Realizations The Autobiography
of Julian Lee / COPYRIGHT
2009 JULIAN LEE
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I Meet a Female Sex Shark
I was 17, in the 11th grade, and I had just glimpsed her standing outside of a Political Science class chatting with some others. I was struck by her right away. A few days later I saw her in the library and got a closer sighting. She was sitting at a table with someone opposite, chatting with them. She seemed like a serious student, yet she was light, gay and feminine. On getting a closer look at her, I was smitten. I sat strategically closer. Finally while seeing her at one table length's distance, in profile talking to another, my heart was in my throat.
The attraction was immediate and uncanny. It was all about her face. Some kind of genetic resonance. Or karmic conditioning. "That" was "mine." Or once had been. It was a Viking look. Large-ish blue eyes. Reddish hair. Ivory skin. Nordic bones that could have been Scottish or Irish. The possibility of freckles though she had few. A strong nose but graceful, not overly strong. A certain "wisdom" look, at least in my mind. She was wearing what was common for the young women of Roosevelt High back then: A stretchy body-fitting feminine top, perhaps with a little frilly collar, that gave out her upper contours, then mannish, sloppish corduroy pants that couldn't obscure the fact that she was a woman. The casual look served to make her more approachable. Though I considered her looks to be in the "exotic beauty" category, for me, she had this perceptible awkwardness about her that added to my impression "I could talk to her, I could know her." Years later talking to an old classmate I had asked her if she remembered her. She answered: "Yes, I remember she slouched." All the Saint Augustine's girls were taught by the nuns to walk upright and dignified.
The fact that she seemed smart, yet cheerful and one who easily smiled and laughed, and especially the fact she seemed vaguely within my range -- not such a great beauty that she was unattainable -- had an overwhelming effect on me.
Now, "attaining" for me back then meant "talking to her, knowing her, having her association." I was innocent of women. I had kissed a girl. And that was epic and in a sense unrepeatable. And yes, I had a private lust problem. But when it came to actual contact with females I was as if virginal. I was still living largely in my heart rather than the lower points, and my attraction to females was one of emotion, mind, and aesthetics. In fact the more I adored a female the further away I liked to keep animal thoughts. Not to besmirch her with such thought! A cultured man wants a satvic woman to project rarefied ideals onto. Like a field of fresh fallen snow without any tracks or marks on it. (And for us meathead males, even a semblance or the impression of such, will do. After all the whole world is an artifice, like a canvas background on a stage. Faith and notions are all. Please offer us an "impression" or possibility to entertain. And no, tattoos don't help with this.)
Yet I didn't know how to talk to young women, especially if I was sharply attracted to one. Only way I'd managed to talk to girls thus far was in a few rare cases where I'd become comfortable friends with one or two, these being young ladies who were not intimidating to me or too far over my head.
This was another matter. I learned from somebody that her name was Sue, Sue Searles. When I saw her this time in the library I felt hot prickles all over me, flushed. How in blazes could I talk to her? Was it even possible? What would I say? I may have tried a vague hello at that time, in the library.
The next day, or perhaps it was 2 days later, I was in the "changing classes" line. When the bell would ring the classrooms would disgorge themselves and the students would make two orderly lines to each side of the hall. These became like moving human rings at hallway terminus points. Students moving out of "Room 101" would all go to one side of the hall, students on approach would take the other. It was a white thing of keeping order and there was no rule demanding this, we youth just did it. It turned out that Sue Searles was exiting the class I was coming to: Political Science. I saw her in profile as she came out the door in line with others, the sun from the classroom's high rising windows within still hitting her head and hair. Quietly and privately I decided to sneak a glance at her as she was set to pass me to my left, thinking I was unseen in the line. I was hungry for another glimpse of that face. To my surprise she was gazing straight at me. She locked her eyes on mine with a hypnotic steadiness, like some mystic sphynx, and passed by. I was all hot prickles again, heart beating fast.
"Did that just happen?" I wondered.
Yes, it did. Did she like me too? How? My great looks? (I regarded myself as homely.) Really the look was exactly like a big cat fixes its eyes on prey. But I couldn't consciously comprehend this at that moment.
I ruminated about how I could initiate a conversation with her. These things seemed impossible to me. Somehow I got her phone number. It was probably in the phone book. It is possible that I had asked about her to some of my more comfortable female friends who seemed to know her, such as the twins Joan and Judy. It's even possible that they may have mentioned me to her, "Our friend Curt was asking about you." It turned out they lived close to each other.
However it happened, one afternoon I found myself talking to her on the phone. I said "This is Curtis Mickunas. We met in the library." She seemed to know who I was. Trying to control a tightening feeling in my chest, I said: "I was wondering if I could take you out on a date sometime."
I believed that this was a thing, what one does. Well, it was indeed a thing, and was done, in those times even though our introduction had been scant. To my great surprise she said: "Sure. How would you like to come over to my house this Tuesday night?"
Just like that. I was dumbfounded. Of course I said yes and she gave me her address. It was easy to walk there; right in my stomping grounds, the Cottage Grove area close to Roosevelt High. When I arrived that evening around 7 pm I entered into a strange experience that I've never repeated since. Though she did not know me at all she treated me very fondly. "Are you hungry?" she asked. "Would you like me to make you dinner?"
She set to making me a meal, a breakfast-dinner which I found charming beyond belief. Scrambled eggs and sausage patties. All the while she had a pregnant Mona Lisa contentment, as if blissed out, like a mother who's just gotten her beloved child back to her cottage after a separation. I recall she even brought me crumpets and jam. Or it could have been those crunchy sourdough English Muffins. And black tea. With cream and sugar. My own mother had never treated me this attentively at the table. As she delivered these various things she often leaned down close to me. She even touched me a bit around my shoulders. Blood rushed to my head. I couldn't think.
I was at this point without any references and in a confused state. Inner conflict was definitely growing in me as I sat at the head of the table, seemingly already married to my Heart's Desire. She did not make conversation in any substantial way, and my attempts at conversation -- hoping to get to know her -- gave me little result. Yet she was affectionate and warm. Her mother seemed to be around. At least I caught a glimpse of her. There was also a brother or half-brother who I also glimpsed moving through the living room into his room. They seemed to be leaving her alone to feed this stranger.
After I had eaten she said "Would you like to go to my room?" This represented new hope to me. Certainly there we might have better conversation. Perhaps she would then be more free to talk, not being right out in the family living room and kitchen. My heart brightened. Yet there was a certain unease about this affectionate breakfast in which she treated me like a new wife fond of her new husband in the first week of marriage.
Her room was just around the corner. It was not a large house. I went in and she shut the door. There was the smell of incense. Also perfume she was wearing with a fruity-musky aspect. Then she went out for a bit and left me in there. I sat on a little wooden chair that was associated with a desk. There were a few books, and girly things on shelves along the wall. The room was very spare, as if she had not lived there long. It turned out that she had come from Chicago that year, from her father's, to be with her mother and half brothers. Her mother was a short-haired, mousy figure. I recall one book title prominently on her shelf. It was "The Female Eunuch" by Germain Greer.
She came back in, lit some candles, and switched off the lights. She put an album on her little record player. It was Santana, the album Caravanserai. "Here, let's sit on the floor." She led me off of the little wooden chair and bid me sit down on her cool linoleum floor. Then she sat down also, knee to knee, face to face, seeming very pleased. Yes, she was literally touching her knees to mine. At this point I was really without references, in a state of confusion, and very alert. I was starting to feel upset. I didn't even know her. There was a strong feeling of unreality.
I kept trying to make conversation and ask her questions about herself. She made only token answers, disinterested in sharing much of her mind. Yet she seemed so happy to be with me.
Far-away alarm bells were ringing in the heavenly portions of my mind. They were distant, like many jingles afar, but I was absolutely uneasy. I had in me a set of inner laws, and none of this was fitting into my sense of laws. For example, I believed sex was for marriage, but I was open to being tempted, especially if I really liked a girl I supposed. Yet truly knowing her, having a mental closeness, would be the only proper platform for being tempted. I believed in relationship, and that was what I craved. I wanted to know her mind, goals, worries, history, feelings -- much more than I wanted to hear "Stone Flower" on the stereo while smelling her so close. There was a cart-before-the-horse going on here and it didn't compute.
My heart was calculating at super-speed and coming up with: "This isn't real."
As my heart kept getting that calculation, it kept feeling heavier.
Now knee-to-knee with me and me smelling all her fruity musk in dim light, she said: "Let me rub your shoulders..."
At this point my mind locked on the music for mental comfort. I always notice music, with high-resolution notice. It was a very sophisticated choice, that album. I had not heard it. Since that time the song "Stone Flower" is one of my favorite things by Santana. If you listen to that album, you will comprehend that it was calculated by her -- along with the wifely dinner, candlelight and smells -- to create an exotic, romantic mood in her room.
From there she became more aggressive. I was confused the whole time how to act. I was not sexually aroused. But I didn't want to reject her. She made this move, and that move. She picked up my hand and put it places. I tried to go along. But my heart was breaking because I couldn't cope with the prospect "this is meaningless." The whole situation said to me "She's not really interested in me." Finally she dragged me onto her bed. Feeling desperate I said "But I love you Sue!"
I'm leaving out now what may be too graphic. I tried to comply with her.
Then at a certain point she asked me: "Did you c---?"
I said "No."
She became still as a startled cat. Under her breath she then uttered:
"I think you really do love me."
And with that her whole demeanor changed. She was flat, impassive. She got up, sort of shaking everything off, and it was like nothing had just happened. She opened the door. It was time for me to go.
It took a long time for me to absorb and process Sue Searles. In a way she marred my heart. But one day about 10 years later it all clicked and I saw her clearly. I was sitting at my night job at a typesetting studio in Des Moines. It was around 3 a.m. and my family was back sleeping in our home on Washington Avenue, a black section of town at this point but one with lovely old houses. Suddenly after not thinking of her for many years she came forcefully into my mind. I began ruminating about Sue Searles then a lightbulb went off in my head: "You USED me!" And "You hurt me." And there was a little feeling there of "Damn you!" It was a revelation.
That morning after my 30 minute walk home I walked into our screen covered porch as dawn was breaking. The paperboy had delivered the newspaper, which was lying on the floor. Passing over it I looked down. I was startled to see a familiar face above the fold. It was Sue Searles, glamorous now in her college photo. A header above the photo said "Des Moines Girl Murdered in Houston."
It was to be years before police finally found the killer. It was Coral Eugene Watts, a black serial killer who, according to the numbers in his own statements, may be America's worst serial killer. Sue Searles was the first body to be recovered, buried in a lot across from her Houston apartment building. He led police there. She had been working for an advertising agency and was coming home to her apartment late after a company party. He held her head in the water in a plant vase beside her apartment until she drowned.
Coral Eugene Watts had had a sort of demonic impulse since his youth -- to kill people. He seemed to be hopelessly egged on in his calling even by his dreams. He killed women, of varied races. He never robbed them. Never sexually assaulted them. He didn't know any of them. Over and over again, when asked "Why did you do it?" by investigators, his answer was the same:
"I saw in her eyes that she was evil."
Top: This photo of a young Melanie Griffith bears a resemblance to Sue in high school when I met her. Except she was prettier than this, with glamorous Bette Davis eyes. Bottom: An actual photo of Searles from a documentary about serial killer Coral Eugene Watts. She is glammed up in this college graduation photo, the lipstick maxed, her eyebrows missing. Hers was the first body they unearthed.