The building was one of my favorite places in Ribbon. A spacious foyer, with admissions on the left and the gift shop on the right, gave way to a flight of wide marble stairs. Ten steps up was a landing, above which was a massive window that looked out over the impeccably groomed grounds. The staircase split into two additional flights, one to the left and one to the right, both leading to the upstairs gallery space where I found Eddie.
Eddie Adams, visual manager for the local retailer Tradava and the extender of the invitation to come to the museum to work for no pay, was knee-deep in Styrofoam peanuts and Bubble Wrap. His hands were wrapped around a white mannequin he was trying unsuccessfully to anchor on a brushed-chrome pole base. Behind him stood an army of similar mannequins in various poses, some missing arms or legs. At least two were headless.
“Hey, Dude,” Eddie called out to me. Beads of sweat had broken out on Eddie’s forehead. His bleached-blond hair, left uncut for the past several months, was tucked behind his ears. He planted his black and white checkered Vans on either side of the mannequin and tipped it to the side.
“Hey. This place smells like garlic and moth balls,” I said, wrinkling my nose.
“Can you help me out with this, please?”
I waved my hand in front of my nose to dull the smell and walked to where he stood. I picked up a long white leg and snapped it onto the torso and then tipped the chrome pole and poked around under the butt of the mannequin until the pole slid into the opening. All in all, it was an embarrassing display of, well, visual display.
As the base slid into the figure, Eddie shifted the weight of the mannequin toward me. I wrapped my arms around her slight waist, and my strapless jumpsuit dropped a couple of inches, threatening to expose my chest. I dropped the mannequin and hoisted up my neckline.
Eddie grabbed the torso and staggered backward under the weight of the prop. He then pushed it back to a standing position.
“Dude?” he asked.
“I had to adjust.”
He scanned my outfit. “I told you to dress appropriately.”
“What’s inappropriate about my outfit?”
Diane Vallere is living proof that you can redesign your life with a little know how and a lot of determination! After close to two decades working for a top luxury retailer, she traded fashion accessories for accessories to murder, now juggling three different mystery series: Style & Error, featuring former fashion buyer Samantha Kidd; Mad for Mod, featuring Doris Day-loving interior decorator Madison Night; and the upcoming Material Witness series, featuring Polyester Monroe and the fabric shop she inherited. Diane started her own detective agency at age ten and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since. Find her at http://www.dianevallere.com/.
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