'For Betty, With No Hard Feelings'

( Those who wish may take this story as an epic of the Harvard freshman year. )

THE TELEPHONE sat on the floor in the center of the living room-black, mysterious, almost untouchable out there all by itself. Martin, however, sat in the far corner of the room in the armchair that he knew he and his roommate had bought from a smiling sophomore for twenty dollars. He was daydreaming; his dark hair had fallen over his forehead and now partly concealed his empty-eyes, but it could not hide the wanton slant of his grin. He had not moved for half an hour when he decided to make the phone call.

A girl answered. He spoke (too quickly, damn it), "Hello, Jean, this is Martin."

"Oh... hello, Martin."

"How have you been, Jean. It seems like years since I spoke to you. How long has it been since I saw you, Jean?" (Hm, A crummy introduction, as they had met only last week.)


"Well, I'm not really sure, Martin."

"You're not sure?! Oh, come on, hon, you're going to tear me apart!" He laughed. "You know I've been thinking about you all week?"

Jean didn't answer.

"Seriously, Jean, I just couldn't get you off my mind. I kept thinking about that afternoon last week, when we just walked around Cambridge, looking into store windows and fooling around in the Yard, and generally having a good time. That was fun, wasn't it?" (That, for the most part, was garbage; he had been dreaming all week about her body and how nice it would be to get into.)

Silence. Martin, frantic, decided to change the subject.

"Oh, hey, uh, I already got the tickets for Friday night. Did you read the review in the Crimson? They seemed to think it was a pretty good flick. I'm kinda looking forward to it, aren't you?"

"Friday night? We... uh... had a date?"

"Yeah, don't you remember? I asked you at the door and said that we'd probably go to a movie and that I'd call you this week."

"Oh... umh, Martin, I have to tell you something."

"Sure, shoot." Martin was glad for the break, for some reason he was out of breath.