The Art of Tetman Callis My Sweet Julie, Naked and Wailing

My Sweet Julie, Naked and Wailing

First published in Hobart, September 15, 2022. Copyright 2022 by Tetman Callis.

          I hadn’t seen Julie in a long time. When she showed up, it was a surprise.

          Hey, Julie, I said.

          Hey, she said back.

          What a surprise, I said.

          Life is like that, she said.

          Can you give me a ride? she said.

          You know I can, I said.

          That’s so sweet, she said.

          You’re still the same sweet pushover, she said.

          You know that nothing’s ever going to happen between us, she said.

          Julie, you know—, I said, and I stopped before I finished. How to say what was in my heart? After all this time? It didn’t matter. Blood was in my heart.

          My car was in the parking garage. I opened the passenger door so she could get in.

          Ever the gentleman, she said.

          You know I always liked that about you, she said.

          So many guys never are, she said.

          She has a beautiful smile. What can I tell you about a beautiful smile? You know one when you see one.

          And her face was always open and trusting. Not like some sucker, some mark set to be played, but like someone open to seeing what’s in the world and judging it—no, not judging, that’s the wrong word—meeting it on its own terms, accepting what it presented without being afraid.

          You can see why I might love Julie.

          She sat in my car, front seat, passenger side. She busied herself with her purse. I came around to get in on the driver’s side and looked up and saw my boss walking by, heading to his own car. It was a big SUV and his wife was already in it.

          My boss was a good man. But he was a boss. Cold and predatory in that way. His smile wasn’t like Julie’s. It never lost its cold predation, even when it was at its friendliest and most genuine.

          I should say, he had been a cop. That may have had something to do with it.

          He smiled when he saw Julie and he looked at me with this smile and he said, Hey.

          Hey, boss, I said.

          Looks like you’ve got yourself a real honey, he said.

          There was no way, in the parking garage with Julie waiting in my car and the boss there passing by and his wife waiting for him in his own car—a bigger and nicer car than mine, but he was a boss—there was no way I was going to make any attempt at even a short version of the History of Julie and Me.

          Yeah, boss, I said and I smiled.

          About my smile, not much. It is what it is.

          Now, to cut to the chase—there was no chase. I gave Julie a ride to this place where she said she needed to go, a particular shop in a particular shopping mall. I didn’t care. I would have given her a ride anywhere. I hadn’t seen her in a long time. It was good to see her again. That smile.

          Now, a word about what she was wearing.

          She was fully clothed. She wore pants and some kind of shirt, and a pale yellow jacket that looked a little big but not too heavy. Almost a windbreaker kind of thing.

          No, I don’t know what she wore underneath. Go figure. I figure it was the usual sort of stuff girls wear. Bra, panties, socks, you know?

          We got to the mall and where should I park the car?

          It’s okay, this is as close as we can park, she said.

          It’s down at the other end, she said.

          Will you come with me? she said.

          Of course I would come with her.

          And so I did. And so we got out of the car and walked the long walk to the other end of the mall. It was nice to be with Julie. I never thought I would see her again, and there she was.

          We talked as we walked. You know how it is. People chat. What they say is never important. The important thing is, they talk. Converse. Common human intercourse. The old meaning, before all it came to mean was sex.

          I would have sexed with Julie, of course. I don’t know if it showed. My boss’s smile had implied that he, for one, thought I was about to drive Julie off to some intimate engagement.

          That was not ever going to happen.

          I’m not sure it ever mattered.

          You know—matters of the heart, and all that.

          So Julie and I chatted along, nothing important. We went to the shop where she had some sort of business to see to—I didn’t pay attention, it wasn’t my business—then we left and walked the long walk back to my car.

          There were people all around. It was a shopping mall. Not terribly crowded, but a fair number of people.

          I was nattering on about I don’t know what, and we walked along. Julie walked beside me but just a little behind me, just out of my peripheral sight.

          Jimmy, I’m so cold, she said.

          Said? It was almost a wail. I turned to look.

          She had stopped and was bending down, almost folding up within herself.

          She was completely naked.

          Julie! I said.

          Julie, where are your clothes? I said.

          She waved an arm haphazardly behind.

          I lost them along the way, she wailed.

          She was crying now, her face all scrunched up.

          There were people all around, passing by. They looked like they were doing their best to ignore this wailing naked girl in the middle of the mall.

          I wish one of them had come up to me along the way and had told me, Hey, buddy, this girl you’re with, she’s taking her clothes of and dropping them along the way, you should pay attention.

          Maybe the one who did that would even have picked up her clothes and come up and said, Hey, here, her clothes.

          Her jacket would have been nice. I didn’t have mine, couldn’t take it off and cover Julie. My sweet Julie. Naked now and wailing in the mall.

          I’m so cold, she cried.

          No one helped. I can’t say I blame them. I’m a person too.