Forty Pounds, Naked

I was asked for more Meyers. So here’s most of an honest-to-God chapter from “The Hot Girl”.

Cambridge U.K., Wednesday, June 13, 1979

“What the fuck?” Deanna shook the satiny bathrobe Michael handed her after she’d set her purse down and taken off her jacket.

“Can’t have you spoil the illusion by ‘in off the street to nude’ in front of everyone.” He put a hand between her shoulder blades and gave her a gentle shove toward a DIY four-panel room divider made of old doors. “Did you get my message about loose clothes, no underthings?”

“Yes, but…” She turned around and had to walk backwards because he was right there and kept coming. “But I hate braless, all bouncing around and cold and everything. Unless I’m just home or something. And no panties? I mean how gross is that? I mean it, what the fuck, Michael?”

“Tight clothes and elastic leave lines where a discerning eye would rather none.”

“So? I’m not a nude model.”

He pulled one of the end screen panels almost to the wall in front of himself to enclose her, stuck his head in. “You are tonight.”

“I am not! I don’t do the nudist thing. I did that once on accident water skiing and lost a sixty-dollar bikini. And six weeks of a summer with someone I was in…who was important.”

He pulled the screen panel open, stepped right into her face. “Shut it. Now. You took the forty. To model. What did you think they wanted to see? A skinny yank in out-sized clothes? You’ve nothing special to keep hidden away. On a right day you’re no more than a knackered mop stood on end.” His scowl intensified for a few seconds before it vanished when he glanced at the clock on the far wall. “They’re setting their places. Clothes or no clothes, on the stand or down the stairs, as you will. Six minutes.”

At seven-thirty she stepped around the edge of the screen of doors in the satiny robe, scared, timid, shaking and determined. Knackered mop? Insulting her pride to get her naked? Another gamey asshole trick. Mother fuc— she flashed the Miss Popularity smile that she had resurrected by necessity, stepped up onto a homemade riser covered in a worn-out oriental rug and topped with a faded Victorian bench. She slid out of the robe in a move she’d seen in some old black and white movie. Godammit, she couldn’t smile like this all night, and big-bottom Michael needed to turn the heater up. Way up. “Summer” in England was a lie.

Cambridge U.K., Wednesday, June 20, 1979

A room full of male and female pensioners, a perv professor and Michael had enjoyed spending three hours spread over two ninety-minute sessions with a too thin, starkly attractive, non-speaking naked young girl so frightened that you could see it in her eyes. She’d presented them with a vulnerability rarely seen in nude models, something Michael had captured with a camera so that he could paint her himself when he had time. The perv professor, Dr. David Childs, had logged that child-like fear as well.

“No, David.” Michael shook his head slowly and spoke like he was dealing with a four year-old. “The Fifty is for the ring to come and have a look, and the forty I’m out for getting her here.”

“You are aware of my delicate financial situation, Michael. Couldn’t we —”

“Ninety, David. Or I’ll call Lady Childs for it and your financial situation will indelicately vaporize.”

David counted out the ninety, slapped them into Michael’s outstretched hand. “Beastly excuse for a man you are.”

“Comes with the under compensated instructor’s crown, you know that well enough.” Michael folded the bills and shoved them in his front pocket.

“She’s a bit of Bohemian, that’s something different. But I have several on my list ahead of her. You will keep her between us?”

“Our own private Bohemian rhapsody, David. I’ll let you know how she goes.”

Michael put his hand on David’s shoulder and ushered him out of the doorway he’d blocked with his lingering, said “Good Night” to his last pensioner and locked the door from the inside. Unlike Dr. Childs, he didn’t have a rich wife, a title, or a list of girls to work his way through before he got to this one.

“Michael?” Deanna tossed the robe over the top of the screen in another old movie move. “Are we going to talk about the cross curriculum symbolism? I made some time for us, and a list.”

He unzipped his pants and shoved the room divider open. “Knob bob time best served before wordplay, Miss Collings. I’d ask to have at down below but that’s a right lion’s head you’ve got between your legs.” He reached for her and his pants hit his ankles. Hers were only halfway up when she let go of them to slide out the backside of the screen and shuffled off to grab her purse, book bag and coat. Michael almost tripped backing out of the screen, and after two shuffle steps himself he grabbed the back of a chair, hop danced his feet out of captivity, lunged and caught her. She spun away from him, but her feet, still bound by her jeans, didn’t follow her. He caught her by the upper arm, dragged her to the riser and tossed her like a rag doll onto the ratty upholstered Victorian bench she’d modeled on. The good news was she’d lost the jeans along the way, the bad news was she bounced off the bench, down onto the riser, rolled to its edge feet first, and then off. She tried to stay up but her momentum, balance and sock feet were at cross purposes. In an effort to stay upright she clutched at an easel and when she knew she was on the way down, with or without it, she heaved the easel at one of the tall glass windows in the second story studio. The sound of the window shattering seemed to last for hours.

Michael picked her up, propped her on the riser. “Are you done?”

“Yes. No! I’m finished, not done. I’m not a fucking cake. Are you?”

“A cake? No, I’m not a bloody cake. Well done I am, thanks to you.” He looked through the hole where the window had been while he pulled on his baggy pants and reloaded his shirt tail. Deanna had never heard so many different emotions in the word “shit” before. Maybe it was an artist thing. She heard the sirens and said it herself.


“No ma’am. Really. I didn’t ‘fancy’ him. At all.” Deanna had been through the interview three times and wanted to go home. Before the sun came up. She leaned her head next to the police woman’s and lowered her voice. “He’s got a big butt, for a guy. You know? I don’t know about you, but my dream guy isn’t shaped like a pear.”

The WPC snorted into the back of her hand so hard she dropped her pen. “Very well. You’re not being formally charged with anything, Miss Collings. If you change your mind you might still give us ring about him.” She looked over at the lead officer who nodded. “Pick up your things, Miss Collings. You may go. Quietly.”

Deanna shouldered her way around the red-faced lorry driver whose windscreen had gotten smashed when the easel dropped into the street, two uniformed policemen who chuckled at her and a no-nonsense looking man in a lightweight rain jacket who reminded her of someone she thought she’d seen before.

Michael said “Good night” again, this time to the police contingent, found himself alone with the no-nonsense man who volunteered to help tape cardboard over the broken window.

No-nonsense used his teeth to tear a piece of duct tape from the roll he was holding, held it up to the wall while Michael pushed the cardboard into place.

“Busy night for an art teacher.”

“Bloody stupid fucking skinny cow. Forty pounds to stand about naked, not a thank you in her. And I’m done for the window.”

“Insurance will have the lorry’s windscreen, all’s fair. You pushed her, and they’re not all up for an indifferent shag. I’ll have the film roll, if you don’t mind.”

“You’ll be?”

“Meyers.” He ran the strip of tape down the side of the cardboard in a quick, smooth motion.

“Well, Meyers,” Michael held the right side of the cardboard up and waited for tape. “I do mind. I shot it, it’s mine and I’ll have my forty again and more out of her, one way or another.”

“Or…One way or another I’ll have the film. Day’s end, Michael? This window was all of yours needed breaking on a Cambridge summer’s eve.”

Out of the corner of his eye Michael took in his helper, snapped to the fact that nude photos of the girl and some possible extra income from them weren’t worth a trip to the emergency room. They swapped out holding the cardboard and Michael took a couple of steps to a cluttered desk. He rummaged around, popped the film from his camera and tossed it to Meyers. “She was just another nude model who turned out to be a bit of bad idea. Who is she to you?”

“All I know is someone who worries puts money in my account. Still early days for her and me.” The film disappeared into Meyers’ pocket. “That said,” he tore another piece of tape with his teeth. “She appears to be a girl who can turn a bit of bad idea into a shit grenade. Tape?”

Edited to remove references to people and events not in evidence


Published by

Phil Huston

10 thoughts on “Forty Pounds, Naked”

  1. These stories about Deanna make me sad, like finding out Cinderella’s prince was actually a pump and now she works nights. She’s either fierce or she’s not. Why would Deanna sit there visibly afraid for 90 minutes? Not only afraid but showing so much of it? She makes me sad.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Proving something to herself is all I can think of. She has to conquer herself to get past keeping everyone at arm’s length, and to get a taste, inadvertently, of what she’s really fighting for. It all comes together after the train wrecks of Cambridge and Hollywood Jackson. What sort of Fairy Godmothers would Amanda and Alex be if it didn’t?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This careening through life Deanna who doesn’t seem to know up from down is so unlikeable. I understand the purpose of her back story, but I don’t know that as a reader I would hang in there for the redemption. Just saying.


  2. While I can appreciate Sunny’s comments above (what is the driver here with Deanna’s character?), I haven’t read all the background and foreground stories in the overall arc and therefore it’s not as much of a quibble for me. As a stand-alone piece, ignoring any prerequisite knowledge, I rather like it, especially the aura of everyone not being what they seem. (With the possible exception of Michael. He’s a dick, even if he has reasons for being so.) And as a reader, I would want to know more…


    1. Glad that Michael came out as intended, and Meyers. Deanna has a history of making bad calls and to me her defiance and posing make sense, but I shouldn’t have beat her up just for fun in “Sonic Boom” but she makes such a great potty mouth Lucille Ball when I need a one-off made of parts. More of her has been suggested, but I run the risk of serialized novel if I go there.


    1. No, this was a bad haircut version. I have learned that it doesn’t matter if a chapter is “too long for the internet” cutting what makes a story a story is not the same as crafting a short story. Without allowing Deanna to be all of Deanna she doesn’t work. “At all.”

      Liked by 1 person

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