Mick brought his kid sister for a cone at Red's Tastee Freeze and they were standing in line waiting their turn when he noticed his high school classmate Lottie McHugh standing three people ahead of him with her kid brother. Mick hadn't seen Lottie since their high school graduation a few years earlier.
"Hey, Lottie!" He called.
She turned and immediately smiled, recognizing him. She waved happily. "Mickey!"
But it was her turn to order the ice cream so Lottie had to return her attention to the service window and assist her kid brother with the order. Mick watched with interest, struck by Lottie's form as she stood in the window with her hip hitched. She was wearing short jean cutoffs with flip flops and a halter top on this hot summer day. She looked more grown up than Mick remembered her. The line moved some as Lottie and her brother stepped to the delivery window to await their order. She turned and grinned at Mick again.
"Double cone for me!" She said. "It will probably drip like crazy though."
Mick laughed and nodded in agreement.
"Who's that girl?" Mick's sister Julie asked.
"Lottie, from high school," He replied.
"And this is my brother, Dewey," Lottie said.
"I'm Julie," Julie said.
"Just finished eighth grade at the Catholic School," Mick reported.
"Oh, Dewey just finished eighth grade too," Lottie said. "But at the middle school."
Mick and Julie reached the service window just as Lottie and Dewey got their cones. Julie ordered her raspberry and Mick went with a coke float with vanilla soft serve ice cream.
Lottie and her brother were licking their cones a few feet away from the delivery window when Mick and Julie went there to wait for their order.
"I haven't seen you around," Mick said.
"I joined the Navy," Lottie informed him.
Mick thought she was joking at first but then he saw her dog tags around her neck, though he tried not to stare at her breasts where the tags hung. "Wow," he said (meaning joining the Navy part, not her breasts part).
"I went to Blue County Community College for a while but it just seemed like an extension of high school and I realized I wanted to do something else," Lottie said. "I've been to boot camp and corpsmen school," she beamed. "I ship out for Japan in a few days. You won't see me back here for a good three years!"
"Wow," Mick said again, truly impressed. "Thanks for your service."
"Three years is a long time," Julie said with wide eyes as she began licking her raspberry cone the window girl handed her. "Are you going to miss your sister, Dewey?"
He shrugged, slightly embarrassed, but didn't say anything.
"He's shy," Lottie smiled. "Especially around pretty girls."
"Shut up, Lottie," Dewey mumbled with a red face.
"Julie doesn't bite," Mick joked, but he couldn't take his eyes off of Lottie, seeing her in a whole new light. "Japan!?" He said, impressed.
"Yeah," Lottie laughed.
"We should get together before you leave," Mick said.
Lottie laughed. "Really, Mick?" She teased. "You asking me out?"
"What's the point?" Dewey asked glumly. "She's leaving in a few days."
"Just to let her know how much we appreciate what she's doing," Mick explained.
"How 'bout The Bullpen Tavern?" Lottie suggested. "Tomorrow night? Eightish?"
"Sounds great!" Mick grinned. "See you then, Sailor!"
"Bye, Mick," Lottie said. "Nice to meet you, Julie."
"You too," Julie replied. "And you too, Dewey!"
But Lottie's kid brother sluffed off without saying anything.
"So, you like her?" Julie asked Mick as they walked to his car.
"I don't know her all that well," he admitted. "We were in the same class in school, that's all. We talked. Hung out with the same kids. Did the same stuff. She dated Bob Mathews most of the time."
"Are you going to tell Mallory you have a date tomorrow night?" Julie giggled.
"It's not a date," Mick said as they got in the car. "Just saying goodbye to her, that's all."
"Don't worry, I won't say anything to Mal!" Julie promised.
Mick wasn't sure if Mallory would care all that much either way anyway. The met last semester at Green College and they were dating, but not "exclusively" as Mallory phrased it.
"That just means she wants the freedom to sleep around," Mick's friend Jonsey explained.
The next night, Mick showered after dinner and put on a clean pair of jeans and a striped polo shirt. He combed out his hair and examined his beard in his bedroom mirror. Was it too long? Shabby looking? Should he have shaved it off?
"Don't worry, it covers your ugliness," Julie joked, sticking her head in the bedroom doorway to catch her brother running his fingers through his thick facial hair.
"You're probably right," Mick replied with a sigh. "But I suppose it's too late to do anything about it now." (He meant his beard, not his looks!).
"She's going to Japan, Mick," Julie reminded him, turning serious for a moment. "Don't do anything stupid."
"I know," he said. "I just think it's great she joined the Navy, that's all. I want to congratulate her and make sure she knows she's admired for her service."
"No one night stand," Julie warned.
"Jesus, Jules," Mick said, surprised that his thirteen year old sister was being so forward and insightful.
"It wouldn't be right," Julie told him. "You know that."
"I won't sleep with her," Mick groaned. "Okay?"
"Okay," Julie smiled. "So, go have a good time!"