NakedGirl: The Story of Dareen
by donnylaja

Part 34

The boys and girls milled around in front of the high school on this September day, a little breezy coolness left over from this morning's thunderstorm but otherwise typical weather for Atlanta in the fall.  Boys: low-slung baggy jeans, loose open sneakers, sweatshirts, occasional T-shirts.  Girls: low-rise jeans, some skirts, T-shirts or sweatshirts, sneakers, the occasional sandals.  A sprinkling of white kids, everyone else Latino or African-American.

Elly and Lourdes, sitting in the front of Elly's yellow New Beetle, watched the thick crowd of high schoolers.  Finally Elly said, "Well let's go."  She got out and started walking to the front entrance.  Then turned to see Lourdes still in the car.  "Come on."

"No puedo," Lourdes said, slouched way down in the seat.  "I can't."

Elly opened the car door but Lourdes pulled it closed again.  "I know it's tough, Lourdes, but you have to finish high school.  And this isn't your old school."  It was true.  In her hand Elly had the paperwork she'd assembled showing that Lourdes now lived at Sherry's address, which was in a different district.  This new school wasn't Beverly Hills High, but it was better than that old hellhole.  Being that she was 18, there should be no problem.  Except for...

"Come on," Elly said.  Feeling a little miserable at being so stern; she was still distracted and pissed off at what they had done to Jamal on TV.  She pulled the car door open.  Lourdes cowered in the seat.  "Come on," Elly said again, a little more gently.

Like a chipmunk the Latina teenager poked her head up and looked around.  Then one all but bare foot gingerly descended to the pavement, followed by the other.  She slowly hoisted herself up.  With a bookbag slung over her shoulder, she walked with Elly, a study in contrasts with Elly in her long jeans pants with long-sleeved denim jacket.  As the teenage high schoolers saw the skimpily clad girl walking to the entrance, all motion and all talking stopped.  They watched her from in front and then from behind, the delicate shoulder blades and narrow waist, all bare, the natural sway of her hips expressed in the up-and-down see-saw of each side of the top of her low-rise mini-shorts.  The boys felt the stirring in their crotches.  Nothing could be heard except the slapping of the girl's flip-flops against her bare soles, then the metallic clang as Elly pushed open the glass door and the two disappeared inside.

* * *

"I've been suspended, Dar."  Jamal was almost apologetic, though not quite.  "Ms. Hom told us the orders were not to answer calls from the press, but I just couldn't let it go on.  I couldn't let you get trashed like that every day."

The mood of Dareen's soft, pitiful gaze was interrupted by Billy Gibbs.  "You're a danged fool!"  They were standing in Sherry's living room.  "You got yourself fired, just about.  No way they're going to let you back, not with those CYA bureaucrats in charge.  You'll have to look for new work.  And what did you expect on that show?"

"Billy," Dareen said, "take it easy."

"That guy chews up his guests, it's no secret," Billy said.  He caught his breath.  "I'm saying this because I care about you, Jamal.  And to bring up your great great uncle!  I hate to say it, but your TV friend has got a point.  You should get over that.  That was 80 years ago.  It's a different country now.  When you threw THAT in, I knew you were sunk!"

Jamal looked into Dareen's big, brown eyes.  "I did it for you, Dar.  I'd do ANYTHING for you.  I just wanted to set the record straight."

"Well you didn't," Billy said, "and now you're out of a job."  He went to the kitchen.  They heard the refrigerator door open and then the pshhht of a can of beer being opened, one of a seemingly endless supply of Olympias that Sherry kept there for her him.  Then the scraping of a chair along the floor as he sat down and sipped.

Jamal shook his head.  "Why do they keep trashing you?  Why do they want to make you out to be in bed with terrorists?  Not that..." he quickly said.

"Bad choice of words," Dareen said, smiling.

"It's GOT to be the government.  Cobb is getting instructions from them, everyone knows they do that all the time."

"You're paranoid.  They just want to make money," Billy said from the kitchen.  "Everything is War on Terror these days.  Bad girls are interesting.  Good girls aren't."

"There's no purpose in making NakedGirl out to be bad, unless they're racists.  Which they are."

"Maybe Uncle Sam wants the terrorists to think NakedGirl is bad.  Maybe they want to lure them to her, thinking she'd be on their side.  Ever think of that?"  Billy came out again, beer in hand.  "Do you doubt for one minute that the U.S. government has a lot of smart people who have been working on this?  Maybe they're really using NakedGirl in their fight against terror."

"More like a fight for oil profits," Jamal said.

"There's a war on terror going on, and after what this country went through it doesn't matter one smidgen if some guys happen to make money off it.  What I'm saying is, there's a lot going on that we don't know about.  A lot of secret stuff is going on.  Stuff that HAS to be secret."

"I wish they'd tell Dareen about them.  It's the least they can do if they're going to use her as bait," Jamal said.

Billy said, "Look, she has super powers.  At least when she's naked."  Which made Dareen's face turn hot.  "She can take care of herself."

Jamal looked at her.  "Dar, I die inside when I hear anything bad said about you.  You need to talk to someone to set the record straight.  A reporter.  Stop this..."  He paused.  "Don't be offended, but stop this modest quiet Muslim woman crap.  Fight for yourself."  He paused again.  "I'm sure your folks don't like to watch what's on TV either."

Dareen thought of a verse from the Bible.  "Mary saw and heard all this, and kept quiet with her own counsel."  Or something like that.  She was feeling very much like Mary, being a spectator while these men were talking about her, and about her in her naked state.  But Jamal had a point.  Elly had been saying this too.  "I'll think about it," she said cryptically.

* * *

The pebbly roof was gritty under her bare feet, gritty under her knees, it would have been unbearable for an ordinary girl.  Not that an ordinary girl would be out naked at 10 at night, crouching behind the parapet on the roof of an apartment building.  It had been a while since she'd gone out like this, and Dareen's nudity reminded her of her recent testing in front of Colonel Mike and his team.  She really hated being naked, she decided.  Allah couldn't want this for her, not indefinitely.  She kept telling herself that this was only a temporary situation, and that soon she could help her country while wearing clothes, or better yet, her government would find a way to let someone else have these powers.

She was also remarking to herself how jaded and snarky reporters were.  That was the impression she got, listening with her super hearing to the people across the street in front of her old apartment, talking on their cell phones.  It was hard to hear everything, what with the noise of cars going by.  But --

"Tits of steel!" a young man in a very nice suit said.  "Do you think if you put a crashing building onto her tits, they would sag?"

"This is like so yesterday," a very thin middle-aged lady in a red dress said.  "Why doesn't she just go into dancing at Janie's?  She's got a great bod.  Where exactly is she coming from, anyway?"

"Yeah, right, if she's Muslim, I'm John Dillinger's dick.  It's just religious crap.  Everyone hides behind it.  She just wants her jollies, that's all."

"Why do you keep having me case this place?  She hasn't been here in weeks...  No, I can't... I've tried talking to the super, he's a Spanish guy and says he doesn't understand me... No, I don't know what country.  I wouldn't know one from the other anyway.  He's got great dreds, though."

"I heard Playboy signed her to do a spread.  Yeah, I know... good word, spread... no I don't have my source yet.  But isn't it so obvious that that's the next step?"

Dareen crouched there for ten, twenty minutes.  One by one the reporters gradually left.  Apparently they had been assigned to do a nightly check-in on the odd chance that the apartment was open.  She was about to get up and fly back to Sherry's when another walked up to the building entrance.

He was white, looked about late 20's, with black hair and a trim beard, normal height, thin, actually a good-looking face.  He had a black jacket, black tie, black pants, white shirt.  He rang the bell for Dareen's apartment and waited.  Expecting no answer, he turned to the street and got out his cell phone.

"Well I did it," he said.  "Rebecca?  This is Hil.  Tell him I went.  No answer.  I really think we should leave her alone.  She gets enough abuse from Cobb.  And I have other stories to cover.  Okay."

That was all that Dareen needed to hear.  She braced herself, then prostrated herself on the pebbles for a quick prayer.  Feeling her nipples scrape against the roughness, she said, "O Allah, guide me, give me strength, help me control my shame, it is in Your service."  Then she hopped upright, breasts bobbing, brushed dirt from her nipples and her knees, lifted a leg and curled her toes around the top of the parapet, and sprang.

She landed in front of him as he was about to turn the corner.  "Can I talk to you?  Can you keep a secret?"  The young man stood there open mouthed at NakedGirl, standing huge-breasted and narrow-waisted in front of him.  After two long seconds, he slowly nodded.  Then he said, "Whooaaa . . ." as he was carried off under one arm.  His cell phone fell to the sidewalk as the two of them flew up and over the buildings into the brisk night.

* * *

His name was Hillel Drezdner and he was Assistant City Editor for the Atlanta Jewish Times.  He waited patiently on Sherry's couch and saw Dareen emerge from the bathroom, adjusting the blouse under her sweatshirt, fully clothed except for being barefoot.  "You weren't born here either?" she said.

"No," Hillel said, his blue eyes earnest, his speech formal and polite.  "My family is from Israel.  They moved here when I was eight years old."  He had seen her body but he was trying to get over the fact that this woman -- her face -- was gorgeous.

"Funny, my family moved here too," Dareen said.  She combed her hair and wrapped it around behind her.  "I suppose I'm your big scoop."

Elly came in with some tea and toast.  To Hillel she said, "You've got to keep some things to yourself."

Hillel looked at Dareen.  Elly was getting an uneasy feeling.  There was this electricity thing going on between them.  He said, "I'm sure you'll tell me enough to make a story."

"No, this is all true," Elly said.

"I'm sorry, that's newspaper paper talk.  I mean to make an article."  He saw the toast in front of him.  "Excuse me."  Out of his jacket pocket he took a folded-up black thing.  Placing it on his head they saw it was one of those little hats Jewish men sometimes wear.  Searching their minds they remembered the word "yarmulke".  Hillel closed his eyes, extended his hands, and said a quick prayer.  Then in one motion he took the yarumulke off, folded it up and put it in his pocket.

After a couple of bites he said, "I am honored that you chose me to tell your story to.  Where do you want to start... 'NakedGirl'?"


"Oh yes.  I know.  Dareen Alkasian?"

"Alkaras."  Hillel took out a little pad.

"I don't know where to begin," Dareen said.

"Let's start at the beginning then," Hillel said.  "The first we heard of 'NakedGirl' was in July."

And Dareen started telling him about that night with her car stalled out near Alpharetta and the rain and the lightning...

She told him about her normal life, her job at the State Library...

Then about her powers, a brief mention of how it had changed her body shape, then how she gets the sense that she is needed somewhere.

At length Hillel ran out of paper and just listened, realizing that these things were so remarkable that he didn't need notes to remember them.  From time to time Elly filled in a few details, chiming in from the terrace having a cigarette in the night air.

"So you don't want to be naked?"

Dareen nodded, looking at Elly.

Hillel shook his head.  "That must be agony."  He paused.  "I come from a conservative Jewish family -- actually, they're orthodox, I'm conservative -- so I know about that idea with women should always be covered up."

Coming in from the terrace, having snuffed her cigarette, Elly said, "Is it true what they say about the hole in the sheet?"

Hillel smiled.  "No, no, no."

Dareen said, "What?"

"I heard that orthodox Jews can't see their spouses naked, so when they have sex he puts his dick in through a hole in a sheet."

Dareen closed her eyes and shook her head, snorting.  "That's such an obvious myth, El.  I can't believe you believe that."  Then she tucked her feet under and slouched back more on the couch, on the opposite end from Hillel.

Elly shrugged, then sipped her tea.  It was past midnight now and it was just the three of them.  Sherry was out on an ambulance shift.  Billy had gone home after that earlier talk, as had Jamal.  "Shit," she said suddenly, "where's Lourdes?"

"I don't know," Dareen said.  Then she said quickly to Hillel, "Don't write that I don't like being naked.  Lourdes looks up to me.  I mean to NakedGirl."  They had told him about Lourdes too, but being that a nearly naked teenager walking around Atlanta would be so easy to spot, they decided that merely disguising her name wouldn't be enough.  So Hillel suggested leaving out any mention of her altoghether.

"I have to say something about how you feel about being nude.  Otherwise they'll keep on assuming that you're an exhibitionist."

Dareen thought for a moment.  "Say that I've accepted it and there's nothing wrong with being naked."  She bit her lip.  In fact she couldn't help but feel, deep down, that there very definitely was something wrong about it.

The phone rang.  Elly went into the kitchen to get it.

"Jesus where the fuck are you!" she suddenly said.  "I can't hear you!  What??  I'll be right there.  Don't move!"

She burst into the room.  "You won't believe this.  Lourdes was dancing at Janie's!"

Hillel was open-mouthed.  Dareen said, "What?  Where?"

"A topless dancing place out near Kirkley.  She said she finished her first night and now she needs a ride home."

"Is she all right?"

"She says so, but who the hell knows?"

The three of them were up like a shot and in a minute were out the door.