by

Eddie Spohn

“Stay still,” Giovan instructed in a patient whisper as he stitched the fabric of the inseam with practiced ease. The thread marks were tight and invisible unless one searched hard for them. “Very good,” he said, an appraisal of his client’s ability to follow orders but even more so of his handiwork. “Now turn around.”

The man did so, and Giovan worked on the center seam running from the crack of the subject’s buttocks up to the back of his head. Giovan moved quickly and with an expertise drawn from long years of familiarity with this particular material. Unlike his creations with synthetic fabrics, which usually had a deadline in weeks, the fitting of subjects with this medium required a speed and craftsmanship one might consider daring.

This was the part Giovan enjoyed the most. The danger that came with it made his hearts flutter. He finished sewing up what he called the spine seam, tying it off above the hairline with a knot that would require a microscope to see.

There was banging on the fitting room door. A woman’s voice said, “Mike? What’s taking so long?”

Giovan nudged the subject and motioned for him to speak. “I’ll be right out, honey,” the other man said, a nearly perfect imitation of the skin’s original owner, who was now a red heap upon a tarp in the corner of the fitting room. Giovan could detect some defects in the mimicry that would work themselves out after sufficient practice. It was good enough for now.

“We can’t wait to see you in that suit,” the woman said.

“You’ll be very happy, dear,” Giovan said in an Italian accent, that of the original owner of his skin.

“We can’t wait,” she repeated.

Giovan turned the subject around to face him. “Smile,” he said. He studied the configuration of the mouth and lips to be sure the expression looked natural. It did. The teeth, very sharp beneath concealing porcelain caps, were marvelously omnivorous. “Frown,” he ordered, and the subject lowered the corners of his mouth. “Blink your right eye. Now your left.” Eyelashes fluttered over the contact lenses, which concealed goat slit pupils.

Everything was up to par. Among Giovan’s finest work.

“Now, you’ll remember the lotions,” Giovan instructed. “You must moisturize every morning and evening, or else the suit will dry and shrink. The seams may then tear. You must remember this.”

“I will,” the subject said. To each other, they spoke in guttural growls and reptilian hisses, very soft so as not to be overheard.

Giovan put a hand to each side of the subject’s head and smiled proudly. “You are going to father many offspring as long as you never grow lax.”

“I will never grow lax,” the other man who was not a man promised.

“Get dressed,” Giovan said. The subject turned to a rack beside him. A finely tailored suit hung there, the one the mess in the corner had come in to order two weeks ago. Today was the final fitting before his marriage to the woman waiting anxiously outside. So young and fertile.

The subject stood fully dressed. Giovan’s work in this department was also top-notch. He was a tailor of some renown in all materials. His company logo claimed his suits could make a frog look good enough for a princess. They could also make one of his species look human. He gave the subject the thumbs up. The two of them waited for Giovan’s assistants to roll up the dripping red corpse in the tarp and whisk it out a back door.

“Proceed,” Giovan said. He stood at the entrance to the fitting room, watching the family and bride gush over the groom’s appearance. He bowed when they complimented his tailoring expertise. “The key to a good life is to dress for success,” Giovan told them.

The groom, dreaming of the hybrid children he was soon to father, could not agree more.

Eddie Spohn lives on Long Island. He sometimes paints houses out on the East End. He currently resides alone in a house filled with exotic cacti, and which may be haunted.

You can find some of his stuff on Amazon, or archived in various defunct magazines.

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