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
44 The Magic Bottle and the Bowling Ball
"Rimona! Rimona!" Ranier bellowed. Yes, he really bellowed. Had he does this before. Was this the first time I was aware of it. Last night, I had refused a ride from him for what I now realized was the first time. Why hadn't I done it sooner. It really hadn't been all that hard. I had not even been in my right mind. Maybe I was just like that little boy in the tale about the naked emperor.
"She's in here wtih me," Shasta answered. Ranier opened the computer lab door in the basement of Cate. "Can you please keep it down?" asked Nils who was trying to code. "Sorry," winced Ranier. "Rimona, I need you to study calculus with me."
"I'm helping Shasta, remember...."
Ranier grunted and then he noticed how we had wall papered a work table with all of Shasta's articles that she had in her works cited. Ranier shook his head. "Did you really read all these?" he half asked himself.
"Sure," answered Shasta. "How can you take notes if you don't read."
"Wow," Ranier answered. "Rimona helped me find a really interesting topic."
Ranier glanced down at the papers and then back at us. "Did you really help her," Ranier asked me.
"We talked about it. That's all. Preventing cheating was your idea Shasta. I just showed you how to look it up," and you don't talk about people like they aren't here, Ranier!
"Shit!" answered Ranier.
"I may not be taking caclculus, but I learned my English grammar in high school," Shasta explained. "And when I find something interesting and can concentrate, I can write about it. I was lucky my education survey professor let me pick whatever topic I wanted."
Ranier thumbed one of the papers. He counted the pages. I wondered how I could kick his patronizing ass out of the computer room and make it really hurt. Ranier put the paper down.
"Be careful," Shasta told him. "Those papers are in order."
Ranier picked up another paper. "What's the paper clip doing here?" he asked.
"It's for an illustration," Shasta said. "If you want to look at it, just put it back. We have to keep everythign in order. "
Ranier removed the paper clip, opened the paper and then stepped back as if struck or perhaps just bothered enough to flinch. "Who wrote this!" he all but screamed.
"Keep it the BLEEP down!" snarled Nils.
"Look on the front page," soothed Shasta. "The author's name is there, and also where they work."
"McGill University," Ranier said half to himself. "Shit!" Ranier threw down the paper not bothering to put it back the way Shasta had arranged it and stormed out of the computer room. Shasta cursed under her breath and put things back in order. "He's in a bad mood tonight," she apologized. <p>
"When you go home tonight, tell your roommates and friends not to let him tailgate into your building. He may be OK again in a day or two, but you have to think about you."</p>
"Do you think..."
"I've dealt with violent people before. It's the stress but that's not going to be any excuse if he hits you."
"He's not going to hit me. I can deal with him."
"That kind of game gets old fast," I answered.
"Are you going to study calculus with him?" Shasta asked. "Or are you scaird."
"Could you take the drama somewhere else?" asked Nils.
"No," I replied. "I think I'll be safe if I share a room with Biscuit Boy and Nils or even you. He'll only hurt people if there are no witnesses. Come on, let's fix that Works Cited."
I did study calculus with Ranier that evening. When I went to put up water for tea, he followed me to the kitchen. I felt the hairs on my neck stand up. I had forgoteen my own rule about needing witnesses. I backed against the stove. Raneir could have had me cornered except that kettle was getting hot really fast and had plenty of water. I smiled as flight turned back into fight.
Ranier took two steps back and closed the kitchen door. "Let's see if you have enough groceries," he began.
"Why did you mess with Shasta's paper?" I countered. I was not into games. Besides I now wanted the confrontation over with here and now.
"I just didn't think...I mean... she wasn't like that in high school. She was smart enough but that's for...well it's not for people like us."
"She wants to succeed," I replied.
"That's not enough."
"You're right, but she's been hanging out in the honors dorm with kids who like school and know how to study. We've been good influences and she wants to learn. Imitation works. You should feel proud your girlfriend is doing well."
"I should..." sighed Ranier. "You're right. Can I see what you bought?"
"Because I'm worried about you. So is Andrew (Biscuit Boy). Do you know how weird you've been acting the last four or five days?"
"It's not half as bad as the way I've been feeling," I smiled. "Here see for yourself..." I let Ranier examine my fridge box which was overflowing and my nonperishables.
He sighed. "I guess it's OK. That cabbage looks like a bowling ball. It's even as big as a bowling ball. What are you doing to do with all that."
"It shrinks when you make it into cole slaw. I can't do any fancy cooking with mid terms coming up, but I'll need a study break the way I feel." Ranier nodded.
"Do you trust me enough to come upstairs to my room?" he asked.
"I need to show you something. I need you to understand. I need you not to be afraid of me."
What did I do? You can guess. My legs felt like water as we climbed four flights to the fourth floor. Yes, Ranier had lived on my floor all semester with Nils on the other side of the building. Ranier unlocked his door. I flattened by back against the wall and looked for the fire alarm, even though I told myself it was too late for any rescue.
That was when I saw Ranier was a HOG! Nils and his few things were crowded almost into one corner. Nils bicycle was nearly atop his unmade bed. You could bounce a dime on Ranier's bed which was covered with a brown and cold, brocaded, cquilted spread. Matching curtains hung in the window. They were black out curtains. No late night, street lights, penetrated this den. There was also a large wooden desk, outsize really, brought from home. On the wall over Nils bed was a huge flat screen TV. On the wall over Ranier's bed was temporary shelving with a sound system with large speakers, a collection of leather bound books, and a few prcious objet's d'art.
"Didn't you know how big this room would be?" I asked Ranier.
"My family said I'd feel more at home with more of my stuff," Ranier answered as he pulled back the bed spread and pulled out what must have been an antique trunk. It had a rounded top so no one could pile anything atop it when it was lashed to a stage coach. It was in surprisingly good shape for something so old. It had no screen door parts or coats of house paint onit like my two generations old, steamer trunk which was flat on top. Ranier unlocked his trunk, popped the lid and extracted a plastic bottle that was silvered on the inside and had a variety of lenses and mirrors within it.
The bottle was all ready full of water. "See," Ranier explained. Ranier did not have to explain. The bottle was an improved version of the cheating device a student was caught with in one of Shasta's papers. "A cousin from Montreal gaveme this," Ranier began. "He said that there would be courses like calculus, stuff you just had to take that you wouldn't really use, but if you got a bad grade, it could really mess you up. My cousin invented this. Someone back at McGill must have copied him and got caught. Anyway, he said when calculus got tough or other courses I didn't really need got tough, I could use this if I needed a good grade....
"Well that's over now. Once everyone sees that paper you helped Shasta find or maybe she just found it... I'm a decent enough student because I'm copying all the good influences but that's only been half a semester. My whole future rides on that calculus mid-term. You seek I'm effed! You see why I got so angry."
"You're not behind, Ranier," I pleaded and it was true. It was obvious.
"That's not enough. There are kids like you and Andrew who study like it's the only thing in your lives.Rimona, I can't beat you and the test is curved. Also I don't care about calculus. I guess I have to care about it now don't I. I'd beea fool if I tried to use the bottle. At least I saw the paper. Some dipshit had to get caught at McGill. That means itt's not yours or Shasta's fault. I've got to stop acting like an asshole don't I. I'm sorry Rimona."
"It's OK," I answered.
"We're still friends right?"
"Of course we are," I all but laughed, but in my present condition, the laugh hurt my stomach and throat.
"Quit crying then," Ranier shook his head.
"You're not the emotion policeman!" I snarled back an old response.
"You're right. You cry easy. It doesn't mean anything."
"It means my nerves are on edge, but it's better than having a stomach hurt."
"Would it help if you went for a walk."
"I want to study a bit more calculus. Want to work with me?" I asked.
"Sure if you can do it."
"Why not?" I replied. "I'm a Resistor remember."
"I will never forget. If my kind had your work ethic. We could rule the world."Rimona Hektor
University of Oklahoma