Beauty Queens


“She won’t warm the wax first, either,” Petra said.

Tiara shuddered. “I’ve had so many bikini waxes, I cry every time I see a Popsicle stick.”

Harris cackled low. When no one responded, he cackled louder.

“Okay, I’ll bite,” Adina said. “What’s with the creepy laugh?”

“You babes have no idea what’s coming.”


“Yeah. Don’t you misunderestimate me!” Harris bellowed.

“I am totally misunderestimating you. You have no idea what’s happening tomorrow night, college-boy.”

“Oh yeah? So I suppose you know that MoMo B. ChaCha is powering toward this island right now on his yacht. He’s here to make a secret arms deal with The Corporation. Tomorrow, just before the new Miss Teen Dream is crowned, our black shirts dressed as ROC soldiers will charge out of the jungle, gunning down America’s best and brightest beauty queens. We’ll get it all on camera. We will go to war to avenge your deaths and set up a Corporation-run stronghold in the ROC. Ha! Wait. I just said that out loud, didn’t I? Damn.”

“They’re gonna kill us?” Tiara said. “That’s so mean.”

Shanti sat next to Harris. “So let me get this straight: You booted the indigenous people off this land. You screwed up the environment. You tested products on helpless animals. Your ‘Made in America’ label is really made offshore. And now you’re dealing illegal arms to a country we’ve levied sanctions against and you plan to murder us and frame them for it so you can go to war and take over their resources? Any rights you didn’t violate or laws you didn’t break?”

Harris thought for a second. “Our coffee is fair trade.”

“What happened to Mary Lou?” Shanti pressed.

“We took her and her eco-warrior boyfriend and tied them up over a piranha tank and slowly lowered them in.”

Jennifer whistled. “Wow. You really have seen too many Loch Lomond movies.”

“Take us to her right now,” Adina demanded.

“You’re too late. They should be fish food by now.”

“Take us there.”



“No,” Harris said, swiveling his head.

“Yes,” Adina mimicked.

Nicole brandished the hair spray. “Show us where you’ve stashed Mary Lou.”

“I’ve got a pumice stone and I’m not afraid to use it,” Jennifer said.

“Full. Body. Wax,” Petra whispered directly into Harris’s ear.

“Okay! Okay. She’s down below, in the caves.”

“Just for that, you don’t get a gummi bear,” Tiara said and finished off the last one.

Adina yanked Harris to his feet. “Take us there now.”

They kept Harris’s hands together with panty hose and he led them to a secret elevator that took them down one more floor. It opened on a secret, high-tech laboratory hidden in a cave.

“Whoa,” Jennifer said, taking in the cave’s gleaming high-tech devices. “Total tech  p**n .”

“Oh, no,” Tiara cried. She pointed to the piranha tank. The hook that had held Mary Lou and Tane was completely submerged. The remains of Mary Lou’s sash bobbed on the water. A ravenous piranha surfaced briefly to eat several floating sequins.

“We’re too late,” Nicole said, a catch in her voice.

“She was my best friend.” Adina was near tears. “I’m so sorry, Mary Lou. So, so sorry.”

“I thought we outlawed that word.” Mary Lou’s head poked up from behind a rock. Her hair was disheveled and her face was flushed. “What’s up, Teen Dreamers?”

“Mary Lou!” Adina rushed toward her friend.

“Wait! Hold on a sec.” Mary Lou dropped behind the rock. In a second, she stood, hurriedly buttoning her top. A young man in a similar state of quick-dress rose next to her. “You guys, this is Tane, my boyfriend.”

Tane waved. “H’lo.”

The girls did not move. Could not move. They looked from Mary Lou to Tane and back again.

“They’re staring because they thought you were imaginary,” Mary Lou told him. “Also, because you’re hot.”

“Objectifying me much?”

“No!” Mary Lou said quickly. “Well, a little.”

“ ’S all right. I’ve objectified you in my head plenty.”

“Awwww. Thanks, sweetie.” Mary Lou kissed Tane and wrapped her leg around his waist.