MisgivingsbyAlex the Cat©
Another semester began. Students walked to and fro along the campus grounds. Laughter and revelry filled the autumn morning air. Groups of young men and women sat in various spots on the grass to discuss which professors and what classes they had for the new school year.
Inside the administration building a line of tired and irritated young undergrads awaited their turn to sign up for classes before the registration closed.
"You don't understand. I have to take Kelman's Creative Writing Class." The young blonde stomped to make her point.
The older brown haired woman sitting at the table behind the computer screen pushed the glasses up her nose for the umpteenth time. "Miss Stuart, you don't seem to understand me. The class is full. That means it's closed. Students are no longer being accepted, and that means you are not taking that class this semester."
"But I'm a junior. I should be in that class." She said loudly.
"Miss Stuart, either you choose another elective or you leave the line. There are dozens behind you waiting. Now, if you'd like, you can check back here around 2pm before registration closes. If it so happens that another student decides to drop the class, then you have the chance to get in."
Brianna screamed her frustration through clenched teeth. She pounded her way past the line and down the hall muttering under her breath the incompetence of school policies and the like. As she turned the corner, still in her tirade, she accidentally bumped into a tall figure. "Oh, excuse me I wasn't paying...attention." Emerald green eyes locked onto sapphire blue, and the silence between them became deafening.
After a few moments the raven-haired woman bent down to retrieve Brianna's papers.
"Thank you. I'm sorry I bumped into you."
From down the hall her cousin, who was also her roommate, called out to her. "Brianna." The redhead waved a hand frantically in the air trying to get her attention. Long curly hair
Bri turned around holding up a hand to gesture for her cousin to hold on a second, and then she looked at the nametag on the brown janitorial shirt. "Marty is your name?"
"Bri, come on, we're going to be late." Her cousin yelled as she stared after her and the stranger.
She looked up into the bluest eyes and saw a playful spark behind them. "Thanks again Marty." She then walked off to meet up with her loud roommate.
The figure feigned returning to the repair of the electrical wires for the emergency exit lights. But from her peripheral vision she watched the strawberry blonde interact with her roommate.
"Hey Tif? You've already been here a year. Can you tell me anything about the person I was talking to?"
"That's the janitor. What kind of question is that? And you say you were talking to her?" Tiffany answered.
"Duh, I know she's a janitor. I mean does anyone know her. She didn't say a word to me. Is she deaf? Or mute?"
"No one speaks to her. I've been told she's not the brightest crayon in the box. Frank told me she makes animal noises when people get near her or when they try asking her something."
"I don't believe it."
"Fine, then don't. But I'm telling you what I know. Why are you asking about her?"
"Well, I don't know. I bumped in to her and apologized, and I did try saying hello but she didn't respond. She just stared. It's kind of weird."
"Sounds freaky to me. Come on, I have to show you the local hangout before your orientation seminar."
Another gulp of coffee was drunk before small hands rubbed tired sea green eyes. The well-worn desk was littered with books and notes, waded up balls of paper and a half eaten turkey club Subway sandwich. The computer screen showed an energetic Tigger bouncing along but that was not how the small woman sitting there felt. The words on the textbook page began to fade for her under the lamplight.
"Okay Bri," Tiffany called out as she entered the room. "It's been over a month and you have yet to go out. So tonight you and I are going to meet Frank and his friends at that one club that everyone's been talking about."
Brianna looked up from the British literature text. "I've got studying to do."
"Oh come on Bri, you live your life inside your studies. You need to learn to relax and have fun. Maybe even get yourself a freak for some weekly booty calls. You know getting sex regularly does wonders to the mind. Plus, you have the whole weekend. It's Friday night. You're not backing out on me this time." Tiffany said emphatically as she took out an outfit from the closet.
Bri buried her reddened face in the book. "Sex is not the answer to everything."
"Okay, never mind. I don't want to have that debate again." She shook her head at her party girl cousin.
The music was booming off the walls and could easily be heard if one was standing out front.
The women ordered their drinks from the bar and began looking around. The dimness of the room and the flashing strobe lights did not provide much of a view to pick out a face in particular, since all one could see were the masses of bodies gyrating on the dance floor.
"Bri, this place is cool." She took of sip of her Amaretto Stone Sour. "Oh, look, there's Frank. Whew, I was concerned we'd be standing here half the night searching. Glad he's coming towards us."
"Oh great," Bri muttered to herself.
After an hour of being bored by her cousin's boyfriend and his haughty arrogance, she wondered how she would get out of the situation. It didn't help that his best friend Derek literally wouldn't keep his hands to himself. Yeah, he seemed like a nice guy, but she just wasn't interested in his advances. She was exhausted with having to keep her guard up and constantly redirect his roaming hands back to himself. Suddenly an idea came to her mind. "Where's the bathroom?" Brianna asked.
"The bartender told me it's on the other side of the dance floor down that way." Tiffany pointed. "You want me to go with you?"
"No, I'll be fine." Bri walked off with a sigh of relief. At least I'll be able to breathe comfortably for a few minutes. While in the stall, she noticed how quiet the bathroom had become. Not thinking much of it, she decided to take her time and enjoy the moment of peaceful silence, if that was at all possible with the bass of the music vibrating against the walls. She stepped up to the sink to wash her hands, and suddenly the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Looking into the mirror, she saw an inebriated man wearing a white and black suit standing at the closed doorway.
"Hi there beautiful. I've been watching you. You sure are a pretty thing. How about you and me go somewhere and get to know each other?"
"No. I'm not interested." She stated firmly.
He walked up to her. "Aw come on, I'll make it worthwhile." He then grabbed her.
"Let go of me." She pushed to make him release her arm.
Suddenly from behind him another voice said, "The young lady already informed you she wasn't interested."
They both turned to see a tall dark figure with piercing blue eyes.
"Go the fuck away, you bitch, or do you want me to show you what a real man is like." He spat out.
In one fluid step, she grabbed his arm at the wrist and twisted it up behind his back. She grabbed a handful of hair and slammed his face up against the wall, breaking his nose and knocking him half unconscious. Blood dripped down his chin and onto the white jacket. "What part of 'no' from a young woman do you not understand?"
Brianna placed a gentle hand on the tall woman's upper arm. Blue and green eyes looked into each other's soul. The tall woman then quickly walked out.
Bri followed but lost her as they cut through the dance floor. In the parking lot she looked around wondering where her savior went. Just as she was about to give up, she noticed a shadow of someone leaning up against the wall of the building past the lamppost.
Brianna stood inches away drinking in with her eyes the style of this mysterious woman who wore black jeans and black leather Grinders boots. An olive green un-tucked button down shirt and a black worn leather biker's jacket completed her ensemble. She leant against the wall with thumbs hooked into her front pockets.
"Hi. Why'd you run out like that?" Brianna stated. "I wanted to say thank you."
The figure didn't say anything.
"You're the janitor right? Um... Marty? At least that's the name I've seen on your work shirt."
"Hey, I know you can talk. I heard you in the bathroom. And I know you can hear me too."
Blazing sapphire eyes looked at her. "You don't want to be seen with me."
"Because... I... I'm below your kind. I'm nothing but a lowly janitor, and a big dyke on top of that, and... you don't want your pretty and blonde reputation to get tainted with someone like me. Go away. Go find yourself a prince." She turned and walked away.
Brianna went after her and managed to bring her to a halt. "Wait a minute. First of all, I don't scare easily. And you definitely are not going to scare me off. Second, what do you mean you're below my kind? You look human to me and human is my kind." She grabbed the stranger's large hand in her own, and they looked at each other again. With a smirk, Bri said, "Come on." The small woman pulled her down the street and eventually into a booth at Denny's.
A middle-aged waitress walked up to take their order. "Evening. What can I get the two of you?"
"Um... I'll have a California burger, fries and a diet Coke." Bri answered.
"And for you?" The woman glanced at Marty.
The dark woman looked first at Bri and arched an eyebrow.
"Oh, go ahead, get something. I don't want to eat alone. Please?" Brianna pleaded.
Looking at the waitress, Marty said, "I'll have the meatloaf, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, and carrots with a Sprite."
The older woman walked off with their orders.
"What are you doing?" Marty asked skeptically.
Feeling like a smart-ass, Bri responded, "Sitting in a restaurant waiting for my food while trying to talk to you."
The tall woman shook her head. "What do you want?"
Brianna sensed the resistance from her so she reached over to touch the large hand on the table. "Please... you don't need to be hostile. Can't we be friends?"
"Why?" Marty asked suspiciously.
"Because I make a good friend, and... I find you intriguing." She saw the tall woman's facial features relax a bit. Clearing her throat, she asked, "So, how long have you been working at the university?"
Their food arrived.
Digging into the fries, Bri then asked, "What did you do before that?"
"Stuff here and there." Marty shoved a big mixed scoop of potatoes and vegetables into her mouth.
"Did you grow up in this area?"
"No." Marty chewed on a piece of meatloaf.
"Where did you grow up?" Bri took a bite of the burger.
"Not much of a talker huh? You know a conversation is a two way communication between people."
"Yep. I know the definition of a conversation." She took a gulp of the pop. "Don't like talking about myself. How about you tell me about you?"
Bri tucked a wisp of blonde hair behind an ear. "Okay. Um... I'm a junior. I'm majoring in web design and my minor is in writing. I transferred from Penn State. I grew up in Pennsylvania. And I have an older sister."
"Why did you transfer?" Marty started cleaning the gravy off the plate with a piece of bread.
"Um..." She looked out the window. "My... uh... ex-boyfriend started stalking me."
"Do you two need anything else tonight?" The waitress' voice interrupted.
Marty shot her a solemn look. "No."
She laid the check on the table and took away the empty dishes.
Blue eyes looked deeply into sea green. She gently asked, "Did you get a restraining order?"
"But you still had to move."
"It's difficult to explain."
"It's okay." She looked at her watch and noticed how late it was. "Let's go. I'll drive you home."
Once they arrived at the front parking lot of the club, Marty unbuckled the black helmet from the side of her Harley and slid it on. Reaching over the other side of the bike, she unbuckled the extra helmet and tossed it to Bri. She unlocked the bike and kick started the motor and motioned for Bri to hop on.
"I live at the Abbott dorm." Bri said loudly through the visor.
Marty nodded her head in understanding. She grabbed the smaller hands behind her and brought them around to the front of her waist. Putting it in first gear, she sped off.
The roar and vibration of the bike felt wonderful for Brianna. The wind blew past her body as they tightly hugged the curves. She enjoyed the feel of the warm body in front of her and the play of strong muscles she felt beneath her palms. Before she knew it, the ride was over. She handed the helmet to the tall woman. "Thanks for the ride."
Marty just nodded.
"Um... and thanks for uh... helping me out at the club and all that." She started wringing her hands.
Marty reached out and softly stroked the young woman's upper arm with the back of her knuckles. "I'll see you around --- friend." She started the bike again and drove off.
Brianna sighed and walked inside.
The weeks went by with the occasional chance meetings between the two friends, in the hall in the late afternoons when Brianna's last class was let out.
One particular Friday afternoon, Bri found Tiffany waiting outside of her philosophy class. "Hey Tiffany, what's going on?"
"Just thought I'd stick around. I had a history exam, and you know with Mr. Smith, when you're done with the exam you can leave, so here I am. So, how are you doing?"
"Well, I don't know how I'm going to get through this class or any other for that matter the rest of the semester. I spend most of my time studying for it and going over my class notes along with the textbook, but I'm still pulling a very low C."
"Bri you'll be fine. You're smart. You always manage."
As they turned the corner, they spotted Marty in the distance working on a door to one of the classrooms.
"Hey, there's your mysterious friend." Tiffany said sarcastically.
"Be nice. If you'd give her a chance you'd see she's different."
"Yeah, she's different alright. She's got a man's haircut, wears men's clothes, is a janitor, and she's a big dyke."
Bri grabbed her arm and spun her around to face her. "Do you have a problem with alternative lifestyles?"
A surprised Tiffany sighed. "I'm sorry. That was uncalled for. No, I don't care what lifestyle a person has as long as they're not hurting anyone. I really am sorry Bri."
"Hello Ladies." Frank sauntered up to them and planted a kiss on Tiffany's cheek. "Hey baby, you ready for the casinos this weekend? Brianna, you're coming with us, right? Derek's been asking about you, you know."
"Sorry Frank. I have a lot to do. I can't afford to be partying this weekend. But thanks."
"Too bad. Okay, baby let's get going. I want to try to beat some of the traffic."
"Don't study too hard Bri." Tiffany commented, took Frank's arm and walked away.
Bri ran her hand through her long strawberry blonde hair. Just as she was within a foot of the tall woman's presence, she was greeted first.
"Hi. How are you?" Marty asked.
"Hey. Doing okay. I just have a lot of work ahead. How about yourself?"
"Same old. You look stressed though. What's all this work you have to do?"
"Oh, I've got an HTML exam on Monday, and an oral on some philosopher. It's all driving me up the wall right now."
"Who's the philosopher?"
"It's um... Kier... Kierkegaard. I'm really not good at this whole philosophy thing. I wish I could find an audio on his biography. It would help."
"Ah yes, Soren is an intriguing man."
"You know about him?" Bri asked with surprise.
"Mmm hmm. I read his biography."
"Damn, do you remember any of it? Would you like to help me with this?"
"Um... okay. But I don't know that I can be of much help."
"Well I don't believe I could know any less with your help. Do you want to meet me tonight? My room is 408."
Stunned, Marty agreed. "Uh... okay."
"Great. I have to go. I'll see you at 8pm?"
As Brianna walked away, Marty chastised herself for getting caught in this situation. Marty, remember she's straight and you never went to college but here you just agreed to assist her in studying Kierkegaard. What the hell is wrong with you?
Two figures lay on the floor with books and notes between them. One was busy scribbling away while the other continued to pop seedless green grapes into her mouth.
"I cannot believe all of the info you have given me on Kierkegaard. This is incredible. You tell such good stories. And where did you learn all of that stuff on html coding?"
"From a book I picked up."
Bri tapped the cap of the pen across her chin. "Marty where did you go to college?"
The dark woman sat up right away. "Um... well, now that you know everything, I better go."
Brianna realized she had touched on a sensitive subject. "Marty wait." She sat up on her haunches and moved closer. "I don't want to pry, but I would like to get to know you and hence, I ask questions."
Marty ran a hand through her hair and sighed. Why did this short strawberry blonde want to get to know her so much? And why is it that this little spitfire has been successful at knocking down walls?
"Did you go to college?" Bri asked gently.
Without bothering to look up at her, she answered, "No".
Bri hooked an index finger under the chin of a chiseled face until blue and green eyes met. "Okay. There's nothing wrong with that. So, where did you go to high school?"
"Eastman... but never... graduated."
"But you are so smart. I bet if I were to give you my statistics work, you would finish it within minutes. What happened?"
Marty shrugged and decided to just be honest with her. "After my mom died from cancer I became very bored with school. I didn't do the work --- hell there were times I didn't even bother going to classes. A year later dad was killed in a construction accident. I just... never went back to school. I was a terrible troublemaker at juvi-hall. As soon as I was the legal age I came back and claimed the house and pop's insurance money from the accident. I got lucky because the house was still available." She fought back a surfacing tear.
"Oh, I'm so sorry." She felt so bad for her friend that she instantly hugged her about the neck. "You don't have any brothers or sisters?"
"Have you thought about getting your GED?"
"I've been told I am unstable, incompetent, and that I would never amount to anything because I'm mentally challenged."
"Who the fuck told you that?" Bri spat out angrily.
"Every one of the counselors and staff at juvi-hall. I was just not motivated to try."
Bri sat there saddened by the horrible twist of fate that was dished out upon Marty.
Cerulean eyes looked up at her. "Hey how about checking out a late movie? You know, since you're done with studying and you know everything for your test."
Bri smiled. "That'd be great. How about you check online for the movie listing while
I freshen up."
"Okay." Getting up she sat in front of the monitor and looked through the site.
Students quickly filed out of class and into the brightly lit hallway.
The strawberry blonde followed a small group heading for the cafeteria line. Avoiding the dish of the day, which happened to be something called 'sea wonders', she went to the salad and sandwich bar.
"Hey Bri." Tiffany called out excitedly.
"Come join us at the table."