Jael had once been a model herself; didn't need the money, found the life boring, and moved on. Although the two of them looked alike, there was a singular difference in their faces. Three long pale lines slashed across Jael's face: scars. She was a lovely woman to begin with, but the scars made her something else. Striking. Beautiful. Erotic. Exotic. Something.
"I came to see Alie'e," she said sullenly.
"See her someplace else," Plain said. "We're trying to work here."
"Don't give me a hard time, Plain."
"Get the fuck off my shoot," Plain said, walking toward her. All other talk stopped, and Clark, the welder, stood up, uncertainly, and pushed his mask back. Plain's voice vibrated with violence.
From behind him, Alie'e said, "There's a party at Silly's tonight, nine o'clock."
Jael had taken a step back, away from her brother. There was no fear in her, but she didn't doubt that Plain would physically throw her off the barge. He was bigger. "Silly's at nine," she said, and left.
Plain watched her go, watched until she was out of sight, turned back to Alie'e, took a breath, saw Clark hovering in the background like a sumo wrestler. He turned to the couture rep and said, "i've got your key shot."
The couture rep was a thin-faced German named Dieter Kopp. He had a stubble-cut skull, two-day beard, and gaunt, pale face; his cheeks were lightly pitted, as though he might once have suffered from smallpox. He was the only one not wearing jeans. Instead, he wore a pale gray Italian suit with an open-necked black dress shirt, and a gold tennis bracelet.
Kopp didn't want to be in St. Paul, didn't want to be in America. He wanted to be in Vienna, or Berlin, but he was condemned to this: to sell seventy-dollar male-look underpants, complete with front vent, to American women.
Like a good German, he would do what was necessary to carry out his orders; but at the moment, he was still vibrating with the possibility of violence against the striking blonde who'd just walked off the barge. He knew her face. She'd been a model, he knew that, but she'd been out of it for a few years. She looked better now; she was stunning, he thought. . . .
"What?" He asked. He'd missed what Plain said to him.
"I've got your key shot. We move Clark around back and we put Alie'e dead center-Alie'e, come over here." Alie'e walked toward them, along the plank, as Plain continued: "We light them separately and then jam them together with the long lens. Clark will look like the fuckin' moon coming over the horizon, and Alie'e will be there in the foreground."
"We still need the nipple for the punch," said the German. "We could lose it with a long lens."
"Gotta lose it anyway for the Americans," said the creative director, a man with a red beard and a bald, freckled head.
"We can do it both ways," Plain said. "For the Europeans, we'll hold it. We'll stick a snoot over on the left and light it. Alie'e . . ."
Alie'e stepped closer, and Plain slipped his fingers into the torn slit in the T-shirt and pulled it wider, to expose her nipple. "We'll have to tape this back, we'll have to bring it out a little more. Maybe touch it with a little more makeup."
"Not too much. She's really pale, and too much would look artificial," the art director said nervously.
"Artificial would be all right," Plain said. "What could be sexier than rouged nipples?"
"In Germany, yes, I think," Kopp said. "In America . . ."
"Sexy in America, too, but it'd be too much for the mainline magazines," Plain said. "For the American shot, we'll ice her nipple to bring it up, so you can see it through the T-shirt, put a little shading on the side to emphasize it, but we re-layer the rip so there's more coverage, and drop the snoot. But you'll still be able to feel it there-there'll be like a mental tit behind the T-shirt."
Reprinted from Easy Prey by John Sandford by permission of Putnam Pub. Group, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2000 by John Sandford. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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