I don’t think she looked around in a while. When I walked in I couldn’t help notice several of the pictures on the walls were cockeyed. Not level. One in the living room-that seventies looking Buddha thing she got at the schlock market in Taos several years back, when she was honored with her lifetime achievement award. Another in the bedroom- that cheesy Monet she loved so much, mounted on that weird mirrored background. How could she not see it was askew?  When you walked into the room the mirror part reflected the light from the opposite window and made the room sparkle. Although at the moment the shades were still drawn.

That Monet was stained pretty yellow too from all her smoking in bed.

But she must not have noticed, or if she did, didn’t care. The general mood of the place was cockeyed.  Although nearly one o’clock, she was lounging in bed, surrounded by her ashtray and newspapers and dirty plates with food stuff. She was so busy going at it on her iPad, she hardly budged when I walked in.

“It’s past one o’clock Julia, are you getting up? It’s beautiful outside.”

She looked up as if just noticing I was there. “I am up Niles, I’m busy,” she hinted a smile (to placate me?) and returned to the screen. “There’s a lot going on right now. I can’t get off yet.”

I started to clean up around her. I grabbed some plates and she motioned me to get away. “You don’t need to do that, I’ll just be a minute. But seriously. How concerned are you about explosions here, on our soil, in the future?”

“What explosions Julia?”

“Like the one that just happened in Russia? How prepared do you think this town really is for such an event? It can happen here ya know.” She spoke dreamily. “Did you watch the dash cams?”

She didn’t really want an answer. I resumed cleaning up. What else was there to do? She’d be on to something else shortly no doubt.

“And that Mindy McCready going and offing herself. Is that a surprise? I saw that one coming. And they talk about the mentally dangerous. If anyone shouldn’t a had a gun it’s that one.”

“Right I hear ya.”


I walked over to the window and pulled up the blinds and sunshine bounced off the Monet. She let out a low groan and put a hand over her eyes. Quite theatrical really.

“Alright already!”

I walked back to the bed and just couldn’t resist straightening that Monet. “We’ve got to go Julia. We have to be downtown in an hour. That Jonathan is meeting us for a drink. His campaign is in a frenzy, and he really needs your support.”

“Oh that one. Why don’t we just write him a check?”

“We’ve written a check. Several actually.” Her lack of attention to detail nowadays was reliable. Her lack of concern for anything outside these four walls consistent.  “He’s more interested in you taking a public stand on his behalf at the board meeting. Your endorsement will go a long way for him ya know.”

When I started working for Julia it wasn’t like this. I mean she wouldn’t spend all day in bed on the computer and certainly wasn’t reclusive or shy. On the contrary, she was sure-footed and involved and it was all I could do to keep up with her! A real stunner too, charmed anyone that came along. Lately though it took an awful lot of cajoling to get her to fulfill the few obligations she still had. Once she was out of the house and in front of people she did great. It was the getting her out of the house though, this room, that took the doing.

I went from the most sought after personal assistant in the city to its most glamorous baby sitter.

”Julia there’s no time to shower and I turned on the light in the walk-in so you can pick your outfit. Derek’ll be along with the car when you’re ready.”

“God Niles, we have forty-five minutes til we have to leave, stop having a hissy fit.”

Gotye began to blast from her speakers as her eyes glazed over. Do you know what I mean by glazed over? As in not paying one iota of attention to the situation at hand? Her hands moved on the keyboard.

The torch song from Les Miserable started blaring. That ringtone had been now forever.

”Where’s my phone Niles?”

She looked under the newspapers, moved the blankets, and looked at me, annoyed. I retrieved the phone from the nightstand and handed it to her before the vibration nearly knocked it to the floor.

“This is Julia,” she answered. She eyed me for any cues she might need. “No Trevor we’re on our way downtown to meet with that Jonathan, you know that guy running for senate?” I shook my head yes. “Afterwards is fine I think, hold on.”

She handed me the phone.

I took care of Trevor.

“Julia we have to get ready.”

She held up a hand to silence me, her attention back in the virtual world. She tried to get back into it, but couldn’t. She put down the iPad and looked up at me, surrendering. She got out of bed and walked to the vanity, bending close to the mirror to examine her face, wiping her eyes, running her hands through her hair.

“Niles, I can’t go out looking like this.”

“Looking like what Julia? Sure you can.”

“Looking like this. I mean I used to be beautiful.”

“Julia, you’re still beautiful.”

She turned and stared at me long, the look only wistful.

“I mean on the outside Niles.”

“Julia, the light’s on in the walk-in.”

“I’m gonna have to shower Niles, I have to check my phone.”

“There’s no time Julia, we have to get downtown.”

“We don’t have to go see that Jonathan, do we Niles? Can’t you just call him? Tell him we’ll write another check. I used to be beautiful Niles, remember?”


16 thoughts on “BEAUTIFUL OUTSIDE

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