At his request, I am hiding in the parking lot. Every time lights show on the road, I jump behind a tree or crouch beside one of the cold parked cars. I don’t really care whether I’m seen or not, but I do plan to emerge mysteriously when he drives up. Impress him with my discretion, my knowledge of the surreptitious. But the rain is ruining the effect. I’m beginning to get angry. Who does he think would see us? Or care? I consider going back to my room and making a sign to hold up at passing cars: “I AM WAITING TO SCREW MR. LUCAS, THE RESIDENT POET!”
My mascara is running into the pouches beneath my eyes. I can feel the thin mud of powder on my forehead and cheeks beginning to slide.
体育投注平台The lights from the dormitories and the dining hall glow on the hill. No shapes around them, only blackness, and the moonless dark on me and around me. Another car turns off the main road. I stand behind a tree until it disappears up the long driveway to the college. I forgot to ask what kind of car he drives.
The spy game palls. I huddle under the tree and wish myself back in bed with a book and an inexhaustible supply of cigarettes. The image of my cozy self in a soft puddle of smoky lamplight grieves me.
I could have picked a less paranoid professor. But would that professor have picked me? Fortunately, the resident poet feels duty bound to fondle the freshmen, and I’m the only dope so far who has been susceptible to his paunch and poetry. And he’s the only dope susceptible to me. Unless he chickens out and I’m left soaking all night. If he’s not here when the moon comes up, I decide, I’m going in.
Light from the road, turning. A puttering of syncopated pistons. An old Volkswagen gasping and shaking into the lot. The headlights beam in odd directions, and eyeglasses shine through the dim windshield. I slide out from under the tree and squelch suavely toward the car. His face, gray and anxious, dips a smile at me. I get in on the passenger side, bringing the wetness in with me. Slam the door. He wheels the car around and rips out of the lot, down the driveway, and onto the road without looking at me.
体育投注平台When I first met him, I thought he looked like Ulysses S. Grant. All that curly black hair and curly black beard, the thick pink lips and square forehead. The more I see of him, the truer the resemblance seems. The light from the street lamps is slashed by the rain and ripples over his face. The spreading veins across his cheeks, the odd pits in the skin of his nose, the watery blue eyes, the secret weakness of his chin. He crops his beard so that it juts, instead of sliding toward his Adam’s apple along with his chin. His worries are bunched in lumps all over his forehead. At a stoplight, he gives me a quick, constipated grin.
体育投注平台“Nobody saw you?” His face turns back to the street, but I can see his eyes sliding at me in jerks, waiting for my answer.
“Only the fire department and your wife’s mother.”
His chuckle is a long time coming. His pudgy knuckles are pale green in the moving light.
体育投注平台“Would you mind crouching down in your seat until we get out of town?”
体育投注平台His apologetic teeth. The rasp in my breath. I drop onto the floor and prop my chin on the seat. Try to keep my wet boots from touching my ass. There are strange drafts down here, whispering through the framework, jets of cold squirting me in the back and the hair.
体育投注平台He looks very large. His stodgy shoes pump and move over the pedals at the end of his reliable wool legs. The gray cloth swags over his belly, droops from his arms.
“Do you think I’m crazy?” he says.
His fat lips. The pleading eyes. He’d rather be home in bed with his soft wife and a bottle of beer. I tip my head so that he can see my smile in the dark beneath the dashboard.
体育投注平台“Of course, you’re a lunatic.”
He is pleased. It’s so important to be crazy if you’re a poet. He reaches into his breast pocket. “I got something for you.”
A package of little cigars.
“Don’t these bother you? Your asthma? I wasn’t going to smoke at all.” I have prepared to be vicious for two days.
体育投注平台“No. I don’t mind cigar smoke. I can smoke these myself. It’s just cigarettes that make me choke.”
体育投注平台In his class, we sit with all the windows open, the rain blowing in. We don’t take off our coats. He always wears the same suit. It looks as though he’s stored potatoes in the pockets for a few seasons. The same plaid flannel shirts over improbable layers of underwear, or maybe that softness is his flesh welling up beneath the cloth. The clashing plaid tie is always just enough askew to allow his wiry chest hair to peep through at the collar.
“Have you eaten dinner? I haven’t. How about a hamburger?”
“Great!” I chirp.
体育投注平台Throw a few volts into the smile, a few more than usual, actually, because of the dark beneath the dashboard. The car wheezes to a stop. He removes the key and looks around, his eyes reflecting light. Then he smiles down at me and slips out. He leans in for a moment before swinging the door closed.
“Keep hidden just a little while longer. A lot of the students come here.”
体育投注平台His anxious face is gone with a flash of spectacles. I lift my head above the level of the window and watch his broken-butt trot across the shining tar. The big neon mouth on the sign prepares to chomp down on a seductively plump olive with an obscenely oriented pimento. He’s left me at the dark end of the parking area. Am I really going to wallow and stroke and gurgle and sigh over this character? Yes. What dull stuff I get into for the sake of excitement. I can see him through the café window as he casts furtive glances at the ragtag collection of customers, muttering his order at the waitress so that no potential blackmailers or squealers can hear him ask for two coffees and two hamburgers and two orders of French fries.
体育投注平台By the time he gets back to the car, I’m giggling. He hands me the lidded coffees. I balance them above the seat as he pulls out.
体育投注平台“I’m sorry about all this. You can get up now.”
体育投注平台My ass is numb and my legs ache. The chill has penetrated to my kidneys and set off a reaction. I pull myself onto the seat and open the coffee. Rest the cups on the gyrating dash. Rip open the hot, greasy paper around the food.
“I hope you like onions.”
“What did you tell your wife?”
体育投注平台Hand him a hamburger, smear a capsule of ketchup on the potatoes. He chomps and chews. “A weekend conference with a publisher.”