Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Red Scent - by Joe DiGilio

Joe Digilio

"The Red Scent" is the third installment of Joe DiGilio's "Rainbow" triology that includes "The Green Light" and "The Blue Ladies."  In fact, it is actually the sequel to "The Blue Ladies,"and you should really read that one before you continue.

Joe claims that his stories are fiction, but I have just a little shadow of doubt about that., and so will you!  Either way,Joe weaves the plot with such aplomb that  I predict that you will NOT want this story to end!  See how the latest Relentless Pursuit winds down.

If you enjoy this new story, please leave a comment for its author below or email me.  He really appreciates your feedback as do I!


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.

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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 Red Scent By Joe DiGilio

Bald-Headed Mannequins are Comical

It has been 2 years since poor Lenore lost her head for me.  Since then I’ve noticed a change in the look of mannequins in the show windows of Midtown Manhattan boutiques.  They are almost exclusively faceless or headless. The few shops that still use figures with heads and faces use very old ones whose expressions are almost comical.   Is it the intention of designers to minimize distraction from the product on display, or could it be Lenore’s courage ignited some kind of revolution in the ranks of the bewitched.  I find myself entertaining these thoughts as I walk back and forth from Penn Station to my office on West 46th Street.


Lately I’ve focused my camera and attention on people walking the streets of Manhattan, tourists and other commuters mostly.  My targets are random and my intention is to be unobtrusive.  Lots of people walk around New York City with cameras hanging around their necks so my doing so doesn’t really distinguish me from the masses.  I maneuver through the crowd looking for interesting faces and “get ups” or find a post where I can blend in with the surroundings and catch passersby unaware.

I was doing my sidewalk photographer thing late one summer afternoon when, through the crowd, I noticed an attractive, shapely, dark haired woman approaching.  I had just moved from shade to bright sunlight at the intersection of 34th Street and 7th Avenue.  Once you cross this street you are back in shade again so I never make adjustments for that short span.  She was too close anyway; I just looked at her and smiled.  Our eyes met, hers narrowed into a frosty glare.  There was no trace of a smile as we drew closer.  Her gaze made me feel uncomfortable and I looked aside.  As we passed I detected a delightful fragrance.  I inhaled deeply; was that her scent or another’s carried my way on the gentle summer afternoon breeze?  I didn’t look back.  The memory of the scent lingered. On the train home I thought about her but I couldn’t make a connection.  No matter, the chance of encountering her again in Manhattan was remote.

About a week later, I was walking through the Fashion District when I spotted the woman’s icy stare through the crowd.   I didn’t think she saw me.  I tried to get a picture but I couldn’t get a clear shot and avoid her eyes at the same time.  I continued on my way and came upon a photo shoot at the next corner.  A tall, dark Asian model wearing blue spiked heels and a 1940’s hair style was posing for a couple of photographers so I stopped to steal a few pictures.
The 7th Avenue Strut
While I was framing a shot I heard the distinctive click of high heels approaching from behind.  Soon the sound was accompanied by a heady bouquet of perfume.  It filled my senses and I wondered if the woman wearing it was as exotic as the fragrance she wore.  I continued to shoot not wanting to appear aroused or anxious but my curiosity got the better of me.   I came up for air and a peek; it was "Frosty", the mystery woman.  She was lovely indeed, wearing a smile and a sultry black clinging dress, slit up the side to mid-thigh, stiletto heels, and a knowing kind of smile.
Blue Spikes

“Are you a professional photographer?”
“No, I’m an amateur.”
“Are you any good?”
“I do alright.”
“I’ll bet you do.  I collect photographers.  Do you have a portfolio or a website I could look at?”
“Why don’t you give me your information and I’ll check you out.  If I like what I see I’ll be in touch.  How does that sound?”
“That sounds good.”  I handed her my card.
“My name is Joe, what’s yours?”
“I’m L. W. Craft.  You can call me Crafty; nice to meet you Joe.”  She shook my hand and moved very close to me.  Her perfume was intoxicating. “I have a good feeling about you.”  And she handed me her card,  L. W. Craft  Modeling  Agency.
We made small talk for a few minutes and I took a couple more pictures of the leggy Asian beauty.  I sure liked the unique smell of the perfume Crafty was wearing.  I inhaled deeply before excusing myself. I had to catch a train.
My cell phone rang at 10 AM the next morning.
“Good Morning Joe.  This is Crafty, remember me?”
“Good Morning; sure I remember you. “
“I checked out your website and I was very impressed.  Have you ever shot any fashion models?”
“No, not really, I haven’t.”
“Oh, well would you like to give it a try?”
“Sure I would!”
“Come to my studio at 5 PM and we’ll talk.”
“See you then.”

The rest of the morning and afternoon crawled by.  For a while all I could think of was having the chance to take some pictures professionally.  Then the little voice in my head called me back to Earth and reality.

 I arrived at Crafty’s studio at 5PM sharp.  It was on 37th Street, off 7th Avenue in the heart of the garment district.  The door to her loft displayed the security sticker of Jewelers Protection Services, a former employer of mine that was bought by a company that was bought by a company more than 20 years ago.  Her suite was cool, clean, well lit, and freshly painted.  There were a couple of mannequins in the corner, camera equipment and studio lights were set up.  It looked like a professional operation.  Because it’s my business I always take notice of alarm systems.  This one was an antique.  Most likely it hadn’t worked for years.  She greeted me at the door wearing a tight black skirt, heals and a revealing white blouse.

“Hi Joe, glad you could make it.  I’d planned to have a beautiful, young model here for you to photograph but she called about 15 minutes ago and told me something came up and she couldn’t make it.  Say, I noticed some images of mannequins in your gallery and I have a couple here at the studio.  I know it’s not the same but would you mind photographing them?”
“No, not at all.”

Lenore and Irene:  The Blue Ladies
These mannequins had heads and faces. I was sure I heard Crafty whispering under her breath as she dressed them for the shoot.  That made me thinks of sweet Lenore and her sister Irene and wonder what ever had become of them.  I shot the pictures and told her I’d e-mail the images to her in the morning.

“I’m hungry Joe; would you care have dinner with me?”
“Thanks Crafty but I already have dinner plans. Perhaps another time.”
“How about a glass of wine then?”
“I’ll take a rain check.  I never drink on an empty stomach.”

“Joe, you’re hurting my feelings,” she said pretending to be heartbroken as she put her arm around my shoulder and drew me close.  That’s when my sinuses filled with the scent of her fragrance.  It was like she had just put it on.  I think I got a little weak in the knees.  I needed air.
“I can’t remember the last time a man turned me down twice in the same day.  I won’t bite you Joey.“

“Don’t take it personally Crafty.  You are a very attractive woman and I’d love to have dinner and a drink with you some night, just not tonight.  I have plans this evening.  I really have to run now and catch a train.  I’ll be in touch.  Good night.”

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  Once outside I took a couple of deep breaths.  The fresh air helped but that scent lingered in my head.   Crafty’s perfume was overpowering and so was she.  I told myself, “This woman is DANGEROUS Joe; keep your guard up.  You know what they say, when it’s too good to be true it usually is.”  I felt a headache coming on and wondered if I had overdosed on perfume.

Lenore in Shadow
 I fell into a deep sleep on the train ride home to Bethpage.  I dreamt of Lenore and her predawn winter morning whispers to me from the boutique show room window on 6th Avenue two years earlier.  I dreamt about her warning me to stay away, her fear of Lotta’s wrath, and I felt guilty for not having helped her get free.  Then I was awakened by the conductor’s announcement; “Next stop Bethpage.”  My head was stuffy; a trace of fragrance still lingered.

After dinner that night I downloaded the images of the mannequins I had taken at Crafty’s loft earlier. As I reviewed the images I noticed one of the mannequins wasn’t in focus in any of the shots in which it appeared.  Close examination made it appear to be some kind of double exposure. Closer examination revealed that the blurred images resembled Lenore.

I edited the images and sent all but the imperfect ones to Crafty for her approval.
It was a cool summer night; perfect for sleeping with the windows open but I didn’t sleep well; I had too much on my mind.  I had to find out; I had to know.  What if the L in L.W. Craft stood for Lotta?   What if Lenore was a prisoner in that loft?

I packed a small black duffle bag with dark clothing and a few hand tools and caught the 4:30 AM train.  It was still dark when we arrived at Penn Station.  I went directly to Crafty’s building at the corner of 7th Avenue and 37th Street.  Her second floor windows were dark.  There was some kind of work being done on the façade of the building; a scaffold had been constructed on the 37th street side of the building to protect pedestrians from being struck by falling debris. There was no sign of activity except for the lobby attendant going about his business.

The Scaffold on the Corner of 7th Avenue and 37th Street

Joe Watched and Waited from the Coffee Shop Across the Street

I went to the coffee shop across the street and sat at a table with a view so I could keep the place under surveillance while I drank coffee and ate breakfast.  After two hours and 5 cups of rich Colombian I was pretty jittery and my bladder was about to burst.  I knew if I got up to relieve myself I’d miss something but a man has to do what a man has to do.  Sure enough when I returned to my table the second floor lights were on.  I needed to know if Crafty slept there or not.  So I crossed the street to see what I might be able to glean from the lobby attendant. I was greeted immediately by a friendly face and a wide smile when I walked up to his station.

“Good morning sir, may I help you?”
“Yes, thanks; can you tell me what time L.W. Craft gets in?”
“Sure, she arrived just a few minutes ago; gets in about 7:45 every morning.”
“Will you be going up?  I’ll announce you.”
“Not just now; I’m going to take care of some other business I have in the neighborhood.  I’ll come back later.”

That was easy; now I knew she didn’t sleep there.  Crafty called me at 10 AM.  She said she liked the images I sent her and wanted to meet with me at 6PM to discuss a project she had in mind.  I agreed enthusiastically but I had no intention to keep that appointment; I had other plans.  Later that afternoon I called Crafty and cancelled our appointment due to a family emergency.  She was sympathetic, understanding and she agreed to meet with me the same time the following evening.

It Wasn't Hard to Climb the Scaffold
At about 9 PM I changed into my dark clothing and made my way to the Garment District.  Crafty’s lights were still on so I walked around to get a good feel for the block at that time of night and see who was around.  Crafty’s lights on the second floor went out at 9:45 PM.   I waited 10 minutes then made my way to the scaffold along the 37th Street side of the building.  The street was dark and deserted.  I wouldn’t have a better opportunity than this so up I went.  It was easier to climb than I thought it would be.   Once on top of the scaffold I made my way to Crafty’s windows.  I opened my bag, laid out my tools and got ready to go to work.  Then I remembered a lesson I had learned long ago from an old safe and loft man; “Always try to open the door or window first, don’t assume it’s locked”.

Well what do you know, the window was unlocked.  Once inside I moved to a shadow and gave my eyes a chance to adjust and my pulse time to time to slow down.  Once I was composed and sure I was alone I went directly to the naked mannequins facing the wall in the corner.   I turned around the one I thought resembled Lenore in the images I shot the night before.

  "Oh Joe is it really you?   Is this some kind of cruel dream or the answer to my prayers?”
“It’s me Lenore; how do I get you and your friend, or is that Irene, out of here?”
“She isn’t my friend Joe and she isn’t my sister.  She is just a mannequin.  Irene was destroyed by Lotta.  She beheaded her in a rage thinking she was me.  She was mad because Irene told her I revealed her secret to you.  I have been pretending to be Irene ever since.  Freeing me will be risky but I think we can pull it off if you are willing.”

“I’m here aren’t I?”

Lenore briefed me at length about L.W. Craft, Lotta Witch Craft, and how she operated.  She explained that her hatred for photographers stems from her envy of their skill. She lures them to her loft using an enchanting Red Scent that makes her irresistible to men.  I had some firsthand knowledge of that already.  After she has her way with them she turns them into mannequins using the same special vintage wine she used to enslave Lenore and her sister.

“Can the spell on you be broken Lenore?”

“Yes it can. I overheard Lotta tell one of her cronies which spell she used and how to break it.  It’s just like in the fairy tales Joe the spell is broken by the kiss of someone who truly cares.”
I moved to kiss her but she stopped me with an urgent, “No!  Not now, I want revenge.  I want to destroy Lotta.  I know how but I need your help.  Will you please help me Joe?” For the next couple of hours we formulated our plan of attack.   Then I left the same way I had come, leaving everything as I had found it.

Fashion District News Stand
While on my way to meet with Crafty the next day I stopped at Duane Reade and picked up a small jar of Vicks Vaporub.  Lenore told me placing a bit of that in each nostril would inhibit the potency of the Red Scent.

When I arrived at her building I was greeted and announced by the same happy fellow I had seen the day before.  Crafty met me at the door.  She was dressed casually but her eyes and hair were made up for an evening out.   She welcomed me with a two handed shake that sandwiched my right hand between hers.  Her nails were long and she gently raked them across both sides of my hand as they parted.

“Glad you could make it today Joe.  I hope all is well with the family.”

“All is well thanks Crafty.”

We discussed her project and my involvement and the generous amount of money I would make.  Then she offered me a contract for my signature.

“I’ll look this over later. Right now I’m hungry, how about you Crafty?”

“Well I’m really not dressed for it. I’d have to freshen up a bit first.”

When she returned a short time later she was wearing that simple, black, form fitting dress; the kind that accentuates a woman’s figure and never wrinkles.  The package looked good but there was a very dangerous woman inside. She stopped, whirled around giving me a 360 degree view.  Then she invaded my personal space and said in a sultry voice, “How do I look Joe?”

With my best “play dumb” response I answered, “You look real good Crafty.” What an understatement that was. Still standing close in that same sultry voice she said, “Are you still hungry?  Do you want to go out, or should we just relax and order in?”

“I’d like to go out;” she moved closer.  I could barely detect the Red Scent; the Vicks was working but I had to pretend to feel something so I blinked my eyes a few times shook my head a little and took an awkward step back. “Whoops almost lost my balance.  Guess I need some food.  Where would you like to go?”

 “I like Tony’s off Broadway on 43rd Street.  Do you know the place?”
“I sure do; let’s go.”

After dinner she asked me to walk back to the studio with her so she could fetch something.  I agreed knowing what was coming next.  She hugged my arm the whole way; I needed more Vicks.  Once we got upstairs she excused herself and went to the powder room.  I immediately went to the corner where Lenore was and kissed her like someone who cares.  Instantly she became flesh and bone.   We smiled briefly but our work was far from done.  I put more Vicks up my nose and got ready for action.

When she returned she had changed into her casual clothing again.  As she crossed the room I noticed her blouse was unbuttoned and she wasn’t wearing a bra.  She hung her arms around my neck and peered into my eyes.  I was sure she had the Red Scent on though I couldn’t smell anything but Vicks.  I pretended to get a bit weak in the knees and she moved in for the kill.  She kissed me aggressively moving her firm breasts across my chest.  Lenore told me how she had seen men respond at this stage of the game so I played the role.  While kissing her I pulled her closer with one arm, grasped her firm butt with my free hand and squeezed one cheek hard enough to make her yelp and break the hold.

“Hey! That hurt. Take it easy Joe.”
“Sorry, guess I got carried away.  You are a very exciting woman.”

“Mmmmm yea, how about some wine?  It will make you feel romantic and bring your more gentle side into focus.  I have something very special for you that I only bring out on occasions like this.”
She poured two glasses full; Lenore told me Lotta never drinks the wine she just watches as her victims drink and turn to chalk.  We toasted but before I could put the glass to my lips Lenore pounced on Lotta and applied a choke hold from behind, just as I had demonstrated the night before on the mannequin in the corner when we planned our attack.  Lotta dropped her glass and squirmed but the hold had been applied well and she wasn’t going anywhere.  When she gasped for air I poured the contents of my glass into her mouth.  I grabbed her head and held her mouth shut while Lenore released her hold.  A look of horror shot across her face.  She spat and coughed to no avail.  The wine worked quickly.  She stood transfixed at her image in the large studio mirror.  Lenore stepped before her, enraged.

“Remember me Bitch?  That was my sister Irene you beheaded, not me.  Now it’s your turn.  Look at yourself.  Watch me strip you of your clothing.  Watch yourself turn to stone. Watch as I avenge my sister and all the others you enslaved.  Do you like what you see?”

Lenore’s anger turned to tears.  She cried on my shoulder as we watched Lotta become a lifeless chalk figure of a woman.

“Put some clothes on Lenore; we have to get out of here.  You know, I think she is still dangerous.  It would be a mistake to leave her like this. Let’s wait until she hardens well then smash her into a million pieces and scatter her around the city.”

“That’s a wonderful idea Joe.  How do you like it, Lotta piñata?”
So we waited a while and when we thought she was well cured Lenore hit her right leg with a chair just below the knee.  We took turns whacking her with everything we could find until there was nothing but small pieces remaining.  Then we put the pieces into a couple of plastic trash bags, hailed a cab and delivered her piece by piece to trash baskets throughout Manhattan.

Lenore went home to her parents.  She told them some fantastic tale about drugs, bikers and a lost love that was easier to believe than what had actually happened.  I went back to my street photography, my New York job, and writing my short stories.

The Red Scent (from a Google Search)

- 30 -
  All photographs by Joe DiGilio


Please Note:

*** This Blog Needs Your Story! *** I'm Serious!} If you have a story to post on this theme, contact me
, please! We have only a single story on tap at this writing.

Give your imagination a stretch--your story can be about any sort of Relentless Pursuit, fact, fiction, poignant, humorous, or even harrowing!  I'd love to hear from you and to work with you on your story! We need to keep this theme going! There have been some truly fabulous posts over the last several months.  Why not yours?

My sincere thanks for stopping by.
Michelle Alton


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Anonymous said...

Great story, imagination and photos, Joe!! A real web(page)-turner!!

Robert B

Anonymous said...

I loved how the story drew you in...making you want to know more. It was very compelling - I enjoyed it!

Michelle D said...

Captivating story!! Can't wait for the next one.

Dave Phalen said...

Fasbulous story!! But there must be more to come, Can't wait!!