Thursday, April 3, 2014

Free Souls, Chapter 16

"Oh, Jeff, Jeff!  Yes, oh, yes!  Do that again, oh, oh, yes, yes, yes!"
It was a warm night for February, and the windows in Professor Ruben's second-floor studio were open to counteract the unabated blast from the steam heating system. Sandy's table was elbow-deep in rustling yellow tracing paper as she sketched out alternatives for the current assignment, a new campus chapel. But her mind wasn’t entirely on her project. She was in the middle of an elaborate fantasy in which she and Jeff, the divine Jeff, were living together as artists and lovers as in La Boheme
It had crossed her mind that this might be fudging on the vow she’d made with her friends to maintain a pure mind as well as a pure body.  But how could it hurt?  She always imagined them as being married, so of course that made it all right. And not the consumptive Mimi role for her! No, she cast herself as a strong and equal partner, pulling her weight so together they would make the architectural world sit up and take notice.
Not for the first time she was fantasizing about their conjugal lovemaking. What Sandy lacked in physical experience she made up for from novel reading and her own imagination. As outwardly she coolly worked out the relations between the various program requirements, inwardly she was feeling all the fiery passion of their sexual relations as she dreamed they must be. What it must be like to have him kiss her, to caress her, to initiate her into all the glorious mysteries of love!
Her devotions were rudely curtailed when Tracey ran laughing into the studio. “Hey, Sandy,” she practically yelled. “Guess who I just saw just now?” The handful of other students up working raised their heads from their drawing boards in undisguised interest. They were doomed to disappointment, for Tracey dropped her voice. “Christy Mackintosh!” she whispered.
“Yes, so what?” Sandy rejoined. She didn’t appreciate being interrupted right at the climax of her imaginary lovemaking. She knew who Christy Mackintosh was, she was one of the fluffy, tight-sweater-wearing, perfectly-coifed senior girls who, like Jeff, had Professor Gabriel for their second-semester design teacher. In a just world, a girl like Christy Mackintosh would have flunked out two years before and gone into Interior Design. But somehow she always managed to do passable design and keep her studio grades high enough to continue. Oh, well, Sandy knew the world wasn’t just.
“Well,” Tracey giggled, “I just saw her heading into the women’s restroom on the first floor, and her lipstick and hair was all mussed and her sweater was on backwards and one of her socks was missing! And the seat of her jeans had dirt and mud on them! What do you think of that?
Sandy wasn’t above a juicy piece of gossip, especially when it came from a first-hand reliable witness and involved someone she didn’t like. “Verrrry interesting,” she commented, imitating Arte Johnson's German soldier on Laugh-In. “Anything else?”
“Ohhhh, yeah. After she went into the john, Fred Holloway came slinking in, looking around like he didn’t want to be seen (I was behind that column near the telephones, if you want to know), and get this! He had grass and mud on his clothes, too. The knees of his jeans were positively gross!”
“Oh, really!” Sandy raised an eyebrow. “Did you stick around for the rest?”
“Of course I did, silly,” her friend said with a grin. “Got to get all the facts. Fred went into the men’s room and in a minute came out with his jeans cleaned off, more or less, and this really smug look on his face. Then he went down towards the snack bar. Then a couple minutes later, out Christy waltzes from the women’s john all put back together, except she’d taken off the other sock, too, and up she goes back to Studio like nothing has happened whatsoever!”
“Where do you think– ?” Sandy wondered.
“Down by Dishler Lake, most likely,” Tracey theorized. “That’s where it usually goes on.”
Dishler Lake was actually a small reservoir lying not far from the Architecture building. Surrounded by groves of trees and clumps of bushes and bordered by winding footpaths, it was a popular spot for lovers.
“But I didn’t know Christy and Fred were dating,” said Sandy.
“They aren’t! That’s what makes it so funny! Haven’t you heard about the scheme some of the older girls have going? We know Christy and Elspeth and Martina can’t design their way out of a paper bag, right?”
“Well, how do you think Martina happened to get her last project pinned up in the school gallery?”
It was beginning to dawn on Sandy where this was going, “You don’t mean– !”
“Yep. Scout’s honor.” She grinned mischievously. “I have it from a very good authority, a guy I know in Gabriel’s studio, that some of the senior girls are bribing the boys with sex to get them to do their designs for them! I guess Fred helped Christy out and she was out by the lake paying up! . . . . Oh, don’t look so shocked!” Tracey chided her as she saw Sandy’s horrified reaction. “You know as well as I do that some women sleep their way to the top.”
“It’s– it’s not the sex,” Sandy sputtered. “It’s– how could Christy and Martina and all of them turn in someone else’s work and pretend it was their own?”
“Oh, you and your artistic integrity. You are such a throwback. Now me, I wouldn’t do it, because what if I get hired someday on the strength of say, David’s work” (she named one of the boys in their studio) “and David wasn’t around to help me? Now you, you’d never need to do that. Your work is good enough on its own. But isn’t it funny?”
“Yes. Very funny.” But Sandy was anxiously wondering if Jeff were involved in this scam. She hoped not. God, she hoped not.
“I don’t imagine Jeff Chesters is in on this,” pronounced Tracey, as if answering her friend’s unspoken question. “His ego is too big to let him share his work. He likes women well enough, that’s clear, but I doubt he thinks he should have to pay for one!”
Sandy was about to come to his defense when it occurred to her she didn’t know anything about his dating habits. So she merely said, “I wonder if Professor Gabriel knows?”
“Well, if he’s too stupid to notice I’m not clueing him in! Hey! I wonder who the bigger whores are, the girls or the guys?” Tracey paused. “Oh, well,” she said, “I think I’m heading home soon. What were you going to do?”
“Oh, yeah, what time is it? After 10:00? Yeah, you want to leave now? I’ll come with you. See you down at the bike rack?”
“Ten minutes? OK!”
Tracey left. As Sandy organized her table and got ready to go she thought with disgust of those senior girls. If they knew anything about design they’d be learning from Jeff and be able to pass on their own. At the very least, how could Christy settle for buying work from someone like Fred Holloway? His designs were slick and commercial and had no imagination whatsoever.
“Jeff, oh Jeff,” she breathed to him within her soul, "I honor you, I adore you, I love you; you don’t know it, but I’m the only woman in this school who really understands and appreciates you. Tracey says you have a big ego. No! It’s your integrity that wouldn’t allow you to prostitute yourself like that. And you wouldn’t prostitute anyone else! Oh, Jeff, I’m working on it! Give me time, and one day I will be worthy of you!”
by Catrin Lewis, 1983, revised 2013 & 2014.  All rights reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment