The sixty-four diamond studded Tiffany choke was her only adornment. The tiara lay carefully placed on the dresser, her discarded evening gown thrown hastily over the divan. Stepping into her high heeled pumps, “Miss United States, 1979” picked up the silk sash that had announced her newfound status to the world and re-draped it over her right shoulder and across her body. The new most beautiful woman in America stepped to the mirror and gazed at her perfection.
The door behind her opened to the adjoining suite. Suzette Wilkins smirked and turned, expecting to meet her maker.
“Milkman”, she asked innocently, “is that you?”
With no answer and no one standing at the door, she marched proudly toward the dimly lit suite, displaying her winning wares for the man who had single-handedly brought her this far, literally making her what she was. Through the mine-laden obstacle course of local pageants and small-time benefits, the countless makeovers, dancing classes and charm sessions, the breast enhancements and diet consultations, through Miss Bristol County, Miss Massachusetts, and now Miss United States. “Milkman” had assured her of smooth sailing through that maze and he had proven true. This truly may be the most perfect body in the country, maybe the world, but certainly perfect enough for Suzette’s world. A world borne of trouble and controversy, it was now rising to a level of dignity and acceptance beyond her wildest dream, all from a vote cast just hours ago.
Entering the room she saw no one at first. Then a figure took form, darkened in the corner, sitting in a generously stuffed chair, legs crossed, fully absorbed in the display. Suzette pranced with her head held high as she had paraded across the Charleston Convention Center stage earlier, her stride then observed by over five thousand in attendance and telecast to several million viewers at home. With her fine chamois swimsuit exchanged for her new sash, the show was the same. Only her attitude was different, secure now in victory. This was her maker’s reward.
Four feet in front of the figure, Suzette pirouetted, glanced back with a sultry smile, and cantered away for six steps. She spun and paraded back, slightly exaggerating her moves. With her pupils adjusted to the darkness, Suzette’s eyes widened in surprise.
“Oh, it’s…” she started, but a flash of silver metal caught her eyes.
Suzette froze. Her head was spinning, her mind racing. Her knees weakened. Terror stricken, she felt vulnerable and alone. Her confidence completely evaporated. She wished she were somewhere else, anywhere. She wished she were dressed. Suddenly it wasn’t fun.