”

It squeezed my right hand in both its hands, then turned and walked slowly down the hall to apartment #5. Whether the slow walk was from not wanting to go or from knowing she was being watched, I don’t know. I freely admit I had been staring at the dress’ rear end from the moment it let go of my hand. Then something touched my left hand, and I jumped a little.

It was Kim. It clapped a few times.

“Stop laughing at me,” I said.

It clapped again, then grabbed my left hand and pulled me into the apartment. Just before I stepped in, I glanced out the front door of the building and saw that the bus was still in the same spot it dropped us off from. I wondered why it was still there. After all the drivers are usually in such a hurry that they don’t even come to a full stop to drop off and pick up passengers, just a kind of running stop, making people jump. Then again, this bus had no driver…

Then I entered the apartment, and was floored by what happened next.

The next thing I remember clearly was hearing a loud ringing soud. I opened my eyes and found myself lying on the floor not far from the entrance to Kim’s apartment, sore all over. When I put my hands over my ears, the ringing didn’t stop. I looked around and saw another Lisa Nicole Carson-figure lookalike — this one in a black bodysuit with long sleeves, black mesh gloves (no lace?) and black skips. This new suit crouched in a hokey “karate” stance, like it was waiting for me to get up so it could pounce on me again. Just like the first two, there didn’t appear to be anyone inside this shapely outfit.

I stirred a little, and the bodysuit (just for the sake of a name I’ll call it Renee) took a couple of steps in my direction. I put my hands under me to push myself up, and the suit took another step towards me. Just then Kim came running in and grabbed Renee. Renee shook Kim off and pointed at me. The catsuit began crossing its sleeves then pulling them away in a “slashing-the-air” motion that usually means “cut it out.” Then it extended both sleeves forward towards me with the palms facing each other, pulling its palms inward until one glove was on top of the other, both against its abundant torso, which I took to mean “he’s with me.”

The bodysuit clasped its gloves together and walked slowly toward me. Stopping right next to me, “she” offered an outstretched glove to help me up. I hesitated, since that glove may have put me down there. It motioned “come on” with the other glove, so I took the hand and let it pull me up. The bodysuit then embraced me, which I took as an apology. Then I decided to take advantage of the situation. After all, I had now hit the jackpot three times in one day.

I was about to ask Renee to let me hold “her” from behind like I did Lisa. Then I had a better idea.

“Could you stand behind me and put your arms around me?” I asked. I figured that since none of this was real anyway, I should keep on milking it, and if I didn’t wake up then, it must be real.

Without any hesitation, the bodysuit walked behind me, turned around, and put its sleeves around me. After a few minutes I moved its “arms” from around me and turned around to face it. Lisa then put its sleeves around my neck while I put my arms around its waist. I thought aloud, “Too bad there’s no music.”

At that, Kim walked over to the stereo and played one of those “Smooth Grooves” CDs. I found myself momentarily thinking of them as actual women again, wondering that Kim was so willing to share me with “her” friends and let them be so affectionate towards me. But then I snapped out of it; it was obvious these weren’t women, if they were even real at all. Maybe this really was no more than a fantasy. Maybe…

Renee must have sensed that my mind was wandering, because right at that moment it wrapped its gloves around my neck and pretended to choke me, snapping my mind to attention. We held each other close and slow-danced for at least half an hour, with Kim right there as a spectator. I started feeling funny about paying so much attention to Lisa and Renee and so little to Kim.

Then I caught myself. I told myself that I was only having a really vivid dream, that none of it was really happening. That’s why I asked each of them to humor me somehow. The fact that they each did, so readily and so freely, convinced me that something here was unreal somehow. I mean, here I was getting attached to invisible…somethings, not exactly women, and everybody knows that there’s no such thing as an invisible woman (or whatever these were). But I had tried to wake myself up, and nothing happened. That would mean I was awake, wouldn’t it? But then again…

Kim tapped my left shoulder to cut in, bringing my mind back to the “present.” I let go of Renee. It took my right hand and squeezed it with both gloves, just like Lisa did earlier, then walked away slowly, just like Lisa. I watched intently as it walked away, just like I had with Lisa.

Kim stepped in front of me and put its sleeves around my neck while I put my arms around the catsuit’s waist. After we slow-danced for a while, Renee turned on the radio and tuned in to 97.9, the Spanish station. Immediately Kim kicked into high gear, swaying and sashaying like a hyperactive Latina. I couldn’t keep up, never having learned any of those dances. Kim took my hand and did a slow run-through of some of the dances it was doing. I tried mightily to follow its steps, but couldn’t keep up, not even slowly.

Kim clapped at my clumsy dancing, then pushed me backward onto a couch. I plopped down and watched while it and Renee put on a show for me. After a few minutes, the doorbell rang. Renee answered it, letting Lisa come dancing in to join its friends.

They fell into a formation of Kim in the middle and Renee and Lisa (the two Lisa Nicole Carson figure-alikes) on either side, putting on the best dance routine I’d ever seen up close. Again I started getting that funny feeling that none of this was really happening. I mean, here I was, sitting and watching three poetically-shaped, tantalizingly-dressed “invisible women” perform a private dance routine just for little old me. How could this be real?

After a few minutes, I asked no one in particular, “Do you have a camera? I have to get some pictures of this. No one would believe me without some kind of proof.” Immediately all three stopped dancing and began making the same cut-it-out slashing motions that Kim had made earlier. “No pictures?” More waving. ” Not even for myself? No one else has to see them.” Each folded its sleeves across its torso, none of them making a move to locate a camera. “What if I promise?” Renee raised its right sleeve, bent at the elbow, with its palm facing outward. I took that to mean “do you swear?” I said, “I don’t develop my own film, so I can’t guarantee that no one else will see them. All I can promise is that I won’t show them to anyone. Kim extended its sleeves forward, fingers outstretched, but pointing down, meaning, I guessed, “is that the best you can do?” “That’s all I can guarantee. I can’t control what others do, but I won’t show the pictures to anyone. That I promise.” The three of them huddled, with much gesticulating. It was amazing to me that they could understand one another so well while seemingly unable to speak. After all, gestures without speech can be so easily misunderstood.

It was then that I realized that not only did these outfits gesture so often and freely to communicate, but even physical contact between them served as communication. They rested their hands on one another’s shoulders, held one another’s hands, and so on. As one walked by another the one passing would bump hips with the one she was passing, or pat the other one on the behind. I supposed this was to make up for not being able to speak and also not being able to communicate through facial expressions, since that would require having faces… having heads. I did occasionally notice one separated from the others but still gesturing. I didn’t know what that was about. Maybe talking to themselves?

Before this I had never thought much about how much we communicate with just our faces. These “girls” weren’t merely being ultra-affectionate towards one another and me, they were communicating without benefit of speech or the ability to “make faces.” They could read my expressions, though… somehow… so evidently they didn’t expect me to be quite as touchy-feely. Then again, there was that bus ride with Kim…

A blinding flash of light caught my attention. Then another, followed by applause. Kim had gone and gotten the camera while I was lost in thought. I guess they had decided to have some fun with me first.

Lisa and Renee came over to me, pulled me up from the couch, and stood on either side of me. I put my arms around their waists and they each put an sleeve around mine, with each one resting it’s glove on the other’s behind. Kim snapped away, then handed the camera to Lisa so they could change places.

After a couple of pictures, Renee stepped away, leaving Kim and I with arm-in-“arm” around each other. Lisa took a couple of pictures with us like that, then I held Kim from behind for a couple more. The catsuit wiggled as soon as it was against me; I was happy that it was wiggling. Then after a few minutes I picked Kim up, to much applause from Lisa and Renee. Kim put its sleeves around my neck and Lisa snapped
away. Then I put Kim down. “Wanna ride my shoulders?” I asked. The catsuit waved for me to get on with it. Couldn’t wait, I guess.

It stood in front of me with its legs slightly apart. I got on all fours behind it and crawled forward until my head had passed its knees. Then I took hold of its legs and stood up.

More applause from Lisa and Renee, and more pictures. Then Kim began lightly squeezing my neck between its thighs, then no so lightly, like maybe it was not trying to hurt me but cause me discomfort. When I put the suit down I guess it decided it was payback time.

Kim raised its gloves to my face and began running its fingers softly back and forth across my face. Renee now had the camera, and Lisa held up a clear plastic bag with a dozen rolls of new film. I got the message.

Kim now began poking at my shirt with both gloves. Lisa clapped while Renee clicked. After a few minutes, Kim pulled the bottom of my shirt out of my pants and reached up inside my shirt with both hands and began running its fingertips back and forth across my chest and stomach. Renee now handed Lisa the camera.

Kim began poking at my legs. The catsuit pushed me backwards onto the couch and unzipped my pants. This was getting to be embarrassing, but I figured I had it coming. I also thought, “if this was only a dream, I’d be awake by now, so this must be real. Real awkward and embarrassing.”

Kim reached into my unzipped pants and poked gently two or three times. For some reason I wanted to tell it to stop, but the word wouldn’t come out. Lisa was still taking pictures. Kim then unbuckled my belt, tucked my shirt back in, rebuckled my belt and zipped my pants, smacking its gloves together.

“I know I had that coming,” I said, “but you didn’t make any effort to stop me or get away back there on the bus, so I didn’t think it was bothering you. Why didn’t you make an effort to stop me, if it was bothering you?”

Kim raised its right glove, with the thumb and index finger about a quarter-inch apart.

“You’re saying it didn’t bother you that much?”

It gave the OK sign, then made fanning motions with both hands. Not what you expect to see from empty clothing…

“I, um, understand,” I said. “I didn’t mind either when you got your payback. It was a little embarrassing, though. I don’t know if I was embarrassing you back on the bus. I mean, there wasn’t anyone else on the bus.”

Kim put its “hands” on its hips. “Oh no,” I thought, “I’m making it mad. I better backtrack or I won’t get any of those pictures I wanted to take.”

I said to it, “I’m not saying that it was OK for me to manhandle you on the bus like that, but I was only trying to figure you out. You weren’t trying to figure me out when you womanhandled me.”

Lisa and Renee saw the storm brewing and came to my rescue. Lisa handed me the camera while Renee tried to lead Kim to a good spot for me to take pictures of the three of them. Kim balked, refusing to move.

“That’s all right,” I told them. “I made her mad, and sometimes you have to stew for a while before you can get over it. In the meantime, let’s take some pictures.”

Lisa and Renee turned out to be natural hams, posing for shot after shot. While I took their pictures, the catsuit went into another room. A couple of minutes later a cropped white t-shirt, white shorts, and white tights emerged from the room Kim had gone into. I saw, but paid no mind, at least at first.

After I had finished three rolls, I said to them, “I wanna do something different.” As if on cue, the new all-white outfit came over and pulled of the t-shirt, giving me an opportunity to get pictures of what appeared to be a half-dressed invisible woman. “Kim?” I said. The new outfit waved at me, wiggling the fingers of the gloves it was now wearing, which seemed to be — which were — floating in space. Kim walked over to me and took both of my hands in its gloves, which I took to be an attempt to make up.

“I’m sorry, too,” I said. “Sometimes I talk too much.”

The gloves squeezed my hands, then Kim started posing for once-in-a-lifetime pictures. I was actually taking pictures of what seemed to be the dressed bottom half of a woman, just white shorts and tights.After I had finished another roll, the cropped top that had been pulled off was pulled back down over an unseen and seemingly not-there form. I decided that I’d rupture something if I tried to figure out how they did that when there was obviously nothing there underneath the clothes. While I was adjusting to this new development, Kim took off its shorts, so that now both the shirt and the tights seemed to be floating. I took another roll, then Kim took off the tights and I shot another roll of the floating crop-top. Kim wasn’t as much of a ham as Lisa and Renee, or maybe it wasn’t into it after our “argument.” Anyway, I finished three rolls on Kim alone, after which something nudged my butt.

I whipped around to face…white stockings. Lisa had taken off its dress and gloves. While I took pictures of the crop-top and the stockings, Renee patiently waited its turn. Once it was sure it had my full attention, the bodysuit and leggings were pulled away from the unseen form underneath. For obvious reasons, I didn’t know Renee was gone until a couple of minutes later when a bodystocking describing Renee’s voluptuous form entered the room. It was a good thing I wasn’t carrying anyone or anything at the time; I would have dropped them for sure. To see a bodystocking wrapped around this awesome figure was too much for words; only an actual body inside could have been better.

I was dumbstruck, just like I was when Lisa did its slow-dance on the bus. Once I snapped out of it, I made sure to have it stand in front of a bare wall so it wouldn’t get lost in the background of the pictures. I took about two dozen of Renee-as-a-bodystocking, at which point the crop-top-shorts-and-tights outfit that was now Kim came over and motioned for me to hand over the camera so it could get some shots of me and Renee. While Kim took our pictures, Lisa stood behind off slightly to the side, and undressed. Evidently Lisa wanted me to see it “undress,” too, but it would go Renee one better.

Shortly afterward, while I was holding Renee against me for pictures, some knit clothes floated into the room. I hoped that would be Lisa (it was); while I was still holding Renee, Lisa put on a knit top and matching leggings, right there in the open, so I could see it. Watching an invisible woman put clothing on…words fail me.

Kim then handed me the camera, and I finally got my chance. I got pictures of each one individually, of each combination of two, and of all three together. I asked Renee about putting on something more…substantial so it wouldn’t get lost in the pictures or be overpowered by Lisa and Kim. The bodysuit left the room; a few moments later the same figure returned with a white cotton jumpsuit wrapped around it, and I snapped a few more photos. Then they waved for me to join them.

“If I join you, who’s gonna take the pictures? You want me to invite somebody in off the street? He’ll have a heart attack!”

They clapped, then waved me over to get in the pictures.

“I still don’t know who’s gonna take the pictures if I come over there. Do you have a tripod? If you do, I can set the timer and get in some of the pictures.”

Kim picked up a TV Guide and pointed to a listing for the Mowry twins’ show, “Sister, Sister.”

“You have a sister?” A sister? *Play along,* said a voice in my head. “Um, where is she?”

Kim just waved and gestured around.

“You mean she’s been here all along?”

Kim picked up the dress Lisa had worn earlier and waved its right index finger back and forth.

“You mean she’s walking around here naked?”

Kim gave the OK sign, then walked over to a calendar on the wall, pointing to specific days and waving her finger again. It took a few minutes, but somehow I figured out that it meant that its sister, for some reason, doesn’t like to wear clothes, period.

“There’s a naked intangible invisible woman walking around here and I didn’t know about it. Exactly where is she now?”

Just then there was a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see a pair of yellow latex gloves reaching for my right hand for a handshake.

“You’ve been here all along?”

I got an OK sign.

“What’s your name?”

The gloves handed me an old convention name-tag with “Tanya” on it.

“Any chance that you’ll put something on so I can get some pictures of you, too?”

The gloves waved furiously back and forth to signal “no way,” then reached for the camera to take the pictures. I handed over the camera and joined Kim and the others for pictures, then called out to Tanya, “By the way, your sister and Lisa and Renee can tell you, my hellos aren’t handshakes, they’re hugs; to do that, I need something to hold on to. I hope can give you a proper hello before I leave.”

Kim, Lisa and Renee clapped wildly at my comments. I figured Tanya must not get out much.

After Tanya had taken a roll of us four, I asked Kim and Renee to let me and Lisa have the next few shots by ourselves. It was a little reluctant, so I just grabbed both hands and pulled it close. While we posed for Tanya, I slipped my right hand in its right back pocket. It quickly put its left glove in my left back pocket. “Hey, that doesn’t work with me,” I said. It pulled its glove back and clapped. After a few more pictures, Renee came over and stood on my left, so I put my left hand in its left rear pocket. It wiggled in response to my hand against its “behind.”

Tanya clicked a few more pictures, then put the camera down and… well, the gloves “lost” their shape.

“Is that the last I’ll see
of you tonight, Tanya? I’d, um –” (*think fast*, I commanded myself) “– really like to see what you look like in clothes and to give you a real greeting,” I said.

Kim gave the no-no signal. Evidently Tanya wasn’t expected to make another appearance that evening, so we were all surprised when, about five minutes later, a tan tube top and matching leggings walked in from one of the bedrooms.

“Tanya? Is that you?” I asked. Kim, Lisa and Renee all clapped. Evidently Tanya was not one to dress for company too often.

“You look just fine. I don’t understand why you don’t like to wear clothes. They look good on you,” I told her, mind racing wildly from the implications of what I had said.. And that was the truth. Tanya didn’t have a traffic-stopping figure like its “sister,” Lisa or Renee. It was rather petite, but fully proportionate and eye-pleasing anyway.

Suddenly it stopped in its tracks and made a U-turn. Kim came over and put its index finger over my lips. I said, “How do you know it was anything I said? I paid her compliments.” Lisa and Renee each folded their sleeves across their chest and Renee began tapping its foot.

A minute later Tanya was back with a black mesh shirt over the tube top, and black mesh gloves. I said, “See, you accused me of chasing her from the room and all she did was make sure I’d know where she was so I could hug her and take her picture.”

Tanya posed for many pictures, solo and with me, but wouldn’t pose with its sister or the others. While Tanya was in the kitchen, I asked Kim, “Is your sister, I don’t know, insecure about being smaller than you and the others?”

Kim stretched out its right hand, palm downward, and made a topsy-turvy motion.

I said, “She really has nothing to worry about. She looks just fine. She’s making a, um, big thing out of it for no reason.” Kim just waved the issue away, so I just dropped the whole thing.

Tanya came back into the room and I took its left hand in my right and asked, “Did anyone ever tell you that you were beautiful?”

A voice said, “Ever since The Incident I haven’t given anyone much of a opportunity to tell me anything.”

I almost fainted. A voice? From thin air? I mean, there was no one there. Something was giving these clothes their shape, but whatever it was wasn’t physically there, so how could Tanya be speaking?

Without thinking I practically yelled, “You can speak!”

She replied, “Of course I can speak. So can they. But I speak a lot more than they do. Since I’m not usually dressed, no one would be able to read my gestures like you can read the other girls’ gestures. They got so good at their own private sign language that they don’t speak unless they really have to. You do a pretty good job of deciphering their signs, though.”

“But-but…” I started, finding my words wouldn’t come to me. “How can you speak? What are you, really? I mean, it’s like you’re all not there. ”

The voice answered, “What do you think we are?”

There was an idea rolling around in my mind, but I didn’t want to word it, so I tried to weasel out, claiming, “I have no idea.”

“You must have some idea of what you think we are,” the voice replied.

“Nope, none,” I claimed.

“Well,” the voice said, “if you don’t want to venture a guess, then I’m not going to enlighten you. At least, not yet.” “Tanya” took a couple of steps closer, and as much as I wanted to back away I could not. The voice spoke again. “I see you don’t seem to be scared, at least not like I would have expected.”

“Well, I don’t really know what’s going on, or if there’s anything to be scared of,” I said. “I’m just basically playing it by ear. So, um, what should I be calling you?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” Tanya asked.

“Well, what are you? I mean, you are people, right?”

“Can things talk?” the voice asked.

“Well… no, I guess not,” I replied.

“Then you have your answer,” she replied.

“So why haven’t you all been talking to me all along?”

“Just having some fun with you,” she said. “And like I said before, you’ve been doing a good job of figuring out their signs and gestures.”

I answered, “Thank you, but until now I didn’t know I had a choice but to decipher the gestures — Did you say something about going out in public? You go out like that?”

“Don’t you go out like you are? You deal with what life gives you. It used to be a spectacle, but since…well, I’ll get around to that story later.”

I said, “I noticed you let me take your hand right away, so I guess you won’t mind me asking you this. Can I hold you?”

She turned around and let me take her left hand in my left, her right in my right, and wrap my arms around her. After a few minutes she began wiggling against me. We stood there for a good while before she unwrapped herself from my embrace and turned around to “face” me. She put her arms around my neck while I put my arms around her waist. She slowly moved closer and closer to me, and then unseen lips pressed themselves against mine. I gave in to the feelings and kissed them back. A tongue from the unseen mouth began feeling its way around my mouth. After a few moments my hands drifted a bit south of her waist. From her reaction I’d guess she liked it. As we kissed, we were slowly backing up from where we had started out. The next thing I knew, my elbow was pressing against something warm and mushy… the food!

She began giggling. “Forgot all about the food! The fruits of all my hard work are getting cold.”

“Your hard work?” I asked.

“Yes, mine. You see Kim go anywhere near the kitchen since you got here?”

“Come to think of it, no. And since you were walking around undressed, I didn’t even know you were here.”

“Exactly. While Kim was out here modeling and playing hostess, I was in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove for you.”

“Well, I do appreciate it,” I told her. “Now let me go and see if you can cook.” She took my hand and led me to the table, where a plate of stewed chicken and cabbage had been prepared for me. Kim and Renee had set the table and fixed my plate while Tanya and I talked.

I sat and noticed that no one was joining me. I asked no one in particular, “I just realized. . . am I the only one eating? Did Tanya do all this work just for me?”

“More or less,” Tanya replied. “We’ll tell you more after you eat.”

“…Which reminds me, I have a bone to pick with you three,” I said to the others. Each of them put her hands palms-down over her chest, to mean “who, me?”

“Yes, you. Don’t play Miss Innocent with me; you all know what I’m talking about.”

I ate the meal Tanya had cooked for me, and began to realize that even though Kim, Lisa and Renee all had a head start, I was most comfortable with Tanya. After all, she was cooking for me before she had even met me, and she spoke to me instead of gesturing.

As I headed back into the living room, Kim stepped in my path, right at the entrance to the room. Now, though, she looked entirely different. Not entirely, but different enough to make me think I was hallucinating, or something was wrong with my eyes. I blinked a few times fast, then when that didn’t seem to work, I closed my eyes and counted to three out loud. When I got to two, a hand (not a glove — a hand; I felt nails) took hold of my right hand and placed it on a hole in a piece of fabric. Through the hole I felt skin. The contours of the surface under my hand immediately told my brain what my hand had been placed on, but not seeing it I refused to believe.

“Three!” I opened my eyes. My right hand was over a keyhold cutout in the front of the halter Kim was now wearing, through which I felt. . .cleavage! I poked my finger into the hole to be sure. Something was in there, all right. I moved my hand and found it was not just a tactile illusion. Kim was now wearing a white halter, with coffee-with-milk colored ARMS! protruding from the armholes, and a bit of cleavage showing through the cutout. She also showed a bare, toned midriff below the halter, with tight-fitting jeans completing the outfit. The biggest change, though, was above the neckline.

Curly, caramel-colored hair with blonde and dark brown streaks fell to her shoulders, but where there shold have been eyes, nose and mouth there was only smooth skin. Instinctively I reached for the. . .I guess I should still call it a face, though it had no features. The change was too much for me. Not only too much…temptation, but now my fantasy seemed to be dead.

My lips moved, but no sound came out. After a minute or so of this, a voice, which seemed to be coming from Kim, said, “You like?”

I was dumbstruck.

“Now you’re not speaking?” Kim said.

I still couldn’t find my words.

Another, more forceful voice then said, “I know how to make him speak,” after which unseen lips planted a wet, sloppy kiss on me.

“Whoa,” was about all I could manage to say.

“Well, look who’s finally speaking,” Kim retorted. “Do you like the change?”

“I…I…yeah, I guess so,” I lied.

“You don’t sound too convincing. We thought you’d be thrilled,” Kim said.

“We?” I repeated, then looked around.

“We,” indeed. Lisa had put on a dress much like the one she had worn on the bus earlier, this one sleeveless, baring mocha-colored arms. She also wore “natural” colored stockings, making those beautiful legs appear to be almost “normal.”. She still seemed to be missing her head.

And Renee? She now wore a white tube top, with a cropped sky-blue knit sweater over it. Her fair complexion suggested a black-white mix, or Mediterranean maybe. I thought that with what seemed to be almost exact copies of the same figure that Lisa and Renee might be twins,
or sisters anyway. For all I knew, they were. I hadn’t thought to ask and it hadn’t occurred to them to bring it up. Renee was still wearing the white knit leggings from the pictures I had taken earlier. She was also still seemingly headless.

“Which one of you kissed me?” I asked.

“Does it really matter?” Kim replied.

After a slight hesitation, I answered, “No, I guess not.” Then a question popped into my head. “Under those clothes…” I began.

All three sang out, “Wanna see?” in unison.

“I’m…not sure I could handle it. This is all a big shock. I always had dreams and fantasies about invisible women, ever since I was a little boy. This. . .isn’t exactly what I had in mind. I’m not saying I don’t like it. I mean, all of you are gorgeous. Just gorgeous. I don’t understand about the faces, but you look great just the same.”

Kim said, in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, “You are disappointed.”

“I. . .I. . .,” I started. I kissed what would have been her forehead and then her chin before continuing. “Not by your looks. Definitely not that. It’s just that my fantasy has died — no, more like it’s been killed. I don’t even know how you came to be invisible, so I don’t know how to take this.”

She drew away from me and folded her arms across her chest, tapping one foot rapidly and loudly on the floor.

Renee snapped, “You react as if all we are supposed to be good for is your fantasy.”

“Well, um,…” I started. Lisa and Renee grabbed Kim and the three of them huddled, with much wild gesturing. I guess they figured now that they were speaking, I wouldn’t be trying to decipher their gestures, and they were right.

“You have to understand,” I said in an vain attempt to defend my reaction. “I was approaching this whole thing like some kind of waking dream. I wasn’t sure any of this was real. Now I’ve accepted it as real, then you all change. Try to cut me some slack.”

The three of them turned toward me. After each had taken a step or two toward me Tanya, who had not changed like the others, ran over between me and the others, gesticulating furiously. If there had been anyone standing directly in front of her, they would have gotten hurt. After a few seconds, Tanya took me by the hand and led me into the bathroom, stepping back out and closing the door behind her. There was commotion in the living room, about exactly what I don’t know. I guess I opened a can of worms. Maybe they weren’t in agreement about making the change.

After five minutes or so, the door opened and a pair of yellow latex work gloves motioned for me to follow. I didn’t know just who I was following, but I went. I was led to the same bedroom Tanya had come out of earlier.

“Is that you, Tanya?”

No answer. Whoever-she-was pulled on a pair of sky-blue knit leggings. It was enjoyable to see a pair of leggings being pulled up over shapely invisible legs to come to rest stretching out over an unseen butt. She then put on a cropped blue short-sleeved sweater, revealing a figure similar to Tanya’s, but bigger somehow.

“If that is you, Tanya, please say so,” I said.

She put her gloved index finger over my lips, then removed the gloves and walked over to the dresser, where a drawer opened and a folded sheet floated out. The sheet was opened out and placed over her. Then she removed the sheet, revealing slightly muscular toffee-colored arms and a toned midriff where there had been none before.

The words “Oh no, Tanya, not you too” came out before I could do anything to stop them.

“Yes, me too,” she said. “Just because you wanted us invisible doesn’t mean we had to stay that way.”

“But…but…” I protested.

She cupped a glove over my mouth, then turned her back to me and backed up against me, wiggling her behind back and forth against me.

“What are you trying to do, give me a heart attack? Then again, if I was going to have one today I would have had it already, with all that’s happened.”

“Don’t be so sure,” she warned. “There’s a couple more steps.”

“What do you mean, ‘steps?’ ”

She took a wool knit cap and pulled it down over…where her head was supposed to be until the had was streched down to the neckline of her sweater. How the hat kept its shape when there was nothing there to pull it down over, I don’t know, but…

Then she reached up, taking the top of the cap between her thumb and index finger, and pulled it off. Under the hat was very low-cut light brown hair. In other words, she was…almost…BALD!

“Well, what do you think?”

I had never liked the idea of women with drastically short haircuts, any more than the idea of long-haired men, but this faceless, stubble-headed woman in front of me was BEAUTIFUL.

I put an index finger under her chin, then pulled it back toward me. “You’ll do.”

She did that neck-roll women do so well and snapped, “What do you mean, ‘you’ll do?’ ”

“What I said. ‘You’ll do.’ ”

She snorted, then said, “Well, the look on your face when I pulled off the cap, and when I pulled off the sheet, said you wanted me on a plate.”

“Yup, on a plate,” I answered, “with some fava beans.”

She chuckled, then insisted, “What’s wrong?”

“It’s just…You look absolutely gorgeous. I never cared for such short hair on a woman before now. Always thought it would only work if she has a beautiful, entrancing face. You’re entrancing, all right, but it’s not the face…So, um, didn’t you say ‘two more steps?'” I asked Tanya. “What happened to the other one?”

Tanya pulled away and shook her head slowly, giving me the impression that she didn’t look forward to the last step. She sighed (how could she do that without a face, I wondered) and placed both her hands over her…well, I still thought of it as her face (I don’t know another word for it). She was beginning to make me nervous. I started thinking that maybe the last step was something that was going to happen to me.

Finally curiosity got the best of me. “Um, Tanya,” I asked hesitatingly, “are you OK? Whatever it is, you can tell me.”

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” she asked. Strangely enough, her voice didn’t sound the least bit muffled even though her hands were still in front of her face, making it seem as if her voice had come from the backs of her hands. She also didn’t sound upset, even though her body language suggested that the last step might be drastic.

I looked at her, wondering why she was covering her “face” when she technically didn’t have a face. Just what was going on behind those hands. “I don’t have any idea what it is you’re going to tell me,” I said, “so I guess I’m as ready as I’m going to get.”

The thought occurred to me that I may have been going crazy, or dreaming, or something, but I brushed it away. Tanya sighed again but gave no sign that she was going to move her hands, so I grasped her wrists lightly and said to her, “Tanya, whatever it is, I’m here for you, and I’ll always be here.” Then I pulled her hands away and got a huge shock.

The first things to catch my attention were eyes looking back at me where there had been none, big beautiful expressive light brown eyes. Then a moderately wide but not obtrusive nose and full, sensuous, smiling lips. Then she blinked, drawing my attention back to those eyes.

Tanya looked at me like I imagined someone would who had just returned to civilization after being away from people for a long, long time. It briefly occurred to me that the opposite was probably true — that I was maybe the first in a long time to look her in the eyes, or even to SEE her eyes.

I had no clue how much time passed while we just stared at each other. Even in hindsight it seems like years passed while we stared. I’d thought Tanya was entrancing before, but now, with this face, and especially those eyes…

Did you ever notice those long, drawn-out scenes in movies where two people are drawn to one another but it seems to take forever for their lips to finally meet for “the kiss?” Until this situation, I had no idea what that felt like. At this point, though, I really felt like I had to kiss this woman right now or I would collapse. She obviously felt the same, because she was leaning toward me e-v-e-r s-o s-l-o-w-l-y, lips first. We couldn’t have been more than an inch away from each other when the sound of a throat clearing came from the direction of the bedroom doorway, ruining the moment. We both turned towards the door, irritation plainly showing in both our faces.

It was…who was it?

In the doorway stood what appeared to be a freestanding white mesh bodysuit stuffed into a pair of stretch denim jeans. The woman wearing this outfit was, of course, invisible. I could see right through to the wall on the other side of the bodysuit. The woman, whoever she was, was also very well built. Quite shapely. Her body language, though, said that she was not happy.

“Oh, um, hi Nikki,” Tanya said, a bit sheepishly. “Sorry about your room.” Then, to me, she said, “That’s my sister Nikki. This is actually her apartment, and we’re in her bedroom.”

“Um, hello, Nikki, I’m Bart. I…um…” I trailed off.

Nikki didn’t answer. She just leaned against the door frame and folded her arms across her chest, as if she were waiting for something. Tanya bolted from where she was sitting on Nikki’s bed and ran from the room, almost running into Nikki on her way out.

I obviously didn’t know anything about Nikki, so I didn’t know what to make of the silence. I got up to leave the room, but Nikki stuck her arm out in the doorway to block my exit.

My mind raced. Tanya ran, I thought, so maybe I should have run too. What’s she going to do to me?

“Can I please get by?” I asked, almost pleading.
It’s hard to gauge how to handle an angry invisible woman who’s not speaking, and I guess my fear worked its way into my voice. Nikki responded by continuing to block my exit, reaching for the doorknob and pulling the door partway closed.

Whoa! I thought. What have we here? Nikki wasn’t wearing gloves, and her clothing never touched the door, so she was obviously solid, not intangible like the others had been. Whatever caused these women to become invisible must not have affected her in quite the same way.

I still hadn’t made any actual physical contact with Nikki, but seeing her close the door with an uncovered invisible hand aroused my insatiable curiosity (and something else as well). I reached for the end of her sleeve. She reacted by taking my right hand in her invisible left, grabbing my shirt collar with her right, and pulling me into a kiss!

“Kiss” is probably not the right word for what she did. No more than a second after our lips met, her tongue invaded my mouth with such vehemence, I half expected it to break loose and continue probing my mouth on its own.

I managed to pull away just a little and say to her, “You greet everybody like this?” She just pulled me back into a much more restrained but no less enjoyable kiss. Then, she began to fade away. I don’t mean just that her clothes began fading away, but she was becoming immaterial, or vaporizing, or something.


Once I was fully awake, I realized I had the edge of the bedspread in my mouth, right against my tongue. It was soaked, and my tongue was covered with lint.

I lay there for fifteen minutes or more, trying to digest the idea that what had just seemed so realistic, spending hours in the company of invisible fantasy women, was just that — a fantasy…a dream. And just when it was getting good, I had to wake up and find bedding in my mouth.

I got up, washed, and dressed. When I went into the kitchen to fix my breakfast, I found a small piece of cabbage leaf on the counter, along with a Tyson-Holly Farms brand-name tag. The kind they put on their chickens and turkeys.

I stared at the leaf and the tag for a good long while, refusing to believe that there could be any connection to the dream. Finally I shrugged it off as some kind of weird coincidence. Then on my way out, I had to look for my keys. I found them on the dining room table, under some papers. Next to the keys were a silver nugget ring, an empty film canister, a yellow latex kitchen glove, and a TV Guide open to a full-page ad for “Sister, Sister.”


This entry was posted in Short Stories and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.