[Author’s note: This is an age’s old fragment of a story I’d like to do something more with. Suggestions are appreciated!]
Click. Click, click.
From the driver’s seat of his beat up ’76 Duster, Arthur Pope photographed the chairman of his college’s Business School, Henry Girard. Girard, a short and stout gremlin of a man, occupied the position coveted by Arthur and Arthur had worked too hard for too long to let that continue. Arthur was handsome and well-regarded by his students, which he imagined consumed Girard with jealousy. Why else would Girard have Arthur’s classes cut and lasso him into substituting for an ailing professor whose mundane subject everyone hated?
Arthur slumped below the wheel as Girard shuffled towards his Lexus a few cars up the street. Once Girard was gone, Arthur looked back at the house Girard exited to see Hillary standing in the doorway, staring back at him. She nodded toward Arthur, then slipped back inside, winding like a snake. Arthur reached into his glove compartment and dug out the phone Girard was always carelessly leaving around. He called Hillary.
“Well?” Arthur asked.
“We have what we came for,” she answered.
“Took you a while. You didn’t, you know…”
“No. I’m saving myself for the right guy, remember? Are you the right guy, Mr. Arthur Poop?”
Poop, that’s clever, he thought. She could be so juvenile sometimes.
“It’s Pope. And I told you to use his name when I called you from his cell.” Arthur rolled his eyes when he realized what he’d just done. “You could have at least used my pet name,” he smiled sardonically into the phone.
“Right, Poppy” she drawled. “Which one of us is the one with issues again?”
Although Hillary was much younger than Arthur, the guilt only bothered him for a fleeting moment. Be it lust or love, his emotions for her crushed whatever guilt he harbored. Yes, she was young – Hillary had made her way into college two years early – but she was smarter and more mature than any other student he’d ever had. Being smart and mature sometime equaled crafty and his would-be lover certainly was that. That’s why he wanted her on his side. Perhaps then it was neither lust nor love. Perhaps it was fear. Whichever way, she excited him.
“Are you sure you want to go ahead with this?” he asked her.
She raised the pitch of her voice. “I just turned eighteen years old, too naïve to reject the subtle advances of a suave, older gentleman with a knack for…business. I’m an innocent victim.”
That goddamn childlike tone of hers. Goddamn me if I ever get on her bad side, Arthur thought.
“Honestly, doesn’t this make you feel a little like Batman and Robin?” Hillary excitedly started in again.
Arthur made a face. “What are you talking about? They were both guys.”
“Sure,” Hillary answered. “You’ve got Batman, a man who dresses up in a cape and cowl who recruits an underage boy to help him fight crime whom he dresses in, you guessed it, a cape and cowl. No sexual tension there,” she giggled.
While Arthur largely refrained from thinking his relationship with Hillary was inappropriate — after all, he’d done nothing more than kiss her — it flustered him to have it spoken aloud.
“We’re not fighting crime,” Arthur replied after a few moments.
“Batman and Robin didn’t really fight crime, either. The villains they fought kept conveniently escaping prison so they could fight all over again. Think about that! Anyway, have you seen Henry Girard up-close? It’s criminal. And he has the nerve to exchange grades for favors…all those poor girls,” she trailed off in disbelief.
“I would never do that,” Arthur assured her.
“I know, Poppy,” Hillary cooed. “You’ll just do it for the favors”
This is wrong, floated through Arthur’s head. But he wanted to be the chairman of the Business School, so he ignored the idea best he could. After all, wasn’t their affair or whatever it was the lesser of two evils? Arthur decided what they were doing was business and he was teaching Hillary a valuable lesson; that to be successful in business, sometimes you have to go around the law.
That’s wrong, too, passed through Arthur’s ears next. And when all of this went south, Arthur knew he’d be the one of them to take the fall. He realized then it was really Hillary who was teaching him the lesson, that you’re always a student. You’re always a student and if you don’t prepare for tests, you’re going to fail horribly, utterly, in a flaming old Duster, burnt by a little red Corvette.
All Rights Reserved (c) November 2016 John J Vinacci