I was lucky this old Saturn made it to the garage. I don’t think I could have gone much further. Having to stop after every mile, putting more water into the radiator, then stopping again when it overheated . . . this part of the state has towns only about every thirty miles and I was afraid I’d be stranded. Lucky a garage came right into view, and also lucky there was a motel next door. Fortunately I don’t have to be in Terre Haute until Sunday night.
Yuck! There are no non-smoking rooms in this motel. I hate cigarette smell on blankets. It seems so 40 years ago. In fact, when I walked the 500 yards or so into town, it seemed the whole place was the Land That Time Forgot. Lots of adults smoking. A little diner where the local characters hang out. Little kids running around with their mothers. They have a kind of old-fashioned civic pride here. The local football team is called the Pumas, and their logo is everywhere, in storefronts, on bumper stickers, and there are a lot of school-age kids here, with Puma jackets. My friend who lives out West, he says Pumas, or mountain lions, are not as ferocious as they seem. But the females have a really weird howl when they’re in heat. It kept him awake nights. Nothing scary like that here, that’s for sure.
Old men on benches talking. Mothers pushing strollers. Everyone seems so friendly. A quaint village green. There’s the usual war memorial, a statue of a guy on a horse. It has a bench built in to the front — should I sit there? No, I’m a stranger here, it would seem presumptuous. I sit on a normal bench nearby and watch some little children run around playing “tag” under the not very vigilant eyes of a few mothers, who are talking about (from what I can hear) the town parade next week. It will be homecoming day at the high school. I feel like I’m on the set of a movie, about “Small Town U.S.A.”
It’s mid-afternoon. Across the green a school bus stops and kids come piling out. These are middle schoolers, apparently, but now some high school girls walk past them. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. I have to blink. No, it’s real. One of the girls is completely naked! And thinking nothing of it. She’s in the middle of a couple of her friends, wearing a backpack like the others, her bare feet striding along the sidewalk concrete in step with their sneakers and boots. They’re all blabbing a hundred miles an hour like girls do at that age. They don’t seem to notice that one of them is naked. And it’s not even like she’s just undressed, bizarre as that might be. She’s not holding any clothes, there are none tied around her waist, nor wrapped around her backpack. It’s like she doesn’t even own any clothes. She must be cold — her friends are wearing jackets and it’s not a warm day. But she shows no sign of minding it. I do notice goose bumps on her skin, on her bare butt, under the shadow the backpack makes on her backside. She must have tough feet. The four girls walk over some broken pavement and she doesn’t break her stride.
I briefly look around. Nobody turned their heads. Nobody noticed a naked schoolgirl walking past the village green. Or if they did they were used to it. This girl must always be naked. Clothes are not part of her life.
She and her friends, still walking down Main Street, disappear behind a building. I feel the urge to jump up and follow — I’ve got to know more about this girl — but of course people would notice. Perhaps I can walk briskly down a side street and turn and catch up with them? No, they’re too far gone. I would have to run, which would draw attention. So I sit and wonder what the hell it was I just saw.
. . . .
After supper at a pizza place I walked around to see the shops, though most were closed at six. The usual, hardware store, stationery store, hair salon . . . I turned my steps back to the green, then I see the high school is a couple of blocks away. As I approach I see an open door and I hear cheering, apparently a basketball game. It looks like anyone can walk in. I do and I climb up the stands, almost stepping on people, kids and parents, and squeeze in to one of the last available spots, up on the top row. The Pumas are playing the “Ravens”, from a neighboring town. It’s a close game but they’re winning. The gym is in constant pandemonium. Every time a boy scores, his name is called out in the cheering. In this small town everybody knows everybody.
I look around. The reason I’m here, of course, is to see if that naked girl is here. I feel like a stalker; I must be three times her age. You can hardly blame me though. I turn here and there, trying to find her in the stands.
Whoa! I see a couple of bare feet resting flat on the hardwood floor. She must be sitting in the front row. Now a flash of a bare shoulder. Time out, and the cheerleaders jump out onto the floor. Including her!
There are eight girls up there, swinging their pom-poms. The naked girl is second from the right. They’re pretty well practiced, all moving in sync, the hard clap of saddle shoes hitting the floor all at once in rhythm, though I can detect the thud of bare soles too. They twirl, their short skirts flying outward like little pinwheels, and she’s spinning and jumping right along with her clothed teammates, even though she has no skirt to twirl. Her breasts are about the size of oranges and bounce up and down, I suppose the other girls’ breasts are bouncing too, though a lot less, constricted by their bras, and the cute little red and white blouses with the Puma head on them. The naked girl has no Puma head on her, of course, just her nudity. Only the red-and-white pom-poms identify her as one of the cheerleaders. It’s at this point that I realize this girl is gorgeous. A beautiful face, a little dark-skinned. Possibly South Asian. Also she has a perfect body. No tan lines — she looks like she’s been naked her whole life. A stranger to clothes. I notice something else — her fingernails and toenails are unpainted and closely cut. Not like her friends’ — I can’t see their toenails of course, but their fingernails are fashionably long and brightly painted, red, blue, orange, white. Also her hair, which is black and straight, shoulder length, is unstyled. The lack of nail polish, the lack of hair style, makes her look even more naked. Or maybe the right word is “untouched”.
Play resumes and the cheerleaders sit down. A few minutes later they’re up again. Now halftime. It’s hot in the gym so most go outside. I follow. Miss Naked is chatting in a small group under a big tree. She leans back against it, bracing one bare foot on the rough bark. If she’s bothered by the scraping against her bare back she gives no sign. There are three girls with her, two of them fellow cheerleaders, and two boys. The boys don’t give her nudity a second glance. Teenage boys not looking at a naked girl’s body?? She seems to be more a talker than a listener. Popular girl, talkative . . . entirely normal . . . Listening in to the conversation (while pretending to be looking for someone) I find that her name is Sukie. Probably a nickname.
To tell the truth I don’t find the basketball game very interesting so I stay outside and find a reason to walk around. Half an hour later it’s over and I hang out while everyone comes out, pretending I’m looking for someone. Sukie comes out with what I assume are her parents — the father a burly, dark-skinned man with a mustache, the mother a skinny blond white woman — and her younger sister. They hang out, talking to some other parents. Then what must be her brother comes out, all showered, one of the boys on the team. The family packs into an SUV and drives off.
Back in the motel, struggling with the molasses-speed wi-fi, I google the name of this town, and “naked”, and “Sukie”. No hits.
. . . .
The radiator is fixed but it needs a new thermostat which won’t come in until tomorrow. That’s ok — I want to stay in this town until I find out more about Sukie, the girl who is always naked.
I wait until just before school is out before walking into town. I sit on the same bench, at the same time. Again, the school bus empties with middle-school kids. Again, some high school kids walk by. But no Sukie, nor any of her friends (I think). Half an hour goes by and still, nothing.
There’s a restaurant near the high school which one assumes attracts the after-school crowd. I go in and sit at the counter, next to the local characters, each of whom smokes. It’s apparently allowed in here. As for the tables, I was right: the place is filled with teenagers, filling the air with constant high school talk.
At a table near the back I see the three girls Sukie was walking with yesterday. And — behind them, behind an empty table, on the cushioned bench seat in the corner of the room, Sukie.
She doesn’t look well. She’s facing in my direction. Her knees are up, her hands are wrapped around her calves, and her face is resting against her knees, eyes closed, eyebrows knitted. She looks like she has a headache. Her feet are flat on the bench in front of her, together, her toes twitching. Looking closely I see she’s not really naked now. She seems to be wearing a black bikini bottom. And I see what looks like a black bra strap behind her elbow.
Is she in some kind of personal crisis? It’s odd that her friends are not paying attention to her, or somehow trying to comfort her. And why is she wearing what looks like a bikini? Now her body starts shaking. Her head leans to the side and I see her teeth gritting. The shaking gets more violent, then subsides. I hear a faint kind of strangled groan. It’s as if she wants to scream out loud, but is suppressing it because she’s in public. Still, her friends keep talking, as if she wasn’t there.
She exhales, and takes some deep breaths. Now her body shakes again, another groan. Suddenly I realize it looks like she’s having an orgasm. This explains the more violent shaking, then rhythmic spasms, three, four, five . . . after the eighth there are two more irregular ones. Now I see a sheen of sweat over her body.
Not thirty seconds have gone by before she suffers another orgasm. “Suffer” is the right word — she doesn’t seem at all like she’s enjoying these. How many times has she “come”? The one I saw probably wasn’t the first. How long does she have to endure this?
I order an omelette even though I’m not hungry. Out of the corner of my eye I count five more orgasms, if that’s what they are. Now she exhales again, her body practically dripping with sweat, and seems to relax. The bikini must have some internal vibrators and now it seems they’ve finally stopped buzzing. She starts quietly sobbing. This poor girl — suffering through multiple orgasms she doesn’t want, and no one helping her! She sniffles and rubs her nose. Through all this, nobody notices, certainly not the chatterboxes at the counter.
Finally one of her friends comes over and takes her hand. She leads Sukie unsteadily to the rest rooms. As she walks by on wobbly legs, her bare feet slapping unevenly on the tile floor, I see she is indeed wearing a bikini, but an odd one. It looks like shiny black leather, and there are bumps over where her nipples would be. I see another bump in front of her crotch. As she turns to open the door I see another bump sticking out behind. One can only imagine!
Ten minutes later she emerges, totally naked again, seeming a little tired, but smiling. She rejoins her friends as they get up to leave. I don’t know what happened to the bikini. It left marks on her skin which I suppose will soon fade.
Obviously this was not the first time Sukie was subjected to this ordeal. It seemed like a regular event. I suppose when she has to endure this, she wants to be left alone.
. . . .
Friday morning. Mornings are cold here in October. I wonder what Sukie does when the snow falls? She can’t possibly walk naked through the snow. And blizzards are not unheard of here, from what I understand.
Today I went in to town early. To my great good luck I see her with her friends, eating their fast food breakfasts on the village green, on that bench built into the war memorial. This time it’s two girls and three boys. They’re all in heavy jackets, one of the boys in a football jacket, and two of the girls in their cheerleader jacket. Again, Sukie seems unfazed by the cold. Her fingers and toes are reddish and her bare butt must be freezing on that concrete bench. But there she is, wolfing down hash browns with the rest, chatting amiably. She’s an animated personality. I’m too far away to hear what they’re saying but whatever remarks she’s making are cracking up her friends. Now she stands up a turns around, and makes a face. She’s probably mimicking a teacher and this causes another round of guffaws. Now she looks like she’s imitating another teacher. And now a third.
Again, no sign from the others as to there being anything odd about her nakedness. She herself doesn’t seem to think about it. She’s not using her naked attributes in her mimcry. No jokey grabbing her breasts or anything like that.
Wait — she does cross her arms, and rubs them with her hands, before she sits down. So she is conscious of the cold. She sits down and finishes up. The kids responsibly put their trash into one bag and toss it into the wastebasket, and off they go to school. I manage to surreptitiously walk up to the sidewalk and head in their direction, following by about two hundred feet. The school is three blocks down. I can’t get over the contrast as they blend in with the other kids as they go in. Over a hundred kids; one without clothes. You’d have to look closely to pick her out but once you do, you can’t stop looking. It rained last night and she’s careful to wipe her muddy feet on the mat before she goes through the big doors.
. . . .
It’s really getting boring, having to wait for my car. I can walk back to the motel, or stay in town. I decide to kill some time in the library — again, an old-fashioned library, mostly books, not a lot of videos or computer terminals. Morbidly curious, in the afternoon I return to that restaurant. Sure enough, Sukie is sitting alone on that bench in the back, shuddering through her orgasms. This time I time them. There’s one every two minutes. The session goes on for twenty minutes, so she has ten orgasms. The “bikini” is white this time, made of the same plasticky leather. Another difference is that this time it’s her family eating at the next table. She’s not able to eat, of course, so this seems doubly unfair. Interestingly, what looks like her little brother gets up and heads toward her, maybe to ask her something, but the father stops him and directs him back to his chicken fingers. During these sessions her friends, and her family, seem protective of her, wanting to give her her space to be alone with her vibrators, or whatever it is that’s driving her to climax after climax. “Protective” is a strange word; the fact is they’re abandoning her to this unique form of torture. But it fits.
. . . .
It’s a surprisingly warm evening and as I dare to sit on the war memorial bench, I take in the scenes of the after-supper goings-on. This green is a real teenage hangout. I count four distinct bunches of kids high school age, perched on the benches in every position except sitting down. Half of them are wearing athletic jackets. The conversations are about football, Homecoming Day (which is Sunday), some actress who just had a controversial wedding, the new vegetarian cooking class at the school, whether the current principal, now in his 60’s, will retire, and a car accident some old woman was in yesterday, she’s in the hospital but fortunately is recovering.
Sukie is here, of course, and as usual is dominating the conversation. She’s next to a girl who’s dressed in stereotypical lesbian clothes — flannel shirt, corduroys, army boots. To my surprise they’re holding hands! Then they separate, as Sukie does some kind of gesticulating. She’s explaining something to a boy in a football jacket, and his friend in the red sweatshirt. Another girl, sitting on top of the back of the bench, is listening. Now Sukie holds hands with the football jacket boy, swings his arm back and forth. Now she lets go. It’s just something she does.
A loud laugh and for some reason Sukie runs off and the boy chases him. Others look. It’s all in fun. Sukie’s quick on her bare feet, bolting across the green, circling around the perimeter, now veering back. The boy is gaining on her, or maybe she’s letting him. At the last moment she scampers up the trunk of an elm tree and grabs branch to branch, scaling the branches like a cat on her tough hands and feet. I have to laugh — she’s so skilled at tree climbing, as if it’s something she practices every day. Maybe being naked all the time makes it easy to do. Now they have a jokey conversation, him on the ground looking up at her. As she talks down to him her arms are braced against a branch over her head, and below, her toes are clutching branches that are widely spread. Her legs are almost a ballet dancer’s split; he must be able to look right up inside her. But he’s clearly talking to her face. She jumps down onto the grass, breasts bouncing in front of him, not that he notices, and they stroll back to their bench. I can’t make out what they’re saying.
Someone mentions “play practice”. Sukie and the boy in the red sweatshirt say goodbye and walk toward the high school.
. . . .
I’m taking a real chance now. I shouldn’t be here, hanging out by the side door. But if someone asks, I can make a plausible argument that I was walking from the movie theatre to the diner, and the voices attracted me and caused me to stop and look. I can’t be accused of gawking. Gawking seems to be an unknown concept here.
The stage is brightly lit and easy to see from where I am. And the sound carries. Sukie and the boy in the red sweatshirt are acting out a scene. Another boy is behind them, silent. Suddenly I recognize the play and I can’t keep from rolling my eyes. “Our Town”! A popular play for high schools to do, years and years ago. This little village I’m visiting is so 1954. The boy behind must be the “Stage Manager”. Sukie and the boy in the red sweatshirt are supposed to be a young couple, I forget the names, but they’re debating whether to get married, or something.
Sukie’s voice projects better than the boy’s. The kids stop as their teacher, out of view, says something. Now they get a little closer. The boy recites louder now, his sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers contrasting with the unspoken nudity of his companion. The overhead theater lights cast sharp, interesting shadows over her body. Shadows of her head on her bare shoulder. Long, pointy shadows of her nipples and breasts cast down her flat tummy. She turns around, gesturing, her soles like quiet sandpaper across the floor. Shadows of her butt cheeks onto the backs of her thighs. Shadows of her ankles. Her acting is quite animated. Too much so — the director asks her to not move around so much. As I recall, these characters are supposed to be dead.
Now a clear snatch of dialogue. “Emily, you’re just naturally bright, I guess,” the boy says.
“I figure that’s just the way a person’s born,” Sukie says, one hand on a thrust-out bare hip. This makes me smile.
It’s a jolt when I see another adult next to me, a lady my age with a big handbag. I smile and nod at her. Fortunately she’s not calling me out. “The voices carry, tonight.” I nod. We listen some more. “They seem naturally talented,” I say. “Yes.”
After we watch for another minute she says, “You know Jason, there, he’s the one whose grandmother was in that accident.” I figure she means the boy in the sweatshirt. “Oh really,” I say.
“She could have died,” the lady says. “The boy’s really being brave, rehearsing tonight.”
“Well I’ve got to go, good night,” she says. I nod and watch her walk away. Now she waves at another lady in a car across the street and they drive away. I’m glad she didn’t ask my name. But then I realize: why am I afraid of divulging my identity? I haven’t done anything wrong, I’m on my way to a convention and my car broke down . . . For some reason I want to stay anonymous here.
Then I almost kick myself. Why the hell didn’t I ask her: “Excuse me, I’m just visiting here. Why is that girl always naked?? And why does she have to wear that — bikini every day??” This was a golden opportunity to ask. Now it’s gone.
. . . .
Saturday morning. I have to be back at the garage at noon to pick up the car. I’ll be glad to be out of here. I kept googling for answers last night and couldn’t find any. I put in this town’s name, then Sukie, then naked, nudist, naturist . . . bikini, orgasms . . . every combination I could think of. It’s like I’m the only person in the world who notices anything unusual about this girl.
I figure, one more look. Hopefully my last glance of her will be as a happy normal teenager, and not suffering in a bikini prison. But to my horror when I round the corner of the bank building and the village green comes into view I hear a loud scream.
My body freezes up. It sounds like a girl being stabbed. But it’s Sukie, wearing a red bikini this time, kneeling backwards on the war memorial bench, her hips humping up and down rhythmically. Another scream, then another, in time with the jolts of her hips. As they subside she catches her breath, her body covered in sweat, she turns on her side and lies down, facing out. Her knees are skinned from scraping on the concrete of the bench. Now she’s attacked again, this time holding her knees to her head, as if trying to roll up into a ball to contain her explosions.
It’s a warm sunny day and as usual the village green is crowded. People are on benches, chatting, little kids running around, and even some of Sukie’s friends are there, hanging out by that elm tree. Oblivious.
Another orgasm strikes and Sukie stands up on the bench, her back to everyone, her tough bare feet stamping in time against the concrete seat. Her shrieks echo off the buildings on the square, the bank, the library, the post office. As if to punish her more, she’s stuck in an echo chamber, her own cries feeding back into her ears. Her hands reach up onto the statue, grabbing the horse’s feet with white knuckles, as if she were praying to General Sherman or whoever to deliver her from this strange agony. Meanwhile the friendly casual burbling of the townfolk goes on uninterrupted, happy people enjoying a beautiful fall day.
“OHHH — OHHH — !!” Her hips jolt, tears run down her cheeks, her voice almost hoarse now.
Why does she have to suffer so? How come no one — not even her friends and family — seems to care? Why is she the only one who is naked? Is that related? Most of all — why does this pretty, good-hearted, popular, smart, vivacious girl — have to go through this daily torture? One might imagine it would reduce her to a hollow-eyed wreck. Yet it doesn’t kill her spirit, ruin her life as an ordinary girl. My horror vies with my admiration.
I run. Or at least walk as fast as I can without running. I can’t stand it any more. Unlike Sukie, I can escape. I hurry down Main Street and down the road to the motel.
I pick up the car and consider what to do. There’s no hurry; I can drive around and visit the town later on Saturday, or even Sunday morning, and maybe see Sukie in happy nudity again, but by now I just want to avoid that town. I want to blot out what I’ve seen. I turn around and go back where I came from — I’ll head north at some point and then angle east and go through Champaign-Urbana, even though it’s an extra hundred miles. As I drive past the cornfields, I watch the town get smaller in the rear view mirror. I’m supposed to be giving a presentation to hog farmers tomorrow, on use of the new pesticides. But I can’t get that girl’s awful screams out of my mind. Maybe I should stop for a pack of cigarettes. I’m told that the first time you light up, you zone out. I could use that now.