The Makeover Men
by Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Four billion years. That's how much the universe had invested in crafting women into the epitome of perfection.
So I could be forgiven, I think, for taking a certain well-founded pride in the fact that every day I did evolution one better.
Hell, who was I for false modesty? I did evolution five or six times better. I loved women with a driving passion, and it showed in my work.
Kris St.Joy, for instance. When she first came to You-Genes, Inc., she wasn't hard on the eyes by any means, but nobody was mistaking her for a model, either. Now, eighteen months later, she could turn every head from Houston to El Paso without breaking a sweat. Her breasts were particularly gorgeous, with areolas that sported complex bioluminescent Celtic knotwork.
I didn't mind admiring my work, even bragging about it. My portfolio was filled with my patients' success stories. Kris, for instance, went with our popular Courtesan package—general vaginal tightening coupled with a fifty percent labial reduction and a hundred percent clitoral enlargement. She also opted for a refinement of her buttocks, to create a more "heart shaped" profile (her words), as well as an extra two inches added to her legs, increased joint flexibility, and an overall five percent metabolic reduction in bodyfat—brand-new tits and ass excepted, of course.
Yet for all the effort I'd put into her new come-fuck-me bod, she didn't even have the common decency to offer me a test ride. I'd learned in my time that some women are simply too self-absorbed to express proper gratitude.
"You need to keep your biennial treatments if you're going to maintain your body's apparent age," I told Kris. "Genetic rejuvenation compensates for the effects of free radicals, degraded telomeres, all the effects of aging, but it merely resets the clock—it doesn't stop it from ticking. You wouldn't want all this custom work we've done on you to start sagging and wrinkling, would you?"
She wrinkled her nose in disgust. It wasn't attractive, and I suppressed a wince. Facial reconfigs have never been my forté.
"And you say you've done this eight times? You look so young."
Of course I looked young. That was the entire purpose of You-Gene. She was talking, though, and that meant her mind wasn't on the couch—or the clamp holding her arm steady. The Y.V. viral ampule shot up the access tube, fresh from thawing, locking into the injector clamp. The clamp scanned the ampule's Absolute I.D., matching it with Kris' biochip implant. Then it double-checked, lasers scanning the contents of the ampule for tell-tale tagagents. Confirmed. Ampule secured, the clamp constricted. The You-Virus emptied into her vein. She never noticed.
"There. All finished."
The clamp released her arm, and she pulled it back, rubbing the imaginary prick she felt on her forearm. She rubbed the wrong spot, of course. I plucked the empty ampule from the clamp with a gloved hand, dropping it into the micro-incinerator slot in the wall.
"Finished? But, Doctor Grant, I don't know if I was ready."
"Of course you were. Kris, you've already been through the hard part, reconfiguring your body from your DNA on up. This maint just preserves your newfound perfection. I'm telling you the truth, you have nothing to worry about. Your breasts, hair, lips—all that was taken care of during the reconfig treatments. This is just a simple maint."
"Then that's it? I can go?"
"Sure. A nurse will be by in about ten minutes to do a final vitals reading and discharge you." The door shooshed open for me as I got up to leave. "Just remember, no intimate contact for twenty-four hours."
Her face flashed alarm as she sat up quickly. "None at all? But... but Doctor, tonight's New Year's..."
I struggled to stifle a laugh. It never failed. "If you have to, use a genital screen. Vaginal, anal and oral. Normally infection's not a concern, but the viral delivery agents concentrate in mucus membranes for the first day. There's a moderate risk of extended irritation and inflammation for your partner, so remember: genital screen."
I turned to leave but she grabbed my sleeve. "I just wanted to thank you. You know, for everything," she said, motioning over her body with her free hand. Then she gave me a quick kiss—ostensibly on the cheek, but catching enough of the corner of my mouth to hint of something more intimate.
As the door shooshed closed behind me, I couldn't help but smile. Four billion years were working in my favor. All I had to do was exercise patience.
"You do know she's married, Doctor Coleman?" Doctor Sally Weymoth was waiting at the corner, giving me that shit-eating grin of hers.
"Her divorce is final in three weeks," I corrected. "She paid for her reconfig out of the settlement."
"She's seeing someone."
I held out my hands, palms up, in a gesture of helplessness. "Hey, she kissed me. Haven't you ever heard 'The customer is always right'?"
"You're incorrigible!" Sally laughed, shaking her head. She was a full head shorter than me, with round brown eyes magnified by thick frame glasses. She had fiercely curly black hair and a nose two shades too small for her face. I could work some real magic on her, if she'd only give me the chance. "I wonder if it's possible for a woman to walk through our doors and not sleep with you."
"You've never given me a tumble," I pointed out.
"This is true," she agreed. "And likely to remain so. Here, catch." She tossed me a thumbnail-sized crystal file.
"Last maint of the day. Guy by the name of Andrew McIlvane. He's waiting in maint room C."
"Wait a minute. I'm taking Melody to Allen Park for the big skyline show at midnight. I should be getting ready by now," I said, suddenly aware of the time. "Why do I have to handle him?"
"Because some of us don't come in late," she said, waving. "See you Monday."
"This is the third holiday I've had to close!" I shouted after her, but she made a show of not hearing. I flipped her off, then composed myself. Having to close, tonight of all nights... Melody was a petite brunette, gorgeous eyes, even better ass. All natural—and not too much I'd change on her. She was Australian or New Zealander, something like that. We'd been seeing each other for three weeks, but she had definite intimacy issues. She'd given me an enthusiastic blowjob as a Christmas present, though, so my expectations for New Year's were riding pretty high.
I checked my watch again. Six-fifteen. Damn. I tried to call Melody through my comppad, but I couldn't get a signal. What else was new? Fine. One maint was forty-five minutes, max. Twenty if things went swimmingly. I could be home by seven-thirty and ready by eight.
Halfway down the hall I slotted the file into the comppad interface.
"So, Mr. McIlvane," I said, reading from the comppad as I entered the maint room, "it says here that you're thirty-two, and it's been just over two years since your last treatment?"
"Two years, three weeks," McIlvane answered in a soft, accented voice from the couch. Brit? Something European. Thin, almost gaunt, McIlvane had a pinched nose, pinched jaw, pinched brow—pinched everything. His stringy black hair had a greasy sheen to it. Kind of faggy. His shirt was clean, at least, neatly buttoned. His plain umber tie matched his dark slacks and shoes. In all honesty, I was dumbfounded. Maint wasn't cheap, and while You-Gene counted a good number of naturals as patients, they were—as a rule—the "beautiful people." People like McIlvane who could afford maint could also afford to reconfigure. He didn't make sense, and that made me nervous.
"Are you English?" I asked in my best Making Conversation voice.
"A little of everything. Scotch-Irish, Welsh," he answered, smiling. "Mostly Welsh."
"Beautiful country, Wales. I've always wanted to travel there, see Stonehenge and the like."
"That'd be England. Salisbury."
"Really? My mistake. They're all right there together, though, aren't they?" I gave him a good smile, counting the minutes. "Arm please."
McIlvane lifted his thin, vein-lined right arm to me. I didn't like his eyes. They were too intense. Too much hidden going down behind them.
"You do this like an old pro." He was an old pro. Or rather a young pro. This was be his second maint, straight—as I'd surmised, no enhancements or reconfig. No major disease treatments, either.
"I've been pricked a time or two."
I'd bet he had, at that. Apparent age was twenty-seven, so that made him about—sonofabitch. His birthday was December 25th. "I suppose congratulations are in order. Happy birthday."
"What? Oh, my file. Thanks. I try to schedule—" he pronounced it shedule "—all my important stuff around my birthday. You know. To remember easier."
Right. I found the biochip under his skin, and laid his arm into the clamp.
"Huh? You say something?" His constant chatter was getting on my nerves. He was a talker. Talkers were distracting. They took longer to process. Damn.
"I said it's a good song," McIlvane said, shrugging. "This instrumental version isn't the original, but then what is?"
Now I couldn't help but listen to the piped-in pabulum. Once those damn synth piccolos got ahold of a song, they all sounded the same. It was an oldie, though. That much I could tell from the style. "No idea."
"'Doubleback Alley,'" McIlvane said like it was supposed to mean something. "The Beatles. Lennon's lost masterpiece."
"Oh." I might've heard of them. They toured in a flying submarine, or something. I'd never been much into the nostal move.
"They made beautiful music. Moving, creative songs. Liverpool boys. Practically my neighbors."
"Practically," I agreed. I set the clamp, and it began scanning his biochip. The empty ampule quickly filled with McIlvane's blood—the baseline archival sample.
"They were quite famous in their day, you know. Lennon once noted the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ. That caused quite a row."
"Did it now?"
"It did. Many though it blasphemous." His eyes bored right into me. The man was way too intense. "What about you?"
The Y.V. viral ampule shot up the access tube, into the clamp. "What about me? I told you, I don't know this band."
"No. Do you think it blasphemous? Do you even believe in God?" The clamp scanned the ampule. Absolute I.D. match.
"I believe in the church of medicine," I answered tersely. Rather cleverly, I thought, for such an odd question. "Singing hymns isn't providing your maint. Bread and wine didn't wipe out cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy. They don't pass out custom body reconfigs at baptism. You make the call."
"You speak of the flesh. The flesh is weak. It can be tainted and corrupted by women. Even the great Beatles were undone by a woman. What of your immortal soul? What will you say when Christ returns?"
The You-Virus emptied into his vein.
Why was it that I got all the nut cases? I thought they'd gotten all that second-coming shit out of their systems back in 2000. "Look, Mr. McIlvane, nobody knows how long someone undergoing regular maints will live. Theoretically, they can go on forever. I'd rather settle for that than gamble on some vague afterlife."
"You think I'm crazy, don't you Doctor?" McIlvane said, barely audible. His eyes glazed, getting a kind of far-away look to them. Oh, yeah. Bugfuck crazy, you betcha. "But I'm not. Christ will come again. 'Therefore stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.'"
"I'll keep that in mind." I checked the time again, and swore to myself. I did not want to keep Melody waiting. Humor him and get the job done. I made a mental note that Sally must pay dearly for this one. I dropped the ampule into the micro-incinerator and unclamped the Jesus freak. I blurted my litany of medical cautions in a jumble. "A nurse will be by in about twenty minutes to do a final vitals reading and discharge you. Remember, the virus will be active in your system for about a day, so no sexual contact for twenty-four hours." Belatedly, I wondered if he was celibate.
"The Second Coming is no fantasy, Doctor. The plague of women will be purged from creation, and men will finally walk free, as God originally intended," McIlvane said. Definitely queer, too. I quietly flagged his file for future follow-up. "'Blessed are those who listen to this message and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near.'"
"Amen, brother," I said, bolting out of the room. The door shooshed shut behind me, and I thumped my head a half-dozen times into the opposite wall.
"Grant? Oh, Grant, I'm... Oh God." Melody's tear-streaked face filled my entire flatwall as I played back her message. She spoke, but I only heard snatches of what she said. "Tried to reach you...no signal.... My sister, Julie...she's dead."
I stared dumbly at the screen, numb with shock. Melody's sister, dead. Killed on the way home from a New Year's Eve party. I couldn't help but think of the absurdity of it. How she officially died "tomorrow" on the other side of the world. How tomorrow hadn't even arrived in Houston yet, but was mostly over in the South Pacific already. What a surreal, protracted, lingering death.
Melody wiped her eyes, smearing her mascara even worse. Amidst the background noise, I heard a boarding call for Virgin Galactic to Auckland. So she was already at Hobby International. No, I corrected myself. The message was an hour old. Like her sister's death, the message was the past brought into the present. That was strangely fitting. "Oh, Grant. I wish you were here with me now. You're always so supportive. I really need someone. I'll call you when I get to Christchurch." The screen went blank.
Christchurch? Christchurch. The reality of it sunk in. I would not be exploring the pleasures of Melody any time soon. I slumped onto the gatorskin futon and ran my hands through my hair. Why did I always have such shitty luck?
"Shit." I said it without conviction. I tried flinging my overcoat across the room. That didn't help, either. Frustrated, I paced a circle around my living room, small as it was in the hive flat. Mechanically, I called up FloristNexis on the flatwalls and ordered a bouquet for 70 NAFTdollars to be waiting for Melody when she landed in Christchurch, and another to be sent directly to the crematorium. She'd appreciate the gesture.
I paused at the order confirmation screen. That was a lot to invest in the prospect of future gratitude when the woman in question had only given up one blowjob. I slashed each order to 30 NAFTdollars and felt all the better for it. That was a reasonable investment.
I slumped down again, sifting through the pieces of my shattered plans. My hexagonal wetchest sat brooding beside the futon, its glossy black surface as dark as my mood. I'd fully stocked it for tonight, with top-shelf liquors and even some imported synths.
It'd be more than wrong to let all of that good stuff go to waste. It'd be criminal.
I checked the time. Eight-twelve. All the women I knew without dates would already be hitting the parties. The parties I turned down for the promise of Melody. Except for... ooh. I smiled. Evelyn didn't like crowds.
"Phone: Evelyn Kim," I ordered the flatwall. I counted to three before she answered.
"Hello?" Her voice was husky, resonant, with just the faintest sexy trace of an accent. The flatwall stayed dark. She was blocking vid.
"Turn on your vid, Evelyn."
"Grant? Well, stranger, it's been a while since I heard from you." The flatwall flickered to life. Evelyn was curled up on an overstuffed recliner wearing a forest green robe hanging halfway open to expose her cleavage. A third-year law student originally from Hong Kong, she was an exotic knockout with a brain to match her looks. Her cheekbones screamed out for enhancement, and I'd build up her shoulders, too, if given the chance. But overall she was a quality package. Her lips were perfectly oversized and her thick, straight black hair hung halfway to her ass. Yeah, Evelyn was definitely a good idea.
I shrugged in a casual, flirty way. "No one's stopped you from calling me."
"So, what're you up to tonight? Hitting the books?"
"In a manner of speaking. I'm spending the evening with Vonnegut and Shiraz. Why?"
"Though maybe you'd be interested in a study break."
"Oh yeah? Don't tell me you don't have a date tonight."
"Got stood up. So what do you say?"
"Could be entertaining." She licked her lips. "Okay, you're on. Gimme an hour."
Evelyn laughed as I bucked under her, grinning that nasty little grin of hers. After one last spasm, I collapsed, completely spent, gasping. She ran a finger over my lips, tickling my moustache.
"Don't go to sleep, old man. I'm not finished with you yet." Light from the dimmed flatwalls flicked shadows across her body. She looked unreal. The spirit of sexuality incarnate.
"Mercy," I pleaded in between gasps. "Five minutes. Gimme five minutes." I wiped stinging sweat from my eyes. I felt it drip down my neck and shoulders, down onto the absorbing foamfloor.
Evelyn lifted herself off me, moving up to straddle my waist. Warmth seeped from between her legs to pool on my stomach. She was the only woman I knew who could make me feel my age—my true age.
"Aw, shit. Vodka's all gone," she said, shaking the empty bottle upside down. "I wanted to top off my passion fruit." She pouted. With her lips, it was a profound pout. "I like vodka."
"You like anything with a kick."
"This is true," she said, cocking her head. "What's left, what's left?" She leaned over me to open the wetchest. Her bronze breasts hung in my face, with spectacular dark areolas as wide as my palm. I caught one in my mouth and sucked at it. The nipple hardened instantly, as thick as my thumb.
"Mmm, that feels good," Evelyn said, sitting back up. She held a bottle of champaign in one hand, the other tracing patterns in the light hair on my chest. "D'you think it's close enough to midnight to pop this bottle?"
I started to look at my watch, then thought, screw it. "If you think it's close enough, then it's close enough."
"Oh yeah? Grant, I like the way you think." She grasped the bottle neck in both hands, holding it tight against her chest as she forced the cork out. It burst free with a sudden pop. Laughing, Evelyn held it up, white froth splashing down over her face and body, onto me. "Whoo! That's the way I like it." She tilted the bottle up and took a deep swallow.
"Jesus, Evelyn. Do you have to make such a mess?"
"You ain't seen nothing yet, Grant baby," she said, winking. She stood with the bottle, wobbling a little. Then she focused on the flatwall.
They had Mayor Sheila Whitfield on at the Allen Park grandstand. The flatwalls were muted, so I couldn't tell what she was saying. The clock superimposed on the vid ticked away the seconds. Less than three minutes to go.
"Almost time, but it's too quiet in here. This is s'posed to be a party! Music: Mangrove Hammer." The fast pulse of NewBreed Calypso did an airburst in the room. My head rang, every internal organ throbbing in time with the music. Evelyn—sweet, horny, drunk Evelyn—started dancing, whirling around, taking a swallow from the bottle every few beats or so. I just laid there, marveling at her. How this studious, asocial, semi-recluse managed to contain such a hedonistic wild side—
"C'mon, Grant. This is great! The big skyline show's about to begin," Evelyn said, beckoning. She whirled around, reaching out to the other flatwalls. "Flatwalls two, three, four: secondary feeds. Give me a panorama." The flatwalls flickered to life, the Houston skyline surrounding us. "Wall five," she said, turning to the last, blank wall, "window open."
The wall faded transparent, the dark-light maelstrom of the city opening below us. My flat was on the fiftieth floor in a second-generation hive, dead-center of the skyline. I could see the searchlights over in Allen Park. In less than a minute, we'd be the featured attractions in the show.
"Evelyn, do you have any idea what you're doing?"
"Yeah, I'm going to suck your cock on an international AstralNet feed. But it'll be spiv. Once the lasers and 3-Deep projectors kick in—" she waved her empty hand at the flatwalls, dancing up against the window now "—it'll be profoundly surreal. Dali-surreal."
"You do realize that any kid with graphics enhancement on his comppad can single you out in all your glory."
"That's the whole idea, Grant. Let them. When I'm sober, I'm too damn serious. I'm too chickenshit to have any fun," she said, dancing my direction. "I'm having fun now. I'm glad your girlfriend stood you up."
"No complaints here." I wrapped my arms around her, and she nuzzled my neck. Her hair smelled of lychee. "Hey, Evelyn," I whispered, "five seconds."
She glanced back over her shoulder at the clock. "Three, two, one! Happy 2048!" she shouted, throwing her arms up in the air. Her breasts jiggled excitedly.
Light exploded through the window and across the flatwalls. Lasers darted up and down the skyline, swirling, luminous patterns, arabesque designs. All of the hives, and old-generation skyscrapers suddenly transformed into living creatures, lumbering and loping in a chaotic dance of giants. The 3-Deep projectors came up, and Evelyn and I found ourselves in the midst of the spectacle. The colors and waves moved in and out of our bodies, like waves on the seashore. Some of the 3-Deep projecting against the hive spilled in through the window, mingling with the panorama on the flatwalls.
Unfucking believable. I could still see Evelyn clinging to me, but our bodies had blended together. Seized by a sudden impulse, I took her hand and began to waltz. I had the wildly real sensation of moving through solid matter. Around the flatwall panorama we waltzed, throngs cheering below us, the mayor screaming like a fool, all the while Evelyn laughed with joy. Evelyn and I spun apart. With the show, the drink and music, I lost all sense of place. I danced in a paradise that smelled of lychee.
Evelyn gestured to me, arms outstretched. I went to her. She wrapped her arms around me, pressing me against her cool skin. She kissed me deeply. Her tongue tasted like champagne, vodka, and passion fruit. The bottle rested hard against my shoulder. Her free hand roamed down my back, onto my ass. Surprisingly rough, her hands. Not soft and delicate like you'd expect from a lawyer.
I glanced back at the flatwall, the one focused on the grandstand. People danced and sang, kissing and waving fizzle-flares in the air.
In the middle of the crowd stood Andrew McIlvane, smiling calmly. I blinked against the swirling 3-Deep images. He was still there. I wouldn't have thought the skyshow'd be his thing.
Evelyn knelt then, stroking my cock. She kissed it as it swelled to life, then took me into her mouth. I quickly forgot all about Andrew McIlvane.
"Okay, okay. Don't say it Sally. I'm late, and I know it, okay?" I said, pulling off my coat as I blew into the doctor's lounge. And this time, I was seriously late. It was almost 10 in the a.m., and my first reconfig patient had been booked for 8:15. Not that it was my fault, though, since it was Evelyn who wouldn't untie me. She hadn't left my flat since New Year's, and had gotten progressively wilder and weirder. And she wasn't even drunk anymore.
Sally, though, she didn't say anything. That was a first for the fastest mouth in Texas. She just sat there, alongside Rodrigue, puffing on a joint from a crumpled pack of Marlboro Greens, eyes fused to the flatwall.
"Hey, Sally! What're you doing? No smoking in here," I shouted, slapping my palm against the flatwall. It reverberated nicely.
"Knock it off, Grant. Rodrigue and I split your appointments. We flagged it with Carmichael—both of us got an extra half-day of vacation coming, thanks to you," she said, dropping the joint to the floor and grinding it under her foot. "You look like shit."
"What crawled up your ass and died?"
"Funny, Grant. Real funny. Always know just the thing to say," Sally said, then covered her mouth with a hand.
Sonofabitch. She was crying.
"What's going on here, Sally?"
"You really don't know?" she asked in disbelief. Frowning, she sniffed at me. Then sighed. "You smell like pussy. Jesus, Grant. You don't even have the decency to shower before you come in?"
I looked to Rodrigue, baffled.
"The Mayor collapsed last night at the Rockets game. Convulsions or something. She's at the Medplex, but everyone's real tight-lipped about it."
"Mayor Whitfield? Damn, Sally, I'm sorry. You knew her, didn't you. I mean know her."
"She and Fred were supposed to drop by after the basketball game," Sally said. She was barely holding it together. "Our kids carpool together."
"Sally, Sally. Come on. What do you have left on your schedule today?"
"Shit, Grant. I don't know. Let me think." She wiped her eyes, the lines in her face a little deeper than I remember. "Uh, seven maints, two cancers, a boob job and an ambisexual reconfig— second treatment."
I fought down a shudder. The ambiguous gender reconfig was one thing, but the hairless move that went with it gave me the creeps. "All the labwork ready for the specialties? Okay, then. How about you take the afternoon off, go visit your friend. My schedule's not that heavy the rest of the day, so I can probably cover your load. If I get behind, well, an extra patient or two wouldn't hurt Rodrigue any."
Rodrigue grunted non-committally.
She looked at me, shaking her head. "Grant, you are unbelievable. If I live to be five hundred, I'll never figure you out."
"All part of the Coleman charm. It's genetic."
"Fat chance of that—I've seen your genome." She straightened her uniform, then gave me a weak smile. "I'll finish out my schedule through lunch, then take off. That work for you?"
"Sure thing." It worked for me, too. By taking her patient load, I'd cancel out the flag on my chart before Carmichael called me on the carpet. And if I could manage to dump the ambi onto Rodrigue, I might even be able to cut out early and get a sneak peek at what Evelyn had in store.