other people’s discomfort, and it made him uncomfortable in turn. She decided she would be as welcoming to him as any other LYLAS Dolls customer. “Absolutely. I’d be more than happy to help you.” She had a thought, though, because Carol obviously hadn’t planned for them to stop and make a doll. “You know, these dolls are really, ummm…” She looked around even though she knew she was the only employee in the store before saying, “…overpriced.”
Carol smiled. “Bobby’s parents give him whatever he wants. If he’s happy, they’re happy.”
“Great! Give me one second and we’ll get started.”
Carol nodded, then went to join Bobby at the wall of doll parts. The woman looked like a doll herself beside the massive man.
Amber stepped quickly into the back and grabbed her purse. She pulled a prescription bottle out of the side pocket, twisted the top off and tapped out two Xanax. She had Klonopin, too, but needed a fast-acting benzo. She popped the pills into her mouth, then pulled a bottled water from her bag, unscrewed the lid and gulped the pills down. The ninety-proof schnapps burned good, and she took another pull. Peppermint schnapps on the breath smelled like mouthwash.
She gave herself a moment. On an empty stomach, the alcohol started to work almost immediately. A burst of warmth exploded in slow motion from the base of her skull, and began wrapping around her brain. In a few minutes, the benzos would kick in and she’d be good for the next hour.
Amber headed back out into the LYLAS Dolls showroom and workshop.
* * *
Amber expected Bobby to need more help than he did. She tried to offer suggestions, as she usually did, but Bobby moved methodically along the room, choosing doll parts in such a confident manner that it seemed like the doll was already there in his head, and the only choice he needed to make was if the part in question was the closest match to the ideal. Amber was accustomed to, “Is this nose cuter, or this nose?”
Well, the rich girls didn’t agonize over every detail, but that’s because they knew they’d be back next week if they wanted. But Bobby’s certainty wasn’t a lack of care. He rolled every head back and forth between his massive hands, held every doll part with fingers as thick as the arms and legs. He knew what he was looking for, and added the parts to the little cart Carol pushed along behind him.
He decided on the sturdy doll type that represented younger, grade-school-aged girls. She had light brown hair, round eyes and a slightly upturned nose. The clothing for that doll type matched the age group, thank God. Amber swore she’d quit if they started carrying slutty clothing for the little girl bodies the way some other brands of dolls did, round baby bellies hanging out between sequined tube tops and micro miniskirts. Bobby chose a pair of blue jeans, a white T-shirt and white sneakers with Velcro, not laces. For accessories, he chose a pink backpack and a “Best Friend” half-heart necklace. He chose the “-st -end” half, which no one ever chose unless they were making a pair of dolls, usually with their best friend. Amber thought she could always tell which girl in the pair was the submissive well before that point in the process, and she was almost always correct about who would get stuck with the right side of the heart.
Carol had been truthful about Bobby’s demeanor. He was very gentle. He seemed to understand that the world was not made to his scale, that he needed to tread carefully, and he did his best. The pills had Amber feeling loose, and instead of being intimidated by Bobby’s size, she found the care he displayed when handling the small items cute, in the same way she’d find a video of a bear playing with a puppy cute.
When the time came to put his doll together, Amber struggled not to laugh as Bobby tried to sit down at the pink picnic table with attached benches. Before he could burst the bench with his knees, she said,
Annie Auerbach, Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
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