dontravis.com blog post #519
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Several comments to my email on “Statue of Limitations,” one of which informed me that I called one character by two different names. I tried to convince him that was a purposeful mistake to see how many readers would catch it… but my subterfuge didn’t work. He saw through me right away and said I needed to do a better job of editing. My bad.
Let’s try another short story this week. Here’s the first installment.
A guy’s freshman year at college is supposed to be a trip, but within a month, I realized that wasn’t the half of it. I’d been a decent jock—basketball and soccer—in high school and fairly popular. Oh, I had my issues with a couple of a-holes, but for the most part students and teachers liked and treated me well. In fact, they elected me senior class president. Yahoo. Big deal. Although I gotta admit, when I saw the first “Peter Maravic for President” sign, I got a little charge out of it. Oh yeah, I had my share of girlfriends too.
Even though I believed I was emotionally prepared, moving from my southern New Mexico middling-sized hometown to Albuquerque at eighteen was harder than I anticipated. At times, my head felt like a soccer ball being kicked around the field. In the first place, I left a secure environment and headed into a place where—for the most part—the rep I worked hard to earn didn’t travel along with me. Normal, I guess. Every guy has to carve out a new one with every major change. Wasn’t too hard in sports, but classes were something else. A few had so many students, I was simply a nobody listening to some guy lecture a hall full of other nameless students. A fellow got no personal attention unless he made an appointment with a professor.
And in the romance department… forget it. Oh, there were plenty of girls around, but from sophomores to seniors, they looked down their noses at freshmen. And some pretty noses, at that. As far as frosh girls, they seemed like… well, like high schoolers masquerading at college girls. Now that I think of it, that’s probably how I looked to them. And while I’m not a mama’s boy, I missed my parents and little sister… a lot.
So I started earning my way, careening from class to the SUB—that’s the student union building for the uninitiated—to the local bar favored by underclassmen to meaningless dates with a few girls, cramming in a bit of studying, all in a 24-hour period. You notice I didn’t include sleeping. Deliberate. There wasn’t much of that.
By my third week on campus, my efforts to get noticed succeeded, but not in the way I intended. One day after class, I hit the john in the SUB and noticed a message scribbled on a wall of the stall.
Petey M., you’re one hell of a hunk. Sure would like to get to know you. If you’re copacetic, write a Y below this message.
I’m sure anyone who happened to be in the bathroom right then wondered what was going on in Stall #1, because I made a racket trying to scrape those words off the wall. An eraser didn’t’ do any good, so I ended up making it more or less unreadable by scraping at it with my keys. Then I wrote a big “No” right over it before stalking out of there for a brief wash-up at the sinks. My eyes probably looked manic as they switched this way or that as I searched for my stalker. Wasn’t anyone there.
That evening before we started studying, I told my roommate, a cool dude named Marco, another freshman about the note. While he proclaimed himself an Okie, he didn’t come across as a redneck. Pretty sophisticated, actually. Shows you what a dumbass I am about rednecks and hillbillies. We all have our prejudices, don’t we?
He laughed. “So you’ve got an admirer. Big deal.”
“Big deal? Damned straight it’s a big deal unless some chick snuck in the boy’s… uh, men’s bathroom and left me a message.”
He leveled caramel-colored eyes at me. “What makes you think it was left for you? There’s probably more’n one Peter on campus.”
That brought me down. “Hadn’t thought of that. Took it too personal, I guess.” But somehow it didn’t wash. “Another Petey M.? That’s pretty specific?”
“Who calls you Petey?”
“Nobody I can think of. I’m Pete to most —” I paused and probably blushed a little.—“except to a couple of girls back home.”
After he got a pretty good laugh out of that, we settled down to study. After a while, I glanced at his head buried in a book. Dark, curly hair. Good-looking guy. Why hadn’t he gotten the message instead of me. I’m okay, but my light brown—almost blondish—hair didn’t compare to his. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.
“You ever got anything like that?”
He glanced up. “Huh?”
“You know, the message in the john.”
He gave a lazy smile. “You still hung up on that?”
“Wouldn’t you be? Anyway, answer me.”
He stretched his long arms and yawned. Reading textbooks will do that to you. “Can’t say I have. Makes me downright jealous.”
“Okay, you bastard. Quit making fun of me. I didn’t write that note on the stall wall.”
His eyes narrowed; his smile brightened. “How do I know you didn’t? Maybe you were lonely and….” He laughed and ducked when I threw my ruler at him.
The next day when I went to the john at the SUB, I couldn’t help myself. I entered the first stall and found my stalker had struck again. The words, “Now Petey, don’t be like that,” were twice as big as the original message.
What do you think of when you hear about a stalker? Nine out of ten of us would think of some guy harassing a girl, wouldn’t we? But there is plenty of stalking out there that doesn’t involve a female. Tell me… the guys among you, that is… have you ever been stalked? But let’s not be sexist. The gals can chime in too. Oh, buy the way… have any of you ever been the stalker?
Tell me what you think.
Stay safe and stay strong.
Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!
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See you next Thursday.
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