Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Elaine Viets: Little Bikinis and Big Muscles
Helen works this dead-end job undercover to watch Bryan pump iron.
In this scene from “Pumped for Murder,” she sees Debbi, a young bodybuilder who hopes to win her first competition, and her two scary mentors.
Kristi looked like she’d escaped from Area 51 in Roswell, New Mexico. The bodybuilder had huge round eyes, a wrinkled face and a furtive manner. With her misshapen muscles, Helen thought Debbi’s mentor could pass as an extraterrestrial.
Tansi, the other mentor, looked like a creature from this planet – a reptile with yellow eyes and smooth scales for skin. The Lizard and Space Alien, Helen thought. What a pair.
“You look perfect, Debbi,” Kristi said. There was a cosmic emptiness in her smile.
Debbi preened, if a strip of leather could preen. She stood before the mirror in the middle of Fantastic Fitness. Helen and Carla were at the reception desk some thirty feet away. Debbi was obviously proud of her stringy body in her posing suit, a black bikini with yellow sparkles.
“I can see you on stage, picking up that trophy,” said Tansi.
“Nice suit,” the Space Alien said. “Looks expensive.”
“Four hundred bucks,” Debbi said. She couldn’t hide her pride – or her need for their praise. She craved it like an addict needed heroin.
Helen gasped. “Did I hear right?”she asked Carla, her co-worker at the reception desk. “There’s barely room for a dozen gold sparkles on that teeny bikini.”
“Four hundred dollars is what a good competition suit costs,” Carla whispered. “I know competition bodybuilders who spend a thousand bucks or more on their posing suits. They cover them in emeralds, Swarovski crystals, or real gems. One competition builder couldn’t pay her rent. All her money went into – or rather on – her suit.”
“You’ve done a good job maintaining your base tan,” the Lizard said told her protege.
“The day before the competition, I’ll go in for a spray tan,” Debbi said. “Then I’ll get another coat before the pre-judging and another coat before the evening show.”
“Make sure you get a dark tan,” the Lizard said. “East Coast Physique judges like a natural bronze – nothing sparkly. You’re using the competition spray tanner I gave you?”
“We gave you,” said Kristi, Debbi’s other mentor. The Space Alien smiled and distant suns darkened.
“Tanning is too important to get wrong,” their protege said, as if the universe would implode should she miscalculate the color.
“We’ve done good,” the Alien said. “If the competition was today, you’d have the Novice Women’s Muscle title.”
“I hope that ‘we’ includes me,” the reptilian Tansi said. “I’ve been working with her, too.” She smiled and Helen thought of dinosaurs and extinct volcanos.
“Debbi reminds me of myself when I started bodybuilding,” Tansi said.
“That’s been awhile,” Kristi said.
The Lizard frowned. Planes of muscle shifted in her forehead like tectonic plates. No wonder Tansi looked unhappy.
Racing Father Time was one competition that bodybuilders couldn’t win.
“Pumped for Murder,” Elaine Viets’ tenth Dead-End Job mystery, is available in hardcover and as an e-book. Enter Elaine’s contest too win a $50 gift certificate to your favorite bookseller. Click on Contests at www.elaineviets.com.