Saturday, March 05, 2005

A Small Slice

This is the section I was running over and over in my head (see previous post). It's a scene between Bobby and Mr. Beckerman, his teacher and advisor, on the day Bobby returns to Winchester from spring break during his junior year. He and Mr. Beckerman have gone to a local pizza place for lunch, and Bobby is telling him what he did on his vacation.
Later, much later, Bobby wondered what compelled him now to say “I met a guy.”

Mr. Beckerman looked at him, chewed, and swallowed. “You met a guy? As in...?”


There was a long silence. Mr. Beckerman’s eyes narrowed, and he slowly put down his slice. “Who was it?”

“He, uh, he goes to T.U.,” Bobby stammered. “His name’s Mike.”

“T.U.? What’s that?”

“University of Toledo.”

Mr. Beckerman stared. “You had...” he suddenly looked around and lowered his voice, “you went to bed with a college guy?”

Bobby nodded slightly, suddenly aware of the tension in the room.

“Jesus Christ, Bobby. Does he know how old you are?”

“Yeah, I told him. Afterwards.”

“So he didn’t know.”

“No. Not -- not the, uh, not the first time.”

“There were other times?”

“Uh huh.”

Mr. Beckerman held up his hand as if to stop the thoughts. “Hold it. I don’t want to know any of the details. Bobby, I can’t believe it. What the hell were you thinking?”

The two teenagers picked up their coats from their table and left the restaurant. The jukebox was still playing I’m Moving Out.

“It’s not like he was some hustler or something.”

“So what? Jesus, Bobby, that’s incredibly stupid. He could have been a whacko into some kind of who-knows-what. Not to mention getting VD or worse.”

“Well, he wasn’t. And all we did was --”

Mr. Beckerman held up his hand again. “I said I don’t need all the details, okay? Look, you just don’t do something like that. Where’d you go, back to his dorm?”

“He has an apartment near the university. He’s a grad student.”

“How old is he?”


“How did you meet him?”

“At the gym. He was working out one day. We started talking, and he invited me over.”

“That’s it?”

“Pretty much.”

Mr. Beckerman leaned back and shook his head. “I thought you had more sense than that.”

“What is the big deal? I knew what I was doing. He wasn’t some nut job. We just hit it off, that’s all.” Bobby leaned in over the pizza and said softly, “What would you have said if I told you I’d met some girl and boned her? Huh? Would that have pissed you off, too, or would you have said, ‘Hey, kiddo, waydago!’”

Mr. Beckerman leaned in until they were almost nose-to-nose. “I would have been just as pissed. Kids your age shouldn’t be screwing around, period, especially with people that much older than you. It has nothing to do with who it was or what gender.”

“Are you kidding? Do you have any idea how many guys are gonna come back from vacation bragging about some chick they scored with in Aspen or Palm Beach? Kids my age screw all the time. You’re just pissed ‘cause you spent the whole vacation pulling on a cow’s tit.” Bobby stood up, dug in his pocket, pulled out a five dollar bill and dropped it on the table. “Thanks for the lunch.” He grabbed his jacket and stomped out before Mr. Beckerman could reply. It wasn’t until he was a block away that he realized he’d only eaten half a slice of pizza, but he didn’t care. He kicked a stone off the shoulder of the road and trudged up the hill.

It took almost forty minutes to hike back to the dorm. He kept looking over his shoulder while he was on the road, expecting to see the black Jeep barreling up the hill behind him, but it never appeared. The sky had clouded over, a strong wind kicked up, and he was cold and out of breath when he pushed open the door to the dorm. It was still quiet; no one else was back yet. He flung his jacket on his desk, found a half-empty box of stale Wheat-Thins in the bottom drawer of Garrett’s desk, and ate the rest of the box, swallowing hard past the lump in his throat. Fuck you, Beckerman; you and all the people who want to run my life, tell me what to do, tell me who to love. Fuck you all. He stuffed the empty box in the trash can, and then, hoping against hope, found a flask of Stolichnaya with about a quarter-inch of liquid in it under the bottom layer of socks in Garrett’s dresser. He drained it, welcoming the warmth and peace it brought him, and after hiding the empty bottle under his camp duffel bag in the closet, lay down on his bed and fell asleep.

A door closing awakened him. He rolled over. A Sully’s pizza box was on his desk next to a half-empty liter bottle of Coke. He sat up groggily, looked inside the box and found half the pizza left. There was no note, but his five dollars was taped to the outside. He wolfed down two slices, drank some of the Coke and felt better. He heard voices in the hall and recognized some of his classmates. It was almost four o’clock. He knew Garrett wouldn’t be back until the last stroke of eight. He finished the pizza and tried to go back to sleep. But now the memory of the argument with Mr. Beckerman came back to him, word for word, echoing in his ears, the boiling rage he once felt now tempered by the silent gesture of the pizza box on his desk. He knew what it meant. It was a peace offering, with strings. And he knew what was expected of him. But this time he wasn’t going to cave in. He stripped the bill off the box, stuffed it back in his wallet, and put the pizza box in the trashcan in the hall.


Post a Comment

<< Home