The pale woman's flowing white gown dragged across the marble floor. Her wiry black hair, bound up in a strange cone-like style, was shot through with two streaks of white which had been fashioned into lightning bolts. Outside, the lashing rain made the afternoon gray and dangerous. The woman lurched to the reception desk.
"Welcome to Forever Pretense, Los Angeles' Premier Beauty Destination!" the receptionist chirped. "How may I help you?"
"How beautifully dramatic!" the woman said conversationally, looking out the window. Lightning flashed, bright, as if someone had momentarily switched on a strobe light, and a clap of thunder shook the building. The customer smiled, exposing a collection of yellow teeth that seemed not to match each other. "The cruelest savage exhibition of nature at her worst!"
"It certainly is unusual to see weather like this inL.A.!" the receptionist agreed, her smile undimmed. "What can we do for you today?"
"I am here for a Transformation!" The woman raised her arm high and lighting struck as she spoke. Thunder rolled.
"Whew!" The receptionist leaned over and looked outside. "That sounded close!" She turned back to the customer. "A makeover, did you say? Wonderful! May I ask your name, please?" (click on "Read more" below to ....read more:)
"My last name I take from my creator, the greatest scientist in all ofPrussia, Viktor Frankenstein. My Christian name, dare I call it so, I take fromMexico's Saint of Death, for my body, though animated by lightning and the spirit of science, was created from the plundered corpses of the most heinous criminals who ever gave lie to the lofty title 'woman'! I am the Bride of Frankenstein. I am Santa Muerte Frankenstein!"
"Um,Sandy," the receptionist said, running her finger down the appointment list. "Here you are. If you'd like to follow me, Sandy, I'll show you our waiting room. May I get you a water or some tea?"
Santa Muerte Frankenstein followed the receptionist and thumbed through a copy of Bride magazine as she waited for her appointment.
* * *
Later that week, she appeared on the Maury Povitch show. Her grizzled mane had been traded in for a playful, shoulder-length flip in a light auburn. Her flirty green miniskirt complemented the color of her veins.
"So, Mrs. Frankenstein," Maury was saying, "I understand that you have reached a financial settlement with a number of movie studios and publishing houses that have been making money from your story for the last however-many years."
The Bride remembered the joke her new agent told her to make. "Mrs. Frankenstein sounds so old," she said. "I'm only one hundred and ninety eight!" The audience laughed. "Please call me Sandy."
"Okay,Sandy. Tell our audience, how does it feel to be vindicated after all these years?"
The Bride opened her mouth to answer and then remembered she wasn't supposed to sayvengeance is mine. She smiled. "It just feels good to know thatAmerica's legal system works, Maury. Now it's time for me to get on with my own reanimation." Maury stared at her a moment. "I mean life."
Maury stepped into the audience. "Here's a man with a question,Sandy." He thrust the microphone under the chin of a tall, rough-looking man. "What's your name, sir? And what is your question?"
"People just call me Grease," the man replied, an ugly smirk on his face. "Here's my question,Sandy. You seem like you're gonna be a big celebrity, like all those other chicks I see. So when am I gonna see a sex tape from you?" He leered.
The Bride's agent hadn't covered that question. "Sex tape?" she stammered. "I have the strength of ten men." Steam started coming out of her ears. "Tape? Mere tape?" she shouted. "Even iron manacles cannot hold me if I want--"
Her head exploded.
* * *
After she was repaired, she continued with a manic schedule of interviews. Larry King asked, "So, it is true that you and your husband are separated?" She looked at him mutely with large eyes, afraid to say anything. He repeated, "Are you separated?"
She silently touched her neck bolts, looked at her hands and feet and counted her fingers. "No, everything is attached, Larry. I'm not separated," she said, relieved. Waves of uncharitable laughter froze her smile.
And her head exploded.
* * *
The Bride learned to meditate to try to improve her patience.
* * *
On Fox, Bill O'Reilly asked, "What is it like to be the Bride of Frankenstein?"
Another guest, Ann Coulter, broke in before the Bride could reply. "Excuse me, Bill. ButFrankenstein was the name of the monster's creator. If you've read the book, which I recommend, although Mary Shelley does not have the extensive footnotes that my books have which prove the scholarship of my books as well as the correctness of my opinions." She tossed her sheet of golden blonde hair and rolled her eyes. "What was I saying?" The Bride started to answer Bill O'Reilly's question, but Ann Coulter butted in again. "Oh, yes, Frankenstein was the creator. His creation is referred to by conservative people asFrankenstein's Monster. And by conservative, I mean informed, intelligent, God-fearing, decent people, like the ones who watch Fox." The studio audience clapped.
The Bride's spoke through gritted teeth. "My husband is not a monster!"
Ann glanced at her and back to Bill. "There's no need to get pedantic, Sandy. I learned the word 'pedantic' in law school which is where I learned to be a lawyer. That's why I'm so lawyerly." The Bride started to say something but Ann talked over her and Bill ignored her because he was looking at Ann Coulter's body and wondering if he'd saved enough money so that he could pay a settlement if he sexually harassed her. "I've got a bone to pick with the whole 'Mad Scientist' label." Ann continued. "Did Frankenstein set up an actual experiment? Did he have a control group of other cadavers that he did not reanimate? Were his results peer reviewed or published? Hmm?" Her lips turned down at one corner and she lifted her chin, looking at the Bride. "Well, did he?"
"Herr Frankenstein was my creator! He created life!"
"Of course. I'm not arguing that he didn't create you. I simply take issue with him being a Mad Scientist," she turned to the camera for the punch line. "He was more like a MadEngineer!"
The Bride's ears started to steam.
"Actually, Ann," Bill O'Reilly said. "The problem I have is that Mary Shelley wrote the Frankenstein novel as some sort of New-Age, women's lib, feminazi rant. She seemed to want to make the point that new life is something that comes from woman, and that when men try to usurp that and create life the result is monstrous."
The Bride clenched her fists while the other two chuckled over Mary Shelley.
"Well, Bill," Ann said. "I've given that aspect quite a bit of thought. As you might know, Mary Shelley's mother was Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote a ridiculous piece of claptrap called 'Vindication of the Rights of Women' back in 1798 that asserted that women were rational beings, oh, that's right, Bill, now stop laughing."
The Bride slammed her fist onto the table, pulverizing it and finally gaining everyone's attention. "Mary Wollstonecraft wrote that women should be educated! She said that women were essential to the nation and should be viewed as human beings with the same fundamental rights as men! What's wrong with that?" She turned to Ann Coulter and pointed her long finger. "You are a woman. I can tell because your first name is feminine and you don't have an Adam's apple. How can you--"
Then her head exploded.
* * *
"No more interviews for you," the Bride's agent told her. She was glad. She was almost starting to miss life back in her Prussian village. Every time she saw a pitchfork or a flame-engulfed barn, she felt nostalgic. Her agent seemed oddly happy, though. "Look at this, kid!"
She went to the computer, and the agent played a YouTube video. Someone had spliced together footage of her head exploding and set it to a Jewel song called Pieces of You. "Eighty million hits, kid! You're a star!"
* * *
The Bride's last television appearance was the worst. Dancing with the Stars. She tried her very best, but she could tell she'd be the first contestant to leave the show. Her Cha-cha was dismal, and the judges let her know it.
Len Goodman said, "Sandy, I could not even tell that was a Cha-cha. You lurched across the stage, your footwork was terrible. You need to bring Dr. Frankenstein in here to reanimate your dancing because it was literally dead!"
The Bride's patience had worn thin. Her head exploded.
Host Tom Bergamon looked down at the corpse, then turned to the main camera. "Viewers, have we got a surprise for you!" With a sudden orchestra sting, the ABC Nascar team pit crew ran onstage. There was a quick whir as the tire changers' impact wrenches removed the Bride's lug nuts. The tire carrier pushed a new head into position and, with another whir, the nuts were tight again. The crew chief did a rapid defibrillation as the gas man handed the Bride a Red Bull. The jackman pulled her to her feet, slapped her butt and the pit crew ran off stage. The whole operation took 6.5 seconds.
Bruno Tonioli jumped up and watched the departing men with naked admiration and the audience cheered. “Now that was dancing!" he drawled. He turned to the Bride and sat down as the applause died. "But you! You daanced," he stretched the word out. "Youdaaanced as if you had two left feet! Maybe Herr Frankenstein made a mistaaake, perhaps you do." He leaned over extravagantly and looked at the Bride's feet. There was a roar of ugly laughter. "Well, there is a right one and a left one, but Herrrr Frankenstein did not take those feet from a graceful garrotter or a pirouetting poisoner! Noooo. He must have taken them from a boxy bludgeoner!"
The Bride's head exploded.
After the pit crew left again, Judge Carrie Ann Inaba said, "Now, now, Bruno," in her usual, conciliatory tone of voice. Then she addressed the Bride. "Sandy, I think you did some things very well. Your Cha-cha had a lot of excellent lifts. It's just that it's usually the man who lifts the woman, so I'd like to see more of that if you make it to next week. Overall, you're not the best contestant we've had on the show, but you're not the worst either." Everyone nodded uncomfortably, remembering Michael Bolton. "I'm really looking forward to seeing what you do next."
The Bride was so touched, she ran up to Carrie Ann and hugged her, as so many female contestants had done before. Unfortunately, none of those contestants had the strength of ten men. Carrie Ann snapped in two. As the famous judge and choreographer slowly slipped to the floor, the Bridge staggered back in horror. Seeing what she had been driven to, the Bride shook her fists toward the overhead studio lights. Lightning flashed, thunder rolled and the Bride's face was a river of tears. And, in her grief, all her pent-up rage, alienation and longing burst forth. She flung herself across the stage, tore the judges' table from the floor and hurled it into the orchestra pit. Sobbing, she grabbed a twelve-foot potted palm and smote the famous mirror ball. Then she smashed through the studio audience, leaving a trail of-B list actors and reality stars in her bloody wake.
It was a rampage, a dance of death on Dancing With the Stars (immediately followed by a rampage on Jimmy Kimmel Live).
* * *
A month later, the Bride and Frankenstein's Monster were back at their remote castle in the Austrian Alps. They stood at a window, hand in hand. "I am so glad that you have come home to me," the Monster said.
"I went crazy in L.A.," the Bride said. "But I've learned this is where I truly belong." She looked up at her husband and smiled. She lifted her hands and tenderly touched the Monster's face. "These are the hands of a Prussian governess who was executed in 1808," the Bride said. "They were not meant to do graceful extensions during a ballroom dance. They were meant to strangle young students."
The Monster gently kissed her. "And your lips were not meant to speak on television."
"No, indeed, my love," she said softly, touching her bottom lip. "These lips were meant to falsely accuse people of witchcraft, leading them to be tortured to death. And they were meant to scream anguished death cries when their owner's own perfidy was unmasked and punished." The Bride sighed happily and leaned against the Monster.
An angry mob of villagers suddenly appeared, carrying pitchforks and torches.
"Are you worried, my love?" the Monster asked.
"No." She squeezed the Monster's hand. "They can't be any worse than the people in L.A."