Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Blue Ladies

                Joe DiGilio

Readers and are going to be amazed at Joe's second contribution to  "Tales of Relentless Pursuit."  It's a twist on a familiar theme:  The relentless pursuit of fame and fortune, gone awry.  This story reads like fiction, but then again, you'll have to decide for yourself-- I have my suspicions!  In New York City, perhaps anything can happen! 

Note each of Joe's tales has a color in its title.  I see a pattern developing.  Honestly, if anyone has any connections to the Publishing world, Mr DiGilio could use an Agent!  He has many more stories in his bag of tricks!

For now, enjoy "The Blue Ladies" and Joe's superb photography. (Remember, if you click on a photo, it will enlarge for you.)  By the way, I could not find a single word to cut, and I think you will find yourself wanting more! 

Oh...and if you click on one of the green circular icons (one above Joe's picture, and one on his Biography below), you can write a "Stumble Upon" review, recommending this blog.  It'll help create more readership!

Thanks for stopping here to see the latest post.  I'd love to know what you think of the "Relentless Pursuit" series. Please leave a comment below or email me with your suggestions on what you'd like to see on this blog. 

If you have a story to post on this theme, contact me. And be sure to take a look at my Photography site. I'd love to hear from you!  Also, consider forwarding the link to "Relentless" to your friends and family.  Thanks again!
Michelle Alton

The Blue Ladies

34th Street Entrance to Penn Station
Part One
Lenore and Irene are identical twins, real head turners, tall, thin, blonde, blue, well put together.  Like many girls they have dreamed of becoming models since childhood but the odds of making a good living as a fashion model are as long as the odds of making a good living as a professional photographer.  Undaunted, they were going to give it a shot anyway because you never know if you don’t try.  So one morning it was off to Manhattan’s Garment District on the Long Island Rail Road with their makeup and whatever else girls put in those annoying little suitcases on wheels they drag through the streets behind them.

It was at a modeling agency on 7th Avenue that they made the acquaintance of a sultry 40ish brunette named Lotta, who, unbeknownst to them, would soon change their lives forever.  Over a cup of trendy coffee Lotta told the girls she would hook them up with a friend of hers who needs models all the time and, pays well.  And all she wanted in return was their promise to model for her, at the going rate until they found someone willing to take their places.  Lotta took the girls to meet her friend Jasper.  There was a lot going on at his studio, a photo shoot for a well-known label was in progress.  The twins were overwhelmed and instantly began to fantasize about getting started on the road to success.  They were so anxious they said “yes” to everything and signed the contracts Lotta placed before them without reading the “fine print."
That same day they posed for photos wearing some of the latest fashions, after which they were paid handsomely in cash.  Lotta congratulated them, took them to Tony’s Napoli off Broadway for dinner and then back to her loft in the Garment District to do a little modeling for her, as per their agreement.  When they arrived Lotta opened a special bottle of wine from her private stock which paralyzed them almost immediately after the toast that Lotta made to their success.  They were conscious but they couldn’t move or speak.  Lotta then explained she was a witch and, as it said in the “fine print” they hadn’t read, they were obligated to model for her as mannequins in Manhattan stores and show windows until such time as they could convince, entice, and trick someone to take their place.  Then they watched in horror at their reflections in a large mirror as Lotta stripped them of their clothing before they hardened into chalk-like, lifeless, human forms.

After the Wine
Part Two
I’ve been commuting from Long Island to Manhattan Island on the Long Island Rail Road  longer than I care to remember.  I walk from Penn Station to my office on West 46th Street and back daily; camera at the ready.  The walk is the best part of my commute.  Although my destination remains unchanged I vary my path just to keep things interesting. 

I know it’s time to make a change when I start recognizing the people in the street.  I’m always on the look-out for targets of opportunity. I find something or someone almost every day.  Most of the time I keep the shutter in sports mode because I shoot from the hip a lot. The majority of the images get deleted but some become favorites of mine.

I get a kick out of some of the get-ups people wear.  Sometimes I notice trends before they catch on because I walk through the Fashion District often.  I see lots of tall thin models dragging their ubiquitous  little suitcases behind them. They always spot my lens, they almost never smile and I rarely shoot them.  They’re not my kind of target.  I like funny, strange and unusual more.

In midwinter, Manhattan’s early morning light is generally poor.  The long shadows cast by the city’s concrete, steel and glass monoliths make it difficult to take a clear image on the move without using a flash.   It’s cold too and prime targets of opportunity are scarce for the sidewalk photographer, but you never know what you might see in this town so I try to keep my camera ready and my fingers warm in my woolen mittens, with the slits in the palms.

The bitter wind whistles and moans its way through the canyons formed by the architecture, creating eerie sounds as it blows around corners, through alleys, cracks and crevices .  Raw conditions cause more people to opt for the subway in winter but there are still some stalwart commuters who pull their hats down and turn their collars up as they “hoof it” to their Mid-Town offices from Penn Station, Grand Central Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

The Avenue of the Americas, 6th Avenue to native New Yorkers, is one of my favorite hunting grounds; it’s also Manhattan’s North Wind corridor.  Early one gray, windy morning while passing a dress shop near the corner of 6th and West 46th, I thought I heard a soft voice call to me.  Without breaking stride I looked over my shoulder but there was no one there.  I didn’t

give the moment a second thought until the following morning when, while passing the same shop, I heard it again.  This time I stopped for a few seconds to see if I could figure out what had caused the sound, but I couldn’t.  There was only the mannequin wearing the latest fashion in the window.  I dismissed it as one of those innocuous sounds of the city and continued on my way. The next day I fixed my gaze on the mannequin in the window as I approached and kept my eyes glued to it until I passed but as soon as I turned my head forward I thought I heard a faint “Hello.”
This time I stopped, dead in my tracks, slowly turned and looked all around . Clearly no one was there but us-- err … me.  I gave the mannequin a closer look than I had previously but there was nothing else there to see.  As I was turning away I decided to take a picture of the mannequin in the window. I made some adjustments for the light and pressed my lens against the glass to eliminate the glare of the city lights.  Then I fired a burst or two  and went on my way.


Late that afternoon, on my way home, I deliberately passed by the shop where I thought I’d heard the voice but the atmosphere was different.  The Sun was up, it was warm and the street was full of people. I heard and saw nothing extraordinary.
The wheels in my head were turning now.  Soon after I got home that night I sat down with a “cold one” and downloaded the images I had taken that day.  I deliberately didn’t go straight to the series I had taken of the mannequin because I didn’t want to admit to myself that I seriously considered the sounds I heard could have come from the sophisticated looking figure of a woman in the show window.
The face was aesthetically pleasing.  It had an intelligent, alluring look, high, wide cheek bones and narrow cheeks, small chin and nose, perfectly shaped lips, large eyes and high eye brows, ears and hair close to the head and a long, thin neck. I wondered if the artist who sculpted this face had someone in particular in mind or if this was the face of his dream girl.

The next morning was typical for the season, windy and raw.  I made a bee line from Penn Station to the dress shop.  Intellectually I knew nothing was going to happen but deep down inside I was hoping something would.  When I arrived I stood directly in front of her.  This time I spoke, “Good  Morning pretty lady. What’s your name?”-- but there was no response.  “I hope you don’t mind if I take a couple more pictures today.  You have very interesting features.”  I focused on her face and took a few shots from different angles.  Then I looked up at her, said “Thanks” and turned to walk away.  That’s when I heard the name “Lenore” whispered softly by a gentle voice.  I looked up,-- she hadn’t moved. I felt strange but I spoke to her any way.
“Hi, I’m Joe.”
"Hi Joe, I see you almost every day. I guess you work around here.”
“Just around the block,” I said.  “I know I’m not dreaming and I don’t think I’m crazy so tell me how it is that I can hear you?”
“A few years ago I made a deal with someone I shouldn’t have and sold my humanity for what I thought would be success, fame and fortune.  What you see before you is what remains. I can only communicate in the presence of one person and only when the sun is down. At this point in time you are that person.”
“Why me?”
“I can’t say, besides day is breaking.  Please come see me again.”
Then there was silence.
It was pretty hard to concentrate on my work that day.  I passed her window on the way home but there was no exchange between us.  That night I looked at the images I had taken of her and wondered what I was going to do.  I didn’t sleep well and took an early train so I’d be able to spend more time with Lenore
Time passed quickly that morning as she explained how she had become the slave of a Garment District witch who routinely tricks young aspiring models, into signing contracts that result in their transformation into mannequins. Then the witch rents them to upscale stores and shops all over the city.
Soon I realized I had to be a little more discrete or I was going to get picked up by the men in white coats and taken to Belleview for observation.  
I took the early train again the next day.
Things were very different when I reached the shop; Lenore was waiting for me but she had company; an identical mannequin stood beside her.  It was then that she introduced me to her twin, Irene, who had fallen victim to the same cunning witch. (A taste of fame and fortune in exchange for servitude for as long as it takes you to recruit your replacement) Irene was different though, pushy with a very seductive tone to her voice whereas Lenore was sweet and demure.
Irene and Lenore
“So Joe, do you and my sister here have a little something going between you?  We’re twins you know and we share everything, don’t we Lenore? "
Lenore didn’t respond.

“Why don’t you come by tonight after the store closes?  The door will be unlocked. I promise you you’ll get some extraordinary images.  What have you got to lose? You’re not afraid, are you Joe?”

I had no response.  That, you’re-not-scared stuff worked when I was a kid; now it just puts red flags up.

“I’m sure Joe has plans Irene.”

“I’ll give it some thought, perhaps I will, if not perhaps some other time.”

"Come back after closing, Joe"


For the next couple of weeks the sisters were side-by-side in the same window.  I walked on the other side of 6th Avenue and observed from afar.  I even looked through the long lens.  There was nothing unusual about the display but my instinct kept me from getting too close.  Then one morning only one of the sisters was there, but which one?  I took a chance, crossed the street and stood in front of her.  When she spoke, I knew it was Lenore.

"We're twins in the same fix, but we're different in every other way, Joe.  She will try to draw you in with promises of images enhanced with Lotta's craft so extraodinary they will make you rich and famous.  See that male model in the rear of the shop? Notice the camera hanging around his neck.  One of Irene's friends worked that scam on him and got free.  Irene has targeted you.  You can never come back Joe; Irene is verry cunning and resourceful and if she finds out I've told you, she will tell Lotta to gain her favor.  I will lose my head and you will be in danger.  There is nothing you can do for me but you can save yourself if you walk away and stay away."

There was a time when I wouldn't have heeded the warning, but that time has passed.  I said "goodbye," took one last picture and walked away.

From the opposite side of 6th Avenue the next morning, I saw two headless mannequins in the show window.  There has never been a mannequin with a head in that shop since, and I rarely get close as I used to but I may get one last series of shots tomorrow just to see if anything happens.

 Lotta's Revenge

  All photography by Joe DiGilio


Joe DiGilio’s Bio

Born, raised and formally educated in Manhattan and on Long Island, I could hear the fans screaming from my bedroom window when the Beatles played their first concert at old Shea Stadium.

I am a Viet Nam veteran. I have been married to Linda for 39 years. We have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. We still work but who knows for how long. At this stage of the game we take less and less for granted. Linda works in the accounting department of a non-profit organization and I manage a central monitoring station for a full service security company in Manhattan.

Photography has always been a part of my life. At times it’s played a greater role than it has at others but it has always been somewhere in the foreground or the background. At this juncture it’s fair to say photography qualifies as a passion. I’m self-taught but after 50 plus years of practice even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. I took my first picture at the tender age of 7 with mom’s Brownie Box camera. A Nikon man, I use a D200 exclusively. I’d like to trade up to a D700 but I have to sell a lot more pictures to justify it.

The streets and architecture of Manhattan are favorite subjects of mine. Our grandchildren, sporting events, wildlife and the great outdoors are also favorites but I’ll try my hand at just about any subject if the spirit moves me.

You can see more of Joe's amazing photography at his website.


*** I Need Your Story! *** { I'm Serious!}
If you have a story to post on this theme, contact me, please! We have a mere two weeks of stories on tap and I shall have to resort again to posting my own work! Please consider sharing your tales of Relentless Pursuit! And I'd be appreciative if you also take a look at my Photography site. I'd love to hear from you!
Michelle Alton


Joe's Bonus New York City Shots

Bank of America Tower

Bone Head!

Dream in Black and White

Lady and Sun Hat

Time Warp

New York City Reflections

Play it SAFE.  Don't Park!

Radio City Music Hall

White Sails on the Hudson



Joe has submitted another story to Relentless Pursuits.  Here is a link to "The Green Light"



Lorenzo said...

I love the realism you inject into the story without eliminating the entertainment factor. The pictures are stunning and help in the overall enjoyment of the story. I can't wait for part 2.

Lana said...

Great story, glad you weren't fooled by promises of wealth and fame, otherwise there would be no more stories to look forward to. The images are great too and really help the story along. Great job Joe.

Anonymous said...

awesome and most entertaining. So easy to get lost in your story and imagery.

Anonymous said...

Bravo Joe

Anonymous said...

In addition to being a good writer you are an excellent photographer Joe.

LauraEm said...

I didn't want this story to end, Joe. HEY WAIT! I heard a rumor! Every little breeze seems to whisper "Louise"...THERE IS MORE TO TELL! I can feel it! Please do! Lol...

I so enjoy your writing abilities. You take the risk that very few will. You put your imaginary sanity on the line for humor and total entertaiment for others and yourself. I admire this and I do the same thing. Maybe I will have a story to tell you, too, one day soon. Dare me??

(Ringing hands together now)...


Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story...very compelling! The photographs are great and helped with the imagery of the storyline. Great job - can't wait for more!

Dave Phalen said...

Clearly Joe's talents extend far beyond photography!! Love the shots of NYC.

Michelle D said...

WOW!! I have always loved your photos of the Blue ladies and now to hear their story. I love your creative story telling.

Rossana said...

As always, awesome pictures and another truly entertaining story. Great job! Looking forward to the next one.

Massiel said...

What an interesting story....I'll never look at a mannequin the same way again...

Rhonda said...

Super as usual Joe. I can someday say "I knew you when..."

Alison Kelly said...

Another great story! You truly know how to capture and hold your readers attention with you details and imagination. The photos brought the story alive for me!!
So... what comes first the chicken or the egg...the photos or the story??

Anonymous said...

Great Story, Joe! You made these mannequins come to life...or were they really already alive? :) I enjoyed reading it as well as looking through your photographs.

Karen K.

Nancyj said...

What a wonderful story, and gorgeous photos. I enjoy your sense of humor, too! 8o)

Anonymous said...

I guess the moral of the story is to always read the fine print. And/or beware of women named 'Lotta.' I've always wondered where mannequins came from-- thanks for the info, Joe. I guess I should stop talking to them :-)

Robert B