PART FOUR: "Tights"
Careful to prevent putting wrinkles in the diaphanous white sleeves, Barbara Jo Michaels laid the glittery white blouse/vest flat on a nearby stand, while she sat in the dressing chair to remove her heels and gold ankle bracelet.
"I can’t believe I’m going to be posing as a pro football cheerleader," Barbara Jo said breathlessly as she stood on stockinged feet and unzipped her skirt.
Her enthusiasm was in stark contrast to the attitude shown by the other model in the dressing room. Lori Yamasaki held up the short powder blue dress, adorned with a lace front and glitter-laden long sleeves, and then stared down at the white ice skates on the floor by her chair. "So I’m the ice skater, huh? What a big surprise," she stated facetiously.
Barbara Jo heard Lori’s words, but didn’t catch her tone. "No way. I’m the one who’s surprised. I mean, I always dreamed of being a cheerleader - not like in high school, I mean - but like for the Dallas Cowboys or the Raiders. But I never thought I’d get anywhere close. But posing as a figure skater shouldn’t be any challenge for you."
"I didn’t mean— oh, never mind. It could’ve been worse, I guess," Lori sighed as she started to unbutton her crisp white blouse. "Lucky for me ‘Math Whiz’ doesn’t qualify as an ‘Action Figure.’"
Both girls laughed at that remark, although Barbara Jo didn’t understand all the nuances of Lori’s complaint. But she did find it amusing that of all the possible assignments she could have received in this late night session at Hose Queen, she was chosen to model one of Magdalena Cartier’s new line of nylons, "Tights in Action." While Barbara Jo had always dreamed of being a glamorous cheerleader - and her tall frame, statuesque build, and long blonde mane were certainly trademark physical features - the real reason she had never tried out was that she was completely uncoordinated. She maintained her physique through careful eating and the simplest of exercises. Jogging was an invitation to injury, and aerobic dancing was totally out of the question.
Barbara Jo glanced at her dressing room companion as the attractive brunette removed her navy skirt, and began to remove her tan pantyhose. She had thought of making an additional remark about her clumsiness, but the shorter, athletically built Oriental girl would probably find it more whiny than endearing.
By now, both young women were down to bra and panties, and were looking over their costumes with great care.
"I hope you don’t mind, uhhh . . . ." Barbara Jo began.
"Lori," the Japanese American introduced herself. "Lori Yamasaki."
"Nice to meet you." The girls shook hands, awkwardly in their state of undress. "I’m Barbara Jo Michaels. I was just asking if you wouldn’t mind helping me with my costume after you’ve put yours on. I’m afraid I’ve never worn anything like this. So, with your experience . . ."
". . . I don’t have any experience . . ." Lori raised her voice, then realized she overreacted when she saw a slight hurt look on the tall blonde’s face. "I’m sorry - Barbara, wasn’t it? I wasn’t yelling at you. I guess I’m just a little disappointed. I had hoped this would be a chance to model some nice business clothes with matching nylons. You know, like in really nice catalogues. But, they take one look at the Asian girl, and immediately see Kristi Yamaguchi or Michelle Kwan, and automatically I get put in the same little box, and . . ." Lori happened to glance at Barbara Jo, and saw the most confused, ‘What are you saying and why are you saying it to me?’ look she had ever seen.
The petite Oriental couldn’t help but laugh. "Oh, well. If it’s an ice skater they want, it’s an ice skater they’re going to get. I guess I’ll start with the pantyhose."
"Ahh-ahh-ahh, not ‘pantyhose.’ These are ‘tights’ - remember?" Barbara Jo was holding up her own pair as she recalled the distinction their modeling ‘consultant’ - the very British Mrs. Beasley - had made when she gave them their outfits.
"Oh, yes - excuse me, dearie. These are special tights, not common pantyhose." Lori echoed Mrs. Beasley’s words with her own very exaggerated British accent, causing her dressing room mate to laugh out loud, and then put her finger to her lips for quiet, looking around.
"We’d better be careful. What’s that they say, ‘British teacups have big ears’?" Barbara Jo said, then shook her head realizing that probably wasn’t right. "Anyway, you never know how this might turn out. Hose Queen is a very big and very successful company. This new line of pantyhose – I mean, tights – might become very successful, and we might become very famous."
"True," Lori agreed, as she rolled up the right leg of her nude tights and put her foot inside. "But famous at being someone we aren’t."
"Oh well, that’s modeling." Barbara Jo stood to finish pulling her tan tights over her midsection, and then ran her hands down each leg. "These are pretty nice. They’re really smooth for being so thick."
Lori was at the same stage of dressing as Barbara Jo. She glanced in a nearby full-length mirror. "And shiny. Kind of sexy, too. I mean, even with this fishnet reinforcement." Lori didn’t want to sound like she was bragging, but she was very pleased with how attractive she looked in the lingerie.
The long-haired blonde ‘cheerleader’ picked up the navy short shorts that constituted the lower half of her outfit. "I guess we’d better be careful with how we put on our outfits. With hosiery this comfortable and attractive, we’re going to be promoting these tights for a long time."
"And here’s hoping it’s a profitable time, as well," Lori added, beginning to slip the short frilly powder blue dress over her head.
The two young women dressed rather quickly, each helping the other tuck and smooth in all the right places. Finally, all that was left was footwear. For Barbara Jo, that was bright white leather ankle boots. And for Lori, ankle-high white ice skates.
"I wonder if I should put these on now?" The reluctant figure skater asked. "I won’t be able to get around very well."
"True, and you’ll probably put tears in the carpet. I think that will send Mrs. Beasley into a quite a tizzy. She seemed to be so concerned with detail." Barbara Jo remembered how their older host had constantly straightened the numerous figurines and knick knacks on tables and shelves in her workroom/photography area.
"If she’s that concerned about detail, a figure skater in her stockinged feet definitely won’t do. Besides, I think the blades have been modified. There’s no sharp edge – the bottom is smooth and wider than most. I can probably even walk on these."
Lori stood up, and took a few steps around the room. "Yeah. Not a problem at all."
"They probably made them that way so you could be in a bunch of different poses without falling on your behind." Again, the two models laughed. And Lori thought this might not be so bad after all. Barbara Jo was not the airhead, stuck up model-type Lori had first believed her to be. She might even like to spend more time with her once their modeling assignment was completed.
The blonde ‘cheerleader’ chuckled a few more times as she pulled on her white ankle boots, and then paused reflectively. She opened her mouth as if to say something, then closed it and shook her head.
Lori quickly picked up on her new friend’s interrupted thought. "What? C’mon, you were going to say something. Out with it."
Barbara Jo looked around quickly once more, then perked up as if listening for someone’s approach. She then bent down and forward and motioned Lori to do the same. "You know, thinking about our assigned host, and her look and eccentricities – you know what I thought?"
"Don’t laugh. But the first thing I thought was: this old lady’s some kind of witch."
Lori started to laugh, but then stopped herself. "A witch! What in the world gave you that idea?"
"Oh, I don’t know. Coming way down here to this remote part of the building. The kind of musty smell out in the work area, with all those knick knacks around. The way the old lady kept saying ‘Dearies’ and ‘Sweeties’ and being so suspiciously nice. I had this boyfriend once who was really into stories about statues and people getting turned into things. And a couple of times tonight, I’ve felt like I was in one of those stories." Now it was Lori’s turn to give her modeling partner a puzzled ‘what in the hell are you talking about’ look. "I mean – I don’t think there’s any danger. There’s no such thing as witches. It’s just the whole setup – the personal invitation to appear, the confidentiality thing, the not starting until Midnight – doesn’t it strike you like the plot to some kind of hokey horror story?"
Lori shrugged. "Yeah, I can sort of see that. I think that comes more from being in such a big place, with so few people around, and no noise or hustle and bustle. It is sort of creepy, in a way."
"Oh, man. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you or anything."
"Oh, no – I actually like creepy stuff. Sometimes my boyfriend do our best fu-, uhh, making out, with some schlocky horror video playing in the background." Barbara Jo chuckled, but Lori really seemed to be getting into this fantasy. "Maybe this is like one of those stories your old boyfriend liked. Maybe we have been lured here for some evil purpose. Just beyond that door may be some hump-backed fiend, just waiting to throw a giant fishnet over us and drag us to a boiling cauldron in Mrs. Beasley’s lair."
Barbara Jo’s chuckle was a little more nervous this time. "Okay, Lori. Now you’re starting to creep me out. Just a little, I mean . . ."
But the figure skater continued. "Or maybe while we’re sitting here, a panel will slide open in the ceiling, and buckets of quick drying plaster will drop on us, turning us into beautiful, but oddly dressed, works of art."
"Okay, Lori, I get the picture . . ."
"Or maybe, when we least expect it, the dressing room door will burst open, and Mrs. Beasley will rush into the room, her hair covered with slithery snakes, and she’ll cry out, ‘Time to turn you dearies to stone for my private gallery!’"
"It could happen right this minute . . ."
But before she finished her next mini-story, the dressing room door did burst open, and a masked figure jumped into the room, shouting: "Now I’ve got you my pretties!" Barbara Jo and Lori both emitted loud shrieks as the scene unfolded.
The intruder started laughing at the girls’ frightened response, and then dropped the mask.
"Mary Jean! Damn you, you scared the crap out of us!" Barbara Jo recognized her friend, Mary Jean Price, as the culprit behind the practical joke.
Still laughing, Mary Jean walked over to an extra chair in the dressing room and sat down. "Don’t get your pantyhose in an uproar." As soon as she said ‘pantyhose,’ both Lori and Barbara Jo opened their mouths to say ‘tights,’ but each saw the other start, and smiled.
"I heard you outside the door talking about witches and hunchbacks and dumping plaster on people. So I thought I’d put a little reality in your fantasy. Pretty good, huh?" Mary Jean asked her long-time friend, Barbara Jo.
"No, not ‘pretty good.’ Were trying on fancy clothes, here. What if your little prank had caused one of us to have an accident . . . ."
"You mean . . ." Mary Jean put her hand over her mouth.
"No, I don’t mean that. I mean something like tearing our costume, or fainting. We’re trying to make a serious impression here. Which reminds me, why aren’t you at your modeling assignment?"
Mary Jean waved off her friend’s question. "Serious impression? Yeah, right. A cheerleader and the Ice Capades. Next stop, the catwalk in Milan."
While Barbara Jo and her friend had what was probably a typical argument between two friends, Lori recovered from her initial shock, and took a long look at Mary Jean. She remembered glancing at the girl earlier, when all the prospective models had gathered to hear Ms. Cartier’s welcome. Come to think of it, Mary Jean had been standing right next to Barbara Jo out in the large lobby. And Lori remembered contrasting the two side by side blondes: Barbara Jo, the classic blonde bombshell looker; and her companion, with hair and a face as beautiful as her friend’s, but something else askew.
Now that Mary Jean was only seated a few feet away, Lori saw that her earlier glancing assessment had been on target. Mary Jean did possess a beautiful face, with long golden tresses. Her other outstanding feature was lovely feet, highlighted in fire engine red sandal heels, well manicured and shapely, even through the sheer nude hose that encased them.
But in between, nothing seemed quite right. Her shoulders were broad, but very bony and even less flatteringly displayed in her sleeveless dress. The dress had a rather low front, but Mary Jean had virtually no bust so the cloth sort of just hung there.
"You didn’t answer my question, Mary Jean. I saw one of the Hose Queen staff escort you off. How did it go?" Barbara Jo pressed.
Her friend seemed somewhat disturbed. She uncrossed her knob like nylon sheathed knees, stood up, and paced back and forth across the dressing room. Getting a full-length look at Mary Jean did not improve Lori’s critique. Once you got above her attractive feet, Mary Jean’s legs were anything but flattering. The shiny tan hosiery helped a little, but not enough. And considering how skinny and flat chested the girl was on top, it was hard to believe how weighty her hips and rear end looked, stretching the fabric of her dress to the limit.
"Well, it seems to me that the high and mighty Magdalena Cartier and her staff don’t know what the hell they are doing," Mary Jean started, in an agitated tone. "I mean look at the two of you, dressed up in these ridiculous costumes. They have no concern for a person’s pride or dignity. Yeah, they led me off on an assignment. But did you see who they paired me with? Remember that girl with the stringy brown hair, and that hideous scar covering one side of her face?"
Barbara Jo looked puzzled, but Lori remembered the girl. Apparently, she was a bit more inquisitive than her cheerleading co-model.
"And let me tell you, when you get up close to her, you can see that it extends even further down her neck, and who knows how far down her body. I mean, I pity the girl, and all, but how in the world could she be chosen to model sexy lingerie? I mean, it just proves they don’t know what they’re doing."
Lori had to bite her tongue to keep from lashing out at Barbara Jo’s friend. Yes, it was true that the brown haired girl was not very attractive in the face. But Lori also remembered that the girl had great looking legs. They were long, and perfectly shaped, and well-complimented by the dark hose the girl was wearing. If it wasn’t for Barbara Jo, Lori would tell Mary Jean that it made more sense to have a girl with legs like those modeling pantyhose, than the bony sticks on Mary Jean’s body.
"Anyway, they were leading us down some photography studio, through the manufacturing area. I figured they were probably showing the She Beast the back door, and I was going to get booted out with her simply by association. So, I hung back around a corner or two, then worked my way back to the main hall. Everybody was gone, but somebody had left a clipboard behind, and I found your name, and your assigned room, and here I am."
Barbara Jo just shook her head. "I don’t know how you do it, Mary Jean. But you always seem to land on your feet."
Lori knew how Mary Jean ‘did it.’ She hooked her sorry looking wagon up to Barbara Jo’s star, and went along for the ride. She just had to say something.
"Of course," Lori started, "they all seemed to have everything pretty organized. Everybody in an assigned place, and all. I’m not really sure they’ll have something for you here."
The not-so-statuesque blonde gave Lori the start of a withering look, but Barbara Jo agreed. "She’s right, Mary Jean. Maybe you should just stay out of sight until we get started, and then make your way back to the lobby. Just find some staff person and ask them what kind of modeling assignments are still left. Then pick a good one."
Mary Jean appeared to be gearing up for a patented good excuse why that plan wouldn’t work, when their consultant, Mrs. Beasley, poked her gray head in the dressing room door.
"Are you sweeties just about ready – oh, you have a visitor. I didn’t see anyone come in." The older lady looked surprised, but not upset, to see Mary Jean.
"Oh. Yes. This is my good friend, Mary Jean Price. She was just . . ."
". . . just coming by to get a new assignment. There was some confusion, as I was sent to the wrong place. The staff member suggested I find a more senior member of staff and get them to straighten it out. I told them where Barbara Jo was, and they agreed that if anyone could find a good use for my talents, you could. So, here I am."
Well, Lori thought, Mary Jean is not only a good ‘hanger on’ – she’s a pretty good bullshitter, too.
"Well," Mrs. Beasley rubbed her chin. "I was really only planning to work on these two action figures tonight. The only other costume I have is a Magician’s Assistant, but I don’t think . . ."
"Perfect! I actually worked as a magician’s assistant in High School. I wore a white blouse, and coat and tails, and sheer black tights." Mary Jean was probably making this up as she went along, but Lori admired her ability to use accurate information in support of an outright lie.
"I suppose it will be all right. Let me get you the outfit, and you can put it on while I work with your friends. Ladies," she addressed Lori and Barbara Jo, "if you’ll accompany me to the staging area."
Mrs. Beasley walked out the door, and the cheerleader and ice skater followed. Mary Jean smiled broadly and held out a thumbs up. Barbara Jo just laughed and shook her head.
Lori and Barbara Jo followed their host into her work area/studio. Remembering Barbara Jo’s earlier comments about the ‘eerieness’ of the setting, Lori felt a little chill. But considering the small amount of clothes she was wearing, her shivers could be due to room temperature, rather than foreboding.
"Now, dearies, you just wait here a bit," Mrs. Beasley said as she opened a drawer and pulled out a large package. "I’ll just pop this outfit down to your friend and be back in a wink."
The old woman headed back down the hall toward the dressing room. While Barbara Jo looked around at the various figurines and trinkets that crowded the shelves and tables in the room, Lori debated whether to ask a few obvious questions about Mary Jean.
Barbara Jo broke the momentary silence. "I’ll be honest with you, Lori. As much as I like wearing this outfit, and getting the chance to model, I’ll be really glad when this whole thing is over."
Lori nodded, but thought to herself, well, as long as you’re being honest. "Uhh, Barbara Jo, about Mary Jean – I mean, she seems really nice, and all, but, well, what I mean is . . ."
"Not what you’d call your typical model, huh?"
"Well, I guess I’m a little surprised that she’s here. Not that I think we’re better than her or anything. It’s just, well, she has an unusual, uhh, physique." Lori silently complimented herself on her phrasing. That came out much better than her first choice – ‘weird looking body.’
"You know," Barbara Jo lowered her voice, afraid that Mary Jean would somehow hear her, "I like Mary Jean a lot. She’s funny and clever and unpredictable, and always getting herself into some crazy situation. But she’s got it in her mind, somehow, that she can be a model. She looks at those pictures in the fashion magazines – you know, the ones that look like they’re trying to make the girls look ugly on purpose – and she’ll say, ‘well, hell, I look as good as that.’ I just don’t have the heart to tell her that she really doesn’t. I mean, how can you say that to a friend?"
"Oh, you couldn’t. But, you’re not the one who invited her here. That was the Hose Queen people."
"I know. I was visiting Mary Jean at the mall – she works at the jewelry counter in Macy’s. A lady from Hose Queen walked up and invited me to this fashion shoot. Well, I thought Mary Jean was helping another customer at the time, but before I could even get the word ‘yes’ out of my mouth, Mary Jean was behind the counter right where we were standing, and saying ‘when do you want us there?’ She has a knack for tagging along, sometimes."
Yeah, I’ll bet, thought Lori, just nodding her head.
"Anyway, the lady from Hose Queen sort of hesitated, and then took a long look at Mary Jean’s face – she has a very photogenic look about her. And this is where Mary Jean is so clever: the lady was trying to get a look at Mary Jean’s legs, but Mary Jean just stuck out her foot from behind the counter. She was wearing hose and pumps – and Mary Jean has really attractive feet as well. So the lady from Hose Queen said ‘sure, two’s company,’ and we both got invited." Barbara Jo looked down the hall toward the dressing room. "I just hope they find some way to use her so she’s not embarassed."
By the time Barbara Jo finished her recruiting tale, Mrs. Beasley was returning from the dressing room. She was shaking her head. "Your friend, Miss Price, has a very unusual shape for a model."
The two models looked at each other, and smiled a bit. "I think she prefers ‘unique.’" Barbara Jo offered.
"Oh. Well, that’s accurate, I suppose. All right then, while she’s getting dressed, let’s get underway with you two beauties. Now, let me take a look at your costumes." The old woman walked slowly around Barbara Jo, straightening a turned up collar here, pulling down a sleeve there. She then turned her attention to Lori’s figure skating outfit, and only made a few minor adjustments. "Perfect," she said to the Oriental girl. "Of course, that’s no surprise to you."
Lori opened her mouth to protest, but saw Barbara Jo shake her head, and wisely let it slide.
"Now, if you two dearies would step over in front of the camera." The two girls headed in the direction of an old time camera – the kind with a protective cloak attached, mounted on a tripod. "That’s it. There’s a large brown carpet there, between those support lines. Just stand side by side on that cloth. Excellent."
The costumed colleagues stood by side on the rather thin rug as they had been instructed. Lori was glad her skates were squared off, or they would cut through this thin material in no time.
"All right then, now comes the ‘silly’ part. I need the two of you to
go through a series of poses – movements that a cheerleader or skater would
perform. I’ll be watching you through my lens here, and when you hit the
one I’m looking for, I’ll shout ‘hold it, Barbara Jo or Lori,’ and then
you hold your pose until the other girl hits her right pose, and then I’ll
photograph it with my special camera. Understood?"
Lori nodded, and Barbara Jo said, "We’ll do our best."
"Fine. Here we go, then." Mrs. Beasley put her head under the black cloak attached to the camera, and called out, "Whenever you’re ready, ladies!"
The girls looked at one another, shrugged, and then did their best to assume the correct poses for their ‘characters’ in a limited area. Lori did a couple of spins, assumed a couple of ballet positions she remembered from long ago dance classes, and tried to be as lithe as possible. Barbara Jo tried to remember the dance routines she had seen professional cheerleaders do in the limited time they’re shown on televised football games: a few kicks, some dance steps, and shaking pretend pom poms.
Barbara Jo also had a strange thought. It related to some of Lori’s earlier speculating on horrific story possibilities. The blonde remembered seeing a cheap movie years before on television about a girl wanting to be a model, and having to pose for a photographer using an old camera similar to the one Mrs. Beasley was using. In the movie, the camera turned out to have magical powers, and turned the blonde model into a plastic mannequin. What if Mrs. Beasley really was a witch? And what if her ‘special camera’ was like the one in the movie? Would Lori and herself wind up being turned into wax dummies for a department store? The thought was ridiculous, and she couldn’t wait to tell Lori about it later. But it did give her an unusual tingle – part fear, and part arousal.
"Hold it, Lori!" Mrs. Beasley shouted. Barbara Jo paused for a moment to look at her modeling partner. Lori had her left knee slightly bent with the toe of that skate downward, and her right leg straight. Her arms were straight at her side, and her head was tilted back slightly, eyes looking up. She seemed awfully still, Barbara Jo thought for moment, could it really be that –
But then she noticed Lori’s chest rapidly going up and down, and the short haired brunette whispered. "I hope she hurries – I can’t hold this very long."
"Barbara Jo, try that hands on hip pose you did a few moments ago. That’s the one. Lovely. Feet spread a little bit more. A bit more. There. Perfect. Hold it, Barbara Jo!" Mrs. Beasley had talked the blonde into a pose that was as much superheroine as it was cheerleader. But the pose did help her ample bust become a bit more prominent, and highlighted her long and well formed legs.
"All right, dearies. I’m going to take a shot now. But hold that pose for a second shot immediately after. There will be a bit of brightness, so try not to blink, especially on the first shot. That one is very, very important."
As she held her wide pose, Barbara Jo couldn’t help but think about that movie. Could it be that with one flash of the camera, she would feel herself start to stiffen and harden? Could it be that she and her new friend Lori would soon become permanent models?
"All right, then. Here – We – Go!" And with that, Mrs. Beasley pushed the shutter button, and there was a brief flash. Despite the absurdity of the idea, Barbara Jo wondered for a brief movement whether she could move. But, of course, she could.
"Perfect pose on that first one, dearies. Now, for the second one."
Lori, who had the most difficult pose of the two models, was glad to hear it was almost over. One more flash, and then –
But something happened after this flash. Lori felt as if the ground beneath her ice skates had given way, and yet her body was jerked upwards, somehow. The same thing was happening to Barbara Jo. It was as if someone had drawn a curtain up around her body, and was lifting it toward the ceiling.
It all happened very quickly. In a matter of seconds, both models found themselves suspended in air, held there by some sort of stretched cloth. Much like the cloth they had been standing on.
"What the hell? What is this? What’s going on?" Lori yelled out, as her hands grabbed the thin fabric trying to steady herself as she swung back and forth.
"We’re in some kind of net, I think," Barbara Jo cried, as she too swung helplessly side to side. The two girls would bump each other on occasion, although they were in separate containers.
In the midst of her fear and panic, Lori did take a moment to assess the trap in which she stood. Perhaps it was a net, and it did seem to have a familiar criss-cross pattern of fabric throughout. But when the skating model looked down at her own legs, she realized why the pattern looked familiar.
"Oh my God, Barbara Jo!" Lori shouted, as she stared down at the loose cloth sticking out near her feet, then up at the broad area of cloth that joined the two girls’ separate traps, and then over at the identical cloth trap in which the cheerleader model swung to and fro. "We’re trapped in giant pantyhose!"
Mrs. Beasley had finished tinkering with her camera, and walked toward her nylon-netted captives. "Miss Yamasaki! I’m very disappointed in you. As I have emphasized during our visit together today, I do not work with pantyhose. I work with tights. Apparently, the two of you have still not learned that distinction. So, I will need to use a visual aide."
As the old woman walked back toward her camera, Barbara Jo pleaded with her. "Please, Mrs. Beasley. Let us out of these tights! We won’t tell Ms. Cartier what happened. We’ll just leave and never come back. I promise. Just let us out."
"All in due time, my dearies." The old woman reached behind the camera for the shutter button. "Now, I think this will demonstrate what I mean by ‘tights.’" She pushed the shutter, and there was a third flash. And this had a new effect on the thin fabric.
Barbara Jo, the taller and bigger of the two models, felt it first. "Lori. I think the pantyhose – tights – these things are getting smaller."
It was true. The giant leggings were beginning to shrink around their captives. And at a rather rapid pace. Within several seconds, the nylon was quite snug around Barbara Jo’s entire body, and soon the same was true with Lori.
"It’s . . . getting . . . too . . ." Lori was struggling to say, but Mrs. Beasley finished.
" . . . ‘tight’ I believe is the word you’re looking for. I think you’ll find these tights to be quite special."
By now, Barbara Jo couldn’t move an inch as the nylon shrunk around her. But just when she thought it was going to squeeze the very life out of her, another strange thing started to happen.
Barbara Jo began to shrink along with the tights.
"Oh no! Oh no! I think the fabric is making me smaller!" The panicked cheerleader cried. But she didn’t have to tell her friend, because the same thing was happening to Lori.
The skater noticed something else. Not only was the nylon fabric making her body smaller, it was also shaping it. Posing it. Nylon slid behind her left knee, making it bend forward, while lifting her left heel pointing her toe downward. Another piece of fabric had moved under her chin, and was forcing her head slightly up and back. Soon, Lori was in the same position she had held for Mrs. Beasley’s photo.
"What are you doing to us?" Lori cried, only her voice came out higher and softer, since she was now only half the size she had been when she first posed.
The old woman carefully inspected Lori’s skater pose, then checked Barbara Jo’s nylon prison, where the now three foot high cheerleader stood with hands held on hips by nylon, and feet and legs separated by the continuing shrinking tights.
"Simply fulfilling our promise. Hose Queen promised to make you models, and that’s exactly what is happening. A different kind of modeling than what you had in mind, I’m sure, but modeling nonetheless."
Mrs. Beasley walked over to a table and picked up a couple of hosiery packages. "You see, we believe that our ‘Tights in Action’ line of hosiery will appeal not only to performers, but to younger girls as well. And as part of our promotion aimed at younger teens and fans of girls in action, we are going to offer action figures. They will be mass produced, of course. But the original figures will be displayed by Ms. Cartier herself at various news conferences and promotional events."
The old woman walked back to her transforming tights, which were now nearly the size of a regular pair of hosiery, with their models proportionately shrunk inside.
"And I believe she will be quite pleased with the way our cheerleader and figure skater came out. Yes indeed."
Lori and Barbara Jo had heard the beginning of Mrs. Beasley’s explanation, but soon after shock set in, and the girls found themselves standing perfectly still in their poses. As they reached their final height of about twelve inches, they hung loosely in the swaying tights once again.
Lori heard the old woman say "Time for the final step" and saw a large blur walk toward the camera.
Barbara Jo heard nothing, but instead thought about two things. The first was how ironic that the last absurd fantasy the girls had imagined would come true. The camera was turning them into permanent models of a sort. And the second was about her friend Mary Jean. She supposed that she would not have a companion in the giant tights Mrs. Beasley planned to trap her in. She would swing to and fro alone. And that made Barbara Jo very sad.
And sadness was Barbara Jo’s last conscious feeling, as the camera flashed again, and she felt her tiny body begin to quickly stiffen and harden, until she was just a cheerleader figurine.
But Mrs. Beasley wasn’t the only one to witness Barbara Jo’s and Lori’s final transformation. As the shrunken girls swung in their now regular size tights prison, and the final flash went off, Mary Jean Price came walking down the hall into the work area, wearing a white blouse, tails, black fishnet tights, and black heels.
"Well, how do I look, and be nice . . ." she started, and then witnessed the fantastic scene in front of her.
"Oh – my – God!" Mary Jean stuttered as she saw her friend, Barbara Jo, and the other girl become dolls before her eyes. The blonde stood fixed in place as she witnessed the shocking site.
Mrs. Beasley stepped over to the cabinet from which she had taken Mary Jean’s magician’s assistant costume. She opened the door and pulled out a black wand. She then walked slowly toward the stunned model.
"I forgot one important piece of your costume, dearie," she said in a sweet, threatening tone.
Mary Jean looked at the old woman coming toward her with the wand, and realized her peril. "Stay away from me you old witch!" Mary Jane started to back away slowly, and then ran as quickly as she could in her high heels.
Mrs. Beasley just laughed. "Run if you like. You can’t outrun my magic. ‘HOCUS POCUS’!" the old woman cried out, and pointed the wand straight ahead. The tip of the wand dropped down, and a long black fishnet stocking shot out of the wand.
The stocking headed directly for Mary Jean. The fleeing girl looked back to see the nylon missile, screamed, and increased her speed. She saw a corner ahead, and believed if she could beat the stocking to it, she could get away. She rounded the corner a few feet ahead of the nylon, but screamed again when she saw the long fishnet turn the corner as well.
Mary Jean started to run again, but this time her high heels were her undoing. She slipped, and the right heel came off. As she hit the floor, the fishnet stocking flew over and past her prone body. Mary Jean reached down to remove her other shoe, and get ready to run again, but as soon as she flung the heel aside, she looked up to see the stocking heading back toward her. She lay down flat again, hoping the stocking would pass over her once more.
But instead, the fishnet dropped low to the floor as well, and Mary Jean looked up to see the open end of the stocking come over her head and extend down the length of her body. Once her own fishnetted feet were contained within the magic hosiery, it tied itself in a knot, and then began its work of tightening and shrinking its captured victim.
Mrs. Beasley caught up to the nyloned package just as it was about finished its shrinking work. She carefully picked up the stocking, with the tiny, struggling Mary Jean inside, and carried it back toward her camera.
"Oh my, we’ve got some work to do with you, dearie," she said, trying to think of a way to make this project turn out as well as the previous two . . . .
"Excellent work, as always, Mrs. Beasley!" exclaimed Magdalena Cartier, as she held up the figure skater doll and inspected it in the light. "The design of the skate was very considerate. We don’t want any of our young, future customers cutting themselves. Yes, she’ll make a fine addition to my display case . . ." she paused, and noticed Mrs. Beasley sigh, but then nod. " . . . but eventually, it will no doubt find its way back to one of your shelves."
The old woman smiled. "Thank you, Ms. Cartier."
"However, I am somewhat disappointed about your giving the third girl an outfit. She had not been assigned here, and you should have called upstairs when she came by."
Mrs. Beasley hung her head. "I’m very sorry, Ms. Cartier. I should’ve known she was not telling the truth. I suppose I was so involved in making sure my other two models were perfect, I didn’t really think. I hope I didn’t ruin someone else’s project."
"As it turns out, no. I’m afraid she really wasn’t much of a model anyway. I had planned to liquify her, and add her to the pantyhose making formula. Her place will be taken by the scout who invited her to our modeling session. Still, I don’t suppose she made much of a doll."
The old woman smiled coyly. "I’m glad you mentioned her, Ms. Cartier. I wasn’t sure what to do, but then I got an idea."
The old witch was almost bubbling with excitement as she walked to a nearby cabinet. Magdalena smiled. She loved her staff to be so enthusiastic about her work.
Mrs. Beasley came back cradling something in her hand. "Actually, it all makes perfect sense. While the girl was not very attractive, overall, she did have a lovely face and very attractive feet, particularly in her fishnet tights. And since she was dressed as a magician’s assistant – well, it was just a case of finding the right display."
She held up a long box, which appeared to be two smaller boxes held together by a small clamp. Sticking out of one end of the box was the lovely face of a doll, with beautiful blonde hair. And sticking out of the other end of the box were two tiny doll’s feet, both sheathed in tiny fishnet stockings.
"And as you can see," Mrs. Beasley added, unlatching the clamp and separating the box into two halves, each with a closed end panel, and then putting the two together again. "It really is a classic pose for a magician’s assistant."
Magdalena laughed and applauded. "Brilliant, Mrs. Beasley! Just brilliant!" And she took her turn separating the Mary Jean doll into halves, and then back into one.