#34: Visiting Julie

With Krysta unsure whether or not Whitley was mad at her and Whitley unsure whom she was angry with, the ninety minute 5:00 AM drive to the Kellsburg airport was a quiet one. Whitley listened to her early-90s hip hop Pandora station, and Krysta exchanged texts with Lexie Cheer who planned to pick her up from the Santa Barbara Airport. With the Kellsburg Airport exit in sight, Krysta took an all-in-one photo of her carry-on, plane ticket, and cleavage for Instagram. Pleased with the shot, she applied a Lo-Fi filter and added a caption.

8:00 AM flight for SoCal. Warmer beaches and sunnier skies await. #roadgig #travel

Though her breast took up the bottom quarter of the picture, the shot was not as much meant to tantalize as drum up buzz. Yesterday, Lexie Cheer had posted a picture of Krysta for woman-crush Wednesday (#wcw), later following it up with a beach photo, its caption glorifying the still-warm Fall temperature. While their Best Tits Forum threads exploded with wild speculation, on their respective social media, Lexie and Krysta remained mum on the topic.

Krysta put her phone away as Whitley pulled into the terminal. "Thank you for the ride. I’m sure you would prefer to sleep in on a morning you don't have strength conditioning with the team."

"Whatever. No big deal."

Krysta narrowed her eyes at Whitley. "Are you mad at your sister or me? It would help if you told me so I could decide what to say next."

"I'm not mad at you."

"So may I assume Kiana is another one of those ongoing problems you have opted never to resolve?"

"You know, Krysta, your aggressive problem-solving is off-putting."

"And your passive-aggression is not?"

Whitley took a deep breath and exhaled. "I wasn't mad at you. Why are you bringing this up now?"

"Because we only have about a minute left of this ride, and you will have a week to get over this conversation. Sure, if you were a spiteful monster, you could make me late for my flight on purpose, but we have already arrived at the terminal. Also, you only ate a half-box of NutriGrain bars on your way out, so I know you are in a hurry."

Whitley pulled into to the unloading zone and slammed on the brakes. "So what the hell do you want to know?"

Krysta opened her door. "I want you to explain the beef between you and your sister."

Whitley unloaded Krysta's suitcase from the back of her SUV, setting it on the curb. "The 'beef' is the last ten years of my relationship with her has consisted of conversations like this one." Whitley chuckled. "You two might get along."

"It could happen."

Whitley climbed back into the car and rolled down the window. "Safe travels, Titty Bang Bang," she said before driving away. She stopped at the Kellsburg John Hardy's where she enjoyed a triple stack of pancakes, corned beef hash, two sides of scrambled eggs, and coffee. After paying for her meal, the waitress returned her change but lingered nearby.

"Was that not enough cash?" Whitley asked.

"You'll have to forgive me, but I think I read about you in the paper. Are you the volleyball coach at Northshore U?"

"Assistant volleyball coach."

"My younger sister graduated from there. Go Royals!"

"Did she play volleyball?"

"No, but she remembers you from a video she saw online. She got all excited when she read the tallest woman in the world—"

"Just North America."

"—was going to be coaching volleyball at Northshore U."

"It's amazing what a tall person can accomplish when they put their mind to it."

The waitress laughed. "I was even more impressed you almost played for Team USA. I hope you can bring NU sports some good fortune for a change. Thanks for dropping in. Good luck!"

Whitley appreciated the waitress bringing up Whitley’s coaching before her height, though lately, she was no more proud of the team than of her stature. In the two games so far—both losses—the team proved to be as mediocre as the tapes had suggested. When Coach Richter delivered the 'despite the outcome, you should be proud of yourselves' speech following the second loss, Whitley nearly lost it. She held it together until the two could speak privately.

"Coach Richter, they need a fire put under them."

"I want the girls to play their best and have fun."

"This is hardly their best, and losing isn't fun."

"Thank you, Coach Valentine. That will do."

The upcoming invitational tournament would give them the opportunity to creep back up to a .500 record or, more likely, drop to zero and six.

Opening Instagram, Whitley found she'd gotten two followers since the previous night, putting her at 240. Besides Krysta and Alicia, Whitley followed a handful of former volleyball teammates, Durrenburg Volleyball, Northshore University Athletics, Koga, Elena Delle Donne, and her sister, who had 2256 followers. Whitley figured at least a chunk of those numbers were her own fans hoping she'd make an appearance on her sister's page.

Scrolling back to the top of the feed, a new selfie from Alicia appeared. She wore a pink corset and flashed a peace sign in a living room too chic to be theirs. Where the hell is she?

In response, Whitley’s phone buzzed with a text from Alicia.

On your way back, stop by Julie Ravner's. I'm already here. I'll send you the address.

Whitley recognized the name of Krysta's friend and photographer. She was wary, given Alicia's plan to make her an Instagram star in thirty days. She also noted the photo had been posted minutes after Krysta's scheduled flight departure. Whitley received the address to a condominium in Northshore Heights. Krysta had described Julie as having 'more money than she knows what to do with' and 'way too much time on her hands.'"

Maybe she wants a roommate, she thought as she left the diner.

The Northshore Heights condos at the outer edge of downtown stretched twenty floors up and boasted an enclosed European-style courtyard. Taking the elevator to the seventeenth floor, Whitley followed the sounds of Alicia's voice to the second door on her right, which was cracked open. She knocked twice before stepping into the foyer of a spacious two-level condo.

"Take your shoes off please," a voice shouted from another room. As Whitley did so, she heard someone approach from the kitchen which who turned out to be Alicia, still corseted.

"Why do you even have that thing on?" Whitley said, gesturing at Alicia's corset.

"It goes with the couch. Isn't this place bomb?"

Vivid abstract paintings boldly contrasted the geometrically textured gray walls. Colorful tapestries lay draped over the white deco furniture. Whitley scowled. "It looks like someone gave up halfway through their transition from yuppie to hipster."

"Come in here and meet Julie," Alicia said, taking Whitley by the wrist. Whitley had to duck at the last second to miss walking face-first into a Mickey Mouse clock hanging above the entryway to the kitchen, where she found a (relatively) tall, willowy young woman with a round face and short, dark, black hair extracting a tray of roasted carrots from the oven.

"She's here!" Alicia shouted. "Whitley, Julie. Julie—"

"Jesus!" Julie cried, nearly dropping her tray at the sight of the towering woman ducking to avoid the overhead lights.

Whitley raised a finger. "It's actually pronounced 'Whitley.'"

Julie set her tray down, yanked off her potholders and walked up to Whitley, her mouth hanging open. "This is the one you want me to photograph?" Julie said to a gleeful Alicia. Julie circled Whitley, her eyes traveling up and down Whitley's frame. "Alicia, you wasted a favor. I would do this for free."

"You owe her a favor?" Whitley said.

"Alicia got me a gig doing official photography for Coastside Comic Con. Probably the best photo gig I have right now." Julie stepped back and framed Whitley with her hands. "Don't take this the wrong way, but I want to take a lot of pictures of you."

"I'm taking it the wrong way."

"Ugh, I what did I just say?" Julie grabbed her camera off the cluttered dining room table and pointed it at Whitley, who held up a hand to block the lens. Julie shoved Whitley's hand aside and snapped a quick photo of her irritated subject. Turning away, she studied the image she'd captured. "Wow, look at Giant Miss Attitude. Oh yeah, I'm gonna have fun with you."

"What do you think you're going to do with that picture?" Whitley said.

"I don't' know, maybe make it my new business card," Julie said, crossing to the other side of the kitchen. "Relax, it's just a test shot, jeez."

"Sorry, I had a crap enough morning getting up at the crack of dawn to take Krysta to the airport and dealing with her in the car. Then I got recognized by the waitress at the Kellsburg John Hardy's."

Alicia did a double-take. "Wait, someone recognized you all the way in Kellsburg?"

"She read the newspaper article last month, but apparently her sister remembered me from that news report from high school. It's annoying, but it's happened before." Whitley stopped talking as she noticed Alicia had both fists clenched in front of her mouth. Before Whitley could ask why Alicia let out a shrieking squee.

"Alicia!" Whitley shouted, hands over her ears. "Seriously, what the hell?"

"Oh my God! OH. MY. GOD. I have it. I totally have it!"

"Have what?"

"You're famous! You were in the newspaper. You're on the internet!"

"You've lost your damned mind."

"No, that's it! How many views does that video of you spiking that girl unconscious have?"

"Around 68k."

"What about that one that was just a montage of you screaming?"


"And that high school interview?"

"Around 200k last I checked. Oh God, am I obsessed with myself? Maybe I do belong on social media..."

Her excitement in full force, Alicia ran up to Whitley and grabbed her by the shoulders."Whitley, I have followers because I'm a cute blonde buff bodybuilder that makes awesome costumes, does photo shoots, and travels around appearing at Cons. Krysta is a sexy Asian nerd that shows off her K-cup boobs. But you don't even have to do anything. You're already a celebrity!"

"So, does your inviting me here have something to do with Jane Lane over there?"

Julie smiled, not looking up from her camera. "Daria ref? Solid. I'm flattered."

"Remember how I was saying we needed something big for your Instagram? Alicia pointed with both hands at Julie. "You are going to do a photoshoot with this gal here."

"And now that I've seen you," Julie said, "this shoot is definitely happening."

However unenthusiastic Whitley was about the idea, she had lived with Alicia long enough to know she was past being able to talk her out of it. She skipped 'disbelief' and 'denial' and jumped straight to 'bargaining.' "Okay, fine. I'll do it on one condition."

"Whatcha got?"

"One of these nights while Krysta is out of town, you and I are gonna get hang out and get stupid baked."

Alicia considered the request for three-tenths of a second. "Can we watch anime?"

"I guess s—"


"Awesome," Julie said. "Now get going,"

"Why do I have to leave?" Alicia whined.

"Because she's your project there," Julie said, pointing at Alicia's phone, before holding up her camera, "And my project here. So scram. We're gonna have a planning session."

Alicia snorted. "Fine. I get to pick the one for Instagram."

"Of course. Now go home and lift weights or something. Your protein window is probably closing."

"That's not even how it works," Alicia said, unfastening her corset as she headed for the door. "Have fun, you two!" The door closed, leaving Whitley and Julie sitting in the kitchen. Whitley crossed over to the window and watched as Alicia jogged across the street. Julie stepped out into the living room.

"So, what happens now?" Whitley said as Julie returned with a wooden snuff box.

"First of all, screw Alicia's favor. As my model, I'm paying you $300 for a two-hour photo session."

Whitley kept her composure. "Ok."

"Second and third," Julie said, opening the box and extracting a mason jar packed with weed. "We get 'stupid baked' and brainstorm a photo shoot."

Whitley bit her lip with anticipation. "I already like you best."