A Balloon Payment
by Randolph O. Mann

“Passing Gas”

“There is just no way!” Shiloh screamed.

“May I assume from your tone that you are objecting to the costume assignments?” Randy asked.

“You are damned straight we are objecting! Randy, we are professional fashion runway models, for Heaven’s sake. If T. Winston Inc thinks for one minute that we are going to stand quietly by and except this type of humiliating assignment you have lost your mind! As a group, we felt that last fall’s catalog spread was pushing the ethical envelope. Randy, this is far beyond that, this is insulting to our profession and to each model personally as fashion industry professionals.”

“Ladies I am flabbergasted, stunned. I am sensing insubordination issues, dare I use the M-word and say mutiny?”

“Daaaa... These outfits are a joke, no, they are totally obscene. We can not be seen in these, let alone be photographed wearing something this revealing. Randy, we have careers to protect and future product endorsements to think of, there is just no way you are going to finesse this to save your ass with T. Winston executives. Randolph! This is just not going to happen and I will have your job before we get embarrassed in this manner!”

“This is awkward. You ladies are forcing me to go into Uncle Thurgood’s office and try to explain this last minute departure?”

“That is right you can just march right into, Uncle Thurgood? Who is that?”

“Oh, that would be, Mr. Thurgood Winston III,, our Corporate Founder and CEO. I am his nephew, his favorite nephew, and should you have any questions concerning the veracity of my familiar status, please feel free to confer with my direct supervisor, Linda Browne, she will be more than happy to corroborate how Uncle Thurgood and I are just like that…

“Now, as I was saying,, knowing dear Uncle Thurgood the way I do, it will now be very awkward, not impossible mind you, but very awkward, to explain your unyielding opposition to the joint ‘Spring Fever Safe Sex’ ad campaign. For your clarity, this is a multiparty corporate venture, two years in the planning, where Bifrost Rainbow Condoms is joining forces with the ‘Shirt Off Our Backs’ Charity Trust to educate High School students about the various options available to the youth of today. Eight pages in the spring catalog have been set aside to feature the eight practical safe-sex practices with each preventive application color coded to match-up with one of the eight designer colors found in the Bifrost Condom Rainbow and of course coordinating with a matching T. Winston body stocking to accent the poster presentation…

“For your further personal edification, it was my dearest Uncle Thurgood that fought valiantly to involve high profile runway fashion divas, like yourselves, to serve as positive role models for the young women in our communities and at the same time gaining your ‘fashion industry’ a much needed positive press sound bite, with respect to the rabid eating disorders commonly found associated with your profession.

“Now, if you ladies would take stock of your unfortunate stance from an economic and a humanitarian perspective I am sure those of us gathered in this room can understand my angst regarding this unanticipated development. None the less, upon seeing your cohesive resolve on this issue I am now obligated to walk down the hall and communicate your current misgivings to THE Boss. Good afternoon ladies.”

“No, wait, could you please give us a second Randolph, we need to talk.”

“Sure, I can just step outside if you ladies would like.”

“Randy, that will not be necessary, as I believe this will not take long for us to find a consensus on this issue.”

“Ok, then huddle up, ladies, because we still have a full schedule of shooting and the assembly to consider….”

Shiloh held a whispered conference with the other models. “Randy, please tell your uncle it was unanimously decided that we would be honored to take part in the Safe Sex Campaign.”

“Is that your final answer?”

“Yes, Randy, our Final Answer!”

“Ok, then together we have a lot of work to do and very little time to get it done. So listen-up Ladies, against the oak paneled wall you will find two cardboard boxes with each of your names stenciled on them. In one box you will find your costume, a color coordinated silk body stocking, a pair of six inch evening shoes of appropriate color, and a harmonizing garter. The second box will hold your fashion accessory for this photo shoot. This fashion ornament consists of a matching camisole tethered to three helium filled balloons. If you ladies could quickly change into your uniforms while I arrange for the blue screen and lighting... Let’s get a move-on, girls we do not have all day.”

“Randolph? We are feeling very exposed attired in this way. Can you please take one more look and confirm that ‘Corporate’ intends to present such a very provocative image?”

“Sure, ladies, form a straight line and I will make a final editorial inspection and share my professional opinion.”

Damn, is what I am thinking! What is there not to like, ladies? A man could learn to enjoy this job. I have eight grown women cowering before me with one arm across their chests and the other hand covering their lower wealth.

For ladies that make their livings by being on display such timid modesty seems very contradictory, yet very sexy. Each woman is just as pretty as the next, only difference is the tinting of the silk fabric. As I gaze down the line I see a cornucopia of breasts spilling out a vibrant bounty of provisions. Two yellow tits the size of grapefruits stacked next to a couple of large firm Florida navel oranges that are displayed between a pair of fine-looking pale green honeydew melons, with erect nipples I might add, and two purple eggplants that even the most finicky eater would happily place into their months.

For Christ’s sake, I have eight, drop dead gorgeous ladies, adorned in the equivalent of tinted plastic wrap and about to display all of their wares before the Shipping Department staff. Each one of these lovely naked exhibitions nets Randy Mann one hundred clams, and double if I can expose their pubic gifts in public. I am truly inspired! That is what I think, sweethearts. What more can I say?

“Ladies, slow pirouettes, please.”

Eight perfectly round bottoms spin in view, the sight is mind numbing, in a very good way, as a three-dimensional twister game is exposed before my eyes. I feel like George C. Scott inspecting the troops in North Africa. Attention ladies! Back straight, shoulders back, knees together, “I Love war, War is my mistress!” I hope all the gentlemen in the Shipping Department are getting their money ready because we ain’t seen nothing yet!

“Ladies, rest assured, I can definitely confirm that everyone at T. Winston is in full agreement with you and we do not intend for you to be pictured in such an exposed condition. I hope to bolster all of you with the knowledge that T. Winston INC has no plans that would allow their models to be seen in such a vulnerable state. That is why we have provided the knee length camisoles as appropriate outer wear for this photo lay-out.

“So if I could, I must insist that you quickly slip into those outer garments so the assistants can attached the balloons to the shoulder straps of each of your costumes while I communicate to you our artistic insight concerned with this campaign.

“This photo shoot concept will incorporate an outdoor amphitheater location allowing the five hundred, or so, assorted fashion reporters and participating high school students to observe the full photo session process. The Art Department is attempting to present a metaphorical perception that Bifrost Rainbow Condoms can provide a ‘safety net-slash-parachute’ from the various STDs that threaten the youth of this world, by achieving the illusion of fashions divas freefalling from an airplane. Our photographer has stationed his cameras at various angles in the orchestra pit near stage front and a blue-screen application has been set up to allow for special effects editing at the photography lab. As a group, you ladies will be asked to walk on stage securely controlling your assortment of helium filled balloons behind your backs at waist height. The group will huddle together to simulate standing in the open cargo bay of a C130 transport, and on cue from the Directing Photographer the group will simultaneously replicate exiting a plane, by yelling Geronimo, while making a small jump forward as you each release your assortment of balloons and throw your arms above your heads mimicking the use of steering cables attached to a parachute.

“Please ladies feel free to explore the moment and buy into the illusion of freefalling and parachute flight.

“Any questions? ...Good. Follow me ladies. Here goes everything, Ladies!

T. Winston spoke. “Before I, Thurgood Winston III, as the Founder and the CEO at T. Winston INC turn control of this photo session over to our capable Photographic Art Director, I will ask everyone in attendance this afternoon to put their hands together and welcome the T. Winston Fashion Divas to the Stage. Welcome Ladies!”

The models leapt forward and released the balloons. “Geronimo!... Awwww!... Randolphffffff! We need to talk!

* * *

“That, my dear Shipping Department friends, are what the fashion industry calls wardrobe malfunctions, of the highest order! Together, as we stand here back stage, may I redirect your attention to those startled ladies at center stage, as they watch their last vestige of modesty soaring towards the heavens and possibly beyond, secured to the helium filled balloon canopies? By my calculation, gentlemen, that will be one thousand six hundred dollars, made payable to yours truly!”