Kenny dabbled; instead of having one hobby, he had dozens. Fragments of his past infatuations littered the sumptuous flat he called home. A set of golf clubs here, a framed picture of him flying a MiG there, magazines from BackPacker to Antiques Quarterly littered his polished coffee table. Fortunately his commissions from sales were astronomical enough to pay for his dalliances, including a new telescope.
The current interest was magic. Although stage magicians had always intrigued him, a TV movie about an ancient sorcerer had kindled a fascination with "real" witchcraft. After dropping many hundreds of dollars at various stores and mail-ordering still more, Kenny had amassed an amazing amount of metaphysical paraphernalia. One corner of the study, which had been occupied by a scale model of Gettysburg, was now a chaotic jumble with flasks, retorts, and various other odd alchemical apparatus. A cauldron – converted from a crockpot – bubbled ominously in one corner, reminding him of his earlier, unsuccessful foray into gourmet cooking.
When he was ‘into’ something, his concentration was intense. Today he focused his energies on a small lump of lead, a discarded fishing sinker to be exact, trying to command it into becoming something else. His latest book of spells was open on the table and one page was stained with a dark liquid spilled from one of the beakers. This dusty old tome had only been acquired a few days ago, it was bound in genuine leather and looked hundreds of years old. So far it had proved useless.
"Ob h’ven nar qah!" Kenny intoned, but the metal continued to be obstinate. He had soaked it in the foul-smelling concoction and incanted the correct phrase. Nothing. Perhaps his pronunciation was off, or there was that odd passage which he could not quite translate correctly. Some phrase about ‘imploring’ or ‘impelling’ the demeanor of the object. It was very confusing, and he was becoming extremely frustrated. Usually he could master an avocation before he lost interest in it.
So it was he did not hear the doorbell chime, several times, or notice the gorgeous woman who entered until she was almost alongside him. "Boo!" she whispered lightly.
Kenny flinched in surprise, then turned to regard her with a smile. Mandy, his girlfriend of several months, was normally very noticeable, adorable, capable, and several other more salacious ‘able’s.
She was tall and athletic, in heels reaching a bit higher than his five-eleven, and carried herself with the elegant bearing of a princess. Dark-haired, golden-tanned and majestic, she was frequently mistaken for a supermodel that she resembled slightly (she said; Kenny thought she was a dead ringer.) Working on a masters in Archaeology, Mandy was finishing up her studies at the university and traveled to field sites extensively; they had met on a cross-country flight. Mandy shared his eclectic love of hobbies and soon found they had many other interests in common.
"Hiya, Honey, what’s up?" he responded, still a bit distracted by her appearance and her striking costume. Mandy was dressed in a clingy red mini-dress that hugged her curves precisely and was cut low enough he could tell that she was not wearing a bra or panties. A mid-thigh hemline and dusky hose accentuated her long legs, as did the spike-heeled shoes she wore. Her jewelry was a bit flashier than usual as well.
"Did you forget, silly? All wrapped up in your mumbo-jumbo. The charity ball for WWF is tonight. The COSTUME ball?"
"Uhh, yeah, it slipped my mind." He turned back to his worktable and closed the book, not noticing that he had gotten some of the solution on his fingers.
"Well, come ON!" she urged. "Hurry up and get changed… Hmm, wait a minute." Walking around Kenny, she sized him up for a few seconds. "Why don’t you go as you are, Mr. Wizard? Nobody will know that’s not a costume."
"You making fun of me, babe?" he jibed, swirling his wide-sleeved magician’s robe in theatrically broad gestures. Festooned with arcane symbols, it looked every bit like a cartoon magician’s cape. The tall cone-shaped cap that topped off the bizarre ensemble looked like something no sane person would ever wear. "Who are you then, Pamela Lee?"
"Close, and I’ll ignore being compared to that bimbo. I’m going as Traci Lords in her emergent phase."
"Oh, yeah, that’s a lot better. A porn star!" he scoffed. Looking at her more closely, he could see she had made herself up into a fair imitation of the actress. Mandy had even frosted her dark hair almost blonde and sculpted it into a maze of swirling strands that had been one of her namesake’s trademarks along with the body-hugging/revealing apparel.
"She’s mainstream now, as you well know; best actress last year. We saw her at ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ just a couple of weeks ago. Her Lady Macbeth was quite inspired." Mandy glanced over at the worktable. "What exactly ARE you doing?"
"You’d just laugh. I’ll tell you all about it later, but let me try one more time. I think I’ve got it just about right but something’s not working."
"I can’t imagine why…" Mandy leered with a wry grin that questioned his sanity, among other things.
"So, Miss Linguistics Minor, how would YOU pronounce ‘Ob h’ven nar q-ah’ then?"
"Beats me, I’d have to see it written. No time for that now, let’s go, Merlin!" Mandy bent over and pecked Kenny on the lips then turned towards the door, showing him her shapely backside.
"OK, golden-girl," he called her by a nickname and impulsively pinched her on her Lycra-coated bottom.
"Ouch!" Mandy jumped bolt upright in shock. "That’s not…fun…?" she blurted, and then stopped stock-still in her tracks.
Then Kenny saw a yellow-colored stain that was spreading quickly from the spot he had touched on her derriere to cover her entire lissome figure. In its wake remained a shining brassy color that gleamed in the light. It was as if the bright sun had come from behind a cloud and bathed her uniquely in its warm glow. He dashed around to face her just as the wave of transformation reached her face and solidified the rigid expression of surprise that she held into gleaming metal.
Mandy had been changed into a golden statue.
"Oops," Kenny said.
As he watched, the last of the magical effect faded after transmuting every atom of her body. Then he realized the implication of what had happened. "WOW!" he gasped, "It really worked…."
Mandy, of course, said nothing. She remained stiff and absolutely motionless.
Inside her golden body, Mandy’s enduring consciousness sensed only wonder and surprise. She could still see Kenny, after a fashion, and hear his frantic mutterings faintly, though for some reason she was unable to budge. Only after he held a mirror up to her shining eyes and she glimpsed her own golden reflection did Mandy realize something extraordinary had happened. Her slow thoughts were bemused and puzzled; her dress had not been gold in color when she had put it on. There had been no time to be at all afraid, so she simply waited quietly in place until this odd feeling passed and she and Kenny could go to the ball. They might not even be late.
"So this is your pad, huh?" a perky woman’s voice said, "pretty cool." This lady was younger and shorter than Kenny was but also quite ravishing. They had just met at an evening art class. "Gee, you’re interested in a lot of stuff…"
"Yes, I do tinker with things, Beth." Applied arts had become his latest obsession and the remnants of his magician’s workbench were scattered, unused, and dusty.
She browsed around idly until she came to drapery covering a small alcove. Pulling on the drawstring, she opened the curtain to reveal a glistening, incredibly detailed golden figure of a woman. The statue was mounted on a low marble pedestal and was rendered in a modern, rather than classical Greek, style.
"Golly, Ken, you sure have a fine technique! Why are you even taking sculpture classes?"
"Oh, just a matter of choosing the right model. I can make you one just like it if you want…"