Marking Time

by

LaJuan

 

 

 

I gaze out the window as the snow gently falls on the campus.  I'm so bored, literally out of my head. I'm only here to please my grandfather and to get a break from him.  He's got my whole life mapped out – I guess from the day I was born.

Of course, I don't remember that day, but I was told that my mother died giving me life.  Funny how that sounds – my mother.  I never had one.  I wouldn't know how to act around one.  Would I call her mother, mama, mom?  Don't know.  I don't have any feelings about it, either way.

I do have some strong opinions about my sire.  I refuse to call him father, papa or pa.  Grandfather told me that he was sneaking around on my mother, with her being profoundly pregnant.  Naturally, when Grandfather heard what was going on he came to rescue her.  Luckily, he was in San Francisco at the time.

Yes, I was born in California, clear across the world as far as I'm concerned.  Grandfather brought me back to his home in Boston.  He found a young lady, in shame, who had lost her baby and wanted a fresh start.  He hired her to wet nurse me on the stage and train.  

I went hunting for her a few months back, just out of curiosity and I found where she had been.  It seems she had started over, back into the same racket she'd popped out of in California.  She had been running a brothel and doing a thriving business at that, but she had entertained one unsavory customer too many and she didn't make it.  I was directed to the cemetery where her fresh grave was located.

It's funny.  I have feelings for the lady.  She may not have birth me, but she did give me life and I'll be eternally grateful for it.  I wonder.  Would it hurt me any to order some flowers for her from the local hot house?  I'll do that this afternoon.  Her grave will look much brighter with colorful flowers against the snow.

I feel the sharp vibration of the ruler as it bangs on my desk.  Third time this week I've been caught daydreaming.  This will sure guarantee a visit to the Dean's office and a required letter to Grandfather.

Of course, he will lecture me again.  I've heard it so many times, I could recite it with him.  It's interesting to watch that one blood vein pop out on his forehead when he's chastising me.  Guess I had better pay attention for the few more minutes of class.  Man, I'm so bored and the professor is so full of himself.  He's such a pompous fool standing up there lording it over us poor, ignorant students.

Ah ... he's finally through and I can escape his prison.  I'm glad it's still snowing as I walk rapidly down the hallway to the exits.  I like the cold, cleansing of the air and the land.  I wonder how often California gets snow.  Not that I'll get the opportunity to check it out.  No, my fate is set.  It won't be long before I'm out of here.  Three weeks until graduation and only by the skin of my teeth, according to my professors.  And what do I get to look forward to ... working eight hours a day, five days a week on the open floor with the rest of the apprentice accountants.  No special privileges for the grandson of the business owner, no sir.  At least I get to sneak away on Saturdays when he goes to the club.

I'm considered a good catch around town, rich in my own right with a trust fund (thanks to my mother's will) and handsome, with good manners (not that they haven't been drilled into me my whole life by the succession of governesses hired by Grandfather.)  I'm not interested in marriage to the snobby men chasers in my social circle.  I'm too young for that and besides, I'd like some adventure in my life before a woman has her claws clutching my wallet.

Well, well.  Joseph is standing on the steps waving me over.  He wants to talk to me about something he found in today's newspaper.  Even without his offer to pay for the beers, I'd go with him, anything to relieve my boredom with this place!

We walk down to the docks to a shady pub he knows.  Grandfather would disown me if he knew I frequent these types of establishments.  It's not like his club with the blue bloods milling about in the smoky atmosphere of the cigar smoke clinging to the ceiling.  No, this place is murky with a roaring fire in the fireplace, warm rum and even warmer ladies. I've spent a couple of nights upstairs with a few of them but since I'm short of funds today, I'll have to forgo the pleasure of their sweet companionship for tonight.  Of course, if I play my cards right, they may take pity on a handsome, starving college boy and invite me to their boudoir for free.

We wander close to the warmth of the fire, take our jackets, hats, and neck scarfs off, and pull up chairs near the wall.  The table is sticky with spilled drinks and I cringe with distaste as I pull my glove back.  Dark spots are spreading on the tips of my fingers.  A deep throaty voice over my shoulder distracts me from my thoughts and I lean my head back to see her.  Her bosom bounces on my head and I pull away to see her saucy smile leering at me.  Her warm hand brands my shoulder as she swings around and flops down into my lap.

Joseph is smirking as he tosses the newspaper on the table, waggles his fingers in goodbye as he saunters off to the bar to fetch our drinks.  My attention returns to her as her hands caresses my face and drifts down my shirt front.  She pulls me closer and plants a lip lock on me.  My full interest is on her as my hands surround her small waist.  The lovely lady almost gets shoved out of my lap when Joseph taps me on my shoulder.  As it was, I did jostle his hand holding my beer and it spills down the front of her dress.  She frowns and mumbles under her breath, “college brats.” Joseph held out his handkerchief to wipe the beer away, but she shook her head and stomped up the stairs to the rooms above.

“Never mind her.” He said.  “I just found the opportunity of a lifetime for us here in this newspaper.”

As I sip the cold beer, I lean forward to view the paper.  Grinning at him, I reach out and turn it around so it's readable.  He grins from ear to ear as his ruddy face and red hair glows from the flickering flames.  He's excited and his green eyes crinkle as he taps the article at the bottom of the page.  I narrow my eyes in the dim lighting as I focus on the words.  It was a short notice, but enticing as it advertised a need for college graduates in the Union Army.   I feel his hand grab my bicep and squeeze.  He interrupts my thoughts.  “Just think, Scott.  We could be commissioned officers in the Army and you, with your knowledge and experience with horses, could join the Calvary.  The pay is good and we could make a difference.”

I give him a hard look and he backtracks.  “Okay.  We could have a big adventure away from all of this,” he waved his hand around, “and escape the boredom of working in dull offices.”

“Now that,” I thought, “was the ticket.”  We talked some more and the lovely lady came back and changed her mind about “college brats.”  She brought a friend, a tall, leggy blonde with luminous green eyes and a ready smile.  Joseph was smitten and as eager as a new born pup for its mother's milk.  She grabbed his hand and led him to the staircase to the upstairs bedrooms.

My brunette lady was just as eager and I reflected on it being an excellent way to kill time until I could graduate and enlist for the war.  Maybe I could get Grandfather to extend me a small loan to tide me over until that time comes.  I'm sure I could come up with a likely excuse for my need.  In the mean time, I explain to her my financial situation and my disappointment in having to turn down her sweet offer.  She looks me up and down slowly and alludes to the slowness of business and she couldn't think of a better way to spending the evening. I have to agree.  I like the way this woman thinks and I'm not opposed to marking time.

 

 

 

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