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Dressed to Kill, Directed by Brian De Palma

Filmways, June 23, 1980 (US)

Screenplay: Brian De Palma

Starring: Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, and Nancy Allen

I stand naked, anticipating the formfitting couture of warm water, which will attire every last stitch of my sinewy physique. Movement is unhurried. There is no rush to return to the clothes that lay in a scattered heap on my bedroom floor or to select a laundered ensemble for future wear. Shedding those cottons, denims and fabric blends frees my body and mind from the appearances of the day. I welcome the opportunity ahead—the chance to finally come clean.

When the crystalline glass door is slid to the left, the plate glides along its rollers and, in a dull thud, impacts the wall on the opposite side of the stall with a slight recoil, bouncing back a short distance, before resting ajar. My hand reaches for the chrome handle and twists it counterclockwise toward the etching of an “H,” near a corresponding red dot on the outer ring of the valve trim, positioning the control in the exact same spot … the exact same angle and distance from the red marker … that I always do. A burst of liquid bliss simultaneously sprays from the showerhead. In a moment’s time, the temperature shall meet my satisfaction.

The glass door is pulled closed, preventing splashes out to the exterior, and the sound of a steady stream of water sends an aural signal to tired muscles. Relax. My shoulders drop, and my hand reaches back to scratch my right ass cheek. The sensation of gentle air breezing through my rear crack, while my fingers jiggle the gelatin mold of my buttock, prepares all my epidermis for the cascading falls standing by to saturate me whole. No crevice shall go untouched. When I catch sight in a mirror, it dawns on me that I am unsure whether or not I even ever had an itch, but reassurance that I am truly bare is cause for exhale.

Steam billows over the top of the shower stall in patches of fog thicker than the legendary mists known to enshroud Trafalgar Square. The time is now. I reach to open the door again with a brief moment of hesitation first. I must brace for the transition from land to sea. Then, my left leg steps in, setting into motion a sequence that has all parts of my body following. There is no turning back; I am committed, and every millimeter of my flesh is doused wet. Eyes closed, I turn, twist and spatter about, until I assume a fixed position with my back turned toward the showerhead. My arms are crossed in front of my chest in a hug, head bowed down. I freeze in posture but sense no traces of the cold world outside. There is relative peace.

The task at hand begins. I shampoo and condition. Whether a bar (when I want minimal fuss) or liquid soap (on days when a deep clean with serious scrubbing is required) polishes my skin depends on mood, but the goal is always the same: I wash away the grime that accumulates in layers so quickly over the course of a day. I also lose myself in thought and sensual pleasure. There is harmony.

Fragrant foamy scents enter my nose and fill my lungs with mountain fresh air. The thirsty nerve-endings of my pelt are massaged with an endless pulse of hydration, and my ears listen to the steady downpour, pronouncing clearer days ahead. To ingest the goodness, sometimes my mouth opens, savoring a trickle of water from the fountain above, pouring the finest champagne. There is also utter joy, as my eyes look into the direction of the showerhead, and I see a silvery sun emanating a thousand rays my way, or I look down and view chunks of swirling detritus peeled from my skin sinking down the drain. I am reborn. Nothing can hurt me. My hands work over my body, and I am protected.

A shape darts past the open bathroom door. At least, I think so. It is hard to tell exactly what I might have seen through the steamed glass, droopy eyelids and introspection. I stiffen and my eyes widen. Seconds ago, I was alone. It was just me lost inside of me. No one else was invited. Now, I am unsure. An intruder may have stepped in, but no one has keys. I am certain I locked the door. I always lock the front door.

The showerhead pays no mind to the interruption, and the water bathes me at the same steady pace. My heart, however, pumps faster. I flash to the famous scene in the movie Psycho and wonder whether or not my mind is playing tricks on me. A hearty laugh comes from deep within. You silly fool! Now, my private moments are ripping off the master of suspense! I am just as guilty as everyone else. Nevertheless, something about this is different. The story is my own.

I quickly turn off the water and end my shower. Some final drops fall to the tub below with a deadening plunk, before my right leg makes a cautious move to step out. I keep an eye on the doorway and cannot shake the odd sense that someone … something … is there … waiting. I take deliberate steps toward a hanging white bath towel, until my hand is within reach to snatch it from the rack. The velvety towel is snugly wrapped around my torso in an instant. I cannot believe I am acting this way. Nothing is there. Nothing can be there, except the reality is something can.

Dripping, I make a brisk dash to my bedroom. I switch on the overhead light, and footprint puddles chase me from the bathroom to where I stand not far from the pile of clothing I abandoned at the start. A clean pair of underwear is slipped on, followed by socks (wrong order but who cares?!). Shirt and pants complete the scramble.

After dressing, the dirty pile of clothes is tossed into a closet hamper (a nervous habit, I guess), and I figure I had better inspect the house to see if anyone is there. My garments provide strength to slay the enemy, and I reason that if I survive the search, then extra time in the shower later may be enough to wash away lingering fear.