Friday, June 22, 2012

The Dark...Reloaded: "Make Pretty." Another Sniff Of Hollywood Ego Gone South.

Of all the stories in the collection, this one may come off as the most normal, the most straight-forward, in some respects.  Not that it doesn't have bite, oh no.  I think it's got one of the most insidious revelations toward the end I've ever written, but the story structure and, hmmmm, 'vibe,' perhaps, just don't seem that strange. 

I don't believe in formula when writing. I believe in allowing the brain, the characters, whatever is driving a story, room to roam.  Just because something works doesn't mean I want to copycat it to death.  I want to take that and, if exploring similar story terrain, take different paths, look at it from different angles.  That said, I think this story totally reads like a John Claude Smith story, if there is such a thing, haha...  I do certain things and have certain obsessions I like to mess with (yet in saying this, am always expanding on these obsessions and interest; gotta keep shakin' things up, man).  This touches on some of those, kind of a streamlined and less crazy take on what "Things That Crawl In Hollywood" explores.  More focused, honed to painful yet warped honesty and actually quite sad.  Two characters, one drowning in the shallow waters of ego, allowing the world and her feeble expectations to inspire unhappiness.  Her own and that of her husband.

And a third character, a rival...who had found her own Fountain of Youth, no matter the gruesome process...

This need, the Hollywood proclivity to cater to young people, this battle against ageing, corrupts minds and more: egos get swatted, especially for woman.  Take that desire to still seem youthful, beautiful in ways that I consider artificial via some form of surgery or...well, the story showcases another means.

I just checked my previous post for this story and thought I had noted this, perhaps I did it in another blog, but it kind of relates. I remember seeing an interview with Marilyn Monroe mere months before her death, and how the lines on her face, a touch leaner there as well, really accentuated her beauty.  It was quite possibly the best she ever looked. 

The sample?  Hmmm, so, you want a taste of the gruesome?  You want to know part of the secrets of eternal youth?  Take my hand, but don't take the powder Vanessa DeBarre sent to the now dead Christina Conero.  It's lethal if you don't know the details. 

Here's some of that, the final revelation:


     Vanessa DeBarre read the article aloud: “Christina Conero, actress and former It Girl, was found shot six times and mutilated by her husband, Tony award winning actor Philip Raines.  She was 47.  Conero was found in the bedroom of her Beverly Hills estate by her personal assistant who had ‘heard a ruckus and went to investigate,’ police said.  Best known for her …”

     She skimmed the rest of the article in silence, a cursory exercise as she knew all the details and they did not matter.

     The article had been cut out and set on a tray by her personal assistant, Jade, along with a plate of raw, finely chopped filet mignon, and clear tape.

     She gently tore off a piece of tape and pressed it to the article.

     A slight smile nudged the corners of her mouth.

     She took the article and taped it along the right side of the large mirror of her antique vanity, right below similar articles for Rhea Stone, Cassandra Prine, and Nicole Mastersson   

     She glanced at herself, displeased with a few stray eyebrows.  She picked up her tweezers and plucked one, two, then…the fine indentation of a wrinkle next to her left eye drew her attention. 

     She rubbed it and said, “Come on my darlings.”

     She picked up a piece of the raw, finely chopped filet mignon with her tweezers, and paused.

     To herself, she said, “Christina, my dear.  If only I would not have forgotten to list the final step to the endless beauty you so craved.”

     Vanessa raised the meat to her nostril.

     She continued: “Step number four: Feed them.”

     She remembered her first time, burying her face in a full plate of raw meat to alleviate the shock.

     But now…now she had them trained.

     “Come on my darlings,” she said, staring into the mirror at the meat and her nostril.  She watched as one of her darlings—the worms that lived under the skin of her always perfect face—filled the dark cavern of her nostril, opened its pincer-like jaws and took the meat.

     She spent twenty minutes feeding them in this manner.  The wrinkle was gone, any and all faint lines were gone, her whole face smoothed out to perfection.

     After she was done she smiled at her reflection, satisfied, just as her darlings were satisfied, and said, “Beauty may be skin deep, my dear Christina, but you know and I know—excuse me, you knew and I know, that in this town”—a wink and puckered lips, blowing herself a kiss—“that’s all that really matters.”


Nasty, and rather icky, too, haha.  Cruel, even.  

Here's a photo of a hydrothermal worm, up close and personal and probably related to the worms in the story and...and...Ugh!  [shudders]




  1. ohhhh, you need a like button -- that drew me in and kept pushing me forward and then left me hanging...

    great excerpt John

  2. Thanks much, Mimi. Glad it did, that's the intention of the second run promo posts for the collection. I also find I'm more inclined to give more away now. Why not? If it gets you even more interested, what the heck. That's a good thing.