Monday, May 25, 2015

Fifty Shades of Parody (Chapter 19)

"Wake up, sleepyhead," Christian nudges. "We have to leave in half an hour."
     Wake up?
     Already?
     Ah, jeez. And I was having the nicest dream. I was dreaming that I was asleep, so I was getting twice the rest.
     "Leave?" I ask Christian, my eyes boogery. "But I just got here."
     "I know, but we're having dinner with my parents. Didn't I tell you?"
     "Um... no."
     "Well, we are. So get dressed and let's go."
     I put on the same clothes I showed up in, because that's the classy thing to do. If there's one thing I've learned from Christian, it's class.
     Hmm... now where are my edible panties? I seem to have misplaced them. I look over at Christian, and see him chewing on something. He looks up, seeing me seeing him.
     "What?" he says.
     "Um... nothing," I say.
     So I leave for Christian's parent's house sans banans.
     Crockett pulls up in a large Audi. Christian opens the rear door for me, and, as I climb in, he playfully whacks me on the rump with his spatula.
     "That's too much pork for just one fork, my dear," he compliments, and then climbs in behind me. "So tell me, my dear, if you weren't with me tonight, where would you be?"
     "I'd probably be at a sport's bar," I tell him.
     "I didn't know you were into sports."
     "I'm not. I'm into high-fiving."
     "It seems that's another thing you and I have in common, Miss Steele. Personally, I like sports as much as the next guy, as long as the next guy doesn't like sports at all."
     I nod my head, because that's what I'm supposed to do.
     "When I was in school," he goes on, "my mother was always after me to play sports. 'Mumsie,' I told her, 'we're rich. Just buy me a trophy.' No, Ana, in school my true love was always science."
     "Really?" I ask, because that's what I'm supposed to ask. "And who's your favorite scientist?"
     I really don't care, but I have to pretend some interest. I wouldn't know one scientist from another. If you took all the scientists in the world and laid them end to end, I wouldn't be surprised. No, wait a minute, I'm thinking about porn actresses.
     Christian thinks a bit, and then he answers.
     "Well, I like John Wheeler. He coined the term 'black hole' to describe a collapsed star with an intense gravitational field, and was the lead singer of the rock group Steelers Wheel, who sang 'Stuck In the Middle With You,' which was featured in the movie Reservoir Dogs, but I'd have to say my favorite scientist is James Watt."
     "James who?"
     "No, James Watt."
     "I don't know."
     "What don't you know?"
     "That's right."
     "What's right?"
     "Exactly."
     "Are we talking about the same thing, dear?"
     "That depends on what we're talking about."
     "We're talking about Watt."
     "That's what I'm asking you."
     "James Watt."
     "James who?"
     "Not James Hu, James Watt."
     "I don't know what."
     "Watt invented the radio."
     "Who?"
     "Not Hu. Watt."
     "I just told you, I don't know what."
     "You don't know Watt?"
     "I don't even know who."
     "Not Hu. Watt."
     "Not what. Who."
     "James Watt."
     "Why do you keep asking me that? I don't know what."
     "Watt invented the radio."
     "Who invented the radio?"
     "Not Hu. Watt."
     "I know what, but I don't know who?"
     "Not Hu, Watt. James Watt."
     When we finally arrive at Christian's parent's house, I still don't know what the heck we're talking about. Crockett stops, parks, and walks around the front end of the car to open the door for us. How he does this without getting out first is beyond me.
     "Crockett," Christian tells him, "the radio reception was a bit static-y. Could you please check on your antenna?"
     "I don't have an Aunt Tina," Crockett informs Christian.
     I squeeze out of the back seat, and turn to take Christian's hand to help him out of the car, but--osh kosh b'gosh!--he's not there!     As I stand on the street and look into the empty car, it begins to rain.

     Down the street, I see a man who looks like John Travolta. Back when he still had hair. He's got a recording device in one hand, and a microphone in the other. He seems to be recording sounds at random. We both look up suddenly when we hear a car tire blow out.
     The blow out startles me and is also a darn fine movie, but I really jump back when a strange man suddenly appears out of nowhere. He looks like he could be in the military, brave enough to go to war but not to get a bikini wax.
     "Do you need help, ma'am?"
     "Kee-rist!" I yell at him. "You scared me!"
     I look around for Crockett, but he made like a banana and split.
     "I didn't mean to scare you, ma'am. You just look like you need help. The name's Reacher. Jack Reacher."
     "Wow," I tell him, "you look just like Tom Cruise."
     "No, I don't," he tells me. "Read the books."
     Offended at my Tom Cruise comparison, Reacher leaves as stealthily as he showed up. Once he's gone, Crockett reappears.
     "Where were you?" I ask him.
     "I was ready to pounce," he says, and, with shaky knees, escorts me inside the Grey home, where I step out of the black & white and into a demented Oz.
     We're greeted just inside the door by a hunched-backed man who looks like a balding cadaver, and a heavily made-up woman with red, red lips and curly, curly red hair.
     "This is Riff Raff," Crockett says, nodding toward the living dead, "the Grey's handyman, and his sister Magenta."
     "Is she the maid?" I ask.
     "Quite frankly," Crockett tells me, "I don't know what she is."
     A little leprechaun-looking imp of a girl with Kool-Aid-colored hair, gaudy make-up, glittery clothes, and tap-shoes that could take Dorothy back to Kansas, introduces herself.
     "I'm Columbia," she says.
     "You certainly are," I say back.
     When Christian's mother comes up to greet me, I fall into her arms sobbing.
     "Oh, my gosh! Oh, my gosh!" I tell Christian's mother. "Your son... he... he... just disappeared!"
     "Disappeared?" says a man, walking up to us. "And you need help finding him?"
     "Um... who are you?" I ask as politely as I can, considering the rude interruption.
     "This," Christian's mother tells me, "is Harry Bosch, a homicide detective with the LAPD."
     "Yes," the detective tells me, "that's Harry, short for Hieronymus."
     "Did your parents name you Hieronymus because they liked the 15th century Dutch painter?"
     "No, they named me Hieronymus because they hated me," he says, and sulks off at the bad memory. I could swear he's trying not to cry.
     "You know," someone else interrupts, this time a female, "if you find him, and he's dead, I could perform the autopsy for you."
     "Who are you?"
     "I'm Dr. Laurie Montgomery, and this is my husband, Dr. Jack Stapleton. We're both medical examiners."
     "In El Paso?"
     "No," her husband cuts in, "in New York."
     "Then you can't help me at all, can you?"
     "Not with that attitude," Laurie tells me. "And that's DOCTOR Laurie."
     With an interrupting wave of her hand, Christian's mother interrupts us wavily.
     "There's nothing to worry about," she assures me. "Christian just enjoys making a grand entrance. He's been that way ever since he saw Rocky Horror. By the way, Angie..."
     "Ana."
     "Whatever. By the way, I'd like to introduce you to someone."
     I turn to look, and see a little bear in a red hat and blue coat.
     "I'm Paddington," he tells me in that little bear voice of his.
     "Not you," Christian's mother snaps at him, and then turns back to me. "I tried to have him stuffed, but instead was knocked off a roof by a crazy old drunk lady for my trouble," she explains. Her explanation leaves me more confused than ever. "No, Ashley..."
     "Ana."
     "Whatever. No, my pretty, I'd like to introduce you to this nice couple."
     With that, a nerdy-looking young couple walk up to me. The male of the species is quick to stick out his hand.
     "Brad Majors," he tells me, "and this is my fiancé Janet Weiss."
     "Please to meet you, Mr. Majors," I tell him. "I loved you in The Six Million Dollar Man."
     "That's Lee Majors," he corrects me. "I'm Brad."
     "Whatever," Christian's mother says and begins to fill in the blanks for me. "They just had a blow out, and wanted to use our phone. I thought perhaps you might know them."
     "Because we're all young?" I ask, trying to make the connection.
     "No, because you're all poor."
     When I don't say anything, Brad turns to his fiancé and tells her, "They're probably foreigners with ways different than our own. They may do some more... folk dancing."
     I feel like I've just stepped into the middle of an on-going conversation. A very strange conversation. In the distance, I hear the elevator in the foyer start up and head down to our floor. Bug-eyed Janet's big bug-eyes get even bigger and buggier.
     "Oh, Brad," she says, looking all the worse for wear from having just come in from out of the rain, "I'm cold, I'm wet, and I'm just plain scared."
     "I'm here," he tells her, as they back away from us and toward the lowering elevator. "There's nothing to worry about."
     With that the in-door elevator touches bottom, and the wrought-iron gate clanks open with a dramatic flourish.
     "How do you do, I..." Christian greets us, one eye cocked, his face an amused smirk.
     Janet faints into Brad's arms. While I, I'm shocked into silence. Christian is wearing a shiny black cape with a large white collar. On his head is a wig, a mop of black almost-curly hair. He's wearing a generous amount of white Halloween makeup as a base for his face, red lipstick and black eyeliner.
     "...see you've met my," Christian continues, indicating Riff-Raff with a nod of his head, "faithful handyman. He's a little brought down because, when you knocked, he thought you were the candyman. Don't get strung out by the way I look. Don't judge a book by its cover. I'm not much of a man by the light of day, but by night I'm one hell of a lover. I'm just a sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania, ha-ha!"
     With that, he throws off his cape with a theatrical spin, revealing the white interior. Underneath, Christian is wearing--or, rather, barely wearing--a black lace-up corset with black thigh-high fishnet stockings held up by a black suspender garter belt. He has on black elbow-length gloves, white pumps, a necklace of chunky white pearls, and tight black underwear. On his upper arm, there's a tattoo of a heart with a dagger through it. The word "boss" is written above the heart, and blood is drawn dripping beneath it.
     I must say, he looks diabolically sexy.
     "Let me show you around," Christian tells the naive couple, "maybe play you a sound. You look like you're both pretty groovy. Or, if you want something visual, that's not too abysmal, we could take in an old Steve Reeves movie."
     "I'm glad we caught you at home," Brad cuts in, offering an ignored hand. "Could we use your phone? We're both in a bit of a hurry."
     "Right," agrees Janet, which seems to be what she does best.
     Christian takes a flute of champagne from a tray of several that Riff-Raff offers. Distracted, he then walks away from the two of them and greets one of the other guests.
     "Pleasure to meet you, Dr. Furter," the guest says, his hand not being ignored.
     Like hungry puppies, Brad and Janet quickly follow behind.
     "We'll just say where we are," Brad continues, trying to hang on to his alpha maleness, "then go back to the car. We don't want to be any worry."
     "Well, you got caught with a flat, well," Christian says, flinging the champagne in an act of alpha maliciousness at an imaginary audience, "how 'bout that. Well, babies, don't you panic. By the light of the night, it'll all seem all right. I'll get you a satanic mechanic! I'm just a sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania, ha-ha!"
     He considers.
     "Why don't you stay for the night..."
     "Night!" Riff Raff agrees.
     "...or maybe a bite."
     "Bite!" Columbia seconds that emotion with a chomp of her teeth.
     "I could show you my favorite obsession. I've been making a man with blonde hair and a tan, and he's good for relieving my... tension. I'm just a sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania, ha-ha!"
     He gives his ass a sexy slap.
     "Hit it! Yeah! I'm just a sweet transvestite..."
     "...a sweet transvestite..." everybody chimes in.
     "...from Transsexual Transylvania, HA-HA!"
     Christian stops and looks at them with a bemused seriousness.
     "So," he teases, "come up to the lab..." Bam! "...and see what's on the slab..." Bam! "I see you shiver with antici...PAYshun!"
     And then in a booming voice he says, "But maybe the rain..."
     And then in a softer voice he says, "...isn't really to blame..."
     And then in a reasonable voice he says, "...so I'll relieve the cause..."
     With that, he pauses, and then chuckles to himself.
     "...but NOT the SYMPTOM!"
     With that, he plops himself sideways into the chair at the head of the dinner table, the top end of his body lounging over the right armrest, his long legs cocked seductively over the left.
     "Oh, no!" he says, surveying the food. "Not meatloaf again!"

       "Ana, you've met my mother, Grace," Christian tells me after things get back to normal,  or an approximate facsimile of it, "and this is my father, Carrick."
     I curtsy.
     "Excuse me," I say, having curtsied a little too enthusiastically.
     "Nothing a little wine won't distract us from," Christian's father says. He proffers a bottle. Mmm... Boone's Farm.
     "How lovely to see you again," Christian's mother tells me.
     "Really?" I ask.
     "No," she answers.
     "Mother!" Christian chastises. "This is no place for honesty."
     Mrs. Grey raises her eyebrows. I don't know how she can get them so high above her head.
     "That's okay, Christian," I tell him. "I've learned to accept abuse. Why, in high school I was voted Girl Most Likely To Date Chris Brown."
     "Ana."
     "Yes?"
     "Be quiet."
     "Okay."
     "Don't make a sound."
     "I won't."
     "I mean it."
     "So do I."
     "Just shut up."
     "I will."
     "Not another word."
     "I'm not saying anything."
     For some reason my not saying anything upsets him even more.
     "Zing! Bang! Pow! One of these days, Ana," he says, making a fist and threatening me with it. "To the moon! To the moon!"
     What a sweet thought from a sweet man.
     "Is she here?" a loud voice screeches from somewhere else in the house other than here.
     The ground shakes as, from out of nowhere, Bigfoot in a tight dress comes stampeding into the room and traps me with a bear-hug. Giving me a tight squeeze with what could pass for two tree-trucks but are in actuality her arms, she lifts me high into the air. My bra snaps open and goes flying across the room with a loud bo-innggg! sound. My naked breasts flop up and down like a Slinky.
     "That would be Mia, my little sister," Christian tells me.
     Little? I don't mean to be unkind, but she's so large they probably had to baptize her at Sea World.
     "Ana!" she squeals, "I've heard so much about you!"
     "Really?"
     "No."
     "Mia!" Christian chastises.
     "That's okay," I say. "Back in high school I was voted Girl Most Likely To Invest With Bernie Madoff."
     "It's just that Christian's never brought home a girl before," Christian's mother explains.
     "Yes, we were taking bets on whether or not he liked things longer than he liked them wide," Mia continues the thought. "I guess nobody wins."
     "Wine?" Christian father cuts in.
     Hmm... I had forgotten about him.
      "Let me introduce you to the rest of our guests," Christian says, and leads me away from his family. "Ana, this is Bill Cosby. Whatever you do, don't accept a drink from him."
     "I'm pleased to meet you, Mr. Cosby," I say.
     "He's in charge of the Jello Pudding Pops," Christians mother tells me, explaining the reason why he's here.
     "And this is former NBC news anchor Brian Williams."
     I offer Mr. Williams my hand, but he's in the middle of telling the story of how he was attacked by the Taliban while climbing Mount Everest to fight Nazis.
     "I'll say one thing about those terrorists," he says in conclusion, "without them I would have never broke the world record for climbing to the top of the world's highest peak."
     "Whatever you do," Christian tells me, "don't believe a word he says. And this is..."
     "Kate!" I yelp in excitement. "What are you doing here?"
     "I'm pleased to meet you," Kate tells me. "And you are...?"
     "Kate! It's me! Ana!"
     "Ana who?"
     "No, not Ana Hu," I tell her. Why she thinks I'm Chinese, who knows. "Ana Steele.  Your roommate."
     "Well, it's nice to meet you, Miss Roommate. I'd lean in closer to give you a hug, but your breath smells just like the middle part of a Mexican friend of mine named José."
     "That's a horrible thing to say, Kate." I say to her. "Why do you keep trying to break Christian and me up? I want to know."
     "Because," she answers in that one-percenter kind of way of hers, "the more you have, the less I  have by comparison."
     "Wine?" Christian's father wants to know.
     The last person I meet is Christian's father's arch-enemy, Bob Bitchin. CEO of Bob Bitchin Incorporated. The way Christian explains it to me is that Mr. Bitchin is in the middle of a hostile takeover of Grey Enterprises & Enchilada Emporium. Christian's father invited him to dinner so they could "settle this nasty business once and for all."
     And, speaking of dinner, it looks wonderful.
     There's a meat salad with meat appetizers. Meat sides and a meat main course. In crystal pitchers, there's a thick liquid that's rich and colorful. I've never had a meat smoothie before, but, let me tell you, it looks absolutely refreshing in a refreshingly meaty kind of way. I bet it goes down smooth, just like Kate.
     Hmm....
     Smooth.
     Smoothie.
     I wonder...?
     "You'll never guess what we're having for dessert," Christian's mother interrupts my reverie.
     "My guess would be some kind of meat," Kate whispers to me, conspiratorially.
     The men, stereotypically, are busy talking about sports.
     "Did you see the game between the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals?"
 I hear Christian say. "What a nail-biter! I had no idea who would win."
     As we finally make our way to the table and sit down in our pre-assigned seats, Christian's father accidentally bumps into his arch-enemy and spills a splash of wine onto his lap. Without thinking, Mr. Bitchin grabs his dinner napkin and uses it to wipe the crimson liquid from the front of his pants.
     "So sorry, old chap" Christian's father tells him, faking an English accent.
     "Really?"
     "No."
     "Da-add!" Christian chastises.
     "Mr. Bitchin, are you okay?" Christian's mother asks. I can hear concern in her voice.
     Mr. Bitchin's eyes have started to pop out. He begins to clutch his at his throat like he can't breathe. He stands up, weaves back and forth, and then collapses to the floor.
     "Oh, my Goobers!" I say. "Bob Bitchin's dead!"
     My Inner Goddess and I Forget What The Other One Is immediately hit the road. If there's an accusation of murder to be made, they don't want to be there.
     I can't blame them. Neither do I.
     The cops are called and a Lt. Columbo shows up. He's a wrinkly little man in a wrinkly little raincoat with a glass eye that always seems to be pointed in the opposite direction of where he's looking.
     "Can somebody please explain to me the chronology of the events of the evening?" he asks.
     "Wine?" Christian's father offers.
     "No, thank you," Columbo says, politely, "just the facts, ma'am."
     "I'm a sir."
     "Yes, sir."
     Christian's mother immediately takes over the situation.
     "Well, you see, Lieutenant," she says, "we had all just sat down for a nice dinner, when Mr. Bitchin..."
     "Who?"
     "Mr. Bitchin."
     "And who would that be?"
     "That would be the dead man whom we called you about."
     "I see, I see... hey, is that Brain Williams? Are you still up for the position of Pope, Brian? Yeah, I thought so. Anyway--You were saying, sir?"
     "I'm a ma'am."
     "Ma'am."
     "Well, we sat down for dinner, but, before we could eat, Mr. Bitchin..."
     "Who?"
     "Mr. Bitchin. The dead man we called you about."
     "That's right. Go on, go on. I'm sorry for the interruption."
     "Well, before any of us could eat anything, Mr. Bitchin had the bad manners to be murdered. Which reminds me, Lieutenant, will you be done soon? I'm famished."
     "Just a few more questions, just a few more questions. I see your husband has been passing around wine like he was Gunga Din with a water pouch. Did everybody have a glass?"
     "Yes. We all had a glass."
     "And were there any hors d'oeuvres?"
     "Yes."
     "And did everybody have some?"
     "Yes. We all ate hors d'oeuvres."
     "And no one had a chance to eat any of the food at the table?"
     "No. Lieutenant. No one did. Are we done?"
     "Just one more question, ma'am. One more question."
     The statement just kind of hangs there while Columbo's wandering eye makes its way around the room, looking at everything and yet nothing in particular.
     "Say... is that Bill Cosby? Uh, miss? I wouldn't drink that if I were you."
     "Your question, Lieutenant?"
     "What?"
     "You had one more question?"
     "Oh, yeah... was there anything out of the ordinary that happened? I mean, out of the ordinary as in something that was not ordinary thus making it out of the ordinary."
     "Well, the only thing I can think of was when my husband accidentally bumped into Mr. Bitchin."
     "That would be the dead man?"
     "That's another question, Lieutenant."
     "Sorry."
     "Quite all right. When my husband accidentally spilled some wine on Mr. Bitchin, Mr. Bitchin grabbed his dinner napkin, cleaned himself off, and then expired."
     "I see, I see."
     "So..."
     "So?"
     "So, do you need to call CSI? NCIS? The ACLU?"
     "Not at all. With everything you've told me, I know who killed Mr. Bitchin."
     "Who?"
     "The dead man you called me about."
     "No, I mean: Who killed him?"
     "Why, it's obvious that it was your husband, ma'am."
     "Surely, you must be joking."
     "No, ma'am, I'm not. And don't call me Shirley. Everybody knows that Mr. Bitchin was in the middle of a hostile takeover of your husband's company, Grey Enterprises & Chinese Nookie Palace. Since everybody touched the same things, drank the same things, and ate the same things, the only thing that was different was when Mr. Bitchin handled his dinner napkin. It's obvious that your husband must have poisoned the dinner napkin in advance, and then not-so-accidentally spilled wine on Mr. Bitchin, causing him to grab his napkin to dry himself off. We'll test the napkin and I'm sure we'll find it contaminated with a fast-acting poison of some kind."
     We stand there, all stunned.
     Christian's mother looks in disbelief at her husband.
     "Could it be true, dear?"
     "Of course, my love. Every word."
     Christian's mother then turns back to the police Lieutenant.
     "Will you be arresting my husband for murder, Lieutenant?"
     Columbo's glass eye rambles all over the room and finally settles on Christian's mother.
     "Of course not," he assures her. "He's rich."
 
     "Shall I give you a tour of the grounds?" Christian asks me after dinner.
     He leads me into the kitchen and opens the trash-compacter.
     "What's that?" I ask, confused.
     "Columbian," he explains. "Fresh roasted. We have a good friend who lives there who owns his own coffee bean farm. He's from the old country. Germany. A doctor during the great war, but now he's retired."
     In a rare act of affection, he takes my hand in his. I'm not used to rare acts of affection, so I use the back of his hand to wipe my nose.
     "How about a grand tour?"
     "I'd love one," I say.
     He holds out his right hand, palm up.
     I try, but fail, to give him a high-five down-low.
     "It's a grand," he says, nodding his head in my direction. "For the tour."
     He clarifies his gesture by rubbing his thumb and forefinger briskly together in the international sign for moolah.
     "I don't have a grand."
     "Well, then, would you like to see my room?"
     "Sure," I tell him.
     "Well, it's not actually a room. We're so rich we each have our own floors."
     "Even your parents?"
     "Especially my parents."
     "I can't believe your parents sleep on separate floors, Christian."
     "If your observation were any more juvenile, Ana, Michael Jackson would have taken a nap with it."
     We take the indoor elevator upstairs to the fourth floor. There's a full-length mirror that's covered by an old blanket. I pull the blanket to the side because I want to check my makeup, but I was wrong. Instead of a mirror, it's actually a full-length painting of an old, old man. He looks like Christian, only antiquated. He looks so primordial, I bet his Social Security number is #7.
     "What's this?" I ask Christian.
     "Uh," Christian says, rushing over, "that's just an oil portrait by Basil Hallward."
     "Of who?" I ask.
     "Of whom." he answers.
     "I don't know, that's why I'm asking you. If you forget about the wrinkles, grey hair, and liver spots, it looks just like you."
     "No, it doesn't."
     "Yes, it does."
     "No, it doesn't."
     "Yes, it does."
     "No, it doesn't," and with that he quickly covers the painting back up.
     "Is it your grandfather?"
     "Uh, yeah," he tells me, kind of shaken. "My grandfather."
     "He looks pretty old."
     "That's because he's my great-grandfather."
     "Oh," I say. I look around. "Gee, it looks just like a museum up here."
     I meant to say "mausoleum," but got confused. Christian graciously moves me away from the lush, oddly lifelike portrait that seemed to age as I looked at it, while recording every soul-corrupting sin of its painted subject. He hustles me in the opposite direction and shows me his Souvenir Room.
     "These are keepsakes I received from various ladies I had the occasion to meet during my stay in London," he tells me.
     "London?"
     "Yes, London."
     "Where's that?"
     "In Europe?"
     "Hmmm... Europe."
     "Well, actually it's in England."
     "Ahhh... England."
     "You know, England. As in Great Britain."
     "Oh! Great Britain! Well, why didn't you say so?"
     "So you know where I'm talking about?"
     "No, but let's pretend I do."
     "Well, during my time in England, London's Whitechapel area to be exact, I came to know various young ladies very--um, shall we say--intimately, and these were souvenirs they were kind enough to part with."
     I look closely.
     There was a beautiful silk scarf.
     A lovely beaded pocketbook.
     An ovary.
     AN OVARY?
     Yes, an ovary.
     Yikes!
     "It's not what you think," Christian assures me.
     "How do you know what I think?" I ask him.
     "I don't," he says, "but whatever it is, that's not it. It was a gift."
     "A... gift?"
     "Yes, a gift. Surely, you've heard of Vincent Van Gogh."
     "Of course I've heard of Vincent Van Gogh. I'm not stupid, you know. I'm college edumacated."
     "Well, then, you must know how he once cut off one of his ears to give to the woman he loved as a gift."
     "He did? I must have missed that in the song by Don McLean."
     "Well, he did. And surely you've seen the movie with Kirk Douglas."
     "Of course I've seen the movie with Kirk Douglass. I'm not stupid, you know. And why do you keep calling me Shirley?"
     "Well, in the same way that Vincent Van Gogh gave the woman he loved his ear, I received this ovary as a gift. A most personal gift."
     "Yeah, you can't get more personal than that."
     "I'm glad you understand," he says, and then shows me the rest of his collection, telling me who the various items belonged to. "This scarf belonged to the radiant Mary Ann Nichols. This diamond earring was from the very comely lass, Annie Chapman. The alluring Elizabeth Stride was gracious enough to let me have her bonnet, and the ribbon was from the angelic Catherine Eddows."
     "Who gave you the shoe?"
     "The shoe belonged to the exquisite Mary Kelly."
     "Just one?"
     "One was all I needed."
     "No, I'm asking, she only gave you one shoe?"
     "Yes, one shoe was all she gave me."
     "Did she have only one foot?"
     "No, she had two feet."
     "I mean, who only gives one shoe as a gift?"
     "Well, that would be Mary 'One Shoe' Kelly, as she was known in the East End. You see, when I left Miss Kelly that night, one shoe was all I had time to receive. In fact, I was in a bit of a rush to escape."
     "Escape?"
     "I mean, abscond."
     "Abscond?"
     "I mean, get away."
     "Get away?"
     "I mean, leave."
     "Christian," I said, seriously. "Is there something you want to tell me?"
     "Like what?"
     "Like what the word 'abscond' means?"
     He quickly ushers me back downstairs and outside, where he shows me the grounds. Of the mansion, this time. I must say, things look especially beautiful in the dark of night when you can't see them.
     "This is our quicksand pit with only the finest imported Italian quicksand money can buy," he points out.
     "Oooo..." I say.
     "And this is our koi pond."
     "Can I dip my toes in the water, it looks so refreshing."
     "You'd better not. We keep the koi pond stocked with rare Belgian piranha," he tells me, tossing in a chihuahua.
     Christian seems to be leading me somewhere, but he's not saying exactly where. Finally, I see a little house in the distance. Could it be a boathouse, perhaps?
     "It's a bait shack," he tells me.
     "A bait shack? Why are you taking me to a bait shack?"
     "Because that, my dear, is where I'll make mad, passionate love to you."
     Oh, my goobers! 
   
       
Fifty Shades of Parody
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