Dressed to Kill

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
An afternoon of shopping goes wrong.

Submitted: June 14, 2019

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 14, 2019



Dressed to Kill

This store treats clothing with respect.  The dresses rest on padded hangers.  With only three or four to rack, they have space to breathe.  The sales people handle them gently, never allowing a dress to be slung over a chair, tossed on the floor or, worst of all, to dangle from a hook.  Here wrinkles are smoothed with a gentle whoosh of steam, loose threads are carefully snipped and buttons are securely fastened. Yes, it makes things difficult, but that only adds to my satisfaction. 

Dresses are so much more than fabric and design.  They are beguiling parasites-- personalities without souls. Sliding over our hips, they seduce us into thinking that we wear them. When, of course, it is the other way around. 

I walk the aisles slowly. As I pass from one mirror to the next, my reflection becomes a stranger. I see a tall, angular woman in a black cashmere coat, a person more compelling than pretty. Her hair shines like a smooth, gold cap. It swings back and forth across her shoulders. But, her nose is thin and her mouth ungenerous. Bangs hide the high forehead directing attention to eyes the aching blue of Arctic ice.

This is a person with acquaintances, not friends--a woman who doesn’t chat with cab drivers or seatmates on airplanes, someone who would never say “have a nice day.” 

She lives outside the boundaries. Like the dresses she covets, she is pure style.  Feelings were not included in her design.  She finds emotions both tiresome and petty.  Yet, she is not without her particular passions, and there is nothing she enjoys more than a dangerous game, an unpredictable afternoon.

I run my hand along a marble counter. My mind goes blank. I stop thinking and observe.  The store is a stage, and I am waiting for the plot to unfold. Designer Dresses is quiet but not empty. There are two sales people on the floor.  The rest are at lunch. One stands at the cash register.  She has filled several garment bags that hang on a trolley beside her. Now she is folding sweaters. She does this carelessly, without smoothing the creases.  It is a big sale.  She should be excited. Instead, tired or bored, she works in slow motion. Her glasses slide down her nose.  Each time she stops to push them up, her customer, a tall redhead in a camel coat, becomes more impatient.  She combs her fingers through her hair. She shifts her weight from one foot to the other and grinds a stiletto heel into the carpeting.  She checks her watch and adjusts the shiny black bag on her shoulder.  The display is as useless as a peacock performing for a goldfish. The saleswoman looks right through her.

The other clerk I’ve seen before.  She’s big, maybe six feet tall with a central European accent.  Pushy and loud, she knows how to sell clothes. Today, she is hustling-- taking advantage of the lunch hour to wait on as many people as possible. She is in and out of the fitting rooms, striding back and forth, a clutch of hangers in each hand, head lifted, back straight as a dancer’s.  Her skirt swishes, and her nostrils flare as she walks past a promising customer. Her nose for money will make this a challenge. But, for now, I am invisible.  Disappearing is as easy as ice skating or riding a bike. I can become a distraction in of the corner of your eye, a shadow without substance or weight.

As I walk in slow motion, each step articulated, my eye fixes on a spot of red.  Crimson stops me in my tracks. This is not the happy color of roses or Christmas. It is the red of wine or blood, a serious shade that matches the weight of the velvet fabric.  I walk to the rack and remove the hanger. The dress drapes softly over my arm.

I move towards the fitting room.  The door snaps shut.  I take off my coat, my boots, my slacks and blouse. I raise my arms, and the dress slides over my shoulders.  The silk lining washes down my arms. It flows like water across my ribs, my belly and down my hips.  I reach behind for the zipper and pull. The dress encloses me. Turning to face the mirror, I am completely present.  My breath is slow and deep.  My heart, for a moment, stops. I admire my breasts, my neck and the shadow in the hollow of my throat.  The waist is cinched tight. The skirt is so narrow it needs a high slash up the back to walk.  I turn and look at myself from the rear, liking the way skirt tapers just above the knee, the contrasts between skin and fabric. This dress is much too good for some simpering debutante to wear at charity gala. It is a sophisticated garment meant for a serious occasion.

But I’ve wasted too much time already.  Hangers clatter against the fitting room door. Out of my bag come the scissors. 

“Everything ok? Is there anything I can bring you?” asks the go-getter.

“Nothing right now,” I sing back.

“That is a beautiful dress.  Have you got it on?  I’d love to see. I haven’t seen it on anyone yet. Can you come out?” 

  I wonder if she fakes that accent. She sounds like a bad actress in a vampire movie.  All the same, my heart beats faster and my hands tingle.  She has seen me with the dress. This makes a more interesting challenge.

 “Sorry, I just took it off.  I think it’s too small.”

“Can I get you a larger size?  We might have one.” She has no idea how this interference excites me.

“Ok.” I decide to take her bait. I hear her walking out of the dressing area.  I start to work again, cutting gently around the sensor.  The scissors are razor sharp and the fabric parts easily. No one could do this more carefully, but each time the blade bites cloth, my stomach tightens. The damage will be on the inside of the dress. It can be mended. But I am remorseful for causing this injury.

Finally, the plastic tag comes loose and drops to the floor.  Picking it up, I move to the corner of the stall. I make a slit in the carpeting. Working quickly, I dab a bit glue on the sensor and put it under the flap of carpet and push the flap back into place. Now, the dress comes off.  The material folds easily into a neat square packet and fits into my bag, along with the hanger.  Standing half-naked in front of the mirror, I feel stripped and empty. But there is no time for melancholy.  Ms. Romania knows exactly which dress was in this room; the trick will be to make an invisible exit.

A smart little rap on the door. “You’re in luck.  I have it in the next size,” she chirps. 

I open the door a crack and stick my arm out.  Ignoring my hand, she pushes her body into the opening.  Such boldness is never a good idea.

“I can take the other dress out now.  Give you a little more room.”

Her tone stops just short of being a command. 

“I’ll need to keep it here to compare. I’m really not sure which size is right.” 

With my back turned toward her, I put my arm out the door again. This is an ungraceful and suspicious pose.  But without admitting that she thinks I’m up to something, she has no choice other than to hand me the larger dress.

“Why don’t you try them both on and let me have a look.”

This is really more than I can bear.  She is both tantalizing and annoying.

I open the door to cubicle wide. “Please do come in, I could use a second opinion,” I say, flashing my best sorority sister smile.  And in she comes, suspicious yet innocent. She hasn’t the imagination to realize what might be in store and, given the circumstances, I can’t say I blame her.  This recklessness is beyond my usual style.

Her eyes narrow and sweep the room then give me the once over. She takes in the way I’ve hung my clothes neatly over the chair, my pearl necklace, my Italian bag and shoes, the pink silk bra and panties everything just as it should be in Designer Dresses.  I watch the muscles in her face slowly relax and settle into an expectant, money-grubbing grin.  Her body morphs from ridged to obsequious.  She’s ready for the next easy sale.  She unzips the dress and removes it from the hanger.  Although she holds the sleeves carefully between her thumb and index finger, I cringe watching her touch the fabric.  I step into the dress, and she stands behind me and zips. 

“Beautiful, simply beautiful. But I think it may be a little big.  See how it bunches just here,” she says pulling the dress tighter around my waist. She is standing behind me.  We stare at our reflection in the mirror.  I am motionless, waiting for her to make the next move.  The dress no longer matters.  She has captured my undivided attention: Too red lipstick that has smeared on her teeth, black hair showing a millimeter of gray roots, the faint make-up line at the chin. Like a good hunter, in a split-second I have fixed her in my sights.

“We could alter it.  But let’s see how the other one looks,” she says turning away.  Where is it?”

She is impatient to bring this to a conclusion, and so am I.

“Oh, it’s just there under my clothes on the chair,” I reply. 

She bends over and picks up my pants and coat.  “I don’t see anything.” I hear the wariness again in her voice.  She starts to straighten up. As she does, I reach quickly into my bag.  The scissors are right on top, just where they should be.  It’s done in a minute.  She has no time to struggle or even think.  My aim is perfect.  The blade lands between her shoulders just to the left of her spine.  There is a sound like the air rushing out of a balloon as she collapses to the floor. 

I step out of the dress and hang it gently back on its hanger.  Really, she was right. The one in my bag is the better fit.




© Copyright 2020 Debby Rice. All rights reserved.

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