The Not-so-super Model

by Lubrican

Chapter : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5-12 Available On

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Chapter One

The term "Best friends" is a fascinating concept when you take time to reflect on it for a while. Everybody has them. You notice I said "them". That's what's so fascinating to me. Everybody seems to claim having more than one 'best friend' and yet "best" normally implies something singular. The synonyms for best are also singular in nature: top, foremost, leading, preeminent, premier, prime, first, chief, principal, supreme.

My purpose in mentioning this isn't to get into a philosophical discussion. This concept is very important to me on a personal level. In my case I've decided that I only had one best friend in my life. His name was Dennis Hooker. He changed my life completely.

He did that by dying.

Dennis and I grew up together, next door neighbors and school buddies until we were separated by the military. He joined. I did not.

Before that, though, he got married to Hannah Lisowski, who grew up in the house on the other side of him. Her family was Polish and she got a lot of grief for that. Children can be cruel. I didn't know it then, but Lisowski comes from Polish for "fox" and that turned out to be prophetic, though not for the meaning of fox that the Poles meant. She was a gawky girl with buck teeth and big, thick glasses. Her mother put her long hair in pig tails until she was in her teens. Fortunately her parents also got her braces and nature worked other magic on her over the years. By the time Denny asked her to marry him she was a stone fox, glasses or not. Laser surgery got rid of those, by the way.

Anyway, he saw something in her before all this happened and was one of only two boys who didn't call her a Polack, or stupid, or any of a host of other cruel names as she grew up. I was the other. I'm a little ashamed to say that the reason I didn't torment her was because Denny was my best friend and he wouldn't tolerate that kind of crap coming from me. The crap lasted well into high school, I guess, because she rarely went out on dates with guys. I would find out later that, for some reason, they all expected her to put out for them, probably because they thought they were doing "the Polack" a favor by asking her out. Children can be stupid, too.

Long story short, after they graduated he popped the question. He hadn't dated her and she'd never been his "girlfriend" but I guess something about her got to him. I was there when it happened. She'd gotten a flat tire and was standing on the side of the road trying to figure out where the stuff was to jack up the car and get the old tire off and all that. We happened along and Denny told me to pull over.

We got out and she smiled at us and over the next half hour we changed her tire for her while she stood there looking beautiful. When we got done Denny turned to her and said, "What would you have done if we hadn't come along?"

"I don't know," she said in her soft voice. "Walked to get help from somebody, I guess."

"You know, if you married me, you could just call me for help, any time you needed it."

"Don't tease me, Dennis," she said.

"Who's teasing? Marry me, Hannah. You could do worse."

"That's not how this is done, Dennis," she snorted. It was the first time I'd heard her communicate scorn. She was soft-spoken and meek, and she rarely said anything at all.

"Who says? I like you and you like me. Why not go with it?"

"You're crazy," she said. "We haven't even gone out."

"I don't know. We've lived side by side for seventeen years. I've seen you every day of my life. According to my mother we used to get our diapers changed right next to each other. We've seen each other naked, Hannah!" He grinned.

"You think you're so funny," she said, and I heard a dangerous note in her voice. I'd heard that same note in my latest girlfriend's voice, just before she broke up with me. Of course Denny was safe. They weren't going together, so she couldn't break up with him, right?

"I'm not trying to be funny," he said, no longer grinning. "Marry me. I know I should have asked you out a long time ago, but it just seemed strange, you know? I mean we know each other better than any other couple I know of. We've always been buddies, sort of."

She looked at me for some reason.

"What about him?" Not, "What about Bob?" or, "What about your inseparable best friend?" or, "What about the guy who lurks in the background every time you talk to me?" Just, "What about him?"

"Bob?" He looked surprised. "He'll be my best man."

"Oh," she said. "I thought maybe you'd want me to marry both of you."

He laughed and reached out to grab her. He pulled her into a bear hug while she squeaked and lifted her off the ground, spinning her in a circle.

"Bob's my best friend but he's only invited to the wedding, not on the honeymoon," he said, pushing his face into her hair. It was loose that day.

When he set her back down her eyes were a little wild but she just stood there.

"Thank you for fixing my tire," she said.

"Anything to help," he said. "See you tomorrow."

When we were back in our car I asked him, "You want to tell me what that was all about?"

"What?" he said.

"You just asked Hannah Lisowski to marry you," I said.


"Are you nuts?"

"What's nuts about it?" he said, his voice casual. "She's the coolest girl I know. I've gone out with lots of girls, but she's not like any of them."

"As she pointed out, you haven't gone out with her," I said. "How could you know she's not like them?"

"She doesn't play games. She doesn't gossip. She doesn't think she's God's gift to men. I like her."

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you're supposed to be in love before you propose to a woman," I said.

"You know my grandma?" he asked, apparently changing the subject.

"Of course," I said. I knew everybody in his extended family. I'd eaten dinner with all of them, more than once.

"Did you know she was in an arranged marriage?"

"You're shitting me," I said.

"I'd never shit you," he said. I knew what was coming next. We'd said it to each other a million times. I said it with him: "You're my favorite turd."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," I said. "What about your grandmother?"

"She told me about it one time. Her parents were friends with somebody and they all got together and decided that their son should marry my grandma. So that's what happened. She never even held his hand until the minister put it in his at the wedding."

"That's crazy," I said. "I thought that only happened in foreign countries."

"Nope. And she told me that they learned how to love each other."

"So what happened to him?" I knew his grandfather was dead, but not much more than that.

"They got married in 1939 and had my mother just before the war broke out. He was a marine. He got killed at Guadalcanal."

"Oh," I said.

"She said after the war she never even thought about getting married again," said Denny. "She said he was the love of her life and she knew she could never find anybody else who would make her as happy as she'd been with him."

"Wow," I said.

"Yeah. She told me love doesn't just float around like a germ people can catch. It's something two people create when they want it to exist. I've never been in love, but I know I could love Hannah."

"How come you never said anything about this before?" I asked.

"It just came over me," he said, shrugging. "While we were changing that tire I looked at her and I just got this feeling that I wanted to make this girl happy for the rest of her life."

"And it doesn't hurt that she's a knockout," I said.

"Watch it," he warned. "You're talking about my girl."

"As I recall, she said you were crazy," I said. "I don't think she thinks she's your girl."

"I'll change that," he said.

And the crazy thing was that he did change that.

Of course events helped. When he got home I guess he announced that he'd proposed to Hannah and his parents got a little nuts about it. His mother called her mother. They were good friends, of course. Hannah hadn't said anything to her parents, so it blindsided them. When they asked her about it she said all he was doing was teasing her, but Denny insisted he wasn't teasing. It took a couple of days but, suddenly, Dennis was dating Hannah. I guess it took a month for him to convince her he was serious and only then did she tell him she'd had a crush on him for years.

They got married six months later, possibly because she was already pregnant. I was the best man, and I did not get invited on the honeymoon. I made a joke about it at the reception, when I danced with the bride.

"Are you sure I can't come along on your honeymoon?" I asked, grinning. They were only going to Hannibal, Missouri for three days. Apparently Hannah had read all of Mark Twain's books and wanted to see some of the stuff he put in them. They didn't have enough money to go on a fancy honeymoon and both of them had to be back to go to their jobs.

"You're still going to be our best friend," she said, smiling. It was good to see her happy. "But there's a limit, Bob."

"Okay," I said, drawing the "ay" out in a long sigh.

"You'll still get to see plenty of him," she said. "I'm not taking him away from you completely."

And she didn't. I was around a lot. I suppose part of that was because there was no woman in my life, at least not one I wanted to make happy for the rest of hers. I guess I hadn't yet found one I wanted to learn to love.

So she didn't take him away from me. It was the Army that did that. It took him away from both of us. When I think back on it now it sends chills down my spine, because it was a lot like what happened to his grandparents. It took longer, but we lost him just like his grandmother lost her husband in WWII.

We had Denny for ten years before 9/11 hit. In this case "we" means Hannah, their daughter Harper, and me. I had dated a dozen women since they got married, but there were never any sparks. I was still alone, except for them. He joined the Army a week after the twin towers fell, and by the time Mr. Bush got us involved in Iraq he was in the special forces. He said it was to honor his grandfather. He was one of the people who went into Iraq before the war actually started. All we were told (she was told, actually) was that he was there to identify targets and that he was killed after the bombing started.

Harper was almost eleven when her father died. I was "Uncle Bob" to her, probably because neither Hannah nor Denny had any siblings. I watched her grow up like an uncle might, I suppose, except I was probably around a lot more than your average uncle probably would have been. I was the one who taught her to ride a bike and play catch, or at least I was the one who helped her practice that kind of thing. I always had to read her a story whenever I came over, at least until she was about six or seven and said, "I can read all by myself now, Uncle Bob." Then, one time I told her a story, making it all up and after that I had to tell her a story every time I came over. It got so I ran out of material, so I just retold her things I'd read in books, making changes suitable for her age.

While I did this, Denny and Hannah got things done that had been neglected or put off because they were raising a little girl. Children tend to dominate your time. It's just how things are. So I was sort of a nanny whenever I went over. I was also the official babysitter whenever they wanted a night out.

It was natural, when Denny died, that I lend a hand. I was just as torn up about it as they were, or at least that's how it felt to me, but I knew I needed to rise above that and help them get through it. He was gone. I wasn't. That meant I owed it to him to take care of them as best I could.

There was life insurance that helped, but there were a ton of things that had to be done. I won't go into detail, but dying creates reams of paperwork and literally dozens of things that have to be done legally to close or change business accounts and things like that. I also cooked for them for a week. I got help from people in their church, who brought over food that just had to be warmed up to serve. Giving them that much time wasn't a problem for me. I had inherited ownership of the local transfer station, where garbage trucks from a sixty mile radius dumped their loads in a big metal building. My people then pushed it through holes in the floor into eighteen wheelers, which then took them away to an actual landfill. I had seven employees who knew what they were doing before it became mine and didn't really need me, if I had to be somewhere else. I spent most of my time in the large appliance area, salvaging copper and brass and getting the iron pile ready for being picked up by a metal recycler.

It was probably three months or more before it seemed like everything was done that had to be done, or at least could be done. We were still waiting for a couple of companies and one bank to finalize things.

Eventually there was an evening when Hannah and I were just sitting in the living room. It was kind of odd. We weren't talking about anything, just sitting there. I think we were both tired and still a little shell-shocked by everything that had happened and what we'd had to do because of it. Harper was in her room. She'd been spending a lot of time in her room.

"Thanks," Hannah said, suddenly.

"What for?"

"Everything," she sighed. "I don't know how we'd have gotten through this without your help."

"I didn't do much," I said.

"You did plenty."

"Denny would have wanted it that way," I said.

"I know. But thank you anyway."

"You're welcome." For some reason that night we helped her change her tire popped into my mind, and I saw Denny standing there with his lopsided grin, saying, "Anything to help." I almost said it myself, as I thought about it, but then didn't. It was true, but I also thought it was assumed.

"I'm worried about Harper," she said.

"Yeah." I couldn't think of anything else to say.

"Would you go check on her?"

"Sure," I said.

I got up and went to Harper's room. She was lying on her bed, reading. She looked up at me when I opened the door. I'd been around enough that she didn't complain that I hadn't knocked.

"You okay?" I asked, feeling lame.

"I guess so," she said.

Then, as if a faucet had been turned on, she was crying. I went and sat down on the edge of the bed and she came in for a hug. I just held her while she cried. Ten minutes later she pushed away from me.

"It will get better," I said, feeling even lamer.

She didn't say anything.

"You know where to find me if you need anything," I said. I'd been sleeping in the guest room pretty frequently, at least two nights a week and sometimes more. We didn't live next door to each other anymore.

"Okay," she said.

And that was it. She didn't cry anymore after that. Hannah teared up a lot, but after another three or four months she seemed to have adjusted.

Years went by and things seemed to find a normalcy of sorts. I still went over pretty frequently but my relationship with them had changed. I just sort of assumed that, to Hannah, I was this guy she could ask anything of, and was comfortable around. She didn't seek male companionship, and more than once I thought about Denny's grandmother, who'd made the same choice after losing her mate. Harper still called me Uncle Bob, but no longer demanded I tell her stories. She got interested in art and that seemed to take over her life.

By the time she was fifteen, Harper had soaked up everything public schools had to offer her, in terms of art, and her teachers recommended she start getting instruction at a more professional level. In their case, that meant getting her into a charter school that specialized in the arts. Hannah got her into the graphic arts program of the Turnbuckle Academy, which had bought an old run down strip mall and renovated it into a mini campus. They had a student body of probably a hundred fifty or so. It was expensive, but Hannah felt like it was worth it. It appeared she was right, because everything seemed to take off. The guest bedroom I'd spent so many nights in got turned into Harper's art space, which took up a heck of a lot more room than I'd have thought "art" would take. The bed was still in there, but now it was shoved in one corner and when I used it, I usually had to clear a bunch of stuff off of it. Or Harper did. I wasn't allowed to just randomly touch stuff.

As it turned out, her public school teachers were right. She was good. She got some of her art into exhibitions and finally started to seem like the cheerful girl I'd known before her father died.

When whe started her junior year at Turnbuckle, they urged her to begin applying to universities and such. I thought that was kind of stupid, since she still had two years of high school to finish, but that's how they do things these days. A couple of months into her second semester, she started getting letters from colleges. Some were rejections, but two of them showed promise. Both of them laid out conditions for her acceptance. She had to maintain a high GPA. She had to have letters of recommendation from two teachers and two adults not related to the school system, one of which had to be a professional artist of some kind. She had to develop a portfolio, which had to include a whole bunch of different kinds of art, in a whole bunch of different media.

What was relevant to me about all this was that the portfolio had to include at least three figure studies, and that is where, once aqain, having Denny as my best friend changed my life forever.

You might think my life had already been changed forever, but in reality I'd still been perking along just like I always had. I'd never had any strong feelings about what I wanted to do with my life. I'd always been a follower and, in my case, I'd followed Denny, for the most part. He was the super hero. I was the sidekick. That hadn't bothered me. Great leaders can't be great leaders if nobody follows them.

Anyway, about the only strong feelings I'd had were about things I didn't want to do with my life. Such as join the Army. Basically, other than helping out with Hannah and Harper, I just puttered through life. I'm one of those people who are happy if they have enough money for their basic needs and don't require complicated long-term financial plans to feel like the future will be good. I suppose I'm the kind of person who ends up scraping by on a Social Security check in later years, but my needs had always been simple. I suspect I thought about it like this: "As long as I have books and a couple thousand calories a day, I'll be okay."

That was about to change.

The change started one evening while we were having supper. I either stayed for supper or came over by invitation about two or three times a week, though I didn't sleep in the guest room that often anymore.

"Mom," said Harper through a mouthful of mashed potatoes.

"Don't talk with your mouth full," admonished Hannah.

Harper made a big show of swallowing.

"Mom?" she said, opening her mouth much wider than needed, obviously to display it was now empty.

Hannah didn't rise to the bait. "Yes?"

"I have a problem."

Hannah waited. I continued to eat.

"You know those figure studies I have to have for my portfolio?"

Hannah took a bite and just nodded.

"I did one of my own hand and it came out okay, but I have to have full figure drawings of a male and female, too. I tried looking in the mirror to do me, but it's not going to work."

"I'd be happy to pose for you," said Hannah, getting right to the point. "Assuming you don't object to drawing your mother."

"Thank you," said Harper. "I don't object at all. "

Then she turned to look at me. She didn't have to say a word. I looked over at Hannah and found she was staring at me as well.

"Me?" I said, through a mouthful of mashed potatoes.

Hannah groaned while Harper grinned and I swallowed hastily.

"Why me?" I asked. Don't ask me why I was uneasy about this. I mean what could it involve? I'd have to sit still for a while and look regal or something. Wasn't that what you always saw in portraits? Everybody looked regal, or at least interesting. I didn't think there was anything interesting about me.

"Gee, I don't know," said Harper. "Now that I think about it, I guess it will be easy for me to walk around at the mall and find some stranger to come over and take off all his clothes so I can paint him." She took a bite of green beans and (intentionally, I thought) talked with them in her mouth. "Yeah, that should be a piece of cake. There are plenty of weirdoes out there who would jump at the chance."

Now I admit here, that my thoughts got a little fragmented at that point, so my brain didn't work all that well. The first thing I thought about was the word "naked", which appeared in my head like the Hollywood sign board on Mount Lee in Los Angeles. Then some synapse in my skull connected that word with me, and then, in a flash, with Hannah, who had already agreed to pose. Of course her situation might be entirely different than "mine", but I couldn't keep my thoughts from reflecting on that. The brain works at the speed of light, or pretty close, so all these images kept flickering like bursts of lightning, bouncing from me naked (and of course with an embarrassing boner) to Hannah who, if you'll remember, I told you was a babe. Then it would be back to me without that embarrassing erection, my cock being wilted and all of two inches long, which was even more embarrassing. Then it was back to Hannah again who, for some insane reason, had assumed a pose appropriate for a porn site, and then I imagined Harper naked, standing there painting without a care in the world. Finally my brain overloaded and the fork fell out of my limp fingers. I think I drooled a little bit. I know one corner of my mouth felt moist.

"You don't have to be sarcastic about it," said Hannah, frowning at her daughter. "And what's all this about nudity?"

"The figures have to be nude, of course," said Harper, as if that should be obvious to anyone.

"Who says?" asked her mother.

"The instructions, that's who."

"Instructions are a what, not a who," corrected Hannah.

"The instructions," said Harper with exaggerated patience. "That's what."

"I'd like to see these instructions," said Hannah.

"Sure," said Harper, who started to get up.

"After supper," said Hannah.

"Okay," said the girl. She looked at me. "Why do you look so pale?"

"He's a man, Darling," said Hannah, who glanced my way and then went back to eating.

"What does that mean?" asked Harper, who was still looking at me.

Hannah glanced at me again while she chewed. I had this horrifying suspicion she could see right into my thoughts. I felt my face get hot and I decided I needed to wash it. Actually, I just needed to get away from her gaze.

I lurched up and staggered a bit as I headed for the bathroom.

"Where are you going?" asked Harper.

"Arrrgh," I answered. I couldn't get their images out of my mind. I realized that boner had actually developed in my pants and felt the embarrassment flood through me. It was entirely different than it had felt in my quick fantasy. It was actually much worse.

"I'll explain it to you later, Dear," I heard Hannah say.

"Explain what?"

"Later," barked Hannah.

That was when I knew, deep in my bones, that Hannah was a secret sorceress or something, and really could see the images in my mind of herself as a naked succubus whose goal was to consume me, body and soul.

I calmed down in the bathroom. I splashed enough water in my face to get the front of my shirt wet, but it helped me get control back. I was a little amazed. I'd looked at both women before, of course, evaluating their sexuality. Like Hannah had said, I am a man. But it had always been just a momentary kind of a nice diversion. I mean I appreciated them both on a number of levels. Harper was a younger version of her mother, but not as ripe. Hannah was a sensual woman, though I don't think she tried to be. It was just natural. It had developed in the first year of their marriage and when I noticed it, I decided it was because she became accustomed to being worshiped as a goddess by Denny. He was insanely happy because she'd married him and he didn't mind showing it. I'd often thought she could make some other guy insanely happy as well, but she'd said on more than one occasion that she wasn't looking for a man.

Harper, on the other hand, was young and fresh and sexy in that way of a promise of joy, like a beautiful present that is forbidden to be unwrapped until later. I was pretty sure she was already making boys by the dozens jerk their meat raw, but I had never imagined actually being around her naked. Her, I mean. Or me, either for that matter.

I decided that what had happened to me was like bursting into tears when the stress gets too high. It had just been a catharsis of sorts. It didn't mean I was an animal, or pervert, or horny out of my mind. My own sex life was primarily solitary, but that was fine with me. My hand never has a headache, and I have a whole raft of fantasies I can call on when the need arises. Sandra Bullock is one, just to give you an example.

I stood up and straightened my shoulders. I frowned at the wet front of my shirt, but there wasn't anything I could do about it at the moment. I took several deep breaths and then remembered my unruly little friend. I looked at the front of my pants in the mirror and was delighted that my bone wasn't a bone anymore. I targeted my thoughts on that part of my body and felt nothing.

I didn't even mind that it might very nearly be only two inches long, at the moment.

When I got back to the table nobody said anything to me. I saw Hannah's eyes drift to my shirt, but then they moved to her plate. I later found out she'd told Harper I was embarrassed about the posing naked thing and not to mention it again until later.

The rest of supper went fine. My brain, which was obviously perverted after all, kept trying to go back to pornographic images of my dinner companions, but I was able to think of something else.

Afterwards I said I needed to get home.

"You can't leave," complained Harper, who had interpreted "later" as "right after supper."

"Yes he can," said Hannah.


"Harper, you can talk to him later!"

"It is later," argued Harper.

"You have plenty of time, young lady!"

"Oh, bollocks!" said Harper, dramatically.

"What?" We both stared at her.

"I heard it on a British documentary. Does it sound cool?"

"It doesn't sound very ladylike," said her mother.

"I'm a girl, not a lady," said Harper. "Ladies are old."

"I beg your pardon!" said Hannah.

"I'll leave you two to it," I said, managing meaningful words for the first time since being asked to pose nude in front of a sixteen-year-old artist.

"I'll call you," said Hannah. That sounded odd. She called me all the time, but never warned me she was going to do it.

"Sure," I said.

I left the house and walked down the sidewalk toward my car.

I felt like I'd just managed to avoid the jaws of an alligator.

Or something.

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