(I sent this piece to Grimlyfiendish some time ago. He does drawings 
of characters named Aunt Louise and her nosey nephew. Louise is 
always having a bit of fun at her nephew's expense, and his drawings 
are absolute delights).


THE PHOTO BOOTH



I glanced at my watch. 5:45. Great. She was late. Again. 
Terrific start to the evening. I paced around and around the 
information kiosk, watching people come and go from the mall. They 
seemed happy. Frivolous spending does that for you. So does a date 
with a lovely artist's model. Whenever she shows UP. Grrrrr. 
Every single…

My attention had strayed to the far wall, where amusements such as a 
mechanical pony, an enormous, rube-goldberg-ish gumball machine, and 
a photo booth stood. Beside the lineup of corny novelty devices 
stood an unusual pair.

The young man…well, he was nothing overly remarkable. Sort of 
average, if well put together. Probably a part-time athlete. But 
the woman…now there was something interesting. She was clearly
an older woman, but there was something still very…erotic about
her.

Perhaps it was the way she carried herself. An air of confidence and 
slightly bored bemusement. She was rather tall, but it could have 
been the heels on her high boots that achieved that. Wearing a 
gorgeous coat with a thick fur collar, her hair was tucked up beneath 
a fashionable hat. Even from where I stood, I could see that her 
eyes, somewhat hidden behind lightly tinted eyeglasses, were full of 
life and very alert. Her hands were sheathed in black leather 
gloves. In one hand she held a simple clutch purse, and in the other 
was a short cigarette holder. An air of confidence was all well and 
good, but this woman had a definite allure that could be attributed 
to her looks as much as anything else.

She seemed to be trying to convince the young man of something. 
Clearly she was cajoling him, and he was politely declining…even 
looking a little embarrassed. She was persistent—urging him to 
accompany her to…the photo booth? I smiled. Is there a male
alive who hasn't had to put up with this invitation from a woman
who thinks that getting four tiny pictures for a dollar is adorable? 
The young man's resolve appeared to be melting in the face of the
woman's charming smile. He finally nodded reluctantly, and they 
moved into the booth, sliding the curtain closed.

I looked at my watch again, and found myself wandering nearer to the 
amusements. I could say that it was idle movement,
but…truthfully, I'd probably have to admit that I wanted a
closer look at the intriguing woman when she emerged. I could hear 
her light laughter and murmured words now. I promised myself not to 
be caught staring when they came out, so I took a sudden interest in 
the gumball machine.

The sound of coins could be heard dropping into a slot, followed by a 
moment of quiet while they composed themselves. From the corner of 
my eye, I saw the bright flash, and heard…what was that? A
brief…hissing? I raised an eyebrow and glanced toward the booth.

Most peculiar. There was a second bright flash…and again a brief
hissing sound. What th..? Without thinking about it, I found my 
feet slowly moving toward the photo booth. There was just something 
very odd about… Another flash. More hissing.

I had reached the side of the booth now, my brow furrowed in 
confusion. My curiosity was now working overti… I sniffed. 
What in the world was that smell? Cloying and candy-sweet. I
hadn't really taken note of it as I got closer, but now it was
quite pronounced. A final flash of light, and another hissing, 
seemingly quite loud, as I was so close now. I was taking note of 
the pungent smell again, when there was a sudden whirring sound, 
and a strip of photos spat out of the slot on the side of the booth. 
I inclined my head, taking a look. My mouth opened slightly, and I 
reached down and removed the photos…bringing them closer.

In the first photo, I could see the woman and the young man sitting 
side by side, but that was the only normal thing about the picture. 
His expression was one of surprise. Little wonder. Apparently 
coming from the panel in front of the couple was a stream of 
yellowish gas. It had shot out and engulfed the face of the young 
man. Beside him, the older woman was leaning slightly away, and had 
placed a small, clear airmask over her mouth and nose. Because the 
mask was clear, the photo showed the woman…smiling.

The next photo had a similar element—another jet of the yellowish
gas into the young man's face. His eyes were half-lidded now, and
his expression was growing slack. The woman, airmask still in place, 
was now turned toward him, regarding him fondly. Her gloved fingers 
were raised and stroking the hair just behind his ear.

In the third picture, the inescapable gas was again hissing into the 
young man's face, though it hardly even seemed necessary now. 
His eyes were nearly completely closed, and a beatific smile was on 
his lips. The woman had leaned into her companion now, and her arm 
was positioned in such a way that it was impossible to draw any 
conclusion other than that her hand was now resting upon his groin.

The final photo again depicted the young man's face wreathed with
the sprayed narcotic gas, though he was now clearly completely 
unconscious. The smiling woman's hands were obviously at
work—one down below and one slipping inside the young man's
shirt. Her smile had a certain…predatory quality to it, and it
was quite evident that she was enjoying herself immensely.

I regarded the strip of surreal photos with stunned amazement. 
Suddenly, black leather-clad fingers took the pictures from my hand. 
I looked up, into the face of the woman. Her painted lips, now free 
of the airmask, smiled at me slyly.

"Manners, darling," she cooed at me.

As I stupidly stammered, her hand brought the cigarette holder to her 
lips, and she drew deeply. Caught as I was between raising an alarm 
or offering an apology, she certainly had plenty of time. She 
rounded her smiling lips and blew a stream of fragrant smoke into my 
face. In my surprise, I breathed in. The effect was immediate and 
dramatic. A profound lethargy and sleepiness fell over me like a 
cloak. I blinked at her through the veil of smoke—my eyelids 
suddenly very heavy.

She smiled, seeming to understand, and pivoted so that she was out of 
the booth doorway. Her hand was upon my arm, and she guided me 
quickly and deftly inside. I stumbled over her peacefully slumbering 
companion, and fell sprawling onto the bench beside him. I barely 
took note of the fact that his pants were completely undone. I 
raised my head with some effort, trying to focus on the woman as she 
now stood in the doorway, smiling kindly down at me.

"It seems I'll have double the pleasure and double the fun
today," she purred seductively.

As I tried to take in what was happening, I saw her take another deep 
pull on her holder, and lean down to me. She spoke with smoke 
wafting from her lips.

"Sleepy-bye time, dear," she said with a smile.

She seemed to blow the smoke for a very long time, encircling my 
mouth and nose…filling my vision…wrapping my senses in
cotton. The smoke was impossibly sweet. As darkness enfolded me, I 
heard her distant, light laughter.

Time seemed to….to…..to….

I glanced at my watch, sitting up. 7:20..?? I sat up and looked 
about at… What the hell..? A photo booth? I fell asleep in a
photo booth? Aw, maaaaan. I stepped out of the booth, rubbing my 
eyes and steadying myself in the doorway. I peered around at the 
people as they passed by, hoping…but no. Of course she would
have left by now, thinking I had stood her up. Dammit.

After all that waiting for tonight, I had blown it. Once again,
I'd be spending a night in front of the television—wondering
why I never get to be a part of life's excitement.

END