She sat on the cooler and drank cold beers in front of him. She had him sitting against a tree, his hands tied behind his back. A pit bull snarled within mauling distance.
A gun, 9 mm, sat at her feet. This is what she hit him with, knocking him out so she could bring him here. They started arguing the minute he came to, about 3 hours ago.
“For the last time, I’m not going to write your son’s paper!”
“Look, all you have to do is go home and write a 12-page paper on quantum physics, then come back here and give it to Brock. We’ll even come to you if that’s easier for you.”
“But I don’t know anything about quantum physics. I’m an English major.”
“Neither does Brock and he’s studying math. He’s got this really strange professor who thinks that everyone should know how to write. If Brocky doesn’t pass this class, he can kiss that swimming scholarship goodbye!”
“Why me? 18,000 students at this college and you pick me.”
“We grabbed the first English major we saw. English majors like to write. You’re our man.”
“You seem to know a lot about majors. What made you get into kidnapping?”
“Desperation. Charley, Brock’s father, lost his job at the piston plant a year ago. Hasn’t been easy on us. If Brock loses his scholarship, we won’t be able to cover tuition so he can stay in school, let alone swim. He can swim like a seal. This could get him through college, maybe open some doors for him. All we’ve ever known is getting by. And lately, we don’t even do that. Want a beer?
“I’m a little tied up right now, but thanks.”
“Look, go home and research quantum physics and whip something up. I’ll give you some of Brock’s notes.”
“Who is this professor? I mean, math majors don’t want to write papers. They’re supposed to make money after college while we go into fast food. That’s how the world works.”
“The guy’s some sort of writer. He just teaches for the benefits. Name’s Frederick Virag or something like that.”
“The mystery writer?”
“Honey, reading’s not my bag. I think the last book I read was Goodnight Moon in 6th grade.”
“Yeah, what was I thinking? Maybe if you read books you might know how to write. Then you could write that paper, and I could be in my dorm watching SportsCenter instead of here with my hands tied behind my back trying to reason with a mother of a brain dead swimmer who thinks he’s Michael Phelps.”
“So my boy can’t write term papers. Can you solve this trig problem he brought home?” She jumps off the cooler and holds a piece of paper in front of him. He takes a good long look at it. It looks like something in a foreign language, Greek maybe.
“Interesting. I guess English majors aren’t required to go outside their specialty. Then why should Brocky know how to write?”
“What can I say? Higher education is flawed.”
“You sure I can’t get you a beer?”
“How’m I gonna drink it?”
“I can untie you if you promise not to run.”
Watching her guzzle beers for the last three hours wasn’t easy. He thought about accepting her offer the first time, but he didn’t want to give her the satisfaction. She’s holding him hostage for Chrissake!
“Yeah, sure, untie me and give me a beer.”
“Wait a minute! Are you 21?”
“Just turned 22. I’m graduating this year.”
She started to untie him. Take away the smell of beer on her breath, she’s not a bad looking woman. Cute smile, good figure, very few varicose veins on her legs. Take it easy, Liam.
She pops the cap and hands him a Miller Lite. “What are your plans after school’s finished?”
“Right now I work part-time at Sherman’s Sporting Goods. I figure I’ll work there, do some writing on the side and try to get stories published in magazines. My ultimate goal, every writer’s goal, is to get published in The New Yorker.”
“You’re going to drive way out to New York?”
This woman’s priceless. “No, I’ll email them. But that’s a pipe dream. I just want to pass my finals and get done with college. Then I’ll worry about getting published.”
She sat back down on the cooler and crossed her legs. She was wearing a short skirt. He could see her white underwear. He thought of his Uncle Colin who was always getting into interesting situations with strange women. He’d give anything to trade weird experiences with him right now. He wondered if Brock’s mother was planning to kill him.
“It sounds to me like you don’t have much of a plan. Sure is an awful lot of money to have spent on a college education when all you want to do is work at a sporting goods store. What do your parents think?”
“My parents are old. They had me when Mom was almost 50. They eat dinner at 3 and go to bed at 5. They say I keep them up all night writing papers. I think they’ll be happy to see me go.”
“I thought you said you live in a dorm and watch SportsCenter?”
“Another pipe dream. I can’t afford to live on campus. I commute.”
“Well, if you say yes to writing the paper, you can be on your way. I’m sure your parents are wondering where you are.”
She switched legs. Yep, definitely white underwear. She has a tattoo of a red rose above her right ankle. She’s turning him on. Stop it, Liam! Her poor husband is out of work. What’s wrong with you?
“Okay, I’ll write it.”
“Really? Just like that? What made you change your mind?”
“I haven’t done anything crazy in a long time. What the hell, I’m almost out of here.”
“Whew, that’s a relief! For a minute there I thought I was going to have to cheat on Charley.”
Illustrated by Joyce Sajovie