Fabulous, Wendy thought. I’ve become the kind of woman whose husband gives her spa gift certificates for Christmas. Yep, that’s me. What’s next, scented candles and sleepshirts with cats on them?
The place Mike picked was not one of the edgier establishments. It had been one of the first of its kind, respectable as hell, situated in the basement of a ritzy department store in a nice part of town. Wendy had the valet take her car. Of course the facility would validate.
“You’ll want to save the blow-dry and mani-pedi for afterwards,” chirped the receptionist. “Would you like to purchase our souvenir-preservation add-on?”
Like when I had to have my dog put down and the vet asked if I wanted her paw-print as a paperweight, thought Wendy. “No thanks,” she said.
“It’ll just be a moment,” said the receptionist. Wendy was the only person waiting, which struck her as passing strange since the establishment had a stellar Yelp rating. There were lots of pictures everywhere, though — nice professional shots of hazily-grinning women in white jumpsuits bespattered with God knew what, one woman per picture. The damned souvenir add-on, or part of it. The facility would also frame your jumpsuit for you if you wanted. She had seen them on the walls of several of her friends’ houses. Not quite as embarrassing as those damned giant plywood boxes with “FOLLOW YOUR BLISS” or whatever stenciled on, but close—
She heard her name. An attendant in black hospital scrubs had appeared. His nametag said Sasha – tall, beautiful Sasha. It didn’t seem quite right that he was a man, but Wendy sure wasn’t complaining.
“Come with me, please,” he said.
“Have fun,” said the receptionist.
Wendy followed Sasha and his truly magnificent ass out of the waiting room, down a hushed beige hall with nobody in it. Fun, huh? Wonder if I could talk you into that room with me, she thought. Might get messy, though. Of course she wasn’t serious, but she still felt kind of guilty – poor long-suffering Mike — and when she felt guilty she had a tendency to chatter, and even though she knew she wasn’t supposed to converse with the help—
“What do you think about all this?” she said.
“I think it serves its purpose.”
Gosh, his accent is pretty. “What do you mean?”
“The ladies really like it. Lot of ‘em have tough lives. It’s just supposed to be a good time, not therapeutic, but I disagree, kinda.”
“Shhhhh. We’re almost there.” He had led her to a locker room, more expensive-looking and with more flattering lighting than any locker room Wendy could remember ever seeing, but so very empty.
“Here,” he said, and handed her a key on a springy phone-cord bracelet. “The number on the key corresponds with your locker and your treatment space, both.”
“Okay,” said Wendy. “What do I do now?”
“You can get changed and head straight in. It’s pretty self-explanatory.” He paused, and then said, slowly, “I don’t tell this to anybody, but nobody ever asks me what I think, so I’m telling you. When you’re in there, listen. Be safe, Wendy.” And he was gone.
Well, that was mysterious. What is there to listen for in a fancy spa? Wendy decided that cryptic comments from hotties must be part of the deal, and found her locker and put on the white jumpsuit that hung inside. In the pocket of the jumpsuit was a laminated map, like an emergency-exit map you’d see by an elevator, lucid enough, and she followed it through more beige halls. Nobody, nobody, nobody anywhere. Silence.
Finally she came to the right door. The room was just like the pictures on the website – about the size of the average corner office, all tiled white, with a table on one wall, laden with materials. That’s what the website called them, Materials. The food was all expired, the website also said, so one shouldn’t feel too ashamed. And beside the Materials, a four-pound sledgehammer.
Boots, goggles, gloves and helmet waited on shelves by the door. Wendy put them on.
This is just ridiculous, she thought. She picked up the hammer and a box of Pillsbury Funfetti cake mix, then lofted the box and swung. POOF. Nice hit, the floor all dusted with Technicolor snow.
Wendy thought, I can do better than that. She grabbed a can of cherry pie filling, one of those huge institutional-sized ones. Into the air it went, and WHAM! Clang! An arc of sticky-shining red splashed her across the chest. The can caromed off the wall with a steel-drum clatter.
Listen, Sasha had said. What did he mean? Wendy obliged. She heard nothing at all. Funny, the place was terribly popular, right on trend, a whole hive of rooms like this, she should be able to hear the others smashing things–
She pried open a bucket of green paint and shot-putted it straight into the tile. It banked around like a pool ball and nearly clobbered her in the shins. “Yoo- hoo!” she yelled. She listened until her ears roared, then picked up the loudest Material on the table, an ancient CRT computer monitor, and hurled it as hard as she could. It crashed into smithereens and sounded like the end of the world. “HEY!” Wendy shouted. “HEY!” She went to work on the wreckage with her hammer and thought the tile couldn’t possibly hold, but it did, then red paint, blue, Cool Whip and a bag of tangerines and a big ol’ sack of glitter, and silence, and silence, and pretty soon she was just pounding on the walls, the floor, skidding in miscellaneous sparkling goo and screaming herself hoarse.
When he came to get her, when the hour was up, Wendy howled “Where are they? Where the hell are the rest of us?”
“You listened,” he said. “Good.”
Written by Emma Ray Rand with Artwork by NODU (Matt Jones)
Inspired by: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/01/170122162538175.html