I TRY TO JUST FOCUS on the road. However, burned into my mind is the photograph of me slipping off my panties. I'm facing the camera and the panties are the only thing I'm wearing. I can't bear the thought of the people I know seeing me in the nude. However, even more serious is that the photograph came with a demand for a lot of money. I must do something, but what can I do?
The only thing that I was able to think of was to contact a long time family friend. I'm headed to her house now, if I don't run off the road or crash into something. What will I say to her when I get there? What will she think of me? I can't even come up with a plan.
Despite my panic and my humiliation, I arrive at Dolly's house. I park in the drive, as Dolly has instructed me, and then check that the photograph is still in my purse. No, it hasn't disappeared by some magical stroke of luck and I'll wake up from the nightmare. I get out of my car and force myself, step by step to walk to the front door. I hesitate and then ring the bell.
Dolly answers the door and says, "Adrianna! You look as if you have just seen a ghost."
I tell Dolly, "I wish it were a ghost. However, it's really me and not a ghost."
Dolly motions me in and then I follow her into her dining room. Dolly says, "Let's start out by looking at the problem you told me about."
I open my purse and extract the eight by ten glossy photograph. It's just a standard photograph, but the effort to get it out of my purse feels like I'm lifting a very heavy weight. I finally get the photograph out and I sort of throw it to Dolly. I sit there, as embarrassed as I have ever been.
Dolly studies the photo for a bit and then says, "Relax, Adrianna. Most girls would kill to be able to take a photo like this."
I laugh wildly for a few seconds. I then get a grip on my emotions. I manage to blurt out, "Dolly, I just can't face the idea that people I know will see me nude, like that."
Dolly says, "From the lockers in the background, it looks like you were in a gym when they took the picture."
"I like to keep in shape. There's a ladies only gym in town but it has very little equipment. So, I signed up for the Main Street Gym. What you see in the background is the ladies' locker room at the gym."
"The photo isn't all that good. It obviously wasn't taken by a professional photographer. In fact, it would appear to maybe be something taken by a hidden camera where there's no chance to focus."
I can feel the blood rush to my face. "I would never pose for a nude photograph. I had no idea that I was having my picture taken. I was about to go to my workout, or maybe go into the shower after my workout. Worse yet, there are probably more nude photos. If the photo was taken before my workout, I would then have put on my workout gear. If it was after my workout, I would have come back out of the shower in the nude and then got dressed to drive home."
Dolly leans back and appears to think for a few moments. She then leans forward and asks me a very surprising question. Dolly asks me, "Adrianna, how tall are you?"
In my current mental state, the question shocks me. What does it matter how tall I am? However, since the answer is pretty obvious I say, "I'm five feet, eleven inches tall. Why?"
"A lot of boys don't like to date girls who are taller than they are. If you started out dating very tall boys, you probably dated older boys. You probably sort of jumped into the deep end of the dating pool."
I again feel myself blush. I gather myself and say, "Yes, the poor innocent young girl found herself in some very uncomfortable situations. In fact, one of them was so terribly uncomfortable, that I pretty much stopped dating afterward. When I had to have a date, I was able to get hooked up with a wimpy boy to whom one of my teachers would introduce me. The remaining dates I had back in school were pretty low calorie."
"As I recall, you were a model, back when you were in high school."
I laugh and say, "Yes, I was a clothing model for the local department store (I find myself emphasizing the word 'clothing.') The lady told me how good I looked and I think I sort of saw the model posing as revenge. I was maybe the prettiest girl in high school and the boys could look, but not touch. I think I saw it as teasing the boys, revenge for my very bad dating experience."
Dolly nods and says, "Pretty is good, tall not so good for a girl. However, you had one other, ah, social handicap."
I sigh and say, "Yes, I was the Valedictorian. Boys don't like to date smart girls. I wasn't clever enough to play dumb. If it hadn't been for my teachers, I would have had about the same number of dates as the founder lady in the park."
Dolly laughs and asks, "You mean the bronze statue?"
"You say that the nude photo came with a demand for money?"
I then show Dolly the printed demand.
Dolly says, "They do want a lot of money, don't they?"
"Yes, and it obviously won't be the only demand. I can't stand for nude pictures of me to be shown around town. However, I won't let the people with the nude photographs drain me financially. There's only one thing left for me to do, I'll have to sell everything and move somewhere far away."
Dolly pauses for a bit, then says, "Since you inherited your parent's holdings, the financial impact on the town would be very large. There might be another way to handle the problem."
"I don't see how. But, that's why I'm here."
"The people who took the nude photos are obviously criminals. Even if you move far away, the wrap up of your financial affairs would likely give them your new address. You could be in grave danger."
I'm suddenly shocked. I've been thinking in terms of just embarrassment and scandal. Now, it appears that I might be in real danger. I feel a cold chill settle over me. I then blurt out, "Dolly, what can I do?"
Dolly looks at me and says, "I know a lady who lives not all that far from here. Her ex-husband threatened her and she needed protection. She found a man who served as her bodyguard. The man is tall, strong and a Kung-Fu black belt. When the ex-husband tried to break into her house, the bodyguard beat him up so badly that the ex-husband will be a cripple for the rest of his life."
I shake my head no. I tell Dolly, "I don't think I can cope with a goon in my current state."
Dolly laughs and says, "The 'goon' we're discussing has a Master's degree in mathematics and he works as a computer programmer. He can work out of your home and actually do some things that might help your business ventures."
I find myself shocked to the core. I blurt out to Dolly, "I can't have a man like that in my house!"
"How about the people who took the nude photo or photos? What will you do if they come and break into your house?"
The full impact of my situation hits me. I'm very probably in real danger. The idea of having a large, strong bodyguard living in my house suddenly seems like something I can live with, given the circumstances I've found myself in. "Then you think that I need a bodyguard?"
"Yes, I think so. However, you may just find yourself in the deep end again."
I recoil from the idea. "I need a bodyguard, not a date."
"You said that boys don't like to date girls who are smarter than they are. This man just may be smarter than you are."
I try and fail to picture myself dealing with a very large, very strong, very smart man. I fail. My confusion must have shown in my face.
Dolly says, "You need a bodyguard. The man I have in mind is maybe the best possible choice for you. He can protect you and he's also a professional problem solver. He just may be able to come up with a solution to your problem."
"You mean get the nude photographs back?"
"That seems unlikely. Even if he were able to get one set of photos back, there might be others. If he obtained one set of photos, it would almost certainly trigger the release of the rest of the photos, if there are more photos or copies."
"But then how ...?"
Dolly smiles. "I don't know. However, the man I'm talking about is very smart. He may, or may not, figure a way out of your problem. I'll have him call you. By the way, the panties you were wearing in the picture were quite plain. You might consider upgrading."
"I certainly have no intention of letting this bodyguard person see me in panties, except in the photograph, of course."
Dolly laughs and says, "Adrianna, you just might change your mind, along the way."
The interview with Dolly is over and I leave and drive back home. As I drive I try to imagine what the bodyguard might be like and how I might interact with him. I'm afraid that I might not like him at all and then I'm stuck for a bodyguard. I'm also afraid that I might like him, maybe too much. If I do like him, then what will I do?
I get home without crashing the car and then go to bed, with my mind awhirl with thoughts that I can't quite form into usable shape.