Miss Maggie’s Shoppe
The building was painted the type of white that made it seem invisible when the first snow hit town. It was not old enough to show any real history, but not new enough for it to es- cape squeaking floor boards and loose shingles. It had been built as a honeymooner’s paradise for a couple of newlyweds, but after their deaths, it had stood vacant for many years. Then it was transformed into what was now the only beauty shop left in town. The sign over the door read “Miss Maggie’s Shoppe” in hand-painted pink Victorian cursive.
Miss Maggie was a thin woman with wild curly blond hair. The women in town often scoffed at the leather and lace that covered her thirty-nine year-old body. She wore tight jeans tucked into black cowboy boots and donned colossal fake eyelashes every single day. Perhaps the most unsettling thing about her was the black 1974 Cadillac Coupe de Ville that she drove. The engine revved high at every stop sign, and its enormous mass sat outside her salon every single day. The older women seemed to have a permanent scowl every time she turned her back, yet no one could deny that she gave the best haircuts in town. Oddly enough, it seemed that every wife in town came to the salon when their husbands had appointments. Maggie would smile and gossip with the wives while the husbands attempted to train their eyes on the nearest wall, or window, or chair.
Maggie had been hell-bent for Hollywood from an early age. She had a classic beauty that only seemed to deepen as she aged. She had been born in this small town to poor parents. She had worked her way through high school and beauty school at the local diner. But as for Hollywood, she had never seemed to get around to buying a plane ticket, and so she imagined she’d end up buried in the Spirit Lake Cemetery. Now that the town was being lost to the four- lane highway, Maggie had started to wonder where her next move would be. Small towns worked best, but nowhere would ever be as perfect as Spirit Lake.
It was not common, but every few years a man would go missing. These disappearances were often blamed on hunting incidents or simply a case of a married man going AWOL. How- ever, the men who went missing never seemed to turn up. The cases often went cold since there was never any trace of evidence, and the small-town police department had very little means of searching for them. The only things these men had in common were their strong tastes for liq- uor and the sweet, innocent women they left behind. Typically, a few months after disappear- ing, a service would be held, and the men would be presumed dead. Maggie would wear her leather pants, red skyscraper heels, and sheer, black long-sleeved shirt to the service. She would console the widow or girlfriend of the lost man and then slide a fifty percent off coupon for a haircut or dye or perm or eyebrow wax into her hands. Maggie saw these women with their sag- ging skin, bad dye jobs, and butchered at-home attempts to cut their hair and could not help her- self. The thing about being so beautiful was that sooner or later, everything else started looking ugly.
Maggie slept above her salon in satin sheets. She woke early and sipped black coffee and read over the small town newspaper. She would shower, sculpt her hair, and apply her
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make-up. Then she would open her appointment book and sigh over the empty appointment spaces. The women in this town were lazy. She had known this from an early age when their jealousy over her beauty had caused them to exclude and reject her from their silly social cir- cles. Maggie cracked her neck and stared into her full-length mirror, reveling in the dark tattoos that covered her from below her breasts to her pelvis. She picked her teeth and pulled at her skin. Soon, she would have to feed. The two years since her last true meal had slowly become visible on her face.
It was not witchcraft; she had made no deals with the devil or any other imaginary friend. What she did more closely resembled alchemy. It was a simple book with ancient, yel- lowing pages that had given her the instructions. She had spent so much time at the local run- down library, having no real friends, that she had made her way through a majority of the books there. When she had discovered the aging book, she’d opened it and flipped through. The lan- guage was roughly translated into Old English, but with a little practice, Maggie could under- stand what it was telling her—though the title still remained unclear:
WxvÉÜ XwÉ i|ávâá
The few instruments she needed could easily be found in a salon, so it seemed clear that Maggie would get her beautician’s license. The long pure silver scissors that gave half the town haircuts were also the exact length and density needed to slice a grown man’s external jugular vein, according to the descriptions in Decor Edo Viscus. The comb she used to unravel heinous knots in her clients head also combed easily through muscle to separate the fat from the meat. After that, it was simple timing and ingredients. Near a full moon and her menstruation period seemed to work the best, and organic vegetables seemed to also give her special gumbo a little extra kick.
That tattoo that zigzagged and twisted across her abdomen held silent meaning within the book. A picture of the markings separated each chapter, and Maggie had seen these mark- ings and had known, without so much as a hesitation of doubt, that they were meant to be on her body, marking it as sacred. She had driven just under one hundred miles to find the closest tattoo artist who could replicate the image without mistake. No one had ever seen her tattoos except for the men who gave her their lives.
These men were easy to find and even easier to fool. With a large smile on an unlit street, she had them wrapped around her finger. The places she found them were different every time; she was careful to avoid a pattern. But, without fail, these men would follow her any- where. She would extend a long leg from the cab of her Cadillac, and they would sit like memo- rized puppies in her passenger seat. She allowed them to put their hand on her knee while she drove humming the Decor Edo Viscus song, just as the book had taught her to. By the time the men reached her home, they were almost begging for release. She would lead them through her darkened salon, up the stairs to her satin sheets and, passionately, she would give them what they wanted. After the moment of release, when the men finally saw the ink riddled around her body, she slit their throats quickly and with precision—making sure they made no noise. She wrapped the corpses in the satin sheets that covered the plastic bedcover and hauled them to her bathroom and carefully slid them into her large bathtub.
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Maggie was not cruel. She did not enjoy their pain; in fact, sometimes it made her a lit- tle sick. But as she filleted the skin from the meat and separated the meat from the bone and fat, she kept the image of her face in her own mind. The proof, in Maggie’s mind, that Decor Edo Viscus worked was clear through the lack of wrinkles around her eyes and mouth. Despite her natural beauty, she believed that without the Décor Edo Viscus recipe, she would decay like the rest of the disgusting women in Spirit Lake.
Tonight, as she set out to find her next meal ticket, she sipped homemade red wine out of a flask. No, she did not know what she would do or where she would go now that Spirit Lake was nearly gone… but, she knew that wherever she ended up, Decor Edo Viscus would follow her as well.
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