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Monday, June 23, 2014

Running to Stand Still, Part 1

            Oliver sat in the back of the classroom staring at the paper Professor Parker had just passed back to him. It was Oliver’s last class of the day. Scrawled over the paper’s title, “Oedipus Wrecked” was a large red capital D. Oliver’s hand tightened and the paper crumpled with it. The rustle of multiple backpacks zipping closed and being picked up by their owners filled the room as students started making their way out of the room. Oliver stared at Professor Parker. Professor Parker sat at the front of the class behind a gray table. Behind him, his cane rested against the wall underneath the classroom white boards. He was reviewing his attendance book through a pair of small glasses that were pinched to the tip of his nose.
            Oliver stood up and made his way down the row of desks through the departing students to Professor Parker’s table. Professor Parker looked up at Oliver. Oliver’s jaw clenched and his cheeks bulged. He unclenched his jaw and his face went back to normal. Professor Parker removed his glasses and placed the on the table. He leaned back in his chair, scratching his withered neck through his turtleneck sweater.
            “How can I help you, Mr. Krosky?” Professor Parker asked.
            “I want to talk to you about my paper,” Oliver said.
            “As I stated at the beginning of class, Mr. Krosky, you may discuss your grade after you have had twenty four hours to review your paper. I will not discuss it a moment sooner.”
            Oliver clenched his fist, the paper crinkled. “But, sir...”
            “There are no buts, Mr. Krosky.” Professor Parker leaned forward and started reviewing his attendance book again. “The rules apply to everyone. You are not exempt; as I’ve already informed you concerning the attendance policy.”
            Oliver clenched his teeth again.
            “Is there anything else I can help you with, Mr. Krosky?”
            Oliver didn’t answer. He turned around, walked back to his desk, and picked up his backpack. He quickly threw the wrinkled paper into his bag, zipped it up and walked out of the classroom. As he rounded a corner outside the classroom he nearly ran into a soda machine. Oliver balled up his fist and punched it three times.
            “Whoa,” a guy across the hall called out to him. Oliver turned around, one of his classmates walked up to him.
            “Oh, hey,” Oliver said. “Ah, I’m sorry, I forgot your name.”
            “Saul,” he said, “but most people call me Paul. You alright, man.”
            “Parker gave me a goddamn D on the paper man. What’d you get?”
            “I got a B man.”
            “How’d you pull that off?” Oliver asked.
            “Earned it, I guess.” Saul took a pack of gum out of his pocket. He offered Oliver a piece, but Oliver declined. After shoving a stick of gum in his mouth, “I’d say I worked on that shit for at least a week. How ‘bout you?”
            “I finished it the morning it was due.”
            “Yeah?” The corners of Saul’s mouth twitched. “When did you start it?”
            “I think Parker’s got something against my dad man.”
            “Oh really?” Saul smiled. “They go to school together?”
            “Fuck you, man. My dad’s not old as sin.” Oliver turned toward the door at the end of the hall and started walking.
            “So what are you going to do about it then?” Saul called after him.

            Oliver left the building. As he walked across campus, he kept balling up his fists and muttering under his breath. “I’ll talk to the goddamn department chair, that’s what I’ll do.” “He can’t treat me like this, just ain’t right.” He didn’t look up when Jenny Hollander from his Survey of Astronomy class called out to him. He didn’t see her strawberry blond hair wave in the breeze, or notice how the wind hiked up her short skirt to reveal her unblemished thighs. As he kept walking, so did she, shrugging off his ignorance.

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