Meet My Imaginary Friends: Ulysses Fritz
Stone mason Ulysses Fritz has always admired the General whose name he bears. He's in his 60s now but as a young man he attended college in Gettysburg where he became fascinated by the Civil War and the roles his Great-grandfather Bartholomew and his great-uncles played in it. After graduation he stayed in Gettysburg giving battlefield tours, working as a guard in a museum, and tending bar. One night he notices a particularly lovely tourist. In this scene from The Bucktail Cap in the Trunk: Volume 3, he meets the woman who will be the love of his life.
When she looked back for the third time, Ulysses smiled at her and reached for a bottle of bourbon. He knew he wasn’t handsome like his brother was, and he’d never been much of a conversationalist—he spent too much time inside his own head. But he was tall and athletic and had the same deep-set, dark blue eyes that all the Fritz’s had. Between playing in a rock band and playing football, he’d attracted enough attention from girls that he wasn’t particularly shy around them/ Finally, she drained her drink, stood, and wove her way to the bar.
“Bourbon on the rocks?” he asked.
“How did you know?” Her voice was low and throaty. She had a full lower lip that he wanted to bite, and lazy, heavy-lidded cat’s eyes the color of whiskey.
“You look like bourbon on the rocks,” he said. “When you’ve tended bar as long as I have you get to know what people look like.”
“Yeah?” She cocked her head to the side. “What else do I look like?”
“You look like your name should be Slim,” he said suddenly realizing that with her long, silky hair, and those sultry eyes she reminded him of Lauren Bacall in one of his favorite movies, To Have and Have Not. He refreshed her drink, keeping his eyes on hers.
She gave him that husky laugh. “Thanks.” She lifted the glass to take a sip. “What’s your name?”
“Ulysses.” He raised the bottle in an offer to top off her drink but she shook her head. “What’s yours?”
She turned then looked back over her shoulder and said, “You can just call me Slim.”
He loved watching her walk away. He didn’t want her to walk away but he sure loved watching it.
He didn’t know when she left. The bar was busy and when he turned to look for her the whole table had been deserted. He finished out his shift, helped close up, and left through a side door to walk the few blocks to his studio apartment. The inn had a porch with a low railing that ran the length of it and a row of Early American style rocking chairs. As he rounded the building to the street he saw that one of the rocking chairs was occupied.
“Is your name really Ulysses?” she said from the shadows.
“Yep.” He put his hand on the railing, vaulted over, then sat back on it in front of her. “What’s yours?”
“Lilliana,” she said, brushing her hair back from her shoulders. “Lilliana Ellis.”
“That’s a nice name. Very lilting.” He had no idea where that word came from.
“Yes.” She smiled. “That’s what my mother thought, too.” She sighed and looked out at the trees, now illuminated by street lamps. “It really is pretty here. I think I’d like to come back sometime when there aren’t as many tourists.”
“Yeah? You should come in the fall. It’s beautiful here then. I’ll give you my own customized tour of the battlefields.”
“That sounds tempting.” She stood and straightened her skirt. He kept his hands folded in his lap, afraid that if he didn’t, they would do something for which he’d have to apologize.
“Well.” She stepped closer and then, seemingly in slow motion, she leaned forward and kissed him—a long, soft kiss.
“I can’t believe you did that,” he said when he caught his breath.
“‘I was just wondering if I’d like it,’” she quipped, then winked. “I saw that movie, too.”
She stepped down off the porch and walked away, taking his heart with her.