Cold Rain by Craig Smith

By Craig Smith

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I make it a week and I go talk to Barbara. Tell her what I’m doing. ’ I shook my head. ‘It’s like crawling on broken glass. That’s the first day. ’ ‘It gets better eventually,’ I said. ’ I thought about one more lie since I was passing them out so glibly, but I didn’t have the heart. I simply excused myself. ACADEMIC PARTIES HAVE A PACE one can only begin to understand after a dozen or so of them. Early there is always a bit of formality. Rank still matters. Masks still fit snugly. Then come the first bits of laughter, nothing too raucous, of course, more like Jane Austen humour.

It was about ignorance, all the things we think we know about our lives but actually just take on faith. I decided instead to extricate myself from the problem with humour. The exam would be fairly general and cover a great deal of material. If the subject of incest bothered her for some reason, she could always choose to write about adultery and murder. Denise locked on the word adultery. ‘I don’t need to read some story about adultery! I get that every night at work. ’ I wasn’t quite sure what I should say, so I tried to relate the material to something in her own experience.

Having an agreeable girlfriend sure beat cramming for a final exam, and after all what’s a free lap dance or two among friends? Of course Walt Beery was a professor of the highest integrity when he thought about it. Trouble was Walt hadn’t thought about it in years. Payoff? Not as such. Walt would have been outraged at such a suggestion. No, he had just been to see the woman dance and took the gratis without thinking about it. And today drinks and some artless innuendo. But no bargains made, no exchange of favours.

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