Naked in Boots
It was easy for Rockwell Haley to notice Caitie Wolman as he came through the airport security gate – she was screaming, yelling and waving as if she was meeting a rock star – or perhaps Sylvester Stallone.
"Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!" She shouted.
Rocky laughed as he approached his longtime friend and she jumped into his arms for a hug.
"Hello, Sailor!" Caitie grinned.
Rocky was wearing his Dress Blues Cracker Jacks underneath the standard Navy pea coat and Caitie nearly knocked his dixie cap off his neatly trimmed head with her embrace.
"So, I guess you're a Sailor for life now, huh?" Caitie asked once they disengaged from the hug.
"Probably," he admitted. "Otherwise, I wouldn't have reenlisted."
"It's great to see you!" She smiled, taking him by his hand. "Do you have luggage?"
"My sea bag," Rocky revealed, although he had a knapsack slung over his shoulder.
They headed for the baggage claim area.
"You have two of those now," Caitie observed, pointing to the double red chevrons on the left sleeve of the Sailor's pea coat. "Last time it was only one."
"Second Class now," Rocky confirmed. "In a few years, I'll be eligible for first."
"And what does that insignia mean again?" She asked, pointing to the globe of the earth with four lightning bolts flashing from it as well as a circular orbit around it."
"Mass Communications Specialist," Rocky said. "I went in as a Photographer's Mate but they recently combined that with Draftsman, Journalist and Lithographer to come up with Mass Communications Specialist."
"I remember getting letters from you with PH3 on it," Caitie said.
"Photographer Third Class," Rocky acknowledged. "Now I'm a MC2! Mass Communications Second Class."
"You took great pictures in high school," Caitie recalled. "Our unofficial official photographer."
"Working at Hoffman Photography was a great job too," Rocky said. "But it's going to be all digital soon. Processing film is going to be a lost art. I love making glossy prints."
He grabbed his sea bag off the conveyor belt and he walked with Caitie toward the exit to head for the parking garage.
"So what exactly is it you do in the Navy these days?" She asked.
"Well, I spent four years on the aircraft carrier LINCOLN and now I'm on shore duty with the Public Affairs Office in San Diego."
"That sounds like tough duty," she laughed.
A blast of cold New England winter air nearly knocked Rocky off his feet when they stepped outside. "Geez," he yelped. "It was eighty when I left San Diego!"
They hurried to her car. Rocky threw his luggage in her backseat and Caitie fired the engine to life to get the heat going.
"Suddenly I miss those hot days on the LINCOLN flight deck taking photos in the middle of the Persian Gulf!" Rocky laughed.
"What else did you do?"
"Worked in the AV Room and the photo lab," he said. "I'm pretty good with chemicals, image composition, and background. In San Diego I'm doing a lot of portraits for board packages and other PR stuff."
Caitie drove them from the garage, paying for the parking at the exit gate and then heading for the highway and the trip home to Hillsboro.
"And you!" Rocky grinned. "How's your first year of teaching going?"
"I think I'm getting the hang of it," Caitie grinned. "First graders sure are interesting little people!"
"I guess our lives are taking different paths," Rocky observed.
"Well, it has been more than four years since high school, Rocky," she reminded him.
"It seems weird that I've been all over the world and you're still in Hillsboro though," he remarked.
"I like Hillsboro," Caitie smiled happily.
"I wanted to leave home since I was fourteen," Rocky admitted. "I don't even like coming back to visit."
"Not even to see me?" She fake pouted.
"Maybe that's the only reason," he grinned. "Wow, sure is a lot of snow around here," Rocky said, staring out the window at the white New England countryside.
"Yeah, we had a near blizzard a couple of days ago," Caitie replied. "We got to start school Christmas vacation a few days early!"
"And you're all settled in at your new condo?"
"Can you believe it!?" Caitie grinned. "I'm an actual home owner at twenty-three, just a few months out of college!"
"So, I guess you're staying put in Hillsboro," Rocky commented.
"What, you want me to go back to San Diego with you?" She teased.
"Thanks for coming to get me."
"You're welcome!" She smiled. "Otherwise you wouldn't have come!"
"And this is where I'm always going to find you," Rocky realized.
"Probably," she agreed. "I can't think of a reason to leave."
"I couldn't think of a reason to stay," Rocky countered.
"So, you brought your camera equipment, right?" Caitie asked.
"Of course," Rocky said. "I don't go anywhere without it. Never know when a Pulitzer Prize moment might present itself!"
"I was wondering if you'd do me a favor," Caitie requested.
"Sure," Rocky beamed. "Anything for you!"
"Would you take some portraits of me?" She asked hopefully.
"I'd be delighted," Rocky replied.
"And maybe a few….nudes," she sheepishly added.
Rocky threw her a look of amusement. "Really?"
"Do you think that's brazen of me?" she wondered.
"Not at all," he replied. "Is there a reason?"
"You mean a guy?" She smirked. "Maybe I'm just looking for a crazy liberating adventure!"
"And you want me to be a part of it?"
"Why would I want to get naked in front of a total stranger?" She countered. "I'd be more relaxed with you."
"We'd be recording history," Rocky said. "That's what photographs are, really. Moments in time captured forever for prosperity."
"So fifty years from now I can smile at the image of the now me and remember how I looked?"
"Something like that," Rocky agreed.
"I don't want to be embarrassed about who I am," Caitie reasoned. "Without sounding too corny, it's all about accepting myself. Through pictures"
"Therapy of sorts, perhaps?" Rocky asked.
"You're the one who needs that," Caitie countered. "But when push comes to shove you just have to relax and go with it," Caitie decided.
"Maybe you're just rebelling," Rocky challenged.
"So, you'll do it?" She wanted to know.
"Merry Christmas," Rocky said.
"Don't tell anybody though," Caitie requested. "I don't want to get a reputation, especially as a first grade teacher."
"You've never done this before, have you?" he asked.
"No." She threw him a glance. "But I'm guessing you have."
"It's not hard to seduce women when you have a camera," Rocky admitted.
"They consider you an artist," she said sarcastically.
"I've never taken nudies of a friend before though," Rocky clarified.
"I'm sure you've learned how to be comfortable around a naked body."
"Is that presumptuous of me?" He grinned. "To consider myself an artist with the lens?"
"I thought you'd be flattered that I'm willing to flout convention with you," She said.
"Isn't that what our entire friendship has been all about?" Rocky asked. "Bonding over silly and stupid stuff nobody else bothered with?"
"I don't want it to end," Caitie admitted.
"So, me taking nude photographs of you is just part of the natural evolution of our friendship?" He wanted to know.
"It can be our pact," she decided.
"Our bond," Rocky agreed.
They looked at each other and smiled. "Come over at one o'clock tomorrow," Caitie requested. "We'll bond then."