discarded lies: saturday, april 21, 2018 5:11 am zst
We can always panic tomorrow.
daily archive: 04/27/2009
guest author: Queequeg in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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guest author: papijoe in Discarded Lies:
The Curse of Interesting Times
With the doctor's bills piling up, I don't like to open letters these days from law firms. But I was surprised to discover instead of a demand for payment, it was a notification that I had been appointed executor to the literary estate of Tom Gibson. Tom had been a fellow bike messenger and Brandeisian. Apparently he had been running a marathon and succumbed to a previously undiagnosed heart defect. He left a wife and three children and had a successful and presumably happy career as a director of marketing for an Eden Prairie high tech company. The role of executor was defined simply. If I agreed to the appointment I was to take possession of all of his writing.

A small subset was designated as potentially publishable, mostly short fiction. My instructions were to make my best effort to have them accepted for publication in whatever journal or magazine would take them. No deadline was set, nor was there any compensation save for a small percentage of the proceeds if anyone ever paid for his work.

I'd lost touch with Tom after our messenger days and infrequently visited the humorous vignettes I retained and maintained as memories of him. I've given the question of why he picked me as executor a fair amount of thought since receiving the letter. Our first workshop together was my last. The way the writing track worked was that you got course credit for your thesis which was usually a collection or stories or short novel. You also submitted your latest installment for review by the your classmates in the workshop on a regular basis, although you weren't on the same schedule of assignment as the non-thesis students. Tom hadn't seen any of the work I submitted for my first workshop. I could sum up those efforts as "Hey ma, look at me, I'm a writer!" Then there was the humiliation and 11th hour redemption of Alice Walker's careless and irritated tutelage. That trial by fire had ushered me into the company of the elite faction of the writing program, at least as a junior associate. Looking back I have to admit I was a better critic than artist, but if nothing else I had the gratitude of the circle for deflating David Sofer, a promising but self absorbed son of Argentinian Sephardi who fancied himself the next Gabriel Garcia Marquez. David defended his work like a game cock and made a point of making the discussion unpleasant for those who had anything less than praise for his writing. But someone had to point out that if you end your first novel with a sex scene involving a toothless old woman, you damn well better have earned it

But I digress. I was aware then that Tom looked up to me as something of a model, and I detected my own influence in some of his earlier stories. It would be unfair to portray them as pastiches of my own work. Tom seemed to be on a similar track of self discovery, and was at that point arriving at some of the same milestones I had visited a year or two earlier. Castaneda, Herman Hesse, Lame Deer, Pyncheon. Years later we were playing hooky on our dispatcher one slow Friday afternoon. The bar we favored at the time was also the preferred watering hole for construction workers who started work before dawn and were set free at 3PM. Due to their parochial school educations, they were shouting out answers to obscure ecclesiastic history questions on daytime Jeopardy with uncanny accuracy. He had just reminded me of an arch comment I made about Mann's Magic Mountain of which I had absolutely no memory. It was the first time we had discussed the workshop since those days, and he mentioned how in the view of our writer-in-residence I had, for better or worse always taken on challenging narrative voices. Woman, children, the mentally ill and drug-addled, a learning disabled immigrant, and in one ill-fated draft that got dropped from my thesis, a child's pet goat. I admitted that all those efforts were attempts to avoid the earlier problems with my adult narrative voice that I never resolved. He grew pensive, and now as I consider his next statement, I tend to think he was referring to this story and a secret re-dedication to the craft of writing. "I've been thinking lately how children can be brilliant writers, but in a literary universe, they are the cruelest of gods. For me the hardest thing is what to do with my characters. They aren't like us, they don't have free will. I try to let them follow their own way, but they tend to go in every direction at once and you have to settle on one for them. Then you are responsible for what happens to them. You feel sorry for them...it's hard not to when you realize they're in the hands of a stupid god like myself."

Reading this piece it was obviously not publishable in it's current state but I've been fascinated by it, initially because I was familiar with some of the people and events that inspired it. I had an eerie sense that I could have written something very similar which was definitely not the case with his earlier stories. Regardless of how good his writing may or not have become, he had been working on his craft and his other works show he had moved beyond the writing workshop stage in which my development as a writer had been arrested. I won't deny I've even considered a posthumous collaboration to try to improve it, although I am leery of the legal, ethical and creative consequences

So I present a work with all the classic characteristics of a workshop submission, written hastily under a deadline, then neglected in a drawer somewhere. You will find it flawed but I hope not uninteresting. Any feedback you might be able to provide will help me find my bearings in my unfamiliar new role.

One of his speakers had developed a noticeable buzz. Motley Crue was his favorite background music when he worked out on the heavy bag.

The punching bag had worked out well as an outlet for his frustration. The need for something like it had become apparent after a keg party the baseball team had hosted. He had smashed a wall and torn out the sink in the men's room back at the dorm. The only reason he was still enrolled was that when the campus police showed up, his freshmen neighbors were apparently too frightened to be effective witnesses. This was probably due to the fact that he was their RA.

He had had his Mandarin tutorial with Tan Mei. His language professor Lauren had arranged the sessions as part of the agreement they had regarding the recommendation for the art program in the People's Republic next year. She was a good professor and advisor in that sense, always ready to steer him away from a potentially disastrous direction in which he was heading. He didn't look forward to their meetings however. She was a pleasant enough as a person, could only charitably described as plain, and had feverishly bright eyes, and when she was particularly excited about something Dom found her gaze unendurable.

Someone began to knock. He turned up the speakers all the way and pounded the bag harder.

Lauren was married to a Chinese artist who was about fifteen years older than her. It was through his connections that Lauren had found out about the program. It was exactly what he needed in his academic career to recover from his failure as a studio artist and salvage his plans to study abroad for the second semester of junior year.

Freshman year he quickly jettisoned his diffuse interest in impressionist watercolors and labored profitably with the prints of William Blake, aided by a rare exhibit at the MFA where he was an intern. Blake however seemed to have a negative effect on his already uneven studio work. At the same time his roommate Angelo was being kicked out of school for giving his girlfriend a black eye. Angelo was the grandson of Frankie "Two-toes" Monti, the Mafia boss for all of New England. Dom supposed the fact that the were both Guin-zos on the track team convinced the officials that picked freshmen roommates that they would be compatible. And they did get along pretty well except for the time Angelo's unfortunate girlfriend ran into his closet to hide during one of Angelo's fits of rage. Angelo threatened to kill him if he ever interfered again, but they soon put the incident behind them. But the writing was on the wall for Angelo's college days, and Dom knew he would have to find a roommate or another would assigned to him. The waiting lists were crowded with the miserable refugees of the four-student rooms that still existed in the dilapidated housing from the days when the college first opened, and after Angelo he was tired of squalor and savagery. But to his surprise, the pool of willing candidates to be his roommate was non-existent, and when Angelo departed Ross Levy was assigned to him.

Ross worked out much better than expected. Dom never would have expected that a roommate with a subscription to GQ magazine and love of show tunes would be so easy to get along with. Ross went on to marry the shy lovely daughter of a former secretary of state and become one of the top orthopedic surgeons of his field.

The knocking got louder and the broken speaker now emitted a harsher drone that suggested imminent and explosive combustion.

It was Ross who introduced him to Naomi.


Dear Naomi

Since you haven't answered any of my previous letters, I have no idea if you will read this. Maybe you throw my letters away as soon as you get them. Maybe you throw them in a drawer unopened. Personally I would read a letter from anyone, if I didn't I would never know what it had said. But maybe you already know exactly what I'm going to say, and there no point in reading it, and you don't care even if I wrote something that would surprise you. I can't blame you for not answering or throwing the letters away. But I have to keep writing because the thoughts I have are the ones that I never told anyone until you came along and I got used to it.

Even if you are reading these you are probably sick of hearing about how sorry I am. As time goes on I see even more how stupid I was. Yet you would think I'd finally see the bottom of my stupidity and move on. But it seems to be endless and I keep realizing new ways that I was wrong and should have seen that from the start.

According to my lawyer the Feds have realized that you had no involvement, and should have given up on using you to get me to tell them where I got the plane tickets. I really considered telling them everything, but of course I'd be dead right now. A day doesn't go by that I don't wish I had told them, and at least I wouldn't be around to regret everything. Then I wouldn't have to remember the confusion and fear on your face when they arrested us at the terminal. I wouldn't remember how the first thing I said to you was the ridiculous lie that I didn't know the tickets were bought with stolen credit cards.

I won't try to defend my self or explain anymore, except to say it was the most important thing to me to make aliyah with you and to paint in Israel. Sometimes the worst part seems to be the realization that even if I hadn't caused the disaster with the tickets and found a better way to pay for the flight, I would have failed anyways and probably lost you because every time things get difficult and I don't know what to do I always end up making the worst possible decision. You think I would learn not to trust my decisions, but somehow I convince myself that I'm doing the opposite of what I did the last time, but looking back it's obvious that it's the exact same type of mistake.

The only exception in my life was you. I wish I could figure out how I got that right, it wasn't due to anything reliable in my mind or my emotions. I've actually thought about it a lot, constantly since I met you but even more now that I have nothing else worth thinking about. All I know is that I had a moment of complete clarity during the first seizure you had in front of me. After that I don't think your epilepsy played into it at all, but when I first saw you part of me that I know too well loved you because you were beautiful, and clever and funny in that stuck-up way that made you even funnier. But when the seizure hit you and I saw you on the floor like that after the first shock wore off, another part of me that I didn't know even existed loved you too. I haven't seen that part of me since that day at the airport, and I have no idea where to find it except when I'm pretending that we are still in communication.


When his shoulders and triceps had turned to meat puree he pulled off his bag gloves and unwound the sweaty wraps. The room began to smell of ozone and broiled plastic so he shut off the stereo. This caused the banging on his door to gradually fade away, and the hallway was empty by the time he shambled off to the shower. He had been invited to a potluck dinner by some of Tan Mei's friends. He had already picked up the four large bottles of soda that represented his contribution.

He arrived with his mustache trimmed his pirate locks still wet and a grim determination to be friendly and sociable.
It was a mix of Mainland Chinese students, mostly from graduate school and their non-Chinese friends. Dom recognized most of the faces and only knew a few of them by name. There was Hong Wen, Tan Mei's old boyfriend. He was relatively tall skinny fellow with nervous mannerisms. Dom had recently found out that Hong Wen was the source of a rumor that he and his tutor were sleeping together. Then there was Er Fei. He was a the son of an important cadre member back home. Intellectually obnoxious even by graduate student standards, it was also common knowledge his primary purpose on campus was to spy on the other Chinese students and send a monthly report from the consulate in Boston. He had likely crashed the party. Some other American friends of Tan Mei were there, she had lived with them in her summer sublet last year. He was somewhat relieved that his professor Lauren hadn't attended.

His mood was already eroded by the realization that he should have brought ice as well. Tan Mei immediately steered him to the makeshift buffet table. The lack of chafting pans require immediate consumption and Tan Mei was particularly anxious that he try her dish. "Hmm it smells really good, what is it?" "Hearts of chickens cooked Szchewan style. Tell me if it is too spicy" He began to load his plate watching her face for the sign that he had gotten the desired portion. It took 4 scoops to elicit the signal. The rush to plunder the rapidly cooling food was soon over and he was seated between Tan Mei and Er Fei with the former roommates across from him. The aroma of Tan Mei's dish was already stinging his eyes. They all seemed to be waiting to start eating, He speared a heart and popped it in his mouth. Er Fei choose that moment to bring up the upcoming trip to China. The caustic sauce had flash-fried his tongue and palate, while sending tendrils of white fire into his sinuses. Chewing was futile, the hearts had the consistancy of faucet washers. "Is it too hot?" He shook his head and smiled giving her a thumbs up. Tan Mei's face became a sunburst of pleasure. The Americans across the table began reluctantly poking at their plates. Er Fei was determined to continue his interrogation regarding Dom's travel agenda so he resorted to yes or no questions. Having decided that chewing only released more of the incendiary oils, he swallowed the heart. It traveled like a meteor down his esophagus, finally exploding like a depth charge in his belly. He quickly shoveled two more hearts in his mouth hoping to end the ordeal as quickly as possible.

Er Fei had been embellishing his interrogation with proclamations that were apparently the official party positions on Chinese art and culture. Dom had been present when Er Fei had done this in the past, in the library or the student lounge. It irritated him that he did this in a social setting. Dom noticed that all other conversation had ceased. He was usually too self-absorbed to bother with a pompous buffoon like Er Fei, But the chicken hearts that had collected like a flaming pile of gasoline-soaked tennis balls were becoming indistinguishable from his usual sensation of burgeoning wrath. When sober his rage was effectively kept in check by a deep sense of shame and dread caused by the memory of his past outbursts. However the corrosive vapors of Tan Zhong's dish were nearly as effective as pot and alcohol in dissolving the internal checks to his darker impulses.

Er Fei was trotting out some tired argument about China's cultural influence along the Silk Road, and breezily mentioned Tibet, as if it were some backward mountainous region whose greatest fortune was its proximity to such an advanced and ancient culture as China's. There was something even about the way Er Fei said "China" that stoked his fury. The first syllable with a rising tone with the accent, spoken as if he were unexpectedly experiencing his first prostate exam. The second syllable a falling tone that sounded like a death gurgle. Spoken together the effect was heinous, but it was always the same pronunciation and he said it over and over.

A commotion in the kitchen provided a brief respite from Er Fei's sermon. One of the Americans was glaring daggers at her housemate, and the host's colossal dog was furiously batting it's empty steel water dish around the kitchen. Apparently the young lady had tried to avoid the culinary torment of Tan Mei's dish by slipping it to the unlucky brute.

"So, I was saying Tibet has benefited culturally as well as socially and politically since..."

He seemed to struggle to remember the English equivalent of the officially approved term for the liberation of the Tibetan serfs. Dom completed the sentence for him before he realized himself he had spoken.

"The invasion?"

Er Fei made an exasperated noise that was a cross between a hock and a sputter. "China", he crowed, same damn rising and falling tone, "has never invaded another country!"

Dom had this discussion before with Tan Mei and realized this was a central element of party propaganda in regard to their own benevolence. She was genuinely shocked and dismayed when he produced neutral press accounts on microfiche.

"What happened with India in the 50s?' was it a military parade that took a wrong turn at the Sikkim Pass?" A giggle was quickly stifled at the end of the table. "Or North Vietnam in the 70s?"

"Those are reactionary counterrevolutionary lies! China has never invaded another country!" He had jumped to his feet and loomed over Dom. The implied physical threat snapped the last thread of restraint.

"I got 20 bucks here that says that you are full of crap. The library is open until midnight. Put up or shut up Er Fei."

In the silent millennium that followed Er Fei's jaw sagged open. He had clearly never experienced any sort of challenge and something seemed to spin behind his eyes like a reel to reel computer tape. His eye twitched, his mouth closed, he spun on his heel, knocking over his chair and he left.

There was quiet murmuring and Hong Wen even looked out the window and collectively the Chinese students decided to make the best of things and enjoy the rest of their evening unobserved. Everyone had seemed to have finished dinner or lost their appetite. The tables were pushed back, bottles of his warm soda were carefully opened and decanted, and an audio tape was inserted into the host's stereo. To the gorgeous strains of Strauss' Blue Danube, they began to waltz.


Dear Naomi

I know you were concerned and upset when Shari was attacked so I thought you'd want to know that there was another rape on campus. It was Robin Sharansky.

I was doing a run on my usual loop with Mike Sullivan. We had decided to take the longer way through the cemetery and up around the hospital. When we came back to the Graduate Estates a campus police car was blocking the path to campus where it crosses the train tracks. An hour later I was in my Women's Studies class and found out it was Robin. I'm pretty sure you remember her, she was the redhead Deadhead who went out with the captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team.
I was sitting there while that crazy Finnish chick Lisu was demanding once again I be banned from the class because my presence there as a product of patriarchal oppression was another form of rape. Then it hit me that if Kevin and I had gone the usual way we would have been in there at the scene of the crime and maybe could have prevented it.

That night I was dreaming but thought that I had woken up in the early morning. It was still dark although a faint light was starting to creep into the eastern horizon. A vague memory of a noise had stirred me and I strained to hear. It came again a desperate cry, full of fear and despair. A woman was in very bad trouble. I bolted out the the door and stood on the lawn between the buildings and strained to hear where the cries were coming from. Finally there was a miserable gasping whimper from the direction of the river. I tried to run toward it but suddenly my body was paralyzed, I became dizzy and started to black out as the wailing began to echo again.

I woke up soaked in sweat. Outside it looked exactly like my dream, and I went out and sat in front of the door listening. While I sat there I saw the first scouts of a band of feral cats that lived in the woods along the river. They are the pets and their descendants that were abandoned by grad students when they completed their degrees. They've completely reverted to the wild. The vanguard makes sure the coast is clear, and then the main group emerges from the underbrush, the pregnant females and kittens in the middle, flanked by outriders and followed by a rear guard. They climb up into the dumpster to feed, protected by their warrior caste of battle scarred toms. I counted 36 adults, and I couldn't even see how many kittens there were. I wonder how large the pack would have to be before they decide to go after fresher fare.

Tan Mei hasn't called me back in a week. I talked to Lauren and she said that Er Fei is going to retaliate against anyone who helps me with my trip to China. He supposedly goes to the capital to file a report at the consulate through secure channels and will use his influence to make sure I don't get a travel visa. Of course it bothers me that I screwed up once again. But as bad as that is the thought that Tan Mei will bear the consequences of my arrogance. Her career is probably over once he files that report. And her father died in a re-education camp in the Cultural Revolution, murdered really. There is no guarantee the same thing won't happen to her. I shouldn't say this but chances are you aren't reading this anyway so it probably doesn't matter. I have to figure out a way to make sure Er Fei never files that report next weekend.


All week he had been turning over two questions. First did he really mean to do something about Er Fei, or was it a ploy to get Naomi to respond, even to report him if nothing else. There were moments that he had decided he had no choice and had to do something. The question then was what was to be done? He might physically be able to kill Er Fei, but wasn't able to accept a lifetime in jail or in flight from the law or communist assassins. Trying to arrange a fatal accident seemed a better but but every scenario he dreamed up, from shoving him in front of the commuter train to dropping a large piece of masonry on his head from a parapet of the Castle were he had a single dorm room, seemed to require too much luck to succeed and luck wasn't his forte.

His thoughts keep returning to Angelo. Angelo didn't officially exist on campus although he was getting increasingly daring in his appearances at parties and the campus bar when a friend from the baseball team was tending bar. Angelo could arrange this easily. He would enjoy every minute of the caper. He lived for that kind of thing. Dom was very aware that this reasoning was the same that got him into trouble before. Where was Angelo when he had been sweating in an FBI interrogation room?

Yet no other good plan had presented itself. Wednesday night Angelo was at the Stein. Since he didn't have a Wednesday night Mandarin lesson anymore Dom had added an additional drinking night to his schedule.He came over and questioned Dom in a friendly way to find out how his case was going. Angelo's family had provided the lawyer in return for his cooperation. When he was satisfied that not only had Dom kept silent but it was starting to look like the case was going to be dismissed. Dom was thinking this would be the perfect time to ask. Why was it so hard to avoid doing the same stupid thing over and over?

Dom had to wait until Angelo's wiseguy banter dried up and he moved on before he felt he was permitted to leave the bar. The feminist group that had mobilized to combat the rash of rapes had demanded a curfew, the administration had countered with a voluntary arrangement that suggested that if both male and female students needed to travel around campus after 1PM when the libraries closed they should use the volunteer safety service to escort them. There was also a call for more volunteers and Dom had signed up. His training was tomorrow morning and his first shift was later that night. He also had a meeting with Lauren. He assumed that between the enmity of Er Fei and Tan Mei's defection as his tutor his trip was a no go, but Lauren had mysteriously suggested that he might still have an option. He was willing to see what she had in mind but he wasn't getting his hopes up.

The escort training was straightforward and solemn. It would have been a marvel of organization except for the frequent pointless interruptions by the Wymmin's Coalition "observer", who like a political officer in the Red Army, had to interfere with anything resembling efficiency. The observer was a PoliSci major from Yonkers, she had been a housemate of a friend of his and was given to communicating her grievances to those she lived with in shrill notes taped to refrigerators, bathroom mirrors and even TV screens.

When he got to Lauren's office she was making tea which she always offered him and he always declined. The office always smelled faintly of Tibetan incense. When dealing with authority figures, or at least what passed for them at a college like this, Dom was accustom to gauging their level of disapproval of him. It was assumed that while this metric could vary wildly, it was never entirely absent. Maybe one of the things Dom found unsettling about Lauren was he never knew where he was on her shitlist.

She waited until he was seated in the old naugahyde chair that she inherited from a Russian emigre Comp Lit professor who was now more lucratively tenured at the more famous nearby women's college. She positioned herself behind the desk and seated herself with excruciating grace and quietness. Then she maintained a silent air of pensiveness. Is this what a first job interview was like? He stared sullenly at the floor until she finally spoke. Thankfully she got right to the point. His trip was dead in the water, Er Fei had approached her husband directly and demanded Dom be removed from consideration. Dom asked what was going to happen to Tan Mei and the others at the party. Lauren seemed strangely unconcerned. She stood up and began to pace as if about to make a momentous decision. There was another opportunity that had come up. She paused waiting to see what Dom's response was. She was behind him, standing in front of the office door. After a few moments she continued. Her husband had been asked to create an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Art. Based on his volunteer work on the Blake exhibit and current work, he could be considered for an assistant's position. He might even be able to choose a few of the pieces on loan. She walked around and sat on edge of the desk in front of him. This was unusual. Again she paused, expectant. Dom reiterated almost in a whine, that he was still worried about Tan Mei.

Lauren actually looked exasperated for a moment, Dom couldn't help feeling a little flicker of infantile pride at disrupting her composure. When she had calmed herself again her gaze took on a startling smokiness. She began to explain that the reason he shouldn't worry about Tan Mei is that she had plenty of experience dealing with Er Fei. I don't trust him Dom blurted. He's evil. Her smile was both pitying and condescending. Tan Mei never scheduled a tutoring session on Thursday night did she? Dom admitted she hadn't that was one of the reasons Thursday became bar night with his teammates. That's the night that Er Fei visits her. He's been seen at her door punctually at 10PM and leaving at one or two in the morning. When he hadn't responded after a minute or so she slowly stood up and walked over to him. She began stroking the curls near the back of his neck. He was up and at the door quicker than a gasp. It didn't yield when he tried to pull it open, she had locked it at some point. He fumbled with the latch and slammed the door behind him.

He had planned to work out on the bag and shower before his shift, this would clear his head of the emotional and hormonal static of what was becoming a difficult day with no resolution in sight. The problem was he had stopped to pick up his mail as his only daily ritual reflecting anything resembling optimism. There was a slip telling him to pick up a package at the window. He had seen the post mark. Dread hung like a cold iron ingot in his stomach all the way back to his room. It was the feel of the package that snuffed out any hope, it couldn't be anything other than that which he feared. He opened it anyway. Until the moment he had to make his decision he sat on the edge of the bed, arbitrating between the different impulses that were curiously diverse. The darkest was the most vivid, where he took a slow dive off the highest parapet of the Castle. the access hatch was locked but he had popped it before easily. The moderate course seemed to be to blow off his escort shift and go to the Stein and drink until his brain was an apathetic slurry. He surprised himself by grabbing his leather jacket and walking to the student center to check in with the service. He was completely unaware of leaving the door of his room wide open and the pile of unopened letters that were inside the package scattered on the floor.


Dear Naomi

Everything was a blur up until the point I left the Dean's office last week. Since then I feel like I entered a weird alternative universe. I don't answer my phone but I got a letter from Lauren saying she has been trying to reach me. I need to get a new advisor this week. That crazy Finnish chick Lisu keeps asking me to have dinner at her apartment off campus. No one has seen Angelo all week. I saw Tan Mei between classes on Monday. We just kind of looked at each other and we both kept walking. All the other Chinese make a point of talking to me whenever they see me, asking if I'm all right. I have a couple of cracked ribs and still have a black eye where Er Fei clipped me with that back hand move. He must have had some special martial arts training in the People's Army or something.

The town police asked me if I wanted to press charges for assault, but they didn't think the AG would have a very good case. Some jerk from the consulate wanted them to arrest me, but the Dean actually got angry and told them as an a security escort I had made a "non-violent intervention" which is an interesting way to describe taking a beating. When they questioned me I said I didn't remember anything after seeing someone move in the shadows, which I guess they believed because of the concussion Er Fei gave me. The other escort and Lisu who was "observing" agreed in separate statements that they found me wrestling with Er Fei yelling "He's a rapist!"I do remember that he tried to get away a few times after I had initially tackled him [nobody saw that] and whenever he managed to break my hold I grabbed his leg or what ever I could get a hold of. I didn't really take too much punishment until the last time he got loose and kind of went berserk and really started pounding me, which was perfectly timed for when the campus cops answered the other escort's call on the radio.

The whole Wimmyn's Coaliton rally was weird. Even though the police announced there wasn't any evidence that Er Fei was involved in any of the rapes, one of the female campus officers is friendly with the head of the Women's Studies department, and the details of the report don't cast Er Fei in a very favorable light. Maybe they don't care whether he's a rapist or just a vicious bastard. But as of yesterday he has left the country if my sources are correct.

I wonder if certain people have figured out what really happened. I've been honorably discharged as an security escort, the director said that post traumatic stress was too much of a concern to allow me to continue my duties in good conscience, but my selfless devotion to the campus community was appreciated and I was given a certificate to that effect.

I actually do have trouble remembering exactly what was going through my head when I saw him making his way along the path near the tracks, the very spot the last rape occurred, on his way to Tan Mei's for his Thursday night visit. The vague impression is that it was something red and wordless. But it wasn't really a decision so much as a reflex, so maybe that's why it didn't turn out to be a total disaster this time. But on the other hand, at some point I still have to face the fact that I withheld the truth, or at least an important part of it. And I didn't really learn anything that seems helpful. And I don't have any idea what I am supposed to do now.

When she came to visit me in the hospital, Lisu told me that I should really check out the folk art of the Lapplanders which is apparently almost completely ignored outside of Finland. She even offered to get her father to pay for the plane ticket to do some research over the Passover break to see if I want to do my thesis on it. I guess he's some kind of bigshot tire company executive. The idea is starting to grow on me at least compared to moping around here trying to figure out what else I can do. No doubt I'll screw it up, but either way I'll let you know how it turns out.
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