The Outsider Ch. 20bycaligula97236©
Chapter 20 - January in Davenport
Mike and Ruthie left early the following morning to return to the university. Mike was very relieved to be headed back to Davenport, because the atmosphere at home totally depressed him. More importantly, the on-going conversations between his girlfriend and his father had made him extremely nervous. He was creeped-out by the relationship that had developed between those two, and by the fact that Ruthie totally loved a lot of his father's favorite music. She rolled her eyes at most of the Heavy Metal Mike liked to listen to, and yet was totally enthralled by that dead '70's stuff of Mr. Sinclair.
The trip was very tense, because Ruthie was extremely moody, sullen, and quiet. Her emotions were in turmoil over her father's efforts to make up to her through giving her money, her mother losing it and kicking her out of their apartment, and her wistful conversations with her boyfriend's dad. She fidgeted in the car and nervously looked down, because she was unable to articulate everything that was going on in her mind.
Now that she was out of Mike's house and away from his family, Ruthie had time to think about her own situation and the fight with her mother. She felt both guilty and resentful over what had happened. She had not meant to hit her mother, but at the same time she felt that Doña Lisette had it coming for striking her across the face. She knew that her mother would never see it that way. The church was very adamant; the duties of good parents included physical discipline when necessary. According to that line of thinking, Doña Lisette simply was acting within her obligation as a mother and in Ruthie's interests when she slapped her for swearing.
Ruthie still was devastated by her mother's order to get out of her apartment, but deep down she knew that within a few days Doña Lisette would call her up, expect her to apologize, and the incident would pass. She knew it would be that way, because twice before the same thing had happened. Ruthie simply went over to her cousins' place to wait until her mother's temper calmed down. When she apologized, she was told to return home. She deeply resented having to apologize for something that she felt was not her fault. However, just like the business of pretending she still was a Christian, Ruthie was accustomed to making false apologies to get along with her mother. Anyhow, she had no choice. When classes were not in session, Ruthie still needed a place to stay and her mother's apartment was the only option she had.
In spite of the hurt she felt at the moment, Ruthie tried to look at her mother in a fair manner. Doña Lisette was indeed a difficult person to deal with, but in her own way she did love her daughter and tried to be as supportive as possible within the limitations of her sparse education, unpleasant life experiences, religious brainwashing, and economic difficulties. Even the topic of the latest fight was a reminder that Doña Lisette had given Ruthie more freedom than her uncle had given to her cousin Rosa. Ruthie's mother did not object when she left home to go to college. Ruthie did not have to run away to pursue her ambitions, while Rosa did.
Ruthie knew that her uncle also was furious at her, but as far as he was concerned, that was just too bad. Unlike her mother, she felt no obligation to apologize to her uncle. In reality she did not need him anymore, because the two cousins she had been close to, Gerardo and Rosa, no longer were living in his house. Gerardo was tied up with his wife and new baby, and Rosa was gone, probably for good. Meanwhile, the two younger cousins had turned into obnoxious delinquents. Her uncle and what remained of his household could go to Hell.
Mostly to break his girlfriend's silence, Mike suggested having breakfast in Santa Cruz. Upon leaving the restaurant, they spent a very long time browsing through the used music stores in search of the titles Ruthie wanted. He obligingly bought her several CD's, including a greatest hits collection from Kansas. In a slight act of rebellion he insisted on playing one of his Queensryche CD's on the final stretch of the journey northward. If Ruthie wanted to listen to his father's music, she'd have to do it on her own time.
Mike and Ruthie returned to his dorm and set up to live as a couple for the next week and a half. She had everything she needed to make herself at home in Mike's room. The best part of the arrangement, as far as she was concerned, was that Mike was at his job in training from 7:30 until 5:00. That meant that he left at 7:00 and was not back until 5:30. There was no one else on the floor, so Ruthie had not only the room, but the entire floor to herself.
During the week before the staff arrived, Ruthie did what she most enjoyed doing, wandering around the building completely naked. She loved to walk up and down the hallways stretching her legs and go into places she normally would be prohibited from entering, such as the offices, the supply rooms, and the men's bathrooms. There was a room with some old gym equipment, so Ruthie did not need to go outside or get dressed to exercise. About mid-day she got on one of the treadmills and measured three miles walking and half-heartedly jogging. She finished up with a few arm exercises on another machine...nothing overly strenuous, just enough to wear off stress. She wished that she had access to the university pool, but the Rec Center was closed during vacation and anyhow, she would have been required to wear a swimsuit.
Ruthie was happy to not have to deal with Mike during the days, but she tried to have everything set up to make his life as pleasant as possible when he came back in the evenings. As soon as he left the room, she straightened it and cleaned whatever clothing was dirty from the day before. The dorm had a kitchenette, so every afternoon Ruthie cooked dinner. Instead of eating in his room, they ate in one of the study rooms where they could sit properly at a table. He undressed before eating, and after their nude meal the two students showered together. He was grateful for the dinners and happy to think that he was getting a glimpse of his future domestic life with his girlfriend. To be able to enjoy a week of "normal" living with Ruthie made Mike love her even more. He became convinced that eventually he would want to propose to her.
When she was not wandering the hallways or exercising or cooking, Ruthie relaxed. For hours she lay on her bed in Mike's room masturbating and listening to her new collection of '70s music. She especially liked the songs that had long instrumental parts, because her imagination could wander into other realities. Her mind drifted through the earth's past: sometimes she was standing on a cliff watching pterodactyls soaring over the inland sea, and sometimes she was wandering along the Devonian shoreline picking up trilobites from the shallow waters. Sometimes she imagined herself as a naked Phoenician dancing girl, her body standing out in front of the flames of a Temple fire as the entire city admired her. Other times she pictured herself as a servant girl in ancient Egypt, with nothing covering her body except a collar and a thin belt around her waist, kneeling and waiting on a Divine queen. Other times she imagined herself as a naked Druid priestess, her bare body shivering in the cold fog of prehistoric England.
By the end of the week she had spent so much time in the nude that she had ceased to notice it. From Tuesday to Thursday she never left the building, which meant during that entire time not once did she have to put anything on. It was delicious to be able to live like that, but by the end of the third day being nude felt totally normal. It was lucky that the weather outside was overcast and cold, or she would have been very tempted to go out undressed and wander naked around the deserted university. Even so, if she was reasonably sure that no grounds-keepers were outside, every so often she succumbed to temptation and did a quick streak around the dorm. She returned after just a couple of minutes of running around Mike's building, winded and covered with goose-bumps.
Ruthie's mother called three days after she returned to Davenport. She was crying, but did not say anything other than asking if Ruthie had safely returned to the university. Ruthie wanted to say: "well...I'm here, aren't I?" Instead she knew that it was up to her to bring up the topic of the fight and punching her mother's arm. Ruthie took a deep breath and apologized for the punch, saying that she did not know what got into her. Her mother responded:
"Ruthie, you do know what got into to you. You let the Devil speak to you."
Ruthie tensed up, but responded: "...yes Mom...I've been praying for Jesus to forgive me...and...I...I'm asking you to forgive me too."
"You know it's gonna be hard for me...because of what you did to me..."
"I'm sorry Mom...I don't know what else to say. I was wrong for hitting you."
The conversation continued along those lines for a few minutes, as Doña Lisette tried to make Ruthie feel as guilty as possible over what had happened the prior week. Ruthie shook from anger and frustration, but she managed to play along until her mother "reluctantly" accepted her apology. Finally Doña Lisette hung up, satisfied that her daughter fully understood the terrible thing she had done.
Ruthie sat quiet on Mike's bed for several minutes, trembling with impotence and rage. She stood up and with all her strength threw her cell phone against the wall. The case broke and the battery fell out. For several minutes she stared at the device as it lay on the floor. Finally she picked it up what remained. She noted that not only was the back cover broken off, but also the screen was cracked.
Great...just what I needed...to have to buy a new cell phone...
While Ruthie was relaxing in the empty dorm, Sam spent the week teaching Mike the remaining details of the duties that the student needed to know to be his alternate. They were able to concentrate on the technical parts of the job because meter collections had dropped to almost nothing. There were a few meters near the alumni center and the admissions office that still were being paid, but otherwise the parking lots were totally empty. Sam showed Mike how to fill in logbooks and place orders for supplies and how to account for money paid out to contractors for repairs and replacement meters. It was a lot to remember, because Sam was showing Mike how to do all parts of his job, not just collecting meter money. Most of it was tedious, but Mike knew that it certainly would look good on a résumé.
As Mike gained his trust, Sam showed him some additional details about the university. For example, he showed his protégé the locations of all of the campus security cameras. Some of the cameras were turned on and some of them had been put up for show and were not even connected. Sam told Mike which cameras were which and how to tell if a security camera had been activated. It was rather strange information, but Sam pointed out that he knew of several incidences of students getting assaulted right in front of cameras that were not turned on. He pointed out a couple of places the campus police officers liked to hide out and rest, when they were supposed to be patrolling. He added with a sarcastic smile:
"If you're thinking of doing anything naughty with your girl, now you know where to go and where to avoid."
Once again, Sam had made a comment that left Mike wondering what, if anything, he was hinting at.
During the week they had the dorm to themselves, Ruthie and Mike had sex every night. However, what they did together was changing now that massage had been added to their foreplay. Ruthie normally massaged Mike prior to sex. Because she wanted to shorten the intercourse portion of their sexual contact as much as possible, she got him aroused and hard before she let him get on top of her. He thrust vigorously, but then climaxed quickly. When he was done Ruthie breathed a sigh of relief. Then it was Mike's turn to massage Ruthie. While massaging aroused Mike, being touched put Ruthie to sleep. It was comforting to fall asleep under the touches of the man who loved her. Mike did not complain, because he enjoyed looking at and touching her naked body, especially her bottom and thighs.
Mike still did not grasp that Ruthie did not enjoy having him inside her; that she viewed allowing him to enter her as a chore she had to fulfill as her duty to the relationship. Ruthie continued to be angry at herself that she did not enjoy sex with Mike, but she had accepted her situation and continued to keep it secret from her boyfriend.
The Housing Department staff returned from vacation the second Saturday after New Year's Day. The directors set up in their offices and the RA's took up residence in their rooms. The cleaning staff was back at work, preparing the buildings for the influx of students who would be showing up a few days later. The return of the housing staff meant Ruthie's temporary refuge suddenly shrank to Mike's room. With other people running around the hallways, the freedom of running around in the nude that she had enjoyed for five days quickly ended. Starting on Saturday, she sullenly put on her clothes every time she left the room, totally resenting the imposition society was placing on her.
The following Monday Ruthie returned to her own dorm to see what her living arrangements were going to be for the spring semester. She was desperately hoping that she could keep the room that she currently had to herself, but of course that was not to be. The receptionist told her that she would remain on the fifth floor, but that she would have to move to another room that she would share with a senior called Jen Gordon.
Ruthie cringed at the thought of losing her privacy, but if Jen was a senior, hopefully she would be more serious and more compatible than Shannon. The fact that Jen was living on a floor of graduate students was a sign that, even if she was not compatible, at least she would be quiet.
The receptionist gave Ruthie a key to her new room and told her to have her stuff moved within 24 hours. Sighing with frustration, Ruthie went upstairs, sadly looked at the room that had been her private space for a short time, and piled her stuff on a push-cart. When she entered the other room, it was clear that Jen had been there since the previous semester. Her side of the room was neatly organized. She had a lot of books and numerous photos of herself with classmates and relatives on her desk. There were posters and pictures on her section of the wall of some of the most beautiful landscapes Ruthie had ever seen. Several of the posters had "New Zealand" written on them. Ruthie picked up some envelopes from her roommate's desk. A couple of the envelopes had New Zealand stamps and return addresses.
That's another positive sign, thought Ruthie. It looks like Jen's not from the US. Maybe this won't be so bad after-all.
Jen showed up three days later, struggling with a couple of suitcases. She introduced herself and mentioned that had flown in from Vancouver, Canada, where she had spent Christmas with some friends. She was a bit taller than Ruthie, with reddish-brown hair and blue eyes.
From the beginning Ruthie could tell that she had much more in common with her new roommate than she had with Shannon. She was dressed in jeans and an old baggy sweater, so it was apparent fashion was not a concern in her life. Under her baggy clothing Ruthie could tell that Jen's figure was more filled out than her own; more European-looking and more voluptuous. Like Ruthie, Jen wore no make-up. Later Ruthie would find out that Jen was 25, and that she had taken several years off to work before entering the university in Aukland.
Jen was spending a year in California on a university exchange program. She spoke with what seemed to Ruthie a strange accent that was sort of, but not quite, British. She did not seem very friendly, but in a way that was totally different from the way Shannon had been. Jen's personality was quiet and stand-offish instead of abrasive and belligerent. She was the sort of person that took a long time to warm up to a stranger, but if one gave her time and space, eventually she would open up and become more social. Later she would confess to Ruthie one of the many things that totally irritated her about the US was the habit of people being friendly on the surface without taking a real interest in her. A pet peeve of hers was the American habit of saying "hello" by asking "how's everything going?" As she put it:
"I don't want you to ask me how my bloody day is going, unless you really need to know."
One detail was very clear from the start: like Ruthie, Jen did not like noise. The two roommates discussed their feelings about noise and discovered they were in perfect agreement about having a quiet room. It turned out that Jen had the same problem with a noisy roommate the previous semester that Ruthie had. The only difference was she was a lot more forceful about objecting to her roommate's noise than Ruthie had been with Shannon, so Jen had open fights with her roommate from the very beginning of the previous semester.
Jen admitted that she was worried about having Ruthie as her new roommate because she was a freshman, but the dorm director had told her that Ruthie was a scholarship student and "nerdy enough for you, I'm sure." Ruthie did not appreciate what the dorm director had said about her, but there wasn't much she could do about it.
After Jen had unpacked, Ruthie found out there was a specific reason her roommate wanted the room quiet. She laid out some art supplies on her desk and set to work on an illustration she had worked on over Christmas. It was clear she wanted to concentrate on the drawing and that she did not want any interruptions. Ruthie could feel an invisible wall of silence surrounding Jen as she was drawing. She said nothing more.
Well, at least if nothing else, Ruthie would be able to study in peace in her own room. She decided that she would gradually continue moving her stuff out of Mike's dorm, which eventually would include her computer.
The semester began the day after Jen showed up. Ruthie decided to cut back her hours at the coffee shop and take a full load of classes, because she was concerned that semester could very well be her last at Davenport State University. She still left every morning at 4:30 to open at 5:00, but requested that her shift end at 10:00 instead of 11:00 so she could make it to a morning class. Her manager was not at all happy about her request, but Ruthie knew he was stuck with her because no one else would be willing to open.
Mike accompanied her to the bookstore and helped her carry heavy sacks bulging with overpriced books to his room, where she sorted and organized them by class. For the first three nights of the semester she stayed overnight with Mike. He was elated, hoping that she no longer was interested in using her own room and was planning to live with him. However, she had not made up her mind about what to do living with her older, distant roommate. Finally, on the third day after classes started, she told Mike that she apologized for the imposition that she had placed on him and that she would once again start sleeping in her own room. She could tell that he was hugely disappointed. However, the direction of their relationship was making her increasingly nervous because she still had not worked out what exactly she felt for him or what were her expectations for their future.
Ruthie returned to the fifth floor of her dorm with a backpack full of books and notebooks. The room was so quiet that she thought Jen must be out. However, when she opened the door, her new roommate was working on one of her drawings. She was totally absorbed in her work and did not look up. However, she acknowledged Ruthie's entrance by waving a brush and then returned to her work.