Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.
May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others
and a love within recall that alters you.
The crate had wooden slats on the corners. No wonder their shipping and handling fees were astronomical. He was able to pry the top off with a screwdriver from a sample 2Lman kit. The elf was in a styrofoam inner box. He had to pull the front off to get the sides to peel back enough for him to inch the prototype out. It was heavy.
He pried off the rest of protective foam and it was a five-foot-tall elf. Naked except for red boxers sprinkled with silver snowflake pattern. The face was adult. The hair felt like hair not nylon or plastic. It looked human except for the pointed ears and oddly arched eye brows. A card around its neck said “Hi I’m Andy Humphun your personal Elf, please twist my left nipple to turn me on. Try my right one for real fun.”
Harris squeezed the left nipple and the figure hummed and the hands opened and closed, next the eyes opened. They looked so alive he was taken a back.
“Thank you for turning me on.” The elf said.
Harris pinched the right nipple and didn’t see anything happen till he noticed a growing bulge in the boxers. He did not look in them to see how authentic the cock was. He pinched the nipple again to turn it off. The eyes closed.
The hand painted details were remarkable. The skin wasn’t unpleasant to the touch but was cool. Certainly not flesh but not oily either. Daria was right though in the catalogue pictures the flesh on all the Santa-faction line of dolls looked oily. He looked like it was the way the studio light reflected of the silicon that made up the skin.
He dragged Andy Humphun to Tavi’s door and pinched the left nipple. He went back to his cubical and texted her. “There’s a client here who wants to see you.”
He heard her door open then slam.
“Take it away. Take it away.”
He left it there while he started in what he hoped was the final color tweak for the Santa-faction line.
He went down to the Bazoon’s Deli on the first floor for a bite of lunch. Ordered his favorite extra-large Montreal style with extra cheese and chili fries. While he ate he looked though a pile of sales flyers. One was for Mamma P and Son. The woman on the flyer certainly wasn’t the woman who had been screeching at his door the other day. If it was, it was a much younger version made to look like Sophia Loren. But the Son behind was certainly Dave. More tats on his arms than Harris had noticed, that is, if they were real. He looked closely at the picture. It was a composite, a pretty good one but the Son had been dropped in behind Mama. A pizza oven propped open with steaming platter being removed.
The flyer had an inset done in fancy script:
August Wedding Special
to celebrate the nuptials of
Mamma Sophia’s son Dave this month
we are offering free delivery
and free a side order of either
Mama’s Spicy Garlic Bread
or Son’s Savory Meat Balls
with every order over $25.00
If nothing else Mamma S had a good promo firm. He flipped it open and inside was the expected list of pizzas, pastas, chicken wings and locations. More pictures of Mamma and Son. A web site for online orders.
‘Order online Saturday August 19
and get a free piece of wedding cake with every order’
At the bottom of each page was a reminder to watch Mamma Pazzoni’s cooking show on cable. Check your listings for times.
By the time he got back to the office Andy had been returned to his box.
“Take it home.” Came a text from Tavi.
“You can’t expect me to take this home on the subway.”
“Not my probl.”
He polished off the chocolate Virgin Marys, with cherries inside, while he finished the Santa-faction adjustments. The skin tone needed more yellow and less pink. The oil was absorbed.
He did an online search for fast parcel movers. Found one that could take a crate this size and could pick it up at 3. He had half an hour to get it ready. As he was duct taping the crate back together he caem across a plastic pouch on an the inside of the front panel that had a users guide, a remote and a couple of cables one for recharging and one with a ubs for plugging Andy into the Internet.
The van driver had a dolly that got Andy up to his apartment. The only spot where the crate would fit easily was the balcony.
He got a beer out of the fridge. Drank it while he undressed and pulled on boxers. It was too hot for a tee-shirt. His ribs didn’t ache as much as he’d expected after hauling AndyAndy around. He sat on the sofa, bare feet cooling on the carpet.
His cell rang.
“Uh … hi … it’s Alex, from Story, ya said I could call.”
Harris sighed. He hadn’t worried about the curse all day. Work had taken up all his focus. “Hi Alex. What can I do for you?”
“I was wonderin’ if we c’ld get together. Fer coffee.”
Harris wanted to say ‘yes ‘to put an end to this but didn’t trust that ‘yes’ would put an end to it. He could hear traffic in the background on the phone.
“Like now? I’m at pay phone near ya.”
“No.” As he said ‘no’ a sharp pain raced across Harris’s ribs and up his spine to his shoulders. He head began to pound. “Tomorrow. Around 4 after I get in from my folks. Yes? Call me around 4 and we can set up a face-to-face.”
“I t’ink I can get Sunnay night off.” Alex’s tone was forced. Was he feeling the same pain?
“Yeah sure.” The pain subsided. His jaw unclenched.
“T’anks. See ya.”
“Okay. I’ll talk to you then.” he clicked his phone off. Rubbed his jaw. Seems the curse didn’t like to take no for an answer.
He looked in the fridge. Nothing appealed. It was time for groceries. The cupboards weren’t bare but getting there. He made a quick list, pulled on shorts and the Promethea tee-shirt, grabbed a couple of Freshly Green expandable, reusable bags and headed out. The bags were a couple of the more useful product samples dE.tail had received. He didn’t relish leaving the security of his apartment. The splintered door reminded him that this wasn’t a haven.
The supermarket wasn’t busy. Too hot to shop he figured. As he was bagging his stuff at the check out a young woman approached him.
“How are you?” She asked him. Blond and sun-burned it made his skin hurt to look at her.
“You don’t remember me. My Gran bumped into you here earlier in the week. By the oranges.”
“Right.” He nodded. That’s how he ended up with all that orange pulp on his sweats.
A thin, elderly lady came over. Gold rings gleamed on her pale fingers. Chestnut red hair, light yellow summer dress, golden sandals and pleasant touch of lilac perfume.
“You don’t recognize her at all do you? She’s made more than a few changes. We were surprised when she came home from the hair salon looking like a different woman. New do, new color, even make-up? How long has been since you cared about how you looked Gran.”
“Hello.” He shook the Gran’s hand.
“Gran this is the man you thought looked so much like Billy.”
Harris picked up his bags. “Another case of mistaken identity ladies. Last time I was mistaken it was for George Clooney. Gotta get going before my ice cream melts.”
He hailed a cab. Another brush with his recent but forgotten past. Was Tuesday or Wednesday when he came home with the orange pulp on his sweats. The same night that he had his encounter with the soft-spoken Mamma Pazzoni and Son. Which meant he had met Gran Wednesday. Whatever happened it seems to have perked up her outlook on life. Perhaps the curse isn’t always a negative after all.
In the cab he checked his cell. Going on for six o’clock and no messages. His mother usual called around that time to confirm their regular Sunday lunch and to see if he had a date for Saturday night. At least now he knew why he had never settled down. Was it possible he was married and had forgotten all about it.
He was looked forward to getting his sweaty feet out of his shoes as he unlocked his door.
“Ah Mr. Stevens your door has suffered this week.” It was Mrs. Fraser, who owned the condo opposite his.
“Yes. Shows how well constructed they are though.”
“How long will it take for them to replace it? Are you being charged for that.”
“Insurance will cover it. It’s not as if it was the door’s fault.”
“Ah, yes, insurance” she laughed softly. She was wearing pale pink, loose draw string pants and a white camisole. “It has been very hot these days.”
He’d met his neighbors a few times. Pleasant enough people. They were in their mid-fifties, had two children but not living with them. He couldn’t remember where she worked, but her husband did international corporate business. They owned condos here and in Berlin.
“Happens this time of year.” He nudged his door open with his elbow.
“You are happy living here.”
“For sure. Close to subway, that sort of thing.” He picked up his shopping bags.
“Here let me help you. I would like to see what you’ve done with your apartment.” She leaned closer. She smelled of peaches.
“All right.” He held the door open to let her go in first. “How is Mr. Fraser.”
“Monetary crisis in Greece took him to meetings with bankers in Athens.” She took one of his grocery bags into the kitchen and put the chocolate raspberry ripple ice cream in the freezer.
He followed her. As he was putting the double fudge cookies on the shelf he felt her arms go around his waist and a hand into his shorts to scratch his pubic hair. After the pain when he said ‘no’ to Alex he concluded further resistance might prove to be painfully futile. If things went as usual neither of them would remember what had happened anyway, so why not.
He was stepping out of the shower when his cell rang. It was his mother.
“There you are. Harris, I’ve been calling for the last two hours. Didn’t you get my messages.”
It was a little past eight.
“I must have dropped off. Sorry. I turned the ringer down low.” He dried himself as best could with one hand.
“You’ll be here for lunch tomorrow.”
“Wouldn’t miss it.”
He went into his bedroom. The bedding was mussed. Had he taken a nap when he got back from the supermarket?
“Going out tonight?”
“Haven’t decided yet.” He was tempted to tell her he’d spent a day tweaking Santa’s balls and an elf’s nipples and was too exhausted to go out and have his own balls tweaked.
“Okay. See you around 11:30. Bye.”
He put the cell on the side table. A used condom dribbled there. Clearly ecently used. So, he’d had some of action when he got home. I hope I enjoyed myself. At least when I’m cursed I have sense enough to play safe. He flushed the condom down the toilet.
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