Chapter 2: Just the Facts

I was sitting in my office with my new client. Once she had put her glove back on — it had been strangely distracting — I got out my notebook and started to get her story. Her name was Natalie Taylor and she had moved here to LA from a small town up north to pursue a career as a fashion model. It was slow at first and she had to make due with odd jobs until she made it into some freelance sessions. Last year I got into one of the big agencies and started making decent money. Life was good until last Tuesday.

“I woke up and noticed that my pajamas didn’t have me in them. I thought it was a dream so I took a shower to wake myself up completely. I didn’t really believe it till I walked into the kitchen and Greta fainted.”

“Greta?” I asked.

“Greta Hindemith. We share an apartment over on Green Bough Avenue. She’s been a good friend through all of this. Once she got used to the fact that she wasn’t dreaming anymore than I was, she did her best to cheer me up. She called in sick — she’s a stenographer — and she stayed with me all day. We kept retracing my steps, everything I did the previous day, but could think of nothing I did, or ate, or anything.”

“Miss Taylor,” I interrupted, “before we get much further I need to ask you something. Why did you come to me?”

“My roommate had heard your name. She works for some lawyers who said you were good at solving tough mysteries.” Funny I don’t recall any friends in the legal arena. More often they were threatening me with action when I stretched a few rules. I never broke any serious laws, usually, but when the need arises my clients always come first. Still it was nice to know someone out there respected me.

“No”, I continued, “I mean why a detective at all. This could be some … science phenomena or something like that.” I wasn’t in the habit of turning away customers. Like I said, I got bills to pay. But this was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I felt like a fish on the sand.

“The story.” She said, “I had read something in a magazine about some gangsters who stole an invention, a machine. They were trying to become … like this.” She gestured to her face but I still couldn’t see much through the veil. I’d have to put some back lighting in the room. I’d have to check with my sources down town about this invention idea. It sounded like a fiction but at the moment anything felt possible.

“So you think someone purposely did this to you?” I asked. “You don’t even know how it happened. Did you see a doctor?”

“Yes, of course” she replied.


“Well, I didn’t understand it all. He suggested many possible ways it could have happened but at one point he did say something about it not being an accident. Something was added to my blood, he said. He kept asking me if I had taken anything but I hadn’t.”

Returning to what I do best I asked, “Is there anyone who might benefit from this … um … condition?”

She answered without thinking, “Frankie Gibson.” She explained that a rival fashion model named Frankie Gibson was expecting to be picked for something special, the cover of a bridal magazine or something, but Natalie was picked instead. However, when Natalie called in ill, Gibson got the spot.

But as neat and tidy as this sounded as a motive the whole thing seemed too odd. I know from my case histories that there are countless ways to remove a rival. However all of them seem easier than secretly administering some sort of exotic medicine.

“So no one at the agency knows what really happened?” I asked. She nodded.

She added, “The only other person who knows about this is Bradley, my boyfriend. But that’s when things got really bad.”

“How’s that?” I asked adding the name to my notebook.

Her voice started to quiver. I sensed tears were close behind. “I phoned him. I told him that I needed him. He came over right away but…. He saw me. He…” I handed her a handkerchief. In my business they come in handy. It took her a while to get through that part but I got enough to learn that the boyfriend was scared. He panicked and ran out. It made a very strong impression on her.

I waited while Natalie calmed herself. I noticed that when she wiped her tears she was careful to keep her veil over her hand. I’ve often had upset women in that same chair. Bitter wives can be the worst. I do feel something for them but I also know that I can’t get caught up in their emotions. I do better work by maintaining an analytical detachment. My job is to solve mysteries not play therapist.

But sometimes it gets really difficult.

As she collected herself I continued my inquiry. We covered the events of the previous day. She and Bradley had gone to dinner at his yacht club. They ate, danced, and finally he drove her home. She noticed nothing unusual until she woke the next morning. Although she said that she had been dating Bradley for only about two months I could see that she was fairly enamored with him. At least, that is, until Tuesday.

After we had identified all of the key players, she brought up a subject that I usually bring up first at these meetings. Payment.

She took an envelope from her purse and stood up. I stood too hoping to get a better light advantage. I again tried to penetrate the secretive veil but had no luck. I stole a fleeting glance at her clearly attractive legs. Attractively clear legs, I thought. She handed the envelope to me with her slender gloved hand, its magical mystery now hidden.

I almost didn’t hear her. “This is all I have. I haven’t been saving up as well as I should have. How long would this be to keep you on the case?”

I opened the envelope and looked in without removing the contents. Based on my usual fees there was enough there to last one and half weeks not including expenses. And a case that requires research into new territory usually had a lot of expenses.

I smiled politely and said, “This is good for two months, at least. I’ll start first thing in the morning.”

Next Chapter

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Chapter 1: A Very Unique Case

It was a night like any other night, my office in disarray, lit by the one small bulb overhead, the sounds of Los Angeles drifting through the window with the last glow of sunset like a warm wave on a summer beach. It was the kind of night that seemed to last too long even though it had just begun. I was in the office late trying to find some papers that I thought might relate to the recent cat burglar thefts. I needed the change of pace from the dull routine of following unfaithful husbands or locating lost valuables that weren’t really all that valuable. I didn’t mind working to pay the rent but I could sure use something I could sink my teeth into. The cat burglar wasn’t my case I was following it though the newspapers and some contacts in the police department. It was a whole lot more interesting than my current caseload which was rather light anyway. I sure needed a change.

That’s when she walked into the room. I had been distracted digging through the bottom drawer of my file cabinet so I didn’t here her come in. The first thing that got my attention was her voice, soft and low.

“Mr. Drake?”

I looked up to see a shapely lady all dressed in black. Here was a real classy dame in a long black dress that hugged her body like rain hugs an overcoat. I couldn’t see her face – she wore a hat and veil – but I could easily imagine a strawberry blonde with big blue eyes. I have a sense about such things.

“Oh, I didn’t mean to startle you. Your door to the outer office was ajar so I just came in.”

I recovered quickly, rose to my feet momentarily and responded politely, “Johnny Drake, Private Investigator. Please, come in have a seat.” I gestured to a wooded chair in front of my desk. “Please excuse the mess,” I said looking around the room, “my filing has gotten out of hand since my secretary … went on extended leave.”

As she sat I couldn’t help but notice her fine figure, even hidden beneath the snug garments. But quickly I experienced a touch of guilt as she was clearly in mourning and here I was watching her like she was some dame in a low class bar. Then again, I thought, a murder case would really help with my back rent. I hadn’t worked a murder case in years. I tried to focus on professional thoughts.

She started to speak, then hesitated. Finally she said, “I don’t know where to begin. It’s all happened so fast. I just don’t know where else to turn.”

“Please, take your time.” I waited and since she didn’t continue I filled the space by adding, “My condolences on your loss.” I detected the faint scent of roses.

“My loss?” she asked distracted from her line of thought.

I paused and tried to think fast. I would have felt a lot more at ease if I could’ve looked her in the eyes but her veil was black as midnight. Funny how it looked flimsy and thin but I couldn’t make out any of her face whatsoever. I figured it must be some fancy new material.

“Oh” she said glancing down at her slender black-gloved hands. “No, I’m not in mourning. It’s just that I …well …” Her sweet voice trailed off.

Feeling the need to prompt her I asked, “has something been stolen.”

“Yes, you could say that. The thing is that, well, I’ve been stolen. Or maybe you’d say I’m missing.”

At the moment I felt that I was missing too. Missing the point that is. So far this lovely lady only spoke in riddles.

“Do you mean you expect to be kidnapped?” I asked.

“Oh, no, nothing like that. It’s more like my face has been stolen.”

Like a spilt shot glass my thoughts came rushing past. I took her to mean some sort of identity theft. That explained the hidden face. Perhaps, I thought, she was someone famous and someone else was impersonating her.

Now feeling on familiar turf, I sat back a little and explained, “In the business we call that ‘identity theft’. Someone else using your face to…”

“Oh,” she interrupted, “no it’s not just my face. My head is gone, my whole body, I’ve … vanished all over.”

I paused and considered my options. Maybe this was a gag. Perhaps Lou, or maybe Fast Eddie, sent her up here. They could be real live wires when they wanted to be. But then again maybe she was some sort of screwball escaped from the local hospital’s mental ward.

Not knowing where to go next in the conversation, I decide to repeat her last words.

“You’ve … vanished?”

“Yes,” she said sounding relieved to have found the right words. “When I look in the mirror I only see empty clothing.”

She sounded so sincere that I had to stop and think. Empty? I starred at her black veil and tried to imagine the view going straight back to her hat. It made me think of those fashion advertisements in the newspaper where they draw the clothing and not the woman.

It then occurred to me that I could not see an inch of this lady’s flesh. Forgetting my attempt at manners I looked her over. The dress had a high neckline hidden by the bottom of the veil and her gloves extended into the sleeves of her dress.  I suddenly stood up and looked at her legs below her skirt that ended just past her knees. To my relief she had legs. And not just any legs but shapely legs in stockings and pumps. I triumphantly sat back down. This was no dress floating ghost-like above the ground but a real woman. Now I was sure that she was part of a gag. I’d have to work hard at getting back at Lou, I thought.

I was about to call her bluff, but then I stopped. Something was wrong about the legs. The seams were wrong. I’d seen enough legs in my time to know that the seam goes in back. This was …

Then it hit me. Like the 8:45 tram on a cold November morning, it hit me right between the eyes. I had seen the seams through the stockings.

I stood again to look at her legs but she moved to block the view with her hands. Her gloved hands, I thought. Was it possible?

“Please, Mr. Drake. You’re making me uncomfortable.”

I fell back in my chair. “I’m felling a little uncomfortable myself.” Not knowing what to do next I grabbed the whiskey bottle from the bookshelf next to my desk and opened a drawer to get a glass.

“I’m sorry,” she said with earnest concern in her voice. “I didn’t mean to snap at you. I really am accustomed to being looked at, sometimes even leered at, unfortunately. I’m a fashion model you see.” Then her voice fell. “Well, I used to be a model. But now I’m afraid to have people see me.”

I recovered some of my analytic sense. “And you’re … like that … all over?”

“Yes.” She said with sadness in her voice. She reached for her veil but paused and put her hand back down. “I’d show you but I’m really scared.” Her voice had a slight tremor. “After some of the reactions I’d gotten, I’m extremely shy.”

I drained my glass in one gulp. And starred at her. “Well,” I began, “I don’t want you to feel scared.” I tried to sound reassuring. Yet I felt an overwhelming need to see more. Or, I thought, should it be “to see less”?

we can take it slowly,” she said brightening a little. She held up her left hand, palm forward and with the other hand began to work the buttons at the wrist. She opened it wide to show an empty glove where the wrist should be and then wiggled her fingers a little to demonstrate that her hand was indeed there.

She gave a short but pleasant sounding laugh and said, “I feel like I’m a magician’s assistant.” I smiled, hoping it would put were more at ease. For a moment she forgot her anxiety and dramatically waved her right hand in front of the opening and said “Ta-da!”

After a pause she quietly started to pull at the fingers of her open glove.  I watched with a deep fascination, like a teen at his first strip club, as the top of the glove separated from the sleeve that extended just below her elbow. The sleeve looked entirely empty. The glove continued to hang in the air as the shape of a dainty hand moved down its length. It went quickly at the end and her left hand was completely gone. Then, to prove it wasn’t gone. The glove floated out of her right hand and hung in the air over her left sleeve like, well, like a glove held by an unseen hand.

I then realized that I wad been holding my breath and gasped quietly but still a little louder than I would have liked.

This was going to be a very unique case.

Next Chapter

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Out of Mind, Out of Sight (by Bob Bentley)

Les Zelensky entered the reception area of Doctor Philips. He gave his name to the white-haired lady at the receptionist desk and she asked him to have a seat. After a few minutes she told him to go on into Doctor Philips office.

The doctor had that look that most people might call ‘a kind, old man.’ He was a rather short man with thick glasses and thin hair. Les thought that he looked like somebody’s grandfather. And true enough his desk had several pictures of what were no doubt his grandchildren.

Doctor Philips greeted Les and invited him to sit in a larger comfortable chair. After Les was seated and relaxed the doctor asked him the purpose of his visit.

“Well’, Les began nervously, “I have this fear.”

The doctor nodded waiting for Les to continue.

“I … well, it sounds odd to say it aloud.”

“Just relax.” The doctor said reassuringly. “Most everyone is afraid of something. It is really quite common.”

“I’m afraid of … women.” Les let out his breath in a great sigh after he had said it.

“How so?” asked the doctor.

“Well, I can’t talk to them without getting my words all messed up. And I just can’t look them in the face. I just turn away. It’s like being shy but a hundred times worse.”

The doctor nodded sympathetically. “And did you have difficulty speaking with Mrs. Mason, my receptionist?”

“Well, no,” said Les, “It’s just that she’s … older than my mother. She’s a nice lady and all, but I’m only shy with beautiful women.”

“Oh. Yes, of course.”

“You’ve got to help me,” Les pleaded, “I’ve tried everything. Truth is that I’ve thought of seeing a psychologist before but I was afraid it would mean I had given up.”

“Not at all.” Doctor Philips smiled. “Just being here proves that you have not given up. It shows that you are willing to explore all avenues.”

Les went on to describe accounts of disastrous encounters with women starting with his school days and continuing with the company where he now worked as a database administrator. The doctor listened patiently and took occasional notes.

At the end of their time the doctor summed up Les’ condition.

“When you see a beautiful woman you see something to be feared.”

“I know in my head that I shouldn’t but I can’t control it. I just panic.”

More cautiously, Les asked, “Is there anything you can do to help me? I’ve tried everything.”

Doctor Philips looked thoughtful for a moment then asked, “Would you be willing to take part in an experimental procedure? It would involve hypnosis to help you overcome your phobia.”

Les thought only a few seconds then said, “Sure. I’ll try anything.”

“We don’t have enough time today but if you make an appointment with Mrs. Mason then everything will be set.”

“Thanks, Doctor Philips.”

It was nearly a week later when Les returned to the Doctor Philips’ office.

In the waiting room he gave his name to Mrs. Mason and had a seat. Also in the waiting room was a lovely woman of about Les’ age.

“Hello.” It was the young woman who addressed him.

“What?” She was looking right at him. He looked away and started to breath rapidly.

After what seemed like an eternity, Doctor Philips opened his door. He first greeted the beautiful woman.

“Veronica. So glad you could make it.” He then turned to Les. “Les, this is Veronica, one of the graduate students at the university. I’m assisting her with her studies.”

Les never made eye contact. He muttered a hello and looked at the floor. When he caught a glimpse of Veronica’s shapely legs he looked away.

Doctor Philips asked Veronica to continue waiting outside but asked Les to come into his office. He invited Les to once again sit in the comfortable chair and then he closed the curtains making the room rather dimly lit by the desk lamp.

Doctor Philips removed a picture on the far wall opposite from where Les was sitting. There on the wall was a sort of spiral design and he set it to spinning with a nearby switch.

“Now just relax as you look at the wheel and listen to my voice. When we are done you will believe, even on a subconscious level that beautiful women are not to be seen as threatening.”

Les had never been hypnotized before. He quickly felt like he was falling asleep.

“Just relax. That’s right.”

Deeper … deeper … deeper

Beautiful women …

Not to be seen …

Threatening …

Not to be seen …

Beautiful …

Not seen…

Suddenly it was over.

“How do you feel?” Doctor Philips asked.

“I feel fine. Why’d you stop?” Les noticed that the spinning wheel had been closed up again. He glanced at his watch and noticed ten minutes had gone past.

“We’re finished.” The doctor said. “How about I ask Mrs. Mason to send Veronica in here? How does that make you feel?

Les thought about it. The lovely Veronica whom he had just met in the waiting room. He thought about her long brown hair and her big dark eyes. He thought about her shapely figure and her lovely legs.

Les grinned. “I’m not afraid! Doctor, the idea of seeing her again doesn’t fill me with panic!”

“Good. Good.” Then the doctor opened the door and asked Veronica to come in.

Les stood up, took one look, and then fell back into the chair.

“Doctor! I can’t see her!”

Doctor Philips immediately began to check Les’ eyes with a small flashlight.

“No. My vision is fine. I can see you just fine.” Then he turned to the bizarre sight next to Doctor Philips. “But I can’t see you.”

“I don’t understand.” Veronica said.

“Its like you’re the invisible woman or something. I can see your clothing but your head and hands are gone.” He then looked at her legs and realized he was seeing through her stockings.

Doctor Philips went to his desk and sat down.

“You must have taken it literally. When I said not to see beautiful women as a threat.”

“But how is this possible?” Les asked.

The doctor took a breath then answered. You’re subconscious isn’t permitting you to see the woman even though she is there.”

“But that’s impossible,” Les protested. “I’m looking through her. I can even see the label inside her blouse.”

“Really?” the doctor asked. “What does it say?”

Les looked closely then let out a laugh. “Sorry, Veronica. It must seem odd that I’m staring at you’re throat or wherever.”

“It’s fine with me.” She said. Then she held up what looked to Les like two empty sleeves. “I can certainly see myself. I’m not really invisible.”

“The label?” prompted the doctor.

Les shook his head. “It has writing but it’s all a jumble. It doesn’t make sense.”

Veronica added, “It should say ‘Porters.’ That’s where I bought it.”

“Yes, I can read it now.” Said Les excitedly as the words now said ‘Porters.’

Doctor Philips stood up. “That’s your subconscious filling in the details. The mind is a very powerful thing really.”

“So let me get this straight,” Les said. “All beautiful women are going to be invisible to me?”

“Well I can’t be sure. Nothing like this has ever happened before.”

Les turned to Veronica. “Well, you certainly are beautiful.”

Veronica let out a small laugh. “You mean, now that you can’t see me? I’m confused.”

Les frowned briefly then smiled. “No. You’re beautiful both ways. When I first saw you in the waiting room I was overwhelmed by your loveliness but even now I see the charm and grace of your stance and figure.”

Veronica blushed although Les had no way of knowing that.

“Well then,” began Doctor Philips, “let us return to the hypnosis and we can fix this unusual anomaly.”

“No way,” Les protested. “I’m no longer timid.”

“I’d agree with that,” interjected Veronica.

“I want to stay this way.” Les continued, “at least for awhile.”

Les turned to leave the office.

“Wait!” Veronica said louder than she had intended.

Les turned back to look at the empty space he saw above her blouse. He smiled warmly and said, “Yes, lovely Veronica?”

She sighed a little then said in soft, almost timid, voice, “Call me sometime?”

Lester Zelensky strode confidently onto the beach. It was a warm day and several women were playing volleyball. But that’s not what Les saw. He saw one-piece bathing suits, bikinis, and a few shorts with tank-tops playing volleyball. To Les’ view they were all invisible. He smiled at the thought. He recalled how when he was a kid he would see those advertisements in comic books for x-ray glasses. The idea was to make the clothing disappear so that one would see a naked girl. Les now had the opposite effect. He could see clothing but no flesh. He imagined that he had inverse x-ray glasses.

He chatted a while with the lifeguard who to his eyes seemed to be a nicely filled out red bathing suit. Then he went for a swim. He thought about how in the past he would never have started a conversation with a strange woman. Back then he couldn’t even look her in the face. But now he didn’t have to. All the beautiful women were invisible.

All through the weekend, Les experimented with this phenomenon. If he looked at a woman in a magazine or on the television, she remained unchanged. But in live encounters, the kind that used to terrify him, his subconscious mind erased the woman from view and filled in the background. The result was a daily world filled with invisible looking women. And not only was he not shy now but he also realized that invisibility added a special allure by adding mystery. Why, it was practically erotic.

Monday at work, Les had some free time and decided to check something on the Internet. He brought up his favorite search engine and typed ‘invisible.’ He got back numerous listings for movies and television series. He decided to add ‘women’ to the search.

“What’s up, Zelensky?”

It was Derek Tennyson, an obnoxious co-worker who always picked on Les for his shyness with women.

“Looking for babes? I can send you some hot links.”

Les tried to ignore Derek but Derek just stood there and looked over Les’ shoulder.

“What the…  Invisible Women? That gimmick is so old. I can’t believe there’s guys who get off on that sort of thing.”

Les spun around to face Derek. “Did it ever occur to you that not everyone sees the world as you do?”

Derek backed up and put up his hands in a mock surrender. “Fine. If you want to download headless chicks who am I to get in the way?”

Les returned to his task. He found numerous sites. Les felt better knowing that he wasn’t the only guy who enjoyed the look of an invisible woman. He even found some stories. He wondered why anyone would use writing to explore what was clearly a visual fixation. He decided to read some later and find out.

After book-marking several pages Les logged out and went looking for Michelle from Accounting. When he found her he asked her to lunch.

“Why Les!” exclaimed the navy blue dress he saw before him. She was clearly surprised and didn’t know what to make of the offer. Finally she accepted.

The next day he took to lunch Francine from Marketing. The day after that he took Diana from Systems Engineering. By Friday he had taken five different women to lunch.

When he returned to his desk Friday after lunch there was a shapely pair of jeans and a white peasant-style blouse waiting for him.

“There you are, Les.”

He gave his best smile and said, “Ah, yes, …um… wait. I never forget a face.”

“It’s me, Veronica, from Doctor Philips’ office.”

“Oh, yes. The lovely Veronica. Shall we have dinner tonight?”

“Sure.” She responded. Then she asked in a hushed tone, “Am I still … you know…”

“Oh yeah,” Les said blushing for the first time all week. “I forgot that you know my secret.”

“Is that a problem?” She sounded worried.

“No,” he said quickly. “What time shall I pick you up for dinner?”

That night Les and Veronica had dinner at the Fireside Inn. Like on all his dates Les noticed that the food seemed to magically disappear when it entered Veronica’s mouth. He was glad that his imagination stopped at the surface and didn’t try to show him food being chewed.

As they talked they discovered that they both liked classic movies so they rented Casablanca after dinner.
They watched the movie at Les’ apartment and afterward sat on his balcony. They looked at the stars and talked about all sorts of things. Due to his previous shyness Les had never really gotten to know a girl this well before. Now he was glad he did. And he was glad it was Veronica.

They stayed on the balcony until very late. At one point Les looked over at Veronica. He saw the purple dress and stockings sitting next to him. Then he made a decision.

“Veronica, I want to see you again.”

“I’d love that. How about tomorrow?”

“No, I mean see you. The way I did before the hypnosis.”

“Oh, Les. Are you sure? Your shyness; you couldn’t even look at me before.”
“Yes, I know. But I think you’re beautiful and I really want to look at you again. Maybe I won’t be shy now that I know you better.”

Veronica was quiet for a long time then said, “I don’t know.”

He smiled. “Now who’s shy?”

“But, I really like you and I don’t want to mess it up.”

Les reached out. With her short sleeve dress he had to use her bracelet to find her hand.

Les laughed. “Well for one thing, it would make holding hands easier.”

“I’ll wear gloves. All the time.” She seemed nervous.

Les squeezed her hand reassuringly. Trust me. It will be okay.”

He decided not to tell her that he was nervous too.

It was three weeks before Les could get an appointment with Doctor Philips. During that time Les and Veronica had grown closer. They went together to the doctor.

Doctor Philips dimmed and lights and began the hypnotism.

When it was over Les opened his eyes and saw Veronica’s big brown eyes looking back at him.

“Hello Veronica. I can see you.”

She kissed him without saying a word.

Eight months later Lester and Veronica were married. While Les had continued to be somewhat shy with other women he was never shy with her.

That is, until the wedding night.

They were alone in their hotel suite and had been drinking champagne. After some passionate kissing Veronica stood back and let her white silky robe drop to the floor. She was totally naked.

Les’ eyes went wide for an instant then he looked away and began to stutter. Veronica put her robe back on and went to comfort him.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s alright honey. I understand.”

They held each other for a moment.

“Les, Honey,” she began somewhat cautiously, “would you mind if I try to hypnotize you?”

Les held her gently and looked into her eyes. “You want to be invisible to me again?”

“Just for now,” she said. “Not permanently. I’ll use a code word to turn it on and off.”

Twenty minutes later he was holding a white, silky, Veronica-shaped robe.

And so began the first of many magical nights.

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Austin Powers: The Spy Who Saw Through Me (by Bob Bentley)

Austin was driving around in his Shaguar when the vid-phone sounded. It was, of course, Basil Exposition.

“Hello Basil”

“Hello Austin, I have your new assignment. You are to meet with the infamous spy, Crystal Glass.”

“Crystal Glass, the invisible spy?”

“None other,” said Basil. “We have reason to believe that she wishes to defect.”

“Hang on a tick, Basil. How am I to find this woman if she’s invisible?”

“Our sources indicate that she will contact you. In your swinging pad sometime this very evening.”

“I’m on the case Basil.” And with that Austin shifted into high gear and headed for London.

* * *

Like most nights in Austin’s pad, there was a swinging shagedelic party going on. Austin hoped it wouldn’t dissuade Crystal Glass from making an “appearance”. He was chatting up some local birds when the band started the introduction to the song “American Woman”. But Austin immediately picked up on the changed lyrics.

Invisible Woman / Stay here with me / Invisible Woman / I just can’t see. /

You’re always hanging around my door / but I can’t see your face no more /

There’s nothing I would rather do / then spend my time looking right through you

Oh Woman, don’t go away / Oh Woman, I want you to stay.

Invisible Woman / get here with me / Invisible Woman / Mama, I can’t see /

Dancing boots can hypnotize / when I can’t see your legs or thighs

Just leave on a pair of gloves / when it’s time for making love

Oh woman, I want you near / Oh woman, its all so clear.

That’s when Austin spotted something unusual in the crowd that was starting to part. All eyes were drawn to a truly unique sight. There in the center was a dancing figure. It had white vinyl thigh boots, but no legs. It had long pink gloves but no arms. It had a black leather cap and reflecto shades but no head. It had a psychedelic minidress but no body.

For an instant Austin acted like a character from Wayne’s World and thrust out his hips saying, “Sha-wing!”

The crowd applauded the dancer. Whether they thought it some laser light trick or some groovy mind expanding trip none could say. But no one seemed shocked or frightened.

The figure danced up to Austin. “Mister Powers? I’m Glass. Crystal Glass.”

“Of course you are Baby.”

“Do you like my dancing?”

“Shwing Baby, very shwing.”

“Is there someplace we could talk quietly?”

“Oh yes, Baby. Right this way.”

Austin led her to his inner pad. Like the outer room it had a waterbed, a wet bar, and a dance floor but for now there was no one but the two of them.

“I’ve decided to defect” Crystal said.

“Well, that’s all well and good, baby. But I have a more important question for you.”


He jumped on the bed.

“Do I make you horny, baby?

“Oh” she moaned, “Do you ever.”

She began by tossing away her hat and shades. Then, she wiggled out of her psychedelic dress while swaying in time to the music coming from the other room. Beneath she had a black bra and panties.

“Better leave something on, baby.” Austin said. “I don’t want to misplace you.”

The gloves reached behind and undid the bra then tossed it aside. Then her hips swayed as the glove pushed down the panties. Then she stripped off the gloves themselves.

All that remained left was her white vinyl thigh boots that walked over to the bed.

“Oh my!” Austin exclaimed.

* * *

Austin was lying in the bed next to an empty woman-shaped sheet. He looked over at the indent in the pillow next to him.

“So, Miss Glass. Do you have a middle name?”

“Clair,” she said

“Crystal Clair Glass?”


“Oh, behave.”

Posted in by other authors, Short Stories | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Austin Powers: The Spy Who Saw Through Me (by Bob Bentley)

Late Bloomer (by Bob Bentley)

Late Bloomer. Suzie Jones hated the expression.

She heard it often enough from her parents and even aunts and uncles began to say it. She knew they meant well. They seemed to think that the expression would console her somehow. But it really just made her feel worse.

The only person in her family who did not call her a “late bloomer” was her younger brother. Unfortunately he came up with a number of names that were worse.

Suzie lay awake in her bed that morning after turning off the alarm. She simply lay there and looked up. She didn’t want to go to school. Especially today. She wished that she could finish her senior year at home but she knew her parents would never agree.

Suzie’s thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door. Her mother called, Suzie? Are you awake? You don’t want to be late again.”

Yes, thought Suzie, I really do want to be late. But she called out, “Yes, Mom. I’m getting up.”

Suzie got out of bed, took a deep breath, let it out then looked into the mirror over her vanity. Looking back was a frowning girl in faded pajamas.

With disapproval Suzie said to her reflection, “Late Bloomer.” She avoided the mirror for the rest of the morning.

When Suzie finally stepped out of her room she was wearing her school uniform. It consisted of a white blouse and red plaid skirt. She also had on her red knee socks and black flats. Around the collar of the blouse she wore the tie with the school logo and a symbol that designated her as a senior.

As Suzie passed the foyer she came upon her father who was checking the contents of his briefcase. Suzie knew he worked with computers somehow and was vaguely aware that it involved computer graphics of some sort.

“Morning, Pumpkin,” her father said with a loving smile. “Why the sad face?”

“Today is Thursday,” she replied gloomily. This wasn’t the first time they had had this conversation. They both knew that Thursday meant gym class and that meant showers. Suzie hated the open room design of the showers.

“It just emphasizes to all the girls what a late bloomer I am.” She said.

Her father gave her a hug. “Oh, honey,” he said with earnest compassion, “It will be alright.” Then, not knowing what more to say he hoped to cheer her by saying, “Mom made waffles.”

Suzie gave him a little smile. Not because she loved waffles but because she knew how much he wanted her to be happy.

“Look, Pumpkin” he said, “I have to go to work for an early meeting.” Then he gave her a kiss on the forehead and left. She watched as he got into the car then she went to the dining room.

Suzie sat at her usual place and pored a glass of juice. The scent of waffles floated from the kitchen where she could hear her mother.

“Mom?” Suzie called out, “Can we talk?”

“Sure, Honey,” her mother called back, “I’ll be right there.”

“Mom,” Suzie continued, “When am I going to be invisible like all the other girls?”

* * *

Suzie’s mother emerged from the kitchen. She wore a light green robe and, like any other woman in Clearview, she was invisible. The sleeves of the robe seemed to point at a floating plate a few inches from them. The plate, covered by a fresh waffle, was placed before Suzie.

“Oh, Honey,” her mother said, “You know it happens at a different time for each girl.”

“Yeah,” Suzie replied, “But didn’t you vanish at 14? I’m almost 17.”

Suzie’s mother sat down at the table. “You can’t go by that. Why, when I was your age I was worried about my small bra size.”

“Mom,” Suzie said as she straightened up and gestured to the front of her blouse, “My breasts are fine. Maybe too big. But I want to be invisible like everyone else.”

“Darling, it’s not something you can rush. It will happen when it happens.”

“What about that lotion they show on TV?” Suzie asked.

“Don’t believe those silly advertisements.” Her mother said, “It’s not something you can rush.

At the moment, Suzie’s 13-year-old brother, Todd, entered the dining room.

“Mmmm. Waffles!” he said, “I could smell them upstairs.”

Todd then made a show of looking around the room. He then said, “Where’s Suzie? Has she finally vanished?”

“Hey! Be good!” Hs mother scolded.

Todd was happy enough to get a waffle of his own and decided not to torment Suzie for the rest of the morning.

* * *

At Clearview School for Girls, Suzie went to her locker for her Pre-calc book. That was her first class after homeroom. Suzie was closed her locker when she heard the familiar voice of Molly Norman, her best friend.

“Suzie, I forgot my gloves. Let me borrow yours.”

Sure enough the image before Suzie was a headless school uniform without hands.

“Sorry, Moll,” Suzie shrugged. “I stopped bringing them. I figured, what’s the point?”

A pair of white cotton gloves were part of the school uniform. Likewise, it was the custom for all women in Clearview to wear gloves when out in public. Maybe there was a law about it. Suzie wasn’t sure. She just knew that her Mom never went outside the house without gloves. Even if it was simply to get the mail.

However, the school rules exempted girls who were too young to be invisible. Therefore gloves were optional for Suzie in her present state.

“I used to bring a pair every day,” Suzie explained. “Just hoping that I’d actually need them someday. But after this long, I just gave up.”

“Cheer up, Suzie.” Molly said momentary distracted from her own dilemma. “The way I figure, you’re due.”

“Don’t you keep a spare pair in your locker?” Suzie asked trying to be helpful and forget her own problems for the moment.

“Well, I used to,” Molly said. “But, I used them last week when I forgot my gloves then.” As she was saying this she started to pull at the ends of her sleeves. “Maybe no one will notice if I pull my sleeves way down.”

“Maybe some one else has a spare pair,” Suzie suggested. She really didn’t want her friend to face the wrath of Ms. Machiavelli, the homeroom teacher. No student deserved that. She was the meanest teacher in school by far.

Molly suddenly hid her sleeve ends behind her back. “Oh, great,” she said. “Here comes real trouble.”

Suzie turned to look in the direction Molly was facing. She saw the unmistakable sight of Veronica Mayfair strutting confidently down the hallway. Veronica, like all the cheerleaders, was allowed to wear her cheering uniform in place of the usual school uniform. She swayed her hips just enough to give her red and white pleated skirt a rhythmic swing. Her posture was straight as she seemed to show off her pert breasts through the school logo on her white turtle neck sweater.

A step behind her, one on either side, were two of her cheerleader friends. All three made a bold stepping rhythm in their white vinyl boots. And they were heading straight for Suzie and Molly.

“Well, well, well,” said Veronica. It’s fleshy girl and her dorky friend. How are things in fleshy-town?”

“Listen Veronica,” Suzie pleaded, “Why don’t you give it a rest.” Then an idea occurred to her. “Maybe you could be nice for a change and loan me a pair of gloves. I’m sure you’d have a spare pair.” Veronica usually kept a pair of cotton gloves for class and a pair of white leather gloves for cheering. The leather ones, which she wore now, made a louder sound when clapping and had better grip for props.

Veronica gave a short and condescending laugh. “And what would you do with a pair of gloves? I don’t see any empty sleeves on your blouse. All I see is big ugly hands hanging out.”

Molly stepped forward and said, “Veronica, just wait till you forget your gloves and see if we help you.”

“Oh, I get it now.” Veronica said haughtily to Molly. “You forgot your gloves again.”

Then, before they could discuss the issue further, the bell sounded.

They entered the homeroom and took their seats. Suzie looked around and once
again felt singled out by the fact that she was the only girl without an empty collar on her uniform.

At the front of the room stood Ms. Machiavelli. She looked stern as always in the way she carried herself. She even looked stern in the way she dressed. Today she wore a white blouse that sort of looked Victorian with its high collar and long sleeves that were loose above the elbow and tight with nearly a dozen buttons below the elbow. She also wore a straight black skirt that reached down to her black leather boots that had pointed toes and a narrow heel. Her outfit was completed by short black leather gloves.

“Alright now,” she announced. “Everyone quiet down.”

When every girl was still, she continued.

“There is only one announcement today. You still have time to purchase Prom tickets so don’t wait till last minute.”

Prom. Great. That’s just what Suzie needed to hear about. She knew she’d never find a boy who would take her to the Prom. Still visible at 17. What boy would want to be seen with her?

“Miss Jones.” The teacher said interrupting Suzie’s line of thinking.

“Yes, ma’am?” Suzie responded.

“I understand you parents have volunteered to act as chaperones this year?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Suzie said.

Veronica leaned back and whispered, “Guess you’ll have the house to yourself. Maybe you can have a slumber party for the other freshmen.”

“Shut up, Veronica.” Hissed Molly from behind Suzie.

“Is there a problem Miss Norman?” said the teacher to Molly.

“No ma’am. Sorry.”

Ms Machiavelli paused then said “Miss Norman. Put your hands on top of your desk, please.”

Molly sighed and placed her hollow looking sleeves on her desktop. One or two girls in the room giggled.

“Well, well, well,” said Ms. Machiavelli walking over to the cabinet. “Let’s see if we can find you a spare pair that might help you to remember next time.”

This was the worst part. Every girl knew that in the bottom drawer of the cabinet. Ms. Machiavelli kept the most hideous gloves imaginable. At the beginning of every year she made a point of pulling out a few samples just to keep the girls in line. Suzy recalled the long blue satin pair with a row of pink puffballs running from the wrist to the sleeve. And there was another pair of brown leather with a wide gauntlet style cuff that was trimmed in rhinestones. That drawer contained every color, every material and every length Suzy could think of.

Ms. Machiavelli reached in with her own black-gloved hands and pulled out a short orange dress glove. Molly breathed a sigh of relief. It could have been much worse.

“Oh but I only seem to have one of these.” The teacher announced and reached back into the drawer but keeping the orange glove out.

So far this year only a few girls had to wear unusual “loaner” gloves from Ms. Machiavelli, but at least each pair was a matching set.

Finally, she pulled out a glove of thin brown wool that was about mid-arm length. She then handed the mismatched pair of gloves to Molly and said, “Be sure to return them tomorrow while wearing your white gloves.”

* * *

At gym class Suzie once again felt self conscious. Like all the girls she wore shorts and a tee-shirt but hers didn’t appear to float above white socks and sneakers as there’s did. And off course, every girl wore white gloves except for Molly who wore her mismatched gloves.

They reviewed the rules for field hockey then divided into teams. Suzie actually did well and scored two goals during the game. But all too soon came the time she dreaded. When the game was over it was time for showers.

In the locker room all the girls around Suzie were silent as they undressed. Each girl seemed to dissolve into nothingness while Suzie felt painfully visible. Fortunately, the mouthy Veronica was permitted to practice cheerleading and was not part of Suzie’s gym class.

Suzie finished stripping and made her way to the shower holding her towel over her breasts letting it hang to cover her to the knees. She quickly moved along with other floating towels and got into the showers. She tried to forget about how visible she was as she washed. As the showers turned on, one by one, the rough image a girl could be made out in each field of spray.

Then Suzie noticed a towel being carried in by an orange glove and a brown glove.

“What are you doing, Molly?” Everyone knew that gloves were not required in the privacy of the locker room.

“Well,” answered Molly as she turned on her own shower, “I figure these aren’t too bad and I’d rather not loose them and end up with something worse.” Then she laughed and added, “At least they aren’t leather or something that can’t get wet.”

* * *

After school Suzie got off the bus and found Billy Winslow waiting for her. She and Billy had been friends for years having grown up in the neighborhood together and being the same age.

“Hey Suzie.” He said. “Can I walk you home?”

“Sure.” Suzie was very comfortable around Billy. Although he might give her a friendly teasing about a great many things he never teased her about her appearance.

They walked along for some time and talked about bands they liked and teachers they hated. Suzie told Billy about the gloves that Molly had to wear.

“Maybe I’ll start carrying mine just so I can loan them to her whenever she forgets.”

“Hey, Suzie.” Billy started as if something had been on his mind. “Well, um, I was wondering…”

“Yeah,” she prompted.

“Well, like, I was wondering if you have a date to that Prom.”

“No,” Suzie said, “I wasn’t going to go.”

“Well, um, if it’s cool and all, I’d like to take you.”

Suzie smiled. Billy was a nice friend. He didn’t care what she looked like.

“Sure,” She said, “That would be cool.”

* * *

The month before the Prom passed quickly. Molly only forgot her gloves twice but each time Suzy was ready with a spare pair.

The night of the prom was a busy night in Suzy’s house. As chaperons her parents were also busy getting dressed at the same time that Suzie was getting dressed. Suzy had picked out a long pink gown and put her hair up. When she went down to the living room her brother was there playing a video game.

“Hey Sis,” he paused to say, “How about I take your picture.”

“Well that would be very nice, Todd.”

“Yeah,” he continued, “I’ve got some software that can erase your head and make you look normal.”

She tossed a couch pillow at him and he just continued his game.

Behind her, Suzie heard her father come down the stairs.

“Gee Dad,” she said, “look at you in a tuxedo and all.”

“Thanks Pumpkin.” He said pulling on his cumber bun. “But I think it may have shrunk a little over the years.”

In a moment Suzie’s mother came down. She wore a long gown of hunter green with long black velvet gloves. In one hand she carried a pair of long white kid gloves.

“Suzie, don’t forget gloves.”

“But Mom, I don’t need to…”

“Oh, but these are special gloves. These are the pair I wore to my Prom.”

Suzie took them and thanked her Mom. She decided not to ask why Dad was trying to hide an impish smile. No doubt it had something to do with that Prom night that he and her Mom had shared so many years ago. Suzie was sure she didn’t want to know.

As Suzie pulled on the gloves she noticed how the soft leather hugged her hands. These were the most comfortable gloves she had ever worn. Indeed, when Billy came to the door, himself looking sharp in a white tuxedo, the first comment he made after “Hey Suzie” was “Cool gloves.”

At the dance, they met Molly and her date, a tall boy named Thomas. Molly wore a gray gown with one long white glove and one long black glove. She and Suzie laughed and recalled the day Molly had to wear a mismatched pair in school.

“I think I’ll make it my thing from now on,” laughed Molly.

And of course Ms. Machiavelli was there. She wore a black gown with long black leather gloves that actually laced up the sides.

“I should be polite and dance with Suzie’s teacher,” Suzie’s Dad said.

Suzie’s Mom quickly responded, “Why don’t you put your eyes back in your head and dance with me first.” They laughed as they held and moved onto the dance floor.

After the first dance, Suzie noticed Veronica in a red satin gown with matching lace gloves. She looked perfect as usual. Billy saw her, too.

“I’d understand if you wanted to dance with her.” Suzie conceded. There were plenty of boys eager to dance with Veronica Mayfair and Billy might as well be one more.

But Billy looked into Suzie’s eyes and said, “I don’t think so. I’d happy just to dance with you all night.”

At that Suzie smiled broadly and pulled Billy a little closer for a kiss. He was about to kiss her when he suddenly held her at arms length and exclaimed, “Suzie! You’re invisible!”

“What? Really?” She pulled
off one of her long white gloves and felt her hand. She could feel it but not see it.

“Wow!” she exclaimed. “I am invisible.”

Then she said in a cautious tone, “You do like invisible girls don’t you, Billy?”

“I sure do. Who doesn’t?”

“But Billy, don’t get me wrong but I just have to ask. Why did you ask me to the Prom?”

Billy smiled and said, “Because no matter what you look like, you’re special Suzie.”

At that she hugged him tightly and they kissed. A moment later they were interrupted by the sound of Ms. Machiavelli’s voice.

“Miss Jones! Gloves on, young lady.”

Suzie pulled on her glove and said, “Gladly, Ms. Machiavelli.”

Then Ms. Machiavelli came close by and said quietly, “Congratulations Miss Jones.” It almost sounded as if she were smiling.

Suzie pulled her glove on hurriedly then returned to the matter of kissing Billy.

On the other side of the room Suzie’s Mom and Dad were dancing but still watching.

“Oh, our little girl is growing up,” said Mrs. Jones.

“Yes,” Mr. Jones agreed with a touch of concern, “In more ways than one.”

“Oh be good. There’s nothing wrong with a girl kissing at the Prom. We did plenty of kissing on our Prom night.”

“Mmm, we sure did,” he said now looking at his invisible wife as he held her. He looked down at her hunter green gown and smiled.

“Have I told you how wonderful you look tonight?”

“Mmm,” she responded, “what is it that you men find so fascinating about invisibility?”

“Well let’s just say, after twenty years you still look as beautiful as the day we met.”

And with that, Suzie’s parents kissed.

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New story coming up…

A fellow writer named Bob Bentley gave me permission to post his great mystery story, currently posted at my Yahoo Group. I’ll be posting a few chapters at a time, along with his shorter ones.

Posted in Miscellaneous | Comments Off on New story coming up…

I'm still stuck, but…

…soon I’ll upload stories by other writers who gave me permission to include them in my Yahoo group. I thought they were all here, but it seems I missed a few…

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on I'm still stuck, but…

I’m still stuck, but…

…soon I’ll upload stories by other writers who gave me permission to include them in my Yahoo group. I thought they were all here, but it seems I missed a few…

Posted in Miscellaneous | Comments Off on I’m still stuck, but…

I'm not dead yet!

As you can see, there have been some changes, and there are more to come. I decided it was time to put some of my photomanipulations on the blog as well, and thus some changes needed to be made. Thanks to my friend Joe for all the codeslinging and updating! :-)

As for fiction, there’s plenty in the works. I’ve just been updating
drafts instead of posting. And inspiration has been kind of AWOL lately. But there will be some new stories and chapters posted soon! 😀

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I’m not dead yet!

As you can see, there have been some changes, and there are more to come. I decided it was time to put some of my photomanipulations on the blog as well, and thus some changes needed to be made. Thanks to my friend Joe for all the codeslinging and updating! :-)

As for fiction, there’s plenty in the works. I’ve just been updating
drafts instead of posting. And inspiration has been kind of AWOL lately. But there will be some new stories and chapters posted soon! 😀

Posted in Miscellaneous | 3 Comments