No More Beautiful Words


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June 1978

The incessant ringing of the phone on the small night stand was just annoying enough to make Scott Riley regret ever having gotten his own number. If he hadn’t, his mother would’ve answered the call out in the living room and he’d still be fast asleep. After nearly a dozen rings, you would think that the caller would’ve gotten the message, but whoever it was, they continued to let it ring until the brown haired twenty-year-old tossed aside the sheet he’d wrapped around himself during the night and rolled over to the opposite side of the bed to answer it. As he reached for the handset, the hands on the wind-up clock next to the phone came into focus.

‘Fuck,’ Scott thought as he lifted the receiver off its cradle, ‘it’s not even seven-thirty yet.’

It had been a long hard week at Clarke’s Hardware, the Park Slope fixture where Scott had worked the past two years, and he’d been looking forward to spending his day doing not much of anything. More so since his date with Wendy Hayes last night had gone so terribly wrong. After dinner and a movie, they’d gone to see ‘Grease’, and afterwards, Wendy announced that she had a headache and wanted to be taken home. He hadn’t even gotten a goodnight kiss at the door, despite it having been their second date. It was pretty clear that there wouldn’t be a third.

“Hello?” Scott said after lifting the receiver to his ear, trying to shake the last vestiges of sleep from his head.

The voice that answered was one Scott quickly recognized, even through the fading fog. One of the last people he wanted disturbing his weekend, he seriously considered just hanging up on him, but he was sure that if he did, he’d only call right back. Mark Harris was a professional photographer for whom Scott occasionally did scut work. The thirty-year old’s business covered weddings, family portraits, and the occasional personal photo session. The last divided between respectable and not so much so.

“Do you have any idea what time it is?” Scott asked as he drew a deep breath, having no doubt that Mark did.

“Yeah, I know it’s early, Scott, but I needed to catch you before you went out for the day,” Mark replied, quickly adding before Scott could say anything else, “How would you like to work for me today and make an easy fifty dollars?”

That cleared Scott’s head immediately. Fifty dollars was more than he made in a day at the hardware store, especially since Mark paid in cash.

“What kind of work are we talking about?” the dark-haired teen asked warily, having worked for Mark before, but never for that much money.

“Don’t worry, it’s nothing illegal,” Mark assured him. “I need an assistant for the day, that’s all. Normally I’d call Keith, but he’s sick and can’t do it.”

Keith Lawrence, who was a few years older than Scott, worked part time for Mark and full time at Giordano’s Pizzeria. When he wasn’t available, Scott sometimes filled in for him.

“I don’t know Mark, I was really planning to just take it easy today,” Scott said after a long moment’s deliberation, having considered that, based on past experience, Mark would make him earn every dollar the hard way.

“Scott,” Mark said in a slow and deliberate tone, “it’s a special shoot, one of the really special ones.”

Scott’s interest suddenly perked up at that. Under a pseudonym, Mark occasionally did some work for various adult magazines. He had a cousin in the business who occasionally threw some work his way when he could. Scott had never worked one of those sessions, they usually fell to Keith, but had seen some of the photos taken during them.

“And that’s fifty dollars for two hours?” Scott asked, recalling that was the average time a photo shoot usually took.

“More like four or five hours,” Mark replied.

“Five hours,” Scott repeated as the idea of earning some extra money and a chance to see some naked flesh lost some of its appeal. “I don’t want to spend my whole day off working.”

“It’s not the whole day,” the photographer insisted. “If we start by nine, and everything goes right, we should be done by two o’clock and you’ll still have plenty of time to do whatever you planned to do and extra money in your pocket to do it with. It’s really not a long time when you consider that I have six models to shoot.”

“Six?” Scott said, the number echoing in his head, adding to himself that Mark might have led with that.

Before Scott had a chance to say anything else, Mark quickly explained that the magazine that he was shooting for had to go to press Monday morning and the layouts for it had been destroyed in a fire in the developing lab. That was why all six needed to be redone in a day. The photographer who had done the original work had burned his hand in the fire and Mark’s cousin had offered the job to him. He ended his narrative by again asking Scott if he would do it.

Six Şişli escort bayan naked models and fifty dollars to boot, Scott thought; he’d have to be a real idiot to turn that down. He was about to say yes when he recalled another set of photos from one of those special shoots that he’d seen in Mark’s lab. One that had involved only men, most of them in an aroused state — not his thing at all.

“Mark, these models, they’re women, right?” he asked.

“Of course they’re women, why would you ask…” Mark started to say, then recalled that Scott had seen the photos from “All-Male” that he had done. As far as he was concerned, it was just another job and all that really mattered was that he had gotten paid and it had led to other work. “Look, Scott, if you don’t want to do it, let me know so I can call someone else. I only started with you because you’d told me that you’d love to work one of these sessions.”

Mark was laying it on pretty thick, Scott thought, so much so that he was pretty sure there wasn’t anyone else available. If that was the case, then he might be selling himself short by jumping at the first offer, as good as it sounded. He knew that he might be risking losing that if he pressed too hard and was wrong, but then again, all he’d really be losing was the chance to make extra money, not money he already had.

“I’ll tell you what,” he finally answered. “I’ll do it, but I want a hundred dollars if it’s going to be an all-day thing.”

Scott expected Mark to again stress that it wasn’t an all-day thing, but instead all he got was a sudden silence that filled the receiver. A pause that told him that he’d read the situation correctly and that, since he hadn’t immediately said no, the older man was now considering a counter offer. Scott hoped Mark would go for another twenty-five dollars, but was willing to settle for half that. So, he was totally taken back when, a long moment later, the photographer said that a hundred it was.

“But you have to help me pack everything up when we’re done,” Mark added, a condition Scott understood was intended to salvage his wounded pride.

“No problem,” Scott replied, certain that Mark could see the satisfied smile on his face even over the phone.

They spoke for a few more minutes as Mark gave him all the pertinent details, telling Scott to meet him at a warehouse down in Red Hook. A friend, who rented office space there, let Mark use it for photo shoots like this. After all, it certainly wasn’t something he could do at his normal family-oriented storefront.

“I’ll be there by nine,” Scott promised as Mark brought the conversation to a close.

As he hung up the phone, Scott realized he’d never asked what magazine the photo shoot was for. It didn’t really matter, but he was hoping it was for one of the really raunchy ones.

“I better get going then,” Scott said to himself as he jumped up from the bed and wrapped his robe around him, before heading down the hall to the bathroom he shared with his younger brother, hoping as he did, that he’d find it empty.


The bathroom had indeed been empty and Scott showered and dressed in near record time, quickly throwing on a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. His only delay, it turned out, was some difficulty in dampening his enthusiasm for the unexpected spectacle he was about to enjoy. Not even turning the water to a colder flow was able to fully diminish his rising excitement. Hopefully, he thought as he dried himself off afterwards, he’d be able to keep it under better control once he was on the job.

Before stepping out the door, he took a moment to check his appearance in the large, floor to ceiling mirror in the hall. He smiled as he looked at his reflection, seeing a reasonably built, dark haired young man who stood five seven and weighed a solid hundred and sixty pounds. Girls found him attractive and while he knew it was a forlorn hope, he wondered if any of the models might think so too.

The warehouse Mark had given him the address of had seen better days, Scott thought as he parked his old AMC Rambler a few blocks from it, but then again, that was pretty much true for most of the buildings in the area south of the Gowanus Canal. It was years since Brooklyn had been a major shipping port. They were always talking about building the area up, but so far talk had been all they’d done. So, for now, it was just mostly cheap storage space.

Taking the freight elevator up to the third floor, Scott found the offices of Mark’s friend, and on stepping inside, discovered that it had indeed been converted into a makeshift photo studio. A large mobile backdrop had been set up in front of a row of filing cabinets, and on the other side of the room the receptionist’s desk had been cleared to allow the various cameras and lenses that Mark might need to be spread across it. In between stood a tripod and a pair of free-standing photography lights.

The smaller inner office, from which Mark emerged barely a minute later, had been Escort Sultangazi temporarily converted into a combination makeup and changing area — the latter seeming slightly incongruous given the nature of the photos they were going to be taking. A flash of movement behind the photographer told Scott that the models had already arrived, causing a stirring both in his heart and between his legs.

“Nine o’clock, as I promised,” Scott said, catching the bearded man’s attention.

“Great, you can finish laying this stuff out while I go over the lineup,” Mark said, raising the clipboard in his hand and using it to gesture toward the collection of lenses and camera bodies on the desk.

It only took Scott a few minutes to lay out the equipment, positioning it so that he could easily reach anything Mark might ask for. As he laid the last piece in place, his attention was diverted by the appearance of a twenty-something redhead in a green blouse stepping out of the inner office. She had a pleasant face and a small but nicely shaped bust. She stepped over to Mark for just a moment, whispering something too low for Scott to hear. Then she disappeared back into the other room.

“Is she one of the models?” he asked Mark as the photographer came over to the desk to inspect the arrangement.

“What, who, Melissa?” Mark replied, seemingly surprised by the question. “No, she’s here to do makeup. Cute as she is, she’s not quite what the magazine’s readership is looking for.”

Mark’s last comment made the hairs stand up on Scott’s neck, prompting him to ask the photographer what magazine they were working for.

“I doubt you’ve ever heard of it,” Mark laughed, “but there’s a copy over there on the desk.”

Now hesitantly curious, Scott moved to where the magazine sat and turned it over, exposing the title and cover photo. His face turned blank for a second, then shifted to a bright red with anger.

“What the fuck!” he said, not loudly, but with enough behind it for Mark to hear.

The title of the magazine was ‘Sensational Sixties,’ and it was immediately obvious that it didn’t refer to the previous decade. If the partially naked woman on the cover was indicative of those inside, it might just as well have been called ‘Naked Grannies.’

“Something wrong?” Mark inquired, his tone steady as he tried to project an aura of innocence.

Scott was about to say there certainly was, with a few well-chosen expletives tossed in for emphasis, but before even the first of those could come out, he paused. There was no doubt that Mark had pulled a fast one on him, but he hadn’t actually lied in doing so. He simply hadn’t volunteered any information that the younger man hadn’t asked for. Scott had simply assumed that the women would be what he expected them to be.

“Hey, it’s a paying gig,” Mark said in response to the look on Scott’s face.”

The reminder that he was indeed being more than well paid for the afternoon caused Scott’s hostile expression to fade. Next time, if there was a next time, he’d know enough to ask more questions.

“Can we get started?” Mark finally asked. “You did want to get out of here as early as possible, right?”

Scott merely nodded his head in agreement, reaching for the camera that he knew Mark liked to start with.


The first woman in front of Mark’s camera was Asian, or more specifically a mix of Spanish and Filipino according to the fact sheet on the clipboard on the desk. Her name was Tala and she was sixty-four. Heavy set with large breasts, she had dark olive skin and short black hair. The absence of any grey made Scott doubt it was natural, especially as the thick bush between her legs definitely didn’t match.

Next came Carmella, a sixty-one-year-old Italian with just enough grey in her curly hair to attest that it was her real color. She had distinctive Mediterranean features and a robust body, one that made Scott think of those old paintings they used to study in art class. The hair between her legs was just as thick as the first woman’s had been, but it was the oversized nipples capping her breasts that quickly drew most of the younger man’s attention, especially when Mark instructed her to play with them a little to make them more prominent.

The last model before the lunch break was Sharon, a slim woman with midnight skin and small rounded breasts. Taller than the first two, she was the first black woman Scott had ever seen nude. She had, in his opinion, really nice boobs, and he watched captivated as she assumed various positions at Mark’s direction. A condition that exploded into utter amazement as Sharon finally slid off her nondescript panties to reveal a totally bare mound — the absence of hair allowing her sex to be seen in intricate detail.

As they sat down to eat the sandwiches that had been brought in from a local deli, Scott watched as, one by one, the women they had just photographed re-emerged from the improvised dressing room fully dressed. They wasted no time Taksim escort in picking up the small letter sized manilla envelopes that contained their pay from where they had been laid out on the desk and just as quickly heading out the door.

With Mark eating with Melissa in the inner office, Scott found himself leafing through the copy of ‘Sensational Sixties.’ The women in the old issue were similar to those who had just left, all early to mid-sixties, according to the accompanying text, and, as he looked at them, strangely familiar. It took a long minute for him to realize, but once he did, it caused him to pale. If he just looked at the photos in which they were clothed, they could’ve been women he saw every day. Friends of his parents, store clerks, even teachers in schools he’d attended. In short — everyday people.

Not that he’d ever seen any of them naked, well, at least not totally so. There had been the time, back when he was thirteen, when he’d walked in on Mrs. Petroski down in the laundry room early one morning. The sixty-year-old had just tossed on a thin house dress to run down and put the wash in and, as she stood in the light of the rising sun through the basement window, her gown had become translucent enough for Scott to have seen her breasts, nipples and all. Not that he’d ever admit it to any of his friends, but he had masturbated with that image in his head countless times. They had been the first set of breasts he had ever seen.

Was that the appeal of older women in these magazines, he wondered. That they were everyday people?

As Scott was replacing the film magazines in the camera, taking care to store the exposed rolls safely, three more women came into the room and headed into the inner office. He only got brief glimpses of them before they disappeared, but now found himself filled with a bit of excitement that he would shortly be seeing much more of them.

Curious as to who might be next, Scott checked the clipboard and read the details for the next model. Her name, or at least the one they had down on the form, was Lana, and according to the fact sheet she was sixty-three years old, five foot seven, and weighed a hundred and fifty pounds. Her hair color was listed as grey, which Scott thought had to be a mistake, because it had been his experience that most women raced out to buy a bottle of Lady Clairol at the first sign of grey, desperate to deny any sign of aging. That was one thing that both his mother and aunts had in common with the women he’d help photograph earlier. Reading further, he saw that her measurements had been put down as 37-25-36 and she had a 34C bust.

When Lana emerged from the inner office a few minutes later, Scott was surprised to see that not only had the woman embraced her natural hair color, she looked damn good in it, wearing it in a short but flattering style. Rather than make her look old, it instead made her look a bit exotic. He tried to imagine what she might have looked like when her hair had been its original color, but had to toss that effort aside as Mark called for him to get a move on and hang the backdrop for the next shoot.

He finished doing so just in time to catch Lana as she slipped out of her robe and draped it over a folding chair. Scott would be ashamed to admit it, but the first thing his eyes focused on was her breasts, full and remarkably firm, given her age. Then his gaze dropped to between her legs, where a thick salt and pepper bush obscured her sex. It was only then that he finally shifted his attention to her face, there to find a visage startlingly familiar.

“Holy shit!” he said.

Mark shot him a disapproving look, while Lana seemed indifferent to his outburst. Scott mumbled a weak apology, quickly moving back over to the desk. As he did so, he found himself unable to take his eyes off the woman standing naked only a few feet away.

For what had seemed like one long endless moment, Scott would’ve bet every dollar of what Mark was paying him for the day that the woman before him was someone he knew. That impression didn’t survive a second look, but it had lasted long enough to shake him to the core.

It was uncanny, he told himself, but the woman looked enough like Dorothy Fisher to have been her sister — that was if she had a sister, which Scott knew she didn’t. Dorothy was the mother of Stephanie Fisher, who had been Scott’s girlfriend his last two years of high school. A late in life baby, her unexpected arrival had come when Dorothy was almost forty and certain her child bearing days were over. Despite that, the new arrival became the great joy in her life.

Even though he knew she wasn’t the woman he knew, Scott was finding it hard not to look at her and still see Dorothy in his head. So much so that Mark had to ask twice for a change of camera. He had never seen Mrs. Fisher naked of course, not even in a bathing suit, but he had certainly seen Stephanie and she greatly resembled her mother.

That had been, of course, in those now seemingly long ago days when sex was something new and he believed he and Stephanie would go on forever, only to have that dream cut short when the bodacious blonde moved across the country to attend college. Scott had had four girlfriends since then, two of whom he’d been intimate with, but none had lasted beyond a few months.

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