One Last Time | E. Christopher Clark

One Last Time

These new townhouses, which his cousin hated, retained none of the character of the Cluster Houses which they now surrounded, and would someday replace permanently. Matt imagined them being plopped down by some random New England cyclone, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the Tornado of August 1851. All brick and mortar, they belonged to some distant kingdom, perhaps the realm of An, if not the land of Oz. In any case, they certainly were out of place here, amongst the brownish gray clapboard of the Cluster Houses. But, like all of the things that Matt’s cousin Michael loved, Kimball College was being destroyed in the name of progress. Sure, Michael had said, the Clusters are sinking into the ground a little more each year. But that… that’s part of the charm.

Matt had to laugh. The Clusters had had a certain appeal for him too, back when he was a prospective student, but he liked these new dorms just fine. Maybe it was his relative old age, or the design sense that had come as an added bonus with the purchase of his Gaydar, but he appreciated the poshness of these buildings quite a bit. They may not have had character, but they appeared to have all of the other perks you could want.

But they’re going to tear down the Clusters because of these things, Michael had said. And then the place where Jenna and I became Jenna and I will be gone.

Matt laughed again. It was as if Michael thought that the old Cluster Houses were going to still be standing by the time he had kids and they were old enough to come back here. It was if Michael thought that his future children were actually going to care.

“What are you doing out here, pal?” asked a gruff voice.

Matt turned to identify his inquisitor. The campus safety officer was lean of body, save for the thick middle that seemed the birthright of all constables everywhere. His head was shaved bald, but in a precise way; not a hint of stubble was to be found up there. And his face was as smooth as his dome. Although, clenched in an all-business frown as it was, it couldn’t properly be called handsome. His most memorable feature was his stare, a particular set to his eyes that seemed to proclaim he was going to get to the bottom of you, no matter what it took.

I hope he does get to the bottom of me, Matt thought, smirking. After all, if this really is the last time, I want it to be a good one.

“What’s your business on campus, pal?”

“How do you know I’m not a student?” asked Matt.

“Less than five-hundred kids here. And I know every face.”

Matt smiled. “I’m visiting my cousin. Michael Silver. Heard of him?”

The guard’s face unclenched. “Good old Mikey’s cousin, huh?”

“You know him?” said Matt.

“I know everybody,” said the guard.

“So you must be the one he mentioned. The fudgepacker.”

“Excuse me?!?”

“S’alright. We queers can call ourselves whatever we like,” said Matt. “Or didn’t you get the memo?”

The frown was back. Matt had a sudden vision of this guy living in his mother’s basement. He ate chicken pot pies with the sad old maid, playing video games till four in the morning, wondering why he still hadn’t kissed a girl yet. And then, one night, he woke up with a hard-on after falling asleep to the Sox locker room report, and suddenly he was like, ‘Oh. That’s why.’

“So,” said Matt. “Are you?”

“I moonlight,” said the guard.

“Well, rumor is Michael’s left a room open for me if I want it. When do you get off?”

“I’m off now,” the guard admitted, checking his watch.

“Well, my dear cousin certainly set this one up well,” said Matt.

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