Table of Contents for the "Hole" Story
|Chapter 1||Chapter 2||Chapter 3|
|Chapter 4||Chapter 5||Chapter 6|
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Keep Me Whole Until Morning
Chapter 40 -- Welcome to Ninevah Edit
"What happened to the grape leaves and the olives?" Ranier asked as he scanned my desk top. There were still two apples left in the box that said: "Eat one of these if you are hungry." There had been ten apples last Sunday.
"I brought the food to the Break-Fast, and a couple of professors really thanked me. They miss their delicacies. Thanks for the gift."
"Not a problem," Ranier replied. "I know you never get enough olives."
"I needed an old standby tonight." I'd had a personal green olive and anchovy pizza at Pizza Shuttle along with enough Cherry Coke to light up all of Norman. My nerves still felt a bit raw, jangled, and off from the Yom Kippur fast. I could not think of any resolutions except to keep my head about me, and I'd kind of have to do that anyway.
"You'll feel better in a day or two. A waterless fast is a high risk you know."
"I'm eighteen, young and strong."
"You're stronger than you know."
"OK, what did you want to talk to me about?" I asked. If it was about Shasta, Moses, conflict diamonds, onyx, olives, or much of anything I realized I was at the bottom of my patience. I could pretend to be brave, but part of me was just tired of Ranier and his gifts and his attempts to prove himself good when he was in no way ready to make amends or maybe just clueless. Yes, that was it. I was exhausted. Maybe it was the fast. Maybe it was the mental space Yom Kippur had given me to think about things. I was not sure.
"I want to talk about us, my family, our history. I think you can believe some of this. You have a more open mind than most people."
"My brains fell out a long time ago," I quipped.
"Your brains seem very intact to me. It's your body that is still suffering. Now, Rimona, I was raised to believe that the strong take the weak. The smart take the dumb. The predator takes the prey. That is the way of nature. That is the truth."
I fought hard to stifle a yawn. I'd read this philosophy in Crime and Punishment my senior year of high school, and it landed poor Roskolnikov in a world of pain. Blood on your hands is just that. Each human has a spark of the divine, and rights from there on in. It doesn't matter if he or she is smart or dumb, big or little, socially smooth or awkward. It doesn't matter whether she can't catch a softball, drive a car, or always fit in. I took a deep breath.
"That is the way I was raised," Ranier trotted out the oldest excuse in the oldest book in the Universe. "And with good reason. My family and I are smart, strong, attractive, and we know how to use our advantages. We live longer than most people, three to four times longer depending on the prevailing life expectancy. I am the twelfth of fifteen children. My mother is sixty seven and not sure she wants a sixteenth child.
"Five generations ago, my family came to the Western Hemisphere from what today would be Southern Romania...."
I smiled. I got the joke. "Transylvania," I piped up.
"People make that comparison sometimes, but we lived south of there by about eighty kilometers, closer to the ocean. Our big city was Varna, an old Roman Port. Maybe we aided the Roman Empire when Romania was still Dacia. I'm not the family historian, but long lives mean long memories, lots of continuity."
I could agree with that. I could trace my family back six generations due to long, living memories. I had a great grandmother who was ninty-five. We'd had a big, blow out of a party for her a few years back when she turned ninty. I'd been to several ninetieth birthday celebrations for assorted uncles and aunts. Sooner or later someone would "break triple digits," but I also did the math. If what Ranier was saying was true and people in his family lived two to three hundred years, then five to six generations would be several hundred years, not a hundred and fifty years. I shook my head.
Now, I know you studied your Western History and you know what happened in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Europe.
"What is the Seventy Years War?" I was ready for my forty dollars on Jeopardy.
"And what was the cause of the Seventy Years War?" asked Ranier, eyes shining. He was getting through.
"The Reformation and Counter-Reformation." Sorry. I know this stuff, but the Seventy Years War was in Germany, not Romania. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was staunchly Catholic or was it? Some parts were Eastern Orthodox and other parts Moslem.
"And what event followed on the heels of Protestant ideology?" <p>"The Englightenment which was the same philosophy that fueld the American and French Revolutions."
"I don't have to explain very much with you." Ranier grinned from ear to ear. "Now our village, the village where our peasants lived got invaded by a bunch of German, Protestant missionaries filled with high ideals about man being made in God's image and invdividual rights, and the peasants lapped it up.
"After all we used them as they deserved to be used. Some humans are rats. Some are cattle. Some are less useful than cattle, but not as vile as rats, so we use them until they are used up or until they get bright ideas about freedom, democracy, a living wage, working conditions; until some fool missionary teaches them to read and right and 'enlightens' them.
"Now if this were a century or two or even fifty years earlier, we would have gotten the church on our side and staged an Inquisition, or we would have just put the revolt down making sure to impale a few heads on poles as an example of what we can do. It wouldn't have taken much, but the Seventeenth Century was a complicated time, and my forbears had let the Protestants operate since they seemed harmless. Little did we know. The Church felt slighted and declared itself neutral. Also, the inbred, local, landed interests laughed in our faces and secretly supported our peasants. Fools! They'd have the same problem soon enough.
"We had no choice but to declare war on our neighbors who were happy to side with our peasants until they had to deal with us."
"Do you remember all this?" I asked.
"I'm eighteen years old," Ranier replied, "But my great grandparents knew the ancestors who lived through this. Remember, continuity." The old book had a few new pages in it. "Soon the unhappy neighbors appealed to Bucharest. We were outgunned, outmanned, and about to have our land confiscated. My great by three grandfather and mother found themselves accused of witchcraft because they survived for three years in a dungeon. Miracles are demonic if they happen to the wrong people, and it wasn't a miracle. We're just strong enough to survive a lot of infections and harsh treatment.
"Our family had to go into exile, and they decided to get as far away from the stinking Reformation and Englightenment as they could go. They sailed for Spain, but just over the border with Spain was Southern France which had a relationship wtih Northern France which was worse than Germany. A boat or a determined walker could spread the word even in the days before electronic commmunication.
"We sailed for the New World..."
"America was settled by the English!" I all but screamed. "They lived the Englightenment." <p>"New Spain was Roman Catholic, and much of it inland and away from the gold fields was lawless which was fine. We could be our own law. We traveled as far into New Spain as we could get. We traveled beyond Tejas, on to where no one was sure who owned the land. First it was France and then when Napoleon needed to raise money for his wars, it was the United States, but they did not even know what they had. They called our corner of the country, the Great American Desert."
"So what has all this to do with us," I blurted out. I could after all tell the story of my Great Grandmother's escape from an arranged marriage in Riga, Latvia in the late 1800's. My family too had a long memory, but the past was very far away.
"We were in Boise City when the other settlers arrived. We invested in the land because it was not like home. We dug deep wells that didn't go dry in drought. We had gardens close to the house. We kept goats along with cows and sometimes raised horses and mules for cash. We had gardens and a large variety of trees...including the walnut that poisons the soil around it because that is how it fights for survival. It's the way nature works. </p>
"We don't bother our neighbors, but if they compete with us, we win and we make sure they know. We try not to break the law."
"What about Moses?" I asked.
"Youthful indiscretion. My parents said not to do it again. Now lets go back to the past. The leader of the missionaries was a small man with glasses. I could have torn him up in a fight, but unlike your typical hulking peasant with space for rent upstairs, the missionary did not fear us. He really believed in his God and his law, and he stuck to them. That he appealed to the local magistrate who at first laughed at him did not matter. That he made peace with the priests was a step in the right direction. That he made sure the peasants weren't used by our neighbors and stayed at the center of the fight...well...that was just different. Without those missionaries, the peasants would not have held their ground."
"But you...your family...ended up in America and made good. You made a killing."
"The head missionary, Pastor Frader, and at least two of his assistants were what are called Resistors. They are small. They use the law. They work like moles or rats, but with the cunning of barn cats or weasels or other small beasts and the intelligence.... and lack of fear. They are also reasonably long lived, sometimes living more than a century and often into their ninties. They're our closest relatives among the ordinary humans and our worst enemy."
I sat on the bed tasting olives, buttery canned Lindsay Natural olives, the green ones. I could see Pastor Frader in my mind's eye, his glasses knocked askew, his eyes wobbling in their sockets, maybe one of them blind.
</p>"Do Re-Sis-Tors have strong executive ability?" I asked.
Ranier nodded. "Some probably have an impecable sense of direction, fine memory, a willingness to work hard even when it brings no glory. If we had the Resistor work ethic, we could rule the world through love rather than fear. I heard that all the time I was growing up." </p>"
You think you rule the world!" I yelled. I could have laughed but it would have come out as tears. I knew my stomach hurt. I curled my arm around it because the pain made white lights shine in front of my eyes.
"We dominate where we choose. Usually we stay out of the limelight. Discretion works. This is not the sixteenth century in our own corner of Romania any more...."
I remembered Ranier's family. I remembered the way they treated Shasta and the way they were just a little afraid of me. Well, my family was long-lived. Yes, I had stood up to my wealthy parents and stronger brother, but I couldn't back down and besides it was SELF PRESERVATION. Any one would have done it...except it was easier to get along. I risked being disowned. I.... I let my head rest in my hands. Tears burned the insides of my eyes. "There's a name for what I am," I said aloud. "I'm not just difficult or emotionally dense, except I lack leadership ability....totally."
"You don't always have to get others to listen, and besides," Ranier responded. "You got your judge, your teacher, the guardian-ad-li-tem, and the judge to listen and believe you when you were fourteen. Don't you think that counts. Harmony says taht most victims don't stand up in court the way you did and not in the face of all the pressure your family exerted."
"You found the records..."
"My older sisters did. They were worried about me. Resistors and Strong Ones are natural enemies."
"This is bullshit!" I screamed. "We're both human beings. That's all we are. We're college students. You... I.... Ranier if I'm your enemy why do you hang out with me?"
"You're useful. You're teaching me to work, even when I would rather have fun and what to do when things don't come easy. Also we both share a rational attitude toward the world and our surroundings. Isn't that enough?"
"What about when I'm NOT useful any more?"
"I'm not going to let that happen."
"What do you mean?"
"You're my friend, Rimona."
"If all you believe in is dog eat dog, how can you understand friendship."
"I love Shasta. Do I use her?"
"What about when her beauty fades."
"We all age. I'll understand. I'm not a sociopath. Yes, I acted impulsively my senior year of high school. I know you don't belive Moses deserved it, but he did. You're not Moses. You're not Shasta. This is the twenty-first century and we have to get along with all kinds of people, especially those who are the most like us but still different, understand?"
Ranier showed me his hands to show me he was unarmed. Maybe he meant it as a joke. I doubled over in pain.
"What's the matter?"
"Nervous stomach. Resistors are not as strong as vampires."
"Oh Lord... we still get that name for sticking those peasants' heads on poles. Don't you understand, a little desecration stops worse crimes. We had to do it. I guess some things you never live down. I guess what I did to Moses is going to work the same way.
"Mason got me thinking. No more violence for me, not for a long time anyway. Is that good enough?"
I said it was. I did not know how long a long time was. I figured it was a couple of semesters which that Friday night after Yom Kippur felt like an enternity. I was the rational counteweight to Shasta, the one who understood meeting places and picking out tables in the dining hall, the one figured out her way around and did not complain about walking, the one who was not greedy and who had ideals and a work ethic. And Ranier was my dorm-mate. He was the pleasant charming side of Eben who was now suffering far more than anything than legitimate law could inflict.
"You realize some day I may stand up to you," I warned Ranier.
"I've never fought physically with a woman and I'm not going to do it with you, OK?"
What could I say. We stayed friends. Ranier then invited me to his and Shasta's engagement party except they wanted to schedule it next weekend which was the weekend before Midterms.
"You're right. We'll schedule it for right after the tests. That will give us a week to get everything ready. Sound like a good idea?"
"Go for it," I told Ranier. "You'll make Shasta very happy."
Rimona Q. Hektor
University of Oklahoma
"There's no Contant Whatever tea here. just sweet and unsweet" Biscuit Boy gave me a lesson as I rooted around the beverage bar Monday morning after Yom Kippur. I don't have a coffee habbit and I love flavored tea. I settled on a bag of no name black stuff and found my way to the cereal bar. I go there anyway and they usually have cinamon for the oatmeal. Homemade Cinamon Stick tea anyone. "Necessity is the mother of invention," I told Biscuit Boy as I offered hima sniff of my drink. "The real product is better of course."
"Hot tea," shrugged Biscuit Boy, "and no cereal this morning." That was true, I had just an orange and two fist fulls of raisins. "Are you on a diet, Ree-mo-na?"
My sin was worse than being a stereotypical dainty, Yankee female. "My stomach is bothering me. Nerves."
"I'd think you'd still be hungry after not eating anything on Thursday. I don't know how you did it."
"God told her to do it," Ghost pretended I was not here.
"Religious fasts are special. They're also social," Ghost continued.
"Yeah but won't raisins make you sicker?" asked Biscuit Boy.
"Fruit and tea are all I can eat when I get like this," I explained.
"What about olives?" Biscuit Boy asked.
"I probably could stomach those," I replied.
"Won't you get mal-nutrition?"
"Not really," Ranier came to my rescue. "The nerves go away in a few hours or days, and Rimona's intestines hurt as little as possible. She's trying to minimize the damage."
"Women...." sighed Ghost.
"You wouldn't last a week on a farm," sighed Biscuit Boy.
"Don't farms have orchards?" I smiled.
"Maybe the hard work would settle your stomach," Ranier advised. Oh Ranier, you source of my stress, though not really. Ranier's story had stirred the seething cauldron of untoward memories and associations that bubbled and brewed normally quietly at the bottom of my psyche. Yes, I dreamed of Ranier. Yes, I dreamed of Moses. Yes, I dreamed of Eben even when none of them were in the dreams. I woke up thinking I was at 13 Wildwood. I woke up trying to convince myself I was at the Grazeille's but my dormitory room smelled wrong. It smelled alien and I could not place the odor. I jumped out of bed Sunday morning before dawn and ran to the window. I parted the blinds and for a moment did not know where I was. A bar of moonlight made a blue stripe on the sleeping Kerry who had finally given up studying for Midterms that were a week away.
Inside the Sociology Tower, I kept imagining someone was jimmying the lock. I heard it rattle twenty times, but by the fifth time I knew it was my mind playing tricks on me. My mind still continued to play tricks event though I knew the joke. And it did not help Sunday night that Mom called me. She was upset that I was going to spend winter break with the Grazielle's. She asked if I wanted Eben to stay in prison. I told her that Eben was in a behavior modification school. Mom said it was prison. Mom was right. Yes, I wanted Eben to get help. Eben, however, hadn't gotten help for three years. I did not tell Mom she was part of the problem, even though she was. I did tell Mom that Eben had never completed his court-mandated anger management counseling and given a stint in private jail to prevent Dad from being embarassed, he was likely to return to Pandemonium very angry. "It's just not safe for me to be around him," Mom. "The judge may agree with me."
"I don't care what the judge says," Mom replied. "It's time you learned to get along with your brother. He's the only sibling you have."
"If people are a physical threat, you stay away from them."
"If people are a physical threat you learn not to provoke them."
"In other words you knuckle under to them and learn to live in fear."
"You stop being primed for conflict."
"I can't Mom. We've been through this before. The Grazielles are letting me stay with them."
"Does your father know about this?"
"No and he doesn't have to know if I go travelling during winter break. That's all it is, Mom. I'm an adult now. I have custody of myself."
"But you still have that order of protection."
"Mom, did you ever think my staying at the Grazielles is going to make it easier to get Eben back since it won't be breaking the order of protection?"
"Have you ever thought of going to law school Rimona?"
You get the idea. Mom had a court date for the second week in October, two weeks after midTerms. That meant Eben would spend two more weeks down the behavior modification hole, and it was behavior modification. I had learned in psychology class and by helping Shasta with her research that behavior modification was for rats, prisoners, infants, and institutionalized humans. Cognitive therapy or behavior therapy was for paying, consenting customers. Eben unfortunately fell into the first group. And no, Eben was not getting what he deserved. He was in the hole for smoking pot, not beating up on me or any one else. The only reason Eben had ended up before a judge for violence was that I had spoken to Social Services and to that judge and refused to lie. Punishment can be extremely random.
I mused on this as I walked to English class. "You look awful," Kerry greeted me as we settled in. "You need to run some laps."
"If I run laps I'll puke," I responded.
It was a fine sunny day on Monday, good football weather. I felt bad about disappearing to study over in the engineering building. I was not concentrating well. In the ladies room as I sat doubled over with the gut cramps I could not avoid, I left a message for Moses Wolfe, cancelling this Wednesday's meeting. I needed time to study now that I was not as productive as usual. That was it. I said to call me and keep in touch, to text me if he felt so inclined.
I was not cutting Moses off. In fact, I had hoped to bump into him. I walked at a half trot toward Couch. Ranier had all ready picked out the table. "Where were you?" he asked. I noticed, he did not ask if I were feeling better. My gut did feel somewhat better since the trip to the toilet in the engineering building. I had canned beets and black olives with Oil and lemon juice and a peanut butter and honey sandwich on whole wheat. It made no sense to trust ranch dressing. I also had an orange for dessert and more hot tea this time with lemon.
"There are your olives," chimed in Biscuit Boy. "And no dressing on that salad."
"Oil and lemon dressing," I answered. "Italian dressing," I explained.
"Won't that make you sicker?"
"Olive oil is good oil," I replied. "The butterfat in the milk is more of a problem. Don't worry, I'm getting better."
"You have MidTerms, Ree-moh-na."
"Don't we all?"
Shasta laughed. She'd been picking at her sliced chicken on white bread. She had given up on the chicken cutlet sandwiches. I'd suggest peanut butter or swiss cheese if her stomach could take dairy, or perhaps provolone. Sometimes we got provolone but not often enough. Then there were always hard boiled eggs or cooked beans, but stomachs and taste buds are individual.
"I looked all over for you Rah-mo-nah," Shasta could never get my name right. "I wanted to study math with you. Ranier really likes it when we can all sit together, and it makes it much easier."
"Also, I need you to look over my education paper. I saw what you were writing for psychology and you're so good at this stuff,"
"Please Shasta," I thought irritably. "Just stop whining. Still, after calculus Shasta and I snagged a group study room in the engineering building, and went to work. "This place gives me the creeps," Shasta complained. "It's just a building like any other," I told her. That was true. If it had been otherwise, I probably would feel better. Moses, though probably studied mostly at home. Home for him was Uncle Juval and Aunt Kate's scruffy and rough abode. I couldn only imagine such people. I imagined the loaded shotgun under the bed that probably had more than rock salt in its barrel. Oh well, Oklahoma has a stand your ground law not that Ranier would ever go to that apartment. I did not put it past him to know where it was. I was the one who was in the proverbial darkness.
Shasta's main problem with her paper was parenthetical citations. I can never keep citation forms straight and I was used to CSE and a bit of MLA. APA, the citation style for education, was totally foreign to me. Still I knew where to give credit and was able to help Shasta lay out her articles (She had full text for everything!) all over the big, graffiti-covered, work table. On the table, I noticed a picture of a sea turtle, drawn in great detail with ball point pen. I wondered who had drawn it and why. I tried to imagine some suffering soul with a yearning for sand and sun while he or she shivered in her prickling skin. I felt my lunch do a flip-flop in my stomach. Soon it would be time for too early dinner.
Shasta had done plenty of research. She said she had so many papers it was confusing. I put the eight papers into two rows. That was when I saw the illustration in one of the papers. I'm a visual person, and always look at the pictures. That is why I find it easy to memorize landmarks. This was a carefully rendered sketch of a plastic bottle, one of those awful bottles of water that are nothing for something, except that this bottle had a false bottom, a mirror planted at an angle to relfect and refract another student's writing to allow copying another student's answers when not sitting directly next to him or her and without looking at him or her if one sits next to them. True, the answers reflect backwards. I mused that the right sort of lense or a second mirror could make the text a lot more readable. And it took cutting apart the water bottle and gluing it back together to get the mirror inside, so why not add more dangerous payload. If you were going to get caught as the poor student who created this invention was, why not get caught for something really effective?
We were late to supper, but Ranier did not like to eat early, and Shasta thanked me profusely as we walked down to Couch. I was thinking about how we hadn't seen Moses. "We have a new secret spot to study," Shasta spoke of our rather productive session. I decided to get a soup bowl of stringbeans and a peanut butter and honey sandwich for dinner. I put oil and lemon on the string beans and added some Spanish olives, the kind with the cute little pimentoes in them.
"Stomach still bothering you?" Ranier asked.
"I'll survive until MidTerms," I told Ranier. "It's just stress."
"We have lab tomorrow," Biscuit Boy reminded me. I realized it would be a good break to go over chemistry. "You just don't give up on those olives."
They're the fruit of the gods," I laughed.
"Speaking of food, there's a mandatory house meeting tonight at nine," Aaron interrupted us. "I think it's about weekend food."
"I thought they weren't giving us weekend food," Ghost cut in.
"Why can't you just go home to your parents?" asked Nils.
"My mother wants me staying at school. She says it's not good for me as a student to leave campus on weekends." I answered.
"Yes, but don't you get homesick?" Nils glanced around the table, his pale face showing that he realized he was odd man out. "I mean this is NOT HOME."
No on answered. "It's not the Secret Dining Room, but I think it's something else," Ranier offered.
"As long as Ree-mo-nah gets her olives," asnwered Ghost.
"And my Constant Comment Tea."
"What's Constant Comment Tea?" Shasta asked, and I expplained about flavored hot tea. It was better than coffee for staying awake and it warmed tired stomachs and soothed wounded souls. My soul wasn't wounded yet, but it would happen. I was sure of that.
University of Oklahoma
Chapter 42 -- To the Bone Yard Edit
I resented the Monday night meeting. Andrew, aka Biscuit Boy, and I needed to work on our lab and just to study chemistry in general. I was up for it, and there we sat in the lounge outside the auditorium on the academic side of Cate while Dr. Spier, our Scholar in Residence spoke in his "I don't need a microphone" voice. He started by asking how many of us went home on the weekends. A sizeable fraction (about a quarter) of the students raised their hands. Dr. Spier excused them. Then he asked how many of us were on fourteen meals plus meal exchange. A lot of us were. Those that weren't, he suggested might just want to switch.
I wanted to laugh, until the big manager from Student Dining, the one with the strawberry blond crew cut took the floor and explained a new meal plan. It would no longer be fourteen meals plus exchange, it would be fourteen with pantry and it would be cheaper than what we had now. "For those of you who are business majors, the head of dining, Dr. Spier, and I all ran the numbers. We're not making any money on meal exchange with you. We even verified it by calling Pizza Shuttle since that's a long hike." It was only a mile and a half. "We can't leave you kids to starve, and if you want to treat this like some Ivy League school, the best way to do it is what they do at a certain in-stit-ution way up north in New York State." I wondered where that was. "They have pantries in the dorms there. I can cut each of you a req for twenty-seven dollars for weekend food. That's what we would have paid Subway and Pizza Shuttle. You go to any Homeland Supermarket, Sprouts, Walmart, or even Forward Foods if some of you have cars. Now, I realize you need a place to store the food, so outside I've got two of my men unloading two extra fridges that were in storage and one freezer. You all ready have a stove and an oven and even a working microwave. That leaves dishes, pots, and pans. That's where you come in. Louise here is going to sign all of you on to the new meal plan. Those of you whose parents get the bills will see a small notice and refund. Then after we fix your card at the workstation, we're going to load all of you into the trucks and take you up to the bone yard and let you fix up that there pantry of yours. This weekend, no more Pizza Shuttle, Subway, Golden Corral, or wherever you go. You're on your own, but it's home cooking and it's nutritious if you're into health food and eth-nick quizine. Some of you ladies really are really into eth-nick quizine." I wanted to laugh. "Got that...."
It was the wrong night, but never has a dictate from the top sounded so sweet. I wondered for just a moment whether Ranier's family put the fix in, or whether it was Dr. Spier who had listened to my complaints about lack of fresh fruits and vegetables on the weekend or whether he had gotten tired of seeing so many "sad, freshman faces" hanging around Cate on the weekends. Actually, as in high school, most of us were too busy to be sad. We had work to catch up on, both paid work and studying. The pool was open, and besides, I often found myself in the back seat of Ranier's little, red, sports car.
To my relief, the Dining Services truck did not stink of rotten food, though it was dark, except for an improvised dome light, in the big, back compartment. The light was the kind people use in work shops with a cage protecting the bulb and a long handle. The light made all our faces some shade of yellow, but not as yellow as a bug light. The truck needed shocks. I did not like traveling without being able to see out. I started to imagine I was being taken off to some horrible prison in Siberia or maybe to the same behavior modification hole where my Dad had stuck Eben. I imagined having to tell the administrators of such a place that I was eighteen and Dad couldn't put me anywhere. He could not even cut me off. My parents' separation agreement prevented that. I began to think about whether my Oklahoma nondriver's ID would be satisfactory proof of age. I even dug around in my wallet and then came to my senses.
Cracking up in public is not fun!
The bone yard was a huge warehouse with a cinder block anti room with dirty windows half white washed against the sun's glare and then a quonset hut back part where all the action was. It was lit by blue-whtie fluorescent bulbs. Ranier started to fool around with the big pots. Minah who had worked in a restaurant pointed out the steam boat roasters. Hannah and Kerry began to pile up dishes and got in an argument over whether they should all match but not whether they should be super sanitary. I found a kettle for boiling water and took a six and a ten quart soup pot for which Ranier helped me find lids. "What you going to do with those?" asked Biscuit Boy. "Make soup," I answered.
"You don't need a pot that big to make soup."
"If you want three or four servings you do?" I answered. "The high sides keep the soup from spilling. Now if only I can find a ladle." Ladles and other miscellaneous supplies were in boxes on the floor. I started digging. Apparently, my fellow students had forgotten that a kitchen needs more than knives, forks, and spoons. I knew what I needed, carrot peelers, graters, ricers, nut crackers, a tea ball or two, a spatula or two, some wooden spoons. I did not care where they had been. Mom had always used wooden spoons and still did in Pandemonium. Then I asked about mixing bowls and a colander. I had never learned the art of acrobatically draining large pots of pasta, rice, or barley. I also wanted to make sure we had proper and pasta bowls as well as fruit plates, things Hannah and Kerry forgot.
By midnight, we had our new pantry loaded and the URL for the password protected web site from which we would print our requisition forms. I still had chemistry to do and sat in a study room with Biscuit Boy until nearly three am. Suffice it to say, the next morning I was hardly myself. Hot tea with lemon an apple and some raisins put me right. "Can't you even eat toast?" Andrew, aka Biscuit Boy asked. "I know you mean well," I told him.
"Don't get all huffy wtih me. I worry about you. You're a really good lab partner." </p>
"Thanks Andrew," I replied.
University of Oklahoma
Chapter 43 -- Cole Slaw Dreams Edit
After supper on Wednesday, I hit bottom. I sat there, exhausted, shakey and not able to understand either my chemistry notes or calculus, and while my psychology paper offered an easy retreat, my mother would say I was too in love with my own writing to make competent decisions. I opened a browser and logged into University Dining's web site and printed off several copies of a requisition.
"That your paper?" asked Shasta who was roughing out her education paper, so she could start writing her paper for psychology. I'd managed to drag myself through my English paper on Monday and Tuesday. I'd even studied chemistry with Biscuit Boy, but now I was just plain empty.
"No, it's a supermarket requisition for weekend food," I replied.
"You going shopping?" Shasta asked.
The answer was obvious. I went upstairs, emptied my backpack, and set off. I decided to pretend this was Tulsa instead of Norman. I did not mind the lack of sidewalks, though part of me dreamed of the hills of Westchester County instead of the usual pancake flat landscape and big sky that tonight felt alien. I did not realize until I crossed the grassy parts of the campus that I was shivering and could not stop. I was also flying under the radar by habit. The part of me that was still up and running wanted desperately to be alone, not to think, even though I knew I needed to sort things out, but just to have space and keep moving, keep moving and never stop. Flight had won out over flight, and I no longer cared. Somehow I thought about food, sliced egg and anchovy sandwiches plus plenty of cole slaw with olives and apples, preferably purple cole slaw.
Thinking of what I wanted to buy helped me ignore the violent chattering of my teeth. I was glad I had my in between coat even though nothing could make me warm. Instinct forced me onto side streets I had never traveled before. I began enjoying the trip as I was going west on West Main Street. Native Roots was probably not open, and I needed Sprouts which boasted a good produce department and Forward Foods if neither Sprouts nor Homeland had what I needed. I had four copies of a rec. because I was going to shop up a storm. I was going to pretend I was in Tulsa. Tonight this was going to be White Plains or Central Avenue. I would fill my backpack until I could barely walk, and take the 20 bus home to County Center and then switch to the 6 and drag myself up Heatherdell Road.
Sprouts delivered on produce especially apples, and a lovely, purple cabbage. Homeland supplied anchovies and Constant Comment Tea as well as hundred percent whole wheat bread, eggs, some seasonings, and el cheap mayonaise. I needed Sprouts for a bottle of Bragg's cider vinegar. There was going to be cole slaw for the rest of the year, cole slaw forever, I smiled at the thought. This week cole slaw. Next week, escarole soup just like home.
I smiled at my thoughts of comfort as a little red sports car pulled into the parking lot and honked its horn in a way that just screamed: "I am entitled!" My throat constricted. My dinner curdled in my stomach. I wanted to scream, but it would have come out as a croak because my throat was so tight. I felt my eyes begin to burn, their pain competing with that in my throat.
"How the BLEEP did you find me!" I asked Ranier. He was alone. We were far from campus, but there were other cars and people coming in and out of the store. I stepped back, wanting to keep in the light as the parking lot reeled around me.
"Shasta told me you were shopping. I would have taken you. You need to get enough food...."
"I've got plenty. It's in my backpack," I told Ranier.
He shook his head. "Come on. I'll give you a ride back to campus."
"I need time to think," I protested.
Ranier glanced up at me. "Alright," he answered. "See you in the basement of Cate in an hour," and with that he drove off. I nearly laughed. Then I started to shiver again and tears streamed down my face. The scream found its way out in sobs that doubled me over. Then slowly I stood up.
I still shivered most of the way home. Then the nerves spent themselves. The night air felt sweet and smelled of the first leaves turning brown and rich people with money to burn's fireplaces. My backpack was heavy, but its weight was a comfort. I remembered Zeke and the Grazielle's and how they all felt about my being out at night, and I thought of my mother and also Ranier who understood.
And I could study when I got back to Cate, though I used the time to revise that psychology paper, rewriting what needed fixing and smoothing out my prose with proper diligence. Around midnight, I brewed a large mug of Constant Commment, and offered some to Biscuit Boy. He sniffed mine and wrinkled up his nose. "I don't know what that smells like but..."
"Spices and orange peel. I think cloves."
Biscuit Boy shook his head and we studied chemistry together for a good two hours. In the morning I remembered to bring several tea bags in their individually wrapped packets to Couch so I could have more soul soothing tea with breakfast. Actually, I looked forward to the morning training table and my male friends. Even Shasta who had sent Ranier on a fool's errand the night before, was in good shape though behind.
"I've still got to get that works cited written for my education paper," she complained. "Can you help me Rahmona?"
"Pronounce my name right and I might," I thought, but of course I said yes. Why not?
University of Oklahoma