Planetary Romance, 1

Okay, I have nothing else to put up today, so here is the beginning of my November NaNoWriMo novel, Slaves to the Lesser Moon. I am going to write on the planetary romance genre tomorrow, but briefly, in such stories an earthman finds himself translated/transported (I do prefer the Shakespeherian initial choice) to a bizarre and barbaric other planet (Mars, Venus, the interior of the earth, one of the moons of Jupiter or Saturn, or a planet elsewhere in the galaxy or universe). Usually, this hero is already stalwart, steely-eyed, resourceful, a trained fencer, slim-hipped (a favorite Burroughsian description) an altogether male-perfect. With thanks to my nephew Ryan, I went a different way…

At some point in the long, drunken evening which would be my last on this earth, I stood at the window of our apartment, unstable and wobbly, and looked out across our small collegiate town but dimly lit in this ecological age, the sulphur streetlights reflecting from the hard winter snow, and gazed upon the distant stars. Would I be happier now if I had realized then that I was looking upon my destiny? But no glimmer of the future or the past echoed in the aching chambers of my thoughts. Then I turned back from the dark, swigged my beer and collapsed into tears.

That evening was no party but a wake. Only a few hours before, my world had collapsed, and drink what I might, I couldnʼt avoid the dreadful weight of that disaster.

I had staggered home to our cheapjack apartment, where Terry was just hanging out, a couple of dead soldiers on the coffee table in front of his overweight carcass, the current Keystone sitting by his head on the back cushion as he texted furiously, the TV blaring another overly loud car commercial. I stalked over to the fridge and hauled out my own can of the cheapest beer in the supermarket, popped it and plopped on the worn-out overstuffed chair.

“Whassup, bro? You were gonna be out all night, you said,” Terry never even shifted his eyes from his phone, both fingers still punching away madly. I muted the tube.

“She dumped me,” I coughed, the words themselves choking my throat.

“Jen?” I nodded mutely, sucking down a huge gulp of salty sour brew. One eye rotated my way and caught my repeat of the labored nod behind another big swallow. “Jen? Jen dumped you, dude? … Kidding? Right?”

“Nope. No joke.” And I finished the can, pitching it toward his on the table. Rising to fetch another, I snarled, “Itʼs over, dude. Done.”

“Jen? She dumped you?”

I just flipped him off with the hand on the fridge door as I reached within.

“Really?” My roomie was always remarkably slow about human relations. “Jen?” An ex-frat boy, he still kept up on his dues. “Dumped you?” A campus legend suggested that, freshman year, heʼd continued seeing a girl through first semester whoʼd dumped him at Boom Night second week in September. “Dude!” And she kept telling him every time heʼd show up. “That girl didnʼt know a good thing when she had one.” But she kept letting him take her out, too. “I feel for you, dude.” Until he finally figured it out.

I was back in the chair, sucking out my second third of the next can with its successor in my other hand. “Thanks, man.”

He was still texting. “Wanna talk about it?”

“Not particularly.” And I finished that can. Sent it to join the three musketeers on the table, sending one of them to the carpet.

“Sure.” He nodded as I popped the third. I took the first drink slower, smaller, too. Then I started telling him all about it.

Jen was a year younger than us, a junior that January. Iʼd met her in class, spring of her freshman year, Geology, which we were both taking to get a required science credit out of the way. She was an art major, which suited my English/Lit, and the prof had let us team for fieldwork assignments (everyone teamed with one or two — he assigned so many rocks to find no one person could ever do it all alone). Sheʼd been the one to notice me, and the one to make the first move, striking up a conversation in the Union where weʼd both gone for lunch, along with half the student body, right after class. Having queued for the burgers and fries, Iʼd grabbed a table for myself off in the northwest corner, no windows, but no bothersome jerks either, and sheʼd followed from the salad bar, sat herself down without asking and said, “Youʼre in Geology, right?”

She had the brightest red hair anyone had ever seen — natural, not dyed, it looked — so there was no missing her in class. Iʼd spotted her toward the front as I made my way to the back. Besides she was hot, maybe a little heavy, but if sheʼd put on her freshman fifteen, she had to have been a stick in high school. Besides, I looked like a generic soph slob that spring, unshaved, hair gone pretty long, same clothes three days in a row, still getting used to living off campus in an overpriced flat with three other equally clueless guys I barely knew (one of whom was Terry). It was a miracle a girl this goodlooking even spoke to me. And her she was sitting at my isolated table, giving me those girl looks that say she thinks you might have possibilities.

We talked. Looked over the Geology syllabus, noted the tons of fieldwork indicated and agreed to partner if Dugan approved (and of course he had). I asked her out a weekend later, and that was it. We were an item, a couple. After three semesters I had a college girlfriend.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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