(The University of Oregon campus on a day in late November)
Back in his dorm room, Jimmy sat on the edge of his bed aware that he had a biology test to study for, and not being able to concentrate. His roommate had been there. There were more dirty clothes in Howard’s laundry hamper, and a receipt on his desk for some items he’d sold back to the book store.
Jimmy faced a new and different conundrum. A package had arrived from Jason Peterson containing additional chapters of the novel, but Jimmy needed to get the earlier part back from Angel so he could write comments in the margins and return them to Jason. At least, that’s the way things were supposed to be working.
But Angel wasn’t speaking to him. As a result, he had no way to explain the situation to her and he wasn’t at all certain she’d be willing to cooperate if he tried. So he sat. He stood up and paced back and forth in the tiny room.
Finally, he stepped briefly into the hall only to discover the inmates were playing shuffleboard on the freshly waxed linoleum floor with hockey sticks and official NHL pucks.
A rapidly speeding puck hit the door when he swung it open, after which he heard a loud, burbling referee’s whistle and yells of, “Foul, foul,”—and—“Oh fuck,”— and—“What dumb son-of-a-bitch opened that door?”
He stepped back inside.
Then he stood by the door and listened. The instant he heard the puck sizzle by, he opened the door, ran to the stairway, and hurried on down to the lobby. He walked to the bookstore where he got a handful of quarters and placed a call to Princeton.
“Well, Leonard, it’s good to hear from you,” Jason started in.
But Jimmy knew if he didn’t get right to the point he’d run out of quarters, so he said, “There’s a problem with the manuscript.”
“Why, what’s wrong with it?” Jason sounded hurt.
“Oh, nothing’s wrong with it,” Jimmy assured his friend. “It’s wonderful. It’s just that I gave it to this girl to read and she…”
“What is it with you and women, Peterson?” Jason started in. “We can’t have people probing into what we’re doing before we even have a rough draft. Can’t you see how that could compromise the copyright?”
There was silence on the line.
Then Jason continued, “So the girl is reading it. When she’s done, get it back from her, make the corrections and send it along.”
“That’s the problem,” Jimmy said, “I don’t think she’ll give it back.”
“Why wouldn’t she give it back? It’s the only copy we have.”
“I know,” Jimmy said, “but…”
“You’ve got to get it back, Leonard,” Jason interrupted. “Be firm. You seem to let women lead you around by the pecker.”
“I’ll think of something,” Jimmy said. “I just needed to hear your friendly voice and get your strong moral support, Peterson, in order to buck up my courage.”
“That’s the boy, Leonard old bean,” Jason said with an extraordinarily overdone British accent. “Keep an iron will, lad—steady as she goes, a stiff upper lip and all that, what?”
Jimmy hung up and paced around in front of the telephone booth. He thought briefly of Clark Kent, trying to make up his mind if he should change out of his street clothes. Then he spun on his heel and started off in the direction of George Eliot Hall.
After passing through the large heavy doors of the women’s dorm, he walked over to a girl who stood behind a small desk in the lobby and asked for Mitzy.
“Do you have a last name?” the girl asked.
“Sorry, I don’t,” Jimmy explained, feeling foolish.
But a heavyset girl who was walking by at the moment said, “I know Mitzy,” and she charged sluggishly up the stairs to retrieve her.
Mitzy arrived a few moments later, and Jimmy began to explain. “The second portion of the manuscript has arrived from my friend in New Jersey,” he told her. “I need to get the first part back from Angel so I can correct the text and send it on.”
Mitzy’s face took on a suspicious look. She arched her eyebrows. Her mouth opened to form a tiny “o,” and her tongue probed against the inside of her left cheek, like there might be an answer in there somewhere.
“I’ll see what Angel says,” Mitzy offered, after a moment’s hesitation. Then she went back upstairs.
Mitzy was gone for almost twenty minutes. When she came back down she announced to Jimmy, “Angel is not happy about any of this. However, she told me to tell you that she will meet you in front of the liberal arts building before class in the morning, and that she will bring the first part of the manuscript.”
Jimmy nodded, thanked Mitzy for her efforts and turned to go.
“And, Mr. Leonard,” Mitzy raised her voice as he was headed for the door.
“Angel said to bring the second part of the manuscript with you.”
So Jimmy headed back to his dorm room, more perplexed about women than ever. What drives them—he wondered—and why?
The following morning, Jimmy did not loiter outside the cafeteria. Instead, he went directly to the wide veranda in front of the liberal arts building to stand visibly exposed in his heavy, black and red mackinaw amongst a sea of letterman’s jackets and loosely buttoned cardigan sweaters.
When Angel arrived, she fixed him with a stare and walked boldly over to thrust the well thumbed manuscript into his free hand, while snatching the newly arrived portion of the fledgling book from the other.
“You even wrote letters to her,” Angel admonished, with an overwhelming element of disgust dripping from her voice, “and now you’re running around with a gun.”
Jimmy followed her into the lecture hall and watched her slither down the steps to take a seat amongst her friends.
Then he sat in the back row and leaned his head against the wall. A huge smile began to spread across his face. She likes it—he thought—she really likes it.