Heather and I attended a party in Jamestown, New York. I was a Halloween costume party, or so I was told, but I had no idea who was hosting it. A friend of a friend invited Heather and Heather invited me. So I’m pretty sure we were crashing this freak show against my better judgment.
A split-level ranch house on 110 Willow Avenue hosted the event. It looked like any other house in any other American suburb. Painted in pale white with black trim, and fronted by a quarter acre of trimmed-perfect lawn, it stood as a painful reminder of how regular dwellings in ordinary neighborhoods could play host to drab, unimaginative attempts at entertainment. But on this night, the black and orange string lighting, along with the Halloween motif, gave the house some much needed—if rather tacky—character. As we stood on the porch between a hanging plastic skeleton and a cardboard pumpkin cutout, Heather and I did some last minute primping.
“How do I look?” I said while placing my hands on my hips and turning sideways.
Heather put a finger to her lips and inspected me from head-to-toe. “No Mols,” she finally said, shaking her head in a disapproving fashion.
“No?” I replied.
“You need to show more boobs. You’re supposed to be a naughty witch.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “A naughty witch, not a whore-witch.”
“Alright, Mols. We’ll compromise. You’re a naughty, whore-witch.” Heather eyed my bust with a gleam normally found in the eyes of psychopaths.
“What are you looking at?” I asked nervously.
Heather didn’t reply. Instead, she zeroed in on my chest, and without warning, reached forward and gave my boobs a sharp pinch and a quick lift upward. Breast tissue that was safely tucked away moments ago was now bouncing well above my neckline in a display that bordered on obscene.
“Ouch!” I yelled. It didn’t hurt, but It was creepy, and I screeched more from indignity than from pain. “Heather! What the Hell are you doing?”
“Helping you. Men love boobs and cleavage, and now you’ve got them both—in spades.”
I looked down at my bust and saw she was right. I looked like one of those medieval wenches who served large wine carafes to the drunken masses at the Knight’s roundtable. My boobs jiggled—with the slightest provocation—like jelly in a bowl. They created a rather eye-popping effect. I could only imagine what the drooling he-wolves lurking inside would think of this display.
“All right,” I conceded. “But would you kindly keep your hands off my boobs, or at least warn me before you touch them? Honestly, sometimes you worry me.”
Heather flashed her disarming, devilish smile, and I managed to calm down. She had been my best friend since 6th grade. She’s the kind of friend that drives you nuts and is perpetually annoying, but you love them anyway. Heather would walk through fire for me, and I would return the favor in kind.
“Molly, tell me something. When’s the last time a man or a woman touched your boobs?”
I shot my chin to the sky before answering. “That’s none of your damned business!” I said after a pause.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
Determined not to lose this argument, I thought carefully. “Well, besides just now?”
“This morning. They were touched this morning.”
“Really?” she said with more than a hint of disbelief. “And by whom?”
“Me,” I said sheepishly. “In the shower.”
“Uh huh,” she said with the satisfied tone of a person who had made her point. “Molly, you’re attractive, funny, smart and charming. You need to find a man, and the only way you’re going to attract one is by showing off what you got.”
I hated to admit it, but I knew she was right. The last time a man touched me was six months ago. It was my then-boyfriend, Mark. He touched me all right, and then he proceeded to dump me a few days later. He said he needed more space and that I was smothering him. Is it smothering to want to be with someone, to share things, and make plans with a person you care for and whom you thought cared for you? At any rate, that was a long time ago, and I’m over him—Smothering him. God, I’d smother him right now if could.
“I suppose you’re right,” I said. “But not too much booby. I wouldn’t want to get eaten up by a Goblin.”
Heather laughed. “You know I only want the best for you, Mols.”
“Thanks, Heather. I know.”
“Okay, let’s pull the neckline down and show off some more cleavage.”
I quickly crossed my arms over my chest. “You’re incorrigible,” I said in mock anger.
“That’s a good thing, right?”
I smiled and relaxed my posture. “Of course it is.”
Heather struck a pose, hands on hips, butt out and chin resting on hands. “How do I look?” she said.
“You’ll be the most adorable Cat Woman there.”
Heather gave me a hug. “Let’s get ’em, girl,” she said.
We entered the house and walked into a large, smoke-filled room jammed with people wearing every costume imaginable, and some I could never have imagined before now. There was your usual assortment of ghosts, goblins and Frankenstein’s, but there were costumes that looked like their owner had confused a Halloween party with some other type of party. I’ve never seen so many tits, asses, whips, and handcuffs since the last office party. My cleavage-fueled witches outfit looked like kid’s stuff next to the other getups. “Uh, Heather,” I said.
“Yeah, I know,” she replied. “Just breathe Mols. Breathe.”
I took a deep breath through my nose, inhaling a pungent, and earthy aroma deep into my lungs. “Mm, smell that,” I said. “I love that smell. What is it? I’ve noticed that same scent coming from your room. Is that incense?”
Heather’s nose twitched as she took in several quick breaths. Then her eyes grew wide, and the smile on her face turned to a frown. “Uh—Mols—stop breathing.”
“Stop breathing? What? You just told me…”
“I know what I told you,” she said while making a slashing motion across her throat. “Just trust me; you don’t want to breathe too deeply.”
I shrugged. “Okay, but I wish you’d make up your mind.”
While Heather and I kibitzed, a mysterious long-haired woman sauntered up to us; She wore a black leather outfit cut high at the thigh like a one piece swimsuit. Both her butt cheeks strained against their tight bondage as they spilled out over the fabric. She wore high-heeled leather boots that stopped just below the knee, and a long bullwhip completed the Rocky-Horror effect. She had little or no breasts, and I swore she bulged in places where a female should not bulge.
This ghastly figure eyed us up-and-down but never said a word. After several seconds, my curiosity got the better of me. “Hello,” I said cautiously. “Who are you supposed to be?”
In a dark, calm, and rather dramatic voice she responded. “I’m your sex slave, bitch, dyke for the evening.” Then, as mysteriously as she arrived, she strolled off into the next room to mingle with Spiderman and what I guessed was Little Bo Peep.
I placed my hand on Heather’s shoulder and spoke in a soft voice. “Was that a man?” I said.
“I—I’m not sure,” Heather replied.
“Holy crap, Heather!”
“Okay, Mols. Rule number one, don’t talk with anybody. Just talk with men— just cute men—and just men that aren’t creepy, and that you know for sure are—you know—real men.”
“Well, we’re obviously in the wrong place for that,” I spat. “Because no one here fits that description. Let’s go home. Isn’t Downton Abbey on tonight? I’m missing Downton Abbey for this?”
Heather frowned. “Look Mols, just mingle and have fun with it. It’s Halloween. It’s the greatest holiday of the year. People give you stuff for nothing.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of—Getting stuff—for nothing!”
“Just loosen up a bit. We’re trying to find you a man, remember? Try shaking your boobs in front of Dracula over there.” Heather pointed toward a long, and lean Dracula standing by himself and sipping a drink.
“Why don’t you shake your boobs at him?”
“Believe me, if I had your boobies, I would. And anyways, I’ve already had a Dracula. I’m going after Frankie now.” Heather walked off in the direction of the crazed man-bitch.”
“Hey, where are you going?” I asked. “You’re not leaving me by myself.”
It was a relief to see Heather turn around, and head back. “Look, Mols,” she said while placing her hand on my shoulder. “You need to get out there and mingle on your own. If you follow me around all night, you’re going to withdraw, and not talk to anyone.” Then, Heather turned and left me standing alone in a crowded room.
“I hope you get a bolt stuck in your huha,” I yelled after her as she slunk up next to Frankenstein.
As usual, Heather was right. As much as I hated the idea, I needed to bust out of my shell. I haven’t had a man close to me in so long that I forgot what it was like; the touch, scent, and taste of a man were now distant memories as foreign to me as if I had never experienced them at all. It wouldn’t hurt to use my feminine wiles. After all, I am a woman. I have the curves and curls. Why not put them to better use? I fixed my eyes on the lone Dracula, hitched up my black skirt, gathered my courage and approached the tall-capped figure with a determination that both exhilarated and frightened me.
“Is that a Blawdy Mary you are drinking?” I said in the worse Dracula impression ever.
He was tall and gangly with sullen cheeks, a downturned mouth, and a pale, milky complexion that may or may not have been part of his Dracula costume; I couldn’t tell. I was hoping he looked better without the disguise than he did with it, but at this point, I wasn’t about to be picky.
Dracula eyed me from head-to-toe as if he were eyeing a fresh carcass hanging from a butcher’s window. As obvious and creepy as it was, the attention was exciting and sent a hot blush to my cheek. I felt desired. My chest swelled as a warm, sympathetic wave passed through me. Hmm. I wonder how this would work, I thought. He’s about 6’, maybe 6’ 1” and I’m 5’ 2…
“No. It’s punch,” he said in a high-pitched voice.
“What?” I replied, startled out of my daydream.
“My drink. It’s not a Bloody Mary. It’s punch.”
“It’s spiked,” he continued. “The punch is. It has alcohol in it; I don’t know what kind, but it tastes pretty good.” I just stood there, staring at him while he talked. “May I get you a cup?” he said.
“Yeah, I think I could use something. You know, to loosen me up a bit.”
“Sure. I’ll be right back.” As I watched him walk away, my spirits began to lift. Dracula seemed like a nice guy. He was friendly enough and seemed interested in spite of my dorkiness.
After a few minutes, he returned—a good sign—and he had spiked punch with him— an even better sign. I took a big gulp and immediately felt its soothing warmth cascade through my chest as the tension began to melt from my body. “What’s your name?” I asked.
“Muhahaha. Muhahaha. I am Count Dracula,” he announced in an even worse Dracula impression than mine.
“No, really, what’s your name?”
“I’m Bob. I’m an accountant at Cummins Engine.”
I took another sip of my punch; I was beginning to feel nice.
“I’m Molly, and I’m a whore.” I said. Then I pulled my head back and tossed my curls as I laughed at my own joke. Bob’s face took on the expression of smooth granite. “Oh my God! No, no,” I said, waving my hand in front of my face as if trying to erase my failed attempt at humor. “I was kidding. I’m not really a whore. I’m a counselor for the Southwestern school district.” I took another quick sip of punch.
Bob looked relieved. “Oh, a counselor? That’s nice. How do you like that?”
“I hate it,” I answered honestly. “Don’t get me wrong, I love the kids and some of the people I work with, but I don’t think it’s what I want to do with my life. It’s not what I was meant to do.”
I paused a moment and took another sip. Then I looked down at my chest to see how the girls were doing. That’s when I saw it, the unmistakable wrinkled, dark and fleshy nub peering just above my neckline in peek-a-boo fashion. To my dismay, I now rivaled crazy man-bitch for the most risqué costume at the party. Dracula Bob didn’t notice, or if he did notice he was too polite or too much of a creep to say anything. Instead, he went on talking in pointless platitudes while I thought of my out.
“Look over there, Bob,” I said, pointing to a distant corner of the room. With his head turned, I quickly tucked the offending skin back into her hiding place without him noticing. “Damn it,” I whispered beneath my breath.
“What?” Bob said.
“Damn it all to Hell,” I said, thrusting my empty glass into Dracula’s chest. “Get me more alcohol; I mean more punch. Go now. I’m thirsty.”
“Sure, no problem,” he answered. Bob looked perplexed but set about his appointed task without further questioning.
It was all I could do to keep it together. I wanted nothing more than to find Heather and leave. But a quick scan of the room told me that Heather was having a fine time with Little Bo Peep, and the crazed man-bitch with the bullwhip. Unbelievable! No. This is entirely believable. This is my life, damn it. Welcome to Molly World where the fun never…
“Here’s your punch.”
“Oh thank you, Jeeves,” I replied in my best English accent. “What a refreshing thirst quencher on this beautiful evening, ole chap.”
“Huh? My name’s not Jeeves. It’s...”
“It’s Bob! Yeah, I know what your name is! I was making a joke; you know, ha, ha, ha, ha, or as you like to say, Muahahaha, muahahaha.”
I think the term used for a man is a douchebag. Women are known by a different name, and I was living that name right now. Bob looked like a man who had been kicked in the groin.
I tried my best to make amends. “Look, Bob—I’m sorry. I’m a real witch-bitch tonight. I’m just going through a hard time right now.”
Bob flashed a sympathetic smile. “That’s alright,” he said. “Is it anything you want to talk about? Sometimes talking helps.”
He was sweet, but his kind manner made me feel worse. “No,” I replied. “Thanks anyway. I think I just need to be alone for a few minutes.” I scanned the room and quickly located my escape route. “I’m going out to the patio to get some air. Okay?”
Bob’s face broke into a wide smile. “Hey, no problem, Molly. It was nice meeting you. I enjoyed talking with you. Maybe we can talk later?” What a shame, I thought. At that very moment, he looked handsome. I smiled at him and placed my hand gently on his elbow before leaving.
I stepped onto the patio, and was greeted by the crisp autumn air. I was relieved to be free of the stifling party raging within, and took comfort in the cold, which wrapped around me like a blanket. A light breeze caught my hair and sent my curls flying in every direction at once. The chill was sufficient enough to raise goosebumps, and make my eyes water, but I didn’t mind for the atmosphere matched my emotions perfectly.
A wet trickle slowly meandered down my cheek. I couldn’t tell if it was a real tear or just watery eyes induced by the temperature, but I suppose it didn’t matter either way. I knew this party would be a bad idea. I should have stayed home, curled up alongside a good book, and a hot cup of chocolate. Maybe hot chocolate was a poor substitution for a man, but it was safer, and you couldn’t make a fool of yourself in front of hot chocolate. Stay home drink chocolate, put on a few pounds, and not worry about such trite things as love. Perfect. Why didn’t I think of this before?
I was grateful for the darkness and the solitude. They were my security blanket, allowing me to hide my face, my body, and my feelings. I stood on the empty patio with my arms crossed, staring into the distant and foreboding October sky. After several seconds, my eyes adjusted, and I saw a wrought iron bench at the patio’s edge; it faced an empty backyard, and away from the party. I walked over to the bench and took a seat. I was shocked at first by the iron’s icy grip, but I soon became used to it.
The drone from inside faded as a sense of calm washed over me; I closed my eyes and listened to the air rush through the trees. It was soothing and from this sound, I fell into a trance-like state, where time seemed to stop. It felt so nice; after several minutes had passed, I opened my eyes and lifted my voice toward heaven. “You up there?” I said in a soft voice barely above a whisper. “We haven’t talked in a while. How have you been? I’ve been well. Oh, that’s a lie. I feel sad, depressed and lonely. In a room full of strangers, I feel alone. How is that possible? Can you help me?”
Suddenly, the spell was broken by a sound coming from behind me. I turned to see Dracula standing behind me, just off of my left shoulder. Oh no. I told Bob I wanted to be alone. I know a lot of men like him, very nice guys, but they’re always trying to help when in fact, they would be more help if they simply let me be.
“Is this seat taken?” he asked.
The voice startled me because I was expecting Bob’s thin voice. Instead, I heard a man’s deep, and resonant tone. I looked closely at the dark figure. It was a Dracula costume all right. However, this Dracula was tall, like Bob, but not spindly. The dark figure cut a wide swath, and had broad shoulders, along with a narrow waist. There was no moonlight, so it was difficult to make out fine facial features. Even so, I could tell he possessed a strong jaw and a distinctive roman nose. I was mesmerized for only a moment, but that moment stretched endlessly while I stared in wonderment. His lips parted slightly as he let the cold October air into his lungs and then exhaled his warmed visible breath back into the night. “The seat?” he repeated. “Is it taken?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were someone else.”
Dracula turned and made a motion back towards the house. “No problem,” he said. “I didn’t mean to bother you. If you were expecting someone, I’ll just…”
“No, no. It’s okay,” I said while making room for him on the bench. “I wasn’t expecting anyone. Of course you may sit.”
Dracula furled his cape like most Vampires do before taking a seat. He seemed to glide in next to me, nimble and weightless. The bench was narrow and didn’t allow for much space between two mature adults so by circumstance, we sat rather close to each other. With an up close view, I could make out his eyes for the first time. They sparkled brilliantly in the moonlight, and were at once, both alive and mesmerizing.
“Whom were you talking to?” he said.
“I don’t know,” I answered in earnest. “Was I talking?”
“Yes. As I approached, you seemed to be conversing with someone.”
With my memory jogged, I smiled. “Oh that. Just a friend,” I said.
He nodded his head in understanding. “I see. Are you enjoying the party?”
I looked away from him, and down at my clasped hands. “Eh. I’m not much for costume parties, I guess.”
“Me neither. Adults dressed up in silly costumes are really not my style.”
“Yeah, same here.”
“Hey, did you see what Cat Woman, Little Bo Peep, and that guy with the Bull Whip were doing?”
I cringed at the vision now planted in my brain. “Uh, no,” I said.
Dracula crossed his legs and shook his head back and forth. “God. I had to get out of there and get some air.”
“Yeah, I don’t blame you.”
“Oh, I see you’re cold.”
I immediately looked down at my breasts. Thank God, my nipples were still tucked, and hidden. “How can you tell?” I said.
“Goose bumps. You have Goose bumps all over your arms, and you’re shivering. Here, take my cape. It will keep you warm.” Dracula stood up, removed his cloak and then draped it over my shoulders. When he sat back down, I inhaled deeply, and could practically taste his scent. It was a clean, fresh aroma, which reminded me of a spring breeze. To my horror I heard myself say, “You smell good.”
Dracula was very cool. He smiled and flashed his straight, white teeth. “Thanks,” he said bashfully. I returned his smile, and our eyes locked. I felt myself drift into a spell. Then I was startled back to reality by a question. “Are you here with anyone?” he said.
I relaxed my posture and allowed myself to slink backward into the bench. “Heather,” I said in a disappointed tone. “My best friend, Heather, knows someone, who knows someone and she insisted I come along. You?”
“I’m here by myself. Marcus, the guy throwing the party, and I work together at the college, and he suggested I come to his party. Said I would meet some chicks here.”
His off-the-cuff remark made me laugh. “And have you met any chicks here?”
He shook his head. “Have you seen this crowd? I’m not sure I want to meet anyone here.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean.”
Dracula made a point of looking right at me, and once again, our eyes met. “Although,” he said. “Perhaps I’ve just found one.”
I felt my cheeks grow flush at his brash comment. I smiled and looked down at my hands. “Perhaps,” I said.
“Oh, I’m sorry. My name is Parker Ambrose?”
“Hi, Parker Ambrose. It’s nice to meet you. I’m Molly. Molly Brown.”
Parker’s face lit up upon hearing my name. It was a common occurrence whenever I introduced myself. “Ah, Miss Molly Brown. Like the Unsinkable Molly Brown?”
I smiled and nodded my head. “Exactly. She’s my Great Aunt.”
Parker’s eyes sprung to life. He sat up straight and leaned in as he spoke. “What? The Dickens you say.”
“Yeah, except her real name was Margaret Tobin Brown, and so is mine, but everyone called her Molly, and everyone calls me Molly too.”
“So, do people refer to you as the Unsinkable Molly Brown?”
“Not so much. My friends call me Mols for short. Only my parents refer to me as Unsinkable. Once, in third grade, I skinned my knee, and I ran to my dad, and he told me not to cry because I was the Unsinkable Molly Brown, and that nothing could hurt me. Then he told me the story of the Titanic and my Great Aunt, and yeah—”
“Do you like being called the Unsinkable Molly Brown?”
I shook my head sending my curls against the side of my cheeks. “I grew to hate it,” I answered. “You know, it just became a tired cliché. Now, I embrace it. Whenever I go through a hard time, I remember the story and I use it as inspiration. I tell myself I’m the Unsinkable Molly Brown. I can handle this.”
“That’s nice, Molly.”
“Uh, huh. It’s cool how you made it work for you. Sometimes, we need all the help we can get.”
I paused a moment, and stole a quick glance at the sky. “Yeah,” I replied. “I know what you mean.”
The two of us sat in silence for several minutes gazing at the clouds and basking in the serenity all around us. Then, without warning, Parker placed his arm around me and covered my bare shoulders with his cape. “I’m not trying to get fresh or anything. You still look cold. Is it okay?”
I could tell he was sincere, so I just nodded my head in approval. The truth is, I didn’t really care if were being fresh or not. His arm was inviting, and the added warmth was a welcomed respite from the damp air. I softened my body and leaned closer to him.
Parker nodded towards the overcast sky. “What’s up there, Molly?” he said. “Do you ever wonder?”
Then, as if on cue, raindrops fell lightly. We both laughed at the irony. “Crap,” I said. “There’s your answer.”
Parker shook his head. “Yeah, I see that. It’s not what I was going for, but that seems to be my luck.”
I lifted my face to the sky, and allowed the rain to fall on my face and neck. The drops landed gently on my skin, but with loud crashes against Parker’s cape. I hate the rain; I hate getting wet, but this seemed different. This was a cleansing shower.
“We’re getting wet,” he said. “Maybe we better go back inside.” My face must have showed my feeling of disappointment. He paused for a moment as if in deep thought. Then he said, “Hey, I know a coffee shop that’s open late.”
“Ryder’s Cup in Lakewood?”
“Yeah, you know it?”
“I live in Lakewood. It’s just around the corner from me.”
Parker flashed his killer smile. “Well,” he said enthusiastically. “I have my car. Let’s get out of here.”
“I just met you,” I replied. “And I’m not in the habit of following blood sucking Dracula’s that I’ve just met.”
A sad look came over Parker’s face. “Oh of course. I hope I wasn’t too forward.”
Looking at him, a feeling of calm came over me, and a small voice from within told me it was okay. “Wait a minute,” I said. “You’re not an axe-murderer, are you?”
Parker took on a solemn expression as he pondered my question. “Well, no I’m not, but then again, if I were, I probably wouldn’t tell you.”
“Oh, true enough. Well, I’m just going to trust you’re not an axe murderer.” I stood up and extend my hand towards him. “Onward, Count?”
Parker rose to his feet, took me by the hand, and led me back inside the steamy house. We walked briskly past the crowd, dodging and weaving an assortment of ghosts, goblins, pirates and fiends before running into Heather. “Hey,” Heather said. “Where are you two going?”
“Heather, this is Parker. We’re going to get out of here and get some coffee at Ryder’s Cup.”
Heather eyed my new friend suspiciously. She and Parker exchanged a quick wave and a tentative smile. “Mols?” she said.
“It’s okay,” I reassured her. “I’ll be home early.”
“I think the Ryder Cup closes at ten,” Parker replied. “So around ten?”
“Okay,” Heather said. “But how are you getting home?”
“I have my car,” Parker said. “I’ll bring her home.”
Heather gave me a long, hard questioning look. I smiled and nodded my head. “Okay Mols,” she said while giving me a big hug. Then she whispered into my ear. “I’ll have my cell phone close by. I’ll send you a rescue text.”
“Okay,” I whispered back. “Thank you, Heather.”
As we left the house, Parker frowned and then asked me how I knew the Cat Woman. “I don’t know her.” I answered quickly. “Now let’s go.”