Arthur eased out of his nap and laid there enjoying the warmth of the covers. The digital clock read 9:17, but there was an implied, “So, why not just stay in bed and sleep until morning?” Eight minutes of watching the clock, later, his phone rang. He didn’t recognize the number and answered in a drowsier voice than normal.
“Yeah, this is Arthur.”
“Hey, it’s Crystal.”
Interesting, maybe her name really was Crystal, but I better be cautious. “Sorry, I was in a dead sleep and wasn’t really listening, who?”
“Crystal, we ran into you at the game.”
“Oh, yes, I met your husband and we got chatting and missed the opening kickoff of the second half, but it was worth it to see you again.”
“I hear there is a great party going on at “The Hill”. You still like to do shots and talk literature?”
“I do. Believe it or not, I’ve actually started to write again.”
“No way! You never told me why you stopped. What is it about?”
“It’s too early to tell, but the beginning doesn’t suck.”
“I can’t wait to hear all about it.”
“I’m not sure your husband would enjoy some old ex…professor of yours…going on about his scribbling.”
“That’s okay, he’s staying in and working. It is so dull. I’ll be all by my lonesome.”
“Such a horrible atrocity just waiting to happen.”
“You’ll make an appearance.”
“I’ll be there with airs of superiority on.”
Arthur threw off the warm comforter and showered. As he was shaving, Maltese seemed to be curious as to what was going on. “Yes, I’m shaving at night. I’ll grant you it is unusual, but Arthur is going out…”
Maltese said, “Meow.”
“You are right. I promise not to speak of myself in the third person again. I hate that. Anyway, there’s a soiree that promises to offer plenty of opportunities for self-aggrandizing displays of literary snobbery.”
Maltese laid down in the doorway.
“The long and short of it is that nubile women of an inappropriate age and questionable intelligence will find themselves overwhelmingly interested in demonstrating their prowess in all sorts of unspeakable hidden talents.”
Maltese stretched and rolled onto his back.
“As an educator, though it clearly goes against a societal norm of what is proper, and it pains me so, I’m willing to endure the hushed tones of disapproval, to allow for their personal growth. It’s quite big of me, really.”
Maltese grew bored and left.
Arthur got dressed and was tying his shoes when the phone rang. “Hello, Lou, sorry I was so short earlier.”
“No problemo, Artie.”
“You’ve been drinking, haven’t you?’
“Yes, how’d you know?”
“You’ve begun to channel Fonzie…and you called me Artie.”
“Who? The bear?”
“That’s Fozzie, nevermind.”
“The party is rocking. I want to hear about this writing stuff.”
“I’ve not gotten very far, but I’ll tell you all about it when I get there…providing you haven’t passed out.”
“Oh, I’m just getting started. We won! Woot…”
Arthur hung up as it was apparent that the hollering might continue for some time. He changed the sheets on his bed and straightened up a bit and then left.
Lawrence’s place was only a few blocks away, up an ironically slight incline, and he could hear the revelry long before he arrived. There were people in the lawn, out back, and several on the roof over the porch. A few students cheered at his arrival and he saw Lawrence wave from on the porch. Eric called.
“Where are you at? I just got here.”
“I think I’m going to stay in tonight.”
“What the hell?”
“Emily and I had a fight. I think it’s over.”
“I’m sorry, what happened,” Arthur said while greeting enthusiastic partiers.
“I don’t know, but things have been a little rough and finally I couldn’t take it anymore.”
“So you dumped her?”
“Well, then why are you staying home? You should be out celebrating your new found freedom.”
“I suppose, but I just don’t feel it.”
“Are you sure you’re doing okay? She was nice looking…and smart.”
“Don’t rub it in.”
“If you can’t count on your friends to kick you when you’re down, who can you count on.”
Arthur thought he heard a smile in the good-bye.
A curly haired young man sporting an unimaginable amount of tye-die, made a hand gesture which seemed friendly and said, “Dude, it’s Prof Byrne. Hey, Prof, did you see my blog post?”
“I’m not sure. The enthusiasm has exceeded my wildest expectations. Last week alone, there were over 350 posts from class blogs. Which one are asking about?”
“I wrote 500 words about how herb could solve global warming.”
“I think I would have remembered that one. Send me a DM with the link. I want to check it out.”
“Awesome,” he said, repeating the gesture.
On the porch Lawrence was waiting with a red plastic cup. “Dr. Byrne, you look parched.”
Smacking his lips, Arthur said, “You know what, I do feel that I may on the cusp of a severe case of dehydration. Do you have any flat tap water?”
“I have beer.”
“I think there’s water in beer, but we may want to consult someone outside of the liberal arts college on that one.”
Lawrence laughed and said, “I’ll ask around. Hey, I hear you were writing?’
“It’s true, but where did you hear that?”
“I’m not saying as I wouldn’t want to incriminate my tiny Asian sister.”
Arthur grinned and asked, “How is Lou? I talked to her a few minutes ago and it sounded like she had been hitting it pretty hard.”
“I think she’s on her second beer.”
“Of course, she doesn’t weight more than about a buck-o-five. I’ll keep an eye on her. That skirt she’s wearing could be trouble.”
“Good man. We’ve got to watch each others’ backs.”
“And some of their fronts,” Lawrence said with a wink.
Arthur looked up to see who Lawrence meant. Emily and a friend were strolling towards them. She did not look like she was grieving the loss of her “in a relationship” status. He wondered if she had already updated Facebook.