| I would like to thank my editor CantSayNo. She did a fine job in helping me straighten out some issues I had with grammar. I feel the story is better because of her assistance.
"Class! Remember your final book review is due on Friday in the history department office by three o'clock. The same box you've used all semester will be there, so do not, I repeat, do not slide your papers under the door or send them through campus mail. If I don't get them on time you will get a zero and none of you can afford that. Also, the final is one week from today and will be in 200 Reston Hall, it will be like every other exam this semester. Before I forget ... if any of you have any questions, concerns or complaints I'll have normal office hours through Friday, plus I'll more than likely be here, so drop by my office. Finally, I enjoyed my time with all of you this semester and I hope you all have a safe summer and I'll see some you next semester."
And so I ended my last class of my first full year as a newly appointed history professor. The only thing left to do was read the incoming book reviews, grade the finals and tabulate my students' grades. After that, I could get to the real task at hand – finishing revisions on my first book, a study of indentured servants in Pennsylvania and their support of the American Revolution, and sending it to the publisher.
Over the next two days, book reviews and anxious students slowly trickled in. The nervous and anxious students asked about the final, while the ones I hadn't seen all semester asked if there was something extra they could do to save their abysmal grades. Of course that was out of the question. Anything extra I let them do I'd have to let the others do. Any breaks or deals I cut them would have to include the rest. In their self-centered minds many of them couldn't even grasp that point.
By four o'clock Friday I was staring at a stack of nearly twenty-five essays that needed critiqued and graded by the end of next week. That didn't include the nearly hundred and twenty finals my students would take next Wednesday.
What the fuck have I gotten myself into, I thought. I always expected this amount of work but no matter how prepared I was, finishing it in enough time to turn the grades in was very daunting. A light knock at my office door interrupted my brief bout of self-pity and loathing.
"Mr. Langford," I said as I swiveled in my chair. There in front of me was the hulking man known as Eric Langford. Eric Langford was what passed for a star on our university's football team. Many local sports writers considered him Libertyville State University's best linebacker in over a decade. Some even whispered that if his junior and senior seasons were good enough a NFL team could possibly draft him. None of that particularly interested me though. Eric made fair grades, mostly high Cs, but he wasn't setting any records.
"Dr. Harris, I know this was supposed to be in by three o'clock. I'm sorry it's late," Eric said. He handed me his book review; the pages still warm from printing.
"It's almost four right now," I said looking at the clock on the wall behind Eric. "You know, I really shouldn't take this."
"My printer in my room wouldn't work, so I had to go to the computer lab," Eric explained. The look of fear that crept into his dark blue eyes betrayed his nervousness.
"You're lucky I was still here. I was just getting ready to leave," I said. I know it's not nice but I enjoyed seeing Eric squirm a bit.
"Thank you so much Dr. Harris, thank you so much." Eric stood looking at me as if he wanted to add something.
"You're welcome. Is there anything else you need?"
"Umm, yeah, could I talk to you about my grades?"
"Sure, but can you make it quick? I have plans for this evening," I said looking at my watch.
"Yeah, see the thing is I'm not sure my grades are where I need them." I grabbed my grade book and found his records. "Last semester I was on academic probation and if I don't get at least a three-o this semester I could lose my scholarship. Right now I think I have a C in your class."
"Looking at your scores," I did some quick calculating in my head. "I'd say it's a high C."
"Doc, is there anything I can do to get it up to at least an eighty? All I need is that B to keep my scholarship," Eric said, his eyes pleaded and voice both pleaded with me.
"I'm sorry Eric, I can't allow you to do extra work. I realize the stakes are particularly high here but it's unfair to the dozen students before you I said 'no' to. Don't forget though, the numbers we just looked at don't include attendance, participation, this book review or your final test. I can assure you you'll get the maximum points for both attendance and participation, which counts for about 10% of your final grade." I waited for Eric's response.
"I understand doc," Eric said. "I'm just not sure how good that book review is or how I'll do on my test."
"Eric I understand your dilemma, I really do. All I can say is study hard for the final, you've done okay on the other tests, and this one won't be any different."
Eric nodded his head and looked out the doorway down the hall. Turning back to me he leaned in and whispered, "If you could see yourself clear to adding a few percentage points to my grade I could get season tickets for you next year, no charge." Eric smiled at me and winked, "the team is shaping up real well so it'll be a good season."
"Eric, no," I said. "By all rights I should report this bribe attempt to the dean. If you leave now I'll forget this ever happened."
"All right, doc," Eric said. "You drive a hard bargain," he looked down the hall again, "season tickets plus 200, no, 500 bucks."
"Eric, that is enough. If you don't leave now I will report you and you'll lose more than your scholarship. They would probably expel you, and you don't want that on your academic transcript," I said, a hint of anger crept into my voice.
"Calm down Dr. Harris, I understand your point. You have my total assurances that nobody else would know about our little arrangement. What's a few percentage points among friends? You wouldn't be the first prof that helped me out like this. I could go as high as a thousand if you want?" Eric said. He arched his eyebrows awaiting a response, as if it would be different than my previous answers.
"Eric, I really think this conversation should've ended a long ..." I began to say before a noise in the hall interrupted me.
"Psst, Eric. Psst, Eric."
I looked past Eric into he hall to see a girl with the thickest, most wavy shock of black hair I'd even seen. She motioned to Eric to try and get him into the hallway.
"Go away," he whispered to her, "I'll be out in a minute."
"But my parents are here now. I don't want daddy to wait any longer than he has to," the girl pleaded.
"Dammit, Isabel, I'll be out in a minute."
"Miss, can I help you with anything," I piped in over their loudly whispered conversation.
"Sorry professor," she said. The girl dropped her head shyly and started to blush.
"I'm sorry. Dr. Harris, meet my girlfriend -- soon to be fiance -- Isabel." Isabel stepped into my office and stood behind Eric. Even sitting down he seemed to tower over this girl and for a brief second I tried to imagine what those two must look like while making love.
"Hello Professor Harris," Isabel said. She extended her hand to shake mine.
"Hello, Isabel. It's a pleasure to meet you," I replied. Isabel gave my hand a half-hearted squeeze and then put it on Eric's head where she started to stroke his thick blond hair.
If only one other thing could be said about Eric Langford it was his mythic ability to attract the most beautiful women on campus. Isabel was certainly no exception. Her coal black eyes burned with an intense radiance. Her lower lip jutted forward slightly giving her a permanent come-hither pout. Her olive-toned skin was blemish free and worthy of any Greek goddess. Only the upper slopes of her breasts were visible above her scoop-necked top. That, however, was enough to hint at the lush, ample bosom hidden beneath the fabric. Her waist narrowed dramatically before flaring into the shapely, full hips of a woman.
Eric watched me intently as I drank in the curves and lines of this gorgeous woman. His eyes followed my gaze. He didn't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out I was leering at his girlfriend. I snapped out of my trance when my eyes met Isabel's. She flashed me a smile of perfectly white teeth and batted her long, dark eye lashes at me. I shook my head to clear it and I looked back at Eric feeling self-conscious.
Eric stood up with a giant grin on his face. He extended his right hand to shake mine. "Dr. Harris, I'm real sorry about parts of our earlier conversation."
"That's fine, Eric," I said, "misunderstandings sometimes occur. All I can say is study hard and you'll be fine."
"Thank you," Eric said. "Let's go see your father," Eric said to Isabel.
I followed them into the hall. Eric reached out and grabbed a handful of Isabel's round bottom. He turned back at me and winked. Isabel smacked his hand away and I could hear her mumbling something about it having to wait for later. I went back into my office and gathered up all the book reviews so I could get to the street and catch a bus back to my apartment in the Shady Grove section of Libertyville. Saturday I planned on grading all my papers and figuring out the attendance and participation grades for my students. This would hopefully make the final tallying of grades easier once the finals were scored.
The work and routine of professors can be very lonely, especially for history professors. The nature of our very work requires us to spend long hours in poorly lit libraries reading dusty papers nobody has touched in two centuries. I actually like digging into those. The part of this job I despise is the grading. Hour after hour is spent reading papers hoping a couple of students got your point or understood something you said. Instead, you find papers that make you wonder if your students attended one of your classes or bothered to think about anything you said.
This is where I found myself late Saturday afternoon. By five o'clock I'd been at it for nearly seven hours and I was growing increasingly frustrated. Students I'd hoped would've done better didn't, and I was forced to give them lower grades than I had intended. It was around this time I came across Eric Langford's book review.
Surprisingly his review showed a tremendous amount of improvement over his previous two. It was thoughtful and showed that he grasped the main points of the book, his review also made many accurate criticisms. Mildly surprised at his work I gave him a high A. I added this latest grade in with his others, including attendance and class participation. I calculated his scores and saw that his average came out to an 82 percent. Provided he did reasonably well on his final, his grades were high enough for him to keep his football scholarship.
To think he nearly risked his scholarship and college career by offering me a bribe for a grade he'd earned on his own. It was unbelievable. I laughed out loud and shook my head at the near tragedy that was diverted. From inside my apartment office I could hear a faint knocking at the door.
"Coming," I shouted down the hall as I jogged to the door.
When I opened the door I was stunned to see the dark-haired beauty Isabel at the door.
"Hello, Professor Harris," she said. Her lips parted in a wide smiled to reveal her pearly-white teeth.
"Uh, hello Isabel," I said. I'm sure I sounded perplexed and totally confused, generally because I was.
Before any other pleasantries could be exchanged her cell phone rang. She held up a solitary finger as she answered the call.
"Hello," she said. "Yes, I'm here." I could hear a mumbled voice on the other end. "Yes, he's standing in front of me now." More mumbled conversation. "Of course I will ... yes ... I love you, too," Isabel said. "Here, Eric wants to speak to you," she said handing the phone over to me.
"Eric?" I said, "what's Isabel doing here?"
"Hey, doc," Eric's voice rang in my ear. "I thought I'd try discussing my grades with you one more time."
I walked away from Isabel at the front door and back down the hallway. "Eric, you don't have....," I turned back down my hallway and saw Isabel still at the front door. She was wearing a short floral patterned red sundress. This dress exposed even more of her deep, full cleavage. The sight of that alone got thoughts of bedding this beautiful creature stirring in my head. The short dress showed off her toned calf and thigh muscles. Images of those tanned legs wrapped around my waist or my head as I buried my face between them co-mingled with those of her cleavage. With Eric's phone still to my ear I thought I should hear him out.
"What was that, doc?" Eric said.
"Nothing," I replied. "What did you want to discuss?"
"Well, doc. I noticed you admiring Isabel yesterday, or perhaps I should say leering at Isabel."
"What's your point?" I snapped into the phone.
"Easy doc, easy," Eric said coolly. "In return for the grade I need to keep my scholarship Isabel would be happy to spend some time with you."
"Believe me that isn't necessary, Langford," I said.
"Come on, doc," Eric said unfazed at my last snap, "look at Isabel. I know you'd love to get your hands on that tight little body, I saw the look in your eye. Give her a whirl, you know you'd love to. She can suck a dick like it's the only one left and she's got the sweetest snatch I've ever been in. Not to mention she shaves it bald. Go ahead and ask her to show it to you. Tell her you want to see her pretty cunt."
"That's okay, Eric. I believe you." I was starting to get turned on by Eric's filthy descriptions of his oblivious girlfriend standing in my doorway, a smile still on her face. "You've got a deal, but here are the terms, Eric." I was getting ready to accept a bribe from a student to give him a grade he actually earned. I could've ended this all by shutting Langford up for a minute and just explaining things to him. If he wouldn't listen to me I didn't see any reason to keep trying to talk to him.
"Lay it on me, doc. You're in charge, I'm just a student," he said. The huge smile on his face was even evident through the phone.
"Isabel for the whole night, no interruptions. Plus, I want those season tickets you talked about earlier and five hundred bucks." I figured if I was going to be bribed, I should do it right.
"Make it three hundred," Eric began to say.
"I think we're done talking then," I said moving to close the phone.
"No, no, five hundred is fine, but you only have Isabel until tomorrow morning."
"We'll call you when we're done," I said, "there's no magic hour when she disappears."
"Okay," he reluctantly said, "give me back to Isabel, please."
I handed the phone back to Isabel. I could tell she was listening intently to Eric. "Yes, if that's what you want," she said. Isabel looked at me and smiled, "No. Yes, I'll be fine." I could hear Eric talking some more. "You know I'd do anything for you," she said, "I love you too." Isabel closed her phone and went to put it away in her purse.
"Turn that phone off," I said, "I don't want Eric calling to check up on you and interrupting us. I don't think he will, he's not that stupid."
Isabel turned the cell phone off as instructed. She put the phone away and closed the door behind her. I stood there with my hands in my pants pockets and admired the lithe female standing in front of me.
"I'm only doing this for Eric," Isabel said. As quickly as it was there the shining smile disappeared and was replaced by a dark scowl. "I have no interest in you whatsoever."
"I didn't expect you to," I replied. "But where are my manners. Could I offer you a cigarette or perhaps some wine?"
"Wine would be fine, red if you have it," Isabel said.
I motioned for her to sit on the couch. A few seconds later I returned from the kitchen with two full glasses of wine. I handed one to Isabel and then I sat down in a chair directly across from her.
"Do you mind if I smoke?" I said. I was trying to quit smoking but if anytime called for a smoke this was one of them. I hoped this cigarette would calm my nerves, which were on edge now. I was close to crossing several ethical boundaries that could spell ruin to my career not only here but at hundreds of other colleges and universities. Nobody wants to hire a professor that accepts bribes and fucks students or girlfriends of students.
I lit my cigarette and inhaled deeply. The acrid smoke burned my lungs at first but was soon replaced by the calming sensation that made smoking so hard to quit. I exhaled the smoke from my lungs into a cloud above my head.
"Your boyfriend, Eric Langford, made me an offer. He and I found the terms acceptable. The hard part is actually yours," I said as matter-of-factly as possible.
"How is that?" Isabel said. She sipped at the glass of wine. "This is very good," she added.
"It's simple actually. The largest part of the success or failure of Mr. Langford's deal lies with you," I said.
Isabel eyed me suspiciously as if she didn't believe me.
"If you wanted to leave right now I certainly wouldn't stop you. If at any point during the course of the evening you say 'stop' or 'no' I will. However, if I'm not satisfied that his end of the bargain has been held up I have no choice but to give him the grade he deserves. Whether he keeps his scholarship or not would be up to the proper academic officials."
Isabel tapped at her half-empty wineglass with a polished fingernail. She looked up at the ceiling, her mind pondering what I'd just told her. She leveled her gaze back towards me. "So I'm really the one in charge then," she said with a triumphant smile on her face.
"Well, yes and no. You're in charge as far as whether your boyfriend's bargain is held up. My satisfaction, however, is dependent upon your amount of acquiescence," I said.
"I guess you've got me," Isabel said. "I'm your whore for the evening."
"That sounds so crass," I said. "Would you care for more wine?"
"I think I'm going to need it," Isabel said. She held out her glass.
I returned with Isabel's glass filled with more wine. She emptied nearly half the glass in one long gulp.
"Easy there," I said, "I don't want you to pass out on me." I sat back down in the chair across from Isabel. Even from there I could see the wine was already starting to affect her. A light blush crept across the apples of the cheeks and her upper chest. I didn't want to stop giving her alcohol so early in the evening but I thought the more she drank the more amenable she'd be as the evening wore on.
"I suppose this is the part where you ask me about myself," Isabel said. She folded her arms over her chest and stared at me.
"No," I said, "I'll tell you what I know and you correct me. I don't think you'll have to but it'll be fun."
"Okay," she snipped.
I took a sip of my wine and sat the glass down. "Where should I begin?" I said, I tapped my index fingers together in thought. "Ah, here. Your father is Greek. He ran a small cargo shipping company that he ran until he sold it to a larger firm in 1978. The money he made from that deal, he sunk into various resorts and casinos spread across the Mediterranean. Your father appears to have been quite the jet setting playboy in his day. It was during one of his many trips to Paris where he met a young aspiring model."
"Your mother is Spanish. Your mother was a fairly successful model in the early 80s across Western Europe, although she never received the exposure in the States that she deserved. As an aside, I definitely see where you get your looks. It was during a fashion show in Paris that your parents met for the first time. Over the objections of her parents they married less than a year later."