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Platter and Glance

January 15th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Clash of the Sexes, Coming of Age, Crossed Wires, Difficult Decisions, Drama, Friendship, Human Nature, Lifestyle, Loss of Innocence, Love Triangle, Mood, Nostalgia, Not As It Seems, Romance, Satire, School Days, Seduction, Sexual Innuendo, Slice of Life, Surprise Twists, University

Alex Carrick

Branscomb Hall was where the brainiacs lived. There might be psychedelic drugs, free sex and rock and roll elsewhere on campus, but the boys of “Branny” were renowned for keeping their noses to the grindstone.

South of the border, Americans were agonizing over the Vietnam War. In Canada, these were the halcyon days before OPEC would shake up world oil markets.

Blaine Bostock, Elrod Flight and Ravenna Sharpley were all students attending Toronto’s premier university.

All three were exceptional students, with representation in the core subjects of geography, mathematics and English respectively.

The academic year-end was coming like a hurricane and graduation was only a month away for Blaine and Elrod. Ravenna still had another year to go.

Blaine knew what he was about to do was probably wrong in many ways, but he seemed powerless to stop.

He felt the need to secure his reputation among his colleagues beyond the mere scholastic.

Once he graduated, he’d be moving to a position with an established insurance firm in his hometown 200 kilometres away. Time was short.

He knew he could brag about his prowess at any time. He’d already dropped hints among his fellow students. And the girl often on his arm implied a success that many others were clearly not having.

But he also knew it would be more effective for his reputation if someone else gossiped about his conquests on his behalf.

It wouldn’t hurt if they spoke with a note of admiration in their voice.

Elrod was the perfect choice. He was a good friend and well accepted among the other students.

But he couldn’t just boldly ask him. Elrod was too refined. It was one of the things Blaine liked about him.

Elrod’s carriage conveyed dignity and restraint. But that was to Blaine’s advantage. If Elrod could be impressed, it would carry extra weight. 

The two were also rivals in some vague way.

Elrod’s composure emanated from within. The fact it appeared effortless was somewhat annoying. Elrod could do with being brought down a peg or two.

There was also the matter of opportunity. This is where Elrod fit the bill perfectly.

On Friday mornings, by happy coincidence, the two of them were enrolled in separate classes at one of the university’s satellite campuses.

They traveled there together in Blaine’s beat up jalopy, sharing laughs and anecdotes along the way.

Usually they met by 7:00 a.m. in the parking lot.

One May morning, Blaine asked Elrod to come directly to his residence door. He suggested there was a late night in the offing and he might have trouble rising in the morning.

When Elrod showed up, Blaine made sure to invite him in. He steered him to the side of the bed in the cramped room filled with text books, mementoes and something else that was only detectable after a moment’s reflection.

Blaine fussed away in the background, getting dressed and making preparations for the day while vaguely listening to Elrod’s meaningless prattle.

There was a sudden break in the conversation. Blaine stole a look in Elrod’s direction. The effect was all he could have wished for.

To his mind, Blaine had every reason to be optimistic that the rest of the day and, indeed, the remainder of his time at university would be a triumph. 

**

Elrod was a crackerjack student in the math department.

His mind worked like a finely tuned computer. Except in those days, computers were big cumbersome things that whirred and clanked and sometimes fell off their spools.

Actually, not all of Elrod’s faculties functioned perfectly either. His summits on the intellectual side were often matched by pits on the social side. Especially when the subject was girls.

Elrod’s fantasies were his only comfort on many a lonely night after his studies ended.

Still, there was something about him the other students liked and respected. He had a confidence in his brainpower that was ever present but not overbearing.

It was no surprise that he became good friends with Blaine, one of the more emotionally mature students at the school.

Elrod and Blaine first met while sharing meals with a group of friends.

They became particularly close thanks to a shared experience on Friday mornings. That was when they drove to classes held away from the downtown campus.    

Blaine owned a decade-old Chevy with a lazy heater and tendency to stutter in third gear. For Elrod, who was vehicle-less, it was a big step up from public transportation.

Reaching the secondary campus would have involved a subway ride and two bus transfers.

They could talk as equals when it came to study habits, cultural events and yes, even sports.

But Elrod was aware Blaine had a girlfriend and he usually tried to avoid that subject. It involved expertise beyond his knowledge.

Elrod had met Ravenna several times and she seemed like a very nice girl. Attractive too, with a willowy physique and an engaging way of speaking that complemented Blaine’s more stolid demeanor.

He could see why she and Blaine had been attracted to each other.

He knew she was from the United States and studying in Canada partly on a lark. As she once asked him, “If draft dodgers can come to Canada for an adventure, why can’t I?”

Ravenna had previously attended some high-priced girl’s school in the U.S. and it showed. He’d seen her dressed in the school’s famous colors on several occasions.

He was only mildly put out when asked to alter Friday morning’s routine. But he was up promptly at 6:15 and shortly thereafter walked down the hallway to round up Blaine.

Blaine’s room was in a far corner of the residence, at the end of a long corridor. Near a back stairwell, it offered a measure of privacy that was not available to others in the building.

After announcing his presence, the next major point of departure came when Blaine insisted he come in to wait.

There was something different about the room. There was an indefinable alteration in essence.

Nervous chatter was his defense until he could figure out what was up.

A turn of the head and there she was, Ravenna looking up at him with a startled expression. Elrod’s face matched hers in every regard.

Academics were one thing. He was sure of his footing in that arena. But seeing Ravenna laid out in Blaine’s bed was another matter. That implied so much.

Certainly much that was beyond anything he was engaged in.

He was at once envious and embarrassed. The latter stemmed from his own lack of success in any meaningful male-female relationship.

Furthermore, he had no idea how to bridge the experience gap.

Somehow he stammered out a “Hi” to Ravenna, while trying to keep his thoughts under control.

He quickly averted his eyes, unsure if that was the thing to do or not, and made a retreat towards the exit.

He knew he was about to face an awkward stultifying time with Blaine in the car. Maybe he could come up with an excuse to get out of their return trip.

One thing he was sure of. He wasn’t going to talk about this with Blaine or anyone else. Not for the remainder of this academic year and probably not for a long time after that.  

**

Last night on her date with Blaine, he’d seemed distracted. Something had been on his mind.

They went to a movie and ate a late dinner. Their conversation wasn’t as smooth and carefree as usual.

Ravenna was surprised Blaine was so insistent she stay over at his place. That’s what she’d been planning anyway.

These were exciting sexual times. In her circle of friends, it was expected that experimentation would occur.

It was even better if there was a reliably steady boyfriend to play games with.

An actual romp in the sack with Blaine was only so-so. They both lacked experience.

There was something to be said for the European model in which an older man initiated a protégé in a variety of techniques.

Still, it had been a pleasurable night and as Blaine prepared to leave early in the morning, she stretched out in what she believed to be a fulfilled languorous pose.

A knock came on the door. Who could that be?

The college’s morality police? There was no such entity.

A moment of mild panic ensued. Blaine answered and invited whoever it was in.

When Elroy walked through the door, Ravenna acted instinctively. She rolled over on her back and pulled the sheet up to her chin. She clutched her covering like a lifeline.  

Her eyes sought Blaine for reassurance and guidance. Standing at the end of the bed, Blaine wasn’t looking at her.

Instead, he was stealing a glance at Elrod. The questioning look was plain to see. How was Elrod reacting to this scene? 

This wasn’t happenstance.

It had been planned.

She’d been taken off a spit and served up with an apple in her mouth.

What to do now? She had about 30 seconds to regain her composure.

Too late.

Elrod stammered a greeting then headed for the door. Blaine turned to her, nodded a distracted good-bye and left as well.

These were modern times. She wasn’t supposed to be embarrassed by such a turn of events.

Surely a self-assured woman wouldn’t hide under the sheets. But her emotions had returned to their most elemental state.

She’d been sad at the prospect Blaine would be leaving shortly to return to his hometown. She hadn’t been sure whether or not to work at keeping their relationship alive despite the distance.

She’d thought perhaps she loved Blaine. Now she wasn’t so sure.

Maybe it was good the way things were about to turn out. Space between them would no longer be unwelcome.

Should she confront Blaine? Make an angry scene when next they met? What would a strong woman do? Who knew and who cared. She wasn’t feeling spirited right not.

Besides, she was whoever she really was at heart, a young lady struggling with adulthood, not some pre-packaged artifact.

She’d get dressed and return to her own lodgings. The passage of a little time might provide a mental path she could use to navigate through her present confusion.

**

Nobody got run down by a truck.

Nobody got shot twice and left for dead in a dreary alley.

Nobody got fired from a crappy job with three kids and an aging mother to support.

Nobody was diagnosed with a disfiguring terminal illness.

The consequences of that morning for Elrod, Blaine and Ravenna were far more mundane.

They’d never again be able to completely relax in each other’s company.

****

In Saved by a Hare’s Breath, a celebrity author, suffering from writer’s block, meets a stalker in an airport lounge and agrees to a beneficial, though quirky, collaboration.  

 

**

 

For my first book, “Two Scoops” Is Just Right, please click here for the paperback version and here for the Kindle e-book version.

For the sequel, “Three Scoops” Is A Blast! (with the award-winning “Size of the Skip”) click here for paperback and here for Kindle.

For “Four Scoops” Is Over The Top (containing Hemingway short-listed “Caboose Follies”) click here for paperback and here for Kindle.

And finally, for my latest book, “Five Scoops” Is An Addiction!, please click here for the paperback and here for the Kindle digital version.

Also, I would love it if you joined me on Twitter (Alex_Carrick), Facebook and/or LinkedIn.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Marianne Belardi // Jan 17, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Love a little slice of life story like this! Great title. 🙂

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