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Security guard isn’t the most glamourous job in the world, but it suits me fine. After all, who else gets paid for sitting around watching a monitor all night? It’s a bit monotonous, but it gives me time to think. You can go into a kind of zen trance watching all the nothing going on. Lately I had been working this university gig – campus cops. It wasn’t bad. I got to walk around a bit, and the worst I had to do was break up a frat brawl or escort a panicky girl back to her dorm.
It was Tuesday night, so things were particularly uneventful. I was on my usual 1 AM sweep of the campus. The only sound was the wind flowing between the branches of the auburn trees, knocking off a few more leaves. I flicked my flashlight around, casting a sweep of light over the ground, not really expecting to find anything. But I did.
She was lying on the grass of the quad, covered in a blanket of leaves. Her black hair fell around her in clumps. Looking serene in sleep, she was unconsciously sucking on a blade of grass between her pale pink lips. I stood there for a minute, stunned at both her beauty and the strangeness of the situation.
The girl slowly began to open her eyes, stirring at the beams of the flashlight. She sat up, yawning and stretching her arms, then seemed surprised that it was still night. “What’s going on?”
“I was about to ask you the same thing,” I said. “You need some help getting home?”
She stood up, flushed, and dusted herself off. “No – no, I’m fine. I’m so sorry, it’s just…” The girl trailed off.
I tried to smile cavalierly. “Don’t worry, I see it all the time. Here, I’ll take you to your dorm.”
She stared at the ground. “I don’t have a dorm.”
“Well then, do you have a friend here you could stay with or–“
And that’s when she started crying. I stood there stiffly. I was never any good around crying women. I wrapped my jacket around her and gave her an awkward pat on the shoulder. “Here. Let me take you into the office and we’ll get this straightened out, okay?”
She nodded dumbly. Well, it was a start.
My office wasn’t really an office, just a small amount of room behind the security desk, but since it had a computer I liked to imagine it was an office. I lead the girl to a seat and told one of my co-workers that I would take over manning the desk. He shuffled off to get his sixth coffee of the night.
I turned to the girl, who was pulling her thin jacket tight around her. “So, who are you?”
“My name’s Rebecca,” she said.
I gave the officious response. “Nice to meet you, Rebecca. I’m Joanne, Campus Security.” They said doing it like that was supposed to help you remember the person’s name. “Why don’t we see about getting you home, or at least somewhere safe and warm for the night?”
“Don’t got either of those.” Her eyes were green like verdigris, and a little frightening in their intensity.
Upon prodding Rebecca provided her last name – Rose – and I did a quick search on the campus database. It turned up two parents as emergency contacts. “Why don’t you stay with your parents? It says here that they live in the city…”
“My parents kicked me out,” Rebecca said, trying to act casual. “For being a dyke.”
My throat dried. “I’m so sorry. Do you have any friends or anyone else that you can stay with?”
She shook her head. “Nah. You’d think I would at least wait until I had a girlfriend to come out, but no. I just wanted that happy touchy-feely moment of family togetherness and acceptance so bad.” She laughed bitterly. “Didn’t really work out the way I’d planned.”
On impulse I grabbed her hands and squeezed. “Hey. This isn’t your fault. Whatever ends up happening, remember that they’re the assholes here, not you.”
Rebecca looked a little amused. “I thought you were a security guard, not a shrink.”
“I’m a woman of many talents.”
“Whatever… anyways, the past week or so I’ve just been sleeping on campus. It’s actually kind of nice. You know, sleeping under the stars, communing with nature – all that shit.”
“What are you going to do when winter comes?”
That shrug again. “Haven’t really thought about it yet.” I felt sorry for Rebecca, but there was a part of me to reach across the desk and throttle her when she said things like that.
I tapped the desk. “Hang on there. I’ll make some calls, see if we can work something out.”
“It’s not like I’ve got anywhere to go,” Rebecca said. She was right. Beyond her personal situation, campus at these dead-of-night hours was like a cage – no buses, few cars, nothing around for miles but student slums and highways. You had to wait for whoever let you in to come around and let you out again.
I did indeed make some calls, but of course no one was answering this early. I left messages hoping they wouldn’t be overlooked or chucked into the labyrinth of university bureaucracy. I returned to my room to tell Rebecca the no-news, but she was already asleep in her seat, head tilted to rest on her own shoulder. casino oyna She looked really cute. I’ll confess that I sat there and stared for a couple minutes, taking in the smoothness of her face, the serenity of her closed lids, the heave of her sizable chest as she breathed… it felt a little wrong, but I figured there was no harm in looking. Looking was all I was getting lately after all.
With a sigh I sat down and started up another round of Tetris.
Morning came, and with it a round of answers, none in the affirmative. There were no free spaces in residence she could use, no funding to get her a hotel room, nothing but condolences and helpless shrugs from the few staff or agencies that bothered to reply. The campus LGBT organization said she could stay in their clubroom, but that didn’t sound like much of an improvement, unless these kinds of organizations had come far from the dingy plastic-chairs days of my youth.
Rebecca woke up and grumbled that she needed some coffee. I went with her to the nearest coffee shop, not mentioning that my shift had been over for an hour. She tried to pay with a pile of change, but I waved her off and got it. She mumbled a thanks.
“Well, the bad news is that I haven’t been able to find a place for you yet,” I said as she slurped up her coffee tongue-burningly fast.
“I already did the rounds,” she said. “Believe me, this is my best option for now. Thanks for pretending to care though.”
That desire to strangle her was back. “What do you mean pretending? I’m really trying to help you here.”
“Well,” Rebecca said. “Unless you’re living out of a dumpster too, you’ve probably got a place to stay. But of course, that’s too good for me.”
I hadn’t even considered having her over at my apartment. Up until this point I was just working, thinking of what I could do as part of my job. Sure, helping strays wasn’t technically part of the job description, but I had been thinking of myself as Guard
72193 and not as Joanne Dickinson, as an institution and not a person. Which raised the question – did I actually care, personally care, about Rebecca? Beyond my job?
It was unfair of her to ask me, of course, and at first I wanted to curse her for the grenade she had thrown in my lap. But I didn’t, just staring out at the campus walk as it slowly filled with students. Rebecca was pointedly watching me.
If I let her crash on my couch, I would feel like a sap, like someone whose kindness and loneliness turned them into a doormat. But if I turned her away, I’d feel like a bitch, someone so low as to let a young girl sleep on the streets. It didn’t take long to choose which bad things other people (well, mostly me) would say about me.
“Alright,” I said to the table. “You can sleep on my couch. But only until you find somewhere else, okay?”
Rebecca got up and flung her arms around me, pressing her cheek to mind. An illicit thrill, a wave of warmth went through me as her breasts descended to touch mine. “Thank you so much! I knew when I saw you that you were a good person. Trust me, I’ll be out of there in a few days, I promise.”
“Don’t worry, there’s no rush,” I said, feeling benevolent. “And I’d save all those comments about me being a good person until you see my pigsty of an apartment.”
Rebecca finally gave me a smile. “I think we’re going to get along just fine.”
I woke up as the sun was beginning to set. My bulk took a little while to respond to my thoughts, but I eventually managed to haul myself up out of bed. I was briefly puzzled as to why I could hear the dull chittering of the TV – I couldn’t have left it on, could I? Belatedly the events of last night came back to me. I remembered coming back here with Rebecca in the morning, despite her playful protestations about breaking her perfect attendance record. She had been wide awake, having spent most of the night snoozing in my office, but I needed to hit the hay.
I wandered out into the combination living room/kitchen of my tiny one-bedroom apartment. Rebecca sat there in the same clothes she had worn yesterday (and for who knows how many days before then), watching the 6 o’clock news while digging into a bag of no-name cheese puffs that had been sitting on top of my fridge for a couple weeks. “Hey, have a good afternoon’s sleep?”
I shrugged. “The usual.”
“I had a shower and some of your food. Hope you don’t mind.”
I shrugged again. It was all I could do this closely removed from sleep. Having made sure Rebecca hadn’t burnt the place down, I went to the bathroom for my usual start-of-day routine. It was pure basics, not like the elaborate make-up rituals some of my girlfriends did. Had done, I supposed, back when they were still my girlfriends. They were getting older too and might not have the energy (or immaturity, I thought) to fight an increasingly uphill battle.
Back to the main room, with Rebecca looking oh-so-sweet. “So Joanne, you didn’t tell me you were gay.”
I stopped dead, hand reaching halfway canlı casino towards the drawer with the cereal. “How do you know that?”
“Photos on the fridge,” said Rebecca. “Pretty sure that other girl isn’t your sister.”
I cast my eyes to the photos she was talking about. Me and Kristin, taken almost a year ago, the two of us smiling with our arms around each other. God, I should have taken those down. We had been broken up for months after all. Plus there was something almost taunting about those images – her ethereally pretty form, slender and young, next to my chubby body and butch-plain features. But there was always something more pressing than cleaning up my place, or even paying attention to it.
“No,” I said. “She’s not my girlfriend either. Not any more, anyway.”
“Sorry to hear it. She looks hot.”
“You know, I’m not one of your straight friends. You don’t have to try and act dykey to shock me or look cool or whatever.”
She looked genuinely hurt at the accusation. “What? I just thought she was a cute girl, is all. Not everything I say has an ulterior motive.”
She was right, I guessed. But the kind of shamelessness she displayed still irritated me. “Sorry. You’re right, she was pretty cute.”
Rebecca looked triumphant. “So, you got anything to eat around here? I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s kinda suppertime. I would go and get something myself, but I’m running a bit low on funds right now, as you can imagine.”
“Well, for me it’s kinda breakfast time. But there’s this diner place down the way that serves all day breakfast, so we can go there. I’ll pay.”
“Thanks for offering, but after weeks of campus fast food I kinda want a home-cooked meal.” The girl was infuriating. What did she think I was, a waitress?
I grudgingly opened my fridge. It was pretty bare – either Rebecca had done a number on it during the day or I needed to go grocery shopping soon or both. But I had both bread and a quarter-eaten brick of cheese hiding in there.
“How does some grilled cheese sound?” I said.
“Fan-fucking-tastic,” she said.
“All right. You make the sandwiches and I’ll fry ’em up.” Rebecca looked a little surprised at being conscripted for the cooking – maybe she did think of me as a waitress after all – but dragged herself off the couch and did her part.
While I was waiting for the frying pan to warm up I wondered why I was doing all this for a girl I barely knew. The standard shrink answer would be that I saw a younger version of myself in her, but I really didn’t. When I was her age I was reserved, brimming with subdued anger, and in the closet to everyone I wasn’t fucking. For me lesbianism was something you did in private and didn’t talk about, not because it was shameful but because it created unnecessary complications – it wasn’t an identity you claimed without any experience. I was still like that, to some extent.
The other answer was that it was lust, that I was hoping to get this baby dyke in bed. But I was pretty sure that wasn’t it either. I mean, she was hot, but I could get plenty of girls that looked like her without all the hassle. So why was I cooking for her?
After we had finished making the simple meal we sat on the couch and ate, as the news blared on the television. “Man, this reminds me of home,” Rebecca said. “Thanks a lot.”
“No problem, kid.”
She gobbled down her sandwiches at twice the rate that I did. It was understandable, I guess. When she was finished Rebecca sat the plate down on the table and put a hand on my thigh. I froze. Even through my jeans I could feel the warmth and a strange kind of shock.
“What are you doing?”
She rolled off the couch and knelt between my legs. “Well, I figure since you’re taking such good care of me I should repay you somehow. And this way sounds best to me.”
“Rebecca, I don’t need a whore.”
I don’t know what I expected her reaction to be – relief, anger, something at least – but her expression didn’t change one bit. “It’s not like that.” She undid the button of my jeans. “Don’t make a big deal about it. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.”
I wanted to. I really wanted to. But at the same time, I didn’t want to take advantage of the situation. Rebecca didn’t know what she was doing, not really. I stood up abruptly, grabbing a fistful of denim to stop my pants from falling down. She looked up, confused.
“Look, honey, in this situation I think it’s better if we don’t…” Had I just called her honey? I never said things like that.
Rebecca nodded glumly. “I know what you mean. But I just don’t want to be your charity case, you know.”
“You won’t be. Trust me, something will open up soon enough.”
Of course, nothing opened up, at least nothing above the level of a homeless shelter. I wanted to leave Rebecca somewhere she would be safe, but with my salary there was nothing left to offer but my couch. Hell, affording food for two people was straining things as it was. The situation wasn’t sustainable kaçak casino for long, and I knew it. But what was I going to do, kick her out?
I woke up a bit more than a week after first meeting Rebecca to a smell that instantly made my mouth water. After throwing some clothes on (one of the things I missed most was being able to wander around my place in various states of undress), I stepped out to discover Rebecca with two frying pans over the oven. Pancakes and bacon. She was wearing an apron and had her hair tied back in pigtails, looking like some kind of domestic goddess.
“Wow,” I said.
Rebecca looked over and beamed at me. “Just thought I would make you something for your 6-PM-breakfast. You like?”
“Smells great,” I said. “Where did you get this stuff, though?”
“Back of your fridge, back of your cupboards. Hope the bacon’s still good.” Rebecca had become a regular excavator of my home, finding little treasures I had forgotten about months ago. She was wearing some of them now – Kristin’s old clothes, found crumpled on the floor of my closet. My clothes were too big for her, but my ex’s fit her eerily well.
The food was great. Rebecca served herself some too, but spent most of the time watching me eat. I almost suspected the apron of being another ploy to attract me, play into some kind of fetish thing. She had been pulling out all the stops over the past week – brazenly changing right in front of me, dropping innuendo at every opportunity, walking around after a shower with a tight pink towel wrapped around her body, riding up above her creamy thighs, dangling precariously off her generous breasts, the type of thing that you could just grab a corner of and gently tug and there she would be for you, unwrapped like a Christmas present, in all her glorious–
I needed to stop. The apron was, I assured myself, just to stop grease or whatever from getting on the clothes. I couldn’t let my filthy thoughts get away with me. “So how were your classes?”
“Good,” she said. “I’ve got a ton of reading for next week, but I should be able to get it done. Thinking of taking a Women’s Studies minor. I dunno, after all this it just seems really… relevant, y’know.”
I did not, in fact, know. Rebecca was an English major, one of those students I had resentfully glared at before. I had never gotten to go to college, but if I did I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have wasted four years and God knows how much money studying old books and feminist screeds. Which reminded me…
“So, what’s the deal with your tuition?”
Wrong question. Rebecca looked up at me with a frown. “Well, my parents already paid it for this year, and that’s locked in. But after that…”
The silence loomed. “I’m sure they have scholarships for people in your situation,” I said, trying to make myself believe it as well as her. I’m not sure why it was so important to me that she get her useless degree, but for that moment it was.
Rebecca shrugged, but the shrug couldn’t hide her sadness. On impulse I swept her into my arms and gave her a bear hug. She took refuge in my body, pressing herself close. For all she tried to affect nonchalance, I realized, she was going through some tough times.
I released her and she looked back up at me with a smile, looking refreshed. Well, that was my good deed of the day. I guess she could have accused me of leading her on, but it wasn’t like that. It was just a hug. A hug between friends.
It was a couple days later, and I had just gotten back from escorting a staggering girl back to her dorm. She kept rambling about how drunk she was and about some boy named Dylan, and I wondered why girls like this got dorm rooms and free rides when Rebecca (or I) didn’t. Well, I never expected the world to be fair.
When I got back to my station I found Lewis waiting for me. As far as I can figure out he’s my boss, heading up the university security team, although with the mystic academic bureaucracy it’s sort of hard to tell who’s actually in charge around here. “Hey Joanne. Mind if I talk to you for a minute?”
I nodded, trying to dispel the sinking feeling. He invited me into his office (he actually had an office, albeit a closet-sized one) and had me take a seat.
“I don’t want to worry you,” he said, which is never a good start to a sentence, “But we’ve been getting some reports about you having… a relationship with one of the students.”
Rebecca. How had they found out? “It’s not a sexual relationship, if that’s what you’re implying.”
“Well, a couple students have said you’re living with this girl, which I think may be cause for some concern, given that you’re an authority figure here.” Who were these students? Why did they care so badly about who I was living with?
“Look, all I’m doing is giving her a place to stay for now. Would you prefer she was homeless? Because that’s the alternative. I’ve tried getting her some space–“
He put up a hand to stop me. “Okay, okay. Look, it’s just not a very good looking situation all right? Don’t put her out on the street, but try to find another place.” There was an implicit or else in his tone, for all he tried to seem friendly. The message was pretty clear.
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