The Lorelei Signal
(Schneewittchen, Grimm #53)
Written by Ed Ahern / Artwork by Marcia Borell
Blanche Neige was a model. No, much more than just a clothes horse, she was the face for Dressage perfume and the body for Angela’s Intimates. After cosmetic assistance her hair was ebony, her skin was alabaster, and her lips a plump rose.
Blanche was declared the ‘most beautiful’ model in America and slept only (although often) with the rich and famous. But she was brutally blunt. Her wardrobe, hair, posture and makeup staff, all seven of them, feared the barbed wire that whipped out from her perfect, pouty lips.
“No, no! Snoozy, it has to push up my tits.”
“Watch it, Sleazy, it’s eyeliner, not eye layer.”
Blanche’s supplier for recreational, ah, that is, medicinal drugs was Doctor Price Charmant, who adored her, but whom she declined to screw. “Never do your dealer,” was her motto.
Blanche’s agent, Ichbin Spiegel, was worried about her. “Right now, you’re the fairest of them all, but please cut back on the cocaine and impulsive sex or you’ll be an ugly addict with an STD.”
But Blanche knew that being a party girl, with her picture in every tabloid, was part of the mystique that kept her floating on the top. “Ichbin, you man-bitch, just keep selling my image to the envious, I’ll take care of me.”
Blanche was the headliner at the Bimboni modeling agency, but was also voted as most despised for the second year in a row by the other models. One model, Ivanta, was assured by Ichbin that she was almost as beautiful as Blanche. The perennial alternate choice for assignments, Ivanta loathed Blanche both personally and professionally.
Ivanta learned of an upcoming dominatrix fashion show that had specified Blanche. She convinced Ichbin, with whom she had career sex, to book her as well. Once she was able to get onto the set, Ivanta found Blanche’s outfit with crotch to neck webbing, and laced the laces with LSD. Blanche would stumble, mumble and drool.
While being dressed, Blanche discovered a zit just above her left boob, and had Dork, her makeup minion, apply skin tone. Ivanta feared that with no sweat there’d be no daze, but all went to plan. Blanche weaved out onto the runway and mouthed words that sounded like ancient Aramaic. But the fashion press sucked it in and wrote about Blanche’s creativity. Ivanta could only grind her back teeth. (Not the front ones, she couldn’t risk ruining her smile.)
Ivanta would have to prey on another of Blanche’s defects. Fortunately, there were a great many to choose from. Blanche loved gaudy, expensive jewelry. Ivanta was able to find a real tortoise shell comb, beautifully carved with dragon motifs for three hundred dollars. Tortoises are endangered, and tortoise shell products illegal, which Ivanta knew Blanche would find delectable.
She coated the comb in fentanyl, mounted it in an ornate box and brought it to their next shoot, casually showing it to Blanche.
“It’s very rare and quite illegal. I wanted to wear it but it won’t suit the hairdo I’ve got today.”
Blanche almost grabbed it. “It doesn’t suit your sallow complexion, dear. I’ll buy it off you.”
Blanche was notorious for agreeing to pay and never doing so, which Ivanta had counted on. “Of course, darling, you’ll look simply marvelous in it. But it’s six hundred dollars. Is that too expensive?”
Blanche waved a dismissive hand and took the box.
Harpy, Blanche’s hairdresser, went to work serenaded by abuse.
Despite the harangue Harpy arranged the do, and stuck the drugged comb into Blanche’s hair against her skin.
The homemade fentanyl patch kicked in as Blanche was halfway through the shoot. Eyes glazed, she curled up on the floor and went dormant. The crew were frantic, but Ivanta suggested she was the same dress size as Blanche and could be an emergency replacement.
The desperate director agreed. The stagehands shucked the dress off Blanche as she lay on the floor and restarted the shoot. The crew was sworn to secrecy, which of course meant that two minutes later text messages and pictures of Blanche mostly naked on the floor were Twitter fodder.
But Blanche claimed she’d had a terrible illness, and got sympathy likes.
Ivanta realized that she needed something harsher. Within Blanche’s earshot, she praised apples flown in from a hidden monastery in China. “Miserably expensive, but it creates an irresistible musk.”
Blanche asked her for an apple, but Ivanta declined, saying “Really, they’re so hard to get, I can’t spare one.”
A week later, Ivanta brought apple slices in a compartmented tray to a fashion show. She could see Blanche’s greedy glances.
Ivanta ate, with obvious relish, three slices from one of the compartments and walked off. Blanche swooped in, filched the tray and gobbled down six slices. The concentrated heroin took quick effect, and Blanche staggered and fell off the runway, babbling as she was led away.
This time the reaction wasn’t chic or sympathetic, and Blanche went from envied to ridiculed.
Ichbin Spiegel did as all good agents do. He placed Blanche in a high-priced rehab and promoted Ivanta as Blanche’s successor.
Blanche’s detox stupor was like a deep sleep. She fell under the care of Dr. Price Charmant, who still idolized her. She came to once to find Charmant kissing her, which was gross. However, Charmant was quite rich, not really ugly, and promised to keep her in the vices to which she was accustomed. He also financed her in opening a modeling agency called Skin Deep which began competing against the Bimboni Agency. They divorced ten years later.
There’s a moral here somewhere.
Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had over three hundred stories and poems published so far, and six books. Ed works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of six review editors.