Chapter 1

Of all the classrooms of all the college campuses in all of the world, she had to walk into his. She was a leggy blue-eyed blonde with innocent blue eyes, intensified by what seemed like pounds of smoky eye shadow that would have been unflattering on anyone else, anyone else but her. She was the perfect specimen: thin arms, long legs, pouty lips. Dressed in a black tank top, a tattered jean mini skirt, and pretentious combat boots. Her hair looked smooth and soft over her pronounced shoulders. There was a beauty mark on the back of her neck. If he had been poetic, he would have said that she was a work of art.

But he wasn't, so he turned to Brad and whispered, "Look at that piece of ass."

Of all the things in the world he could have said. But he couldn't take it back, so it lingered in the air and then Brad turned to him and grinned in his horny, stupid way. He hated the way Brad grinned. Brad was rather hideous, an elongated scrawny prick with a large adam's apple.

"What, you mean scary?" Brad thought he was so clever. "Come on Luke, man, you could do better."

He probably could. Luke was, and not only according to his mother, a pretty good looking guy. Tall, dark, handsome. A conventional-handsome, a homecoming king type. Ironically, he had been homecoming king. At his old school, a suburban "bumblefuck" for the priviledged, he had really been something of a king. He made love to the prom queen in the back of his BMW convertible and dumped her the next day. He was high-fived and the girls swooned. Everyone, really, hated the prom queen.

"Wake up, dumbass," Luke smiled, "you take off all that make-up on her face, and you've got yourself a hottie."

"No---you've got yourself a scary. That chick is a straight up man-hating ball-twisting lesbian."

"What makes you say that?"

"Oh, I know you don't listen in class but---"

Class. The core curriculum. The necessary, obligatory, European Literature. For someone majoring in business, the code-word was torture. For someone like the leggy blonde, an important component of her education.

Brad was not a dumb guy, not at all. He had gotten in college the old fashioned way, but his association with Luke awoke in him a desire to recreate some distant dream. To run with the wolves, so to speak, to befriend the enemy. Those well dressed, well built, perfect caricatures of men, who kissed pretty girls of which he could only dream while touching himself, always feeling ashamed, so ashamed. And the pretty blonde, to him, wasn't really scary, but she had to be, because that's the way someone like Luke would think. Of course, his whole universe seemed to shake when Luke actually observed that she was attractive.

"I know you don't listen in class," he continued, "but if you had, you'd know her school of thought is hardly formalistic."

"'Scuse me?" Luke mumbled, not taking his eyes off her.

"She's a feminist. The scary type."

"What's the scary type?"

"The type that doesn't say men and women are equal. The type that says women are superior."

"Cute and dumb," Luke laughed.

He stood up and moved down the row, closing the distance between them. She was alone in a corner sketching in the margin of her notebook.

He sat next to her. She didn't notice, or at least pretended not to.

"Hey," he said.

"Hi," she replied without looking up. He watched her pencil shade meaningless letters.

"What'cha doing?" he continued.


"You know, doodles are an art form in some cultures."

She sighed, "It's a testament to deconstructionism."

"It's a good one."

"So, can I suck your dick now?"

He was taken aback. "What?"

"Well, that's how most of these things go, right?" She finally looked up, "Small talk, fellatio. Sometimes in reverse. That's what you're used to, isn't it, you big brawny man?"

"Hardly. Why? Is it like that for you?"

She rolled her eyes. She looked so pretty rolling her eyes. And then the obligatory sidekick friend approached.

The one---the one against whom the pretty girl looked even prettier. The totally undesirable. A brunette in a pony tail, with a small mouth and dark, angry, alarming, disarming eyes. Her eyebrows were heavy and unkempt; her body hidden under worn jeans and a grey sweater.

"Hey, Madison," she said.

"Madison? Hey Madison," Luke said to the pretty blonde. The obligatory friend raised her eyebrow and smiled in a strange sly way.

"Bye, dick." Madison waved her fingers.

"Actually it's Luke."

He smiled at her and walked slowly away, his hands in his pockets.

When he reached his seat, Brad was staring at him with a grin on his face which annoyed the hell out of Luke.

"Shot. Down." Brad emoted.

"Shut up," Luke replied and sat in his chair. Brad refused to stop the glistening grin.

"It's all right," Brad consoled sarcastically, "you win some, you lose some."

"You know, if I remember correctly, I just told you to shut up."

"You memory must be a little fuzzy after the beat down you just received."

A beat down. It was, after all, a game, and thinking of it that way made Luke feel better. The thought stuck in his head for the remainder of the class, a boring lecture on Beowulf or Ulysses, or someone else along those lines. It all seemed the same to Luke. He scoffed at literature. It was pointless. All that mattered in the world, he thought, was numbers. And what people thought of you. That was his father's philosophy.

His father was an old blood Republican. A senator. A family man. He wanted his only son to go to Yale. His connections, unfortunately, could only guartantee Columbia for Luke's accomplishments. GPA: 2.35---SAT: 1580, but Luke never told his friends that. It was just another part of an inexplicable life. He bragged about getting 950. He had, after all, had a heavy hangover on the morning of the test. Maybe it was just a lucky accident. He took the test again. He entirely fumbled the last section. 1470. On the third try, he forgot his calculator at home. 1520.

He recalled comically all the teenagers in the world who would kill for his score. He would gladly trade places with him. His greatest fear in the world was making his father proud.

When he was back in his dorm room, invested in a video game while Brad did homework, a thought came to him.

"She's too proud," he said.

Brad looked up from his work and turned to Luke.

"What in god's name----"

"That Madison chick. She's too proud."

"I don't want to ask."

"Look, the reason she was such a bitch is that she never had to be nice. Things just fell into her lap since she's so hot."

"I didn't ask."

"You have to treat queens like whores, Brad."

"Thanks for the bit of wisdom. Now, tell me more about that zen thing."

"I'll get her; you'll see."

"Right---well while you're at it, would you look into world peace? This war thing is getting a little tiresome."

"I'll put it on my to-do list. Between flossing and---you know---"

"Impregnating Jessica Alba?"

"Oh!" he gasped, "Gotta add that."

"Wow, I hate to tell you, man, but you have a better chance with JA than this Madison you speak of. She's a---say it with me----les-bian."

"She is not."

"Wanna put money on it?"

"I don't need your money."

"Maybe not, but I could use some of yours."

"Fine. Hundred bucks."

"Make it five."

"Five-hundred bucks say I plow her before spring break."

"Fine. But she has to be sober."

"You underestimate me, my friend."

They shook on it and suddenly he felt better. Suddenly there was a purpose. A purpose for being there. A purpose for something.