“Really, Miss, I am very flattered, but I can’t believe that you would throw yourself at a man just because you like ‘the cut of his jib’ as you put it.”
“Samantha,” she replied huskily. “My name is Samantha Stephens. But you can call me, Sam.” As Samantha leaned closer, an intriguing waft of perfume lingered near Tony and curled round his head, like a lost cat hoping for a new-found master. “As I said, Major Nelson, I’ve been looking for someone like you my whole life long. Now that I’ve found him, I’d do just anything to keep that sort of a man around. Anything he wanted and a whole bunch of things he hasn’t even thought of yet.” Samantha sidled a little closer, caressing the back of his neck and sending snappy electrical shocks throughout Major Nelson’s whole body. Liftoff with 5 times gravity’s weight crushing his chest was a walk in the park compared to how he felt now. When had the room started spinning like this, anyhow? Again, the haunting phrase from her plaintive voice, “Anything.”
“Miss Stephens, aahh-Sam, I think you ought to know that I already have a girl I’m seeing.”
“Well, Major Nelson, I always say, ‘Seeing is believing.’ Wouldn’t you like to see a bit more of me—say up in my room here at the hotel?” That would be a bit of a treat for you, wouldn’t it? Or maybe you’d like to see more than just a bit?”
Tony’s voice took on a dark and ominous tone at this insult to his honor. “Miss Stephens, no self-respecting American male would be going up to a strange woman’s room. And certainly not an astronaut. I’d be drummed out of the service. I—”
“Come now, Major Nelson, this is the middle of the 20th century. Don’t pretend it’s the 19th.”
“Now, you listen to me, young lady. There is no way I am getting involved with a green-eyed, thin-waisted, lovely young—” Tony’s voice trailed off into nothingness. His eyes took on an increasingly glassy look. “especially not a married woman. Especia—” He seemed stupefied by some drug. “What was I saying just now?”
“You just invited me back up to your room, you naughty young man, and while I should be as angry as can be, I can’t help but be dazzled by your smile. You really can be quite charming when you set your mind to it, you flatterer, you.”
“Flatterer,” mumbled Tony, looking directly at Samantha and not seeing her at all.
“I ought to spank your little behind for your indiscretion at even suggesting such a thing, but maybe I’ll just save that for our own little private time upstairs.” Samantha slowly scrutinized Tony from the tips of his polished wingtips to the top of is cleanly parted hair. Along the way she paused for some sightseeing, imagining the powerful thighs beneath his sharply creased pants. She gazed appreciatively at his slim waist and her eyes lingered over the carved physique on permanent display because of his closely tailored shirt. She greedily peered into his face and imagined it looking back at her from the opposite side of a double bed. Oh, this was going to be very good, indeed.
“I don’t think I’m supposed to—”
“Let me do the thinking for both of us, dear. You can just set yourself up for a blastoff and reentry like none you’ve ever had before.” Samantha’s hands began a slow, serpentine movement about six inches from the front of Tony’s pants and he felt the last few shreds of his independence being whisked away from his control like broken window shards tinkling to the ground after a screaming hardball had knocked out the center of the pane.
Samantha breathily voiced in his ear, “Tony, it’s time. Let’s go upstairs.” Any normal man would have been busy signing over his soul to Satan in hopes of few more moments with this tempting goddess. Tony swallowed a dry mouthful of air. He tried to wet his lips and realized that her stunning beauty had sucked all the moisture out of his body. She was looking at him with green eyes that seemed to beckon to him to dive longingly to their depths. They seemed to say, “Come in for a swim. Stay for eternity.” He had just run to the end of the diving board and was plunging down to probe the bottomless depths of those eyes when time stood still. Literally.
Waiters hovered solicitously in various poses. Conversation stopped everywhere. Water being poured into a glass paused midway in its descent. It was obvious that a portion of it would splash on the tablecloth when time resumed. If it ever did. Even smoke from the many cigarettes in the room paused in its upward spiral, as though captured forever in some winsome painting.
Nothing moved. Two women suddenly appeared in the walkway next to the table. The first was an elegant, older, grayer woman with a sharp face and an even sharper tongue. The second was a carbon copy of Samantha. They were both so mad that a slight hiss of escaping envy was coming from the older one. The second was steaming from her ears.
“Get up, you witch,” said the older one, Endora.
“Game’s over, Serena,” said the younger one. “You’ve got a lot of explaining to do.”
Samantha One looked up sheepishly from the table where she sat with Major Nelson. “I guess this doesn’t look too good, does it?” she said, a bead of perspiration trickling slowly down her exquisitely made-up face. I was just trying to have a bit of fun with this guy over here and—”
“You’re not fooling me or anyone else about what you were doing, Serena. Just who is that over there?” said Samantha Two, pointing to the part of the restaurant that led to the hotel lobby. There, coming into the restaurant, was Samantha’s husband, Darrin. It was obvious that he had caught sight of Serena/Samantha and Major Nelson. He must have seen Serena/Samantha’s actions (especially the actions in front of Major Nelson’s pants as Darrin’s face was just moving out of surprise and into total rage). He was so upset his portfolio with all its advertising slogans had fallen out of his hands and the various sketches and slogans were fanning out all about him. When time resumed, most would be blown out an open window. Two were destined for imminent destruction in a bowl of lobster bisque, hovering a scant two inches above their creamy grave. Another was about to fall into the jaws of a dog being led by one of the guests. A final one would fall beneath someone’s very muddy shoes and be ruined. Darrin had apparently seen enough to go from mild-mannered advertising executive to rampaging maniac. He wouldn’t last a minute with the athletically superior Major Nelson, even though he looked intent enough to get in one quick poke to the snoot before he was laid out like Floyd Patterson on the wrong side of the Liston-Patterson fight.
“Oh, is that Darrin? I didn’t even know he was in the hotel. Honestly—”
“Shut up, Serena,” scolded Endora. “First of all, in your entire witchy career, you’ve hardly ever done anything honestly. Certainly not this time. We all know what you’re up to and this will only make matters worse. We know you set up Durwood so that he’d see you and get jealous. We also know that you intended to take this OTHER poor stooge up to your room and have” (here she shuddered) “relations with him, even though you know it is forbidden by the council. You hoped to anger Dobbin so that he couldn’t see straight, would get himself in a fight, get beaten up, make a fool of himself, lose this contract for the advertising agency, and get so furious with Samantha that he would either divorce her or never trust her for the rest of his life.”
Serena sat silently, her lack of response writing volumes about her guilt. She snapped her fingers and gave up on her Samantha disguise, revealing herself with her shorter, darker hair and her own slightly rounder figure.
“While I thoroughly approve of the last part of your idea—”
“MOTHER!” shouted the real Samantha with true indignation.
“Patience, my child,” said Endora regally. “As you know, Serena, I thoroughly disapprove of my daughter’s decision to marry a mortal. However, she has done so and has also foolishly agreed to give up her immortality in exchange for living with him and (ugh) acting as man and wife. So be it. She may choose to waste her life in this manner, but if she does so, I will not let you interfere in her life. You most certainly have done so in this case and you intended to cause permanent harm to their relationship. So long as it pleases my daughter to be with this plastic man,” (Endora gestured at the still-frozen Darrin, one hand and the opposite foot upraised as he started toward Major Nelson, Darrin’s long face comically twisted as his expression began to change from surprise to anger) “I will stand by her decision to the end, come what may.”
“Mother!” breathed Samantha in a voice conveying the depth of her amazement at her mother’s support.
“Well, I—” Serena started to say and snapped her fingers, which was her way of vanishing from sight. Nothing happened.
“Oh-oh,” Serena sighed.
“Well, now you’ve done it,” Endora continued. “If there was any doubt about your complicity in this, you’ve removed it now. Fortunately, I had appealed to the witches’ council just before coming here that I might have the ability to remove your own powers temporarily, just in case you tried to run from justice. You have condemned yourself. Do you have anything to say for yourself?”
“It was a joke?” said Serena, more in hope than as a matter of fact.
“A joke? A joke?” Samantha was beside herself. “Serena, you’ve done a lot of mean things but this was one of the meanest I’ve ever seen. You deliberately set Darrin up to be embarrassed; I saw you cast a spell to make his papers get destroyed; you’d have driven a wedge between Darrin and myself that I might never have repaired, and you’d have caused grief to this gentleman. I have to tell you, I am beside myself with anger at your actions.”
“I’ve been letting Dumb-Dumb listen to all of our conversation while we were going through all of this, even though he is on the other side of the room, so we won’t have to repeat everything for his sake. I am going to release him, so that he can help determine Serena’s punishment,” pronounced Endora.
“What! You’d have a mortal have a say in what happens to one of us?” exclaimed Serena.
“Not ‘one of us,’ Serena. You. You caused this trouble and it involved Dawkins and my daughter, so they can both have a say in what happens to you.”
“Well, I never—” huffed Serena.
“But you gonna this time, sister” said Darrin as he came over from the other side of the room. Thanks to Endora, he had been able to listen to the entire conversation, even if he couldn’t move a muscle previously.
“It is against my natural instincts, but you should have a say in this,” Endora stated, speaking to Darrin. “Just what punishment would you impose?”
“To be honest, I haven’t given it any thought, although I’m pretty mad, too.”
“Hmm. Darby, do you want to pick up your sketches before I put this room back in order? I know you need them, although I can’t think why.”
“Always the little digs, huh, Endora? And the name is Darrin, thank you.”
“Can you two call a truce long enough to deal with Serena?” said Samantha.
“I will if he will,” said Endora, grudgingly.
“That’s good by me,” echoed Darrin.
“Darling, just what are these new sketches and campaigns about?” Samantha asked sweetly as she went about picking Darrin’s sketches out of the air, the open window, and the dog’s mouth.
“Well, actually, they’re for a line of women’s lingerie. Brassieres and girdles, actually. The biggest manufacturer in the country,” said Darrin, happy to think about something else for a moment.
“Oh,” perked up Samantha, “You mean Claytex?”
“Yes,” said Darrin. “They’ve been the brand leader for years, but their most recent campaign was a dud.”
“Oh, yes,” continued Samantha. “You mean the one that goes, ‘The Miracle Suit—If you look good when you’re wearing a Claytex—It’s A Miracle.’”
“That’s it—dead as a doornail.”
“And you’ve got a brilliant idea to sell their clothes,” gushed Samantha. Endora rolled her eyes, but held her tongue.
“Actually, dear,” Darrin confessed, “I haven’t a clue and I’ve got to come up with something by tomorrow or the account stays where it is.”
“And what, pray tell, is a girdle?” queried Endora.
“It’s special underwear for women,” replied Samantha. “It smoothes you out if you don’t look just the way you want to. It helps your clothes fit better.”
Endora shook her head and looked at a sketch showing a young woman struggling valiantly to pull up her girdle. She was obviously losing the battle. “And you willingly gave up twitching your nose and thus looking perfect so that you could wear one of these portable iron maidens? Oh, Samantha.”
“Well, mother, any well-dressed woman of the 1960’s just has to wear one to fit in. For instance, if you’re wearing a knit dress like Serena, over there, you just HAVE to wear a girdle underneath or it will look like two pigs wrestling in a sack when you walk away.” At this, both mother and daughter looked over at Serena, who looked embarrassed.
“Are you wearing one?” Endora asked.
“No. I don’t need one,” flounced Serena.
Endora spotted a plastic-wrapped package in Darrin’s portfolio. She could see the rubber and latex gripper through the clear plastic. It was a satin marvel, but it was clearly meant for the business of reshaping recalcitrant flesh. “Is this a girdle?”
“Yes, it is. Claytex thought it would help if we used the actual garment as the basis for our designs.”
“Thinking of branching out from your usual line of boxers, Dim-Dim?”
“I told you, Endora, they’re a sample. There’s a long-line bra in there, too. These are from their ‘100 Pounds Of Clay’ line. Claytex used the line from an old song about God creating woman out of 100 pounds of clay. These are from the ‘Mold ’N Hold’ series.”
“Hmmm. I have an idea,” said Endora. “Everyone upstairs—Now!”
As she said this, Endora muttered an incantation and the restaurant returned to normal just as Darrin, Samantha, Endora, and Serena were transported to the Serena’s room in the hotel.
“Now, then, Serena, you wanted to be just like my daughter, yet you refrained from dressing exactly like her. Samantha, ask your husband if you can use witchcraft long enough to lay out one of these knit suits in exactly your size on the bed. And I want both of these garments (Endora gestured to the still-packaged underwear) in your exact size down to the last detail.”
Samantha glanced at Darrin, who nodded his acquiescence. She twitched her nose and a beautiful light gray knit skirt and suit coat lay on the bed, with a frilly white blouse on top of the suit. To the right were a fierce-looking rubber, latex, and satin panty girdle and an equally tough-looking rubber long-lined brassiere. Next to them were a pair of sheer nylon stockings and two grey stilettos.
“Serena, you wanted to look like my daughter, so I now grant you your wish. Once you are dressed, you will spend one hour of witches’ time looking exactly like my daughter in everything but your own shape. Once clothed, you will not remove the clothing under penalty of repetition of the punishment. Your witchy powers are suspended until I release you from this sentence. Your time begins when you are fully clothed.”
At this strange pronouncement, Serena again looked exactly like Samantha, except for being the tiniest bit shorter and rounder. Of course, she was also now completely nude. Samantha, Serena, and Darrin were somewhat puzzled by this strange judgment, but no one objected to it. Serena figured that she was in for something, but she ought to be able to handle this punishment.
“Come on, come on; get dressed,” barked Endora.
Since there were no panties, Serena put her legs into the panty girdle and began to inch it up her body. She soon looked like the lady in the sketch. She was having a terrible time and making no progress. Worse still, as she began to perspire, the rubber would stick to her and make it impossible to pull into place. Serena began to complain.
“This is impossible. What do mortal women do to get these things on?”
“Well,” said Samantha, who was quite practiced in this type of dressing, “You might try pulling the girdle back off and putting some baby powder in it and all over yourself.”
“Does that work?” asked Serena.
“Yes, but sometimes Sam has to put on so much it looks like a cloud is following her,” snickered Darrin. Sam shot him a glance that told him the couch would be his bed for the next few days.
“You do have to use rather a lot,” said Sam helpfully.
“Here is some,” remarked Endora, producing a large container by witchcraft. I suggest a very liberal application in your case, Serena.”
“Well, thank you very much for nothing,” snapped Serena, momentarily forgetting that she was without powers.
After quite a bit of powdering of Serena’s entire body and a very thorough coating of the girdle, Serena began tugging the garment onto herself once again. This time was a lot better, but she was still having a tough time getting it past her hips. Samantha, Endora, and even Darrin had to come over to give her a hand.
“Mmmmph! I wouldn’t think this would be so hard since you’re only a size smaller than me, cousin,” gasped Serena.
“Two sizes,” said Sam, matter-of-factly as she levered up one side.
“I think another good shake of powder is called for,” remarked Endora as she peeled one section away long enough to drop in a generous handful. It trickled coolly down the side until the last remnants were trapped by the tight elastic cuff low on Serena’s thigh.
“Maybe we should put some more in here, too,” chimed in Darrin. He was in the back, surreptitiously admiring the glossy satin panel that adorned the backside of the girdle and the backside that it contained. This was an area that Sam, as so many women, was very sensitive about. Darrin figured he’d get in a good glance while he could.
After the struggles with the vise-like girdle, Serena was covered with a sheen of perspiration and Endora sprinkled more powder all over her before slipping on the long-line bra. Although also made of rubber, this had a series of hooks and eyes that ran up the back. Sam and Darrin had to fasten it for Serena, as her arms were just too short to reach the hooks.
By contrast, the stockings, shoes, blouse, skirt, and jacket went on in a flash. Darrin had to admit, Serena looked almost exactly like Samantha.
For one second.
Then she began to whoop like an Indian, ran around the room fanning her bottom like it was on fire, and started scratching savagely at her thigh, her butt, her left breast, her right side and more. In a flash, she was on the floor, scooting along the ground, dragging her rump like a dog does, then hopping up and hiking up her skirt, scratching her crotch like she had ants in her pants. Whatever the torment was, it didn’t stop. She tried reaching around with her hands, but that was useless. She seemed to be an itchy mass from head to toe.
Darrin and Sam stood open-mouthed for a few moments.
Then Sam exclaimed, “Of course! BewITCHing powder! Oh, I had forgotten how much fun that could be. I remember the time Uncle Arthur and I put some in the Grand Wizard’s robe just before the Wizards and Witches Coven—”
“Samantha!” Endora had a smirk on her face. “So it WAS you two. And you both denied it. You should have both been punished severely.”
“Well, I’m sure getting it! Oh, can’t you help me? I’m sorry, Aunt Endora. I’m sorry, Cousin Sammy, Darrin. Really, I’ll be good from now on. Really, really, REALLLY! Oh, oh, oh, please stop it. Oooo! Ow! Oh! I learned my lesson. I really, really learned my lesson. I’ll never do something like this again. Please, SCRATCH ME!”
As she said this, Serena rapidly scratched inside her frilly blouse, wiggled her bottom furiously, slid her leg along the side of the bed, and scratched the sole of her foot on the hotel room rug.
Darrin was obviously very interested in this. Very obviously, based on certain evidence that males can provide when their interests were sufficiently aroused. Sam took note even as she maintained a certain feminine superiority about base male instincts. Maybe she could use this to their mutual advantage later. After all, she had been thinking about having children sometime.
Darrin continued to stare raptly at the scene in front of him. He had always been interested in seeing people itching and scratching from the time he was young. He realized the effect it had on him, but didn’t want to tell anyone, even Sam, because he couldn’t believe that anyone would even begin to understand him. Now, here was his entire fantasy being acted out in front of him. A beautiful woman, who for all intents and purposes WAS his wife, was in constant frantic motion, scratching wildly at every part of her body and begging him to scratch her. His senses went into overload.
Finally, after what seemed like days, he got some control of himself. Turning to Sam he said, “Don’t you think we should help her, at least a little?”
“No,” said Sam. “No on a lot of accounts. First, I don’t think you could stand the excitement. I’ve seen how excited you got just watching Serena thus far. If you went over to help her you might not be able to control yourself.” Darrin blushed but said nothing, as he knew Sam was right on the mark. “Second, this was the ruling of the council, so interfering in any way might cause the council to get mad at you. Third, this is bewITCHing powder. It’s not like any itching powder you’ve ever seen.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, to start with it itches about a hundred times worse than the worst thing you can ever think of.”
“That sounds bad.”
“It’s worse than it sounds; besides that, even if you do scratch the spot, it just keeps on itching as soon as you stop.”
“Yep, that’s worse.”
“Uh-huh. And the worst thing is that it outthinks you.”
“Sam, did you just say it outthinks you?”
“Yep. It knows where you are going to scratch and for how long. It will stay in one place and drive you crazy. Then, the moment you move to scratch that place, it moves to another spot, so that while you’re scratching the spot where it was, it’s already moved ahead to another place that you haven’t thought of.”
“You’re kidding me, right?”
“Does Serena look like she’s kidding?” Serena had grabbed a bath towel and was using two hands to scratch her back with the towel. As they watched, she hiked up her skirt so that the panty girdle legs were peeking out. Again putting one hand on either end of the towel, she started sawing away at her crotch, as though she had a bad case of the crabs. She dropped the towel, hopped about on one foot and scratched the bottom of her other foot with one hand while her other hand scratched her thigh. She crossed her hands in front of her breast and scratched savagely at her armpits on the opposite side of each hand. Next her hands clawed at the front of her bra, as if something buggy were racing along inside it.
“No, I guess she doesn’t.”
“Remember the rules, Serena, not one stitch of clothing to be removed or the entire process starts again!” (this from Endora).
“Sam, shouldn’t this be over by now,” said Darrin? It seems like it’s taking a long time.
“Darrin, first of all. This is a punishment. The only way Serena is going to learn is if she serves out her time. Second,” said Sam looking down at the front of Darren’s pants, “I dare you to tell me you aren’t enjoying at least a good part of this. Third, maybe you didn’t understand, but the punishment was one hour of witches’ time. That’s 18 hours in mortal time. Believe me, if Serena ever tries something like this again, she’s either as stupid as a box of rocks or a masochist.”
“18 hours? My, oh, my!”
Darrin glanced at Serena, who had pulled her skirt up about her waist and was wiggling her bottom at him and swatting it at the same time, as if she were killing some bugs that were biting her. She snapped upright and tried scratching the middle of her back, but couldn’t reach the spot. The bath towel was nowhere to be seen. It was obvious from her twisting and turning that she couldn’t get the spot. She lay down on the carpet and began to walk along on her elbows, trying to flatten her back so as to scratch it on the carpet. This only lasted a few seconds before she started scratching her calves, then the inside of her left thigh and her stomach at the same time.
Darrin looked at the clock, which still had 9 minutes to go. It would be the nine longest minutes of his life. At last, he finally figured he might as well get the show of his life. It was enjoyable.
For a patently unathletic young witch, Serena made an exercise video to beat all exercise videos. Darrin recorded every move in his mind, so that he could replay it over and over again.
When Serena was finally released from her torment, she proclaimed, “I don’t ever want to see a girdle again for the rest of my life. I don’t know how I made it for 18 hours in one!” Inspired by that statement and by Serena’s workout, Darrin went on to develop the famous Claytex 18 Hour Bra and Girdle (So comfortable, you can wear it for 18 hours without ever knowing it was on). (I know, I know; hey, folks—it’s advertising). Also inspired by what he saw, Darrin took Samantha home immediately after Serena’s punishment ended. Exactly 9 months to the day, Darrin and Samantha had a little addition to their family.
When her hour was up, Serena, still stripped of her powers, physically stripped off the abominably itchy clothes and took a long, hot, soapy shower. Coming out of the shower, she was surprised that all of her clothes were gone. In their place was a harem girl’s costume. Naked, she carried it into the hotel room.
“Okay, whose idea of a joke is this? Who are you?”
Besides Endora, who was the only one from earlier still in the room, Serena noticed a thin, blond woman.
“Serena, this is Jeannie. She is a distant relative of ours. And the girl Major Nelson told you about.”
Serena gulped. “Oh no, not another girdle episode. Aunt Endora, I served my punishment. I learned. No more girdles.”
“Well, Serena,” Endora mused, “If it were up to me, I’d let you go now, but the council has agreed that you have offended Jeannie, too. She has been granted a special one-time power over you for the duration of your punishment through her. The good news is that the punishment lasts only one minute. I have also intervened with them to agree that no itching powder of any sort be used on you and that you not be in any restrictive garments of any sort. Jeannie has requested that you wear these harem clothes and that you be restrained as our ancestors in Salem Village were—in stocks. It is so ordered.”
Serena looked at the loose, billowy harem pants and the tighter, but by no means tight top. Hmmm. That plus 1 minute of witches’ time meant 18 minutes of mortal time. Well, she could handle that and then be back to doing what she did best—stirring up trouble.
“Okay, Aunt Endora, if my punishment will be over then.”
“It will, my child. It will.”
Serena jumped into the pants and top, then stood silently with her butt pointing to the wall as the old-fashioned stocks were set about her hands and head and latched. With her hands about a foot apart on either side of her head, Serena could do nothing but watch. Endora vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving Jeannie and Serena.
“I’m, ahh, sorry about teasing your boyfriend downstairs. I really didn’t mean anything bad by it,” said Serena, resuming her lying ways at once.
“Oh, he is not just my boyfriend,” replied Jeannie, brightly. “He is also my master. Anyone who attacks my master must be thoroughly punished.”
“Oh-oh,” thought Serena, “I sure don’t like where this is going.” To Jeannie she said, “So what are you going to do to me over the next 18 minutes?”
“18 minutes?” replied Jeannie. “Oh, you are thinking in witches’ time. I have you for one minute of jinn time. That comes to about 2 days of human time.”
“Now, wait a minute,” Serena flounced, “I didn’t agree to any—”
“Did you know that camel fleas are among the toughest biters in the animal world? It is said people itch for weeks and weeks from just one bite.
“Have you ever heard the curse, ‘May the fleas of a thousand camels invest your armpits and your crotch.’?”
Serena tried to raise her head or move her arms but could not. Her brain registered what Jeannie said just as it was too late.
“The fleas of a thousand camels are in your top and the fleas of another thousand camels in your bottoms,” said Jeannie, inserting her earplugs. She was so glad she had totally soundproofed the room. She didn’t like disturbing the neighbors.
As her clothes came alive with hopping, biting insects, Serena began to shriek.