The Little Shop of Horrors
"I don't understand this Star Trek or Star Wars stuff, it's just toys for kids." I heard her lecture her boyfriend as he opened the door. "How can you spend money on stupid toys like that ?" I saw a look of desperation in his eyes as he looked for compassion and understanding. I smiled and leaned on the counter to hear his request.
"I'm here for the Star Wars action figures." He said, towing
his unwilling girlfriend in Science Fiction paradise. She looked around
and saw only trash. Nothing she could relate to at all. I pointed out the
action figures and saw the guy's look in his eyes, the same he had as a
kid when he collected the action-figures back then. But like most people
he threw them out when he grew up or gave them to relatives' kids with
black belts in toy-busting. Now, richer and older he still had this look
of wonderment when he saw the tiny heroes again.
I left him to consider which ones he was to buy and followed her around.
She'd looked over the magazines stand and had quickly come to the conclusion
they were full of monsters and aliens. No Vogue or Cosmo here. Then she
looked at the masks at the back of the store and I could almost read her
mind going : "Why would anyone in their right mind want to put this
over their heads ?" While looking at a grinning Freddy Krueger. Then
she tried to find out what the strange, vaguely feminine creature with
a transparent face, besides it, was. The oblong Alien head was the most
incomprehensible of all, she surely told herself. After having made up
her mind that everything was as repulsive as Freddy, she changed her focus.
The guy, meanwhile had collected all the various versions of Luke Skywalker
and was browsing through the Han Solos.
Mugs, a household article she might have related to. Despite the fact
that they didn't look any better than the masks, she turned one over and
saw the price. She quickly put it down again. No, she definitely wouldn't
buy that either. She then noticed the door to the back rooms and took a
peek inside. She saw the sign and read about some kind of exhibition of
life-size famous S-F monsters. I looked down behind the counter and followed
her on the monitor. The first room was filled with classics. Frankenstein,
Count Dracula and the Wolfman among others. The guy meanwhile was in heaven,
drooling over the vehicles.
The classics didn't seem to hold her attention, that's when she entered the next room. At first she saw Gort, big and metallic. She paused to examine the sign and to discover she never heard about the movie. Neither did she know Robbie, although it might look somewhat cute to her. See-Threepio was next and she looked down on his little friend, Artoo. She knows them, she saw the video, with her friend, probably loathed how he recited the dialogue by heart before the actors could say their parts.
And then she paused... I took a better look. She had a revelation, I
could see it on the monitor. She walked around it, admiring the lines.
Her boyfriend was now having convulsions when he saw a rare set of figures
and some vehicles which never reached full production. He wasn't going
to be out of it for some time.
I got up from behind my counter and went over to her.
"Hi, can I help you ?" I asked her.
She snapped out of her fascination and looked back at me. "Are you enjoying the exhibition ?" I asked her.
"Sort of, What movie is this from ? Metropolis ? Isn't that where Superman lives ?"
The fact she knew Superman is because she probably liked Christopher Reeve or Dean Cain.
"It's a very old movie, from 1927."
"Did they have robots like that back then ?"
"Yeah, I guess it is quite special, art-deco, cubist and/or expressionist stuff, fits in the style of the movies they made back then. It has something appealing about it, even today."
"What's the movie like ?"
"It's a silent, black and white from Germany."
"They had film back then ?"
"In fact they made some of the best films of the time, Hollywood wasn't what it is today."
"Really ? I don't know much about film history." She was convinced Hollywood were the only people who made movies.
"I do have a book or two on the period and some pictures. They're
While Jason was still having mental sex about the Star-Wars collection, Laura, that was her name, was browsing through the books and pictures I presented her.
"Hey, there's someone in the robot." She said showing me the picture.
"Yeah, that's Brigitte Helm and she played a double role in the movie, The good Maria and her evil robot-double."
"How much for the books and pictures ?"
"Let me see..." I picked up the book and did some simplified mental arithmetic, rounding off a couple of bucks.
I'd made two customers very happy then.
Just as I was about to close the window I saw a woman rush towards me and desperately knock on the door.
"I'm sorry but I'm closing."
Laura had a peculiar look in her eyes, and I knew she was on one of those missions from God. So I decided to open the door to her.
"I just wanted to have a look at the robot in your exhibition. I work for an interior decorator and I thought it might be a brilliant idea to use it in a display or something."
"I guess you can have another look."
"I've brought my camera and I'd like to take some pictures..." She said taking it out of her generous handbag.
I turned the lights back on and leaned against the counter. I could see her in the distance flash away at it, taking pictures from every conceivable angle.
"Perhaps you'd want to photograph some pieces separately ?" I told her casually.
"I can ?" There was more than mere professional interest at work, this I felt very clearly now.
I picked up the mask and held it before her. She struggled to put the camera away and grabbed it with the eagerness of a kid with a toy, I felt like Santa.
She looked up at me and she was considering asking it to me. She wouldn't dare ask to wear it.
"Oh, it's a costume ?" She faked casual detachment.
"All of them are costumes, they are near-perfect replicas of the originals."
"How much is it ?"
"Well, it is quite expensive to make, so I guess for one that would somewhat fit you, about three and a half thousand."
If she'd had a check-book in her hand, she'd have signed it without question.
"You'd like to try it out ?" I teased her.
"I don't know, I'm bothering you, and it's getting late." She faked calmness with perfection.
"Don't worry, I've got time." I could almost hear the parade
band in her head playing "Stars and Stripes", fireworks go off
in her pleasure centre and her hormones having a pretty wild party.
She dropped her jacket and camera and began to remove her sweater like she was afraid the suit might run away.
"It's quite hard to get in, so I'll have to help you, but I promise I won't look."
I turned around and looked at See-Threepio who surely would have blinked proudly at me if he could. I put on a smug face and nodded proudly to him about the way I handled it.
"All done !" She said smiling. Laura sure looked nice in and out of clothes, young and healthy, with evenly balanced features.
"First we'll do the legs." I said, while taking the robot apart.
"Do you do something else with these costumes besides exhibiting them and selling them ?"
"What do you mean ?"
"Do you rent them ?" She was going for it.
"I sometimes do with Halloween." It was March. She probably considered Halloween her favourite season now.
She put her leg into the metal leg. "Hey it's metal !"
"Aluminium. The original may have been made of iron or steel, so consider yourself lucky you won't have to haul all this metal with you."
"It feels cold." She shivered as I adjusted the metal leg around hers.
"It's not exactly easy to move in, you know." I warned her.
"But it looks fantastic." She said climbing a bit awkwardly into the other leg holding onto my shoulders to keep her balance.
"The feet look like Japanese sandals." She said examining
her new legs.
"It's not too tight up here ?" I asked her running my hand where my breasts would be if I had a pair.
"Not really." She said, admiring her body as I fastened the clips on her shoulders. She wasn't that much endowed, really, just smaller than a good handful, about right for the suit.
"It fits almost perfectly, like it was made for you."
I could feel her shiver with excitement when I put the helmet over her. At that moment she had her religious experience. She froze into place and stood there relishing in the moment. At that moment, I no longer saw Laura, the young assistant interior decorator, whose friend was an avid Star Wars fan, but a proud and magnificent machine. She slowly turned towards me and looked back at me with her metal eyes. I grinned at her and scratched the back of my head.
She stood there for some time until she suddenly began to move, a slow
elegant pace, like the original she had never seen. She paced around her
robotic peers and stared at each one of them. She stepped back up to me
and stood before me, like a metal statue. Whatever was inside the robot
seemed to give life to its emotionless face. Her hand went up and she seemed
to want for a move on my part. I halfway expected a wild-haired mad scientist
to come out of nowhere and throw some large switches in a symphony of sparks
and lightning. But he didn't show up. Cabs are loathe to pick up Mad Scientists
this time of night.
Maria raised one foot on the pedestal and got up on it. She took a pace towards the throne, turned and sat down on it. She remained immobile on it for some time.
For a moment I didn't know if I had let Laura out without knowing it.
But her bag and clothes were still here and in this bag, I saw the back of a videotape-box marked "Metropolis". She had rushed out to get it. Leaving her friend to play with his toys. Not that he would have noticed her absence anyway.
By now came the moment when you start to feel somehow redundant in a
scene like this. I considered the situation and decided to tip-toe out
of the room, collected her clothes and put them on the counter. I closed
the shop down and left the light in the back-room on. And then I went upstairs.
Not really knowing what to do, I relaxed in my old chair and picked up a book, twenty pages down, I heard a noise. I heard somebody come up the stairs and when I looked up, this robot-woman opened the door. She stared at me and I closed my book. It walked up to me and offered itself to me.
I got up and began to embrace her. There was a tremor and she put her
arms around me. I kissed her and rubbed her sleek, smooth body and she
revelled in it.
It was getting light when I woke up in bed with her besides me. I know what you were thinking of, but since she had no "parts" we didn't do "it", but it doesn't mean we didn't have a good time.
By breakfast, Laura stepped out of the shower with a smile so bright I had to squint at her.
She rubbed her hand over the mask on the table and sat down in my robe.
We didn't want to waste words over it. She slipped a check under my
plate, thanked me and kissed me once more.
She left with a large bag containing all the pieces and left me to open
the shop. I couldn't resist going back to the room to the empty throne.
I'd have to get a new one. If only I knew how I do it, I might get such
a reaction from the others. So I might sell them for once...