The hunger washed over Turner with a primal violence. His side ached. The side of his face hurt. He was exhausted. And on top of everything, he was hungry right down to his cells. “I gotta get some food,” he said.
“Let’s grab a burger. GM Steakhouse is just a few minutes’ walk from here.”
Turner hated the GM Steakhouse. It was run by Johnny Papadakis, a fat, sweaty Greek guy who loved the frat guys, the frat clothes, the frat cars, and most of all the frat money. Everyone hated Papadakis, but they loved his burgers. They were giant, lean patties cooked on the grill while you stood in the cafeteria line, with big, freshly baked buns and equally fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, and avocados. The GM Burger with Fries was also pricey, at $5.75 it was a once-monthly treat, and almost worth the abuse and harassment that Papadakis ladled out to everyone in the line who wasn’t a frat brother or sorority sister.
“That place is a huge frat hangout. Do we really want to go there after robbing the entire Sig Ep fraternity, stealing one of their cars, and then vandalizing it?”
Clementine smiled. “How old are you, Turner?”
“You gonna spend the next four years here slinking around with your dick in the dirt, scared of your own shadow because some frathole might beat you up?”
“Sounds like a reasonable plan, actually.”
“Well, it isn’t. They’re just a bunch of big bullies. We’ve stared ’em down once. We can stare ’em down any time. And I’m hungry.”
They walked down the Drag and into the burger joint. It was packed and the line was long. The two students in front of them were Indian. The guy ordered after looking at the menu. “I’d like the, uh, the GM Burger, please.”
“Sure,” said Papadakis, waiting to pounce. “Everything on it?”
“Yes, please. Everything but mustard.”
“One GM Burger!” Papadakis roared out. “With butt mustard!”
“Butt mustard for the Indian fellow!” roared the line cooks in unison.
Everyone snickered and the guy, chagrined, didn’t know what to say. “How much butt mustard, sir?” asked Papadakis.
The guy smiled weakly. “Everything except mustard, please,” he clarified.
“Oh! Cancel the butt mustard for the dark fellow! No butt mustard for the Indian fellow!”
The customers were guffawing too. Turner and Clementine ordered, got their food, and sat down.
“How’d you wind up at a frat party?” she asked him. “You don’t look the part.”
“My roommate’s Sig Ep, he’s a junior. He invited me.”
“That’s a problem.”
“When he finds out about your little stunt, you’re going to catch hell. Those guys stick together.”
“Now who’s scared of her own shadow?”
“I’ve been around, Turner. I’m six years older than you, and I know these fratholes.”
“I’ll just stare ’em down, like you said.” He was getting scared again. “Plus, you don’t even know Will. His dad and my dad work together. He’s like a big brother to me. He’s a good guy. I’ll tell him what happened and he’ll probably argue with me but it won’t be a big deal. I’ve known him for years.”
Clementine had finished eating. “I gotta go fill my prescription. My hand is killing me. Want to come with?”
“No, thanks. I have a paper due on Monday. I gotta get on it.”
She looked at him for a second. “You’re just blowing me off, right?”
Turner blushed. “No, I’m not blowing you off. I have a paper in my philosophy class and it’s a really hard class and I gotta get a good grade in this class.”
“You’re hoping I’ll just go away, aren’t you?”
“No! Why would you say something like that?” He was desperately hoping she’d just go away.
“Well, then, walk me home.”
“Sure. Where do you live?”
“Two blocks up, just off Lavaca.”
He got on his bike and pedaled slowly, to match her casual amble. They came to a small apartment complex. Hers was on the ground floor. She went to the door and tried to get the key out of her purse. Turner dismounted. “Let me help.” He got out the key, and put it in the lock. The door swung open. He stood aside to let her in, and she was suddenly facing him. She put her arms around his shoulders and pulled his mouth to hers.
Her mouth was so hot and wet that his mind went blank. She pressed her chest against him and he felt the pressure of her breasts and the force of her pelvis as she pushed against him. Her tongue pried open his mouth and she entered him, filled with fire. Then she disengaged and pulled away. “You coming in?” she said.
He opened his eyes. He was soaked in sweat. His heart was pounding. “No,” he said. “I can’t.” He reached down and picked up his bike, threw a leg over the top tube, and rode away. “Don’t look back,” he said to himself. “Whatever you do, don’t look back.”
And he didn’t, with the soft and hurt and angry reproach of “Fuck you, Turner!” ringing in his ears.