street photography, Warning: Holidaze Coming!

Pauline had been eager to have Donna over for a private party to get to know her better and celebrate the holidays.  They had been flirting with one another at work at Fast Joe’s Burger Joint for some time, with her working the register and Donna grinding and grilling the meat in the back.

They both worked the late shift and loved Stephen King novels and Ozzy.  Together, they made fun of their over-perky manager who always looked like she was just coming off a morning yoga rave and the 2AM stoners who ordered more food than they could possibly eat.  They snuck off for “smoke breaks” and got high together. They had a thing.

Everything was in place, there were pine decorations and lights over the hearth.  The fireplace was lit and music playing softly in the background, and a kettle warming mulled apple cider.  Pauline was playing the perfect hostess.

Donna was eager to come and was dressed in her velvet finery for the occasion.

She had brought the perfect gift…

Pauline opened the box and screamed.  Staring back at her was a severed child’s head in a jar, neatly cut, eyes glazed over.  It reeked of formaldehyde.  Its blonde hair trailed in wispy swirls to the surface.

Donna stared at her in dazed dread.  Did she know?  It was still a perfectly good head, it wasn’t obviously pallid or rotting and great care had been taken to drain it of any excess blood so it wouldn’t leak out into the jar and muddy everything in its preservation process.

Was it that obvious?

Pauline clamped the lid down on the box in a frenzy and ran to the bathroom.   The retching heaving sound of her throwing up in the toilet echoed down the hall.

Donna worried.  She must know…  It hadn’t seemed too obvious.  The head was still fresh.  Donna had only received it from her cousin Ellie the night before at their family holiday social and had complimented Ellie on her exquisite taste and expert embalming skills.  A child’s head for Krampusnacht was always the most perfect gift, and she did have quite the collection.

But Donna didn’t need another preserved head.  Her mantle was already full so she had moved on to collecting pinky fingers.  They didn’t take up as much room and they were always so delicate and small.  But her cousin Ellie wouldn’t have known that and so, there she was, gifted with one more head and nowhere to put it.

Surely Pauline would appreciate it, they had so much in common.

They both worked the late shift and loved Stephen King novels and Ozzy.  Together, they made fun of their over-perky manager who always looked like she was just coming off a morning yoga rave and the 2AM stoners who ordered more food than they could possibly eat.  They snuck off for “smoke breaks” and got high together. They had a thing.

Pauline had finally stopped throwing up long enough to dash to the kitchen and snatch up the phone.  She was speed dialing, a low tone followed by two high ones.

It isn’t that bad. 

No need to call the cops just because of a re-gifting, how inappropriate and overly dramatic.  She should be taught a lesson in manners, thought Donna as she cut the phone line.  She knew the police would be on their way soon.  She turned to Pauline.

“Don’t you like it honey?” she asked.

Pauline was frozen to the spot clutching the phone in her long beautiful fingers.  She let out a long whimpering sigh, almost more like a hushed gasp or a stifled cry.  She couldn’t move or think or articulate a response so she just stared back at Donna who glowered at her expectantly.

“I said, don’t you like it honey?” Donna asked again studying Pauline intently like a cat fixated on a birdbath.  Donna noticed for the first time how lithe and supple Pauline’s hands were as they cradled the phone.  Her nails were exquisitely manicured and painted bright red for the holidays.  Her hands appeared soft as silk, delicate and beautiful, not hands that were used to grinding meat or working the fryer…

street photography: found Ken doll head

Donna re-arranged her newly begun collection of pinky fingers later that night.  She had to make room for the two new additions…  Cousin Ellie and her family’s Krampusnacht gift exchange had come through yet again.

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.