My name is Jeff Manley.
Once upon a time, I was a stuntman. And, sometimes, I picked up extra money by working as a part-time bodyguard, for various celebrities, whenever they made public appearances.
That was when I was six feet tall. A height that is no longer as impressive as it used to be. Not with some of my competitors in this field being built like Shaquille O'Neill!
Or, should I say, "former competitors?"
Let me explain by going back to the beginning.
* * * * *
I had been hired to provide some extra security for the shooting of a music video by Gwen Stefani, lead singer of the rock group, "No Doubt." Not that she had been receiving any threatening mail, mind you! Most of the time, all I have to do on these gigs is chase off over-eager autograph hounds and sleazy paparazzi. And, I thought this assignment would be no different.
Oh, how wrong I was!
It didn't take much effort on my part to notice her. She was female/Caucasian, in her late teens/early twenties. Her hair had been styled into a Mohawk of rainbow-colored spikes. She wore a black leather jacket, matching knee-high boots, and a Scottish plaid kilt. And, there was a small yellowish ring pierced through her nose.
That outfit might have helped her blend in at a Plasmatics reunion concert! But, as most of the other high school-age girls surrounding her were dressed somewhat more conventionally, she stood out like the proverbial sore thumb.
The frown on her face deepened when Ms. Stefani came over to this yellow Chevy Impala to talk to her background singers, the Harajuku Girls. So, I immediately began sauntering in her direction, as I whispered into the wireless two-way transceiver--pinned to the left lapel of my blue jacket--about a possible threat.
The possibility became a probability when I saw her (the strange girl, I mean) reach inside the black leather jacket and remove something far bigger than an autograph book!
Before anyone else knew what was happening, she had used her left hand to raise the yellow security tape and slip under it, while using her right arm to aim what looked like a Super-soaker squirt gun.
"Stefani, you traitor!"
As I leapt in between this girl and Ms. Stefani, the last thing I remember seeing was a large stream of greenish-colored gunk headed straight for my face. After that, I landed flat on my back, my hands over my burning eyes, listening to all the by-standers screaming as this cursing maniac was wrestled to the ground.
Then, I blacked out.
* * * * *
I found out, later, that this demented girl had thought Ms. Stefani's doing a solo album signified that she was leaving "No Doubt." Far from it, of course. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
When I could see again, I initially thought that I was looking up at a giant photographic billboard of Ms. Stefani, smiling down at me. That is, until she opened her mouth and told some doctor I was awake.
Imagine Alan Napier ("Alfred the Butler" from the old BATMAN series) with a stethoscope...and sixty feet tall. You will then understand why I immediately sprang to my feet, cursing like a drunken sailor on shore leave!
"Whoa-whoa-WHOA! What the frig is going on here? Why are you two so frigging big? And, why am I STRIPPED TO THE FRIGGING WAIST???"
"Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!" replied Ms. Stefani, her left index finger poised in front of her lips while grabbing me up in her right.
"It's all right, little guy. It's all right. We're not going to hurt you. The doc, here, is just going to examine you for any other side-effects (besides this one)."
"Side-effects?" I echoed: "What side-effects?"
"Young man?" said the doctor: "Whatever that substance was you came into contact with has done something unprecedented in the annals of medical science. It has reduced you to a height of six inches!"
Ms. Stefani nodded and pointed behind me. I looked around and saw the biggest vanity table I had ever seen. In the mirror of that table, I saw Ms. Stefani wearing a blue-and-gold drum major's uniform (including plumed shako) with gold hot pants and go-go boots.
I also saw half-naked me sitting literally in the palm of her right hand.
After that, I co-operated with the doctor as fully as possible. His initial diagnosis was that I was perfectly healthy. No other signs of abnormality except for the obvious.
"I shall have to contact the U.S. Public Health Service, of course. To see if some of their specialists can help the LAPD analyze that substance. And, they'll naturally want to examine you further, Mr. Manley."
"If they want him, Doc, they can find him at my place."
"Very good, Ms. Stefani. Then, I shall be on my way. Good luck to you, sir!"
I thanked the doctor, as he exited the dressing trailer. Then, I looked up at my giant benefactress.
"I--uh--don't know what to say Ms. Stefani. Except that it's very generous of you to take me in...like this."
She smiled down at me: "First of all, you can call me 'Gwen.' Anybody who's sacrificed what you have, on my behalf, has more-than-earned that right. The same thing goes for staying with me until they find a way to restore you to normal."
"Let's hope that won't be long," I muttered, curling myself into a fetal ball.
Gwen's smile became a mischievous grin: "Speak for yourself, little man! You're so cute, at this size, that I have to admit; I half-hope...there ain't no growin' back, boy!"
Whereupon, she began showering my whole upper torso with noisy, sticky kisses.