Last time on Betty Lou’s Treasure Trove…

The weekend skidded by, lost to prepping for the big art history exam on the Bauhaus that Tuesday.  Pauline huffed an audible sigh of relief following the test; she had identified the slides easily and felt confident in her essay writing.  Apparently, all of the studying had paid off, and now she could relax.  She had completely forgotten about the basement workroom until she pulled up to the store and a switch flicked on in her mind.

Chester was outside, moving some of the mannequins around to showcase the new front window display in the making.  He hefted the children away from the bench and strapped them to the pole with the flag waving Elvis wannabe and his doe-eyed girlfriend.  Pauline looked at the window and was taken aback; the lovely blonde mannequin was poised front and center, sporting a flowy teal formal gown with sequin accents from the late 1940s.  Her blonde hair cascaded over her shoulders.

Chester’s eyes met Pauline’s gaze and he waved an abrupt hello.

“She’s a beaut, isn’t she?” he called out.  “Just finished working on her this weekend.”

Pauline waved back with a slight roll of her fingertips nodding, unable to speak.  She opened the door to be greeted heartily by Betty Lou, who was nestled in her corner watching the television for a change of pace, tuned in to an unfamiliar old game show in which a man dressed in a chicken suit was deciding something between a door and a box.

“You’re almost there, hon,” Betty Lou exclaimed from her ledger, taking note of how many hours she’d worked.  “You’ll have that mannequin worked off in no time.  I even put a SOLD sign on her for you.  One or two more days and she’ll be yours…  Now can you rearrange that front window?  Chester’s finished his newest creation, and I want to make sure she gets all the attention she deserves.”  She gestured towards the new blonde mannequin with her meaty hand.  “Just clear out all of that junk around her feet and finish setting up that dollhouse display.”

Pauline drifted to the front window.  The mannequin appeared much more static than she had when Pauline had confronted her downstairs, her skin less waxy and her eyes distant and dry.  She stood sentry, staring out into the parking lot.  Betty Lou’s voice drifted over, “She’s a pretty one.  Looks just like that girl Dinah, who worked here before you came along…”

Apparently Chester had just piled everything to the side as he readied his new mannequin for her debut, and he and Betty Lou had been waiting for Pauline to clear the things out.  Pauline picked up a couple of boxes of shoes from the heap next to the mannequin’s feet and hauled them to the shoe rack a couple of clothing displays over.  There was a dollhouse and a box of doll furnishings and accessories at the ready, and once Pauline found new homes for all four boxes of shoes and wigs, she set to work on putting the dollhouse together.  She could barely make out a trailing tiny and distant sound, like far away moaning, but it was largely drowned out by the television in Betty Lou’s corner.  In fact, it was only barely audible within arm’s distance of the new mannequin, and only if Pauline strained to hear it at quiet points in the show.  It was the same soft crying she had heard in the basement, but much more distant and muted.

The dollhouse was vintage and was in relatively good shape but had remained unfinished.  There were some rooms that were more complete than others, wallpapered and floored in ways that were aesthetically pleasing, and Pauline could identify where the kitchen, bathroom, dining room, and two bedrooms were likely supposed to be, arranging furnishings from the box accordingly.  She set up a sort of parlor in another room, and a den in another, before she left for the day.  Every so often as she worked, Pauline would glance up at the new blonde mannequin out of the corner of her eye.  She had the distinct feeling that she was being watched, and the eerie sobbing was unnerving.  But the mannequin just stood motionless, silently staring out the front window to greet anyone passing by the store.

Mannequin legs, detail from featured image with the writer
Mannequin legs, detail from featured image with the writer
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
About the Author

Jennifer Weigel is a multi-disciplinary mixed media conceptual artist residing in Kansas USA. Weigel utilizes a wide range of media to convey her ideas, including assemblage, drawing, fibers, installation, jewelry, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video and writing. You can find more of her work at: https://www.jenniferweigelart.com/ https://www.jenniferweigelprojects.com/ https://jenniferweigelwords.wordpress.com/

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