WELCOME TO HELLYWOOD CH. 2 - WHO IS DR. SKIN?
By Mandy Ward
How did she know? You wonder, managing to make an indistinct grunt of acknowledgement.
“He will call on you first thing tomorrow morning.” The receptionist tells you and hangs up.
Blinking, you look at the phone in your hand. What just happened? Did I really call his office?
The next morning, you go for your run and do a hundred lengths of the pool, wondering if you dreamed what happened yesterday. After a luxurious shower and your favourite breakfast of eggs and bacon, you sit back in your recliner on the terrace and sip the first coffee of the morning.
“I do hope you’re enjoying yourself,” A voice says from behind you.
Startled, you bless the fact that your mug was only half full as the steaming liquid slops against the sides of your mug. “Who’s there?”
A figure walks round into view. “You should have been expecting me. My receptionist told me that she’d spoken to you yesterday.”
The man in front of you is tall, slim and handsome. His black hair is thick and luxurious and his blue eyes sparkle in the Californian sunlight. Biting back a surge of jealousy, you smile and sit up. “Of course. I’m sorry, I’d almost forgotten; post premiere party last night and too much champagne… well, you understand.”
“Have you not seen the papers this morning?” he sits on the chair across from you and snaps his fingers. A paper appears in his hand and he passes it across.
On the front page is a huge image of you walking away from the party. Behind you, the doorman is looking embarrassed as he retrieves his clipboard and the other paps are laughing. The caption – Hollywood Hero becomes Hollywood Zero. Licking your lips, you feel the bile rise in the back of your throat and your temper explodes.
“Flippin’ Doorman! All he had to do was let me in and I would have slipped out through the back. But no, he has to make a scene and in front of the paparazzi, no less.”
The paper goes flying into the pool and your coffee mug crashes to the ground, brown liquid flooding toward the gutter at the edge of the pool.
“Calm yourself. You did the right thing calling me. I’ve been helping aging celebrities for well over a hundred years.” Dr. Skin settled back into his chair.
“What are you? A magician?” you snort, then ring the bell for your maid.
She looks at you strangely when you ask for two fresh cups of coffee and a plate of pastries, then she shrugs and heads back into the house.
Dr. Skin smiles. “As far back as I can remember, every person I’ve helped has said a version of that phrase. No, I’m not a magician, just a surgical genius.”
He carries an air of calm command and you feel yourself relaxing. “So, how much is this going to cost me?”
“That depends on you. I have three techniques I can use to make you look, feel and stay young.” He gives you a searching stare as the maid brings out a tray with the coffee and pastries.
“You didn’t answer my question; how much?” you pick up a cup of coffee and gesture toward the tray. “Help yourself.”
“Thank you. The matter of cost is up to you. All I ask is that you allow me to perform one of the three techniques on you, filming at the same time. At the end of it, you pay me what you think the surgery is worth.” He takes the other cup and a raspberry turnover.
“Why do you film the procedures?” you feel a little suspicious.
“For my research. I am on the brink of a breakthrough that will end the battle against aging forever, but I have to have evidence of my work.” He smiles. “That’s another question everyone always asks. The next one is usually, How long…”
“…before I am working again? I need to keep my reputation intact.” You slip a strawberry tart from the plate and savour the contrast between the sweet crème patisserie and the sharp, fresh strawberries.
“See? I am always correct.” Dr. Skin smiles again. “Each procedure takes ten days to recover from. You will need another week or so to regain your strength, then you can work again.”
“I won’t look like…”
He interrupts me. “No, you won’t. Now, shall we talk about the procedures?”
You shut up and nod. There’s a strange glow in his eyes that creeps you out and you suddenly feel that you don’t want to upset this strange man.
Dr. Skin eats another pastry. “The first technique is the traditional face lift. I have perfected it so that the scars don’t show at all. I also use a method of body fat transferral that stops that drum skin look.”
That doesn’t sound so bad, you think. My body is okay, I just need my face to look younger.
“The second procedure is a whole body lift that allows me to remove unwanted body fat and tighten any sagging areas.” The doctor finishes his coffee. “The third is a brand new, untried procedure. The majority of my clients have opted for the first one and often come back for the second one ten or so years later.”
Hmm. I wonder…
“Just recently I saw both your latest co stars. Miss Amber had the first procedure and Mr. Stone had the second.” Dr. Skin smiled. “I confidently predict they will be begging for my help again soon.”
You look at him, stunned to silence by that little snippet of gossip. Those two have had surgery? I wouldn’t have guessed it.
“Why haven’t you tried the third procedure?” you recover your voice with a swig of lukewarm coffee.
He shrugs. “When I describe it, most people opt immediately for the first. Despite the many test subjects I have been successful with, my clients seem to think it’s a step too far.”
“What is it?” leaning forward, you feel curious about this new technique.
“It is the reason that I do not look my age. My assistant has performed it on me and I have performed it on her three times since we invented it.” he smiled and you look him over again, the perfect tan, sparkling eyes, white teeth and trim figure.
“Tell me about it.” You feel like you’re on the verge of something tremendous. “I want to know.”
Dr. Skin sighs. “They always say that as well.” He takes a deep breath. “I remove your skin, adjust anything underneath as required; body fat and the like. Then I replace your old skin with one grown from one of your own stem cells. As it is brand new skin, there is no sagging or scarring and the hair that grows on it will be as thick and lustrous as a teenager’s.”
You are intrigued. It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. Didn’t they do something like that in “Fifth Element”?
“Well, I must return to my clinic. I’m seeing several ladies in need of the first procedure this morning. When you have made your decision, just call my receptionist. She will organise everything from there.” Dr. Skin stands, places his mug on the tray and smiles at you. “Thank you for your hospitality, I look forward to meeting you again.”
You stand up and shake his hand “Thank you for your time, Dr. Skin. You’ve given me a lot to think about.”
He laughs, shaking his head. “Word for word, you’ve just repeated how every A-Lister has ever said goodbye to me on the first meeting.”
He walks towards the garden gate, still laughing. Then in broad daylight, he disappears with a snap of his fingers.
The maid returns to take the tray. Both mugs are empty and the plate doesn’t even have any crumbs on it. She looks at you suspiciously.
“What?” you snap, wanting to be left alone to think.
“Nothing. Your PA has called three times this morning. Something about the papers.” She tells you, picking up the tray.
Damn paparazzi. Always poking their nose into your business. Sighing, you move out of the sun and into your suite. The three full length mirrors in your dressing room taunt you with their presence, so you strip off and examine yourself carefully. Hmm, I definitely need the facelift. I didn’t realise I had a belly though! Middle age has caught up with me; that’s the second procedure. You turn and catch a glimpse of the thin spots in your hair, the age spots appearing on your back, and the scars from doing your own stunts too many times. Maybe I should go for the third procedure?
Lying down on your bed, stark naked, you consider your options.
A. Call the receptionist and ask for the first procedure, reasoning that your body is just about okay?
B. Call the receptionist and ask for the second procedure, thinking If Amber and Stone had it done and nobody noticed, then I can get away with it?
C. Call the receptionist and ask for the third procedure, deciding that your old skin is rubbish and you would prefer a brand new one?