Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Sterling Warner

Leo seemed destined to become a body modification master. His peculiar interest in appearance started when he noticed his mother developing skin tags.

“Hey mom,” Leo announced one afternoon. “After a bit of research, I bought some dry ice, so I can essentially freeze those tags that have been annoying you.” Sure enough, after a few days, the tags scabbed and dropped off. Success! Soon, he found himself doing the same to her friends, elder aunts and grandmothers. Finally, even a few male relatives, who didn’t want to appear vain to their physicians, decided to have Leo look them over and remove unwanted tags.

By summer, Leo had graduated to removing hanging moles. He’d first wipe the area around the mole with alcohol and tie a piece of dental floss around it close to the skin. Then, he’d pull the floss as tight as possible—or until his patient screamed in pain. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Laura, his cousin, asked him as he tugged on the floss during such a procedure.

“Nothing that will harm you, Laura,” he assured. “Just think about how much you are getting for nothing.  A doctor would charge you an arm and a leg for my mole removal process.”

Two years later, after graduating from high school, going to college, and majoring in medicine, Leo snapped and began to enjoy terrorizing freeloading relatives—patients who came to him simply to save money and avoid the problem of visiting actual doctors and attempting to pay them with weak insurance plans. He also started to “get off” on the pain of others. In no time, his random friends and relatives ceased to consult him about skin issues: tags, warts, moles, and so on.  They’d grown fed up with Leo’s sadistic bedside manner. 

Besides having no more guinea pigs on which to practice skin blemish removal techniques, every medical school Leo’d applied to denied him admission. Perhaps it was fate or simply just a desperate move, but Leo decided to leave the US and begin an apprenticeship with Rodrigo Ramirez, a disbarred American plastic surgeon who he met at a San Diego bar and now ran a practice out of Tijuana, Mexico.

Before long, he assisted Ramirez on almost every breast enhancement operation performed. “Hey Rodrigo,” he asked after one particular long surgery, “Though I don’t have a medical license—even one that bars a doctor from practicing in the United States like you—I do a pretty good job, eh?”

“You’re a fine assistant, Leo. Yet, you really have little background in body modification beyond boob jobs.”

“How can I get some experience, Rodrigo? Medical schools have rejected me.” Frankly, I’ve never been too interested in plastic surgery until I met Marsha, an exotic dancer at Rosario’s Cantina.

“What’s her story, Leo? Where do you fit in?”

“Marsha had been in an automobile accident that left major laceration scars on cheeks and forehead. She’d also broken her nose and never reset it properly; thus, it’s still very crooked.”

“And you say she’s an exotic dancer?”

“She wears a women’s Dia de los Muertos ‘Senora Lace’ mask over her mutilated face. Usually, if not dancing topless, she’ll strip. You see, the rest of her body mended after the wreck without leaving any major scars or disfigurement.”

“Hum. So, you want her to be Pygmalion and sculpt the perfect woman’s face out of damaged parts?”

“Believe me. Anything I could do would be an improvement; thus, I’d have less chance of fucking up a delicate operation—and I’d learn from any mistakes I did make.”

“Okay, Leo. First shadow me as I perform plastic surgery for a few weeks, and then assist on an occasional nose job or facial tuck.” For a while, Leo followed his mentor’s advice; however, he soon became inpatient and proceeded with plans to work on Marsha ahead of schedule.

Underexperienced, Leo performed his first operation on Marsha’s nose with insufficient anesthesia, so her occasional screams forced him to slow down his work, stop, and resume with even more of the anesthesia wearing off. “You fucker! Why didn’t you knock me out completely before you began cutting up nose?” she yelled as loud as possible.

“Swallow these valiums, Marsha…they’ll numb the pain. I’ll give you more to take when we’re finished.”

Days later, once Leo removed the bandages from her nose surgery, Marsha immediately found fault with his work. “This is not what my real nose looked like,” she claimed.

“It’s a reconstruction of the nose that healed in a lumpy, crooked manner after the accident. I did my best to make your nose an attractive asset again.”

Next, Marsha complained that his plastic surgery on her forehead left her with arched, flirty eyebrows. So, their interaction continued with predictability: Leo complimented her remade face, chin, high-boned cheeks, and so on, while Marsha would find something wrong with his work. Regardless, Leo became enamored of his plastic surgery creation


A couple of weeks after Leo had removed the final bandages on Marsha’s face, he assisted Rodrigo with a breast augmentation procedure and suggested they go out to dinner and celebrate.”

“The makeover I did on Marsha was nothing short of remarkable,” Leo grinned smugly and toasted his achievement.

“Be careful, Leo; it sounds as if you’re starting to fall in love with the face you reconstructed—that’s not professional…possibly worse,” Rodrigo noted.

“Don’t ruin a fine meal, Rodrigo. Let’s have one last drink and call it an evening.”

“Sure, Leo. A toast is in order,” Rodrigo smiled as he raised his glass. “To Marsha, Leo, and new beginnings!”

When Marsha arrived at Leo’s apartment later that evening, his sound system began to play Eric Clapton’s, “You Look Wonderful Tonight.” Leo walked into the living room and exclaimed, “Listening to Clapton’s song makes me think about you, Marsha.  I’m glad you dropped by.”

“I’m not happy with your plastic surgery, Leo. Granted, several people have said I look a lot younger these days, but my personae at work’s the same—’Senora Lace’. My boss insists that I wear the damn Dia de los Muertos mask regardless of my normal face.”

“Your face isn’t normal, Marsha; it’s absolutely beautiful.”

“Well, my mom wouldn’t even recognize my new mug.”

“Maybe—but she wouldn’t begrudge you it either; hey, the price is right. I charged you nothing for my work.”

“Ha! Nothing’s far too expensive as far as I’m concerned. Talk all you like, Leo; I’m stuck with a face I despise.”

“What could I ever do for you now to set things right between us?” he sighed.

Mischievously, Marsha replied, “A role reversal.”

“Huh? What do you mean, Marsha?”

“Submit to me and my wishes. Let me be 100% in control of you and your life from this point forward—just as you were in control of my reconstructed face.”

“That’s not too much to ask; after all this time together, I feel we’re more than just friends.”

“Oh, God! Don’t get all mushy and talk about love or anything; just agree to share a bond. Here take these two toe rings and place one next to your left piggy and the other around your right big toe.”

“Sure—no problem,” he insisted, doing as she instructed.

Marsha then uttered, “As I place identical rings on my own toes, I declare we are now bound together for as long as either one of us lives.”

“Agreed! This calls for a special toast, Marsha!”

“Wait here Leo; I’ll be right back.” Next, Marsha walked into the kitchen, rumbled around a bit, and came back in the room with flaming Zombies. Holding the glasses to her side, Marsha kissed Leo, they toasted the future, and drank every drop of the flaming drinks. “How about another?”

“You read my mind, Marsha!”

After downing his second Zombie, Leo rolled back his eyes, blinked, and looked back at her.

“What’s wrong? You feeling okay?” she asked.

“Just tired, Marsha. We’ve both been under a lot of stress recently. But I’m happy…,” he mumbled just before passing out.


“Where am I?” Leo asked, waking up naked on an unfamiliar bed. Bright lights blinded him initially, and only seemed to accentuate his huge headache and confuse an already foggy mind. Additionally, his neck hurt tremendously where dental floss his been tightly tied around three hanging moles.

“You’ve out been most of the day, Leo. I guess I slipped you too many mickeys in your second drink last night.”

“How could you?”

“I was inspired. Almost instantly after passing out, I grew tired of looking at you, so I took the liberty of snipping off a couple tags on your face, as well as taking the necessary steps to remove those gross hanging moles to the left of your Adam’s apple.”

“Huh? What? Who?” he uttered. “You hurt me!”

“I’ve become the creature you’ve always wanted,” Masha declared half covered by shadows.

“Step in the light, so I can see you better.”

“In due time—and at my discretion,” she explained.

“Why am I naked?”

“We’re both practically naked—just as you always liked it….”

“Got me there, Marsha—guilty as charged!” Leo grimly smiled.

“Tell you what lover boy; I’ll put a dog collar around your neck so you won’t be totally nude.”

“Are the handcuffs really necessary? They restrict my movement.”

“That’s the general idea, Leo; now address me as Mistress, not—”

“Yes, Mistress Marsha!” he blurted out, looking at the blindfold she tossed to the corner of the room.

“We won’t need the blindfold.”

“Thank-you Mistress.”

“Tie this rope to the ring in your dog collar, Leo. Tighter!”

“I’ve placed it in a double knot!” he replied, noticing the fierce glint in her eyes for the first time in their relationship.

“Leo. This past year you’ve known and loved every moment of my pain and uncertainly.”

“I experienced it as a soulmate—not a voyeur,” Leo protested.

“Believe that if it comforts you. She pulled the rope taunt. “On the floor, dog!”

“What’s going on? Didn’t we make some sort of pact with each other last night?”

“Sure,” Masha replied, stepping completely out of the shadows, standing before him in a very risqué leather dominatrix outfit. “We’re bound to each other forever!” Tossing back a heavy bullwhip she maliciously purred, “You’ve thrived on hurting me for ages, Leo. Now, it’s my turn.” 

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