Body by Ladonna
Ladonna would miss Billy Mays’ black beard, puffy paunch, and his in-her-face sandpaper voice rasping from the television. Dead as a doornail, Mays passed in the wake of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, but in Ladonna’s heart his clean, pure flame would burn forever. It’s just that getting spots out isn’t as nearly as sexy as crotch grabbing gyrations and/or posing in a red swimsuit and sleeping with hottie Ryan O’Neal.
Everyone gets it in the end. Knock, knock, is anyone at home? In the past year quite a few of Ladonna’s Peachville friends had answered the knock. You can run but you can’t hide, even way down here back in the holler near Deadman’s Curve, or so sayeth the wraith with the scythe. In fact, over the years, more than a few have met the Reaper while racing their Ram 190 trucks. Pitching downward in the dark of night sealed their fate. Business is better than ever for the Reaper, what with all the built in, given destruction at the hands of all kinds of speedy stuff.
It was Ladonna’s job to set things right in the back room of the Peachville Mortuary of No Return (PMNR) where, for two decades, she’d been in charge of styling stiffs. There’d be no calling them stiffs once they arrived in her department, for in her department even the lowliest scumbag was suddenly elevated to the status of “client” seeking restorative techniques involving modeling wax replicas to replace what was lost. Ladonna insisted on addressing all her charges as clients, but thankfully none had risen up to object.
She’d seen it all: Rita “Sparky” Loons, the 1975 Peachville prom queen who got hers when her beehive hair-do caught fire and promptly engulfed her silver spangled mini and white go-go boots. Putting Rita back together wasn’t easy, but she looked pretty good in the blonde flip wig Ladonna ordered, never mind that the departed was a natural redhead. Sven “Stitch” Handsonson, the young doctor who ran the clinic for a decade, was taken to rest when he had the misfortune to be driving his Chevelle behind a molasses truck navigating Dead Man’s Curve on a blazing summer day in the year 2008. For reasons never determined, the truck burst its steel seams, and sent forth waves and waves of blackstrap good for shoofly pies but bad for Dr. Stitch Handsonson’s Chevelle, which did a skid down the slippery hill and rode right over the side.
He was joined a few seconds later by the fated molasses truck driven by Jeremiah Redmond, who left behind a wife (Marlis) and six little Redmonds whose first names each began with an R: Rastus, Rueben, Rupert, Raleigh and the twins, Redmond II and Redmond III. Ladonna put in extra hours on the doctor (and not so many on Jeremiah Redmond, who fared better), but they looked equally swell when she finished. Her biggest expense was figuring how much molasses remover it would take to get them in shape for the Full Body Do. FBD included hair, nails (toes and fingers), maximum make-up and, well, any extras like body parts that were missing along the way. No one was aware that she had ordered a prosthetic arm for the town sheriff, Bunky Beaswell, who had only one arm when he was shot down dead five years back by Goose Black, an itinerant Bible salesman from the other side of the holler over by Pork Rib Junction. It took awhile for UPS to reach Peachville, but eventually Bunky got the arm he always deserved, with permission from his widow, of course. She personally selected a modest model made of rubber, figuring only the hand would show, so she didn’t need to entirely blow her egg money. She’d be needing her egg money down the line now that Bunky had bit the dust.
Lately she’d started signing her work (privately, she called it “art”) “Body by Ladonna.” Using indelible ink, her choice of script was appropriately elaborate, and of course discretely secreted, for example, in between toes, behind ears, deep inside an innie bellybutton (outies were useless), on the underside of pink tongues and, when she was feeling particularly artistic, worked into birthmarks that never saw the light of day.
“Body by Ladonna.” She found herself wondering what miracles she would use if given clients the likes of Jacko, Farrah, and/or Billy. A new nose for Jacko, a full and luxurious head of hair for Ms. Fawcett and, for Billy, a beard lightening and hair highlights, just to soften his vampire aura.
As unlikely as it was, maybe a celebrity would wander down her way and die on Dead Man’s Curve. If she was ever lucky enough to see the day, she’d do her part to make things right. You betcha.