Looker by Laura Sims Read Online (FREE)
Originally published: January 8, 2019
Author: Laura Sims
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction
It was Mrs. H who started calling her the actress, making it sound like she was one of those old Hollywood legends—Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Lauren Bacall. That may have been accurate early in her career, when she was a serious indie star, but now her fiercely sculpted, electric-blue-clad body adorns the side of nearly every city bus I see. It’s an ad for one of those stupid blockbusters—and she isn’t even the main star, she’s only the female star—so she’s a sellout, like all the rest. It’s disappointing only because she belongs to us. To our block, I mean.
And here she comes—passing so close to where I sit on my stoop that I can see the tiny blue bunny rabbits embroidered on her baby’s hat. She has him strapped to her chest in that cloth contraption all the moms have. It should look ludicrous, the baby an awkward lump on the front of her white linen sundress, but somehow the actress pulls it off. She more than pulls it off—as he peers up at her she lowers her head and shakes her shoulder-length auburn hair in his face. He squeals in delight. They look like they’re being filmed right now, like they’re co-starring in a shampoo commercial, but there’s only me watching. She knows I’m sitting here but she doesn’t acknowledge me when she passes by. She just stares straight ahead with that slight smile, meant to be mysterious, I’m sure. I see your airbrushed body on the bus almost every day! I want to call out. I take a long drag on my cigarette and blow a cloud of smoke after her and the babe.
Later on, riding the subway home after my night class, I wonder about the sad sacks filling my train car. What are their twelve-hour workdays like? Full of tedium and sullen acceptance? Rage? The women’s faces have gone slack and gray by this time of night. The men’s shirts are rumpled, with sweat stains at the pits. A few reek of cigarettes and booze. There they sit, swaying and bumping in the unclean air. Does the actress ever take the subway? Maybe once in a while, to prove that she’s a regular person. But usually there’s a car outside her house, idling, waiting to whisk her anywhere she wants or needs to go. “To the park,” I imagine her saying. To the theater, to the trendy restaurant I’ve never heard of, to the Apple Store, to the apple orchard upstate. Meanwhile I sit on the stoop or shrug myself up, back and legs aching, to find my greasy MetroCard and join the tide of commoners underground. Does she remember how hot it is down on the platform in late summer? And how cold it gets in winter? Until you step inside the train car and have to struggle out of your heavy coat and scarf (if you can, packed as you are like sardines) because it’s steaming and suddenly so are you. Does she remember these and other indignities of “regular person” city life? Does she breathe a sigh of relief every time she passes one of the station entrances in her sleek black car? I would. I’m certain I would. The past would seem like a distant bad dream. Or a joke.