Chapter 21 - A perfect job for Ruthie
January ended on an ominous note for both Mike and Ruthie.
Mike received an e-mail from his sister Colleen telling him that his
parents had held a garage sale and sold off about half of their
furniture. Even more disconcerting was the news that Mr. Sinclair had
given Mike’s sister all of his LP’s and instructed her to sell them on
the Internet. She found a collector that bought the entire collection,
along with the record player. Once the sale was final and the records
were shipped to the buyer, Mr. Sinclair told his daughter that she
needed to declare the sale as income in her own name and that he would
reimburse her if she had to pay any taxes.
Mike talked to Colleen on the phone about what was happening to his
parents. She was very worried, especially after disposing the LP’s. The
collection was one of their father’s most prized possessions and would
be irreplaceable, but he seemed very glad to be rid of it. At the end of
their conversation she commented:
“It’s pretty obvious Dad’s liquidating. He’s trying to get rid of
everything in the house that anybody could want. At the rate he’s going,
I wouldn’t put it past him to pawn the car.”
While Mike was worrying about his parents’ vanishing finances, it seemed
that both of Ruthie’s parents were determined to pressure her already
rattled nerves. During their usual Friday conversation at the end of
January, Ruthie’s mother relayed several pieces of bad news in a single
day: that a cousin in Sinaloa had been murdered and was found hanging
from a bridge, that her hours at work had been cut and she probably
would have to move to a one-room apartment, and that Gerardo’s baby had
a genetic problem and was in the hospital.
Worst of all, Ruthie’s younger cousin Alex disappeared for several days
and then showed up seriously beaten. Ruthie suspected the worst, that
Alex had been “jumped” into the gang he was hoping to join. Ruthie’s
mother doubted that, but admitted that Alex was getting into some
serious trouble and his parents were in total denial about it. Anyhow,
something was not well between Ruthie’s uncle and his wife, because he
was gone most of the time. Ruthie suspected her uncle’s absence must
have been part of the reason he seemed so detached from what was
happening to his youngest son.
The problems at home were wearing on Doña Lisette. She was less pleasant
to talk to than ever. Her reaction was what Ruthie expected: she assumed
that God was angry at her for some reason and it was up to her to figure
out what she had done wrong. She speculated over the phone that perhaps
her faith was being tested because the “end times” was approaching.
Ruthie rolled her eyes, but as always, held her tongue.
Nor was the re-surfacing of Ruthie’s father, Jake Burns, doing anything
to reduce her anxiety. He talked to her a couple of times and started
dropping hints that she needed to leave California and move to Nebraska.
On the surface he was trying to be practical, but Ruthie knew that he
had an ulterior motive. If he could get his daughter to return to his
house, he would have a free babysitter to look after Jake Jr. while he
went out with his new girlfriend. Oh yes…just what Ruthie needed, to go
to Lincoln and sit home on the weekends taking care of Debra’s kid.
By the end of January, Ruthie dreaded talking to either of her parents.
Each was totally screwed up and both were projecting their problems and
anxieties onto their daughter through guilt-tripping her. At times
Ruthie wished she could somehow force Jake and Lisette to get back
together so they make each other’s life miserable instead of making hers
miserable. More often she just wished they’d both vanish. She was very
resentful that life had made her the offspring of such a pair of idiots.
The ominous news from his parents’ house prompted Mike to treasure his
relationship with Ruthie more than ever. He was careful to make sure
that she was always happy with him, even if that meant leaving her alone
at times. As much as he would have liked her to be in his room
continuously, he tried not to pressure her to come over, knowing that
pressuring her to spend time with him would have the opposite result. He
understood that he needed to be careful not to smother her or take up
too much of her time… that she needed space and there were times she
needed to be by herself. That was the most valuable lesson that he
managed to carry away from his relationship with Lisa: that the moment
Ruthie felt obligated to spend time with him against her wishes; that
would be the beginning of the end of the relationship. She would have to
want to spend time with him. He was smart enough to know that.
Although she spent somewhat less time with him than she had the previous
semester, Ruthie still was with Mike a lot and continued to rely on him
for transportation, walking her back and forth to the library after
dark, and as a companion during most of her meals. He also remained the
only person with whom she really could have a conversation and who could
help keep her thoughts grounded in reality. Mike’s willingness to hear
Ruthie out was especially important any day she had talked to either of
her parents, because she suffered mood swings and depression after
hanging up. It was only because of Mike that Ruthie could keep her
anxiety attacks under control.
During the first month of the semester, Ruthie and Jen established their
routine in the room. The novelty of being naked around Jen wore off
within a couple of days; Ruthie was able to be naked in her side of the
room as much as she wanted and not have to worry about disapproving
stares or unpleasant comments. She felt very grateful to have a roommate
around whom she could be herself.
Jen’s habit of hanging out in the room wearing only a shirt helped
Ruthie feel at ease being totally nude. Jen’s attitude about nudity was
much more casual than Ruthie’s. Ruthie was a true nudist, determined to
be naked as much as possible, just for the sake of being naked. Even if
she was cold or there was risk involved, she still wanted to be naked.
For Jen the issue was simply a matter of comfort. She had no particular
desire to be outside in the nude, using a swimming suit did not bother
her, and she did wear her “knickers” during the day. At the beginning
Ruthie described some of her streaking adventures to her roommate. Jen
responded that she had never streaked just for the fun of it. Two years
before she once rode on her bicycle “starkers” as part of a
demonstration against global warming, but she was with a bunch of other
people and the protest only lasted a few minutes. She found Ruthie’s
fascination with having nude outdoor adventures very odd, but had the
courtesy not to criticize.
Most nights the two roommates had their “unwinding time” ritual. Ruthie
noticed that Jen always looking towards the left when she stood at the
window. Jen once explained that she was looking across the Pacific Ocean
towards her home in New Zealand. She was so much anticipating going
back. From what her roommate had told Ruthie about the country, she
could certainly understand why. From way Jen had described New Zealand,
it sounded like a true paradise compared to the crowded state of
During their “unwinding time” Ruthie never wore any clothing, even if she
was cold. Jen usually wore just her t-shirt. If it was warm enough
sometimes she stood at the window fully nude, which for Ruthie was a
treat. Jen always stood with her hands or elbows on the windowsill. She
leaned over and supported her weight with her arms.
As she sat on the bed just a few feet behind Jen, Ruthie’s eyes usually
were fixed on her roommate’s large bare bottom. She never tired of
looking at Jen’s attractive figure. She loved studying Jen’s butt
whenever she had her back turned, not just during “unwinding time”.
Jen always covered herself up with a blanket when she went to bed.
However, she was a restless sleeper that moved about a lot in the night.
Normally within an hour or so she had the covers wadded up and pushed to
the floor. Ruthie suspected that was why she normally wore the t-shirt
to sleep in, to avoid waking up cold in the middle of the night after
she uncovered herself.
The room was dimly lit when they slept, because Jen liked having a
nightlight near the door in case she needed to go to the bathroom. If
Ruthie woke up in the middle of the night, she could stare at her
roommate as much as she wanted in the faint illumination coming from the
nightlight. Often, if Jen was sleeping with her back towards Ruthie, the
freshman gently rubbed her clit and indulged in fantasy. There were
times she imagined herself fondling and kissing those bottom-cheeks. She
wanted to rub her face against Jen’s backside, to feel the smooth soft
skin of those lovely large mounds of flesh. There were times she
fantasized about Jen sitting in a chair and making Ruthie kneel in
front, instructing her to kiss the insides of her thick thighs and
then…slowly she would guide the freshman’s face closer and closer to her
“You be a good girl now, and make me cum…”
Ruthie rubbed herself faster and faster. Cum…oh yes…cum…cum…
She always felt very guilty afterwards. It was a good thing Mike was not
present to see what she was doing.
In spite of being a compatible roommate, Jen was not a gregarious
person. It was clear that she never would warm up to Ruthie, although
she always tried to treat her with respect. To some extent Jen indulged
the freshman by letting her talk, which took up some of her time. She
rightly saw Ruthie as a very vulnerable girl who had been traumatized by
the atrocious treatment she had received the previous semester from
Shannon. Even though Jen did not want Ruthie as a close friend, she did
feel that Ruthie deserved to be treated decently.
There were times, however, when the girl’s chatting about her major and
her barista job got on her roommate’s nerves. By the beginning of
February Jen was just starting to contemplate how she could get Ruthie
to talk less without hurting her feelings too badly. A nice option would
be to see if there was any way she could get her to fill up some spare
time in the afternoons and have her out of the room.
It turned out there was a possible solution. Jen was working as an
assistant for one of the art department instructors and knew that he was
looking for a student to pose for two of his classes: both of them
life-drawing courses for beginners. There happened to be a shortage of
models that semester because the Art Department had cut over-time and
health benefits at the beginning of January, and several of the models
working in the fall had quit to look for other jobs. That meant if
Ruthie wanted, she could earn some additional money working for the art
Jen brought up the modeling job to Ruthie over lunch. She correctly
assumed her roommate would be interested in any job that would actually
pay her to not wear any clothing. It turned out there would be no
conflict between Ruthie’s class schedule and the hours she would be
working in the art building. As soon as they were done eating, Jen
suggested going over to the art building and introducing Ruthie to the
art instructor. Ruthie agreed. Yes, she was very interested indeed. Jen
called the professor to make sure he was in his office and to give him
the good news:
“I think I found a model for you.”
“Great! For which class?”
“Both. I’m bringing her over right now.”
“Jen, you’re the best!”
Upon overhearing that exchange, Ruthie realized she had just committed
herself without knowing any details about her new job, not even how much
she would be earning.
Jen led Ruthie into the art building and introduced her to an
ordinary-looking man in his late 40s’. Ruthie noticed his eyes scanning
her body with an approving expression. He asked her some questions about
her experience with art, to which Ruthie admitted that she had no direct
experience at all, just a few miscellaneous details picked up from her
readings of ancient history and biblical studies. The professor then
asked her how she felt about her body and nudity. Ruthie’s heart pounded
when she responded that she enjoyed being naked and was used to not
wearing any clothing when alone at home.
“Well, this’ll be a bit different. You won’t be alone and you won’t be
at home. So you think you can handle it?”
“I don’t see why not. I’d think it’d be kinda fun.”
Ruthie’s prospective boss directed her to a large classroom with about
40 easels. There were very large windows around the room that overlooked
some tennis courts and a green space. There were no curtains on the
windows, so anyone modeling would be in plain sight of people in the
green space, especially at night. In the middle of the room there was a
raised wooden platform that was about 2 feet higher than the floor. The
professor pointed at it.
“This is the models’ platform…where you’ll be spending most of your time
working, at least for the next month. If the weather warms up in time, I
might ask you to pose outside. So you’re still sure you can handle it?”
“I don’t see why not.”
“One detail. We don’t provide robes. You’ll have to bring your own robe
“I don’t have a robe, but that’ll be OK.”
“You won’t have time to get dressed during breaks. The only thing that’s
practical is a robe.”
Ruthie’s heart still pounded.
“Is it required? To put on a robe?”
“No…it’s not required…you don’t have to cover up if you don’t want. It’s
just that most people do.”
“I’ll be fine. If I need a robe I can always get one later on.”
“OK…as long as you’re comfortable…as the model, that’s what matters;
that you stay within your comfort zone.”
Ruthie’s heart continued to pound, because she wanted to remain naked
during the breaks and now had the approval of the instructor. Yes…this
was gonna be fun!
Ruthie broke the news to Mike over dinner, that she would be starting
her new job with the art department the very next day. Mike was happy
for Ruthie; that she had landed a job that she would enjoy, but he also
was worried about what it could mean for their relationship. While it
was true that Ruthie’s hours of modeling would be during the afternoons,
when he also was working, it would mean that she would have less time to
study during the days, which would put her under more pressure in the
evenings and weekends to keep up with her coursework.
Ruthie showed up at the first art class wearing a loose dress and a pair
of tennis shoes. As always, she was not wearing any underwear. She
already had taken off her jacket and laid it on top of her backpack,
which she had set in on top of some shelves. She had brought a blanket
from the dorm to sit on and placed it on the model’s platform.
Ruthie leaned against the instructor’s podium while the students filed
into the class and set up at their easels. Most of the students were
Ruthie’s age and were evenly split between men and women. Ruthie looked
at the instructor, who nodded to let her know it was time to get
undressed. She kicked off her shoes and pulled the dress over her head,
tossing it on top of her backpack. Totally nude, she casually walked to
the model’s platform and stood quietly. Forty pairs of eyes were looking
at her. She was slightly nervous, but more than anything else she was
enjoying the thought of being naked in front of so many people.
“I’d like to introduce you to our new class model Ruthie. She will be
with us for the rest of the semester. Please show her your respect,
because we are very lucky to have her. Now, for our first session with
our new model, we will do a simple standing pose. Please pay attention
to how the light coming from the windows illuminates her body. I expect
you to incorporate natural shadow into your images.”
The professor turned to Ruthie and told her to stand on the platform.
After she stepped up, she felt very exposed and vulnerable, almost like
she was naked on a stage. She assumed a casual standing pose, one that
she was sure she could hold for 20 minutes. She would have to learn how
to stay motionless during more difficult poses, but that would come
For 20 minutes she stood quietly. Her eyes moved back and forth as she
glanced at the forty students who were staring at her intently. The
women were mostly indifferent, but a lot of the guys seemed excited to
have a real-live nude girl standing only a few feet in front of them.
The instructor walked around the room to check how the drawings were
progressing and to keep the male students focused on working instead of
When the break came, Ruthie walked over to the instructor’s podium to
have a glass of water. Had she been any other model, she would have put
on a robe before leaving the platform, but being the exhibitionist she
was, she remained naked. She drank some water and stretched her arms
over her head while the students changed their drawing papers.
The professor was not sure what to make of his new model’s total lack of
modesty. She was ignoring art class protocol by not using a robe when
she wasn’t posing, but it was obvious that she was comfortable with her
body, which was something the instructor appreciated. As long as she was
at ease with her nudity, he’d respect that and have no objections if she
wanted to remain uncovered throughout the breaks. Anyhow, her lack of
inhibitions would serve the class well later in the spring, when the
sessions would move outside so the students could practice drawing the
human figure in sunlight.
For the final part of her first modeling session Ruthie sat on the
towel, once again in a simple pose that would be easy to maintain for 20
minutes. Already the novelty of what she was doing was starting to wear
off, but hey…she was naked and she was getting paid for it. For Ruthie
it didn’t get much better than that.
The art instructor showed his model a sketchbook with a series of poses
that would be progressively more difficult as the semester progressed.
Towards the end of the course she would have to attempt to mimic frozen
movement such as a jump or a run. There also were poses that would be
very difficult for anyone with any modesty at all, which of course for
Ruthie was not a problem.
On the third day of her modeling, the instructor told Ruthie to get on
her elbows and knees, facing away from most of the students. The posture
forced her to lewdly expose herself, something that she loved doing. It
was a real rush to feel the cool air of the classroom blowing against
her vulva and anus, knowing that forty people were intently studying the
most intimate part of her body. Too bad it was only forty. She wished it
could have been the entire university…or better yet…the entire state of
California. Yes…she truly was an exhibitionist.
Although she really enjoyed what she was doing, Ruthie was surprised
that she did not make any new friends as a result of her modeling job.
It turned out that she did not care for any of the students in either
class. The majority of the people enrolled were freshmen and sophomores
that were taking the subject as an elective. Very few had any talent for
drawing: most of the works produced in the classes did not look like her
at all. It was obvious that some of the guys had enrolled just to have
the chance to see women without their clothes. At the beginning the
voyeurs stood at their easels ogling Ruthie, but as the month progressed
their interest in her waned and their drawings never got any better.
Most of the female students were sorority types that had thought drawing
would be easier than most other subjects. Although she realized it was
silly, Ruthie took it personally when, at the end of each class, she saw
the multitude of sketches that were poorly done and not flattering to
There were a few declared art majors among the group who produced much
better images than most of their flaky classmates. The artists were
serious about their training, but they looked at Ruthie in the detached
manner as a “subject”, not very different from a bowl of fruit or any
other inanimate object.
Ruthie had wondered about possibly making friends with some of the more
serious art majors, but personality issues, both hers and those of the
art students, got in the way. As always, Ruthie’s nervous behavior and
difficulty making small talk complicated her efforts to make new
friends. She could not talk about art because it really did not interest
her, while geology was not something the typical art major would want to
hear about. Besides, the artists tended to be so wrapped up in
themselves, that in comparison they made Jen look like the picture of
friendliness. They were a cliquish group that did things Ruthie did not
approve of, such as defacing their bodies with tattoos and piercings,
and using ecstasy and pot.
By the end of February Mike realized that his relationship with Ruthie
had not changed as much as he had feared it would a month earlier. Her
failure to make any new friends, along with her experiences with some of
the male art students, kept her emotionally tied to him.
Several guys enrolled in life-drawing tried to hit on Ruthie. However,
it was clear the only reason they were interested in her was because
they had seen her in the nude day after day and assumed that she was
“easy”. Even for someone as socially inept as Ruthie, it was obvious
they had no interest in getting to know her as a person. She rebuffed
them by telling the truth, that she had a boyfriend. When one guy was
overly insistent, she asked Mike to pick her up from class to show
everyone she was indeed off-limits. She took his arm and glanced at the
art student who was pressuring her. See? I told you I had a boyfriend…
Mike had to take a break from his parking job to get her, so he arrived
in his uniform and received a lot of hostile looks. Ruthie never
realized it, but having Parking Officer # 036 come into the building
finished off whatever chances she might have had connecting with someone
in the art department. Nearly all of the students enrolled in the two
courses had received numerous meter violation tickets from that hated
“Parking Nazi”. Now everyone knew the class model was his girlfriend.
Once again, even in the art department Ruthie Burns was an outsider. She
didn’t belong with the art crowd any more than she belonged with any
other group. She couldn’t relate to them. It seemed that, no matter
what, life always pushed her back into Mike’s arms. He always was there
for her…the only solid part of her existence that she could count on. He
was her companion, really the only person in all of Davenport who even
cared whether she lived or died.
During one of her counseling sessions Dr. Hartman pointed out:
“Remember, there’s a lot worse things to base a relationship on than the
need for companionship.”
At the end of February Doña Lisette changed apartments. She had to move
out of the relatively comfortable place she had shared with Ruthie over
the past six years because she no longer could afford the rent. The
place she moved to was a single room unit in a complex that was
considerably more run-down. She could not deal with the humiliation of
having her fellow church-goers assisting her and her brother still was
not speaking to her. That left only one person who could help her move:
Ruthie drafted Mike to help out. He drove his girlfriend to Salinas,
rented a van, and showed up at her mother’s place. Doña Lisette was not
very talkative, even though she was grateful that he had made himself
available to help her with her stuff. She packed boxes while Mike and
Ruthie exhausted themselves lugging cheap furniture down the steps and
loading it into the van. The young couple exchanged looks the first time
they saw her mother’s new apartment. Ruthie summed it up best by
“This totally sucks.”
They spent all afternoon exerting themselves, but finally, after four
trips in the van, they had all the furniture and boxes moved. Mike
returned the rental and showed up in his own car. Ruthie and her mother
thanked him by having dinner ready. They ate quietly. Mike could tell
that his girlfriend’s mother was depressed from being forced to let him
see what had happened to her.
As she ate her joyless dinner, Ruthie’s nervous eyes scanned the small
dank dwelling. She was angry that, after so many years of loyal service
to her employer, the only reward her mother had received was to be
bumped down from full-time to part-time status. The new hours meant not
only the loss of a third of her income, but also the cancellation of all
her benefits. The only consolation was that she hadn’t been laid
When they returned to Davenport, the two students walked to the
observatory that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. Ruthie badly wanted to be
held as she tried to make sense out of what had happened that afternoon.
She was very grateful to have her companion’s arms around her and his
body shielding her from the cold night breezes.
She pulled his hand to her lips and kissed it. I don’t know what you see
in me, Mike, she thought to herself. I’m a totally sucky girlfriend.
Her thoughts turned back to her mother. She mumbled: “So much for ‘el
“Yeah…I guess so…”
“You know…all she needs is an apartment. Just a fucking apartment. And
now she can’t even have that.”
Mike remained quiet. He was depressed, but his depression was changing
over to anger. He knew that an era had passed, a time that working hard
and being productive meant anything. His father had worked hard all his
life, only to lose his house and his business. Ruthie’s mother had
worked hard all her life, only to end up as a part-time employee living
in squalor. It seemed that no one got ahead by working hard anymore.
Across the US there were millions…tens of millions of Mr. Sinclairs and
Doña Lisettes…honest people pushed into the dirt by paid-off politicians
and sociopathic CEO’s…
So what does all that really mean? What kind of nation are we turning
Mike thoughts turned to his co-worker Sam Rayburn, with his lazy
temperament, his plot of land in the mountains, and the daily bucket of
coins that paid for his laid-back lifestyle.
That ain’t working, that’s the way you do it. Your money for nothing…
Sam was the one who had everything figured out. Everyone else that Mike
knew, himself included, had been played for fools.