Anxious Pleasures (an excerpt from the novel by Lance Olsen)

I bring him my pair of shiny black high heels and dark dress with the pretty embroidered chrysanthemums on the collar. I slip the dress over his head, squeeze his feet into the shoes. His body is so limp it seems as if a butcher has removed his bones. I apply Chinese-red lipstick to his lips and rouge to his cheeks and tease his hair and step back to admire my work. He asks, looking past me over my shoulder:

–Are we having an imaginary conversation?

–Yes, I say. We are.

–Because when you are dead you have to stay up all night.

Have you perhaps seen what I’ve done with my hands?


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