Sample N17 from Richard S. Prather, "The Bawdy Beautiful," Cavalier, 11: 94 (April, 1961), 64-65. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,011 words| 920 (45.7%) quotes 7 symbolsN17

Used by permission of Richard S. Prather. 0010-1770

Richard S. Prather, "The Bawdy Beautiful," Cavalier, 11: 94 (April, 1961), 64-65.

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I guided her to the divan , turned off the TV , faced her . She sat quietly , staring at me from the wide eyes . And what eyes they were . Big and dark , a melting , golden brown . Eyes like hot honey , eyes that sizzled . Plus flawless skin , smooth brow and cheeks , lips that looked as if you could get a shock from them . It was a disturbingly familiar face , too , but I couldn't remember where we had met .

I said , `` Do we know each other , Miss '' ? ?

`` No , I remembered reading about you in the papers and that you lived here , and when it happened all I could think of was '' -- This time she stopped the rush of words herself . `` I'm sorry . Shall I go on '' ? ? She smiled . It was her first smile . But worth waiting for .

`` Sure '' . I said . `` But one word at a time , O.K. '' ? ? She was still hugging the stained coat around her , so I said , `` Relax , let me take your things . Would you like a drink , or coffee '' ? ?

`` No , thanks '' . She stood up , pulled the coat from her shoulders and started to slide it off , then let out a high-pitched scream and I let out a low-pitched , wobbling sound like a muffler blowing out . She was wearing nothing beneath the coat . She jerked the coat back on and squeezed it around her again , but not soon enough . There had been a good second or two during which my muffler had been blowing out , and now I was certain I'd seen her somewhere before .

`` I forgot '' ! ! She yelped . `` Oh , do forgive me . I'm sorry '' ! !

`` I forgive '' --

`` That's what started all the trouble in the first place . Oh , dear , I'm all unstrung '' .

`` You and me both , dear . Haven't we haven't I seen you . I mean , surely we've '' --

`` You may have seen me on TV '' , she said . `` I've done several filmed commercials for '' --

Then it hit me . `` Zing '' ! ! I cried .

`` Why , yes . And you recognized me '' ? ?

`` Yes , indeed . In fact , I was watching you on that little seventeen-inch screen when you rang my bell . Man , you rang -- it was in color , too , Miss , and Miss ? ? What's your name , anyway ? ? Ah , you were splendid '' . I sat by her on the divan . `` Splendid . In a waterfall and all that '' .

`` That's the last one we did . That was a fun one '' .

`` I'll bet . It was fun for me , all right . I don't mean to pry , but do they hide the swimsuit with the bubbles ? ? I mean : Is advertising honest ? ?

`` It depends on who does it . I never wear anything at all . It wouldn't -- wouldn't seem fair , somehow '' .

`` I couldn't agree with you more '' .

`` I really do have something important to tell you , Mr. Scott . About the murder '' .

`` Murder ? ? Oh , yeah '' , I said . `` Tell me about the murder '' .

She told me . Zing was the creation of two men , Louis Thor and Bill Blake , partners in zing ! ! , Inc. . They'd peddled the soap virtually alone , and without much success , until about a year ago , when -- with the addition of `` SX-21 '' to their secret formula and the inauguration of a high-powered advertising campaign -- sales had soared practically into orbit . Their product had been endorsed by Good Housekeeping , the A.M.A. , and the Veterinary Journal , among other repositories of higher wisdom , and before much longer if you didn't have a cake of their soap in the john , even your best friends would think you didn't bathe .

My lovely caller -- Joyce Holland was her name -- had previously done three filmed commercials for zing , and this evening , the fourth , a super production , had been filmed at the home of Louis Thor . The water in Thor's big swimming pool had been covered with a blanket of thick , foamy soapsuds -- fashioned , of course , from zing -- Joyce had dived from the board into the pool , then swirled and cavorted in her luxurious `` bath '' while cameras rolled . The finished -- and drastically cut -- product would begin with a hazy longshot of Joyce entering the suds , then bursting above the pool's surface clad in layers of lavender lather , and I had a hunch this item was going to sell tons and tons of soap ; ; even to clean men and boys .

Joyce went on , `` When we'd finished , Lou -- Mr. Thor -- asked me to stay a little longer . He wanted a few stills for magazine ads , he said . Everybody left and I stayed in the pool , then Lou came back alone and leaped into the pool too . And he didn't have any clothes on '' .

`` He didn't '' ! !

`` Yes , he didn't . Did , I mean '' . She paused . `` Did leap into the pool , and didn't have anything on . Anyway , it was evident what he had in mind '' .

`` You got away , didn't you '' ? ?

`` Yes . He caught up with me once and grabbed me , but I was all covered with zing -- it's very slippery , you know '' .

`` I didn't know . I wouldn't have the stuff in the house . But I'm pleased to hear '' --

`` So I just scooted out of his clutches . I swam like mad , got out of the pool , grabbed my robe , and ran to the car . The keys were still in it , and I was miles away before I remembered that my clothes and purse and everything were still in the little cabana where I'd changed '' .

She'd driven around for a while , Joyce said , then , thinking Louis Thor would have calmed down by that time , she'd gone back to his home on Bryn Mawr Drive , parked in front , and walked toward the pool . While several yards from it , still concealed by the shrubbery , she'd seen two men on her left at the pool's edge . She went on :

`` A man was holding onto Lou , holding him up . Maybe Lou was only unconscious , but right then I thought he must be dead . The man shoved him into the water , then ran past the cabana . There's a walk there that goes out to Quebec Drive . I was so scared well , I just ran to my car and came here '' .

`` You know who the other man was '' ? ?

`` No , I never did see his face . I didn't get a good look at him at all , his back was to me , and I was so scared It was just somebody in a man's suit . But I'm sure the other one was Lou '' .

What Joyce wanted me to do was go to Thor's house and `` do whatever detectives do '' , and get her clothes -- and handbag containing her identification . She realized I'd have to notify the police , but fervently hoped I could avoid mentioning her name .

Her impact in the zing commercials had led to her being considered for an excellent part in an upcoming TV series , Underwater Western Eye , a documentary-type show to be sponsored by Oatnut Grits . But if Joyce got involved in murder or salacious scandal , the role would probably go to the sponsor's wife , Mrs. Oatnut Grits . Or at least not to Joyce .

`` And I so want the part '' , she said . `` The commercials have just been for money , there hasn't been any real incentive for me to do them , but in Underwater Western Eye I'd have a chance to act . I could show what I can do '' .

As far as I was concerned , she had already and had dandily shown what she could do . But I promised Joyce I would mention her name , if at all , only as a last resort . Seeming much relieved , she smiled one of those worth-waiting-for smiles , and I smiled all the way into the bedroom . There I got my Colt Special and shoulder harness , slipped my coat on , and went back into the front room .

Joyce squirmed a little on the divan . `` I'm starting to itch '' , she said .

`` Itch '' ? ?

`` Yes , I'm still all covered with that soap . I was loaded with suds when I ran away , and I haven't had a chance to wash it off . Mmmm , it sure itches '' .

`` You might as well wait here while I'm gone , so you can use my shower if you'd like '' .

`` Oh , I'd love to '' . I showed her the shower and tub , and she said , smiling , `` If you really don't mind , I think I'll get clean in the shower , then soak for a few minutes in your tub . That always relaxes me . Doesn't it you '' ? ?

`` Only when I do it '' . I shook my head . One of my virtues or vices is a sort of three-dimensional imagination complete with sound effects and glorious living color . `` Soak as long as you want , Joyce . It'll probably be at least an hour or two before I can check back with you . So you'll have everything all to yourself , doggone ''

I looked at my watch . Ten after nine . Time to go , I supposed . `` Well , goodbye '' , I said .

`` Goodbye . You'd better hurry '' .

`` Oh , you can count on that '' .

She smiled slightly . Softly . Warmly . `` Don't hurry too much . I'll be soaking for at least half an hour '' .

That was all she said . But suddenly those hot-honey eyes seemed to have everything but swarms of bees in them . However , when there's a job to be done , I'm a monstrosity of grim determination , I like to think . I spun about and clattered through the front room to the door . As I went out , I could hear water pouring in the shower . Hot water . She wouldn't be taking a cold shower . Hell , she couldn't .

Bryn Mawr Drive is only two or three miles from the Spartan , and it took me less than five minutes to get there . But the scene was not the quiet , calm scene I'd expected . Four cars were parked at the curb , and two of them were police radio cars . Lights blazed in the big house and surrounding grounds . I followed a shrubbery-lined gravel path alongside the house to the pool . Two uniformed officers , a couple of plain-clothesmen I knew , and two other men stood on a gray cement area next to the pool on my left . At the pool's far end was the little cabana Joyce had mentioned , and on the water's surface floated scattered lavender patches of limp-looking lather . A few yards beyond the group of men , a man's nude body lay face down on a patch of thick green dichondra .

Lieutenant Rawlins , one of the plain-clothesmen , spotted me and said , `` Hi , Shell '' , and walked toward me . `` How'd you hear about this one '' ? ? I grinned , but ignored the question . He didn't push it ; ; Rawlins worked out of Central Homicide and we'd been friends for years .

He filled me in . A call to the police had been placed from here a couple of minutes after nine P.M. , and the first police car had arrived two or three minutes after that -- 10 minutes ago now . Present at the scene -- in addition to the dead man , who was indeed Louis Thor -- had been Thor's partner Bill Blake , and Antony Rose , an advertising agency executive who handled the zing account . Neither of them , I understood , had been present at the filming session earlier .

`` What were they doing here '' ? ? I asked Rawlins .

`` They were supposed to meet Thor at nine PM for a conference concerning the ad campaign for their soap , a new angle based on this SX-21 stuff '' .

`` Yeah , I've heard more about SX-21 than space exploration lately . What is the gunk '' ? ?

`` How would I know ? ? It's a secret . That was the new advertising angle -- something about a Lloyd's of London policy to insure the secrecy of the secret ingredient . Actually , only two men know what the formula is , Blake and '' -- He stopped and looked at Thor's body .

I said , `` O.K. , so now only Blake knows . How's it strike you , foul or fair '' ? ?

`` Can't say yet . Deputy coroner says it looks like he sucked in a big pile of those thick suds and strangled on 'em . The PM might show he drowned instead , but that's what the once-over-lightly gives us . Accident , murder , suicide -- take your pick '' .

`` I'll pick murder . Anything else '' ? ?

`` According to Rose , he arrived here a couple minutes before nine and spotted Thor in the water , got a hooked pole from the pool-equipment locker and started hauling him out .