Eddie James Girdner
Chapter One: The Market
Chapter Two: Lucky Break
Chapter Three: Long Road
Chapter Four: Suwannee
Chapter Five: The Mansion
Chapter Six: Good Ole Boy
Chapter Seven: Academia
Chapter Eight: Silent City
Chapter Nine: Madison
Chapter Ten: Billie Jo
Chapter Eleven: Ithaca
Chapter Twelve: Mounds
Chapter Thirteen: Candy
Chapter Fourteen: Crimson White
Chapter Fifteen: Barber Shop
Chapter Sixteen: Seeking Truth
Chapter Seventeen: Overthrowing Communism
Chapter Eighteen: Suicide
Chapter Nineteen: Pow Wow
Chapter Twenty: Friday
Chapter Twenty-One: Star Wars
Chapter Twenty-Two: May Day
Chapter Twenty-Three: Class Struggle
Chapter Twenty-Four: Sick
Chapter Twenty-Five: Bumbling Idiots
Chapter Twenty-Six: Sandbar
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Spring Day
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Mall State
Chapter Twenty-Nine: Steak Out
Chapter Thirty: Wasted Day
Chapter Thirty-One: Farewell Magnolia
Chapter One: The Market
Daylight had not yet arrived when Stan and his wife, Judy, joined the string of cars and trucks lining up on a Sunday morning. It was half past four and the venders were lining up for the weekly swap meet in Goleta, California. Half of them were Mexican, selling goods from Mexico or the wholesale district in LA. The two kids were sleeping in the back seat. It would be another half hour before the gate would open and they could find their small market space and set up their shop in the old drive-in movie theater.
The early morning fog rolled in from the Pacific, cool and damp. Stan always liked the smell of the sea. It reminded him of the early morning exercises on the drill field at San Diego, when he had been in the Navy. It was hard but he was on the coast and things were looking up. He was going for adventure, wherever it led. At least he was not in Missouri. Not in the dull Midwest. That was good. He would find a way. Now he had a similar feeling. He would again find a way to make it work.
The academic job market had been dry for two years since Stan Sucker finished his doctorate. He had been beating the academic bushes now for nearly two years without coming up with anything. It was shit when he was just sitting on his completed doctorate with no job. That expensive sheepskin was just going to waste. Coals to Newcastle. There were too many swingin dicks with PhDs and now all the schools wanted to hire were not swingin dicks but women, blacks and Hispanics. Souls that would assuage their administrative need to meet their affirmative action criteria. There was just the one interview in western Colorado but he had come away empty handed from that. It was not easy with a hundred or more applicants applying for every job. It had been a desolate place anyway, out there in Grand Junction. After a couple of cold bleak days there, it had not seemed very grand. Just a poor desolate junction.
While humping the market, Sucker had managed to work part-time in the registrar’s office at the university. It put some food on the table. That was all. Marking time. That is, until one of the employees in the office told him that if he was working more than half-time he was eligible for some benefits from the university. Stan didn’t know if it was true but asked the supervisor about it and requested to be paid the benefits if he was eligible.
At first, the university balked. They claimed he was not eligible for any benefits. But when Stan asked the Human Resources Office about it, they backed down and offered the pay. But the next day they sent him a letter terminating the job for him and a friend, Mark, who worked with him who had also asked about benefits. Just because it is a university doesn’t mean that the employer can be trusted to obey the laws and treat their employees fairly. When they used their brains it landed them in a world of shit, Stan thought. It was the same stiff deal everywhere.
I shouldn’t have asked, Stan thought. At least, I would have had a part-time job. And the benefits were just dipshit anyway. As it was, if the university could not continue to cheat him out of his legal right to benefits, then they would not allow him to work at all. This was the sort of business ethics that was practiced at the highest educational institution in the state. Sometimes it began to get on his nerves. He had been treated like shit for years as a student and now things were not getting any better. When would he get a lucky break?
While Stan struggled to prepare some articles for publication, his wife decided to sell some things in the local swap meet. It was more of a hobby than anything else, as they were not likely to make any money. They would realize this soon enough.
Stan bought a plastic canopy and found tables to set up a booth. He prepared display cases for the costume jewelry and other trinkets they would sell. It took a trip to the wholesale district of LA to buy the costume jewelry and other items. He drove his old car down the freeways and found the wholesale district down town. Still, it was hardly possible to compete with the Koreans who got their supply of goods directly from Asia.
When he was sacked from the registrar’s office, he had applied at the unemployment office, now known as the Division of Employment Development. After giving him a written examination and running the results through a computer program, he was told that the only job that he was qualified for was a construction worker.
“What the hell?” Stan asked the jobs counselor. “How can that be? I have never worked in construction before and I have just finished a doctorate in political science. Surely there is something that is related to my field of study.” The bureaucrats were not to be put off, however. They were adamant. If the computer said he was only qualified to work in construction, then that was a fact. He was a construction worker. One cannot argue with diodes. There was no way to challenge it. He was now registered officially in the state as a construction worker. This would be his official job classification. There was no way they could change it, they said. The battery of tests proved that his aptitude ran only in the direction of doing construction work. There was no way to argue with those computerized results. They would let him know when a job opened up for him.
Stan was a little dazed by this but anyway, it was bureaucracy. What could one expect working with bureaucrats? He had done what he could and had to leave it at that.
As a result of his work at the university, he was eligible for a few dollars a week of unemployment compensation. The stipulation was that he had to continue to apply for jobs every week and take a job if one came up.
Stan was putting the final touches on a paper that he was sending off for publication when his phone rang in the early afternoon. It was the guy he had met at the Employment Development Office. Not surprisingly, with a Hispanic name.
“Hi, Mr. Sucker. Juan Gomez from Employment Development. We have a found a job for you,” the voice said, proudly. “We have a house for you to move.”
Gomez seemed pleased to offer such an opportunity.
“What? Sucker said. “A house to move? How the hell can I move a house? I don’t have the first clue how to move a house and it must take some equipment. It would probably take a big truck and big equipment maybe to get it onto wheels.” He imagined some powerful equipment to lift a house onto a huge truck.
“Well, your official job qualification is listed as construction worker,” the explanation came. “That includes moving houses. That’s your business. You are a house-mover according to our records. You will have to deal with that. Our records show that you are a qualified house mover. So you will have to move the house. Otherwise, we will have to cut off your weekly benefits. So if you can come to the office, I will provide the information and you can get to work right away.”
“That’s crazy,” Stan said. “I need a job but one would have to be in the profession to move a house. One would probably have to own a company or something.”
“Well, according to our records, that is your profession.” The voice on the telephone said. “That’s your business. That’s the best we can do for you. It seems like a good opportunity to me. You shouldn’t pass it up.”
“Fuck’n AA,” Stan thought. “That’s the best they can do. What an opportunity. The motherfuckers. They want me to move a fucking house and they spend their time shuffling papers on their desk. It would have been funny if it had not been so absurd.”
He suddenly had a vision of his bloody body smashed underneath a house that he was attempting to lift onto a truck with big jacks.
Sucker was flabbergasted at such a thing. He was just trying to eek out a living with some part time work. If he could get some publications out, he might be able to get a job and get out of their hair. That was what he was humping for every single day. But it took time. If he piddled around with their small meaningless jobs, he would never get into academia and get away from their chicken shit. He just couldn’t understand the logic. They were treating him as if he was just wasting his time in idleness. He was trying to get on in life and start a real career. They were just making it harder for him. They were wasting his time. There was no logic. They were bureaucrats.
Luckily, his small checks did not stop coming at once. He tried to ignore the absurdity of the state employment honchos who seemed to be out on cloud nine. Construction worker, my ass, he thought. What kind of fucking construction worker was he after nine years studying political science. He had never done any such work in his life. He might provide part of the labor required to prepare a house for moving. But to actually move the house one was something else.
The next day, when Sucker drove down to Lucky’s for some shopping he noticed that a wooden house had been loaded onto a long flatbed truck in a vacant lot. It was being prepared for moving.
“Sure enough,” he thought. “That must be the house that they wanted me to move.” One needed a construction company to do that kind of a job.
In the Fall two of his friends who were also fresh PhDs from his department decided to go to Washington for the political science meeting where there would be a job market. It was a sort of meat-market for the stream of new PhDs flooding out of universities all over the country. Some were there from other countries too. It was a screening process for teaching positions. No one was going to get hired at once. It was a matter of feeling out the market. The cheapest flight was the red-eye that left late in the evening and reached the city the next morning. Stan bought a cheap ticket and joined the two guys at LAX. The plane took off a little after midnight. It was completely full. It was not possible to sleep. People around him were drinking and partying most of the night. They kept playing cards. They landed in Philadelphia in the early morning and then the plane shuttled down to Washington through jumpy thunderstorms. Freed from the cramped seat at last, Stan shared the long cab ride from Dulles with his two friends.
At the hotel near the Capitol Building, another jobless colleague joined them, so that there were four sharing the room. Stan would have to sleep on the floor. He was not moving up in the world very fast.
Just after arriving, he changed into his cheap coat and tie and went straight to the employment section of the meeting that had been set up. He had paid the fee and registered. Generally the professors assigned the duties acted as head hunters. They were not going to promise jobs at this point but just indicate their interest in having a candidate come for a full interview during the academic year if they were kosher.
Arriving at the venue, Stan was given a number. He first checked his box provided for the candidates. There was hope! A couple of slips of paper appeared from representatives of universities. It was a good sign, he thought. Things were starting to look hopeful. They were interested in him. They must have impressed them with that CV. And he only needed one job. Almost any offer would get him started and he would take it from there. However, if he could have looked more closely, he might have seen that some schools that had trouble recruiting had simply gone down the line inserting slips into all the candidates’ mailboxes in hopes of finding a candidate that would suit them. They had not even bothered to look at the CVs. They were looking for suckers.
He checked the slips. One was from a school in South Carolina. Oh well, it could be worse, he thought. He was not in a position to turn anything down at this point. There was even a time on the slip, one-forty five in the afternoon. He was slated to see a Professor Brown.
Young mostly male candidates were milling around the area and checking the big blue folders that held the notices of positions to be opened up. They looked uncomfortable, in their ill-fitting wrinkled suits and badly tied cravets. Most had been students for years and were not used to being in a coat and tie. Some of them didn’t even know how to put on their tie.
Sucker checked though the job listings and filled out his own slips indicating his interest in positions at other schools. What the hell. This game is a lottery, he thought. Throwing darts and hoping to hit something. Maybe buying a lottery ticket out on the street would give one about an equal shot.
What are they really looking for? A scholar who will write articles and produce books or someone to watch the ballgames with on the weekends? And of course, play golf, after they got settled in the community and were invited to join the white country club. And maybe chase some women at a conference now and then. Certainly minorities who would put them in good standing with the affirmative action criteria of the Government.
After a sandwich at a place out on the street, where it was much cheaper than the bloated hotel prices, Stan returned to the job section and waited. There were three rows of chairs set up where anxious, mostly young candidates were sitting nervously in suits and ties. A middle aged man appeared with short hair and asked for Stan Sucker. He looked like he might be from the military. Stan said hello and shook his hand. The professor looked at him carefully, a slightly amused look on his face. Stan wondered if he had done something wrong. Was there something wrong with his shirt or tie? There seemed to be some problem, but he didn’t know what.
“Hi Mr. Sucker. Dave Brown,” he said. He indicated to Stan to come with him to the booth were there was a small round table. When they settled down, Professor Brown pulled out his CV and asked him what subjects he was interested in teaching as a way of beginning the interview.
“Well, my main area is comparative politics,” Sucker began. “I have done most of my work on India. But I would also like teach political theory and international relations. I can also teach courses in American politics if there is a need.”
Brown looked a little apologetic, not knowing exactly how to proceed. He cleared his throat and looked at something in the distance past Sucker.
“Well, we are The Citadel,” he said, as if Sucker would recognize at once what he was dealing with and take the hint. When there was no reaction, he said,
“We are a military academy down in South Carolina.”
Sucker had not had a clue that it was a military academy and only had a vague notion of what kind of university that would be. It suddenly hit him that he had been naïve. Brown had concluded from the first glance at Sucker that he was not cut out for the place and realized that the interview was headed for the rocks.
“Oh, I was thinking that it was a regular university,” Stan said. He should have known, given the name. Yes, he had known there were such places, but had not come across them.
“You know, if you came down there, you would have to cut that beard off,” Professor Brown quickly drawled.
It was clear that he was anxious to relieve Stan of his misery. No need to torture him with the interview when there was not a chance in hell, given that he wore a beard. Even if he had chopped it off, Brown figured, it still would not work. He wasn’t the right stuff. He could see that on his face. It was not a place for intellectuals.
The words hit Sucker hard in the face as if he had been slapped. Sucker felt like a fucking fool. He suddenly realized what he was up against. It was a clumsy faux pas.
The scene flashed through his mind. The last twenty-four hours. The money he had sacrificed to come here. The airport shuttle to LA. The airport crowds. The miserable red-eye flight. The preparation to meet the professors after losing a night of sleep. After everything, he was now sunk. Sunk by his beard. Sitting across from this recruiter from a goddamn military school. He was not about to get back into that shit after his years in the Navy. He would rather not have a job.
The situation struck him as so absurd that he suddenly burst out laughing. Professor Brown laughed too. Just as well laugh, he thought. He realized the interview was over before it had even begun.
“Yea, your right. I’m afraid it wouldn’t work for me,” Sucker said. “I didn’t realize that it was a military school,” Sucker said apologetically.
“Yes, we have a strict dress code,” the professor said. “That’s the way it is at the school. And a lot of strict discipline,” he added, to nail down his point that Sucker was not cut out for it. “Good luck in your job search.”
Sucker thanked him, shook hands and left. He wished he could just forget about the whole thing. He was glad that he was not Brown. That poor mother accepts that shit, he thought. He is a miserably crushed bastard. He almost felt sorry for him.
Surely, I will have better luck with some other schools that are real universities that are not hung up on that sort of chicken-shit rules, he thought. Jesus. It suddenly reminded him of his Navy days on the ship when he was constantly harassed by the officers about the length of his beard. Professor Brown had stuffed chits in everybody’s box hoping that he would come up with a couple of suckers that could be pulled in. Some people actually liked the military atmosphere, after all. They would like to see the little robotic students pop up in front of them, stiff and scared like frightened rabbits, when they walked into the classroom. That shit was not for him.
He left the booth and sauntered over to where the big blue binders were kept, listing the positions at various schools. He searched through the job listings and found a few that might be interested in him. There was no way to know. He filled out a few more slips of paper requesting interviews but his spirits had been considerably dampened by this first encounter. He noticed that he was clearly the oldest person around. The others were hardly wet behind the ears. He had done his PhD. late. He knew more about life and had traveled a lot but that did not cut any ice when it came to getting a job. It might even militate against him. Schools were looking for young meat, bright eyed, bushy tailed, robotic idiots who bought the standard paradigms from the textbooks. They did not expect real scholars who would challenge orthodoxy. That would upset the whole academic apple cart.
He checked his box several times again but nothing came up in the afternoon. The next morning, after some breakfast at a McDonald’s down the street from the hotel, he checked his box again and found a slip from a professor at a school up in New Hampshire. That would be excellent to get that, he thought. Sure it was a cold place, but beggars could not be choosers. And it seemed quite liberal. He was to be there at a quarter after ten for the interview. Were they really interested in him, or just filling up the interview slot?
He was met by a middle-aged professor, Don Tucker, who had the appearance of a real academic. He was wearing a light pullover without a tie, friendly and relaxed. Jesus, that is refreshing, Sucker thought. He is interviewing candidates and not even wearing a tie in this strait-jacket outfit of a convention. This is my type of place.
The discussion was friendly. Tucker had looked through Stan’s CV and apparently decided that he would be appropriate for the department. He skipped the standard questions. It was obvious that having a doctorate from the University of California would qualify him if he was willing to work to teach the courses. He appeared to be willing to work. Even knowing something about left politics had not militated against him with Tucker, it seemed. Stan felt confident and asked him about the school, saying that he would love to join the department and work hard to build up his courses and contribute to the department. He was trying to sell himself as a real decent hard-working guy.
“Yes, well, we would surely like to hire you,” Tucker began. “I like the work you have done. It is somewhat along my line. We are a quite liberal school and can be academically oriented. But I have to tell you the truth. The fact is that this is an affirmative action position. We have to hire a woman.”
“Shit,” Sucker thought. Shit out of luck again. He couldn’t just get rid of his cock all of a sudden and be in line to fill the position. And if they had to hire a woman, why waste his time interviewing him? Was it all just window dressing to show how fair they were being?
“Maybe I can fake it. I’ll pretend to be a woman,” he joked. He wasn’t sure, but thought that Tucker was probably being honest with him. White males had a big handicap in the job market due to the affirmative action policies now in place. Universities could not ignore it. Universities were often in the market for a woman, a black or a Hispanic to straighten up their ethnic balance. Otherwise they would get in trouble with the Feds and the university would lose its grants.
“Well, I’ll tell you what, Stan.” Tucker soothed his disappointment. “Keep checking with us. If a position opens up later on in our department, you are welcome to apply,” Tucker said. “But I am afraid that we cannot hire you for this particular position. We have to round out our diversity in the department with future hires.”
“Yes, I understand that,” Stan said. “He had always supported affirmative action. He thought it was only fair. Now it had hit him square in the face and knocked him out of a job. But why should a woman deserve the position more than him? He thought. She could be from a rich family and never have had to struggle and still land the position just on the basis of her sex. Or maybe her good looks. The men would like to have her around the department. In fact, it was not fair, when it came to considering him for the job. He was right there bucking for the job and the school was beating the bushes elsewhere for a female. He was not lacking in intellect or academic qualifications, just pussy.
Sucker felt a little discouraged. First his beard had rendered him completely taboo for the job in South Carolina. Now it was his cock that had knocked him out of a position in New Hampshire. What next? He couldn’t win for losing. But then, who could argue with the market? The market controlled everything. This was the new neoliberal orthodoxy. Who could argue with an economist?
Chapter Two: The Lucky Break
While his wife was able to get a student loan for the Fall Semester, Stan wrote abstracts for a local publishing company. He put his applications for a teaching position in the mail, faithfully. Still no interviews came. Then, just after the New Year, he got a call from one of the professors in the Political Science Department. Professor Warner, who was on his dissertation committee, asked if he would like to teach a course on democratic theory for the winter quarter. The professor who was to teach the course from a school on the east coast had canceled out due to health problems.
Sucker jumped at the opportunity, even though he had never taken such a course and was not even sure what he was supposed to teach. He was offered the course and grabbed onto it at once. It would not be a lot of money but far more than what he was getting and enough to pay the bills in the three months while it lasted. And finally he would get some needed experience teaching his own course at the university level. This should surely help him get a full time job, he thought.
He discovered that the course had been taught a few years before. By looking at the department catalog, he got an idea of how to teach it. He spent the next two weeks collecting the needed course materials. There was no appropriate text. This kept him busy collecting articles and humping to prepare the first lectures.
It was a quite big class, around fifty students, and he hit the ground running. The quarter was a quick ten weeks so there was no time to lose. The first pay, the first he had earned from teaching since his teaching assistant days, came after a month. It was refreshing to have some income and this gave him new hope.
The course should have been a mind-broadening experience for most students. Many political approaches which they had learned as dictatorial could actually be considered democratic from a different perspective. Strong democracy, liberal democracy, Jacobin democracy and so on down the line. He marched through the weeks, preparing lectures, reading exams and assigning papers. Most of it was going right over the heads of the students, but never mind. They hardly ever even bothered to confuse their young minds with these irresolvable contradictions. For Stan, the bottom line was the pay at the end of the month, the groceries it put on the table and the gas it put in his car. This was the dirty underlying material reality of ivory tower philosophizing. No one should take it terribly seriously. Food, on the other hand, was pretty fundamental.
It was hard to tell exactly what the students actually thought of the class, indeed if they had any thoughts at all. It was a complete mystery to Sucker. When the evaluations came at the end of the quarter, there were only a few sour comments. Most were neither good nor bad, some referring to his appearance. One student just had a problem with the tie that he wore to teach the class. There was no way to please them all and no need to anyway. A lot of young spoiled yuppies in there, he thought. California youth were clearly a different breed from him. Most had never lived outside an urban area. They sucked the tits of their upper middle class California families. Daddy paid the bills. They knew their future was set. They were a different generation from the old sixties hippies that thought about what it all meant and agonized over injustice. They were into lattes and music concerts, not social justice.
With no luck landing interviews for full-time jobs, Stan scouted around for part time teaching at universities in the area. The adjunct circuit was becoming more prominent as it saved the universities money. There were generally no benefits provided to the part-time staff. Even if a job was landed, the commute once a week to teach the class would eat up a lot of the pay. It was a buyer’s market with so many job seekers. The area was rich with new PhDs in the market struggling for an income. He was essentially a day laborer, or just about.
He got a call from San Juan College in LA in the early summer. The job was to teach a course in American Politics for one semester. He would have to drive to LA for the class once a week in the evening for fifteen weeks. That was a good hundred miles, part of it city driving. When he figured out the pay and the cost of getting there and back, there would hardly be any money left over. It would just be a matter of getting another course listed on his CV that he had taught. It would be almost working free, from his perspective. His old car was getting too much over the hill for those freeways. In monetary terms, it would just be a wash.
There was no choice, however, but to grasp for straws. Sink or swim. He drove down to LA for the interview, arriving in mid-morning. He located the campus and was ushered into a small meeting room where he was introduced to five members of a social science department. It was clear that most of the beginning courses were being covered by drifting PhDs in the area as adjuncts. To teach the class, all one had to do was to follow the rather mindless text and make sure that one did not take issue with it very strenuously. Some of the teachers had not even finished their doctorates and many never would. They were essentially migrant workers in the academic vineyards.
It was true that Stan took a critical view of American politics but perhaps that would be the best perspective if one were going to teach the course. But he was not infatuated with American politics, keeping up on everything that went on. It was simply too sordid in his view. It bored him for the most part. The textbooks were based on myths about the US political system.
Each of the faculty members asked him a question that he tried to answer to their satisfaction. There were three men and two women.
“What have you been working on recently?” a young Professor Cronin asked him.
Stan showed him the articles that he had published recently and mentioned the articles and reviews that he had in the pipeline that would be coming out. The articles were all either on India or political theory. One was a book review in a prestigious radical journal on Marxian political economy.
“Well, that’s very impressive,” Cronin said, obviously not impressed. “But what have you been working on in American?” It was clear that he wanted to know his views on American politics.
Stan knew that he was as good as dead. They were looking for someone who did American politics day in and day out and nothing else. There were a lot of people like that in political science in the US. They sometimes did American their whole careers. They wanted someone who knew all the candidates for political office and what the newspapers said about them. One should have a focus on the study of interest groups or “Congressional behavior” or “voting behavior” or something along those lines. For Stan, such political scientists who only studied the US were quite narrow. He thought that the interest group theory of American politics was quite weak and politics did not actually work the way they it was conceived by the mainstream literature. One had to keep up on the new books coming out, regardless of how meaningless.
“Well, I haven’t been working in American politics recently,” Stan admitted, “but it was one of my fields of study for the PhD. My dissertation was on Indian political thinkers. I am hoping to publish some articles on American politics in future when I have more time to work on it.” It was not completely a lie but he wanted to take a critical approach, which would not go down well with Americanists. They all believed in American exceptionalism. One could really not analyze American politics with the same tools as all other countries.
So what, he wanted to say was “I need some income, you arrogant fucker. I am trying to feed my family and anyway, I am going to be paid shit. American politics is American politics. It does not take a genius to teach the son of a bitch.” But he had to play the game.
Professor Cronin was not impressed. In fact, his answer seemed to have rubbed the young professor the wrong way. He seemed upset to see that most of his articles had involved India, a third world country, and even more devious was the review of a book about Marxism. He was suspicious of someone who would even mention the name of Karl Marx. That was a serious faux pas in American academia.
“Do you expect that someone must have published in the field of American politics to teach the course?” Stan asked him. There was nothing to lose now by hitting back at the arrogant son of a bitch at this point. He realized he had now blown the interview to hell, anyway. So just as well enjoy it.
“Oh no,” he lied. “But I thought maybe you were so wrapped up in writing on India and political economy that you wouldn’t be prepared to teach American politics. Could you direct a student to a source, if they asked you about interest groups?”
Fuck you, Sucker thought. Wrapped up in writing on India? We couldn’t have that, could we! As if those who wrote on India were just dummies wasting their time and could not understand American politics. Any idiot who knew how to look up a subject in the card catalog in the library could find hundreds of sources on interest groups, Stan wanted to remind him, but held his tongue. Wasn’t it that old book by David Truman? It was largely wrong in Sucker’s view and badly missed the point. Libraries at universities in the US were bursting at the seams with that kind of crap. India had clearly rubbed the guy the wrong way, not to speak of Marx. The comment was just another way of pointing out that he did not like Sucker and the things he studied. Why did knowing about other parts of the world, except Western Europe, militate against scholars in political science? The answer to that surely revealed an ethnocentrism, a Western bias in the discipline. The interview was dead.
In Stan’s view the theory of interest groups in American politics was one of the weakest links and he had always seen it as an absurd explanation of the way the system worked. That might well have been because he was so familiar with Indian politics and approached it from that direction. Recent critics of the field of American politics had pointed out how thin, even absurd the theory was. It was often pointed that if one did not understand the politics of other countries, one could not understand the politics of one’s own country. Those in American politics generally accepted the theory of American exceptionalism. There was no reason to compare American politics to other countries, they thought. It was good, the best system of government by definition simply by being American.
The other young professors went through the motions of asking questions to Sucker but it was just a formality and ended quickly. One wanted to know what he thought about identity politics, such as feminism and gay politics. Another asked how he evaluated the right to life movement. Stan gave liberal views, but it hardly mattered. He could just as well been discussing these ideas over a beer in the pub.
It was hardly a loss, Sucker reflected as he hit the freeway back to his place. He would have been risking his life driving back and forth to the city on the dangerous freeways in his feeble old VW. He counted it up. Fifteen sessions. More than two-hundred miles every class. Some three thousand miles of freeway driving for peanuts. There had been a spate of shootings on the freeways recently, which made him a little nervous. The fact that he was grasping for such straws showed just how bleak the situation was.
The summer drifted along. He wrote abstracts and worked on articles and book reviews. He built up more publications.
Then in July he got a call from Yazoo State University in Mississippi early in the morning. Perhaps the chairman was not aware of the time difference. He wondered, as the call came so early in the morning. Stan put down his LA Times and heard the department Chairman Benton’s voice. He had a slow southern drawl. He seemed kind and friendly, however. Stan was on his toes and answered each question carefully, adding as much information as he thought was appropriate.
Benton had obviously looked over his CV. He had seen that he was quite liberal maybe leaning toward what might be considered radical. Then a question from right out of the blue almost floored him.
“What are your political beliefs?” Benton asked.
Oh shit! Stan thought. What kind of fucking question is that? Why the fuck is he asking me that? Am I being hired on the basis of my political beliefs? Had he been targeted as a Marxist? He was simply stunned by the question and did not know what to say. It was a question one might expect coming from Mississippi.
“Oh well, I guess I am basically, liberal,” he said, trying to conceal any hint that he might be somewhat radical in his views. He was afraid that some of his articles might have raised such suspicions.
“Well, I just wondered if you could fit in down here,” Benton said. “As you probably know, it is a very conservative part of the country.”
“Oh, yes, I am aware of that,” Stan said. “I understand that. I don’t think that it would be a problem,” he lied. “I understand a broad range of views.”
“OK, well it was good to talk to you,” Benton said. “I must talk to some other candidates and then I’ll get back to you.”
The call had left Stan a little shell shocked. That question kept going over and over in his mind. “What are your political beliefs?” Surely, it was the wrong question to ask a candidate in a job interview for a university position. Maybe he does not like me because I am a liberal and he suspects that I am a radical. Or maybe, he actually likes me and wants to warn me about what I would be getting into if I came to the university. Stan was not clear which it was. He kept wondering if he had handled the question wisely. But he simply was not prepared for that.
Was Benton really as simple and honest as he sounded? Was he really a simple honest guy? After California, Stan doubted it. He would try to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he would be cautious.
Stan told his wife about the interview when she came down for breakfast. She didn’t pay it much attention, brushing it off. It seemed that she had almost given up on him ever getting a job. She had told him that he would probably never have any money. Sometimes Stan felt the same way himself and wondered if he should keep sending out those applications that were probably being tossed into paper shredders somewhere. It almost seemed a waste of postage and paper. His morale was sinking further.
The end of the summer was approaching and still he had struck out everywhere. If he did not land a job by the middle of August, he would be dead for another academic year. Would he be able to make enough money to live on? Would he again be living on his wife’s student loans? That was a bleak prospect.
One afternoon in early August, he got another call from a professor from Mesa State in Arizona. The faculty member said that he was coming to El Cajon and would interview him in the political science department the following Monday. Stan was hopeful. And Arizona was not so far away. He could visit the family quite often from Arizona if he could just land the job. He knew the place. It was not California and would be cold in the winter but nevertheless, a decent place in the mountains.
Stan hit the trail preparing for the interview. He would know what he would teach in each course, which texts he would use and so on. He talked to a friendly Japanese professor in the department. The professor warned him to stay away from any textbooks that had even a hint of Marxist theory covered in them. This was a cardinal rule in American political science.
Another telephone call came changing the venue of the interview. It would now be at Charlie Brown’s Restaurant in Beverly Hills at noon on Tuesday. They would have lunch together. Stan grabbed a coat and tie on the appointed day and hit the freeway early. A little before noon, he found the place. A professor Jack Banfield was there waiting for him. They had lunch and discussed the courses that he might teach. He found that Professor Banfield was a retired Air Force officer. It was somewhat discouraging however, that he was interviewing three other candidates for the job the same day. He did not feel very competitive when he had done so much work on India. Most Americans either did not have a feel for that country or looked down upon it.
When Stan got back to his place in El Cajon, he was surprised that a Professor Gordon had called from the University of Sewanee and wanted him to return the call. His wife had given him the news just as he walked in the door. Stan was excited that perhaps here was another shot at a job. He expected another interview and laid out his material. He called to Sewanee, only to find that the professor was out. However, in a few minutes the call came again from Sewanee State University. Professor Gordon said that they had looked over his CV and were impressed. Then he immediately offered him a one-year position for the coming year as a visiting assistant professor. There was a possibility that it might turn into a tenured position, he told him. But that had not yet been decided.
Stan was clearly elated at being offered the job. It was the first really lucky break that had come his way for months. It was his first chance of really being a professor with his own classes. Normally, he would have accepted at once. Now, ironically, he was still in the market for the job in Arizona, which he would prefer to Sewannee. But maybe having a shot at another university would make him look more competitive.
Stan thanked Professor Gordon and said that he had just had an interview that day and was waiting to hear from another school, later in the evening or tomorrow. He would call and let him know tomorrow if he would accept.
The next morning, Stan called Professor Banfield, who had returned to Arizona, and asked him about the result of the interview. He mentioned that he had received a job offer from another school but would prefer Arizona. It was after all a tenure track job. Banfield indicated that the decision had not been made but that it did not look very hopeful that he would be offered the job. That was what Stan had expected.
That was it. Sewannee or bust. There was really no choice. Stan then called up professor Gordon and told him that he would accept the one-year position. Professor Gordon congratulated him. He had a job at last. Even though it was only for one year, it was a start. It was a long way off but there was really no choice. He was ready for the challenge. He would be a professor at last.
The next few days before he left would have to be used to prepare the materials for the classes that he would teach. In spite of the hardship of being separated from his family, it was the best thing that had happened to him in the last year. Now he would really be able to call himself a professor, even if it was only a one-year position. It put a little bounce in his step. Things were looking up.
Chapter Three: The Long Road
Stan Sucker prepared for the long drive to Sewannee State. He would leave at the end of the week. Not pushing it too hard, it would take five days in his old VW, arriving on the sixth day. The evening before he left, Stan made love to his wife for one last time. He knew that it would be another four months before he would see her again.
He had loaded a few things into his old car. Some basic books he would need. A folding card table would serve as a temporary desk until he got some furniture. A few bottles of California wine to remind him of the coast. A few clothes, the best he had. They were not many but he would get by. He had lived for years on a shoe string.
He set his alarm for five. He would leave at six to get a jump on the morning traffic and not have to drive after dark. No matter how he cut it, it was a long road ahead in his old car. He could not make very good time. There would not be much comfort. It was somewhat risky but there was hope. It would be an adventure. After all, life was just one big adventure. The first day would be to get across the desert and over into Arizona.
Hearing the alarm, Sucker wasted no time hoisted himself out of bed. Quietly slipping downstairs, Stan had a quick bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee. Most of his things had been loaded into the car the day before. There were just a couple of small bags to pick up. He kissed and said goodbye to the kids, who were still sleeping. Then he kissed and embraced his wife. He felt sad, saying goodbye to the family. It made him feel bad when she started to cry. He told her not to worry. He knew it would be difficult running the household without him but there was really no choice. It was the only way that he was going to be able to make a living and get on with his career. He would be back for Christmas. He felt the tears in his own eyes as he slipped out the door. This was it. He had to buck up and face it. He was not going to find a job in California. Not for years, if ever. Lala lala land was not going to provide most swingin dicks like him a full time teaching job.
Getting a head start, he made good time. He crossed the California desert in the afternoon, making Kingman, Arizona by four. There he decided to call it a day. There would be time to rest up. He was not that anxious to hit the deep South anyway. He found a food store near the motel and bought some things to eat along the way. He would keep his cooler stocked up. Mostly fruit drinks, some coke and beer for the evenings.
By the third day, he had rolled into the Midwest after the long treck across Arizona and New Mexico. Elk City, Oklahoma was a sordid town. It was depressing descending into the heat and humidity of the heartland. It was the tenth anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley and he listened to a program about the Elvis years on his car radio that day.
Just inside the Oklahoma border, he had stopped at a rest stop. The countryside began to look a lot like Missouri now. The humidity was oppressive. Someone had carved KKK on the picnic table. The local population was basically lumpen red necks. That was clear. Just as well get used to it, he thought.
He began to feel sad that he had left his family back in California. Especially, he felt bad about his young daughter of three who did not understand why he suddenly had to leave home. Now he felt all alone. He hoped that he could get the family back together before long. He was sorry that he had not been able to establish himself in California. There was little hope of that at this point in his career. He wondered how he would feel about Sewannee after a year there. He wouldn’t let having a job destroy his marriage and family. This was just a temporary fix along the way. Of that, he was certain. He would keep the family together.
He thought back to his stop at Tucumcari in the morning to get some breakfast at that McDonald’s. First, he had noticed how slow the service was, compared to California. Even though there were not many people in the restaurant, it seemed to take a long time to get his order. It was not that he minded the more relaxed pace but he had noticed the difference. People appeared more lethargic and a little stupid, he thought. He started to brace for what he would face farther down, farther down in Sewannee.
Then, he had looked around and noticed how homogenous and white the customers were. The scene had changed dramatically. In Goleta, there would have been a more mixed population. He also noticed that people were being nosy, looking at him strangely. They stopped to look at his car with California license plates. People had a dull look on their faces. He feared that this would get worse as he drove into the South. But he had to face society as it was.
Back on the road, he suddenly felt as if he had entered the Twilight Zone. He conjured up an image of himself driving back and forth across the country in that old Karmann Ghia, up and down the hills and mountains, along the long road to California. Chugging along. He was caught in an interminable time warp. There could be no escape. He was traveling, traveling, traveling, a ghost, never to arrive.
He trucked on to Elk City and checked into a Motel 6 where he had reserved a room. After a short rest he felt bored. He took a short drive to fill the car with gas and buy some food. It was clearly down-scale from California. It was depressing. At the quick shop he noticed a woman with the appearance of a Pentecostal. It was the first time he had seen that type of ugly dress on the trip and he recognized it at once from his past. She was wearing a plain dress, with no make-up. She had that type of long hair that Pentecostal women wore down their backs, in a tacky style. Two small girls with her also had their hair long. The family drove away in their battered Ford. Why did religion force women to make themselves appear ugly? The necessity of the sublimation of the sexual urge, apparently. But then who was it that made men so horny? God must have created him that way.
Stan went into the Safeway for some food. He noticed a man looking at the front license plate of his car curiously. There were few customers in the store. He noticed that the store was sparsely stocked. The isles were vacant. Business was clearly not good. The town appeared to be in an economic recession. Oil prices had fallen and the area had been hit by the farm crisis.
Outside some young kids were gathering up in their cars to drink beer and goof off. They were bored with no place to go. The buildings had a run-down look in the dull flat landscape. The heavy air was hot and close. He heard a thick western Oklahoma accent.
When he came to the counter to check out, two young guys were clowning around in the booth beside the cash register.
“Oh, we was takin it easy. Don’t tell anyone,” one said. It reminded Stan of his past in Missouri. The kid will never be able to get rid of that accent, he thought. A real handicap in life. A victim of circumstance and environment. I could never live in a place like this, Stan reflected. Deliver me from such small towns. He was glad he would be moving on. But then, it would not be any better where he was going.
The next morning he headed out for Oklahoma City. He stopped at a McDonald’s to get some breakfast and coffee. Some guys were sitting at a nearby table and talking about the stock car races over the weekend. They began to talk about their cars and trucks.
Before he finished his breakfast, the skies burst open in a downpour of heavy rain. He tried, but couldn’t wait for it to finish and had to rush to his car, getting half drenched in the parking lot.
He crossed the Arkansas border in the early afternoon. At a rest stop near Fort Smith, he halted as a gentle rain continued to fall. Now the air was soft and mellow, warm and humid. His old VW had sprung a leak on the driver’s side and his left pant leg was now getting wet. A small puddle of water had drained onto the floor of the old car.
A little further on, he left the interstate and took the road south through Paris, Arkansas. It was a sentimental journey to the town where his grandparents had lived when he was a kid. Entering the town, he recognized the “People’s Motel” where they had stayed when his grandmother had died. He recalled his father going out and buying hamburgers and bringing them back. The smell and taste was heavenly and it stayed in his memory. The place had hardly changed in the last twenty-five years, it seemed.
He knew about where the old house had been in the poor section where his grandparents had lived. But when he drove there he could not recognize anything. He drove up and down several streets looking for the place, but it had just disappeared. But there were some fairly new wooden houses. He later learned from his mother that the old house had been demolished. He remembered it as a lovely place with plum and cherry trees in the back yard and an old outhouse. He felt sad that he could not locate it and see it once again. It was fun for kids.
Stan took the small highway to Dardanelle and ended up in a tiny village called Ola. There was an old-fashioned motel here, the kind he remembered when he was a kid. The sign said: Mima’s Motel and Café. There was only one car in front of the café. Why not give it a try? He thought. He had come far enough and he might as well hang it up for the day. He pulled up and went into the small office. An old woman appeared from an inside room. She couldn’t be less than eighty, from her looks, he thought. He asked her to show him one of the rooms. There were only four small rooms. She told him that it would be twelve dollars. It was not a bad room, but old fashioned. There was no telephone or TV. The bed was old fashioned. It was like something out of the past and he wondered how much longer it would be running. Nothing modern. Here one could feel at home. It was like going back fifty years into the past.
After taking the room, he drove around the town looking for a pay telephone, but could not find anything. There were just a few small stores. A couple of downscale grocery stores. He came back and took a shower. Then he went back to the small office and asked the woman if there was any place where he could make a phone call. He would like to call his wife.
“There used to be a pay phone across the road,” she said. “But somebody ran into it and it was never replaced. But you can make a collect call on my phone, if you want,” she said.
Stan thanked her and called his wife. She said that things were going OK. Stan told her that he would make it to Sewanee in a day or perhaps two.
He lay down in the old fashioned bed. A young woman came into his mind giving him a magnificent hard-on. He thought about how nice it would be to have her with him. She would certainly brighten up the place. He would take her on top and slide her big juicy peach up and down his stiff shaft till she began to moan. They he would go for broke and cream her with hot shots till his juice overflowed and ran down. As it was, he would just be hard-up.
The next day, he took the small highway to the east and circled back to the main road. The route was across some low Ozark Hills. It was scenic with rock outcrops and reminded him of when the family had come to Arkansas when he was a kid. He fiddled around on the radio for a station. It was mostly ear-banging preachers with a message of hell-fire. Then a hard-core country song came “I want a red-neck girl.” He was surprised that there was not much traffic on the roads that skirted Little Rock.
A little further on, he took US Highway 65 south from Little Rock toward the Mississippi River. Fields of cotton and rice soon began to appear. In some places, farmers were setting up irrigation pipes. Small crop duster planes began to buzz overhead, sweeping back and forth across the fields spewing a cocktail of poison.
At Pine Bluff, he made a quick stop at McDonald’s for a salad and some coffee. It was so hot and steamy that he felt the need to get back on the road and let the hot breeze cool his face. But the heat only increased. At Lake Village, he stopped for some ice and Pepsi. The air-conditioned tourist information center was built right on the lake. It was refreshing, but the heat had become so intense, that he could no longer stay in his jeans. He quickly changed into his shorts and headed on, crossing the bridge across the big river into Mississippi. On the other side, a sign said “Welcome to Mississippi.”
“Welcome to Mississippi. What are your political beliefs?” Stan thought. They might have also added that. That was sort of the way they looked at you down here, after all. If one was not from the area, they were a damned Yankee. Old times had not been forgotten.
The local radio stations gave one a choice between listening to corny country music or a fire-breathing preacher threatening to send one to hell. Stan was beginning to believe that was exactly where he was headed. There was no need for a preacher.
The thunderstorms were beginning to build up in the afternoon. Just east of Winona, he hit a lot of wind. His small car was just about to get blown off the road. He slowed down to hang onto the highway. Leaves were being ripped from the trees and blown across the road. He came through a small town called Stewart. There were a couple of gas stations. He stopped at one of them to take a break and wait out the rain. But clearly it was raining heavily up ahead. It looked like a nasty storm with wind. Perhaps he better quit for the day.
He filled up his car with gas and used the restroom. The shit-house had been newly built with cement blocks. There was no ventilation. It was terribly hot inside. Outside the wind had cooled the temperature down quickly as he sweated it out inside. The place reminded him of crude restrooms in India. He was now back in the third world. Just as well face it. Trying to take a shit, the light kept flickering off and on. The place had a terrible stench. He was getting closer to his destination. He would soon have to face it.
At half past four, it had cooled down drastically. He hesitated to get back on the road with the storms around. It was still terribly humid. The sky looked solid black ahead with a stormy green tint to the clouds. He would have to venture on but would stop at the first motel that looked tolerably decent.
Coming up out of the Mississippi River bottoms, the forests became jungles. The sides of the road had been taken over by Mississippi Kudzu vines. Trees blanketed with the vines appeared as long green fingers sticking up from the ground in weird configurations. He was entering the Twilight Zone. A strange surreal place.
Up ahead a few miles he spotted the Eupora Motel. It was enough traveling for the day. He was ready to hang it up. There was clearly rain up ahead. Probably wind in that blackish cloud. He would stop and get a room. Inside the office, the motel manager told him that there had been high winds up around Tupelo. It was a cheap and fairly decent place for eighteen dollars. Looking at the map, he could see that he was within stricking distance of Sewanee. His long journey across the country would soon be coming to an end. He would have to face the locals and settle in. His first full time teaching position at a real university was about to begin. He was confident. He had nothing at all to lose, he thought.
Chapter Four: Sewanee
Two days later, signs along the old highway began to appear as he approached the university town. Sucker’s long journey was about to come to an end. It might be better to travel than to arrive but one could not travel forever. He reached the outskirts of Magnolia just before noon and stopped at an information center to ask some directions. He bought a map of the town. The first thing would be to find a place to live.
Listening to a local radio station, he found that a real estate firm was advertising apartments for rent. Stan quickly wrote down the phone number. He would call from a pay phone just after lunch. The university was about to begin classes and the available apartments were being rented up quickly as students arrived in town.
Seeing a pay phone at a quick shop along the main drag, he called Scenic Realty and asked about a one-bedroom apartment. The woman gave him a number to call. He called Bent Tree Apartments and was told that it was all filled up. He then called back and asked about Greenwood Apartments, which had been advertised as a cheaper place. He was set for the economy mode of life for the time being. He would be living on a shoe string.
“Oh, you want Greenwood Apartments? The woman asked surprised. Yes there is a vacancy there.” She gave him the number. When he called, he was directed to the apartment. It was a downscale building just along a busy street. The aging red brick apartment building was three stories, a long structure facing the street in the style of a motel. Stan looked around and then found the office. He asked about the vacant apartment. There was a black lady there and she gave him a key to the apartment.
“It is being cleaned. But you can take a look at it,” she said, giving him a curious look. Stan began to be suspicious.
Number six was on the first floor of the crummy building which was down some steps below the level of the street. There was a black man there with cleaning equipment. He looked at Stan in a sort of funny way with an amused look on his deeply wrinkled black face as he swept the outside corridor.
“They are cleanin the apartment,” he said. “You can take a look if you like.”
Inside, a girl was cleaning the dingy and depressing place, which was still terribly dirty. He saw a single long room connected to a kitchen. There was a dividing counter to set off the kitchen. The furniture and kitchen counters were shabby and run down. The carpet was dirty and worn. The whole place was filthy. Stan was not sure if all the people living in the apartment building were black but it had begun to appear that way. It suddenly dawned on him that it might be segregated for blacks and that he had made a boo-boo by just coming here to look at it.
He asked the black girl who was cleaning what she thought about the apartments.
“Oh, they are cheap and a pretty good deal,” she said. “I am paying four or five where I live. These are less than two.” Five hundred dollars seemed like a lot to Stan even for a luxury apartment. He wondered how an apartment cleaner could afford such a residence. Could it be the case or was she putting him on?
“But sometimes it gets real noisy in the students’ apartments,” she continued. “Especially on football weekends when the Sewanee team loses. It must hurt them awfully bad because they start getting upset and fighting. There is a lot of drinking. That’s the bad thing about this place.” It seemed that she was trying to give him a hint to move him on to some other place.
“Thanks,” Stan said. “It might not be good for me in that case. I will need some quiet to do my work and prepare lectures. I will be teaching at the university.”
“Oh, you would get a lot of noise in this place, for shore,” the girl said. “It can be quite noisy. It would be hard to study here.”
When Sucker went back to his car, he saw a group of blacks coming down from one of the apartments, laughing and making a lot of noise.
Sure enough, this place is surely just for blacks, he thought. Not being from the South, he had not even thought that some apartments might be segregated. Across the street, he noticed a nice area and the sign. “Bent Tree Apartments.” Oh that was the place they had referred him to at first. There was a big swimming pool and young people, apparently students, were out lounging around the pool. Some were diving off and swimming. There were some cute white babes lounging around the pool in bikinis. “Purely for playboy students. I would never get any work done there with all that young pussy around,” Sucker thought. “It would be too much of an irritation to see those juicy young asses flitting around down below. Just as well that it was full.”
“Sure, I get it,” Stan thought. “That’s why they were looking at me so strangely and why the lady didn’t give me the phone number for the place at first.” She had not wanted to show him the apartments, just protecting him from himself, as southerners did to outsiders who did not know the subtle rules of the local society. One thing about southern society. One could depend on the locals to keep one in their proper place. To keep the place tidy sociologically.
Back at the realty office, he wanted to ask if the apartments in town were segregated, but was afraid it would offend someone. A faux pas. He had already stepped on his dick once by going to see that Greenwood place. He felt like a fool stumbling around in a foreign land.
Coming back to the office, he said to the lady, “I looked at the place, but, well, I was actually looking for something a little nicer.”
“Oh yes, that’s what I figured,” the lady said. “But I had to show it to you anyway.”
Another white lady appeared and they consulted about where Stan might find an appropriate apartment. They needed a little more information about where it would be best for him to live. Stan volunteered that he was going to be teaching at the University, since they seemed curious as to what had actually brought him into town and why he needed an apartment. Suddenly, the second lady produced a list of openings. He had been properly vetted. He would be sent to the proper place.
“Would you like for me to call a place for you? There is a real nice place where some graduate students are living. I think you would like it.”
“Sure, that would be nice of you,” Stan said. She called and said that she had a customer coming to look at an apartment. She gave Stan the directions how to get there.
Aspen Village Apartments were located down at the end of the big drag, just on the other side of the interstate highway. He followed the directions and turned inside where there were rows of apartments laid out with parking lots in front. It was as if people were living in a motel continuously, he thought. They came to eat and sleep and fuck, if they are lucky, and not too tired, between their work shifts. Just another point on the industrial assembly line of life. If successful they would eventually get a house in one of the suburbs.
The name conjured up images of mountains and pine trees but they were nowhere to be found in the vicinity. There was just heat and magnolia trees and the big parking lot. One could see the steam in the air. It was impossible to survive without air conditioning.
Two young university coeds had just driven up in a white Mercedes. Stan followed the two southern cuties in as he studied their delicious tanned legs and tight asses. Their cut off jeans bulged with the fecund flesh of their round buns while they registered for the apartments their parents had arranged for them. Stan felt a slight tickling in his balls, those cute little white buns hanging out of their cut-offs. Their T-shirts flared out with their enticing young tits. They were tempting little things, who would probably spend the whole year having fun, he figured. They would not do much studying. That was certain.
When they had their keys and were on the way out, Stan asked the lady about an apartment. “I think the agency called about me,” he told her.
“Oh sure, I was looking for you. We have just one left for rent,” she lied. “A student just came and looked at it,” she continued the fabricated story. “But he needs to get permission from his parents. I told him that I would wait until three. If he does not show up by then, you are welcome to rent it.”
A young woman took Stan and showed him the apartment. It was on the front of the building next to the parking lot, which might be somewhat noisy. But it was a nice apartment for two and a half.
“I better grab it if I can,” Stan thought.
“Yes, it will be fine. I would like to rent it,” Stan said. “If the student does not take it, that is. I’ll get back here at three.”
Stan went back to the motel which was nearby and waited, hoping that the place was going to be his. At a quarter after three he returned to Aspen Village. The lady said the student had not yet returned and so he could have the apartment. Stan said “fine, I’ll take it. He was ready to sign the lease for the apartment but asked if it could be for nine months. The manager was obviously anxious to rent it to a professor, who would likely pay the rent on time and not cause any trouble.
“OK, I guess I can give you a nine-month lease,” she said. “I can bend the rules a little bit for you. But please don’t tell anybody. We generally ask for a one-year lease.”
Stan had heard her telling other students that she could not rent an apartment for less than twelve months. He was not sure the story she told about the student wanting the apartment was true but it didn’t matter. Stan gave her the deposit and signed the lease. Now he had a place but was getting close to being broke. Tomorrow, he would pay the deposits for the utilities and move in, even though he had no furniture. He would be on the floor for at least the first week or two. It might be even longer.
“We will change the lock tomorrow and you will be able to move in” she said. “Make sure you pay the deposits for the utilities tomorrow. Otherwise they will not stay turned on.”
Happy to be getting a place to live, Stan went to one of the local supermarkets, “Food World.” Across the street was another huge food market called “Winn Dixie.” The name turned him off so much that he wanted to avoid the store altogether. In Food World, he noticed that the shopping carts were huge, bigger than he was used to in California. He wondered if people were eating more here. Was food cheaper? He picked up some fresh ginger, which confused the checker. She didn’t know what it was. Checking the wine prices, he saw that they were more than double what one would pay in California. His morale fell a little seeing that. Never mind. He would be able to afford a bottle now and then. Regressive sin taxes in a southern state, he figured. Par for the course.
More shocking was the section where tobacco and snuff was stocked. It was enormous with all kinds and varieties. In fact, it seemed that there was an epidemic of tobacco chewing among the young. Customers struck him as looking a little old fashioned. Not many were wearing shorts, like one would see in California.
He wanted to buy chocolate ice cream but that would have to wait till he got into his apartment and had a refrigerator.
At eight o’clock the next morning, Stan loaded up his things and checked out of his motel. First, he headed uptown to pay the deposits on the water and electricity. Continuing to the campus, he saw that the setting was old and beautiful and looked the way one should expect a university campus to look. The library, on the other hand, looked a little run down. The campus at Santa Barbara had been new and modern, lacking the historical dimension of the Sewanee campus. California seemed to be totally lacking in tradition but crisscrossed with bike paths filled with skate boarders and bikers. The streets ran into the campus, as in old traditional campuses. There were great old trees and expansive green areas. Small shady retreats with benches for sitting and historical monuments were around the grounds.
At the student Union, Sucker got a map of the campus and located Cottonwood Hall, where his department was located. The campus reminded him of his old Missouri campus. Perhaps I will feel more at home here, he began to hope. Time would tell. He would bend over backward to give the place the benefit of the doubt. He wanted it to be a good year.
Arriving in Cottonwood, he located Political Science up on the third floor. He walked up, avoiding the elevator. University buildings should have steps, lots of steps. He was still young and foolish enough to think that way. On the other hand, he was a little nervous about meeting the chairman and his colleagues. He had to face the music. It was swim or sink. He could not avoid it.
Arriving in the department, he met a couple of the faculty. But the chairman had not yet appeared. In the office, the secretary gave him his keys and showed him his office. It was still mostly filled with the books of the faculty member who was on leave. He went to the book store and checked on his books, which had not yet arrived. The book store manager was friendly and promised to help him out. Everyone he met put on such a friendly front that he was almost tempted to be suspicious.
Going to a store in the mall, he noticed the cultural differences with California. When he went to pay, he was getting his money out and at the same time trying to tear out a coupon.
“Oh you take care of your money, and I will tear out the coupon,” the girl said. And she did it. Stan had a warm feeling toward her for that. She too seemed genuinely friendly. It would never happen like that in California, he thought. He saw the society as more gentle with less hostility between people than on the West coast. He wondered if it was so but that was his impression. Was that cute teller in the bank serious about playing the Ouija board with him? Maybe it would be good to find out. There was more of the atmosphere of a small town here.
He came back to Aspen Village to see about getting the key to his apartment. But the lock on the door had not yet been changed. He would have to wait around for an hour or so. He went up to the shopping mall and bought a few essential things for the kitchen. He walked into a book store and was shocked to see rows and rows of illustrated books on the Civil War. There was hardly any other topic covered by the selection. My God, they are still so obsessed with that war down here, he thought. On the way out, he picked up a local paper, thinking that he could find some things from garage sales on the weekend. Papers were only sold from machines, of course.
After three, he was given the green light to move his things into his apartment. He felt his shirt getting wet with perspiration in the heat and humidity as he emptied out his few belongings and carried them up the two flights of steps. It was good to get his car cleared out after a week on the road. His fridge was working too. He could cool down a bottle of wine to celebrate his arrival.
Now, like a fool, he was anxious to get down to teaching classes. In the evening, he would work on his course outlines. There was only one more week until classes would start.
But as he made some dinner, he began to feel very sad, thinking about the family and how he would like to share his experiences with them. It seemed that his departure had been all too abrupt. But then, no pain, no gain. He hoped that he would grow from the experience and that he could also strengthen his family. He just had to get a tenure track job.
The next day he drove to the campus. The temperature was 99 degrees even before noon. Stan took a walk on the campus, getting a look at the historical markers. Some of them recorded events in the Civil War. The Union Army had destroyed the campus in 1865. Many of the buildings had tall Greek columns in front. He enjoyed the shady areas under the large Black Oak old trees. The atmosphere seemed congenial enough.
In his solitude, he began to think about the family and felt sad. When he came across some small blue bird feathers, he immediately thought of his younger daughter. She liked to collect bird feathers and bring them into the house.
It was going to be a somewhat lonely existence, but then he had a lot of work that he had to get done. The lectures would soon be upon him, relentlessly, day after day, and one could only ride it out to the end of the semester. There was no escape if he wanted to succeed. He had to ride the tiger.
Chapter Five: The Mansion
Stan Sucker hit the ground running. He was going for broke. He would either make it in academia or die by hitting the wall. It was flat out. He kept his priorities in his mind. He knew that it was his last chance to make something out of his life. The previous ten years had been the preparation for his debut into the world of higher education. So called. Sucker believed that it was his true calling.
Although, he had reservations about Sewanee State, he saw it as a beginning and a stepping stone to something better. He was determined to be successful. This meant first of all that he would ignore the minor irritations of daily life that grated on his sensibilities, such as racism and the red-neck society which engulfed all. The fact was that he had landed himself smack-dab in the middle of Dixie, of all places. It was one of the last places on earth that he wished to be. The truth was that he loathed the very word, Dixie, and would have been happy to have never heard it again. Never mind. He did not wish that he was in the land of cotton where old times are not forgotten. But he would show that he could rise above it all and excel. He would not be dragged down into that crude cesspit. He was not going to get sucked in by the local context.
Once he found his pace, he would secure a position in a more respectable part of the country. He would get his family together and settle down to a productive and comfortable life as an academic and an intellectual. He would write books. Important books. His name would get to be known and he would be considered a worthy scholar. He would shine his light. He would enlighten those who read his books and make a real change in society. His name would be known in every political science department across the land.
In this new enterprise, which he was taking dead seriously, he could not spare any time for chasing women. The opportunity was there to be sure. The road was wide open. For most, it seemed, it would have been a no-brainer to put some of the preparation of lectures on the back burner and have some friends of the opposite sex. Enjoy some mindless movies. Hit some bars. Have some fun. Shack up now and then. Roll with some red-neck women. Get out of town with a friend on the weekend. That campus was swarming with young beauties. There were recently divorced professors looking for a new love. He should not be devoid of opportunities if he sought them out.
On the other hand, Sucker was approaching his new life puritanically, with a religious zeal that precluded any aspect of hedonism. His life would be more Spartan than the Spartans until he could claw his way up onto a higher plane. Of course, if something happened, then he wouldn’t turn it down. But he didn’t have time to waste on such pursuits. It was practically physically impossible. He would have to crucify the flesh.
Had he been wiser, and more aware of reality, Sucker might have realized that his priorities were exactly one hundred and eighty degrees out. In the first place, it had completely escaped him that university departments in the big universities did not give a rat’s ass about teaching. Students, there were, but for the most part, they were just a nuisance that had to be put up with to justify the cushy profession and help float the institution. Instruction occupied a very low priority, indeed. One need not pay it much heed to it or waste much time on it. Secondly, one had to have the right approach ideologically. The appropriate mindset was important. To refer to it as a lobotomy, might be slightly over the top. But it was something akin to this condition.
This meant accepting the central assumption that America was the paradigm nation of the world. Accepting the American exceptionalist viewpoint meant that one always began with the truism that America was perfect, or near perfect, politically. There might be some room for tinkering, but questioning the system was completely out of the question. This was a proposition up with which the faculty and the university could not and would not put.
One would also have to show that they were a game player. This meant, above all else, being a good ole boy. One would have to get into football, and care deeply about the team and identify with the players. One had to be concerned about whether the team won or lost, from week to week. One had to support the team. It was a duty. One would be seen rejoicing if they won, and grieving if they lost. More than grieving. One would be positively crushed to the point of being thrown into depression. But that was not all. It would also be necessary to also play golf if one wanted to worm their way into the hearts of the faculty. One needed to belong to a country club.
One should look upon the local red-neck society with a certain degree of amusement but treat it as innocent. There was deep and incurable racism, to be sure, but it was all innocent. The good ole boys had to have their fun. They had to have their pick-up trucks and their Hollywood Mufflers. They had to raise hell in parking lots and spin their wheels. They had to make trouble. They had to be immature adolescents, no matter what their age. They had to get drunk and run into others and knock down mailboxes and so on. This was just part of the natural setting. This was, after all, the South. And the South, as everyone acknowledged was a beautiful part of the country and had a long, proud, tradition. There had once been slavery, to be sure, but all that was in the past. Whatever residues endured, had surely been cleansed of any historical sins of the past. It could only shed glory on the venerable setting that one now saw before his eyes.
One might make the observation that Sewanee lacked development as some intellectuals did. That it shared some of the traits of a third-world country. That things were slow and inefficient was clear. Indeed, that was part of its essential beauty. Part of what made it charming. After all, taxes were low for those who owned a house. The burden was put upon the poor. That too was regressive but one did not treat it as serious. Why quibble about those things that one could do nothing about? It was just another amusing aspect of society. It was necessary to get used to it and accept it. Once one was accepted into the club, one could settle down for the duration with tenure. All these things would be put completely out of one’s mind. One would flow with the slow meandering stream. A solipsistic existence for the duration.
The old tenured faculty, who had been hired when the university was all white were now passing on. They were retiring one by one. But the new generation coming on would not be radically different. They were, after all, embedded in the local society. The town-gown relations were important. There could not be anything that seriously rocked the boat. There was no place for any deep reformation. Civil rights reform was essentially window dressing. Thankfully now the zeal was gone. The southerners had learned how to behave, even though their racist ideas had not changed significantly. Nothing would be done to transform society.
In the end, it came down to this. The bottom line was football. Football was everything. Football covered all. After all, there must be a lot that was good about a place when the football team was so great. It was truly in bad taste to criticize a state and university that produced such winning football teams. The white tide rolled on. The white tide covered all sins. If one could not accept this, then the only possible thing to do was to move on. The South was the South and its reputation was not to be sullied by outsiders, by Yankees and West Coasters who thought they were better than the locals. The South was good. The South was pure. The South was great. That was a truism which it would be seriously futile to dispute.
The university was football and football was the university. White. Lots of white and red. The school newspaper was crimson white, although that seemed to be an oxymoron. Nothing could be both crimson and white at the same time.
In the third week of classes, the President of the university gave a reception and dinner for the new faculty. Stan put on his suit and tie to be on the safe side but still felt a little too casual as most wore dark suits. He only had the casual brown one. The reception was held in the President’s Mansion, which was built just like an old plantation house with large Greek columns in front. It was one of the few structures that had not been destroyed by the invading northern army in 1865.
Stan arrived with the other new instructor who had been hired in Political Science, Jonathan Marlowe. He was a black from Mississippi. Stan and Jonathan ran into the dean at the reception who explained to them in angry tones that Sewanee was the only university ever to be invaded by a foreign army. The dean and the President, along with his wife, were meeting people and shaking hands. A bar had been set up where there were hard drinks and beer, but no wine.
Almost all members of the new faculty were white, except for Jonathan. There were a couple from Japan and China and a couple of new faculty from India. Stan met an Indian, Kumar, from the English Department and David, a British instructor in Mathematics. Stan began to discuss Indian politics with Kumar and the issue of socialism came up.
Kumar remarked about how difficult it was to try to make Americans understand that socialism could also be considered democratic and that there were some states in India that had Marxist state governments. Stan remarked that Americans were politically challenged in terms of ideology and that even most political scientists in America did not understand democracy.
“Political scientists construct a dichotomy between ‘communism’ and ‘democracy,’ when it should be ‘communism vs. capitalism.’ They do not understand that both communist and socialist thought embrace theories of democracy.”
Stan pointed out that when he taught democratic theory, he treated both socialism and communism as theories of democracy. But not understanding this is actually necessary to one’s career in political science in America. For the most part, it would not be tolerated to mention either socialism or communism in a positive light.
Kumar remarked that it was ironic that in a supposedly democratic country like the US, ideas like socialism and communism were not tolerated. It was strange that one could be prohibited from entering the US because one was a “communist” or had been associated with a socialist or communist political party.
“Well, it is not against the law to believe in socialism,” Stan said. “But the thing is that in Europe and India, there is no stigma attached to discussing socialist political thought. There is a wide debate and a broad spectrum of political parties represented in the elections. And it is perfectly respectable to be a socialist or a communist. In the US, the political spectrum is very narrow as only two parties can succeed in an election. Sometimes both Democrats and Republicans outdo each other taking essentially the same stand on every issue.”
This is interesting, Stan thought. I am having an intellectual discussion about politics with an Indian here who teaches English that I could not possibly have with a colleague over in Political Science. And I would also not dare to give my own views to them, he thought. He had not met anyone in the Political Science Department that struck him as an intellectual. The whole department was generally centered around national security issues.
People began to drift out of the President’s Mansion to walk over to the Center where the dinner was to be held. Stan walked with Kumar and David the mathematician. They began to poke fun at the “Sewaneeans” for being so crazy about football. As they walked past a tall monument with a bell Kumar said,
“Come, let me show you something. You have probably seen that place in Hollywood where they have the stars’ names in the sidewalk. Here there are hand prints and footprints of the football players in concrete.”
Sure enough, there were hand prints and footprints in the concrete in a small area by the monument as if children had been playing there. Stan laughed with them about it.
But as they walked on, Kumar and the British instructor began to discuss the day’s tennis scores. David admitted that he had spent the entire day watching the games on Saturday. They kept discussing who won the first set and the second set and so on.
Stan was suddenly bored. He thought it was a little ironic that they were so hard on the Sewaneeans when they were such rabid tennis fans. He thought about the fanatical football fans in Liverpool, but decided not to bring up the point.
It is not just the working classes that the sports disease attaches to but to other classes as well, Stan thought. In this place, football plays the same role in pervading the atmosphere as Christian fever among fanatical Christians. It permeates the whole atmosphere, punctuates every conversation. The air reeks of it.
Yesterday as he had walked onto the third floor of his building and started toward his office, the first thing Stan had heard was “I can’t believe Sewanee won,” in a slow southern drawl from a graduate student, a young woman. She was walking down the hall with one of the professors.
At the dinner, the President Hamilton Walker gave a short talk.
“Academics come first and not athletics,” he began. It was a promising start in his strong southern accent. However, references to sports, especially football began to pop up in almost every phrase.
“Well, I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday and he said you know, I had a dream that I was playing in the backfield with Billy Fox and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. And I said, yea, and you taught him everything he knows, didn’t you.”
When the members of the Administration were being introduced, one of the women was introduced as being involved with the recruitment of the new football coach, Bill Curry. This was indeed a worthy contribution. Then there was a speech by the Academic Vice President, a biologist.
“If Sewanee had not been destroyed by the Northern Army,” he said, “then it would be equal today to Michigan, Wisconsin and UC Berkeley today.”
It came out that it was difficult to retain faculty after recruiting them. Much of this clearly had something to do with pay, although the administrators strenuously avoided any hint that this might be a factor. Stan got the impression that most of the new faculty were just testing out the waters to see if it was tolerable and probably using the year as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
Jonathan, the black instructor, had seen the whole thing as hypocritical. He considered that the friendliness of the faculty was not serious toward him. Stan rode home with him. At the edge of the campus, Jonathan said,
“Stan, have you seen fraternity row? It’s just sinful.”
Jonathan drove down a street lined with big new brick buildings with the fronts all lit up brightly. They were all built like plantation houses with Greek columns in front.
“These are all lily white.” Jonathan said. “They make it a point to keep the Blacks out of them.”
“That’s too bad,” Stan said naively. “I think a necessary part of education is to shake one out of the traditional patterns of socialization that one was brought up in.”
Here, it was obviously only reinforced and sanctified. The full approval and stamp of legitimacy of racist apartheid was provided by the university. It was clear that there was much of the old South still around at Sewanee State. The university, which should have been a beacon of light, was not going to do very much to change that.
Chapter Six: Good Ole Boys
Stan Sucker was woken up at four in the morning by his redneck neighbor who lived down below his apartment. Every morning that young guy loved to get in his pickup truck and squeal his tires across the parking lot as he headed off for work. He must have enjoyed waking up his neighbors just for the hell of it. It was as if he was training for a competition in ass-holiness. It was starting to get on Sucker’s nerves, since he was up until around midnight every night preparing his lectures for the next day. Why couldn’t this guy have some respect for his neighbors whose apartments faced the parking lot? It was hard to get back to sleep when he would have to be up early for his classes.
It had taken a while but now Sucker was starting to get settled in. It was hard for the first few days, until his first pay came at the end of the month. He could barely scrape by until that first half-month pay came. He had almost run out of money, being down to two dollars at one point. He had his wife mail him forty dollars. With that, he limped along till payday. Having been a graduate student for eons, it seemed, there was no way that he could get a credit card right away.
Whatever furniture he needed to survive would also have to wait until he got paid. He had thought to pick up some things at garage sales on weekends but he quickly discovered that the place was not like California. He could not find much that he could use at garage sales. So he went to the Salvation Army store up in town to look for some things. At first, it was just a few kitchen items. That was all he could afford. His last twenty-five dollars had been spent for a sleeping bag at Sears. He threw it on the carpet. A good firm bed.
A little later as he was reading on the floor for his next lecture, he noticed a person heading to the dumpster at the end of the parking lot with something long in his hand. It appeared to be a piece of foam rubber. When the guy had left, Stan picked up his trash and headed out to the dumpster. There was a fine clean piece of foam right on the top that he could put under his sleeping bag. He quickly brought it inside. The only other pieces of furniture he possessed were a small folding card table which he had brought from California and a chair. He had set up his computer and printer on it. He found a cheap folding chair at K-Mart.
The hair-cut, which had cost him nine dollars, had taken a bigger chunk out of his measly supply of cash than he had anticipated. It had been so long since he had been to a barber that he had lost track of the cost of a haircut. But he thought he better hit the barber shop before classes started. He didn’t want to look like a hippy and he had noticed that most people in his department had short hair. Most professors also put on ties to come to work.
While he was waiting in the barber shop, he overheard the conversation in the adjacent chair.
“I am so glad to get into a barber shop,” the older guy said to one of the barbers. “The last three weeks, I have been out of town and not able to make it. I think it’s longer than it’s ever been in my life.”
Jesus, it is almost like he is feeling guilty that he waited three weeks to get a haircut, Sucker thought. Is this for real?
Then it came Stan’s turn and he climbed up into the chair. He felt a little like he had sold out to the establishment. He was now about to join the good ole boy’s club. A student and wild anarchist no more. All that was over. Shit. Soon he would be doing “national security” along with the others, marching lock-step with that fascist professor who spent most of his time at military schools planning new wars. No, he would never go that far. Nevertheless, he had to get through this shit. How much of a toll it would take on his rebellious soul, he did not know. There was a limit to how far he could go. Now, he felt like shit. A little like he had felt when he had joined the Navy and put himself squarely into the hands of those ignorant rednecks. There were times in one’s life when one just had to eat shit from the establishment.
The barber looked at him a little curiously. There was a foreigner in their midst. “For Shore.” Somehow he did not belong here. The barber was a good ole boy, no doubt about that. A decent guy, by the standards of the local society, to be sure. He asked the barber kindly if he could trim up his hair but not make it too short.
“Mainly I just need it trimmed. I don’t keep it trimmed up very good,” Sucker said.
The barber missed his point totally.
The barber just looked at him. He was not convinced. He was looking at him as if he had just met the enemy. Was he a communist? He would have to do his patriotic duty. His southern duty. Now that Sucker was in his hands, he would have to take care of this pinko socialist son of a bitch and do his duty to clean up a little patch of America. This traitor was not going to leave the premise without white sidewalls. He would fix him up. “For shore.” He would not leave until he had him looking just like every other redneck in town. There would be blood on the floor.
“Well, we’re glad you came back,” the barber said, in a corny way. Somehow, he managed to conceal his glee at now having a shot at trimming up this ungodly Yankee bastard.
His attitude made Sucker feel like a sinner who had just returned to the alter to repent. A prodigal son coming home. The barber was, after all, a kind man. He was just bringing this poor lost sheep back into the fold of square middle America. He had repented from his wayward ways. A lost sinner saved. A little late, to be sure, but nevertheless now saved.
After finishing his work, the barber started a wild spewing of some sort of sticky goo from a spray bottle. It filled the air with a fog that settled not only Sucker’s head but on the chair and all around.
God, it’s been a long time since I’ve had that done to me, Stan thought. He remembered small town barbers doing that in his childhood. The sweet sickening smell filled the air like the scent from Magnolia blossoms in the Spring. Sucker felt a little nauseous.
Just then, the barber swung the chair around to give Sucker a look at himself in the mirror. Sucker stared straight ahead and saw a Sewanee redneck with short hair and white sidewalls staring back at him. Jesus fucking Christ! That was him! The barber was there beside him, admiring his work. Keeping America clean and tidy.
Most of the small town barbers had learned to cut hair in the military and just continued to shear heads in exactly the same manner as when they were in the service. Making Stan look just like any other “good ole boy” was exactly what one would expect.
Oh shit! He has ruined me, Sucker thought. But there was nothing he could do about it now. It was done. The only consolation was that it would grow out, eventually.
Meekly, Stan stepped out of the chair and paid the barber. He thanked him, somewhat less than sincerely. There was no point in complaining. What Stan considered a trim was probably a lot different from the idea in the barber’s head. He had been whipped.
“We’ll see ya next time,” the barber said.
Like hell, you will, Sucker thought. You won’t get another chance to butcher me. You son of a bitch. Asshole!
He probably thought he was doing his part to clean up America, Sucker figured.
Coming out of the shop, Stan’s head felt different, having lost his hair all around the sides. He felt the air on his skin. Motherfuck. What the fuck, he thought. Oh well, it will grow out. And being so short, anyway, it will save me the nine bucks for a while.
There was a stand with the local newspaper in a metal box at the edge of the sidewalk. Stan decided to go for one. Maybe he would pick up some needed information. He put his quarter into the slot, opened the glass cover and pulled out a copy. It was just a thin little rag, hardly what one would expect. In California, the daily paper would be hefty with several sections. Stan was used to getting the LA Times.
The pictures of three black convicts appeared on the front page. They looked genuinely terrorized. No wonder. They had just been executed the day before in the state prison.
Below that, another item appeared. It was a story about a Sewanee judge who had ruled that several high school textbooks could not be used in the schools because they did not contain any “religious teachings.” He had written his legal opinion arguing that to use the textbooks would be unconstitutional. This was because, he reasoned, the Constitution requires “neutrality.” Neutrality, he argued, meant that the religious point of view must be included in the textbook to balance the secular point of view. As it was currently, according to the judge, the schools were engaged in teaching “ungodly secular humanism.” The books, according to him, must include the story of creation from the Bible to be neutral.
Sucker was rather amused at the logic but figured that it would not sound so strange to most people in the state of Sewanee. This guy is way back, Sucker thought. The article noted, however, that the decision had later been overturned.
Driving around the town, Sucker had been amused at the large number of churches in the town along with “Christian schools.” They were just thick in the town. The orders to integrate the public schools had surely prompted many parents to spring their children from the public schools and put them into private all-white Christian schools. The department secretary had complained to him that the city had started a crazy scheme of making each grade a separate school, so that children had to be shifted around from year to year to different schools. Stan wondered if that was actually a scheme to cause the integrated public schools to collapse altogether. Private schools were on the rise, to be sure. A growth industry in the South.
Back at his apartment, his redneck neighbor had brought a three wheeler in the back of his pickup truck and was out raising hell in the parking lot with the loud toy that sounded like a chain saw running out of control. He would roar down the slopes and out of the lot, then turn and roar back, seemingly making the greatest amount of noise possible. Stan liked to keep the sliding glass door of his balcony open for some fresh air but was forced to close it due to this impossible racket. He began to think that he should never again rent an apartment that was directly in front of a parking lot.
He was up early in the mornings, usually needing to round out his lecture notes with a little more work. He noticed residents coming out with their dogs before heading out for work. Then he saw that they were taking them off to the corner of the compound, a grassy area where there were some small bushes. After the dogs had relieved themselves, they took them back into their apartments.
That’s strange, Sucker thought. If I go out there relieving myself, I am subject to being arrested. But it is no problem for the dogs. Presumably the dogs have more rights than humans in this town. And the little mutts did not always make it to the corner area before soiling the grounds.
The second week, he had met the Chairman of the department. He was a friendly professor, John Gordon, who had taken the decision to hire him. His area of study was Latin America. Stan thought that he appreciated his work that he had done on India. He welcomed him to the department and wished him success in his classes.
Mercifully, his first check came on the last day of the month. The checks were distributed from the department office. A little over nine-hundred dollars for half of the month after a chunk had been taken out for taxes. He would have to send half of it to his wife, but now he had a little space for operating. He would not starve.
A couple of days later, he went back down to the Salvation Army store. The broken down items of furniture were way overpriced, to be sure. It struck him that used furniture was more expensive in a poor part of the country than in a relatively affluent area, like California. Nevertheless, he had to do what was necessary.
A couch would be a necessity and very convenient for all the reading he would have to do. Also a kitchen table. He found a couch, the cheapest one, for fifty dollars. It was not great but would do. Something comfortable to lie on, although needing to be cleaned. He could clean it up a little. He figured he would probably not be here more than one year and was certainly not going to take anything with him. Whatever he had he would just give back to the Salvation Army when he left. There was a kitchen table, with chrome around the edges, like the one his mother had bought in the fifties. In California, it would sell for far more as a collector’s item but here it was only fifteen dollars. He thought about a bed but there was not anything that was very cheap. He could not see spending that much money, only to leave it behind after a few months. Sleeping on the floor was comfortable, anyway, and the bed could wait. For ten dollars, the Salvation Army would deliver the items. He had fixed himself up for seventy-five dollars. He was on the way up. This was just the beginning.
Chapter Seven: Academia
As he settled into his classes, Assistant Professor Stan Sucker struggled with his lonely existence. He had worked long and hard to get to where he was, although he had hardly gotten anywhere yet. It was going to be a long and difficult climb up the academic ladder but he was on the way. He would go all out. Hit it hard and not slacken the pace. He felt like he had a lot of work ahead of him. But he would put his shoulder to the academic plow.
He was determined to work hard and do it right. He would not cut corners. He would go all out to be an excellent teacher and at the same time, excel in publications. Just starting out teaching, the preparations for the lectures were strenuous and time consuming. They left little time for other activities.
If he had been more clued in to the dynamics of academia, he might have realized that at a big university, teaching counted for very little. Sure, there were going to be student evaluations. But no one was going to pay much attention to those. They would not because they did not want others paying attention to their evaluations either. Moreover, they did not think that what or how the students were taught mattered very much. It mattered not at all, in the scheme of things. After all, they were just there to help pay the salary of the professors with their fees.
What did matter was not very clear to Sucker. It needed someone to clue him in, probably. First, he should be a team player. He should be a sort of nuts and bolts guy to keep the wheels of the operation greased and running smoothly. This did not mean that the students would be learning but merely, that everyone’s ass was covered and everything looked good. Everyone keeping their nose clean and their fence painted white, as one professor had put it.
Another thing was team spirit. One would certainly need to care about football and whether the university team won the games for the university. Anything outside of this would be tantamount to treason. It was necessary to tie into that juvenile sentiment which pervaded sports of all sort.
As far as academics were concerned, the tenured professors were essentially out to pasture. They were now cruising. Or perhaps more accurately they were crashed. They may not have been fully aware of it but then there were many things that they were not aware of. Many things they had forgotten. More things they had never known nor never would know. They had done whatever work was necessary to get tenure. Now they were not going to be fired. They settled back into a deadening routine, something akin to the life-style of a small-town barber. Why should they bust their ass doing some strenuous research. Perhaps a long term project in the area of their hobby horse would produce an occasional article and a dull academic book or two during their career. But this would come about largely as a result of work done when they were younger and full of energy. Mellowed out, it would be exceedingly jejune, perhaps an indication that in fact, they no longer gave a shit about that shit. Or any academic shit, as far as that went. They were tired of it. Some young scholar would come along and demolish it anyway, proving that it was shit with another even bigger load of shit. And the dialectical process would move on to the next round. To the next generation. Eventually they would find the key to getting it out there after it was pretty much old hat. Publishers would understand that it could do no damage and go ahead and publish it. The
publishers would get their money back from the libraries where the books would lay and collect dust for the next hundred years, unread.
The younger faculty would be expected to be engaged in some sort of research. This would generally be of an esoteric nature. They would spin out the concepts they had learned in graduate school. They would regurgitate them first in articles and then in unreadable books in turgid prose. It would have little or nothing to do with the way the world actually worked. In fact, that was the beauty of it. Indecipherable jargon, except to the properly brainwashed, it could do no damage. It was more a matter of stringing academic jargon together more than anything else. Only those doing the same sort of research would have much of an idea of what they were talking about. The trick was to cover up their ignorance with even more complex jargon. No one understood it. In truth, no one really gave a shit. Once tenure was reached, the prognosticator could settle back and bathe in his glowing academic record. It would now be on display on his long vita, which he would proudly display next to his aging face.
The professors would go to an occasional conference. This was partly to get away from students for a few days but also to meet some others who were doing the same things. They would get the chance to get away from their wives and flirt with the young attractive women academics who had been snapped up by academic departments as window dressing. Some would even get laid. They would settle down to obscurity. Some who were either more ambitious or more lucky, would move on to more prestigious and higher paying universities. But this was the rare bird. If they did not conform to the parameters of the discipline, they would be relegated to their small cubby hole for the duration and become “cranks.” No other academic would dare to touch them with a ten foot pole, so to speak. They would certainly not cite them in a footnote, regardless of how erudite they were. Regardless of how penetrating and accurate their analysis. Indeed, this was tantamount to academic failure. They had fallen into the deadly trap of allowing others to understand exactly what they meant.
In short, Stan Sucker was a fool for busting his ass doing what he was doing but completely oblivious to this fact of academic life. There needed to be little of substance behind what he was doing. Only the appearance was important.
The most highly valued research, in fact, was completely useless. This was research of the empirical kind that involved numbers, lots of numbers, mathematical formulas and regression analysis. This was because not only was it confusing to those who attempted to understand what it meant but also to the one doing the research. Especially the one doing the research, as they were generally engaged in the enterprise of fooling themselves first. They would get around to fooling others later, if they could only get the stuff published. Those who genuinely attempted to understand what was going in the real political and social world were clearly going down the wrong track. They could only end up at a bad end. Even more pathetic were those who thought that they could do something about the evils they saw in the world. Academia had no place for such fools. Sucker was veering close to being that sort of fool.
Sucker was clearly naïve when it came to understanding the birds and the bees of academia, in this case the discipline of political science. He had not yet been clued into the dirty secrets of the profession.
There was another problem. The lack of emotional support in his life. Indeed, he did not expect it, given his situation. It was an old problem. His wife would not write him. And when she did, it was only for the purpose of asking for money or some other technical detail that needed to be taken care of. She was not one to give him encouragement and emotional support for the struggle in which he was engaged. All of the motivation had to be generated on his own. Sometimes this was difficult when he began to get tired and discouraged. He really needed someone to smooth over the rough edges. And he needed to get laid. That was the bottom line. He needed to get laid more than anything else. Some young students were willing to fuck for grades. While risky, that might be one way to deal with the problem.
He was forced to dive into his work and carry it out routinely in a rather mechanical way by the relentless routine. Sometimes he felt like a sort of robot as he had to continue to generate the lectures so as to have enough material for the entire time period, day after day. The days and classes marched on relentlessly. As it was his first year of full time teaching, there was not much to fall back on. It would have to be this way, he thought, until he finally landed a tenure track position somewhere. He hoped that it would be in a place more desirable than Sewanee. This was only a weigh station along the way. He would move on up. Higher education, so to speak. Or was it down?
With all the work, he felt that he did not have time for friends. These were basically just the other two new members of the department. As they were doing other things, in other areas, they could hardly be called colleagues.
He thought surely that this was not all there was to academia. He thought that surely, he would find a rewarding position where he would genuinely find a home that he loved. He would genuinely enjoy his work and it would take on meaning. It was out there some place to be attained and that was probably by hard work. Once his hard work and accomplishments had been recognized, then he would be rewarded with such a position. He would find it, perhaps, any time, just around the corner. Certainly he would attain it in two or three years. He would be encouraged to be a path breaker. He would be encouraged and even begin to “think out of the box.” His head of department would support his being an “odd duck,” unorthodox. The dean would value having a real thinker in the school. They would defend him. He would be given time off to write important books. He was living in a dream world. In short, he was a fucking fool. A sucker.
That this was an illusion, Sucker was totally unaware. He was as naïve as a young person entering into the Holy nuptials of marriage for the first time. He rushed in where angels feared to tread. He was off the tried and true path of safe academic pursuit. He didn’t get it. He didn’t understand the importance of sticking to the straight and narrow in the academic world. No matter how wrong, one must stick to it. Especially if it was wrong, one must stick to it even more closely. To stray off this path one was likely to get burned.
It would be fair to say that the reality of the academic world had totally escaped our subject Stan Sucker. The academic utopia of his imagination did not exist in reality. And no amount of banging at books and lectures was going to bring it into existence. Also no amount of research, unless it was the right kind. That which came under the rubric of being totally useless. This was the kind that was totally divorced from reality. Stan Sucker was clearly headed down the wrong track if he wanted to be a successful academic.
As it was, he would have to be a little crazy to keep himself sane. He was lonely. But there was no way that he could bring his family to his place of work at the present time. At the same time, it had almost broken his heart to be away from home, his wife and his young daughter who was only three. He wished to keep the family together. It would only ruin things if he started to play around for sexual satisfaction. Or would it? Sometimes he wondered when he started to be tempted.
It was either a family life and sexual satisfaction or academia. There was no way that he could do both, he thought. He imagined that his wife and family were all that he needed. Sex was important but it was not everything. He sometimes thought that sex alone without soul force, the emotional communication, was empty. He valued the pleasure of the sexual act but he wanted it to be genuine. The truth is that he had not yet given up on keeping his family together.
In fact, his devaluation of pure sex for pleasure was somewhat hypocritical. He was just fooling himself. It was a matter of sour grapes. Finding a woman to love was not the perfect solution but it was far better than nothing. Sex, even without love, was not that empty. It could be pretty fucking good, he reflected. After all it had not been so bad in the past. It was a hell of a lot better than nothing. Having a lover from time to time, a new lover, would not be so bad. In fact, such casual sex could be pretty darned good, indeed great, if one was lucky to find the right woman. So in a way, he was only fooling himself. He just didn’t have enough time to chase pussy. And most of the guys in the department were married and settled down.
There were no nice looking women in the department, so there was no temptation there. There was no one at hand who appealed to him. That was a blessing in a way. But he began to set his sights on a couple of the young graduate students in the department. They were quite cute. However, it would not be easy to go after one of them. They knew that he was a married man. They had not appeared in his undergraduate classes so that he could get to know them better.
And so he was reduced to toughing it out and preparing his lectures from day to day and week to week. Reduced to just being hard up.
Chapter Eight: Silent City
He awoke to beautiful bright fall sunshine from the window of his apartment. It was a beautiful clear day. The sun was radiant on the fall timber, red, yellow, and brown leaves, interspersed with green spruce on the hillside. Some of the leaves had turned completely brown and dry. There was a small path up through the woods, but it did not seem safe to walk there. It was spoiled by occasional rednecks trying out their new guns.
It was the most perfect fall day Stan had seen in a long time and he wanted to enjoy the outdoors. With unpleasant weather on the way, it would be good to enjoy it while he could.
Stan drove up to a cemetery across from the apartment complex where he lived. A sign above the entrance said “Memory Hills Garden.” There were no tombstones, only markers flat on the ground with a holder for flowers. Each grave was decorated with a bouquet of artificial plastic flowers. There was a low wall in a semi-circle. In the center was a larger than life granite statue of Jesus Christ with a little stairway leading up to it. Around the circle were large spruce trees with whitish powder-blue berries. He tasted a branch of one of the Spruce trees. The taste and smell reminded him of the small Christmas trees they used to cut from Grant Kendall’s field near the old farm in Missouri.
Across the way, a canopy was set up for a ceremony that was to be held later that day. A rubber tree was flourishing in the southern climate. All the graves around reminded him that one should do the things they wanted to do while there was still the opportunity. Seize the day. There was a time for all things. But modern society had destroyed the natural rhythm of existence. One had to be tied to a job and hump for a living.
He noticed the grave of a World War II soldier. His name and rank was carved into the marker. Transfixed forever. Roy D. Hartley, Tech 5, US Army, WWII. November 6, 1914-September 22, 1984. Does that mean that he goes to paradise with a badge with his name and rank, Sucker wondered. There was a cross at the bottom. Stan wondered if he had gone overseas and seen action. Nearby was another grave. Wallace Hartley, perhaps a relative, who was in the US Navy in World War II.
He stood under a small oak tree with ripening acorns. He moved to a small granite enclave, climbed up the steps and sat on the stone bench. Then he suddenly saw the manager of the place drive past in a car. It was clear that he was somewhat worried to see Sucker lounging there in the morning sun. It might be a security risk. Part of his job was to keep the riff-raff away from the grounds. After all, it was private property and private property is sacred in America.
The man stopped the car and got out.
“Can I hep ya?” he asked, trying to appear friendly.
“No, I am just taking a walk,” Sucker said naively.
“Weya, when I take a wauk, ouya like to go to tha woods,” the guy said. “Do ya have any relatives buried around heya?”
“No. None of my relatives are from this part of the country,” Sucker said, honestly. “They are mostly buried in Missouri.”
“Oh, well weya shippin a woman back to Missourey taday.”
“Do ya live aroun heya?” the guy asked.
“Yes, just over in that apartment complex,” Sucker said. “I am teaching at the university.”
The guy seemed to mellow out a little when Stan told him that he was a professor. Then he realized that he must have alarmed him with his beard and the Indian home spun shirt that he was wearing that made him look something like a hippie from San Francisco that had had strayed out of his way a couple of thousand miles to the south.
“Ah, and whadaya teach,” the guy asked.
“I teach political science,” Stan said.
“Pohlitahkal sighuns. I’ll bet that’s interestin,” he said.
“Well, I was just checkin on you,” the guy said. He was attempting to seem friendly. It was the old Sewanee southern ruse. The friendly face behind the antipathy toward Yankees. Gentile, but sending the clear message that he had no business being there and that it would be a good idea to clear out soon.
Southerners were guarded and skeptical toward outsiders. And any guy with brains was not to be trusted. That only added to the suspicion.
Technically, Sucker was trespassing, as it was private property and he had no reason to be there except to enjoy the grass and the trees and the warm morning sunshine. The only reason to be there was to visit the grave of a relative.
“We are goin to have a service over here around one pee em,” the guy said.
“Oh, I will not be here by then,” Stan said. “I just wanted to get some morning sunshine.”
“Well, good luck to ya,” the guy said. He was obviously anxious to move him along. It wouldn’t do for any of the customers of the place to see such a freak as him encroaching on the place.
Sucker realized his faux pas. He had treated the place like a public cemetery. Nowadays in America even the bones of the dead were private property, a commodity in storage owned by a big corporation. If he was not a close relative of a dead person, he had no business being there. On the other hand, everyone was a relation if one went back a few generations. But the dynamics of society were lost on the modern corporation just out to make a profit.
He remembered his father calling a grave yard the Silent City of the Dead. Now the silent city where they went to dwell after death was just another branch of a big corporation. There was no escaping the prison of capital in America, even in the grave.
Sucker cranked up his old car and moved slowly out of the place, back through the gate. No worse for the wear. The place was, in fact, rather grotesque. No place for either the living or the dead. They were now the property of some corporation on Wall Street.
He discovered a public park near Hargrove Street. There was a public school nearby and picnic areas. Stan wondered how long the school would be public. They were all being privatized now. He sat down at one of the picnic benches to write up his journal. There was no point in trying to walk along the roads. Guys in monstrous pick-up trucks with enormous wheels roared past and seemed to be trying to run him over. They all had confederate flag plates on the front of their trucks.
Here, when there were no trucks, the air was pleasant with the sour sap smell of fall. The leaves were falling. The dry paths and dry leaves strewn about reminded him of fall in Missouri when he was in the old grade school in Preston. He remembered how the students used to play near the old water tower in the dry grass. He was in the seventh grade. They would dig up clay from big holes and shape it into tomahawks and arrow heads. They left them to dry in the sun. He remembered picking up acorns from the big oak trees behind the old school building. His pockets would be stuffed full of them. They were precious and he wanted to pick them all up.
He had other memories of the school. Even then, it seemed, he was somewhat of an oddball. Lack of proper socialization, he reflected. The school was building a new football field when he was in the eighth grade. They had bulldozed out some trees near the old dump. It had been a nice place to play and he remembered Billy Boyer climbing to the top of some of the big cottonwood trees.
After the bulldozing, they used to play under the fallen trees, going down under the branches to make huts. They would play cowboy and Indian warfare. Stan remembered the time when he was climbing under a log and something hit him on the head real hard. He didn’t realize what it was and imagined that he had raised up and hit his head on the large limb.
The next thing he knew, the blood was running down his face. He walked up to the school office with his skull split open right at the top of his head. The teachers bandaged him and managed to stop the bleeding. They called his father at the power plant where he was working. When his father came, he was taken down to the local hospital where they sewed up the gap in his skull with a few stitches. A few days later, he had to walk down to the hospital and have the stitches taken out.
A few years later, Stan met one of his old classmates on the local town square on a Saturday night. He had graduated from High School. He recognized the pudgy-faced guy as Frank Focken. He looked a little spaced out and stupid as he had remembered him from years before.
He said hello and then Focken said in a sort of lisping way, with foam forming at the sides of his mouth, “Do you remember the time that I hit you over the head with a baseball bat?”
It came as a shock. It was the first time that Sucker had realized what had happened to him. He had actually been conked over the head by this stupid guy who could have killed him with that baseball bat. Before that, he had always thought that he had just hit his head on a log.
But the irony of it was that he remembered how unpopular this kid had been and how all the other students hated him and treated him badly. His parents had moved from some other place to the local town. Stan had always been friends with him and tried to help him out. It was a real revelation to realize that the stupid kid had beaned him a good one with a baseball bat. It was now clear to Stan, seeing him again, that the guy had some marbles missing. He was rather embarrassed by how naïve he had been and never told his parents what he had discovered about the dunce.
Sucker recalled another time when he was playing under the old football field bleachers with some of the guys in his class. It was during the sixth grade. He was a good student academically, but never interested in sports and war games. He never got into dividing up sides and playing war games with the other guys. He didn’t know how to account for that. Whether it was just his nature to not like to fight or if it was something about the way he was raised. He imagined it was the way he was raised because he never grew up around a lot of other kids so that he had to defend himself and his things. He knew that his father was a peaceful person, just spending all his time doing farm work. He would never have fought with any one.
One day Sucker was playing with Donnie Bryan and some other guys under the bleachers and he was not going along very well with the command structure of the imaginary war they were fighting. Then Bryan said:
“Sucker, I just don’t think you would make a very good soldier.” He was right about that, Sucker decided. It had hit him rather hard and made him feel real bad at the time. But he realized that what he had said was true.
Later, in his university years, when other students were supporting the war in Vietnam, he always argued against the war. He had come to see that all war was wrong. He was convinced that Gandhi had been right about that. It did not mean that one should not defend one’s self. But one should do it in a non-violent way as much as possible.
The incident had shaken his faith somewhat after being the staunchest defender of Frank Focken and then getting clobbered by him. Just about all the other kids had picked on him and he was always in trouble with the teacher. Sucker had felt sorry for him and tried to be friends with him. And then he, himself, had turned out to be the victim. It seemed that in the real world, he would have been better off if he had just punched the stupid kid out. Violence might have saved him from getting clobbered and suffering the consequences. He had played the sucker and lost.
Chapter Nine: Madison
It was early November. Sucker got two days off at the end of the week for the conference on South Asia in Wisconsin. It was mostly about India and Sucker loved going to it. He was going to feel like a pig in shit.
He was up at a quarter past five to eat a bowl of cereal and have some coffee. Then he headed to Birmingham to catch the plane to Chicago. It was an hour’s drive to the airport. He would get there a little early and use the extra time to work on his talk for the next day.
Thinking about it, he realized that family background plays a large role in one’s life. In his case, it took a lot of work to overcome the inadequacies of his upbringing. The proper influences had come too late in his life. If his parents had been educated and in public life he might have sailed right through these things in a natural way. As it was, he had to struggle to succeed. There were no role models in his family. Coming from a small town in a small community was another handicap. He had not grown up around a lot of people.
It was a perfect day for flying with beautiful blue skies. At eight, his plane was over Tennessee and he had polished off the light breakfast that the airline provided. That wasn’t much. But he did get some coffee. The Boeing 737 landed in Chicago just after 9:00. The November cold was refreshing after the heat and humidity of Sewanee. Airports were all the same nowadays, he thought. One would not know from the scene inside where in the world one had landed.
He went down the escalator and bought a ticket for the bus to Madison. He enjoyed riding across the countryside. It was relaxing and he could get a feel for the place. It would be nice to see some fields. It would have been quicker to take the plane but he preferred doing it this way. He would give himself the luxury of that much leisure. Crowding into one plane that day was enough.
The bus cruised slowly out of the airport and passed a trailer park. Things up here looked systematic and organized. Things seemed to be done in a serious and competent way. Comparatively, the South was haphazard. In fact it seemed to him that southerners took pride in doing things in a rather slipshod way. It seemed to be a part of the culture.
Sucker noticed how crummy the trailer park looked. The working class, at least some of them, had been reduced to this. Trailer trash, as it was said. A box with a bed as a place to live. Most of the trees had shed their leaves but the fields were still green between the fields of dry corn stalks where the crop had been harvested. The flat fertile land with occasional barns and silos looked prosperous. The fields were square and neat. Well kept. Farmers had begun to disc up the dry corn stalks. The land would surely gain value as the city expanded and likely be taken over by hotels and housing districts.
Sucker began to think about what had produced this relative sophistication, compared to the South, which was more like a third world. A professor had noted that Sewanee was like a third world. He felt like he had just come up out of a hole. Was it the underlying social and economic systems? That is, the mode and relations of production? In the South, you had a cotton export economy based upon slave labor. Here, you had small-scale family-based agriculture, ultimately tied to the export of primary agricultural products. Later, agro-industries grew up. Now the corporations were taking over the land. The political economy of the South, King Cotton, collapsed in the nineteenth century. Industries were established to give the white working class something to do. The South had never really developed like the North. Many of the Blacks migrated out to the West Coast and to the metropolitan areas of the North. Most of the whites who stayed behind came to work in the factories and steel mills. But in the case of the poor and working class whites, the white trash, they had a psychological hang up. The white aristocracy, the oligarchy or blue bloods, lost the objective basis of their dominance, while retaining their titles and evidently most of their wealth. The white underclasses, white trash, were subservient. What is interesting is the persistence, the intransigence of the system, he reflected. Even after structural changes in terms of the legal institutions, the social conservatism persists because it is deeply embedded in the psychology, an essentially racist ideology, and that pervades the entire social and political system.
That was a tremendous mental block to development. People find their grandeur in synthetic creations, essentially a mirage, something like football, which is the only positive projection outward that the state of Sewanee had been able to produce. The two images one has from outside is that of the Governor and his defense of racism as long as it was politically feasible and to his advantage, and football. Sucker doubted that the Governor’s true feelings ever changed. People say they associate Sewanee with football today. The racism is largely buried.
Someone like Jonathan Marlowe, the young black assistant professor in the department, was highly sensitive and bitter against the system as he grew up in Mississippi. He had seen it from the inside.
After slavery was abolished by the Emancipation Proclamation and the North had defeated the South in a civil war, the system of apartheid in the American South was re-institutionalized. Production shifted from relations of master-slave to boss-worker and the cash nexus. Instead of the slave appearing on the slave market where his labor power was purchased once and for all, his labor power appeared in the market in another form and was purchased piece-meal by the hour. This was a more flexible system overall. Witness now how the economy is moving toward greater and greater use of temporary workers in the production process. This shift also reduced the industrialists to the purchaser of labor power. If the employee ran away, there was little loss. The slave did not have to be tracked down and returned with the expense of a reward and the police gendarmes for running the bloodhounds. Slavery probably collapsed due to economic reasons. As the blacks migrated to the North, their labor was replaced by that of the poor whites, the white trash. But such an intellectually closed system, introverted, turned in on itself and its development was arrested. In this way Sucker attempted a political analysis of what he had observed in Sewanee and Illinois on the frosty November morning.
Sucker arrived at the Madison campus a little after two. This looked like a real university. A serious university. The buildings were well-built, serious, against the harsh winters. He was ready for the different atmosphere and some sanity.
It was a short walk down to Lowell Hall where the guest rooms were. Sucker checked in and went to the room. A half hour later, his room-mate, David arrived from California. He was in a different world here in Madison. Things seemed so easy and rational.
Even though, he was quite tired, a little sleepy, and hungry, he started to work again on his paper. It had to be ready for the morning presentation. He couldn’t waste time. He had decided to take some things out of the paper that might be controversial. He worked on it diligently until after six, only taking a break to go down and say hello to one of his old professors from Missouri who had set up shop to sell books. The professor, Jerry, looked dirty, running around with his shirt tail hanging out, selling books like a mad man. He surely enjoyed selling books more than doing academic work.
He had almost finished revising his presentation, when he went with David and some others to the small Nepali restaurant to eat. It was a nice walk down the big street to the Himal Chuli Restaurant. He had been there before. The Wisconsin State Capitol building loomed high at the end of the street just a few blocks ahead.
It was a sort of small hole-in-the-wall restaurant where some Nepali kids were getting rich making their food. Sucker ordered up some lamb curry and a beer. He felt he really needed that cold beer after the day of travel and work. The food was great, but not enough to fill him up. He had felt famished after skipping lunch.
He met some other people at the restaurant that he had met previously at a conference in Monterrey California. It was a rather small community of scholars on South Asia. They were lovers of India and Indian culture but would likely find it difficult to live in India. Here they could enjoy Indian culture without the cultural down-sides.
Back at the guest house, Sucker finished preparing his paper. He went over it several times, getting it down, until ten in the evening. He turned in early but did not sleep soon. He felt a little tense after the day. University students coming back from drinking were whooping it up on the streets outside and kept waking him up even after he had fallen asleep. His room-mate had turned in too. That did not bother him greatly. He fluctuated between deep sleep and light sleep and sometimes waking up. Nevertheless, the rest was enough for the following day.
Sucker was up at half past six to prepare for his morning presentation. The panel was the first session at nine.
He went downstairs for breakfast, one of the first to arrive. The good stomach was necessary for giving a good paper. He had to put something in it. He saw one of his old professors, Paul, from Missouri, who seemed too busy to be bothered. He would get a chance to say hello later that day.
Sucker had prepared well and the paper presentation flowed smoothly when he was given his twenty-minute slot. He was satisfied that he had done a good job in presenting it and put in a lot of embellishments. He even added some humor in places. He later got some compliments that it was a good paper.
With the session out of the way, he relaxed watching others perform. Those doing the art of temples were usually showing slides of Indian Temples they had taken in India. One Indian professor had arrived from Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi and gave a paper. There were many stone images of Indian women idealized, their perfectly formed breasts exposed. Sometimes the woman was holding her breast with one hand standing upon two water pitchers. The breasts were said to represent jugs.
Sucker noticed that the Nehru jacket worn by the professor from India was frayed threadbare around the collar. Sucker wondered how many years he had been wearing it to various conferences. He was chairman of a department but was now being forced out because of his age. He had decided to fish for a visiting post in the US if any university was willing to take him. He had come with his begging bowl held out.
In seeing the images of the Indian women with one hand on their breast, Stan thought that this was very similar to the pose one saw in Hindi films. The actress standing in the water and holding the fingers of her right hand over the nipples of her left breast, perfectly shaped, full and round, as in the temple art. It was an erotic image, to be sure.
Sucker met another old friend, a woman professor, not retired but writing and doing some teaching at a US university. It was interesting, Sucker thought. These people are writers and intellectuals but essentially go from university to university with their begging bowl in their hands, asking for hand-outs. A semester here and a semester there from old friends who take pity upon them. Kusam, well known among South Asianists, for her artistic and perceptive books, had once ridden to Chicago with him for another conference when he was a graduate student. They took whatever they could get but it was pitiful how they had to essentially beg for crumbs just to make a living and get by. This was surely not fair. She was a competent journalist. How could one compare this existence to the business world. Were they somehow less talented? Just on the contrary. But the market did not value their contributions to society.
Then he met Rahul. A big, heavy set guy. Another professor and Indian friend who had a job at one of the Wisconsin campuses. He had surely been more lucky than Stan. Probably had good connections. They went over to the student union for lunch.
Sucker remembered how Rahul had criticized his review of a book on the Bhopal tragedy that he had written for a journal. Rahul was on the editorial board and had asked him to tone down the language for an academic journal. He had said that it sounded too sensational and journalistic. This was almost a compliment for Sucker. After all, the book was on the Bhopal disaster. It was such an outrage that he did not feel like discussing it in dulled down or dumbed down language. He didn’t mind sensationalizing it at all. The review was published pretty much as he had written it. This was the caution of pussy-footing academics for Sucker. Keeping their fence painted white and their nose clean, as the Jewish professor had put it.
Nevertheless, Sucker was enjoying the conference like a pig in shit and enjoyed meeting his old friends that he had known in the past. He checked the books in Jerry’s book stall. There were many that he might have liked to read but some of them were of varying quality. Indian publishers had a tendency to publish too much, often things that did not deserve to be published. Sometimes the books were not well-edited.
At another panel, William, a professor from Ohio, gave a paper on the Indians in Southall, the West side in London. He had been studying the community for many years. Other professors who he had not seen in several years were there and it was good to meet them again. The next day, there was a panel of big wigs in South Asian studies that he attended. It was great refreshment from Alabama. He loved the atmosphere in Madison and would have been overjoyed to be able to stay there.
The next evening, he went out with Tom and his wife and David to a Greek restaurant. It was nice having a job for a change. He could put the tab on his expense account for the food. And he could sample the ouzo. Tom’s wife was a cute young black. He had asked her to go to India with him on a research trip basically to carry the camera equipment, she told Stan. Jessica seemed to be standing around not knowing quite what to do. Then she saw Sucker’s name tag that he was coming from Sewanee. It caught her interest.
“My father is from Sewanee,” she told Sucker. “Would you like to go out some places with us?”
Sucker went with the others but lagged behind talking to Jessica. It was a nice time and the first time that he had talked to a woman for a long time. She was a cute girl but did not seem to fit in with the South Asia crowd very well. Sucker was having a good time walking and talking with her.
Jessica told him about the research trip to India, where Tom basically had her carrying the cameras around.
“He tells me that he wants me to have my own thing,” Jessica said. “I don’t have to do the same thing he does.”
Sucker didn’t know exactly what it meant, and whether the professor was inviting her to have other male friends. There was really no chance for him, in any event.
By the fourth day, Sucker was starting to grow weary with the conference. He was ready to hang it up on Sunday. But it had been a good break and he had met a lot of old friends and made new acquaintances. He would go back, he thought, and try to get a book out on India. But it took more than just the resolve. One needed time. Lots of time.
At the Chicago airport he waited for the plane to Birmingham. The Alabama crowd who had come up to the city for the weekend was on the way back. Sucker met some friendly women from Birmingham. One said she was divorced. She worked for a doctor who owned a travel agency and she got free trips. His seat was in the very back of the plane with the women. The plane took off in a rain storm, making it rough for a while. The women were rather nervous on the flight as the pilot kept changing altitudes.
Late in the evening, his plane landed in Birmingham. Stan cranked up his old Volkswagen and headed back to Sewanee.
Chapter Ten: Billie Jo
Stan had first seen Billie Jo when he went to open his account at the credit Union. She was older than him by almost a decade. She was still a nice looking woman. He first saw her as a business woman until he started to get to know her. He found that she actually hated working in a bank but it was the best job that she could find in the town. She was very southern as Stan soon discovered. This sometimes got on his nerves, even though he started to like her a lot. A friend was a friend.
The first day she had him come back to her desk to fill out some papers. It was done quickly and she looked them over. She was wearing a tight-fitting red dress that showed her mature body nicely. Stan noticed her attractive legs and the way her derriere flared out nicely inside the dress.
“So, you teach at the university. How is it going for you?”
“It’s OK.” Stan said. “It keeps me busy. This is my first year of university teaching, so it takes a lot of time preparing for the lectures. Actually, I love teaching.”
“And how are the students?” Billie Jo asked.
Compared to what? Stan thought. He didn’t really know at this point, except that he had realized that most of them that dared to say anything were quite conservative in their politics. His more liberal views often hit them the wrong way.
“Oh, they seem like they are OK,” Stan said. “I am pushing them to read but it seems that students resist hard work these days.”
“Like they say, Sewanee State is a party school. Most students are wrapped up in social activities. I don’t know if they come to the university to learn. And besides, football is big here.”
“Oh, probably not,” Stan agreed. “Having their fun on weekends comes first for most students nowadays. It’s a very social world for the young.”
“And what do you do when you are not working on lectures?” Billie asked. “You must be starting to get to know some people,”
“Not very many,” Stan admitted. “Just a few members of the faculty. To tell you the truth, I have not had much time. First I had to get a place to live and then just plunged into the classes.”
Stan could see the tops of her soft white breasts inside her dress. She had left the top two buttons undone and he could see the lace of her red bra inside. He could tell that her breasts were still quite nice and firm. He thought about plunging into those beauties. He noticed her bright red lips, her long thin arms, and hands. She had elegant hands. That he always liked in a woman. Her legs were long and nice too.
“I hope you found a good place,” Billie said.
“Oh, it’s nothing special. Just another apartment,” Stan said. “Down by the Interstate. I only have a one-year position. So I was not very particular.”
“Maybe you will stay. Houses are cheap here,” Billie Jo said. “We have had our place for twenty years. I love it in a quiet neighborhood.”
“That’s great,” Stan said. “I have not yet been so lucky in life and am still struggling to start my career, rather late. I wasted too much time in the Navy. I hope I will be fortunate enough to have my own house.”
“The only problem is, well, I am sometimes bored,” she said. “My husband, Dan, is gone a lot of the time and now the kids are off to school in other states. Now I am sometimes alone.”
As she leaned forward, he could see more of the cleavage between her breasts. There were freckles on her soft fleshy fruits. He suddenly started to salivate.
“That’s too bad,” Stan lied. He thought it might be good news if the old bird was not around.
“Oh, sometimes it is a relief,” Billie said. “I have to cook less and have the place to myself. Sometimes I invite a couple of friends over and we have some wine.”
When she got up to take the papers to another section, he watched her ass wiggle. Not bad, he thought. He gauged her age to be mid-fifties. She had a decade on him but she was a desirable woman. Her still long brown hair was done up on her head. How would she look with it down, with it down her back? He wondered. In his mind, he suddenly saw her in the nude. He imagined her lovely cleavage and that soft pink mound between her tanned legs.
“Mr. Sucker, here you are. You are all set. And I hope to see you again. Come in if you have any problems. I will try to take care of anything you need.”
What kind of problems could she take care of? He wondered. He thought of at least one that she might be able to solve.
“Oh thanks,” Stan said. “It’s great that I will have a credit card. The other banks turned me down flat. No credit record.”
“That’s the system, unfortunately,” Billie Jo said. “You can pick up your card here next week.”
He thought of her several times after leaving the bank. He wondered if she would remember him. That derriere was broad and mature but he knew that it would feel delicious in his grip. He would kiss the back of her neck and run his tongue down the velvet skin of her back. Her cute little honey cup would be dripping with honey.
A few nights later, he was deep into preparing a lecture for political economy. His phone rang around half past eight.
“Hi, this is Billie Jo from the credit union. Do you remember me?”
“Oh hi,” Stan said. “Sure, it was so nice to meet you. I thought about you. How are things?”
“Oh, I am doing OK. How about you?”
“Working my ass off, unfortunately,” Stan said. “All these classes keep me too busy. I am up early every morning just to get through the day.”
“Yes, I thought about you,” she said. “By the way, we have your credit card. Why don’t you come out for a glass of wine on Friday. My husband will be off to a meeting. I think you need a break.”
“Sure, I would love to.” Stan couldn’t wait. The chance had fallen into his lap without him really trying. He thought of her ass.
She lived in a big stone house on the edge of the town near a wooded area. It was not difficult to find after she gave him the directions. When he pulled up into the driveway, she had him park his small car in the garage out of site of the neighbors.
Billie Jo was there, now transformed. Instead of the business dress, she was in a pair of faded jeans and a bright yellow T-shirt. She looked a good ten years younger. Sure enough, she had let her hair down, plaited down her back. Golden with some brown streaks. That looked exciting. Stan thought she looked good enough to eat. Especially those soft mounds of flesh that bulged from her T-shirt. She was not wearing a bra. That was clear. Stan could see her standing nipples inside. She must be aroused, he thought. He wanted to see how they tasted.
She greeted him at the door and invited him in. She met him with a laugh.
“So, you made it, professor. You won’t have to prepare lectures tonight. You can drop out of the university.”
“Thank God, or whoever is responsible,” Stan said. “It can get to be a drag. So it’s good to be out.”
“I’m sure,” she said. She gave him a glass of cold wine.
“Come with me for a walk. Maybe we can work up an appetite. I’ll show you the area.” It was October and still quite warm. He only wore a light shirt and jeans. She took him down a path through the woods. The smell of fall was in the air even though it came quite late here. They were all alone. He could smell the lilac of her scent. Oh God. He loved that scent of a woman. She had worn it for him.
“I like this part about living here,” she said. “But it’s much nicer with you.” She brushed against his body as they walked and smiled. He wanted to touch the flesh around her middle and her bulging derriere. Along the path were flowering dogwood bushes. There were large Shagbark Hickory trees that towered aloft and a few Honey Locusts. The dry leaves crunched beneath their feet. The scent of fall was exciting. She took his hand and pulled him to the side under a leafy Red Oaks with red and yellow leaves. She suddenly held him and kissed his lips. Stan’s cock had begun to thicken. She led him on to a small stream where they were almost hidden. The water was trickling down over the rocks.
“The water is very cold,” she said. “In the summer, I put my feet inside. I like some feel of cold on my body. Don’t you? I love this little spot. I always come here.” She picked up a thick stick and poked at the rocks in the water. A frog jumped out of the water onto the bank.
Night was now falling. It was a clear night and the stars were starting to come out. She sat down on a big rock near the stream. She took his hand, grasping it. Then she quickly pulled her T-shirt up and slipped it off. Stan saw her soft plump breasts and her swollen nipples now rigid in the cool fall air.
“The cool air feels good,” she said. “I love to feel free.”
Then she kissed his lips again. She lifted his hands to her soft breasts.
“These are for you Stan, I hope you like them. They are yours.”
“They are beautiful,” Stan said, as he tasted her pink nipples that had popped up. There was only a small amount of light left now. He kissed all the soft flesh around her taut nipples. Then he kissed her lips again.
“You taste good,” Sucker said. “So good.”
“Don’t you want to taste the rest?” she said. “We are here all alone, honey. Don’t you want the rest of me?”
Slipping out of her shoes, she quickly shed her jeans and panties.
“Now, I feel really free,” she said. “The cool air is delicious. I want to give you a treat, Stan. I am yours. I want to see you in the nude, honey. You can take me. I am ready. You can love me the way you want. I’ll be your woman tonight.”
Night had now fallen. Stan stripped his clothes off. His cock was throbbing stiffly. She embraced him. He felt her fingers touching his cock and balls, pressing it to her rosy nether lips.
“Oh this is good. You’re big, darling. You are beautiful.”
She lay back on a grassy strip near the water. As she opened, he plunged into her hot rose.
“Oh that’s good,” she said. “Give it to me. Give it to me hard. I want it all. All you can give me. Fuck me. Fuck me hard.”
Stan stirred her as she wrapped her long white legs around his body and started to beg him for more.
“Honey, you are big. You are good. Your big cock fucks me so good. I knew you were going to be good. You will make me come so good. You big fucker. Give it to me. You fuck me good, professor.”
He stirred her till his passion burst. His strong muscle spasm throbbed as he tasted her soft neck. It was good. She was gently healing him from all his hurt. He savored the comfort of her deep warm pussy. He felt her gripping him in her mellow sheath. She sighed and suddenly laughed.
“My baby, Stan. You are a sweet man. You fill me up so good, Professor. You fucked me so nicely. My sweet man. You creamed me.”
He had finally found a real friend.
Chapter Eleven: Ithaca
Professor Sucker had just returned from the conference in Wisconsin. He was scheduled to go to Ithaca, New York for an interview in a few weeks. He worked on a presentation for the faculty. The idea was to explain to them how he would teach comparative politics. Teaching it would be easy for Sucker, he had no doubt about that but giving a speech about it to the faculty and students was something else.
If he could just nail down a job, he would be set for the next year and not have to worry about the job market. But it was not an easy thing to do. Schools were getting more than a hundred applications for every position and just being in the top three for an interview was nearly a miracle. It was impossible to know what they wanted. The faculty probably did not know either. It depended upon who had the power in the department. It was the next thing to being in a lottery and one had to just get lucky to get the job.
The days now turned cold and windy. Darkness fell before five, making the days somewhat depressive. He had to keep up his health and strength and that meant that he had to cook for himself when he could. He didn’t mind batching, actually, but sometimes he did not have the time out from bucking for the continuous relentless lectures that kept him busy day after day and night after night. He was determined to make a good talk and get the job. But who could tell the reactions of the professors? All those heavily Jewish academics out of New York had filled up the department in Ithaca. His background was a million miles away from them in some ways.
He worked in the evenings preparing the outline to give to the staff during the presentation.
But another thing was being lonesome. He really didn’t have the time to think about it, but did anyway. He remembered the little Greek restaurant in Madison. It was Kostos. He had let Jessica taste his ouzo. She licked her lips and told him it tasted good. He thought about her. He thought about those soft, warm lips. Then he thought about her other lips. It had been fun being with her. Sucker remembered walking with her. She told him how she had been in Tom’s class and met him. They had now been together for five years. Stan thought that it was a somewhat strange match but who was to say? Now he wished he could kiss those inviting lips. He wished that she had lived closer. He wanted to make love to her. He dreamed of squeezing her dark chocolate flesh and tasting that cute nose.
Stan had enjoyed Jessica’s company, as a delightful, cute, and nice person. She seemed to be outgoing but seemed a little out of her element with all of the academics around.
“She must have black friends in Cleveland,” Stan imagined. He didn’t know if she was really fulfilled in her role now. He wished that he could have the chance to run across her again sometime. He had wanted to touch her. When they crossed the street, he had reached for her hand. She grasped it tightly and they crossed together. Where the walk was rough, he had put his arm around her and pulled her to him protectively. She didn’t resist. Her young flesh was soft. He wanted the chance to kiss her. But it hadn’t come.
Actually, Sucker had gotten a little bored with all the incessant talk about temples at that conference. The search for new objects just in the next village. The continuous photographing of piece after piece of stone art and trying to get some of the art objects out of the country. It seemed that they did not think that the Indians had the right to ask for these objects back once they were taken outside the country. Sucker was amused at this and saw it as a little selfish. He was not very comfortable with what these academics were doing.
One could never really anticipate academics, he thought. They were so hard to please. And trying to prepare a talk that would please the members of a whole department, it seemed, was almost impossible. It put one under a lot of pressure. He knew that he could teach whatever courses they wanted. But getting the job was the trick that he had to overcome.
The way he would teach comparative politics was simply to get a textbook and teach it going through the textbook, chapter by chapter. This was the way that almost all professors taught the course, after all. After all, it was the easy way. Who cared about teaching anyway? It did not really get one anywhere. Only research and publications counted for anything in academia. If one could teach, that was just something that just happened to be, but was not very important. The real problem was that he was too hung up on India. The college where he was going was dominated by Jews from Europe. This was a serious mismatch, probably. He couldn’t quite figure out exactly what they would be looking for in the presentation.
He wrote down his ideas in his journal. Sometimes they were seriously mistaken, he would later think, but it helped him to think about things. There were no intellectuals to discuss these things with. The professors at Sewanee were simply bored with any intellectual discussions. They were dull minds. Intellectually, it seemed to him that they were dead heads. At any rate, they had no sympathy for anything having to do with the third world.
He did have experiences having to do with the third world. Being in the Peace Corps should have been useful experience. But it all depended upon what the professors thought. In l976, his navy ship had visited Bizerte in Tunisia. The Barbary Coast, his first glimpse of North Africa had impressed him. He was seeing something new. It was similar to the time in l968, his second day in India. He had looked out over the lawn of the International Center in New Delhi and seen hundreds of Indians dressed in white on their way to work on bicycles. That image was full of meaning. The Moslems had influenced North Africa similar to the way they had affected North India. They brought their cultural traditions and foods to the Maghreb. The sweets for sale in the markets reminded him of the sweets in Punjab.
Most of the sailors from the ship headed for the International Hotel, which was culturally bland. Sucker, on the other hand, just enjoyed going through the streets and bazaars enjoying the local culture. The town was small enough to enjoy and maintain some of its local flavor free of the influence of tourism. Even the larger city of Tunis some twenty miles away, was local and not very touristy. The main part of the city retained much of the local tradition. Sucker thought that it was good to enjoy the lack of modernization, which destroyed so much. It was not clear to him that modernization was for the best. Could Burma become a model because it had avoided modernization? Would other countries be sorry that they had not followed a similar path?
Of course not. All of this was just wishful thinking! It was just the fantasy of a professor. Modernization was profitable and that was the bottom line! One had to recognize how the world actually worked, he thought.
He worked till late in the evening on his talk. Then he hung it up and decided he had to go to bed. There was just so much that one could do. These things are so lonely, he thought. One has to walk this lonely valley alone. Nobody else could walk it for you. The job market had changed. Now it was a new ball game. Particularly, white males were not in demand, anyway in the job market. And there was no affirmative action for people like him from a small rural town. He would do a good job, but wanted to be sufficiently detached and maintain enough critical distance that he kept things in perspective. He must have the proper mental attitude. He should have gained more confidence by now, but how could one be that confident, given the uncertainties of the job market.
He thought of Jessica and got a tremendous hard on. Then he thought of Billie Jo. He wished that he could give her a call. He needed a woman. But perhaps her husband would be there. Was she lonesome? He wished he could slip over to her place and make love to her the whole night. It was a while before he could stop thinking about the women and get to sleep.
The Sunday before the interview, he had a weird dream. Sucker was back on the old farm in Missouri. He was near the well and the old windmill. His daughter, Cindy was with him. While they were near the well, the top slab of concrete fell down into the well. He heard the concrete falling, and then it hit the bottom. That left a wide hole. He looked down into the well and saw a den of rattlesnakes. They were all piled up in a heap with their heads sticking out the sides. But it was a cold day and he thought that they would be inactive. He picked up Cindy and held her over the well so that she could see the snakes. It occurred to Sucker that that was where all the rattlesnakes came from that they saw around the farm. About that time, he woke up, but could not get the image of the snakes out of his mind. His mind kept going back to the old farm in his dreams. Did the dream have some significance? He had no idea. Maybe he was about to enter into a den of rattlesnakes when he went for the interview.
He had put a lot into the talk. He went to Kinkos and made copies to hand out at the session. There was a sweet girl making the copies. She had sharp little tits inside her tight T-shirt. He suddenly realized that he needed her. He needed to go to bed with Billie Jo and then he would be feeling a lot better. I really need to make love to a pretty woman, he thought. There are so many around. So why am I being so deprived? It was true that he was getting very little moral support from his wife. She was back in California. He thought of beautiful Ojai up on the hill.
It was a brilliant sunny day in Ojai as they walked between the orange groves, picking off oranges and eating their fill. The dry leaves crunched beneath their feet. The trees were bent down with clusters of oranges hanging in the dark green leaves. Cindy and his wife were there and they took pictures near the huge old oak tree where the philosopher, Krishnamurti, gave lectures to his disciples. It was his small estate and library. Beyond, one could see the rugged high California mountains.
The lady in the library took Cindy to help her pick roses to spread around and freshen the air. Now, he was starting to be homesick for California.
Late afternoon, Sucker sat out on his balcony near the parking lot. It was cool as darkness fell but pleasant. He took a walk in the compound and up a small dirt road on the hillside. A couple of big white-oak logs had been sawed down across the road at the top of the hill. It was cooler up here among the trees. The recent frost had killed most of the plants. There was a pleasant smell in the air.
He was up at six to have cereal and coffee and drive to Birmingham to catch the flight. The first leg was a half-hour flight to Nashville and then to Pittsburgh on US Air. The plane circled near Three Mile Island and landed at noon. There was time for lunch during the layover. The next plane would take him to Elmira, New York, and then Ithaca. These short flights took up almost the whole day, but it was the only way to get there quickly.
The plane landed just after three in Ithaca. A member of the faculty had arrived to pick him up. It turned out that she was the head of the department, a Marxist and feminist. Coming from Sewanee, Sucker felt a little like he was coming from the sticks. She met him and took him to an expensive European car. She told him that she had been a red-diaper baby, her parents having been in the Communist Party when she was growing up. Her background could not have been more different from his.
They headed downtown, where she introduced him to her husband, a lawyer. Then she deposited him at the university guest house which was on a quiet street on a leafy hill. Dry leaves had fallen. There was the musty smell of fall.
He settled in and worked on his talk. In the evening he was to have dinner with a young member of the faculty, an instructor.
The next morning, he was up early and ready to go. He walked down to the bottom of the hill to Hal’s Deli, where he had breakfast and waited for a faculty member to arrive and pick him up. There was just no doubt about it. He did not really feel very confident about doing this type of thing, when he was the one that was on display.
The day went by rather in a flash, as all such events happen. It was the second time that he had gone through such an interview.
The next day he flew back by a similar route and was back in Sewanee. In a few days, he would receive the notice thinking him but letting him know that the department would not be hiring him.
Well, I guess I fucked up again, he thought. Unless it was an affirmative action job where they would have to hire a woman or a black. That might have been the case but he really had no way of knowing.
He wondered if he was ever going to be able to land a permanent job. Being an academic was sometimes a little like being a migrant laborer.
Chapter Twelve: Mounds
On Friday Billie Jo invited Stan to watch a film at her house in the evening. It was one of Stan’s favorite films, Reds, but Billie Jo had not seen it. It all seemed so foreign to her, being from the South. She had prepared some light dinner and the wine was cold. It was perfect weather for sleeping and she invited him to share her special bed that night. They made love before going to sleep. He was starting to like the feel of her soft mature body. Mature women were definitely superior to young ones, he decided.
Billie Jo had whetted his appetite for love. He had woken up in the night and felt aroused. He realized that she was next to him but did not disturb her. He liked the feeling of being in bed next to a mature woman. Her thick hair was falling across the pillow.
When he woke up just past seven in the morning, his cock rose like a flag pole. Billie was still sleeping just in her panties. She truly liked the freedom and the feel of cold on her body in the night. Sucker tasted her nipples and soft breasts till she started to rouse from her slumbers. He felt the soft mound between her legs. She had left most of her bush. She was starting to become wet. Her sweet flesh filled his hand as he caressed her mount. He gently slipped his finger inside till she started to want more. Lifting her fleshy leg, he pushed inside from the side as she continued to snooze. Now his lusty member was starting to stir her strenuously. She began to moan her pleasure. He moved gently. Stirred her deeply.
“Stan, Stan, fuck me Stan. Fuck me. You fuck me so good. You do, you prick, you big prick, Professor Sucker. You suck and you fuck. You fuck me good.” She started to moan. “Oh God, I know you are going to shoot me full of it. You stud. You will give me your fruit. You give me so much of your fruit, Stan.”
Ready for more, she roused and mounted him. She offered her warm morning breasts to his lips as she pleasured herself on his stiff shaft. He cradled her lovely ass in both hands as she worked. He felt her loins quivering as he pierced her deeply again and again, long penetrating strokes, until her climax came. She relaxed on him.
At his side, she smiled her pleasure, grasping his still hard cock in her tender flesh.
Now she had whetted his appetite for more.
“Your prick is still so hard,” she said. “Why didn’t you come, honey?”
“I wanted to make it last. I am going to fuck you, Billie Jo,” he said. “You bitch, I need to fuck you hard. Really hard.”
“Fuck me again, you mean,” she said. “You can fuck me again. Ream me with that big sweet cock of yours. It feels so good inside me.”
Stan slipped out to the side of the bed and asked her to kneel. It was easy to take her piercing her wet morning mound from the rear and driving deep into her womb. He loved to stir up his woman that way.
“Billie Jo, you’re good, you bitch. Your pussy is good. I’ll come, Jesus, Honey, I’ll come, oh God, so good to get you. I’ll fuck you full.”
He banged her hard and felt his loins burst giving her his morning load. He lingered inside her, as his spasms subsided, cherishing her broad round ass in his hands. That heavenly feel of soft velvet. Oh God. What would a man do without a woman? His balls were spent.
“Your pussy is so good, Billie Jo,” he said. “Your cunt takes me down so beautifully. You take all my cum out of my balls to the last drop.”
He lay back down with her for a while, playing with her in bed. Her long firm legs were nice to feel and her ass. When she turned her back to him and he tasted her neck and ears.
“I have a great idea, Sucker, Honey,” she said. “Somehow, I want to call you Sucker, not Professor Sucker. Just Sucker. It will be my nickname for you. Sucker, honey, I just thought of what we can do today.
She was fondling his balls in her hand as his cock started to become stiff again. He felt her squeezing them lovingly.
“You have such nice nuts, my baby. Always making cream for your women. Making all that tasty protein. Why don’t we hit that place on the highway, Willie B’s? I know that one can get a great breakfast there. Not healthy, of course but delicious. And we deserve it after all the work out in bed. Well, sort of a work-out. You prick. You like to work your woman’s pussy up first thing in the morning. But I didn’t mind. It would take me a long time to get tired of your big morning cock. I like to be fucked that way.”
She squeezed his cock. He was still a little hard and now was getting harder.
“Your tool works pretty good. It’s good to meet a younger man. It works pretty good inside my pussy. It works great, actually, you stud. You can be dangerous for a woman. I like you dangerous.”
Stan was thinking how cute she looked. Yes, those wrinkles were cute. Some wrinkles made a woman her age look cute. And then he saw a strand of gray in her hair. He liked her playful nature. A real woman who liked to play.
“Do you want it again, honey?” he asked. He was feeling lusty again.
“Of course,” she said. “It would be hard to do without it now. But not right now, honey. I’m hungry. I have to put something in my stomach. You should too.”
“Come on Sucker. You have worked up my appetite.”
“But my cock doesn’t understand. It is hard as wood,” Sucker said. “What am I supposed to do with it?”
“I’ll take care of it,” she said. “I’ll give him all the pussy he needs, I promise, but not just right now. You can fuck me again later.”
She took his throbbing member in her hand and kissed the red throbbing tip. Then she slipped it into her mouth and pleasured him with her tongue.
“You’re sweet, Honey,” she said. “You are so full of your sweet fruit. I think you’ll make my womb swell with all your juicy fruit. Be a good boy and I’ll take care of you after breakfast. I promise. There is plenty more pussy where that came from.”
They got their clothes on and headed out. Billie Jo slipped into the late model Mercedes and Stan sank into the soft black leather bucket seat. The elegant red car was quickly out of the garage. They sailed out to the highway and to Willie B’s grease joint. There was a parking lot in front. The smell inside was heavenly. All that grease and potatoes, bacon and sausage, toasting bread, real scrambled eggs, and strong coffee. The aroma was mesmerizing whetting one’s appetite.
He liked going there with a woman, an attractive older woman. She made the other men in the place jealous of him, as she displayed her beautiful cleavage and her soft white fruits. She would take care of him, mother him. She was ready to love him too. It was lucky for him.
After eating their fill with several cups of black coffee, they repaired to the car. Stan would have loved to drive the little cherry of a car but she enjoyed the powerful feel too much to turn it over to him. She enjoyed her powerful toy almost as much as she enjoyed the rush of his cock opening her to secret depths. She liked to pour on the juice. She was still young enough to play. He wanted to try the steering wheel of that beautiful cherry, if she would give him the chance.
The sun was now high up and it was a beautiful Indian Summer day with bright blue skies and crisp sunny air. Feeling refreshed from the high octane food, she suggested that they take a trip down to the mounds. The twenty miles was a small jump with the sleek red car.
They cruised down the old curvy highway through young pine forests and an occasional cotton field. They passed through a small town, with run-down houses. Red-neck country. People here were not affluent. The land leveled out. Ahead there was the entrance to a state park.
They pulled up to the gate-house and paid the small fee for entering. The grounds had picnic areas and several ancient Indian burial mounds. It was a nice setting on a beautiful morning. There was a small paved lot for parking. Billie Jo and Stan left the car and walked past Sweetgum trees to the high mound. The steps leading to the top seemed easy enough. She started up and Stan followed watching her cute ass wiggle in her tight jeans as she moved higher. Two thirds of the way up, Stan realized that it was higher than it had seemed. Looking back gave him a definite feeling of acrophobia. Should he go on? He could not stop now. She was marching up higher to the top. Stan girded his stomach and climbed behind her. At the top, they walked out on the grassy flat. It was higher than Stan had realized, giving a panoramic view of the park around. As they stood, he took her hand. He embraced her and kissed her. Those cute age wrinkles were part of her beauty.
“It’s beautiful up here. Don’t you love it?” she said.
The view was nice but he suddenly realized that it would be more difficult going down the long steep steps than it was coming up. He was fine, here on the flat plateau but how would he climb back down from such a height with nothing to hold onto.
He pulled her to him and kissed her lips. He wanted to open her top and taste her tits but it was a public place.
“I’d like to fuck you, Billie Jo,” he told her. “Fuck your pussy right here on top of this burial mound. Your pussy mound is so delicious.”
“You stud, Stan. I wish you could. I would give you my pussy but someone might see us up here. You are getting me hot just thinking of it.”
Looking around, Stan began to get acrophobia.
“This is scary,” he told her. “I think I might have trouble going back down. It is more scary than coming up.”
“Don’t look all the way down.” She said. “That is the key. Just concentrate on the steps in front of you looking straight down. That way, you will not notice the height and you won’t have acrophobia. Just keep your mind on my pussy. My pussy mound.”
Yes, that was the way. But Sucker was basically a chicken when it came to such things. For her, it was fine. She had been climbing up here since she was a small child.
Stan girded up his courage and started down, looking straight down at his feet, and stepping down step by step. He felt his legs tremble from time to time but stayed with it. Then he was half-way down. It was not so hard to look out over the remaining steps. Two-thirds of the way down, it was OK, and he came on down. She was already at the bottom waiting for him.
“You’re a slow poke,” she said. “What took you so long?”
“It is amazing. It is so easy,” he said. “And still it makes me feel scared up there looking down this endless stairway, like it was going all the way up to the stars.”
He didn’t want to climb another mound right away but just walk on the flat ground. They walked on down through the small pines. Then they were in a secluded area. He suddenly wanted to kiss her. He tasted her lips and held her tight. She felt that his cock had hardened in his jeans.
“I would like to fuck you right here,” he said. She was laughing with her eyes.
“I wish you could,” she said. “It would be a nice place to get fucked, to get your cock up me and feel you cream me. I want it too right here in the park.” He remembered the spot where he had fucked her that evening in her woods.
“If I was a little younger, you could knock me up,” she said. “I wish you could but we are a little late. You make me come easily, Sucker. You can be my husband. I like to please you.”
They walked back to the car and headed home for some late lunch. The cold wine mellowed them out.
“Sucker told her that he wanted to suck her cherry for desert.”
The weather had quickly changed in the afternoon. Dark clouds rolled in and it started to rain. Billie Jo went to get another bottle of the sweet red wine. When she returned to the den, she was nude.
“Come with me,” you prick,” she said. “I will show you a secret place.”
Sucker followed her up to the top room of the house, touching the warm buns of her ass from time to time. Sucker slipped his clothes off and made love to her as the rain began to pour down in the thunder and lightning. She mounted him and slid her mellow papaya up and down his rabid shaft. Then she turned around and faced his feet as he had her from the rear.
“You have a beautiful ass,” he told her. “I am going to miss you when your husband gets back.”
“Just fuck me, honey. You’re my husband now.”
He burst into her again giving her a lusty load of his seed. He was indeed lucky that he had met her, he thought. It was the best thing that had happened to him since he got into town.
Chapter Thirteen: Candy
Classes ground on from day to day. Professor Sucker was enjoying them, except for the stress of constantly preparing lectures. Then, there were a couple of times when he simply could not get to sleep and lay away most of the night, knowing that he had to lecture the next morning. Those nights were hell. The only thing that one could do after that was to go to class and give ‘em hell. Lecture like hell, bringing out knowledge that he did not even know that he had. Sometimes those turned out to be his best lectures. It seemed to come from somewhere deeper down, from his soul. When he had to fly it by the seat of his pants, it somehow came out better. And fuck anybody who didn’t agree with him. Even when part of it was bullshit. He knew how to prove that he was right.
There were young coeds in the classes who caught his attention. How could he help noticing those little cute dolls. Not the southern bell types but those who were a little rough around the edges and might be teachable. Those were the ones that caught his attention. They might be capable of learning something. He knew that sometimes these young women would get a crush on their professor and start entertaining fantasies about him. He didn’t know if it was happening in his classes but some of the sexy little fresh beauties came faithfully and displayed their lovely legs in front of him. He tried not to think about them. He could see the burgeoning soft fruits inside their blouses, ready to burst their bounds. Ready to drip with milk, he imagined. What a feast, he imagined, if those young spring flowers could just be his. Maybe those young legs were the gates of hell but he was ready to take the dive if the opportunity somehow presented itself. Man does not live by bread alone. Or even beer. Surely, pussy was the spice of life and even a professor could not ignore those fundamental natural leanings. Especially a professor could not.
It was in an undergraduate class that the cutest ones showed up. The younger ones were more likely to fall for a professor, it seemed, for some unknown reason. Those in graduate school were more restrained. Sometimes they took the material too seriously, it seemed. They didn’t yet get it that it was after all, just another game that is played in life. This was the academic game. To be successful, one needed to know how to play it. Part of it was being able to see through the horse shit but not letting anyone know what was really in one’s mind. In that sense the academic arena was like politics.
What could one conclude about Candy Sweetser? That was what Sucker wondered when he was back in his office. Fecund was the word that came to his mind when he thought of her delicious young tanned legs. That sweet young succulent flesh. She had plenty, just the right amount. She was always there and seemed so interested. An eager young female beaver. He remembered her from the very first day when he had distributed the syllabus for the class. She had sat in the front row, not far from his podium. That little short yellow skirt had left nothing to the imagination when it came to her young beautiful legs. They were tanned from the summer right down to her white running shoes. They were not fat but fleshy, delicious for kissing and squeezing if he had the chance. Her little top, a sort of T-shirt was low cut to show the cleavage between her young firm breasts. A cute face and even freckles. A young child. A child it seemed but at the same time a woman, even if a young woman. One who had bloomed into a delicious soft young piece of tasteful candy. That was Candy. She looked delicious.
She had an intelligent expression on her face. She laughed at his lame jokes that he continued to make. He had to take roll a couple of times to learn the names of those young beauties like Candy. How else was he to know their names?
When he had handed her the syllabus, her tanned young legs had been spread apart slightly, giving him a fleeting glimpse up between her legs. That little strip of red, her panties for sure, he feared had perhaps made him blush, but he quickly moved on to discussing what they would do in the class. Thankfully his thickening cock had behaved, retreating back to its socially prescribed mode. It would have to wait.
The second week, he was in his office, relaxing after the lecture. He heard a knock on his door. It was his office hour for the day. He said “come on in” and saw her cute childish freckled face appear before him. A child but there was the promise of a beautiful woman in her young face.
“Hi Professor Sucker,” she said. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Most certainly,” Sucker said, trying to sound professorial and professional at the same time. “I am here for that purpose, he lied.”
“I am reading the book,” she said, referring to one of the texts he had assigned on US foreign policy. “What the book says is different from what we learned in high school. I always believed that what the US did in the world was good. But the writer is always criticizing the country. Do you think he is right?”
“Well, that’s what we have to discuss,” Sucker said. “I don’t necessarily agree with everything in those books but we have to think about it. The university classes are not like high school. You should think about it. You are a student. Question everything.”
He wasn’t sure if it was the truth that she was actually seeking. For him, he had given up on that long ago. It was not worth the shot. And anyway, it got one into trouble in life. Maybe she had the hots for him.
Sucker’s eyes were fleeting back and forth from her young face to the bulging tanned flesh of her young breasts. All that firm flesh and lovely cleavage at her young age was just marvelous and his cock was struggling to maintain its equilibrium in his trousers. He imagined running his tongue down the shiny flesh of her tanned thigh and finding a succulent juicy morsel of fruit somewhere out of his sight.
“My father would kill me if I told him what I am learning in your class,” Candy said. “He was in Vietnam and he just loves the military. He is so patriotic.”
“Well, that’s why there are universities,” Sucker lied. He knew it was not the reason but what the hell. “We have to search more deeply into these questions if we are really going to be students.”
Somehow searching more deeply rang a bell in his mind with that juicy package of young flesh in front of his desk.
He thought it would be delightful to search deeply into her young body if he could just slip off her scanty threads. That should not be very difficult. There was so much of her and so little of her scanty clothes. That should be against the law, he reflected. These universities are too free for these young women. He loved it.
Suddenly, she uncrossed her legs. He had the shot once again of those panties up under her skirt. Today they were pink.
“At first, I was surprised at what the writer was saying,” she pressed on. “But when you explain it in class, I can start to see that it makes a lot of sense.”
“Yes, I hope so,” Sucker said. Actually he didn’t give a shit. What he actually hoped was to seduce her and squeeze her young fecund body.
“Don’t accept everything you read at face value. Learning to think critically is part of being a real student. Learn to probe deeply.”
“Thanks, Professor,” she said. “I want you to know that I really like” she hesitated momentarily, “really like you… that is, your class. It is different from my other classes. And I like the way you make me think. It is interesting.”
Oh to be young and naïve, Sucker thought. She was such a juicy piece of candy. Interesting, my ass. What was she really looking for besides a grade.
“Well, read it and then ask me anything you don’t understand,” he invited. “I am here almost every day. That’s what my office hours are for.”
It was a lie, but what the hell?
She was the only one who came to his office hour that day. Did she come about the material but because she was getting a crush on him? He would like to find out.
A couple of weeks later, the President, Ronald Reagan, had sent the troops to invade Nicaragua. Sucker could see that it was a good opportunity to illustrate US foreign policy. But, of course, he knew that most students in the class would be solidly behind the US action. Rather stupidly, he figured. They would not really be willing to question something the US military was doing. Not when all the TV programs were rah rah all the way cheering the troops on to victory.
One of the students who was from more liberal Berkeley and was a radical of sorts had helped organize a protest against the US action. It would be a rare event on the conservative Sewanee campus. It had not happened for fourteen years. But there were a few students who leaned toward being renegades. The student, John, came to his office and asked if he would come to the protest rally. Sucker was glad that they had thought of him and asked him. So he agreed to come and give them support. He risked becoming the Noam Chomsky of the campus. But then, he had to show that he was not just shooting shit in his classes. He really did believe in taking a stand, however risky.
To go to the rally, was certainly not a wise thing for a professor to do on a conservative campus like Sewanee. He was certain that none of his colleagues would have risked turning up there. They wouldn’t dare. But anyway, he only had a one-year position. He was not going for the long haul. As far as the principle goes, if there was to be any academic freedom, then he most certainly had a right to attend the protest, whether or not he supported it.
At noon, Sucker appeared at the rally. There were more students than he expected, perhaps thirty. Other students gawked at the small crowd as they walked past. But it was a small sample on a large campus. It most certainly was not a popular event on campus. The most likely result was going to be to get his ass in hot water. The students had little to lose. The two students who had organized the rally gave speeches saying that the US should stay out of Central America and stop supporting dictators there. It was time for a change.
A heckler showed up, who looked like he might be a faculty member, or perhaps someone the FBI had sent to survey what was going on. He started saying:
“OK, you want Americans out of Central America? Why don’t you demand that the Cubans get out? Why don’t you demand that the Russians get out?”
Some of the demonstrators said, “Yes we agree with you. That would be a great idea.” Another student said, “I don’t pay my taxes to Cuba but to Washington.” The heckler then shut up because he had no one to argue with.
Sucker wasn’t sure but he thought he might have been the only faculty member there. He should have been happy to see a couple of people from the campus newspaper, one with a large camera around his neck. Knowing the actual situation, however, he thought maybe he might have stepped royally on his dick. This could be his Waterloo. The young guy with a small note pad, seeing someone with a tie and a beard who appeared to be a professor, headed straight toward him. The other guy aimed the camera and started taking pictures of him with the stone columns in the background.
The interview started. He was written down in the reporter’s notebook as Assistant Professor Stan Sucker from the Political Science Department. He was asked whether he supported the US invasion of Nicaragua to crush the Communist aggression of the Sandinistas.
“Why don’t you take my class, you foolish young twerp?” Sucker wanted to say. How could one explain the history of US imperialism in one sentence, short enough to fit into their small write up that was certain to appear the next day?
“No I don’t support the invasion,” Sucker confessed. “I don’t think it has anything to do with Communist aggression. The US just does not like the policies of the Sandinistas because they cut the profits of US corporations down there. Politics in Central America has been controlled by the US for more than a century. The real problem is that now there is too much people’s democracy and this hurts the rich who have controlled the country in the past.”
“What do you mean too much democracy,” Professor? “We know that the US has invaded the country to restore democracy after the Sandinista dictatorship.”
“If you know that, you fucking idiot, then why are you talking to me?” Sucker wanted to say.
“Well, if you know the history of the country, then you will understand that there was never any democracy under Anastasio Samoza, the dictator that the US installed decades ago,” Sucker said.
All these facts had confused the mind of the reporter but he decided that he had enough dope on the professor to label him a pinko-communist and so the job was done that he was sent to do. Sucker was sure that he had cooked his goose. Another day, another fuck up.
As the reporters moved away, he saw Candy coming toward him. “That was great the way you explained it,” she said. “Now people will understand it better when it comes out in the campus paper.”
Sucker wished it was true. But he was sure that the only thing they would understand was that there was a commie teaching in the political science department.
The cold air had put color into Candy’s young face. She was glowing with vitality. Sucker was suddenly in love with her. He just didn’t give a shit what others thought. He wanted to take a chance. He could see her firm breasts inside her T-shirt under her coat. He could see her robust pink nipples popping out. God, he wanted to rip off his stupid tie and drink a beer.
When the rally broke up, Sucker asked her to come to the Student Union with him for a coffee. As they were walking, he had a different idea. He saw those lovely young breasts bouncing inside her T-shirt. It was now getting late in the afternoon. He had gone once to an old pub, the Heidelberg in the old part of town.
“Candy, I am getting so hungry. Would you like to come with me to the Heidelberg for a late lunch? I know they have great sandwiches there. I would love to buy you lunch.”
“Oh, I ate before,” she said, “But I am hungry again. Sure I would like to come with you.”
They exited off campus to an old part of the town. Down a narrow lane. It was in a back street. The houses were old. It was almost like Europe.
“Jesus, Candy,” he said. She was surprised to hear him cursing with the name of Jesus but sort of liked it. It was irreverent. She was learning. “Candy, you know something. I wish like fuck that we were not in this fucking southern state of Sewanee. I wish we were really in an old town in Europe and getting lost in some ancient streets in an ancient town and the hell with the rest of the world. I would just enjoy seeing your beautiful young face and spending the whole evening that way. And then we would kiss. And we could be happy.”
Candy had never been to Europe but got the idea.
“Oh, that would be neat. Sure,” she said, “I would like that too. I want to go to Europe. I wish I could go with you.”
Sucker suddenly took her hand and pulled her close. It was just an impulse. He touched her young firm body.
“You are so nice,” he said suddenly. “Did you know that you are beautiful?”
“You are nice too, Professor,” she said, a little surprised.
“Tell you what,” Sucker said. “Today you don’t have to call me professor. We are just friends. You can call me Stan or just Sucker, if you want. Some people just call me sucker. Maybe that’s what I am.”
He stripped his tie off and put it inside his coat pocket. The hell with that thing, he thought. I am on leave from being a professor for the rest of the day.
They had reached the beautiful rustic door of the old joint. It was very Germanic inside. A great atmosphere. They slipped into one of the old heavy dark wooden booths along the walls. The fading light was seeping through the stained glass windows. Students were sitting around talking and drinking large pitchers of beer and smoking. There was a cozy feel and Sucker loved being there with her, as if he was once again a student and fuck it. One would not have known that this was Sewanee State.
“Fuck it. I am going to drink a draft beer,” Sucker said. “After that rally and interview I really feel like it. And I’ll have a sandwich. They make great ones here.”
Candy enjoyed hearing him say “fuck it.” He was teaching her how to be irreverent. And he could explain a lot of things to her in a simple way.
“Oh, yeah, I want a beer too,” Candy said. “Officially I am not old enough to have it in this state. But they don’t usually ask for an ID in this place. If they do, I have a fake one that says I am twenty-one. If they don’t give it to me, maybe I can drink some of yours. Fuck it.”
“I like saying fuck it, like you say it,” she said. “Jesus Christ, fuck it.”
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Sucker corrected her.
“That’s better,” she laughed. “You are so sacrilegious.”
“My religion,” Sucker said.
“Can I tell you something,” she said.
“Sure, tell me anything.”
“I think some of the professors over there in political science really suck,” she said. “Some of them are jerks. But there are some like you that I like. You make me feel free.”
When the waitress came around, they ordered the beers. It was such a delicious brew and hit Sucker right in the gut to start his little pleasing buzz. They clicked their big mugs together and drank the pleasing bubbly. Stan was looking into her sweet young face and starting to love her. He didn’t know when or how but he knew that he was going to taste those sweet young lips. He was going to taste those budding ripe peaches. She was in his class but what the hell. Now this was a different dimension. They would worry about that later. It would work out.
When the food came, they tied into the sandwiches.
“Oh this is great,” Sucker said. “That food on campus sucks.”
“Mine too is delicious,” Candy said. “I’m always hungry.”
“Sucker, are you married?” she suddenly wanted to know.
“Not for the present purposes,” he said. “Officially, yes. But my wife and kids are in California way out on the coast. I came here for the job. So in the present state of living, I can’t really say I am married in practice. In my situation, it is rather an existential question,” he said.
“Oh, I don’t understand that existential business,” she said. “What does it mean?”
“The way it is right now, in practice,” he said. “I cannot live a married life with my wife two thousand fucking miles away. Anyway, I would need a pretty long prick.”
“Oh yes, in that case there would not be much fucking going on, she said, using Sucker’s language. I get it now,” she laughed. The beer was starting to hit her.
“It doesn’t matter. I just wondered,” she said. She had always thought it mattered. “I like you. I really like you more than you know.” She looked at him innocently.
Sucker could see her young breasts bulging from her low-cut top. He could have moved his lips forward and tasted them right at that moment. He wanted to fill his mouth with that sweet treat. With Candy Sweetser.
They ordered a second round of beer. Two beers are going to be enough for her, Sucker thought. And then after that what? I think I’ve bought the farm with this kid today. Kismet, probably. There was no avoiding it.
Two more beers came quickly.
“Here’s to you again.” And to you. They started tugging away on the second mug. Sucker felt like he could keep downing the delicious brew into eternity. Early illusive stages of getting drunk.
“I really like beer,” Candy said. “You probably saw that already.”
“You have the makings of a serious student, in that case,” Sucker said. “Maybe even an intellectual. But man does not live by beer alone, or woman, or students or professors.”
He saw a puzzled look on her face, wondering what it meant.
They finished their food. The waitress collected the plates.
“Your hair is beautiful,” Sucker said. “I always notice it in class. It is so thick and shiny. ”
“Oh, I am thinking to cut it,” she said. “I spend so much time taking care of it. It takes a lot of my time.”
“Please don’t” Sucker said. “I love it. I want to feel it. Can I?”
“Sure,” she said. She pulled her thick plait to her front. It rested on her bulging breast. Stan felt it with his hand. As he did, his fingers brushed against the velvet flesh of her warm young breast. He felt a serious tickle in his balls. He didn’t remove them at once. She bent forward so he could feel her thick plait.
“It feels so soft and thick. I love the feel.” Their faces were close together across the old worn table. Suddenly her lips brushed his as she turned her head. She brought them back and he pressed his lips to hers.
“You are sweet, Candy, Sweet Sweetser,” Sucker said.
He could see the beer in her glossy eyes.
“You are sweet too, Sucker, Stan. Sucker, I love you.” She took his hand and squeezed it. He kissed her again, this time longer. She tasted his tongue feverishly.
“Come over to my side,” Sucker said. “Sit next to me.”
She came over and sat beside him. He squeezed her warm young body next to him. Discreetly, he touched her hair, her neck. He discreetly pressed his hand quickly to her buxom breast.
She didn’t know if he would mind but touched his leg. Sucker took her hand and moved it closer to his crotch, pressing it to his leg. She kept it there. Sucker wondered if she had felt his arousal.
When they finished their beer, it was pitch black outside. But the night was still young. Now they were practically lovers. Half drunk. They did not want to go home at once. He had laid the way to get her into bed but it was way too early. Maybe she needed to be a little farther out of it for that.
“Let’s go somewhere else. Somewhere we can dance,” Sucker said. They asked a taxi driver to take them to a place where there was a country band and a dance floor. She was young enough to be his daughter but he didn’t care. He loved her now. She was his little delightful friend. There was a place frequented by make-believe cowboys, mostly rednecks just on the edge of town. They drank more beer and danced till closing time.
It was midnight when Sucker took her back in his car to his apartment. It was his first night with one of his students. And he was sure that she was going to get an A in his class.
Chapter Fourteen: Crimson White
Sucker dropped Candy off at her apartment on his way to the university. It had been a refreshing night. Now they knew each other much better, even in a Biblical sense. Fortunately his class was in the afternoon, so he would not have to teach while hung over. He would be able to spring back to normal by that time.
He had to get some lunch and the handiest place was the cafeteria over in the Union. On the way, he picked up the campus newspaper. A little tabloid. Most of the news revolved around football. He braced himself for what that reporter might have said about him at that protest rally.
He opened it up and saw his picture at the top of the front page. He looked quite professorial and serious as shit. Under it was the headline in bold. “Leftist Professor Says the US Wrong to Stop Communism in Nicaragua.”
And then in smaller bold type:
“Sewanee State University Professor Stan Sucker has told the Crimson White that the US should allow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua to continue their Leftist rule of the country. The US has no right to invade the country to restore democracy to the people. Sucker is a professor who teaches about American Foreign Policy in the Department of Political Science on the Magnolia Campus. He joined a group of students protesting US military intervention to defend Freedom in the Central American nation.”
What the fuck? Sucker thought. “I’ll be fucked if I said that. It has nothing to do with what I said.”
It didn’t matter. The paper said that he had said it, and so that settled it. He had said it for all practical and legal purposes. It was now part of the record. He was cheering for Communism in Nicaragua. He read on. Everything he said had been turned completely upside down. Those fucking bastards! This was what they called the “free press.” Sure, free to spread fucking lies about anyone who did not ape the US party line.
“Now I am really fucked,” Sucker thought.
After lunch, in which he tried to digest the article along with his food, he walked back to the department in a rather dejected mood. He had fought for what he thought was right but they had given him a dirty body blow below the belt. This write-up was just an outright lie and distortion of what he said.
On the way to his office, he encountered a couple of colleagues, who suddenly turned aside, avoiding him. He knew that he was going to be lonesome in his office that day. Maybe for a long time. He would be the black sheep of the department. Hell, the black sheep of the whole Goddamned campus. He was now officially a Communist.
The article had given him heartburn. He figured that he was going to be red baited but this was worse than he had expected. This was a smear. A hack job that he really did not expect. It was completely unfair. But the damage had been done. Even if he could reply to the article and get his letter printed, few would bother to read the letter or understand it. The headline and picture would stand. Who would believe a communist anyway?
At two, he went down to his international relations class. At least half the class was missing. He hated to see all the empty seats. Were the students now starting to boycott his classes too? The students who came to class seemed to look at him a little suspiciously. Were they thinking: “Now, I know what a communist looks like. There is one standing right in front of me. He has a beard and is always criticizing the United States. When has he ever said anything good about America? He talks like a duck, quacks like a duck, must be a duck. A communist type duck. Look at those eyes. Look at that nose. A communist sure as fuck. Look at that fake neck tie. He is just trying to fool us. Make us think he is really a professor.”
That must have been what they were thinking. They would probably remark to their parents when they went home for the holidays, “We have a communist right in our university who is teaching political science. I know he is because there was an article in the newspaper that said he liked communism in Nicaragua. I was in his class and he never said anything good about the US. You should have heard some of the things he said. He is from California too. But some students think that he might actually be from India because he is always talking about India. He even says some good things about India but never anything good about the US. It is really unbelievable. How did he get to teach in our university? They should throw him out.”
And the parents would think that America, and even their state of Sewanee, was going down the tubes, going to hell in a hand basket. America was being torn down. Torn down from the inside by these Godless communists infesting these universities. Something had to be done to stop it and stop the Godless communists from taking over the country. It was proof enough that these universities were evil. And wasting their tax dollars. They might start to regret that they had let their children go there. And besides that, they had to pay the tuition which just went into the pockets of these commie pinko professors who were overpaid and under worked. Those at the top were protecting these reds on campus. They must be a little pink too. It was truly an outrage. They shouldn’t let them bring these people from a state like California to teach in their state. They would likely start to get riled up over it. The American soldiers were risking their lives to bring democracy to countries around the world, defending freedom, when there were communists right here inside the US teaching their own children. They ought to be drafted right into the military.
Sucker thought that it was probably a good thing that his job here was going to end just after the first year. There was no freedom in this society and to exercise academic freedom was deadly to one’s career, if not one’s life.
The lesson that day was on the US approach to Russia, or rather the Soviet Union. Most students did not make any distinction in their minds between the two. Sucker had prepared the class but decided it would be good to let the students express their points of view. In any event, they had only ever been exposed to the US point of view and that was mostly all that one found in the textbook. That was probably why it was so widely used.
The standard view was simple and self-serving. After the Second World War, the US wanted to keep Europe free for democracy. But Joseph Stalin had clamped the totalitarian Soviet system of Communism upon Eastern Europe. It was because of this that Europe was divided by an Iron Curtain. All those living on the east side were enslaved by the commissars in the Soviet Union and their henchmen in Eastern Europe. This was the beginning of the Cold War. The US was the good guys who wanted freedom and democracy and they were the bad guys who wanted to keep their people in darkness and slavery. The US had a global mission to wipe out Communism and prevent it from spreading to the rest of the world. Clearly the Americans were the good guys and the whole world would be peaceful and prosperous if the evil of Communism could just be wiped out. Everyone would be fat and happy if the whole world was run by the capitalists. This was really a sum-sum game where everybody won when capitalism was the only system.
All of this was clear enough and it was what the American students had been force-fed all of their lives. Sucker wanted them to think about the reality. Think about Europe. The Soviet Union had made many sacrifices in the War. More than twenty million Russians killed. After the war, the US took over politics in Western Europe and used the CIA to ensure that only pro-capitalist and pro-US political parties came to power. The Soviet Union was just doing a similar act in Eastern Europe to ensure that the states there were socialist. In the third world, both the US and the Soviet Union carried out propaganda to encourage the countries to follow capitalism or socialism. Socialism was actually more popular in many poor countries around the world with poor people. Capitalism was not providing them with the good life when they lived on less than a dollar a day. Socialism was no threat to the masses of the world,
Sucker toiled to make them see that the question was not a simple matter of slavery versus freedom. They should explore the issue.
“Yes, he sure as hell is a communist,” some of the students were surely thinking.
Sucker paused his lecture to wait for questions or comments.
“Then if Russia is so great, why do people want to get out of that country and come to America? one student asked. “You don’t see Americans trying to go and live in Russia.
The students actually had little idea of how things really were in Russia. But they thought they knew because they believed everything they had been told in high school.
“Yes, that’s a good point,” Sucker said. He wanted to encourage discussion. “Any other ideas about that?”
“They want to come to America to be free,” another student piped up. “Who wants to live as a slave and they can’t even vote in Russia? There is no freedom, no free press either.”
“I wonder how many people there actually feel like they are slaves,” Sucker pointed out. Do we really know? A lot of Russians think that workers under capitalism are not better than slaves and there is not a good system of social welfare in the US. And it is not just Russia. People from democratic countries like India and many other countries are busting their gut to come to America. So maybe it is not really communism that is the problem. The US has created an image around the world. Capitalism is seen as glorious. These images of the rich and glamorous life have been promoted by Hollywood around the world. Socialism is seen as slavery under a totalitarian system.”
“The United States is the freest and best country in the world,” Another student piped up. “We have the highest lifestyle. Under capitalism people are free to get rich. Or to get a good job and work. They are free to say what they want. So of course people want to come here and be free. If you work hard in the US you will get rich. So many people have become rich.”
“We have a free press,” another student said. “We can read the truth in our newspapers here, not propaganda and lies, like in Russia,” another student said.
“I read in the paper today that you are a Communist,” another student chimed in. “I think the Crimson White is telling the truth. Because some of the things you says seems like what a communist would say. That shows we have a free press in America.”
“Right,” thought Sucker. “These are the students who actually came to class. Imagine the students who have boycotted the class today. What would they say?”
Sucker struggled on.
“Do you really think that everything you read in the newspapers is true?” Sucker asked them.
“Yes, I think it’s true,” a student said. Because if it wasn’t true, people would not buy the newspapers. It is a free market in America. You do not have to buy the paper. In Russia there is only one paper with the party line. It is not really free. People pay for it one way or another.”
It went on. Sucker had clearly lost the argument. He was a Communist and Russia was just an evil empire like Ronald Reagan had made them believe. Everything was good about America and every fucking thing was rotten about Russia and Communism. Capitalism was great, the greatest thing ever invented. If a country wanted to be free, it must be capitalist. The market gave people freedom. They were no longer slaves. They were free to work and do whatever they wanted to do. And those who worked hard got rich. They had political freedom because there were two political parties and they had a choice of voting for the candidate of their choice. Everything one read in the newspapers was obviously true. The students had taken over the class. They were teaching the facts about the world to Sucker.
Sucker let them go on pounding him with hard punches as their inane and stupid comments bounced off his head. They kept saying the same things, as if in an echo chamber. The same stupid things that were said over and over about America in a mindless smog. His head was ringing by the end of the class. He was being brainwashed by these stupid young idiots.
Sucker finished his class and dragged his tired body and mind back up to his office. He suddenly remembered that he would love to have some chocolate ice cream to eat in the evening. He would have to hit that horrid Winn Dixie for that. Then if he ate too much, he would not be able to sleep. Fuck.
Sucker went home to a depressing evening. It had been a hard day, but he had to buck up for another lecture tomorrow morning. He would have liked a glass or two of wine but could not have it tonight. He wondered if he would see his little playmate Candy in the class the next day.
Suddenly, he needed a beer. Being a professor here could be a hard struggle. But he would journey on. Onwards and upwards. What he really needed was more candy. Would she still be his friend if she had seen the article claiming that he was a Communist? Had he turned her into an irreverent student, planting doubts in her mind?
Chapter Fifteen: Barber Shop
On the way home from classes, Assistant Professor Sucker stopped off to get a haircut. He had been putting it off but finally decided it would be good to face the music. He had been able to get the barbers to do a fairly good job so that he would not come out with the standard military short cropping job that was pretty much the standard in Sewanee. Still, it was a distasteful chore to go there and get his hair trimmed up. It immersed him in the local culture. He was like a sheep driven into the sheep dip of the local prevailing idiocy of the Sewaneeian nation.
Trapped in a barber chair in that small shopping center, he would be brutally exposed to the local society. He was right smack dab in the middle of it. Whatever came, came. He would just have to endure it. A Yankee, like him, had absolutely no defense, or better not have. He would not utter a sound, no matter how much the conversation grated on his nerves.
He sat and listened to the drivel, whatever came out. A middle aged woman was sitting in the shop when the barber was ready for him. He was the only customer in the shop and climbed up into the chair as if he had been a specimen of a Yankee on display in the courtroom so everyone could get an idea of what one looked like. If they had seen that campus rag, they might recognize him as the campus commie. He felt silly, even stupid, as the barber started to buzz some of the stray hairs at the back of his head.
“Do ya watch the show Zulu?” the woman said.
“Whazzat?” the barber asked.
“Ya doughno whaya that is, as much as its advertaized?”
The other barber, now idle, was sleeping in the other barber chair. As he opened his eyes and wrenched his fat lazy body around, he said
“I doughnno. Souyunds like sum kinda niggah stuff taa me.”
“Ya gottit buddy,” Stan’s barber barked.
“Is this what I am missing by spending most of my time preparing lectures and trying to educate myself,” Sucker thought to himself. “If this mindset is par for the course, I am lucky if the students in this university don’t hang me. Maybe, I better back off and be a little more cautious with them. This is probably what they have heard all their lives at home.”
“Do ya watch the Oprey Winfry Show?” another person in the shop said.
“Not any mowya,” the lazing barber said.
Sucker’s barber barked again. “Opy, Opy. Thazz whadit shood beeya.”
It seemed like petty and jealous behavior to Sucker. “What have they done to improve themselves?” Sucker thought.
The fat barber had again fallen asleep in the other chair and was snoring. No one took any notice of it. It was normal.
Sucker reflected on how he was pressed for time and barely managed to get enough sleep most nights from using every available hour to prepare his lectures. “I could use some of their extra time,” he thought. “But they are much better off than me financially.” It was a fairly small town, but people usually came regularly to get their hair cut. It was almost like a patriotic duty. So the income of the barbers was ensured just by the local military hair-cut standards.
Sucker could hear the other barber snoring in the other chair as the racist comments continued to go around.
“Oh God, give me strength to endure this,” Sucker thought. “Why do I have to put up with these ignorant sons of bitches in this southern corner of the world? How did I manage to land my ass in this backward place, anyhow? It was far from Santa Barbara. Light years,” he reflected. “Oh Jesus, give me California.” It suddenly appeared to him as a haven of sanity in America.
When the job was done, he paid his ten bucks and thanked the barber. He was a customer. That was all. He would be a nice guy. He would need the guy again just to get through the job. He might have to go to an interview. There was no way that he was going to make any comment that would likely piss a southern redneck off, even if relatively innocuous. It would be sticking his head into a hornet’s nest.
The barber seemed to be pleased that he and his friends had bent his tender Yankee ears with their racist crap. He was sort of glowing after enjoying his bullying and ignorant tirade. This was drivel of the worst sort, the southern racist variety. They were genuinely stupid. And they were proud of it. Putting down others was a way of not coming to grips with their ignorance. A self-defense mechanism, Sucker reflected. Better to leave them in their dream world. They were relatively harmless in that society.
It was drizzling rain and threatening to snow as Sucker settled down and prepared his lecture in the evening. The snow would not likely amount to much but it would make the town difficult, as no one was prepared to drive in the snow. The stupid remarks he had heard kept going over in his head like a broken record. It bothered him to think that such lazy and ignorant people were actually thriving in this society. They did not have to bust their asses night and day just to survive. This was just not fair. But, then the world was not fair.
The hot burning topic at the time was the issue of whether to keep the Confederate Flag flying at the state capitol building. There was no real issue for most, who were perfectly happy to see the Confederate flag continue to wave there. However, a Black group, along with some others, wanted it taken down as they saw it as a racist banner of the old South. For Sucker, he saw it as a symbol of the racism which continued to thrive in the minds of state officials and ordinary citizens alike. So taking it down, would actually not change the actual situation one whit. Racism would still continue to exist, flag or no flag. The politically astute thing to do would be to take it down. This would just be window dressing, as the racism would continue but it would be a little more subtle. Nevertheless, it was a volatile, a hot-button issue in the South. Southerners welcomed a good fight. They seemed to like to fight just about more than anything else. And they loved being stubborn. Unfortunately, they generally fought for useless causes, as far as Sucker could tell.
In some other southern states, the state flag actually contained a depiction of the old Confederate Flag. In fact, Sewanee’s state flag was almost the same as the Confederate Flag. It was clear that it was a popular banner. Put to a referendum in the state, the Confederate Flag would win hands down. It was just another southern trait that made Yankees like Stan Sucker shake their heads in disbelief. There was no getting around these traditional strong strands in southern society. They were going to go on, no matter what happened. They would tie their stupid racism to the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Bible. He wanted to remind them that if Jesus had shown up in Sewanee, he would have been classified as a nigger and maybe even hung. That truth probably had too many moving parts for the average southerner to grasp. So better just not try to explain it. Examining the contradictions in their thought patterns was not a southern specialty, to understate.
Late in the evening, he finished writing his lecture. He would get up early and go over it in the morning. He felt the need to be with a woman. He would like to go to bed with a woman. The woman he sat next to on the train coming from Tucson came into his mind. She was a pretty woman with large sexy eyes. She was shapely too, with a nice figure. She had good-looking tight breasts. She was uneducated, to be sure, with no real ideas in her head. Her political consciousness was nearly zero, as far as Stan could tell. But what the fuck? Who cared? She was friendly and was nice to him. He marveled at the large gaudy rings on her fingers. Stan had been in the window seat and she was next to the aisle. She didn’t mind Stan’s company and they got along well together. They told each other about themselves. In the night, as the train moved on across Arizona and Texas, Stan slept, mostly facing the window, covering himself with a blanket. She slept underneath her coat, with her nice butt toward Stan and pressed on him from time to time. Stan enjoyed the feeling and wanted to touch her but restrained himself. He thought that she must be rather used to making friends with strange men. He would not try to move in on her.
He heard the sleet coming down outside the glass doors to the terrace and wondered if the roads were going to get slick. That woman, he still remembered. Her big eyes. They were very nice eyes and she had a nice smile. Stan had liked the olive tone of her skin, with a slight brownish tint. She told him that she was part Syrian. Some of her ancestors had come from Syria and settled in Louisiana, down in Cajun country. She was married, but her husband was out in Arizona doing a construction job. “I just can’t live out there,” she told Stan. He thought it might be an opportunity to get together with her but then realized that there would be no way with all the things that he had to do. She lived over in the next state. All of his time was going to be taken up by the university, teaching, job interviews and so on. She said goodbye and left the train just before they reached New Orleans. But her big beautiful eyes had left a sort of blister on Sucker’s heart. Too bad that he had to see her go. She had told him her name and now he remembered it. Yes, it was Anita. He remembered it now. He wished that he had gotten her address and telephone number. He was such a fool in that way. He went on spending his nights in his lonely way. He felt lonely with the seat next to him empty as the train moved on.
On Friday evening, he stopped his reading late in the evening and wrote down some thoughts in his journal.
“I must confess that I don’t understand narrow minds. I don’t understand religious idiots or patriots. I don’t understand how anyone who knows anything about Karl Marx could think that anything he wrote was of any threat except to the greedy and those who need to be threatened. I don’t understand why anyone would want to be a bastard by putting themselves on the side of the slime-ball bankers, despots, and oligarchs and fascists of the world. When one travels, their mind has to travel too, or one just as well stay at home. I have known a lot of people who traveled and didn’t learn a blessed thing. They probably came back home more ignorant than before. The military is full of those idiots. Others stay home and have an insightful social consciousness. The military is a sinkhole, a bottomless pit for the mind. But I went through it with a developing social consciousness. There are some military guys who are exceptions.
“There is essentially no national political debate in this country. It is on such an imbecile level. Such an asinine framing of the questions that no one gets down to the essentials. Such a joke. So irrelevant. Look at the burning issues! Pat Robertson is running around talking about morality. He thinks that capitalist entrepreneurship is going to develop the world. Christ, it is wiping out thousands of lives from starvation daily. Every year, twice the number of people die of starvation as were killed by the atom bomb in Hiroshima. Most of those can be attributed to greed. Not all of the greedy are capitalists, but many of them are and the capitalists have the most power. Take one capitalist with no social consciousness, the type that gravitate to the top of society, and you will see how callous rich they are. They can make any number of decisions and kill many with their deadly dogma that liberalism works best for all. It sure did in Bhopal! These are the people who think that they shall inherit the earth at the demise of the nation-state and usher in the millennium. Then we’ll all go to hell.
TV preachers like Pat Robertson were starting to get on his nerves.
“Pat Robertson’s trivial little ideas about morality, well, is just a gimmick, a packaging very cleverly for marketing. After all, he is an entrepreneur. He has been raking in all that dough as a TV preacher, because that was where the money was. Now that he thinks that he might have a chance to become President, he wants to package himself as a “religious broadcaster.” He prances around with a silly country grin. He perhaps thinks that the TV preacher image is risqué now that Jim Baker got caught sleeping with his secretary. Now that secretary is rolling in the dough, posing nude for playboy and other skin magazines. One cannot walk through a supermarket checkout stand without seeing a shot of her bare breasts.
“Yet, it doesn’t seem that people learn much. If people were smart, they wouldn’t keep up buying that idiotic shit. These clowns are up there pulling the strings, such as Bob Dole, George Bush, and all the other jokers. People are ogling and salivating, making fools of them-self. They are being jerked around. If people would ignore these clowns they would have to go home and stop their treacherous acts. That’s the only thing that could collapse this predatory system. But I suspect that the salivating will continue. It’s just the political super-bowl. But it is the people who are getting creamed.
Chapter Sixteen: Seeking Truth
The new semester had started and Stan Sucker’s classes were just getting underway. He felt good about the new classes and like the fool that he was, spent all his time digging up new material for the lessons. He was going to teach the classes so well that no one could question him. At least he was going to understand the hell out of the material, whether the students did or not. In general, he was going to tell the students the truth about the world that he was, in some cases, just discovering himself. In fact, graduate school had not really prepared him to get to the bottom of topics like American foreign policy.
Stan, like the fool that he was, was seeking truth. That this was not the proper way to teach a class, especially at Sewanee, had escaped him. He imagined those who came to drink in his lectures as those who should thirst for knowledge and want to know the truth. In the event, they wanted nothing of the sort. What they wanted to hear was the myth that they had been hearing all their lives and that made them feel good and proud about their country. As for seeking the truth, that was something different altogether.
Sucker was a veritable Socrates creating new gods. He was on dangerous ground. Not only did this risk alienating the students, who did not want to hear it. It would also grate on the nerves of almost all of the professors in the department and ultimately militate against him. How would the department be interested in keeping such a person around? It was a steep climb up to being a Noam Chomsky, and one took serious risks of falling by the wayside. In fact, most who took this route did fall by the wayside.
On a Friday on a pleasant day in January, Stan went with a young professor to have lunch over in the student union. Marla Candler was essentially an Americanist, like many professors in the United States and had never studied much about other systems of government. While teaching the American courses, it all also fell to her, by default to teach some classes in theory. She had been teaching in the same department for the last ten years, so Stan figured that she would have her courses pretty well scoped out by now and would have gotten to the bottom of the material.
Over a light lunch, Stan fell to talking with her about the classes. She began to describe to Stan how she taught her students about democracy. She told them that American democracy was “western” democracy and that Communism, in the Soviet Union, was “eastern” democracy.
“Well, of course, essentially, they are actually both western approaches,” Stan said.
“How is that?” she said. “Doesn’t the idea of democracy come from the Greeks, which is western?”
“Well, yes, but the classical thinkers, Plato and Aristotle, took a very dim view of democracy. For them, it was just mob rule.”
“Oh my!” Marla said. “That’s not what I have been telling my students.”
“In The Republic,” Stan continued, the democratic form of rule is associated with the rule of the appetitive element in the soul. That element rules in the common people. Democracy signifies that those ruled by the selfish element of the soul have come to power. This is the essence of mob rule.”
Marla looked very perplexed.
“Well, Marx doesn’t come from that, does he?” she asked.
“Oh yes,” Stan said. “One can trace Marx’s ideas right back to the Greeks through Hegel. That’s all within the Western tradition.”
“Oh my,” Marla said, quite shocked.
“Well, what you told them wouldn’t confuse them,” Stan said, to make her feel better. “The ideas about representative democracy do go back to the Greeks. But the major thinkers, Plato and Aristotle, had a rather dim view of it.”
Marla was very worried that she had taught her students the wrong thing.
“Well, I only had one course in theory,” she said.
Stan realized that she was quite adrift in her notions about political theory.
Stan suggested a couple of books that she might read that should help straighten out these ideas.
Stan realized that he had a better knowledge of political theory than most, having his background and having read a lot of Marx, as well as the classical thinkers in his seminars. One can look at the two traditions in Western political thinking on democracy,” Stan said. One stream comes from Jean Jacques Rousseau and one from John Locke in terms of positive and negative freedom.
“Oh, I am not familiar with the concepts of positive and negative freedom,” she said.
Stan explicated some on the essential features of the two concepts.
As Stan walked back to the department with Marla, he realized that she was rather confused and that his discussion had left her rather unsettled. He wondered why in all the years that she had been teaching, that she had not familiarized herself with these ideas. It gave Stan some confidence that he had a good background in political thought. Part of it had been his study at the political science department at Santa Barbara, which was strong in theory. But also his interest in Marxism had forced him to figure out what was really going on as much as he could. He thought it was ironic, that now she had tenure at a major university, and he was still looking for a job for the next year without much luck. He thought that his students should appreciate his ideas that he would bring to them. Unfortunately, it was not the case. He would only have confused their minds, as he had the young professor. Maybe it was better to believe something simple, even if it was wrong. One could go on believing it and likely no one would really know the difference. At least, this philosophy would hold up in most universities. Nevertheless, Stan was enjoying his work and being in an intellectual environment to some extent.
As for Marla, it is too bad, Stan thought, that she is so plain. She was not a good-looking woman. She was not married and might have been more than just a friend except that there was no way that she turned him on. The other female professor in the department was also unmarried but an older woman who would be a colleague but nothing more. There were no possibilities close at hand.
Preparing for teaching American Foreign Policy was both a task and enjoyable. Stan hit the library on Saturday morning, when it was practically abandoned. Not a lot of truth seekers were likely to be rushing over there especially on a Saturday. They would be checking out the sports matches coming up on the weekend.
He was discovering the work of Gabriel and Joyce Kolko. This was largely the result of the conservative textbook he had been saddled with for the international relations class. Since the author was so hostile to Kolko, Stan figured that it must be good stuff. He found the books in the library, gathering dust, and began to plow through them. They were a goldmine of useful and enlightening information that the professors in graduate school had carefully avoided. This led him to I.F. Stone’s writings on the Korean War. Equally enlightening. It made sense. Good sense. And that, of course, was the problem. Most of it was true. It was taxing to get through it, but he had the hunger to get it together. It was certain to rub the students the wrong way and not get him anywhere in the department. His readings caused him to reflect upon the state in his journal where he wrote down some of his ideas.
“The state devours its young. That is a lesson from Vietnam. And grand causes devour their young. Few there are that perceive the danger that exists from the modern state in the name of its own preservation. One should support the people and not the state and never mistake one for the other. The state is a lethal weapon, a monopoly of force and the perpetuation of violence. It is strengthened by those weakened conditions of the people for which it is responsible. The state has a dual character at times. It is simultaneously progressive and reactionary, creative and destructive. But it only enjoys these powers as the people have relinquished them to the state.
“The root of violence is fear. Violence is the manifestation of fear. In the West, men are sent to war to protect property. Fear of the loss of property is the basis of the fear of communism. On the battle field, this is translated into fear of the loss of life.
There were clear anarchist tendencies, indicating that Stan realized that the road to freedom was probably not through the state.
The second week of class, Stan had a discussion in his international relations class about the Vietnam War. The discussion worked pretty well, after he had tried to get them to read the book by a soldier, Philip Caputo. Caputo was telling what he saw with his own eyes. Surely, there should be some veracity there. Some students brought up the old conservative argument that if the US Government had let the soldiers go into Vietnam and “win,” then the US could have won the war. Of course, this was true, by definition, as it was just a silly tautology. But in killing some three million Vietnamese, the US did not win technically, although the country did win in a larger sense. The course of independent development was prevented. That was the thrust of the effort, as this way there would be no threat to American hegemony and American corporate profits.
Toward the end of the class, one student who had started to become angry exploded.
“We have been in this class for two weeks. When are you going to say something good about the country?”
Stan realized that this was what they were missing. They did not want to explore the truth about the country and the war but be told fairy tales about how good the country was just as they had been told all their lives in their high school civics classes. This would allow them to feel good that they were part of a good country that always did the right thing. Why couldn’t the students understand that this was the essence of a country that immersed them in propaganda? It was exactly what most communist countries did. And this would have suited them just fine.
Stan suggested that maybe a good thing about the country was that one did not have to always say only good things about the country. It would be a terrible bore if one could say only good things about one’s country and if one engaged in any sort of criticism, one would be hauled off to jail. There were laws in some countries that sent people to jail for “insulting the republic.” Sure there were plenty of countries like that.
“Is that what you want, you fucking little bastard?” Stan felt like saying to the student. But he let him go on fretting and stewing that his professor was not a sort of American flag-saluting Nazi. After all, Stan had been in the military. He probably knew something about being in a strait jacket where one could only ape the party line. This would be a long way from seeking the truth.
Stan spent part of the weekend preparing a lecture on the war in Korea for his class called America and the World. What struck him about the Eisenhower period was how the US set out to stop history on a global basis in the l950s. No social and political change would be allowed to take place around the world. The Eisenhower Administration was blind to the need for social change both in the United States and around the world. Not much progress was made.
A Wall Street lawyer, John Foster Dulles, ran the foreign policy of the country. The Central Intelligence Agency was developing the dirty tricks that would be used all over the world. The US would get rid of several leaders around the world, such as Arbenz in Guatemala and Mossedegh in Iran.
The US always sought to find a liberal they could install in power that would not shake things up socially and politically. There was a total lack of vision and creativity. Or perhaps a business man’s vision of how the world should be. Ike’s strategy seemed passive, but beneath the surface, it was not with all the secret covert operations being put into place. This was the time when the CIA took on a monstrous shape and spread its organization around the world. It was active everywhere. The US had the power to manipulate the whole world at other people’s expense. The US penetrated into the socialist countries as well.
Three weeks of the semester had already passed like a flash. The teaching was enjoyable and challenging for Sucker. But whether it was going to get him anywhere in the world of academia was another question.
Sucker talked to one of his students in his office the next day. He mentioned all the loud mufflers in the town. The student was from Florida and said it wasn’t like that down there. “Midas must be making a killing here,” he said.
The student said that there were a lot of fraternities here and that if you didn’t belong to a fraternity, you were looked down upon. A girl would not go out with you if she was in a sorority. It seemed to smack of a caste system.
“That is just a system of institutionalized snobbery,” Sucker said. It is also related to racism, since the fraternities are segregated. No wonder, it is so hard to get students to think about third world poverty and being concerned with it.
The author of his textbook, John Spanier was also getting on his nerves. Sucker hated the way he was so hostile to the third world. His approach stinks, Sucker decided and tried to bring up sensitive points in the lectures. Spanier claimed that those in the third world were “shrewd” because they charged the West with exploitation. This led some Westerners to start feeling guilty. This had Spanier very upset. He said that whatever was done in history was acceptable when it was done, so the West does not owe them any apology for colonialism and so on.
Driving home, Sucker saw a bumper sticker which read “So many pedestrians, so little time.” It was already clear to Sucker that the locals did not like to slow down when they saw pedestrians crossing the street. It was necessary to protect one’s self.
More and more, he began to see that it would be refreshing to get out of Sewanee.
Chapter Seventeen: Overthrowing Communism
Spring was at hand. In mid-March the Spring break came. It gave Sucker some time to read the stacks of exams that he had collected and that he must get finished before classes started again.
A storm moved through in the night with thunder, lightning and rain, leaving the skies beautifully clear in the morning. A few warm days would bring out new leaves on the trees. Little fields of flowers had popped out in the sunshine. One kind was purple blue with tiny petals and a spot of yellow in the center. They were delicate little miracles of nature. Sucker thought of the pink petals of Candy’s delicate slit. The Dandelions had started blooming, a sure sign of Spring. But the only area of tranquility from the redneck’s trucks and jeeps was in the private memorial gardens. This was off limits to Sucker as long as he did not have a relative buried there. But fuck it. Sometimes he went there to enjoy the sunshine and the quiet.
While he should have been enjoying the Spring holidays, getting away from students and their minds already cast in concrete by the society in which they were raised, he read. Read their drivel. He spent several grueling days going through the essays on the exams. He was trying to be fair and this took time. It was an agonizing process to try to understand what they had learned in the class, if anything. Students tended to think that they could fool the instructors by bullshitting their way through essay questions.
Wanting to take a walk, Sucker risked going to the memorial gardens. There were several people there walking around. He thought that there was no reason why he should not do the same, although it was private property. The air was quite chilly. He sat down under a big pine tree and let the slanting rays of the sun warm him. Most people appeared and left quickly. They did not have very much time for the dead, it seemed.
Like everything else in America, burying people had become a commercial enterprise. They were being buried commercially, after a fashion, from birth to death and even after death, come to think of it. It was but an extension of the capitalistic control of life to capitalistic control after death. There could be no escape as long as one was in America, the belly of the beast. These thoughts were not exactly putting Sucker in the right frame of mind to make headway on the stacks of exams that were waiting for his attention.
He noticed some graves with little American flags waving above them. The state too never left one in peace, even in death. These parasitical bastards who lived off the substance of the state, avoiding work, interfered with one’s life even in death. They were leeches on the body politic. Even in death, the body was to be identified with the state. What was this deathly sickness of nationalism? A sickness unto death. Robins, unaware of such political questions, were feeding on the emerging green shoots along the paths. They were also unaware that they were trespassing on private property. Not infrequently, birds were nevertheless shot for such infractions.
The natural spring flowers bloomed willingly. But some visitors had left artificial flowers on the graves, cloth Poinsettias from China. Plastic flowers to commemorate a perhaps plastic life. Perhaps a plastic commercial death. There was some tranquility, but there was no place to escape the crass commercialism, even in death.
Back in the apartment, reading the exams was terribly confining and insufferably boring. Maybe this was not the best way of making a living, after all, he thought. Going through the exams, he noticed that those who were getting a poor grade on the objective part of the exam were those who were taking a stupid nationalistic and hawkish view on the essay question on Vietnam. This was clear evidence that they had not studied but just spit out the views that they had picked up from what they had heard or read over the years. Absorbed from the southern conservative atmosphere. Many of the essays clearly came under the rubric of drivel. What else could one say? The more intelligent students were willing to address the possibility that the war had been a tragic mistake.
Sucker gritted his teeth and prayed for patience. What the hell. It was no skin off his ass what these students thought and he was not going to change them nor change southern conservative society. The hardest thing was to restrain himself from making any sharp comments on the papers which might be construed as insulting the students. Once written, it would not be possible to take the comment back. He would have to suggest ever so gently that the argument the student was making was completely full of shit. Oh God. When would these sons of a bitches finish? It seemed like the more of them he read, the higher that fucking pile became and he would never reach the bottom and get grades on these fucking papers. These little pricks could sure get under his skin. What would they be thinking if it was their fucking little asses that were being sent to Vietnam to be blown up and come back in a body bag? They needed a heavy fucking dose of reality to bring them around to their senses. It would take a good military draft to claim their sorry student asses and get them to think about the reality. Then once there in country, they would slowly realize how the whole fucking thing was a big farce. Then they would start to understand. At least some of them would. Then and only then! That is, if they were still alive.
Some of the essays on the exam were just professionally stupid.
Sucker wanted to call it drivel. But then considered that it was beneath drivel. It would be wrong to dignify it by calling it drivel.
At half past ten in the evening, he had had it. He hanged it up for the day. He would hit it again tomorrow, vowing to be more efficient and not let the little bastards get under his skin. He was losing all his precious spring holiday to this nonsense. There must be a better way. How about multiple guess exams the next time?
The beautiful spring sunshine reappeared in the mornings. He knocked out a set of exams by one o’clock. He would have to hit another set but headed out to the store to buy some hamburger. He came back and cooked up a pot of chili, the way he liked it. Spicy with a lot of chilli pepper and beans.
There were fifty papers in the next set of exams. He avoided it but could not delay it for long. The wind turned icy cold as the spring weather fizzled out. He wanted to open his terrace door but instead had to crank up his heat. Tired of the drivel, he took a break and read some articles form the Times of India. He had a big stack of them that had been discarded from the library. It was refreshing to read sentences that were logical and made sense for a change. And did not drip with fascist assertions.
Sucker was realizing something from reading the student papers. It had become clear to him why it is so easy for the government to fool the public and do what they want, even when it goes against the interests of the people. They understood so little and were duped by the society and the government. They refused to open their eyes to the truth. And these are rather the cream of the crop, so to speak, at the major university in this state. Most of the public had a very dim understanding of the world and how it works. They have an abiding, almost blind faith in the United States. They are not willing to pull aside the veil. So it is easy for the government to fool most of the people most of the time.
He thought about the spokesman for the State Department in Washington. His voice had such an authoritarian ring to it. Earlier a spokesman for the State Department had resigned because the government had been conducting a misinformation campaign against Gaddafi in Libya and he had been used as a mouth piece for this false information. Surely, if people were paying attention they might learn something from such incidents. But most did not. The information, if they got it, just dripped off them like water off a duck. Well, I wouldn’t want to take on teaching about Libya, Sucker thought. Now that would most certainly be a lost cause. But the same was true of Vietnam, the Middle East, or Central America. It was all the same shit when it came to teaching students in Sewanee.
There was such a wealth of ignorance in the face of such an availability of information. Sucker figured that he was probably better informed since he did not have a TV or even a radio. All they would do would just be to propagandize him and fuck up his mind.
Sucker read essays from his class on America and the world.
“Washington, DC is closer to Nicaragua than to San Francisco. Should we let Communism exist this closer to our nation? We clearly have a duty in the region to support a democratic or even a dictatorial regime in order to repel Communism.” The student was clearly just bullshitting as he had gotten thirty-two percent on the objective questions.
He read another essay.
The student argued that the US should support the Contras in Nicaragua and “get the old families back into power and restore a better form of government.”
“The CIA is essential to the United States. Their operation is very justifiable as seen in the success of overthrowing of communist leaders. These operations are a must. If the US just sits back and lets these leaders become more powerful, then who is going to stop them from expanding their communist ideas? People think that the United States is “open and honest” with its policies. If we were truly this way then we would never get anything accomplished. Sometimes it takes a little trickery in order to fulfill plans. The US’s involvement in Guatemala, Mossadegh and Bosch is legitimately justified by the results. Many governments have secret agencies that are much more crooked than the United States. The CIA is there because it is trying to better inform the US Government so that they can operate accordingly.”
Did the student realize that he had argued that the US officials were actually a bunch of crooks fooling the world with trickery and this is the right way, the only way. Sucker understood at once that the student had not read any of the material that had been assigned for the class. If the student had ever attended, he did not learn anything. He was merely regurgitating what he had heard all of his life on TV, in high school and probably in other classes at the university. The answer was an opinion but there was no evidence of learning or evidence that he had read the ideas of the authors of the assigned material. On the other hand, if Sucker gave him a low mark for the answer, he could protest and take it to a committee that would likely think that no fault whatsoever could be found with such a solidly grounded answer. The only plausible thing to do as a professor was to groan and give the student the points.
He couldn’t trick Sucker into believing that he had really learned anything in the class or done the work but it didn’t matter. His tricks were working, just like the tricks of US officials. One couldn’t win for losing in this game when one was rowing upstream against the current. The student would get the grade and prance on out as dumb as before. Maybe he would sign up to work for the CIA, if he was not already doing that. That would be good enough for him, Sucker thought. He knew that in fact some students were already signed up with the CIA and if they were, had reported what he had said in class, the materials he used and so on.
Sucker trucked on, spending his day reading the tripe. This system has done a number on people’s brains, he thought. The propaganda had produced a preponderance of such slimy minds. Hell, given the right influences, I might be thinking like that myself, Sucker thought. There were some advantages to being alienated from society.
But another student wrote an essay arguing that the US had gone wrong with the Monroe and Truman Doctrines. Here was a student who had read the material, Sucker realized. Perhaps not all was lost. Once in a while a spark of intelligence showed through. By the end of the day he had read eighty essays and simply could not take any more, even though there was another fifty left for the next day. As his mother used to say, no rest for the wicked.
The next day, he heard a short note on the radio saying that the Sandinistas had driven the Contras back into Honduras. Now, according to the report, Honduras was calling for US support. The only question, Sucker figured, was how long it would be before Reagan sent in the US troops to go after the Sandinistas.
Three days later, an article appeared in the Birmingham Post Herald with the headline: U.S. Troops Land in Honduras.
And under this: “Honduran jets bomb Sandinista headquarters.”
From the Associated Press, dateline, Palmerola Air Base, Honduras. “Planeloads of U.S. soldiers streamed into this air base yesterday in a show of strength ordered by President Ronald Reagan to counter what he called an invasion by Nicaraguan forces.
“In northern Nicaragua, warplanes raided a Sandinista military headquarters yesterday, but no casualties or damage resulted, Nicaragua said. Reporters at the headquarters saw the attack and a Reagan Administration source in Washington said that Honduras launched it.
“But a Honduran military spokesman in Tegucigalpa, Manuel Suarez, said in a telephone interview that the bombs were dropped inside Honduras on Sandinista soldiers who had crossed the border.
“Two battalions from the renowned 82nd Airborne Division of Fort Bragg, N.C. and two battalions from the 7th Light Infantry Division of Fort Ord, Calif., were combined into a task force of 3,000 troops.
The article went on to explain that the troops arrived on 26 C-141 transport planes, arriving every half hour during the day. Another 800 U.S, troops were arriving by parachute later in the day. A C-5A transport plane was also sent loaded with helicopter gunships. All of this was referred to as an exercise.
What had happened was that he Sandinistas in Nicaragua had chased about 2000 of the U.S. trained Contras out of the country and over into Honduras. The Sandinistas were simply defending their country from the mercenary invaders funded and armed by the US Government and based in Honduras. The U.S. was not willing to acknowledge the right of Nicaragua to defend itself.
The US mercenaries had taken a hit. According to the Associated Press, “A senior U.S. official said the Sandinista raid on a Contra base and supply camp could all but destroy the Nicaraguan guerillas as a fighting force. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, called damage to the Contra force in the Bocay Valley pretty severe.”
For Sucker, it was a repeat of history. Another U.S. invasion of Central America. Secretary of State, George P. Schultz was quoted in Washington as saying that the airlift of troops was to “get people’s attention to what is happening in Central America and to say to the Honduran Government, we are your friends. We stand with you.”
Chapter Eighteen: Suicide
Spring was clearly on the way. His neighbors had already started using their air conditioners before the end of March. There were only five weeks of the semester left and Sucker girded himself up to keep up the struggle and make it to the end.
He heard the birds singing outside his sliding terrace doors. He wanted to get out into the spring air but had to buckle down with preparations. A vision came to him. It was a vision of beautiful and delicate, white and spherical young breasts with erect nipples and marbled with blue veins. Tight and bulging, provocative and delicious ripe fruits. Warm, almost hot to the touch of his lips. A young woman with delicious open lips and Persian eyes. It was an image that he could not get out of his mind that morning.
Tired of lecturing, he figured the students were tired of hearing him lecture in international relations. He asked some of the students to give their ideas on the Middle East to the class. He wanted to bring in the issue of the Palestinians, but knew that it would be a struggle in this setting.
One of the older students who had been in the military had been stationed in Sanai. He began to talk about the Egyptians.
“After I had been there for a while, I found out that they were not stupid. After the Egyptian guy beat me in chess about a hundred times, I found out he wasn’t as stupid as I thought he was.”
He also got to know some Israeli soldiers.
“The Israeli soldiers were not well-dressed and their hair was too long for them to be good soldiers. I just cannot consider anyone to be a good soldier who is not well groomed.”
A girl in the class who had been to Israel got angry at his remarks. She began to praise the Israeli soldiers. She was ready to take him out of the class and beat him up.
“The Israeli soldiers are great,” she said, “and they are ready to fight for their country” and so on and on.
My God, Sucker thought, they must have dipped her head in the propaganda bucket when she was there. Sucker remembered a similar treatment when he was in the Navy and visited Israel but he had been more skeptical when they gave him a brainwashing session on the kibbutz.
Nevertheless, the former soldier had seen through the smoke-screen to some extent.
“Actually most Americans think the Israelis are pro American, but they are not,” he said. “They are actually pro-Israel.”
He told the class about the US intelligence ship that the Israelis had blown out of the water killing many US sailors and the Pollard Spy Case.
Sucker wondered just what the students were going to say about the Palestinians. He was surprised that the first student mentioned Deir Yassim. But in his version, the “Palestinians attacked the Jews but then pretty much ran away after that.” Sucker did not know if he knew the true story of what had happened.
Another student discussed the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in l983, saying that Israel was trying to destroy the PLO.
Sucker had to prepare a lecture on the issue and was not sure how he should approach it. He had been reading Alan Hart’s book on Yasser Arafat. He wished that he had more time to prepare. He was waking up all night thinking how to approach it. Well, I should not be afraid to present the truth, even about the Middle East, Sucker thought. Everybody thinks that due to Old Testament mythology and hagiography that God is always on the side of the Israelis and the Israeli state. I would like to think that benevolence would be on the side of justice over injustice. How ironic that that is the radically unpopular view in the U.S. I guess that it is not surprising that the Jews have done such a good job in bringing “their people” into line, although not all of them. The interesting thing is their command of the belief system of so much of the rest of the population.
Sucker prepared his lecture and headed to the department to have the class. When he got to his office, the secretary came in and told him that the brother of the young black instructor had just died. She was collecting money for flowers to send to his home town, Nettleton, Mississippi, near Tupelo. Sucker was suddenly reminded of the song about Billie Jo Macalister jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge. She told him that Jonathan Marlowe’s brother had committed suicide. The news was quite shocking. He wondered if he would ever know the details and if this was related to being Black and living in Mississippi.
It was the last day of March. Just after he had lain down, exhausted from the day, it started to pour down rain. It was cool and refreshing. He got up and went out on the small terrace, almost nude, and felt the cool rain streaming down around him on three sides.
The next morning was cool and refreshing. Sucker stopped to buy some rolls on the way to the University. As he was picking up the rolls, a guy came up and started talking to him. Sucker thought that he was just a friendly guy. Sucker was in a hurry, but talked to the guy, who said that he had just moved here.
“What do you do? Sucker asked.
“I am a tax accountant,” the guy said.
Suddenly, as if he had just remembered it, he said: “Oh, yes, we’re having a revival meeting tonight at the Church of Christ over on Macalister Street. A preacher is coming and we have been trying to get him to come for two years.
“Do you go to church?” he asked.
“Well if I do or not, it’s none of your fucking business, you asshole,” Sucker wanted to say. He was then sorry that he had run into the guy. He would have liked to tell him what he thought about proselytism, but decided to skip it. He would try to be a nice guy.
When the guy kept pestering him, Sucker said:
“Well, I know that there are plenty of churches in this town but I don’t have any time for them. And I have several things that I would like to do other than that when I do have time.”
Sucker was in a hurry and had to get to the office.
Even if I had the inclination to go to a church I would avoid them, Sucker thought, because of the exploitative leech-like attitude. They want to suck your blood and ride you like a horse. These people need horses to ride.
When Sucker arrived home in the evening, he found a flier from a Baptist church in his mailbox. From the wording, it was clear that they were not inviting people for the church-goer’s benefit but rather as a long-term potential customer and client. Here it is a buyer’s market on religion, he thought, because the market is already flooded. They have to go overseas for new markets in religion, as in other goods. So they engage in marketing techniques, as when selling tires. They need us worse than we need them because we can do very well without them. Our livelihood does not depend upon them.
By half past ten in the evening, Sucker felt like his eyes were about to fall out of his head. He had worked on three lectures that day, finishing the one for the morning. Then working on the one for international relations in the afternoon, and preparing another for the next day.
The next day he finished the lecture and gave his class on the Palestinians. He didn’t hesitate to go through the historical record of how the Jewish gangs had driven the Palestinians out of their villages and taken over the land. One had to respect historical facts, after all. And let the chips fall where they may.
On the way to the credit union to cash his check, he ran across Jonathan. It was also payday for him. He told him how shocked he was to hear about his brother.
“I have not had a good night’s sleep since it happened three days ago,” Jonathan said.
“How did it happen? Was your brother working?” Sucker asked.
“My brother was only twenty-one,” he said. “He had been in a car accident a while ago and had trouble. He had tried to work but had recently been fired over a dispute with a white guy. Getting fired may have been part of the problem,” Jonathan said. “He had also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission but was getting discouraged because it was taking so long.”
“I wonder if the employer might be liable,” Sucker said.
“I don’t know. I am considering seeking compensation,” Jonathan said, “but it is probably a long-shot in Mississippi.”
“Yes, I would think so,” Sucker said. “It is terrible that such things happen.”
“He had a machine gun that he was carrying in his car since December,” Jonathan said. “When you pull the trigger, it fires several shots. Jonathan thought he had been planning the suicide since then. When he shot himself, there was a big pool of blood on the floor and several holes in the wall of his bedroom. We are going to take the carpet out and replace the wall.”
Sucker wondered if he had really shot himself or if maybe he might have been murdered. Maybe no one would ever know. It had been a terrible blow to his brother and he wondered how he could carry on successfully with his classes.
It was April Fool’s day. Sucker found out who had knocked down the mailboxes in front of his apartment. It was one of his international relations students. He was a former military guy, a big smoker and drinker, talking a lot of jargon with a chauvinistic attitude about people in the Caribbean and other third world countries. He had talked about how stupid they were. A high- strung guy, he had developed ulcers.
Now he was dropping out of classes and sent Professor Sucker a letter with a copy of the bill, 165 dollars for the mailboxes and 1900 dollars damage to his car. He had also hit a truck and had to go to court appearances. He thought he might end up in jail. One thing that the military often does is to produce alcoholics, Sucker thought. And this was another example. He could not maintain his balance as a student. In the military, this student had been working with nuclear weapons.
Heavenly relief, when the weekend came. Sucker enjoyed the cool rain coming down in the early Saturday morning. The leaves had popped out on the trees. In this weather he liked to get some fresh air but when he opened to doors to his small terrace, he got all the noise from the parking lot. The young residents could not resist pumping and revving their engines out in the parking lot in the evenings. Some were showing off for the girls, trying to spin their wheels and turn other tricks. Leaving the door open was the only way to get fresh air, but one had to put up with the parking lot noise. Most residents did not care as they would rather turn on their air conditioner than get the cool refreshing breezes. Sucker wanted the natural cool.
Sucker took the day off from preparing lectures to just read some books that he was getting into. It had been a year of gleaning much knowledge about his subjects that one could not get in a graduate school.
Easter had come. Sucker realized what a big holiday it was here in the South. It seemed more like Christmas. The food stores were crowded with shoppers.
“The more I live here, the more I think I am incompatible with the people who live here,” Sucker wrote in his journal. “I even find the university parochial. Actually there is very little that goes on there that interests me other than what I do myself. It has to be to the right of mainstream. I have tried not to speak against it, but something needs to be said. I was expecting that a university might be a place where one could exchange ideas. However, I realized that I have not had a single conversation with any faculty member in the department where anything of an intellectual nature was discussed. I guess the closest is with Marla, but I get the feeling that she is very guarded about giving her genuine feelings about anything. Other members start sharing tedium about sports players. I don’t think the faculty really cares and are not even intellectually curious. So I have only had a few intellectual conversations with my students who are often intellectually curious. I think in such an atmosphere, one would tend to wither up intellectually. I have kept myself busy reading.”
It was not such a mystery why people were so ignorant in the United States. There was plenty of information available, but most of it was hidden.
Chapter Nineteen: Pow Wow
Sucker finished the lecture that he was giving on Angola. He realized that few if any of his students wanted to know anything about the country in Africa but it was an interesting case study of how the US had used the CIA to manipulate politics in the country. He had put quite a lot of effort into studying and understanding the situation and thought that it showed important aspects of US foreign policy. So he gave the lecture on it.
After the class, Candy came to his office. He had not seen her except in class since the day of the protest rally. She came to his office while his door was still open.
“Oh come in,” he said. “Where have you been?”
She was looking cute and vibrant as always when he saw her, with a healthy pink flush in her cheeks.
“Oh, I have been so busy,” she said. “You wouldn’t believe. I had so many term papers to do. I saw the article about the rally in the Crimson White about you. God, I couldn’t believe how they made you look like an evil Communist. I usually think that what I read in the papers is true. But that was really crap.”
“Par for the course. I was a little surprised myself,” Sucker said. “But probably shouldn’t be. They wanted to make it look like we were really bad people who wanted some kind of dictatorship there in Central America. Well, it is usually called red baiting. That was a classic case of red baiting.”
“Yes, I think it taught me something,” Candy said. “Now I started to wonder if what I read in the papers is true. And generally I start to think about what is going on behind the report.”
“Well, then you learned something useful,” Sucker said. “Sure, you are not going to understand the world by reading the newspaper. You need to read it to get information. Facts are something else. Newspapers do not care about the facts unless they serve their purpose.”
“Congratulations on your exam,” Sucker said. “You did really well. I could tell that you learned a lot and that is the truth. You really deserved it.”
“Thanks for the A, professor, professor Sucker. You are my teacher for the exams. So I want to call you professor.”
“Yes, you deserved the grade,” Sucker said truthfully.
She looked so cute and it was getting late. And she showed no inclination to leave, which pleased Sucker. It was late Friday afternoon. Would she want it tonight?
“Candy,” Sucker began, “would you like to have a pizza with me. There is a good place down at the end of Macalister. Why don’t we go there? I will buy you a beer too. You are a real student now.”
He didn’t have to twist her arm.
“Oh, sure,” I would love to,” she said. “I am so tired. I’ll never get all these term papers done. I have to ask you some things. I am so confused in some of my classes. What do you know about chemistry?”
“Chemistry?” Sucker said. “I am afraid I can’t give you very much help there. I barely passed with a C back in my undergraduate days. When one becomes a professor, he does not have to have very broad knowledge. Not about chemistry, anyway. I have forgotten almost everything I knew about hydrogen, oxygen and sulfuric acid. Even I have forgotten physics and that was my major.”
“Oh, I hope I can get through it. I would hate to take that fucking class again. God, chemistry sucks.” She had started talking a little like Sucker.
Sucker picked up his bag and locked his office. They slipped down the stairs to his car, which was in the staff parking lot. Thank God Spring had come. Now the young women in his classes were displaying their young firm bulging breasts and this somehow gave him encouragement. At least there was something that was looking up in the world. And they did seem to be looking up after a fashion. It would be some years before they would start looking down.
Stan looked down at her firm bulging flesh as she settled in the seat next to him. Her small denim skirt was exposing her delicious flesh. Not far from the gates of hell. Or in this case heaven, he hoped.
Sucker eased his aging car out of the parking lot and headed across campus to Macalister, the big main drag. The balmy spring breeze was fragrant with lilacs that had popped out along the grounds. Oh God. It was so much nicer having a young juicy piece of pussy in that seat beside him. There should be some reward for the faithful.
“Oh this is fun. I like your car professor.”
“Oh, it is just an old rust bucket,” Sucker said. “I have trouble keeping it on the road nowadays.”
“That’s OK. I like it that way,” she said. “It is a funny little car.”
He felt her hand on his leg through his thin trousers. He put his hand on hers and moved it higher, closer to his crotch. She squeezed his leg. He wanted to kiss her. This spring air had turned his thoughts to something close to love, closer to lust. He wanted to touch her bare leg. Then she took his hand and put it between her legs. She held it there. Sucker savored the warm delicious velvet flesh. Certainly good enough to eat. He looked over at her young freckled face, moved his lips to hers and kissed her.
Now they were halfway down the strip. Jesus, other professors might see me with this little coed, he thought. He didn’t want to be caught red-handed at the lights. His cock had thickened and was starting to get hard. Then he felt Candy’s finger touching his hardness. He felt the blood flood faster into his tool. Oh God, he had to do something about this. He saw the devilish smile on her face. She squeezed him suddenly, teasing him. Oh God, she was such a sweet piece of candy. There were several sets of lights before they finally rolled down the hill and up into the parking lot next to the small shopping center. Here there was a pizza joint that also had cold beer. Sucker also hoped that no one would recognize him there either. Especially with the inevitable bulge in his trousers. He was not likely to find another professor there at this time. They would all be in their suburban homes. He would rather be eating candy.
Being early, the place was not crowded. They found a booth along the side and ordered a large pizza. Now he had it under control. Still thick but at least limp. Sucker went up to the window where beer was served and got two mugs of the cold suds. He was ready to tie into it after another grueling week. Some freedom at last.
“Here’s to you. My best student.” Sucker toasted Candy.
“And to you, my best professor,” she said. “What do you mean by best student?”
“I mean you are really bright, serious, and sensitive,” Sucker said. “And you are sweet. You are sweet candy. You put a blister on my poor fucking heart the first day I saw you sitting in the front row. What can I do? I am only human. I am also a dirty old man but that is as common as hydrogen, unfortunately. See, I do know something about chemistry.”
He looked into her big brown-green eyes. Those smiling eyes, now getting a little angry.
“Yes, you are a man,” she said. “Sometimes a dirty old man. I felt you. What was on your mind. You couldn’t hide it, professor. But you are fun and sweet. I like you being my dirty old man.”
Sucker’s cock took a sudden leap of faith. He loved hearing her say that. He wasn’t going to let her go tonight. He just couldn’t. He needed her too badly. She was going to be his.
Shortly, the hot pizza was ready and Stan picked it up at the window. It was delicious when one was as hungry as he was. Young Candy was always hungry.
Sucker had learned a couple of things about her, since they had met and gone to the rally. First that she loved to drink beer. And secondly, she was not a virgin and that she liked to fuck. Especially, she had come to like meeting older guys like him. He didn’t know about her other boyfriends. He just had enjoyed making love to her when he figured that he had gotten lucky that day of the rally. She liked calling him professor. She liked being his woman. Not every young coed was laying their professor. But she had discovered the easy way to make good grades in his class.
“Professor, after being in your class, I have started to see the world in a different way. Now, I think my friends are so stupid, sometimes. They believe in all the bullshit that they have been told. Now because of you, I have started to question so many fucking things that I believed in before.”
“That’s good,” Sucker said. “You are starting to be an intellectual.”
“My roommate, for example. She is so religious and goes to church all the time. She tells me that God is going to punish me for drinking beer. Can you believe that fucking shit?”
“Oh, probably most people believe that,” Sucker said.
“And she is so shocked that I told her that I had sex before getting married. I told her, so what. I said so fucking what? Fucking, after all, is just another human activity like breathing, eating, walking, or shitting. Why would God punish me for doing something that is perfectly natural? If I get fucked by my professor, what’s the big deal? It might even help my grade,” I told her. “Anyway, I enjoyed getting laid by my professor. It was beautiful. What is wrong with it?”
She told me that I was evil and going to hell. Then I told her to go to hell. I have to have some fun in college.
“I like the way you think,” Sucker said. “I agree completely. But most people never figure that shit out their whole lives. Anyway, that is the purpose of religion to keep people in darkness.”
“Boy, is she ever in the dark!” Candy said. “She told me the other day that God was going to punish all those people who criticized Israel because they are God’s chosen people. But I told her that in our class we learned the true history of Israel and how the Jewish terrorist gangs killed and murdered innocent Palestinians and threw them off their land. Are you saying that I cannot even criticize that?”
“I don’t believe it,” she told me. “God gave the land of Israel to the Jews and so it belongs to them. If God gave it to them, then the Palestinians have no right to live there. Boy! Can you believe that shit?”
“Not unusual,” Sucker said. “Exactly what most people in America believe because it is what they have been told.
“I have been thinking, professor. I want to read all those books that you have mentioned in your classes this semester. But how can one ever find the time? I am glad that I took your class. I am learning so much from you.”
“It takes years and years. You don’t expand your knowledge overnight. If you are a real student, then you have to keep learning your whole life,” Sucker said. “I have been at it for years and this year I have been cramming so much information just to teach the classes. The more we know, the more it makes us aware that there is so much more that we don’t know. Unfortunately, it does not make one happy.”
They were making inroads on the pizza and were having a second beer. Sucker reached over and touched her hand.
“Sometimes I wish I was a student again. I was not as bright as you in those days. I didn’t understand anything. I thought professors were like gods.”
“I am a little bit of a rebel,” she said. “Most people hate me for it.”
“Why don’t we try another place with a country band,” Sucker suggested. “If we can stay away from the rednecks, I enjoy honky-tonks. I think you enjoyed it too.”
“That would be fun,” she said. “This state is full of rednecks. They are everywhere.”
Sucker asked the person at the cash register about the country honky-tonks in town. They had already gone to the Wagon Wheel.
“There is a crazy old place called the Pow Wow Lounge,” the guy told him. “If you go out route 45 about two miles you will come to it. There is a big flashing sign above it. But be careful. There are sometimes fights there.”
They headed out to find the place.
In the car, he squeezed her leg on the way. She pressed his hand between her legs.
“Oh, you feel just like soft candy,” he said. “Can I have a piece of your candy?”
“You mean another piece, don’t you?” she said. “We will see, if I don’t run off with a cute redneck. Some of them think they are Romeo. Especially when they get on the dance floor.”
“First give me a piece of your candy, professor,” she said. He kissed her on her warm lips. “Another piece, I should say. You have already fucked me, you know.”
They saw the place ahead. There was an old fashioned neon sign flashing. The parking lot was full of big pick-up trucks with loud Hollywood mufflers. Some had double wheels on the back. They couldn’t miss the bumper stickers.
“Shit Happens.” “I Owe, I Owe, So Off To Work I Go.” “Smoking Cures Lung Cancer.” “Bad to the Bone.” And then touting their favorite political fascists. “David Duke.” “Oliver North.” “Liddy.” “Bush.” “Reagan.”
Sucker wondered how these guys would help Sewanee rednecks, the white working class.
When they found the Pow Wow, it was already buzzing with the local red necks. Inside make believe cowboys were drinking Bud and starting to get a buzz. Some were doing the Texas two-step in cowboy boots with overweight young women on the dance floor. Some were dancing in their cowboy hats. It was a little embarrassing until the beer started to hit one’s gut. Then one just started to enjoy it.
Sucker didn’t know if he could feel at home with them. Would they get into a fight with him and try to take his girl? All the cowboys’ heads swiveled around when they walked in and they saw Candy.
They found a place to sit near the wall which was made of rough logs. An overweight woman came around and took their order. Sucker ordered two Budweisers. When it came, he had to pay at once. An old slow Hank Williams song came from the country band that was playing next to the dance floor. Sucker liked the music and the smoky atmosphere. No one was worried about the environment or their health. Sucker was about to get up and dance with Candy when a redneck wearing a seed-corn cap backwards appeared at their table and asked Candy if she wanted to dance. Candy looked surprised but turned him down.
“No thanks, I’m sorry,” she said. “Not this time.”
“Never, with you, motherfucker” she was thinking. But she was polite.
The guy looked more angry than disappointed, but walked away and asked a heavy girl at another table. They swung out onto the floor and started to sway to the music. Sucker hoped that the young guy wouldn’t try to fight with him when he started to get a little drunk. He might catch him in the parking lot and do him in with a knife.
“Can you believe that?” she said. “He can see that I am with you and still he asks me to dance. Why would I dance with that corn ball?”
“Maybe he thinks I am your father,” Sucker said. “After all, I am old enough to be.”
“Could be. Or he is just a hick. I couldn’t treat you like that professor.”
“It’s OK,” Sucker said. “If you want, you can go ahead and dance with them. I don’t mind. It is just for fun.”
They got up to dance. Sucker loved the warm feel of her buxom breasts pressed to him as they danced. He let her young vibrant body warm him as the beer buzzed in his gut. This night she would be his. He would not let anybody have her.
It was a fun place but one had to be discreet and not mix up too much. It was not really their class. A lot of the locals knew each other and had gone to bed with each other. Sometimes there were fights over the women at such places and he was afraid that he did not quite fit the redneck image. He just didn’t look like a red neck.
There was not a late closing time. The last call for drinks was announced just before eleven. The band started playing their last song, “The Girls All Look Beautiful at Closing Time. They all begin to look like movie stars.” Stan watched as the women were snatched up. Most were there for the grabs. The rednecks cabbaged onto whatever they could get and walked them arm in arm to their trucks. Size, shape, looks or age seemed to matter little. Everybody was going for something. It was Friday night and they didn’t want to be left out in the cold. They were all beautiful. At least they were women. Reality would only hit when they opened their eyes the next morning. Then it would be too late. The damage would have been done.
On the way back to town, there was a roadside park. Luckily, his tires still had air. He had survived the redneck joint. Sucker pulled in and parked. It was a Spring-like night. They got out and walked among the pines. There was a big full moon. Sucker pulled Candy to him and tasted her young warm lips. He felt her tongue in his mouth. His cock had hardened. He brought his mouth down to taste her young neck and the bulge of her white breasts.
“You can come to my place,” Candy said. “My roommate has gone home for the weekend.”
Sucker was ready to have her in the pines.
Her small apartment was cozy, not far from campus. Sucker slipped his clothes off and waited for her under the light cover. The moonlight was filtering through the thin curtain. She came to him, slipping in beside him. He took her delicious young warm flesh in his arms.
He tasted her delicious lips. “Fuck me, professor,” she said. “Fuck me Professor Sucker. Be my fucking professor tonight.”
He sank into her delicious sweet warmth.
“Candy, Candy, my sweet. I love you Candy.”
He made love to her once more during the night. When he woke up, the sun was already up. Her warm firm breasts were delicious. His cock was stiff and throbbing as she took him again. He looked into her cute face. A little girl with freckles who was always ready for more. It was a great way to start the weekend.
Chapter Twenty: Friday
Sucker was looking forward to the end of the semester. There were only three more weeks of class. The classes came hot and heavy. He was up every morning by six to finish his lectures for the day, sometimes earlier when he was in a pinch. He was starting to need a rest badly.
Thinking back over the semester, he realized that he had covered an awfully lot of ground. Preparing the lectures for the America and the World class meant that he had learned an inordinate amount about US foreign policy in several areas of the world. It had not turned him into a patriot but only radicalized him further.
One evening while he was preparing for political economy, his phone rang. Answering it, he heard Billie Jo’s voice,
“Hi Stan. How are you? Are you keeping busy? I have missed you.”
“Oh hi, Billie Jo,” he said. “These classes really keep me humping. I have not had time for anything else. I thought about you so many times but have been so busy. But the semester is going fast now. It will soon be over.”
“Sorry I couldn’t call,” she said. Dan has been here all winter, so I was rather tied down. Well, not exactly tied down. I might have liked that better! But, anyway, stuck with him, actually. But he will be gone to a meeting this weekend. Why don’t you come over on Friday? I have some good wine. I would love to see you.”
“Sure, I would love to,” Sucker said. “God, I need a break from this stuff. And from students and professors.”
“Good. Then I will wait for you,” she said. “Anytime you are ready. But if you came straight from the university, early, I would love to see you. I wouldn’t mind. We can catch up with each other.”
“Oh, my class is in the morning on Friday,” Sucker said. “I just need to have an office hour after lunch. After two, I will be free. How about half past two.”
“Oh yes. I can’t wait, honey,” she said. “I will have the wine cold.”
And the pussy hot, Sucker hoped. He loved being loved by a southern woman like Billie Jo. She had been part lover, part mother to him. She truly knew how to comfort him. She was not an intellectual but who needed that? He thought of her tits. They were not bad. Cute for her age, an older woman. They had tasted delicious that first night. And her ass was not bad either. She was about as luscious and mellow as a woman could get.
“I can’t wait either,” Sucker said. “I will be counting down the hours. Oh Jesus, preparing these lectures never ends.”
On Friday afternoon, he left the university and stopped by the flower shop to take her a big bouquet. She would be pleased, he hoped.
It was a warm Spring day. When he pulled up into the driveway, she came out and opened the garage door so that he could pull up his small car next to her Mercedes.
“Oh, you made it,” she said. She was looking delicious with a short denim skirt and yellow top that showed some cleavage. She had kept herself tanned. He didn’t mind seeing the cute wrinkles around her eyes. He thought they only made her more attractive.
The door slowly closed and she came into his arms in a warm embrace. They kissed. He tasted her lips and then moved his lips down to kiss her neck and then her breasts.
He got the bouquet from the car and presented it to her.
“Oh, you are a sweetie,” she said. “It is lovely. I have to put them in a vase.”
“Come in,” she said. “I will get you some wine.” She took care of the flowers, then filled his glass with some cold California Zinfandel.
“Bring it along,” she said. She took him into the downstairs bedroom, just off the den. She quickly slipped her top off and then her bra. Then she got rid of her skirt. Just in her panties, she drank a toast to him.
“Here’s to a lovely weekend, you lovely man. You don’t have to give me a lecture. Just be good to me.”
Sucker quickly followed suit and got rid of his clothes. When she saw his bulging cock spring toward heaven, she slipped her panties off and lay back on the big bed. Sucker came and plunged in quickly.
He loved the feel of sinking into her big sweet mature magnolia blossom.
“Oh, that’s good. So good, he said. “It’s been so long since I was inside a woman,” he lied. Well, maybe it was not such a lie. Candy was more of a young girl than a real woman. At least she was not a woman yet. Not like Billie Jo.
“You feel good, honey,” Billie said. “You just fill me up so good. You do it so good. You do me so good. If you were my husband we could fuck all the time.”
He let her comfort him. It was exactly what he needed. It was different with Candy, he thought. Making love to her was more like play. Mere fun with a young student. With Billie Jo, it was making serious love to a mature woman. And she knew how to appreciate him. She knew what she needed. She knew what he needed.
He lifted her legs to his shoulders and churned her deeply till she started to moan her pleasure.
“Yes, yes, oh yes, Honey, oh God, Fuck me, fuck me, you prick. Fuck me hard like a man should. Fuck me, Sucker. Fuck me.”
He let her have her pleasure but held back his orgasm. She moaned her pleasure and relaxed.
“I want to fuck you from the rear,” he told her. He loved having a woman that way. She kneeled on the bed and let him slice his into her juicy rose from the rear. Those lovely buns in his grip. Her ass was broad and mature. She was a full- fledged woman. He wanted to punish her and explode all his pent up lust.
He gripped her broad derriere and reamed.
“Jesus, you are good, Billie Jo,” he told her. “Billie Jo, I am going to fuck you. Fuck you so good. I’ll fuck you full of my seed. Your ass is so good. So good to fuck Your smooth ass is like velvet and your legs.”
“You fuck me good, darling,” she said. “You’re my best man.”
Sucker felt his climax coming and pounded her hard. He felt his muscle spasms bursting his substance up her. Oh God, it was good. Exactly what he needed to heal him from the frustrations of the week.
They relaxed in bed for a while playing and teasing each other. She had a smoke. Sucker lit one of his small cigars.
“Have you had any lunch, honey?” she asked.
“No, Stan admitted, I was too busy and thought it was better to wait till later.”
“Me too, I waited for you. Let’s make something to eat. I will make some sandwiches and the wine is cold.
After a light lunch, Stan had a nap. She let him rest up from his week.
When Sucker woke up, he suddenly remembered where he was. He could hear Billie Jo doing something in the kitchen. He suddenly felt refreshed and wanted her. His cock started to get a new lease on life. When he thought of Billie’s ass, his cock began to throb straight up stiff as a flag pole. He slipped his T-shirt and shorts off and walked to the kitchen in the nude. Billie Jo was there in a loose shirt whipping up a cake.
When she saw Stan Sucker’s hard resolve, she was delighted.
“Oh Honey, I think your nap did you good.” She came to him and grasped his playful weapon. “This is so delightful, Sucker, you prick. She opened her shirt and sat back against the big old wooden table. She was nude inside and Sucker felt himself sinking into her honey-suckle. She was ready and he opened her to the hilt.
“You need it, Billie Jo,” he said. “I think you need my baby.” He went for her tits, sucking in their soft flesh. “I am going to give it to you so good. You can’t help swelling when my balls burst all their crème up your delicious haven. Oh God, you have the sweetest pussy.”
“You are my stud, Sucker,” she said. “You really are a stud. You should be my husband more often.”
Chapter Twenty-One: Star Wars
The Professor who did strategic security and spent much of his time away from the campus on military bases came to Sucker’s office. Professor Wolfram Warburg brought a PhD dissertation of one of his students that he wanted him to read. Sucker would be made a member of the committee to sign off on the work, but on a sort of ex post facto basis. In fact the dissertation had already been approved by Professor Warburg and Sucker was just a cipher to sign his name on the line for approval.
The student, Donald Fuchs, was a full bird. A Colonel in the Air Force at the nearby Air Force Base. The department of political science had established a cozy relationship with the military down in Ashville recent years that resulted in what was said to be a “windfall” for the university. Now they were riding the gravy train. There was no way such a good deal was going to be threatened by anyone seriously questioning the Colonel and other students from the military base.
Sucker had plenty of material that he wanted to read, other than a dissertation on Star Wars but now he had been drafted. Star Wars, or Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was President Ronald Reagan’s pet project. The whole idea was pushed by Edward Teller at Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Laboratories near Berkeley, California. If there was anything that was likely to get under Sucker’s skin, it was a dissertation on Star Wars by an Air Force full bird but now it was part of his job to read and approve it. It had already been approved by the Chair, so it was all a formality. Nevertheless, Sucker had not learned enough about how to go along to get along to completely dispense with his principles. A deadly impulse for one in the early stages of their academic career. All matters of principle should be dispensed with at least until one had attained tenure. And that was going to take a minimum of five years, even if one was in a tenure track position. That was not even the case.
Sucker had spent a day going through the dissertation. He was rather appalled at the work. It was mostly technical, nuts and bolts. It was doubtful if it was technically feasible. Politically, it was obsolete. The Cold War was on its death bed. As far as ethical questions were concerned, they were nowhere to be found. For Sucker, the neoconservative project to build an anti-ballistic missile system was not only futile and a waste of money but dangerous. It might easily lead to nuclear war. What had happened to the old concept of deterrence that had theoretically protected the nation for the last forty years? All of that had now been thrown out the window. It looked like the neocons wanted to have a first strike capability and that was considered to be a dangerous concept.
On the afternoon of the defense, Sucker went to the seminar room. Three other professors were already there. An outside reader, a Sovietologist, Professor John Blank from the History Department, joined them.
The candidate appeared in his uniform. There was a big patch of ribbons down the left side of his uniform. His brass buttons were highly polished and shoes spit shined. Rather they were those glossy plastic pre-shined shoes that never had to be polished.
The professors seemed to be rather over-awed at the military officer it seemed to Sucker. He had not known another student to be treated with such reverence. With such deference. Sucker was rather amused. He took the view that, in terms of academia, the officer was no different than any other PhD candidate and so should be treated no differently. Why should he grovel in front of his gaudy panel of ribbons pinned to his blue uniform? In a sense, it did Sucker’s soul good to be able to question a military officer about his work. After being in the Navy and suffering the high handedness of officers as an enlisted man, he thought he was rather going to enjoy being on the other end of the stick.
The defense began with Professor Warburg introducing the participants. He effusively welcomed the Colonel. He was to be on display as a creation, a veritable clone, of Warburg himself, who had been grooming him for three years.
The Colonel began to explain his concepts. Sucker watched his hands with amusement as he made large arcs in the air in front of him, cutting the imaginary trajectory of a missile though the air.
God, he must do this in his sleep, Sucker imagined. It was so childish. Was he kidding? We are taking about nuclear war and millions, maybe hundreds of millions dying. For the Colonel, it was just another technical exercise.
Sucker’s colleague, an older woman who was an associate professor, started to imitate the Colonel creating her own imaginary trajectories of imaginary missiles.
“Oh my God. This guy has really got them by the balls,” Sucker was starting to think. They are aping him.
Sucker had never been in such a position before to question a PhD candidate in a defense. He would have preferred to hang back and watch how the thing unfolded. Unfortunately, the lot fell to him to ask the first questions. Sucker wondered if it was just a way to get him out of the way so they could move on to the more substantive issues and quickly nail it down. Sucker had the list of questions next to him that he had jotted down while going through the work. He had read quite a lot on the issue but not from a military strategic security angle.
Sucker thought that it was necessary to ask some fundamental questions, beyond the nuts and bolts mechanics of the operation of Star Wars.
Sucker got the nod from Professor Warburg and began.
“Colonel Fuchs,” Sucker began, “You make the argument that Star Wars would result in reduced numbers of weapons on both sides of the cold war. But some have argued that it would actually result in a large increase of weapons, as each side tried to overwhelm the other. How do we know that the numbers of weapons will be reduced with Star Wars?”
The Colonel calmly reached into his brief case and pulled out a military journal. “The argument is right here,” he pointed out. Then he read the conclusion of the author that he had highlighted with a yellow marker. The kind that undergraduate students are never without.
“It is beyond dispute that the number of nuclear weapons deployed can be drastically reduced once Star Wars is in place and operational.”
For the Colonel, that settled the issue. He rested his case.
Then Sucker asked:
“Colonel, you have asserted that because people have lost faith in Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and deterrence, they have come over to supporting the Strategic Defense Initiative. But perhaps this loss in faith in MAD has led many people to stop trusting the experts altogether. What do you think? Why should they trust the experts now, if what they said for forty years has been wrong all along?”
“Oh, I haven’t seen anyone on the streets that does not support the Strategic Defense Initiative,” the Colonel said.
As if he had asked them all, Sucker thought. Sucker wondered if the streets he was referring to were those on the Air Force Base. He just could not think like someone in the military. That was for sure. This was not exactly dealing with the issue.
Next, Sucker asked: “Colonel Fuchs, you have argued that people have started supporting Star Wars because it addresses the moral issue brought up in the Bishop’s letter on nuclear war. But how does it do that? Doesn’t the moral issue remain when millions will die if a single nuke gets through the Star Wars shield?”
“Oh, there might be some small moral issues,” the Colonel replied, flippantly dismissing Sucker’s concern. It seemed that the Colonel was at a loss for an answer and didn’t expect to have to answer such a question. And, anyway, he hadn’t brought an article addressing this issue. He was simply not concerned with any moral issues. It was surely the height of absurdities to even bring it up from his point of view.
Sucker pushed farther.
“Colonel, the Bishops letter linked the arms race with poverty, as weapons procurement uses the nation’s social surplus for weapons. They argue that Star Wars would tend to make this much worse. That has been emphasized as a concern of the Bishops in their letter. A point made by General Dwight Eisenhower in his famous speech, by the way, on the military industrial complex.
Professor Fish quickly spoke up disagreeing. But Professor Virginia Schultz came to Sucker’s defense that surely there was such a legitimate concern. Perhaps she was feeling bad that Sucker was taking such a beating having all his ideas summarily dismissed. And it was pretty fucking obvious, in spite of the objection.
“Oh, I don’t think the Bishops have linked the building of Star Wars with poverty,” the Colonel answered, avoiding the question. But he was clearly wrong. Sucker recalled that they definitely had. It had caught his attention. And, after all, the nuclear shield was going to cost a hell of a lot of billions of dollars. What the hell? He would not press it. If the Colonel could not answer a question he would just dismiss it.
“Well, it seems to me that perhaps there is a contradiction in your argument, Colonel Fuchs,” Sucker continued. “On the one hand, you argue that the number of weapons on both sides should be reduced to 2200. That would be a good start. But that seems to be enough to destroy the world many times over so I am not sure how much safer it would make us. But isn’t there a contradiction between reducing the number of nuclear weapons on the one hand and building a whole new costly weapons system on the other? Surely as long as this Cold War psychology persists, namely that the US has to be on the leading edge in weapons, then the arms race must continue. Maybe what really needs to be deterred is this Cold War psychology. Isn’t that the root of the problem?”
The Colonel looked puzzled and claimed that he could not understand the question. Why was there was a contradiction there? In his realist logic, it was like a chess board and moves were being made to defend the country. The rulers were doing what they had to do. Everything cost a lot of money. One new system after another sucked massive appropriations down the fiscal drain.
In terms of academic protocol, it was clear to all but Sucker that he had already badly stepped on his dick with this line of questioning and should now just shut the fuck up. He had already gone too far outside of the bounds of proper academic decorum. To go farther would be even a bigger faux pas and embarrassing. The other professors where hoping that he would have the sense to just wrap it up. But then he asked yet another question. Thinking freely at Sewanee State was clearly out of the question. It was a terrible faux pas.
“Colonel, I was wondering if you had considered that perhaps the historical conditions for the Cold War are vastly different today than in the past? Today revolutionary ideology is not coming from the Soviet Union, which is terribly conservative, but actually from the United States, from Berkeley, Chicago and so on.
Suddenly Professor Fish reacted once again. “Oh no, not Chicago.”
“Oh, I wasn’t referring to the university, necessarily” Sucker said.
“Hasn’t the Cold War conflict out-lived its time as a pretext for American global power?”
The Colonel glared at Sucker as if he had suddenly spotted the enemy. He would have loved to have had his finger on the red nuclear button and fired one of his high arcing missiles right at Suckers fucking head. What were these missiles for if not to wipe out pinkos like Sucker?
The professors around the table fairly blushed their embarrassment at Sucker’s irreverent faux pas with the big military man. Revolutionary ideas from the US, my ass, they were thinking. Only from a few rag-tag anarchists in Berkeley, perhaps, and some wild-eyed leftist professors. It was embarrassing, indeed.
Sucker had shot his wad and shot himself down in a swirling cloud of smoke. He hit the ground hard. There was a deathly silence.
Later Sucker realized that the last question was a mistake and that he should have actually let it go earlier.
Later, associate professor Schultz apologized to the Colonel that Sucker’s questions were peripheral to the dissertation. One was apparently not to ask any questions involving ethics. That was in bad taste.
Professor Fish then took over the questioning and asked: “Colonel, why is it necessary to target the leadership of the Soviet Union?”
A soft ball. An easy question for the Colonel. Everyone knew that those were evil bastards, as Casper Weinberger had pointed out. The only good commie was a dead commie. The answer was obvious to everyone.
Professor Schultz then asked the Colonel: “How do we know that the psychology of the Russians is to destroy America.”
The Colonel calmly proceeded to pull a series of books out of his brief case to make his points. He flourished the new issue of Foreign Policy that he wanted to demonstrate that he had just read. He had shaded in certain passages with his new yellow marker just as undergraduates do in their textbooks. He seemed to treat every word as the gospel truth. If it was in print in an article and came from his brief case, then who could question it?
The Colonel began to quote from an article from Casper Weinberger to the effect that “If we are prepared to believe Gorbachev, then we have already surrendered the national security of the United States.”
What rubbish, Sucker thought.
“He has come a long way,” the dissertation Chair Professor Warburg asserted, proud of his boy clone.
“And he still has some way to go and probably will not get there soon,” Sucker thought cynically. But then why does he need to?
Sucker thought that as an intelligent individual, if his questions offended the other professors, then it said more about them than anything else. The Colonel did not have any books to hold up to defend himself against Sucker’s questions on ethics. It was clear that California had warped Sucker’s mind so far from the minds in the South and academia in general, that he was adrift in foreign seas.
Professor John Blank kept butting in, quoting lines from the Southern War College Review.
After the defense finished, Blank came and said to Sucker:
“I would dispute your ideas about revolution in the United States. Maybe in London or Paris.”
“I was actually thinking about E.P. Thompson, Sucker said. He has argued that the Cold War no longer has any real substance. He says that the Cold War is just about itself. It has become an institution. But now the highly paid military officers are living off the social surplus in the public sector and have vested interests in the perpetuation of the Cold War and military bases and war colleges and Sovietologists. They are, after all, the equivalent of demonologists, it seems to me. That’s what they really are. Sucker had now become as a raving maniac, within the academic context. He was clearly out of control.
“The crude Cold War propaganda targets the evil Russians as if they had horns and other evil features. The sophisticated intellectuals just engage in a more subtle form of such propaganda but it is propaganda that serves to keep the system in place, nevertheless. It is part of the political economy of the Cold War. Perhaps these questions are peripheral to the dissertation but they are surely at the heart of the issue.”
Sucker’s questions had clearly gone off the rails in terms of academic protocol.
Maybe it was partly Sucker’s reaction to the military brass. He thought that it was ironic that ten years earlier, he was being brow beaten by the military brass for his beliefs in the Navy. Now he had been put in a position to approve the dissertation of an Air Force Colonel. It might have been appropriate to require that the officer address the moral and ethical questions involved in Star Wars. That probably is the reason that I am not in a position to require such a thing, Sucker realized. It was from a totally strategic security point of view. It was only a matter of technology.
He had followed his honest leanings, asking ethical questions. In doing so, he had shot to hell any chance that he would be seriously considered to remain in his present position. The professors would go through the motion of giving him a sort of interview but the fix was clearly already in.
Well, fuck it, Sucker thought. I think that I am just as good a teacher and scholar as any of the others in this department. They cannot make me bow down and pay obeisance to an Air Force Colonel. They cannot make me grovel in front of him just because he has all those flashy ribbons tacked to his lapel. My time of saluting military officers is over.
While Sucker did not fully realize it at the time, any effort that he would make in keeping his present position was completely superfluous. He had blown it completely by bringing up his unorthodox and even radical ideas. There was no place for them in academia. Certainly no place for them in the died in the wool political science department at Sewanee.
Sucker signed the dissertation with his fountain pen from the People’s Republic of China. It might have been made by Communists but now the country was quickly becoming a capitalist country under Deng Xiaoping. The Cold War was history but nobody in academia seemed to have a clue about this.
Chapter Twenty-Two: May Day
Sucker was still idealistic enough to believe that there was some political meaning to May Day. Perhaps it was a matter of being naïve enough. A political scientist should not be tripped up so easily. In that sense, he was perhaps still wet behind the ears in understanding the way the world really worked and was likely to work in the future. He woke up free from having to write lectures on a Sunday morning and made an entry in his journal to start the new month.
“Workers of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains.” “From each according to his ability. To each according to his needs.”
“While society has not yet ascribed upon its banner the latter in its full meaning, socialism has become the moving force of the twentieth century in spite of the disillusionment which has set in. These slogans from the Communist Manifesto of 1848 and the Critique of the Gotha Program are basically nineteenth century ideas, but embrace much older ideas. May Day is a significant holiday for socialists around the world. While there are the cynics and the hacks, the great majority of socialists are inspired with a vision of a better future beyond the alienating dichotomies of the current age, the residues from past centuries. Beyond the dead weight, which in the words of Marx, weighs like an incubus on the head of the living- the muck of the ages.
“Socialism, in spite of the contradictions in existing socialist societies, is a force for progress, for workers justice and just compensation for labor performed, for womens’ rights, for healing social and ethnic and all other alienating dichotomies in society. It holds forth a vision, utopian in nature, but approached in the objective world through painful struggle with the cynics and enemies of progress and human liberation for the underclasses of every society.
“Socialists are often those who are the most educated and aware of societies. Why is it that among the educated sectors, who have sought the truth, a high proportion of socialists are to be found? It is because ignorance is associated with reaction and the upholding of privilege for the few. The conservative elites dupe the masses into preserving these privileges for them, even sending them off to die in noble causes, whose essence is privilege for the snob classes of society, those who sneer at socialist’s ideas of human progress. The poor whites, referred to by the elites as white trash, have fallen into that trap and march off to die. The ruling classes have a cynical smirk on their faces. But the poor whites have been trained to sneer at the notion of social justice as a result of inbred racism in the society.
“Racism is but an instrument of class repression of the southern aristocratic elites, a tool of divide and rule. The historical reality is that the poor whites have been dead in the water while many blacks latched onto socialist ideas and marched forward. But rednecks, while projecting a rebel image, are often the most docile and easily manipulated by the state and centers of privilege. They are ever ready to march off and die for their oppressors, whether in the Alabama State Army, which they sport on their license plates, or in the armed forces of the United States.
Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, M.N. Roy, Farabundo Marti, Sandino, Leo Trotsky, Bukharin, Maurice Bishop, Martin Luther King, Jayaprakash Narayan and many others have advanced the cause of human freedom from the privileges of the ruling classes.”
It was a beautiful spring morning. Sucker could hear the birds singing in the small bushes outsider his apartment. Sucker decided to go for a walk around the compound. At one place, there was a beautiful fragrance from a flowering vine growing in the wild. Sucker pulled off a small cluster of flowers and brought them back. It gave off a strong fragrant perfume in the room.
After baking some banana bread, Sucker decided to go for a drive. He drove through the small town of Eoline and then through a forested area, part of the Talledega National Forest, the Oakmulgee Division. It was an area with small hills. In some places, the trees had been harvested and new trees had grown up.
The houses in the area showed that the people were very poor. Many of the houses were trashed out with junk piled up in the yards, old appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, washers and old automobiles. There were some tumble-down buildings. It was a clear sign of stark poverty. The red soil appeared to be leached out and not very fertile. Sucker tried to find a shady place to pull off the road and park for a rest but there was no such place. He did not find the area friendly or inviting.
Fortunately, classes had ended. He thought back to how he had arrived here last year in August. Reminiscing, he wrote in his journal about his experience,
“After all those years in graduate school, he came to Sewanee State to teach. It wasn’t exactly his idea of the payoff he had waited and worked for. But there it was, an offer, and a chance, and then began the descent into hell.
“Driving from Santa Barbara, the fourth day, he drove through a drenching Oklahoma rain storm which cleared in late morning and left heat and steam. It was enervating. Before dusk, he found a small squalid motel in a place out of the past. It was out of the past of visits to his grandmother in Paris, Arkansas in the fifties. This was Ola, a tiny town with one motel and the room still cost only twelve dollars in l987. Surely, it was soon to disappear into history. There was not even a public phone and no phones in the room. He had to use the old lady’s office phone to make a collect call to his wife in California.
“It was a harbinger of depression, of things to come, he expected. It would not get very cool even in the night. He was out the next morning early, pushing the old yellow Karmann Ghia across the Ozark Hills toward Little Rock. He found a country radio station and heard the song “I want a redneck girl.” Yes, it’s really that way, a redneck culture, he thought. No doubt about that. There were pick-up trucks with guns displayed in the back window of the truck that careened around him. This was going to be the test for him.
“How do you teach international relations to undergraduates in Sewanee? About that, he wasn’t sure, but he thought that he would have to learn fast. By noon, US Highway 65 took him south to US Highway 82 where it crossed the Mississippi River over into Mississippi. The heat was bearing down tremendously when he stopped at a market to buy some sodas and ice to replenish his ice chest. He must somehow survive. Almost everyone else had air conditioning.
“He drifted across the wide Mississippi River bottoms, the basis of the Mississippi planter aristocracy, and up the Eastern slope to redneck country. The black delta soil of farmers living on the largess of Washington, gave way to poor Mississippi hill farms where the people were living in poverty and growing black eyed peas. Large trees along the highway were slowly being strangled with kudzu vines. These strange shaped trees with vines gave a surreal appearance, like something out of the twilight zone. He headed straight into it. Fool that he was. Or perhaps a sucker.”
Now nine months had passed. He knew something more about living in the South. He had concluded that it was indeed a job and he had learned much from the experience, but he really did not want to spend the rest of his life teaching here. It was not his idea of a good life. It was as if he was in a strange foreign land, hostile to the ideas that he had brought with him from California.
Back in his bleak apartment, the rain came in late afternoon with lightning and thunder and then the downpour of rain. It was a veritable cloudburst. The skies became darker and the hail pounded down, bouncing off the cars and trucks in the parking lot. It began to pile up on the ground till it almost looked like snow. Water rushed down the hill behind the apartment complex, bringing the Sewanee red mud that quickly covered the parking lot. Some cars were standing in a pool of red Sewanee rainwater.
The next three weeks would determine his fate in relation to Sewanee. He would throw his hat in the running for the teaching position, in spite of the lack of congeniality with the university. It was his only handle on life and a career at the present time. And there was, after all, nothing to lose.
He had about as much chance of landing a tenure track job at Sewanee State as a snowball in August. It was one thing to have him come and do the heavy lifting. To pay him a small instructor’s salary for handling the large classes which others did not want to take. He had taken care of those needs for compensation. To bring him in as a member of the academy was something else altogether. He was simply the wrong kind of animal with the wrong kind of ideas.
Chapter Twenty-Three: Playing Games
Assistant Professor Sucker left his office five minutes early to give his lecture. He had not yet developed the technique of arriving at the class late in order to enhance his prestige. His upbringing in the Puritan work ethic had led him to believe that it was better to arrive early rather than late. This would set an example for the students, he mistakenly thought. He had a strong tendency to believe in equality and did not wish to be snobbish or elitist toward the class. He saw the class as a joint enterprise. Unfortunately, it was not true for the students. For them, it was a matter of class struggle. Their objective was to get the maximum grade with the slightest of work and learning. His faith in students was clearly over optimistic and completely unrealistic at this stage. As a leftist, he gave human nature far too much credit.
Sucker was ready to dive into the lessons and was well prepared. What bothered him most was the textbook. He could get along with it. But he would give his own views along with the views presented there. Indeed, he had not chosen the textbook but now had to use it. It was John Spanier, a late edition of Games Nations Play. It was very conservative, right-wing and a realist point of view. It smacked of American nationalism or the State Department and the US Military. It was also very nationalistic from an American point of view and extremely hostile to third world peoples and nations.
Spanier was another professor, like Professor Warburg, who spent a lot of time teaching at war colleges and on military bases. He had just recently taught at the nearby Air Force Base.
For Spanier, the games that nations played were for the purpose of gaining state power. One could only admire a state if it had great power. Secondly, it was clear that Spanier’s values dictated that the US was number one in the world and that was the way it was supposed to be. Then one went on to the other white European nations of the world, England, Germany, France and so on down the pecking order of nations. Those countries that had been imperialist nations in history ruled the world and that was fine and dandy. For him, the third world countries were largely worthless, except as a source of raw materials and markets. It was essentially a colonialist view brought into the late twentieth century. The United States, on the other hand, was not seen as an imperialist nation. On the contrary, Americans were just naturally best because they were, of course, smarter and more brainy than anyone else. They were trying to show other countries what they should do in their own interests. Uncle Sam would teach ‘em what they don’t know how. The US just wanted to help other nations out. It had no selfish national interests. It was far too generous for its own good.
Then there were the enemies, namely the communists, or the second world. They were positively evil, for Spanier. They were part of the evil empire and so war must be waged against them. This meant having the biggest military and nuclear weapons so that the United States could just blast the mother fuckers if they got too far out of line. There were good guys and bad guys and that was not so hard to figure out. Spanier did not pull any punches when it came to the Soviets and other evil communists.
Spanier spent a lot of ink spinning out concepts like balance of power, nuclear strength, and bipolarity. The world was seen to be bipolar, the two crucial poles being the United States and the Soviet Union.
It was clear to Spanier that the Soviets started the Cold War, although it was not explained how this happened. Perhaps just because it wouldn’t do to say that the U.S. had anything to do with starting it. And like George Kennan, he thought that the Russians would always oppose making a compromise. This meant that negotiations with this evil empire were futile.
An angry man, this Spanier. When people from the third world complained about historical colonialist exploitation this got on his nerves. Instead, he thought, they ought to be thankful for the West for bringing them the good things from their own civilization. But the West need not pay them much heed to them. They could either shape up or sink, for all he cared. It was up to them. He had no concern when these countries complained about the terms of trade that militated against them. Their debt burden was their own damned fault.
The western countries, along with Japan now, were the real rulers of the world and part of the great game was to keep it that way. But there were some characteristics of Americans that he worried about. It was the idea that the Americans were just too good for their own interests. They were too benevolent. This was a character flaw, given the realist version of the global hard ball game. The tendencies toward moralism and isolationism was dangerous. This was straight out of Walter Lippmann, of course. The state had to take control and make Americans want to be a great power. Americans also resisted military spending. This fault meant that the government would have to scare the hell out of them from time to time.
Sometimes Spanier got it wrong, such as when he discussed South Asia. History was skipped over or forgotten or perhaps never understood.
Sucker was coming from a different direction. First, it was partly because he had actually lived in the third world and so could understand the point of view of thinkers and writers there. There was certainly no lack of intelligence, so racism toward them was uncalled for. Moreover, Sucker, in his personal view, clearly leaned toward being an anarchist. To worship power easily got under his skin. Why was this Spanier such a fucking fascist? Moreover, his experiences with the military had not instilled in him a great love for that organization. If the world was going to move toward peace, then surely a more gentle and understanding approach was in order. One that was less selfish and not based on maximizing power. But it would be impossible for a realist to think this way. That was crystal clear.
Therefore, Sucker had a lot of trouble when it came to dealing with the ideas in the textbook. He had trouble tolerating them, which led him to make a running argument with Spanier in the margins of the pages chapter after chapter. On the other hand, one had to admit that Spanier’s textbook was the perfect textbook to use to teach international relations in Sewanee. It very much went along with the attitudes that students had picked up from society. The South seemed to dote on twisting the boot heel on the heads of those who were down and out. It was part of the historical tradition. They would let all of society rot rather than help blacks. The world could go to hell in a hand basket rather than do anything to alleviate poverty and misery in the third world. Equality was a proposition up with which they were not prepared to put.
This was the basis of the class struggle which must engage Sucker as he taught the course. Sure, he would present the realist ideas and approach of Spanier, but also he would point out what he thought was wrong with them in his view. It was not that the ideas were all wrong. It was true that realist logic often prevailed in international relations. On the other hand, it seemed that essentially, this logic was the basis of wars. How many millions had perished in the name of state power in the twentieth century alone?
It just seemed to Sucker that Spanier had never met a war that he didn’t like. He was a member of the war party. One concept that seemed to anger him most was that of appeasement. In an early chapter there was the write-up of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s agreement with Hitler to avoid war. Chamberlain returned from Germany triumphantly with “the scrap of paper.” That’s what the agreement had been dubbed by many historians.
In the mainstream view, Chamberlain had committed a grave error in signing the agreement. In trying to keep Britain out of the war, he was just appeasing Hitler and enabling him to go to war against other nations in Europe. Once he had gobbled them up, then he would turn against England. In the mainstream view, the West should have gone against Hitler from the beginning.
Sucker thought that the approach was biased against Chamberlain. Trying to stay out of the war was not a wrong policy, in his view. It was also true that Spanier left out the fact that there were many in the US and Britain who thought that the German Reich was a good thing. It was rebuilding Germany and would be a deterrent against the Soviet Union. But Sucker was not able to convince the students that what Chamberlain did was not all wrong.
It was simply taken for granted that what the US did in the world was noble and just by definition. What communist nations did was evil by definition. What third world nations did usually was wrong or incompetent. The West was just trying to help them but they did not cooperate.
It was clear that for the most part, the students bought the arguments of Spanier. He was preaching, after all, what they had been told all of their lives. And if Sucker suggested any criticism of the United States, he was challenged by the students.
It was true that Sucker had not yet understood that the purpose of education was not to lead the students to discover the truth. The enterprise of higher education was not one of seeking truth. Rather, the enterprise was one of reproducing the ruling class as it existed. Not all were going to be successes when it came to this mode of socialization. There were clearly going to be some bad apples. But that did not matter greatly. The point was the mainstream. In this way, the prevailing ideas would be reproduced and so would the ruling class.
Spanier’s ideas being written up in a fat textbook that looked so legitimate carried a lot of weight with the students. Who was poor Sucker to challenge such a senior professor who spent his time teaching US Government officials and military officers. For poor Sucker, it was going to be a long class struggle.
Chapter Twenty-Four: Sick
It was a warm spring morning in late April, the kind of day that gave one hope for the future. It made Professor Sucker anxious to get out of the house and enjoy nature. After a good sleep, Sucker felt rested on Sunday morning. His eyes had been tired the evening before after reading all day. Now he could hear birds singing in the trees and small bushes around the compound. “Toogee-toogee-toogee-twee-twee-twee. In the distance beyond the trees, a policeman was testing his siren. Another bird chimed in with a sharp chi-chi-chi. Another was making a sharp whistle, cheeuh-cheeuh-cheeuh. The black girl with a poodle was walking in the parking lot with hard-soled shoes clogging along. Sucker had come to recognize her from the characteristic sound of her heels.
Another bird joined the singing, wheeoo-wheeoo-wheeoo-wheeoo-wheeoo rapidly. Behind the tall magnolia trees a crow called, caw-caw-caw. Sucker could hear some Jay birds back in the trees.
In the woods next to a trail that ran up through the trees were some big magnolia trees. The big white blossoms gave off a sweet odor that filled the air. Sucker avoided going up the trail as it was not unusual to hear people shooting, practicing with their guns on Sunday mornings. He did not feel safe to venture into the woods with the gun rampant culture. Many of the pick-up trucks could be seen with big guns in the rear window of the cab.
Sucker heard childrens’ voices. A dog barked and then a big squishy American car swooshed across the asphalt parking lot. He heard another bird celebrating the morning, wheeda-wheeauh-wheeauh-wheeauh. Another chimed up with a sharply accented and emphatic swit-swit-swit-swit-swit.
A man came out whistling and clapping his boots on the parking lot moving around the cars. He found his car and started the motor. He let it run for a while and then began to rev the engine up to high speeds. Sucker thought about how much gas it must be guzzling just to make that sound. Why would one rev the engine up just to hear the sound? That is, unless one was from Sewanee.
A couple appeared dressed for Sunday school. It appeared to be a husband and wife team on their way to a local church.
Sucker began to yearn to be on the road, out of this town and out of Sewanee. There were only a few more weeks. That was encouraging. Two weeks of classes and then whatever it took to wrap up his duties here and then hang it up. He had no stake in the southern town. He would not put down any roots here. He would be happy to just drive away without looking in the rear view mirror and never come back. He would feel little loss. In fact, it would be liberation. The real meaning of human liberation.
There is such a bifurcation in this society, he thought. The world of academia and the world of mass popular culture that flooded into the discount marts on the weekends. The elites in the university kept the gates pretty tightly closed, guarded against any dangerous renegades who did not buy into their elite values. Political culture in America depended upon keeping the great majority ignorant and docile. To extend political consciousness widely would result in a quantum leap in awareness. The politicians, the Reagans, the Bushes, the Doles and so on to a great extent banked on that ignorance. The conservatives, right wingers, would always have Sewanee and the whole South in the bag. This could in large part be attributed to docility and ignorance as well as the phony threat of “communism.” Those who think they have freedom on a silver platter live in bondage. They are bound not only by the social and political institutions of society but by their own ignorance and fears. While repressing others, they end up repressing themselves.
Sucker had to quickly get another lecture together. The book he had ordered for the material on the CIA turned out to be an infuriating book. Nevertheless, he would ask the students to read it. He knew that most students were not going to buy the book and read it anyway. But he had to read it and discuss it in class. Most students would have little trouble with the values there, perhaps. With their depth of knowledge, they could not understand what the ideas really meant out in the real world.
The problem was that these values were so sleazy in Sucker’s view. It was not the kind of work that he was used to reading or that he would like to give to others to read. If they were naïve it could definitely warp their minds. In Sucker’s view, the book was a pitiful display of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of those who try to defend the covert action criminality of the United States Government. One might sympathize with the ideas of the pitiful authors, were they not so vicious. The authors attempted to justify the murder of leaders in third world countries by using the words of Jesus Christ. The concept of the Holy became “by extension just covert action.” What a farce, Sucker thought. Are we to forget that Christ was for healing the poor and the underdog? Yet most of the leaders the US has overthrown around the world have attempted to distribute some of the wealth of society to the poor. They are so much more Christ-like in that respect than those who work for the CIA who overthrow the benefactors of the poor to protect private capital. Christ said: “Even as you have done it unto one of these little ones, you have done it unto me.” That is like killing Christ and then saying that it is like covert action, Sucker thought. The trial and crucifixion of Christ was nothing more than an early Roman covert action to serve the purposes of the empire. Sucker thought that the genuflections and contortions the authors went through to justify murder fell flat. What a pitiful display of apology for the bullet through the head. They were praising the bludgeon of the fascist monsters the CIA had created around the globe. That is an ignorance and viscous behavior up with which I cannot put, he thought. There were so many things that were just astonishing in the book. The moral bankruptcy of it! But certainly the power of capital, the state, the military, the press, and most of academia were firmly behind it. That whole position fell flat for Sucker. It was only propped up by its own violence.
What contempt for democracy, these authors had, he thought. They also have contempt for Congress. They show an admiration for the murders in cloak and dagger of the CIA. If they could, they would get rid of Congress altogether to give the CIA free range across the world. They would do the same thing to democracy here in the US as they do abroad through their blood-lust assassinations. They have contempt and hate for democracy here as well as in the third world. But the façade is in place here. It is harder to make the façade stand in other parts of the world.
The two authors of the book worried that the revelations of the 1970s about the CIA had poked some holes through the CIA façade. Now the blood and bodies could be seen in the streets. Ironically, the CIA motto is “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” Sucker observed. But when the people know the truth about the CIA, it makes them sick. The motto on the building should be changed, modified slightly. Why not make it: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you sick.” But the truth about the murderous actions of the CIA might certainly help to make us free. We have to categorically reject such violence, secrecy, and criminality. I don’t think one would be a bit worse off to reject it completely, he reflected.
Sucker could not stand to read the book for very long at a time and thought it was absurd and flat wrong. Nevertheless one must understand the relevance of that point of view that prevailed, while largely behind the veil.
Coming back from his classes, Sucker heard on the radio that someone had blown up the USO club in Naples. He remembered being in that club several times when he was in the Navy. It was not very exciting. Just a place to hang out. He actually preferred the local Italian places in the city. The report said that several people were killed and several others were wounded. It was not clear if there were any Americans killed.
Sucker hated to hear about such a thing. Unfortunately, he thought, it might be a case of the chickens coming home to roost. And the covert actions of the CIA certainly would not help the situation. Perhaps there was a time when there was a case for the American military to be over there in Italy, although it was very largely open to doubt in his mind. Of all that money that helped Europe recover after World War Two, a large portion of it went for military spending and keeping American military personnel stationed in Europe. Now it had gone too far. Many Europeans, particularly leftists, saw it as a symbol of US imperial hegemony over the world and the unnecessary control of European affairs. Sucker also felt that a major reason that the US kept a large footprint in Europe was that Washington did not trust that the European leaders would perpetuate the aging Cold War policies that served America. He suspected that the Cold Warriors in Washington greatly feared what would happen if there was a Cold War thaw. In many cases, they saw that condition as setting up the direct conditions for war. That is very foolish, Sucker considered. The troops stationed in Europe were there to serve the interests of the US, not Europeans. This was called European “defense.” It is too bad that innocents have to be caught in the Cold War crossfire. They had nothing to do with the situation. Most of them know very little about these issues.
Back home, Sucker rested. He had developed a head ache from all his constant reading. He had learned a lot this academic year. His real education had come as a result of this class struggle in teaching at Sewanee State, rather than in graduate school. He was starting to get the bigger picture of what academia was all about. It just served to convince him that he had no future in Sewanee.
Chapter Twenty-Five: Bumbling Idiots
Sucker often set down his thoughts in his journal. As classes were about to end, he had more time to spill out his thoughts. They often veered unrealistically toward anarchism. He could not help but see the state as the enemy. This day he wrote:
“U.S. policymakers have forgotten an elementary fact. Most contemporary global difficulties of the U.S. derive from the fact that U.S. officials have failed to realize that it is more important to eat than to vote. Historically, liberal democracy provided a weak and partial basis for democracy. It failed to go further and guarantee full economic as well as political democracy. This was only possible as a result of the economic benefits that flowed to liberal democracy from capitalism and slavery. In the American South, political democracy was severely truncated and only a little less in the North as women could not vote. The failure to realize that a robust democracy must include economic as well a political rights, along with the perception of economic democracy as “socialism” has resulted in paranoia. There has been a tendency to see “Red” wherever genuine democratic and egalitarian political movements have emerged. For example, the Arbenz Regime in Central America in l954 was seen as socialist.
“Such myopia precludes an understanding of the world and assures that America, increasingly a bloated, helpless giant, must blindly grope its way forward being tossed by the currents of contemporary history.
This may or may not have been bullshit, but Sucker continued to scribble.
“The US has become an old lady in a rocking chair, staring with disapproval across her glasses as energetic youth in Nicaragua frolic and dance to a livelier tune of history. America, you have become as senile as the bumbling idiot that sits in the Oval Office. A lame duck president for a historically lame duck country.”
This happened to be President Ronald Reagan at the time.
“America, where is thy lost youth? Where are those who carried out the Boston Tea Party? The dream of Novus Ordo Seclorum, a new order of the ages, has become an old order of political reaction.
“Central America now exercises the same influence on American Foreign Policy as the full moon does on were wolves” says Wayne Smith, the former head of the US interests section in Havana. Henry Kissinger tried to get the US ambassador to Nicaragua removed because he stated that the Sandinista Government was “performing fairly well in the field of education.” William Blum observed that “Each passing day that the Sandinistas survive infuriates the anti-communist wind-up toys who inhabit the White House.”
Sucker antagonized his students unintentionally by showing a film in class from the library. The film, “Women and the World” was about the nuclear arms race and contained the womens’ statements of outrage about nuclear weapons. It was a powerful film. Several of the women in the film were black.
As the film continued, several of the students got up and walked out. They seemed to be protesting by boycotting the film. Were they protesting the black women, or the ideas about stopping nuclear weapons? Perhaps they think that human survival is a trivial issue, Sucker wondered. In any event, they should be exposed to views against nuclear weapons in their education in political science, Sucker figured. It they did not get it, then that was their problem. They should think about it if they were serious students.
Sucker went back to reflecting on the world in his journal.
“I have come to the conclusion that the essence of international political economy, at root, is just the distribution of wealth. That is what all economics really is. Production and distribution of wealth. On a world-wide scale today, it is toward greater inequality. What we see are enormous struggles for greater equality. The old forces of greed reassert themselves and a new round of accumulation and inequality sets in. China had made a good deal of progress toward equality under Mao but now there is increasing inequality. We may see the same thing in Cuba after Castro is no longer in power. The revolutionary leader is like the nationalistic leader, indeed, is sometimes also a nationalistic leader, who leads the country by closely adhering to an activating ideology. But ultimately, the enthusiasm wanes. A new generation emerges that was not infused with revolutionary ideas and did not participate in the revolution. This is the historical cycle.
“Sometimes the ideas of the revolution can be canonized and carved into stone so that they remain the guiding principles of the society for a longer historical period, as in the Soviet Union, but ultimately, even in such societies, the iconoclasts will step forward.
“Ideas, struggle, change, progress, grow from adversity. At root, one sees the cycle of history described by Ibn Khaldun. In his time, strength and leaders emerged from the tribal hinterlands. Now, we can say they come from the economic periphery. Ideas are thrust upon the world. Old bonds are burst and gray heads roll. But the young Turks also turn gray and grow soft.
“This is a continuing cycle. Is there any linear progress in history? To where is the world moving? Do Plato, Hegel, Marx have any relevance? Have their thoughts all been relegated to the muck of the ages?
“History is not a river flowing to paradise, a utopian vision, but rather a great churning ocean with great turbulence. Huge historical currents, waves, rush forward and backward, obliquely, cancel each other out, sweep all forward in enormous tsunamis, sweep decaying structures from their path, and die upon the plains, receding back into the depths. Can one make meaning of history? History does have meaning but perhaps the meaning is not the same in every time and place. The unique human quality is the consciousness of history, of its movement, its ebb and flow, the tremendous power unleashed by its storms. But not only a consciousness but indeed, humanity is the living force of history itself, the force which drives history forward and backward. It strives for a better, more sane, and humane world.
“Like the seas, some areas of the world are calm like the summer Mediterranean. Others are extremely turbulent, like South Africa, analogous to the stormy Mediterranean in the winter. History does not move forward at the same speed and direction at all places simultaneously. This differential progress and activation of ideas produces tensions. Waves moving in opposite directions clash, but new waves more energy packed overcome the old and stagnating currents.
Sucker’s turbulent mind kept spinning out these opinions, whether they really had anything to do with history or not.
An article appeared in the Crimson White with the headlines: “Fraternities integrate for first time”
Seeing it, Sucker imagined that possibly one of the all-white fraternities had decided to go revolutionary and admit a black guy. That, it seemed to him, would truly be a miracle, providing that they could actually get by with doing such a thing. Reading the article was a big disappointment, however. Are they serious? Are they playing games with us? Sucker thought.
The article began: “For the first time in the 140-year existence of fraternities at the University, the racial barrier was crossed when historically black Phi Beta Sigma inducted a white member over the weekend.”
Out of the five men joining the fraternity, one of them was white. The article pointed out that in the previous year, a black sorority had accepted a white woman as a member. So this was actually the “second time that the racial barrier had been crossed.”
Various members of the university community were quoted as congratulating the decision of the fraternity. It seemed like a damp squib to sucker. Why should people fall all over themselves talking about progress in such a case. When the white fraternities started to let blacks join, then one could perhaps start to see some real progress. When they started seeing them as human individuals and not discriminating according to the color of their skin, then one could talk about progress. There had been change since the l960s, when a black could not even attend the university but there was still a long way to go.
Sucker was invited to go to a conference the next day at Brownsville. He would have liked to stay home but he had to go to justify missing his class. He enjoyed the drive to Brownsville. Always good to get out of the town in the country air, he thought. On the other hand, the conference was insufferably boring. It turned out to be all Cold-War stuff about what was happening in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Some of the participants were from NATO and were extreme Cold warriors. While a scholar from Poland gave a talk on the positive things the Soviet Union had done for peace, he was challenged by a boorish Cold Warrior who argued that the Soviet Union deserved no credit for any of it. Sucker was so bored that he was about to fall of his chair and wanted to get away. In his view, not everything about the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe had been negative. This was not the right approach to understand the historical experiences of these countries, he thought.
“Socialism is the long and difficult struggle between capitalism and capitalism.” This joke was turning out to be true as the countries of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union collapsed.
Sucker began to be cynical about the concepts of perestroika and glasnost. They were being hyped as now bringing democracy to the people. The Soviet thaw. Something the people could rejoice in now. But was this meant to bring greater freedom and democracy to the people?
“First, it seemed that it was mainly a mobilization from the top. It was state-sponsored democracy from the top, which was not democracy at all. From the perspective of most of the people, they were going to lose their guarantee of a livelihood and retirement benefits. Democracy must come from below, from the people. The relation between the state and the people is always antithetical. They are playing the state democratic tune and expecting people to dance to that tune rather than to their own tune. Many in the USSR do not have a good reason to dance to this tune. The workers will be waltzed right out into the street for lack of jobs to the tune of sixteen million in a few years. The people’s glasnost will not be tolerated.
“Perestroika is essentially a program of modernization and this is charted out to be done upon the backs of the workers. The Soviet leaders have concluded that it has to be done to increase productivity. The increase in productivity is being carried out on the backs of the workers. This is true whether in the capitalist west or in the Soviet Union. This suggests that both systems are moving in essentially the same direction, to maximize their position in the global capitalist economy.
“The nature of the world capitalist economy is that wealth is basically exploitative and has been created through exploitation and alienation of the worker. Both sets of leaders think that they are stretching their necks in the direction of the desirable goal. But wealth creation is fundamentally flawed because it is exploitative, alienating, and tends to centralize power. This is the fundamental underlying concept. Both systems are blind to this flaw as both systems see big and powerful as positive values. But this is the enemy of human freedom and democracy.
When Sucker began to get wound up like this, he started to see the state as the essential enemy and veer toward anarchy.
“We need a fundamental change in the global political economy. The direction today is wrong, toward export led growth, reliance upon the markets and so on. The ecology of the planet cannot survive this direction. The most pernicious aspect is the tremendous waste in the arms industry. Four days arms spending, worldwide, would wipe out hunger. Starvation and hunger is a human tragedy. This is the real Mutual Assured Destruction. Consume as much as possible and blow the place up. E.P. Thompson has suggested that an arms expert is a person with a hole in his head where politics and morality ought to be.”
All of these ideas were perceptive and drove his views of how the world and society should change but they would not get him very far at Sewanee State University. Or most other US universities, as far as that went. He was bucking against the tide.
Chapter Twenty-Six: Sand Bar
Candy looked delicious sunbathing in the nude on the white sand bar. Her beautiful young tits were firm, pointing at the sky. Those little hard nipples looked so inviting to Sucker. They made him salivate heavily. Her cute Venus mount glistened in the sun. She had trimmed her bush short. She let the warm rays of the sun embrace her young body. Her cute girlish face was freckled, her cheeks rosy. The sun relaxed her and aroused her desires.
Sucker had slipped his clothes off to get some spring sun on his body. The sun was so warm and beautiful that he had almost gone to sleep, forgetting where he was. He felt Candy’s lips kissing and tasting his tits. She slowly swirled her tongue on his small hard nipples as she bent over him. It gave him a tingling feeling between his legs. Her soft hair was falling on his body. He felt his cock getting thicker.
Candy moved her lips down his body and tasted the soft flesh of his stomach and his naval. Her tongue gave him a curiously erotic feeling. He felt her lips kissing his half-swollen cock and then her tongue. She gathered his tender balls in her hand and tasted him as he grew stiff.
“Your balls feel so funny, Sucker. They are big and nice. You are a beautiful man. I love your balls.”
She wrapped her young slim fingers around his thick shaft. In a little bit, she had his stiff flagpole throbbing. She ran her tongue up and down the length of his cock as he became aroused. Tasting the lips of his reddened tip, a salty drop of his nectar spilled out on her tongue.
“You taste salty,” she said. “But I like your taste. You are so hard.”
Facing his feet, she impaled her soft wet slit on his cock. Earnest squeezed her young fleshy ass as she slowly moved her warm pink papaya up and down his throbbing member. He liked her long brownish hair flowing down her back. He loved all her young flesh. He liked to fuck a woman that way. Young and juicy, she was his precious little girl.
“Candy, Candy, you are nice Candy,” he said. “You sweet little pussy. You are going to get my stuff. Get it good. Right up you, Are you ready? My baby, are you ready?”
“You’re a dirty old man,” she said. “But I started it. I wanted to feel your big thing inside me. I wanted you to fuck me, Sucker with that big thing. I forget how it feels and want it again. Then when you are inside me, it is just natural. I love it. I never imagined that I would be fucking my professor. A professor with a big fucking cock. Professors are only supposed to be brainy. Maybe you also have brains in your cock.”
“I didn’t imagine that I would be fucking one of my students, either,” Sucker said. “That is, not in the Biblical sense. There are probably several who think I have fucked them when they get their grade. But I haven’t. No, I wouldn’t do that.”
“Like shit,” she said. “I know that those little fascists in your class send you right up the wall when they write those comments about how the US has to get rid of all the Commie leaders around the world. You feel like giving them an F. I bet they don’t get an A.
“Probably not an A if they are that stupid,” Sucker said. “If they think like that bumbling idiot in the White House, Ronald Fucking Reagan. I admit it tears me up to have to give the little bastards even a B. But the truth is, they have just taken a course from Wolfram Warburg and they do not read a word of the material that I assign.”
“Your stuff is quite loaded,” Candy observed. “Except for that fascist screed by some retired CIA spook. But you stepped on your dick when you gave them that to read. But I am not knocking it. Students can learn more in your class more deeply, if they will just come to class, read, and take it seriously.”
“You know what I take seriously?” Sucker said. “Your sweet pink honeycomb. Your sweet little student pussy. Now give me some more candy. Your sweet pink candy.”
Sucker mounted her as she lay back on the sand.
“You are so beautiful, Candy. If you were my young wife, I would have your tits swelling with milk right away. I wouldn’t be able to help it. You would get it all the time. ”
Sucker took her legs on his shoulders to plunge deeper into her juicy honey sheath.
“Oh you are hot up in there, my honey cup. Those cute freckles on your face drive my crazy balls wild. Wild as shit. Your beautiful eyes. My little girl. You are the best thing that happened to me this year. At least the most fun.”
Candy was moaning her pleasure as she reached a climax.
“Oh Sucker, Sucker. Oh God, you are making me come. Make me come. Come harder.”
Sucker went for broke and felt himself burst inside her. He savored the ecstasy as his muscles spasms took him with wild jerking motions.
“Good, so good, to the last drop, my Candy. I’m giving you everything I have.”
He rolled off as his spent cock slowly wilted.
“You keep making a lot of crème. You are a juicy man. I am still taking the pills. I hope they work.” Candy said. “Or I will be in deep shit with my parents. They just wouldn’t understand. Of course, they would never imagine that it was a professor that put me in a fix. They would never imagine me getting me knocked up by my professor.”
“They probably don’t know much about professors,” Sucker said. “Times have changed since they went to the university.”
“Sure, but neither of them went to the university,” she said. “I am the first one in my family to go to college. They don’t have a clue what goes on in a university.”
“Probably a good thing,” Sucker said.
It was strange how they had ended up on the bank of that small river that Sunday morning in early May. Sucker had come to the campus to work on packing his things up. He thought he would be leaving before long. He had walked a little on campus, over to the big grass field in front of the library. The freshly cut grass had a familiar smell. He had had enough of academia. Now he was ready for the summer. He wanted to air out his brain and his spirit. The spring flowers were blooming in the morning air. He sat down to warm himself in the sun. Then he spotted Candy walking his way.
He quickly moved over to say hello.
“Candy, what are you doing here this morning,” he asked.
She was surprised to see him. She had thought of coming to visit a friend, a guy who lived on the other side of campus. She had met him in class and she found out where he lived. They studied together sometimes. Now the classes were over, she had more time to play around. She thought he might take it a step further that day. She needed a younger boyfriend.
She hesitated at first in answering Sucker, then said, “Oh, just taking a walk. How are you?”
“Not bad,” Sucker said. “I have just about wrapped up my business here in this town, I think. There is only a very slim chance that I am going to get hired for another year here. That is pretty clear. I think it is completely clear. Wolfram Warburg only wants a clone of his fascist self around. So I will surely be leaving soon. Maybe by the end of the week.”
“That’s sad,” she said. “And bad. You are my best professor and I have two more years before I can graduate from here. It will be so different without your classes. And of course, going for pizza and the redneck shit kicking honky-tonks where you took me. That was fun.”
She looked so young and cute that Sucker wanted to embrace her and start kissing her freckled cheeks and her red delicious lips. Her young firm breasts were swelling out inside her bright yellow T-shirt. He decided that he would not let her get away that day. He would have a juicy piece of her candy.
“You were my most fun student,” Sucker said. “I had a good time with you. I don’t want to leave you. We had good times together.”
“I wish you were staying,” she said. “Or at least coming back to teach for another year.”
“We were sort of comrades,” Sucker Said. “We still are. We will still be friends. Even if I leave. We can meet again.”
“Candy, it is such a nice day. Come with me. I know a lovely spot. We can have a picnic. We can go past the store and get what we need on the way. It will be a fun day. Will you come with me?”
“Sure, Sucker, it sounds like fun. I would like to,” she said, giving up the idea of seeing the guy she had thought to meet. He will just have to wait, she thought. But if Sucker was not here, she would certainly try to get him.
He took her hand and squeezed it. Oh God! Those tits. They just wouldn’t quit. And no young girl could have a more delicious young ass, he was sure. She was delightful. He could not get her, could not take her with him, being a married man, unless he chucked the marriage and family altogether. Anyway, she was too young. She should have a lot of boys and men before she thought of settling down and getting married. Better yet, if she was smart, she would avoid getting married altogether, he considered. But little cunts like her usually got snapped up pretty easily. Then that was the end of their development, once they got settled down to family life and having kids.
He walked her over to the parking lot near Cottonwood Hall. There, she settled into his small car. God, he liked the way she looked in her new jeans. Denim looked so good on a young girl. Showed how perfect her long legs were. She was a young woman but he also thought of her as a little girl.
They stopped at Safeway. Due to the Blue Laws, it was not possible to buy beer on a Sunday, or any alcohol. That was the shits but after all, it was a conservative state. They had hung a sign over the beer section. If you are backward, you are backward, Sucker thought.
They could do OK without it. Sucker picked up some freshly baked French bread. There was salami, cheese, pickles, chips. Some chocolate. Fruit yogurt. It was too hot for ice cream. They avoided soda, taking some pure fruit drinks.
They headed out to the countryside. The spring breezes blew through the open windows of the small car.
“I am thinking,” Candy said. “I learned a lot from you, Sucker. You think differently than the people here. I want to get out of Sewanee to another part of the country. But I think I have to stay till I finish my university degree. I cannot pay out of state tuition.”
“Think about going to graduate school,” Sucker said. “If your grades are good, you can get a good deal at a university in another state. They can give you a tuition waiver and make you a teaching assistant. That way, you can pay for it without much trouble.”
“I really want to be an academic like you and learn, really learn, the deeper meaning, like you have taught us in class. Oh, a lot of those assholes just brushed if off calling you a communist. They are just stupid. Let them stay in Sewanee and watch football. You inspired me to go deep into politics and I realized that the only way is to read, read, read, the way you have encouraged us to do. You made me want to learn.”
“It is good to know that I had at least one real student,” Sucker said. “You have brains and you are also willing to expand your mind and question the things that you have always been taught in life. I am a little old and am married. Otherwise, we might make a good team together. But you will find your way. Try to stay free as long as possible. Don’t get yourself tied down.”
“Yes, I agree,” she said. “I know that I can always find a man when I need one. But I don’t know about marriage. I want to stay free. I want friends like we are.”
“That’s a good idea,” Sucker said. “Work hard and you will be successful. I think the university is not a great university, compared to many others. But it is a place where you can do well and get a good education if you take the opportunity and work hard.”
“But I will get out of here,” Candy said. “I want to live in other parts of the country and even in other countries. Everybody wants to go to Europe. But after your class, I think I would like living in a third world country.”
“You learn a lot from it,” Sucker said, “but sometimes there are fewer opportunities. The Peace Corps used to be good. Maybe there are still some good opportunities but I am not sure.”
They were now driving in a forested area. Sucker turned off at a sign for a camping area. There were some people who were having picnics and had pitched their tents.
Sucker left the car in a parking lot.
They got their picnic foods and set off on a trail. Down off the trail after a quarter mile was a small stream with a wide sandbar. It was relatively hidden, a little sunny cove. Sucker led Candy down to the stream.
“Here it is,” he said. “I found it when I was walking and thought of you. I thought it would be a great place to bring you if I ever got the time and the chance.
A great place to fuck, he had thought.
They set their food down on the sand. Sucker took Candy into his arms and tasted her lips. They he tasted her tongue. She tasted his mouth too. Her soft breast bumpers were young, fecund, and irresistible.
“I think we are alone here, honey,” he said. “It is a gorgeous day and I am feeling like Rousseau’s Noble Savage. At least savage, if not so noble. Sucker took off his shirt and hanged it on a tree. He slipped out of his shoes and socks to feel the warm gritty white sand. Then he stripped his jeans and shorts off too. The noble nude savage. His hanging dick was blowing in the wind. Then he stiffened. Buck up for the spring. Meet it head on.
“I want to feel free, born free,” Sucker said. “Candy was looking at him. His cock had become considerably aroused.
“You should fucking lecture like that,” she said. “You could sure get the students’ attention.”
“And the President’s too,” Sucker said. “But it would be instructive. Actually I would not have a lot to lose at this point.”
“You will be my noble savage today,” she said. “And I can be yours too.”
“Savage if not noble,” Sucker said.
She slipped her tee-shirt off freeing her young breasts. She was not wearing a bra. Indeed, she did not need one, with her firm young hillocks. Then she got rid of her jeans. She had a cute pair of little red lace panties. She had put them on, thinking that her friend might strip them off and have her and she could see if it was really worth making him a beau.
Sucker was delighted. He didn’t want to wait for her to slip off her lace. He wanted to fuck her right there in her red lace panties. When she sat back against the big old log that had washed up, he pierced into her panties, opening her fruity slit.
“You are full of juicy fruit for your noble savage,” he said. “You are bursting with sweet honey nectar. The noble savage mates with the first young female he find in nature and today I am lucky that it is you. A young female in heat. Are you in heat, Candy, honey? I want to get you in heat.”
He rammed his cock to the hilt in her melted butter.
“Oh Jesus, Jesus, Candy, you are good to fuck. Jesus, I can’t stop. You take me down so easily.” His balls burst rabidly. His strong muscle spasms racked his body as he gave her his seed. His spasms kept coming and coming.
“I came, I came too,” Candy said. “Professor Fucker.”
“Oh fuck, Candy. Oh God, I think I got you good. Good for an A. Oh God, oh God, I never thought it would be so good. That good. I feel completely free like the noble savage. Breeding a young female in nature.”
He felt the spring air on his balls. Still in the nude, they made their lunch and ate their fill. Then they lay down to sun themselves.
It had been a surprise that led to a beautiful Sunday. A refreshing turn in nature. Sucker would remember their mating for a long time. He hoped that it would not be the last time he would see her.
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Spring Day
He knew that there was not a snowball’s chance in hell of getting the job at Sewanee State University. Nevertheless, he would go for it. He had never been a quitter. He knew that he was qualified and a good teacher, researcher and writer. If they wanted to shit-can him from the place, then that was their lookout. He would just move on. The country was full of universities where he might get a job.
There were plenty of things that he did not like about the place. But if he got the job, then he could work around that. Hang in for four of five years. Work on publishing. Get tenure. And then be in a position to move on. Worse things could happen.
Even before the exams were over and the grades were in, he was preparing. He spent most of his spare time preparing for the interview. The main problem was that his framework did not line up ideologically with the perspectives of the staff in an American university. This would have been the case anywhere in the country but was particularly true in the South. Also the research that he had done for his dissertation was so alien to these professors at Sewanee. Particularly for Wolfram Warburg, it was somewhere over the rainbow and that was the guy who was basically going to be responsible for filling the position. Sure, he would do the hiring, even though he was not the chairman. And he was a national security man all the way.
And then a crazy thing happened. It was the time of the academic year when the faculty recruiting was about to close shop. Universities wanted to tie things up for the fall semester. Sucker’s telephone rang. On the line was a professor from Mall State University in Ohio. She was the chairman of the department of political science. Professor Sally Jean Woodley asked if he would be available to come for an interview in the following week.
“Sure,” Sucker replied. “It would be my pleasure.”
“We have previously interviewed three people for the position,” Woodley said. “But we would like to interview one more before making a decision. We would ask you to prepare a talk telling us your proposed research agenda.”
“Sure, that would be fine,” Sucker said. He did not tell her that he was also in the running for a position at Sewanee State.
“We would like for you to come next Tuesday,” Professor Woodley said. “Is that possible?”
“Yes, sure, I can come that day,” Sucker replied.
“OK, then. We are going to send you a ticket,” she said.
Sucker thanked her.
Oh my God! Sucker thought. I will have the interviews back to back. One in Ohio on Wednesday and the other at Sewanee State on Thursday. There was nothing that could be done. He was swimming and grasping for straws to keep himself afloat. One did not turn down anything in this enterprise. It was flat out scrambling for the small stakes.
He thought of Billie Jo. He was hoping to meet her on the weekend. Now that was almost certainly out. He had two presentations to nail down and that would take up any spare time in his weekend. Did it really depend upon his presentations or was it just a toss of the dice? Possible more the latter.
On Friday he got a call from Billie Jo.
“Hello Stan,” he heard her voice.
“Oh Hi, Billie Jo.”
“You must be wrapping it up for the semester these days.”
“Almost,” Sucker informed her, “but I have some interviews. I have to think about where I am going to work next year.”
“I am sure you will find a place. There must be schools that need you.
“But needing me and giving me a job are two different things,” Sucker moaned. “I have to hump for peanuts in this business. That’s the life of an academic in these times. I am afraid that I do not fit the paradigm that most schools are looking for.”
“Poor man. Poor baby. But you shouldn’t take it too seriously. Tomorrow promises to be a glorious day. I would like to see you, honey, being here all alone.”
It was a lie. She just wanted to get away from her husband and meet him for the day.
“I don’t know. I have to prepare seriously. I am up against the odds. I am under the gun. Two, in fact.”
“Well, taking a part of the day on Saturday is not going to hurt,” she said. “And maybe it will refresh you. Relax you and give you courage. How about coming on a picnic with me?”
“Sounds like fun.” But Sucker knew that it would knock out the entire day. He envisioned being in the bright sunshine with Billie Jo, getting the hot rays and drifting off into a sort of paradise.
“Look, I am free. I’ll pick you up at eleven tomorrow morning and we will go. I have prepared everything. If you want, you can bring a bottle of wine. The rest is on me.” Sucker knew she liked to make love out in nature. Now the warm weather was perfect. They could get a pleasing buzz with the cold wine.
“Jesus, how can I turn down an offer like that?”
Surely, he was not going to gain much by holing up in his apartment the whole day to pound over the material, he thought. She was turning his head around.
“Oh, you have really twisted my arm for this. But I don’t mind. I guess I am living dangerously.” I will pay for it, he thought. They will eat me up in these interviews.
“Oh, Stan. You have been busting your ass day after day for that darned university all year. You really need to be fair to yourself. Don’t overdo it. You know they don’t give a shit about academics. It is all appearance. They are looking for someone to play golf with. They want a drinking buddy for the country club. Take a day for yourself. You deserve it. That’s not the only darned school in the country where you can teach. And anyway, you know it is not the right one for you.”
“Yes, but a job is a job. I am still young and naïve.” Stan said. “But learning. If I don’t fit the ideology of the place, they will not take me, even if I have published a dozen books. What kind of research agenda do they want? Something that helps companies go and exploit people for a big profit. That is what sells. It is all about marketing, after all.”
“I can’t wait, honey, to see you. Oh God! I love the Spring before the hot weather comes. I love the feel of the air,” she said. “And you. Don’t let me down.”
Sucker thought about the air on her velvet skin in the sun. That was inviting. He thought about the swell of her broad soft ass against his skin. He would know just how every part of her luscious body tasted in the spring air. He thought of her full round breasts. He wouldn’t miss a spot. She was a woman. A real good woman who could not only love him, but mother and comfort him too. A younger woman could not do that.
“OK, I’m hitting it tonight and tomorrow morning,” Sucker said. “But tomorrow I’ll have the bottle of Zinfandel cold for us.”
“You are a good man,” he heard her say. “Wrap it up and I’ll see you tomorrow, honey bunch. I want to kiss you. You are going to be OK. I will take care of you.” He wished it were true. He wished she could have taken care of his job too.
“I want to kiss you too,” Sucker said. Maybe a spring fuck would mellow out his mind and do him good, he thought. He would wing his way through the interviews.
“Good night, I’ll think of you,” she said. “Maybe in my dreams.”
“OK, see you.” He had seen her in a dream, actually. It ended as a wet one.
He hung up and went back to his notes. Doubts about his approach to the interviews plagued him. But he could not just sell out to a capitalist thrust. There was no way that he could give these university functionaries what they were looking for. The mission to reproduce the ruling class in the capitalist profit mode was just not in his mental make-up. He had been ruined by his life in a remote third world village. He had seen the world from a radically different perspective from that point. He could not just jettison it. It had become a part of his world view.
Sucker could not make much progress in watering down his views. He had his doubts about these universities that were on the string. For Sewanee State, it was clear that he didn’t fit. Wolfram Warburg was military through and through and why would he want someone like Sucker around? That was clear as shit. He was all about weapons and waging wars around the world. National security, so-called, was his only bag.
The other university was in strong Republican territory in a conservative town.
Sucker was still not thrilled the next morning as he read over his notes. Where was the university that was going to like his third-world slant on development? One did not expect to find that kind of academics in American universities.
She drove up right in time. There was that beautiful little red Mercedes. Stan was out with his bottle of wine and some snacks. Billie Jo did not disappoint him. In that little yellow top and skirt, she showed him a lot of cleavage. Those plump beauties were ready for kneading. That soft, warm, flesh. She was a mature woman but the desirable kind. Those long tanned legs and her red lipstick. Her long slim fingers on the leather steering wheel. She slipped her sunglasses off to give him a kiss.
“Give me a taste of your candy cane,” she said.
“Better not right here,” he said. Was she thinking of his peppermint stick?
Stan came in his T-shirt and a pair of jeans. He was nude underneath. He would give himself some freedom. He wondered about Billie. What would he find if he slipped his hand up her smooth leg?
They were quickly out of town headed for the country. Billie took Sucker’s hand and slipped it between her legs. She was inviting him to explore her higher up. As he felt her legs, she moved his hand up under her skirt. Yes, just as he had imagined. His hand felt her bush. He touched her gently. She breathed quickly when he touched her damp slit and her cherry. She yearned to feel his fingers probing her.
“That’s right, honey. I can drive. You take care of the rest. I want to feel you deeper. You feel so good there. Feel me deeper. Slow and steady. I am in the mood, professor.”
Sucker probed her heavenly satin deeper, pleasuring her with circular motions. She kissed his lips and urged him on.
“Oh God, I can’t wait. That is glorious, glorious, oh God, it’s good, but I’m getting hot. Not yet, Jesus, not yet. You’ll make me come before we get there. I come so easy. I want it. I want it with your cock, darling. That’s the only way to come for me. With a good man’s hard cock. I have been thinking of your hard cock for days. Thick and juicy.”
She removed Stan’s hand. “Wait just a little, darling,” she said. “We have all day to settle that issue. I know you are going to settle it right. My professor prick.”
She could see that Sucker’s cock had swollen in his jeans. She pressed her hand to the bulge and squeezed.
“Already big. You stud. I wish you could knock me up,” she said. “Actually, I wish I had met you a few years ago to knock me up. It’s crazy, but I really do. You’re a man who really likes to fuck. Are you going to fuck me today, Sucker? Remember, you are my husband.”
“Fuck’N A,” Sucker said. “I am going to be your wild ass today. You drive me absolutely crazy.”
“There’s the place,” she said. “Just up ahead.”
She pulled off to a narrow black top lane that ran up into a pine forest. It was not yet camping season. So they had the place to themselves. Farther ahead was a parking area. They parked and walked with their food. Down through a little wood, there was an open sunny cove near a stream. Billie Jo spread out the blanket for a pallet on the fresh spring grass. The noon-time sun beamed down warmly. Sucker slipped his Tee-shirt off and lay back to let the sun warm his body while Billie Jo took out the food. He rubbed his body with sun oil.
Her buxom breasts were ready to fall out of her top and Sucker wanted to tie into them, but waited. When the food was spread out, he pulled her to him and tasted the tops of her soft tits.
“You are anxious,” she said. “But don’t you think we should fill up our stomachs first?”
“I think we should fuck,” Sucker said. “I would like to have your pussy for lunch. At least for an appetizer. It would work up my appetite. That would be delicious. Then I would go for the main course. I would fill you up.”
Stan got the cork-screw from his pack and opened the wine. It was still cold enough. He poured it out into the wine glasses he had brought.
He made a toast to her.
Sucker took a good tug on the golden brew and went after a salami sandwich. She had brought sweet pickles too and some fresh carrots. Sucker would have loved chips but they had left the junk food behind.
When they had satiated their hunger, they lounged in the sun. They finished the wine. Billie Jo slipped her top off to free her mature fruits. Lying back, she let the sun warm them as Sucker massaged her body with sun oil. Sucker slipped his jeans off and rubbed his body with sun oil. The sun felt delicious on his body. Billie Jo slipped off her small skirt, a sort of short kilt.
When Sucker came, she took him as he took the plunge into her melted butter.
“Oh honey, you’re going to do me in with that thing,” she said. “You stir me up so good. What am I going to do with you? What am I going to do without you?”
“I am sure you can do OK,” Sucker said. “There must be good men lined up to take my place.”
“It’s not that simple,” she said. “It’s hard to find a man like you. And anyway, you’re the man I want.”
They made love more than once. The spring sun was a refreshing balm on their bodies after the winter cold. They were more than friends and needed each other.
It was early evening, when she left Stan at his place.
“Thank you for a beautiful day,” he said. “Thanks for preparing everything and giving me a treat, more than one, and a break from the deadly routine.”
“It was my pleasure,” she said. “You give me a beautiful feeling. I know I am going to miss you, professor. When will we meet again?”
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Mall State
The day to head for the interview had come. To get to Ohio, Stan bailed out at six in the morning. He had a quick bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee and hit the road to the airport fifty miles away in Brownsville. The old car hummed along in the spring morning. An hour later, he chugged into the parking lot. He clutched the new leather portfolio that he had recently bought and headed for the departure lounge in the cool morning air. That was all besides one small bag. He was traveling light.
These planes on weekdays were mostly crowded with businessmen in suits. Sucker did not feel very much at home among them. How could they put up with such a life on the road day after day just for the purpose of selling some product? Just for the purpose of making a company a profit on products that were often positively damaging to society.
He checked in at the counter. The departure lounge for the first leg of the trip over to Memphis was filling up. A short jump. Then he would catch the next plane to Columbus, Ohio. He didn’t mind. He had gotten used to flying again but now the planes were not as pleasant. Too much cramping. Too much crowding. Planes were going the way of the bus lines. And they didn’t give one much to eat or drink. They were treating people like cattle. Or worse probably. Cattle had commercial value, after all.
They put him in the mid-section of the plane. He had the window seat that he had requested. He still acted like a small child when it came to flying. He wanted to see how high up he was when he looked at things out of the window.
He had just settled in the uncomfortable seat when an attractive woman came to the seat beside him. Her business suit concealed her tits that looked promising.
Oh, maybe I’ll get lucky for this little half-hour flight, he thought. Maybe she will be friendly and we will talk.
“How are you this morning?” Stan asked.
“Fine,” she replied curtly. Then she seemed to pull back into herself and took out what appeared to be a business report and started to study it carefully. There were lines and charts and lots of figures. Probably sick of men trying to pick her up, Sucker thought. Maybe bitten by the feminist bug as well. The hell with men, she thinks. Or possible she just liked women better. Being gay was starting to catch on in America. It was getting popular. Sucker had no objection. He was liberal enough to give everybody their own choice. But he just couldn’t quite get it, how a guy would want to marry another guy. Friendship was fine. But he liked women. That was just how he was made. That was the spice of life.
She is none too friendly, Stan thought. Maybe a bad omen for the day. Well, the heck with her. No need to try to warm her up, the frigid bitch. Let her prepare for her business meetings. Maybe her boss is waiting for her. Stan too had his notes and started to go over them. He had now started to be bored with them. He could hardly bring himself to look at them.
The plane pushed away, taxied to the runway and headed for the sky. Well, it will be a quick one, anyway, he thought, as the engines powered the plane up at a sharp angle. The ground receded below as they soared up over a subdivision. Big fleecy clouds were boiling up in the distance.
The plane was starting to level out. Suddenly, the pilot hit an air pocket and the plane plunged downwards. It was normal in these humid skies in the spring weather. His travel companion was obviously used to flying. She did not bat an eye but went right on with her report. Stan had always hated those little frightening air pockets. Somehow, his trust of the mechanics of airplanes had their limits. Suppose it was not an air pocket. Suppose the son of a bitch was just suddenly losing power and in danger of stalling over cotton fields somewhere in the middle of Sewanee. The plane glided on up into smoother skies.
When they were at cruising altitude, the stewardess brought around a little breakfast snack. It was a small sweet roll and a choice of juices. Stan was able to drink a small cup of coffee before everything had to be gathered up and the plane started to drift downwards.
In a few minutes they glided down into the Memphis airport.
The connection was quick. By the time he found the boarding lounge, passengers were being loaded into the plane headed for Ohio.
He no longer had a window seat. He was stuck with studying his notes again. Every time he seemed to get more bored with them. The talk he had to give was like an incubus around his neck.
Half an hour later, the plane landed. One of the younger professors from the department had come to meet him. He carried a small sign with his name.
Stan greeted him, a thin conservative looking straight guy in a dark suit and wing-tip shoes. Clean shaven with short hair. Perfect guy for teaching American Politics, it struck Sucker.
“I’m Stan Sucker,” Sucker said.
“Welcome. I am Ronald Straight. I teach American courses in the department,” the guy said. They shook hands.
“Nice to meet you,” Sucker said. He wished that it was all that he had to do and not be with the son of a bitch for two fucking days. It was unlikely that he had any very critical views of American society and politics, seeing that his field was American politics and would surely always be American politics.
“Hope you had a good trip,” professor Straight said.
“Thanks. It was fine,” Sucker said.
“It’s a half hour to the campus,” Straight said. “We have a small guest house. I will leave you there where you can relax. Professor Creamer will call you to take you to dinner in the evening.”
“Sure. That sounds good,” Sucker said. “I am looking forward to it,” he lied.
“You will find that Moral is a nice town. A nice community,” Straight asserted. “We are conservative. Nice people. Now the election campaign is coming up. Most of us are working in the Republican Party. We like George Bush and Dan Quayle, of course. Our neighbor from Indiana.”
“Sounds like a good place to live,” Sucker lied. He should have said to live and to work but it was too late now.
“You bet,” Straight said. “And we have a great country club for such a small town. Most members of the department have memberships. Very affordable. Eighteen holes. I love golf. What about you?”
“Oh, never really played it,” Sucker came clean. “But I did take a course in college. Learned to do some putting. That’s about all.”
“Well, if you came here, it would be a great opportunity to develop your game. A great game. You meet a lot of interesting people on the course. Mostly from the business community, of course. You could learn to drive down those long fairways. I can’t live without golf. A great game.”
“It could be a challenge,” Sucker intoned, not lying.
They had reached the vehicle that was to take them to the campus. Sucker noticed the letters emblazoned under the seal on the door of the pea green Ford station wagon. Mall State University. And then a slogan: “Where success in business begins.”
Sucker suppressed a groan when he saw the motto but said nothing. Straight opened the car. Sucker put his case in the back seat, opened the door and slid in.
It was a long straight road over boring flat countryside. Farmers were out planting corn in the newly tilled fields. Sucker wished he was out there driving a corn planter rather than headed for a fucking interview at a university. Life could be a lot more simple. They came up behind a black buggy from time to time pulled by a horse.
“We have a lot of Amish around here,” Professor Straight remarked. “Good people. Honest. And hard workers. I wish most Americans were more like them. Not driving a horse and buggy, I mean in their morality. America is losing its family values. You can see it all over. But that’s where we are strong in family values in Moral. We are real family oriented. And strong business ethics too. You will notice it while you are here. We don’t have a problem with the Amish. And they are religious too. God fearing people. They can be trusted.”
Sucker felt he should not keep silent. But he was at a loss for words.
“Sure. People should be honest. Stand up for what they believe in,” Sucker chirped. “I like honest people. Do you have a family?”
“Sure. I am a family man,” Straight said. “I came from a big family and I like big families. We have three kids now. Fourth one on the way. Who knows how many more? The more, the merrier. They are a lot of fun. A challenge for sure, but we are real family oriented. Go to Sunday School every week and read the Bible and pray every night before bed. We are real conservative. We serve the Lord and he shows us the way.”
“A good place to raise kids too, I suppose, with such good people,” Sucker put in. This guy is a real idiot, he thought. But I have to go along with him.
“Oh sure. Oh, the people around here are honest. You bet,” Straight said. “And that is the basis of this country. American politics. Telling the people the truth. Then they can vote according to their beliefs. Including religious beliefs. That’s why we mostly vote Republican around here. No other place like it in the world. No other nation in the world like the USA. It is just absolutely the best. Our taxes are real low. We do things on our own.”
“That’s right,” Sucker agreed, not lying. No other place like it and it is a fucking good thing, he felt like saying, but that would have been deadly with this blazing idiot.
They passed through a small town. There was a tattered looking Tastee Freeze and an Amoco Station. A couple of big churches. In front of one church a sign plugged the Sunday sermon: “God’s Miracle Market for Salvation.”
“Sure hate to miss that one,” Stan thought cynically.
A local quick shop. The local high school came into view. Long yellow buses were parked outside. There was a big sign. “The Home of the Lions”
Two angry lions were pretending to box below the big yellow letters.
There was a bad stretch of highway with many potholes. Sucker noticed a big sign asking drivers for donations to help fix the road. Well, without taxes, how else were they going to fix the road?
Outside of town there was a gap in the signs. One side of the road was groomed as if it were a series of lawns. Grass had been planted and carefully groomed. Sucker noticed some square deep pits dug back from the road. Then there was an entrance with a building with several patrol cars parked around and Pinkerton security guards. Above the gate Sucker noticed the sign. Clearwater Hazardous Materials Processing, Recycling, and Recreation Center. Cleanwave Corporation. Protecting America’s Future. Future Home of Mall Business University.
“Oh, this is Clearwater,” Straight blurted. “Almost forgot. You can miss it, it is so clean. These people have really cleaned up the area. I mean Cleanwave. That’s the company. Actually owned by Amoco but that is a separate company. Not only do they get rid of the waste, clean it up, but they turn the area into a recreation center as each plot is finished out. It will eventually be our business university division built right over the entire area. Right over the top. You may have heard of Mount Trashmore in Virginia. This is a variation of that. All kinds of facilities can be built right on top of recycling facilities and no one will ever know the difference. A great way to build a community. It serves dual purposes. One can hardly believe that millions of tons of hazardous waste are buried below and covered over. Safely, of course. It is one of the advantages of Mall State. We have a real strong business-campus partnership with Cleanwave Corporation. We even get free trips to Disneyland for the whole faculty.”
Sucker noticed some tall stacks in the distance.
“Of course, they can get rid of anything. Anything at all,” Straight bragged. “See those stacks. That’s where they incinerate the most hazardous waste. It cleans it all up. So clean that they even give people samples of the ash to eat. I have tasted it myself and I have to say it tasted just fine. People you can trust. There is a good market for most of it too. Would you believe that it is used as fertilizer on home gardens all across America? And there are many other products in which it appears.”
Sucker wished that his body would evaporate and he would find himself a thousand miles from this waste dump and this blazing idiot. How long did one have to breath here to contract cancer? That was the question that entered his mind.
“Of course, it is in a transition stage, Cleanwave officials stress. Once the free trade agreements are in place, most of this waste will just be shipped directly off to India and Africa and American will not have to worry about it at all. That’s the beauty of free trade. Both countries benefit. Everybody benefits. We are making advances in business all the time. But it is a slow process. Institutions don’t come up overnight. You know that, being in political science.”
The idiot chattered on.
“Of course the growth industry today is in the area of electronic waste. This is massive with all the computers and cell phones and other devices that people use. The big market is China, of course. Now it is somewhat tricky getting it there but the free trade agreements are going to take care of that quite quickly. Free trade. That’s the ticket today.”
Yes, this is where success in business begins, Sucker thought. Fuck’N AAA!
They had reached the outskirts of Moral, Ohio. A new industry was in place. Pig farms for producing pork for Japan. That explained the foul air a couple of places along the route. Local farmers were suckered into borrowing millions of dollars to set up the long flat barns to grow the hogs up for butchering. The vast tons of pig shit was washed down into lagoons that had been well hidden from the main road. Once the area was sunk in shit, the hog company was gone. The farmers were left with the massive debt for the barns and equipment. And the shit. The Japanese would go on hogging their pork but now it would be raised in fresh fields until they too found themselves in the same deep shit. That didn’t take too long with each hog producing shit equivalent to four persons. A million pigs was a big city. No shit.
Now they had reached the small campus of Mall State.
This is where business success begins, Sucker thought. Like shit. How had he gotten himself into this deep shit? This was worse than Sewanee State. If that was indeed possible. He hadn’t seen anything yet to make him doubt it.
The air here had warmed too. The little white-skinned coeds had chucked their winter clothes and started to sport their young cleavages, those little white burgeoning tits about to fall out of their skimpy tops. Luscious as fresh juicy peaches. He saw some of them along the sidewalks. Their short skirts. Those plump ripe fruits about to spill over. Business success indeed. Give him a chance and he would love to succeed in that business if he had had the time. No chance. He was on a more mundane track.
The prospect seemed completely lost on Professor Straight. Perhaps too much morality to see the light. Sunk by family values again. And guilt.
Professor Straight showed Sucker into the small clean guest house. It smelled strongly of disinfectant and solvents. He would have to get a window open or leave open the door. He would not pickle his brain on that stuff. A clear recipe for cancer.
“Well, this is it,” Straight pronounced. “You are on your own till evening. Later Professor Creamer will give you a call and take you out to eat at seven. I will leave the keys for you. Feel free to shower and freshen up. Welcome to Mall State.”
“Thanks so much for the hospitality and everything. It is very pleasant,” Sucker said.” He knew that it was a wasted trip but now had no choice but to go through with it. He would ride the tiger until he was back in the plane at the end of the next day.
He settled back on the bed. The words of this idiot, Straight, who had picked him up and drove him here kept playing over in his brain. Was the guy for real? If it had been a comedy play, it would hardly be believable but this guy was for real. One would get more sense out of the most mixed up clown. This university was headed for the top of a hazardous waste dump. What a way to go to hell in a hand basket. And this idiot thought it was a great deal. No wonder the son of a bitch is teaching courses in American politics, he thought.
In the little lawn outside his window, Sucker noticed a couple of coeds and their boyfriends on the new spring grass. They had tossed their backpacks aside to pet their young fecund friends. The guys had their hands all over the young girls in the warm sunny air. One couple kissed. The young student pressed her back as she lay back in the grass. He kissed her neck. Her swollen fecund young peaches bulged as she breathed. He suddenly pressed his lips to her tender white breast stealing a kiss. She tried to wrench free but he quickly moved his lips to the other and tasted her taut raspberry with his tongue. She was slowly succumbing to his inroads. Her protest was only pretense. The other couple was lying nearby, legs entwined in the morning sun. They were kissing as the guy stole hands full of her soft flesh. The guy had slipped her top down and was getting a taste of her young pink nipples. Her protests had stopped. Jesus, I think they are going to fuck right here, Sucker thought. It was surely a good way to kill time between classes. It was business as usual on the small campus in Moral, Ohio.
Fuck it, Sucker thought. Now the ball is in my court to do this interview tomorrow and that is all. He knew it was futile but he had to go through with it. There was no choice. He closed the blinds. Pulling out his notes and stared at them. Reality hit him at once. They were a million miles from the type of business success that Mall State University was looking for. He was as good as dead for this interview.
Chapter Twenty-Nine: Steak Out
Sucker felt tired and quite demoralized as he headed for the check-in desk at the airport. It had been a long day. He had given it his best shot. But he was sure that he had struck out. The faculty had not bought it. They were looking for business success. That was not what Sucker had offered them. But now it was over. Forget it. Just look at it as a short trip to another university and meeting some people that he didn’t know and leave it at that. He just wasn’t into marketing toxic waste. Hell, he couldn’t even market himself.
The day had begun early enough. He had slept OK after that dinner with Professor Creamer. Red Creamer. After that, he had just thought that it had been a waste of time. He found that Creamer was another one of those national security guys.
Oh shit, another Wolfram Warburg, Sucker thought. But he would not prejudge him. He would find out soon enough.
Creamer was older, late fifties, heavy set. A red ruddy face. Could be a drinker, Sucker figured. Must have some whiskey buddies for the Jack Daniels and the Bourbon. Friendly enough. A back slapper.
He had come up and knocked on his door. Stan was ready to go.
“Hi, I’m Red Creamer,” he said, grabbing his hand in a strong grip. “It sure is good to see a guy from Sewanee. We’s so tired of these here candahdates comin in here from your northern states and they don’t know, well parden my French, they don’t know shit from shinola when it comes to political sigh-uns. We ahh lookin for a solid person that can take keh-yah a bizznuss the way they outa. So hope we found iyim.”
Oh shit,” Sucker thought. “He thinks that because I am living in Seewanee that I have hard red-neck values and want to bomb the shit out of the world, like Warburg at Sewanee.”
“I’m Stan Sucker. Glad to meet you,” Sucker lied. “I will do my best. You will find that I am solid. I am honest.” He wasn’t going to go any farther than that in showing his hand.
“Well, good. Now I’m gonna get ya fed tonight. They’s a good steak house ovah here. I know the people. They’ll treat ya right. We’ll have a little talk. Tomorrow you will meet the other people that teach biznuss here. We are mostly about biznuss, but a course we have some classes in politics too. Biznuss. That’s what it’s all about nowadays.”
Creamer took him out to his big black vehicle that doubled as a sort of van. Jesus Christ, this mother is big, Stan thought. He had to climb up two steps to get to the seat, like climbing into a sort of truck. There was a Bush sticker on the bumper.
Creamer roared up the engine, backed around and bucked up the boulevard almost creaming a couple of small cars leaving the campus.
“It’s time we got things straightened out heya in this heya cuntry,” Creamer began. “This here Jimmy Cahtah, he got this here cuntry all run ovah and Reagan is a doin somethin to get us back on track. But it ain’t enough. We got to get more money intah the military. Now these yellow bellies up in Washinton ayah not lettin the President do what needs to be done down in Nicaragua to knock out them communists. He flew the troops down there but these traitahs up there on capitahl hiyall are a keepin em from fightin and doing what needs tah be done. They aouta jist march right in and take the country. If they’s any resistance, we just drop a big nuke right smack dab on Managua and be done with it.”
Sucker was at a loss for what to say. Maybe something neutral would not be waving a red flag in front of this snorting dumbbell.
“Well, I don’t think I would want to be President with all his responsibility,” Sucker intoned. “He catches hell when things go wrong.”
“Oh it ain’t the President,” Creamer blurted. “Reagan knows what’s gotta be done. It’s those fools up there in Washinton that done kept his hands tied. We got the force. We got the ahhmie. We got the troops. We got the bombs. We got the ships and the nukes. We got the greatest country in history. We just ain’t a usin it. They got oyah hands tied and that’s gotta stop. I tell ya, it makes me mad to see it. This country is bein taken over by communists from right inside. We gotta get back to ayah Americun vale-yoos.”
Creamer twisted the massive steering wheel and pulled the monster of a vehicle up into a parking lot. A huge sign was flashing. “Willie B’s A-1 Prime Beef. Thick and Juicy. For the whole Family”
Sucker carefully climbed down from the seat while Creamer prepared to lock it up.
“I think ya may be oyah type, Son,” he said friendly like. Sucker felt his hand on his shoulder. He was sure as hell that it was not the case. But he had scarcely opened his mouth yet.
Inside there were booths, American style, with dividers to provide some privacy. Plastic flowers imported from China had been placed aside the booths. Creamer invited him to a vacant booth close to the window.
“Good place,” Creamer said. “Good place for good people who like good eatin. Have ya heard of this here vegetarian crap. Now that’s a comminist ideyah iffah evah heard it. People around here like their beef. I like it, I tell ya, I like it. The way I like it is quite red. Guess it figures, red. That’s miyah name, red. But ya gonna see sum good grub a commin in this place. The college will buy ya a meal heyah. Course thay don’t allow no drinkin. No beer and wine in eatin places in this town. That’s keeps things a little more peaceful. How it outah be. Were strong on Christian values. A course I got a bottle a Jack Daniels out there in my truck. I’ll give ya a snort on the way back. But they don’t serve it in here.”
“Now, professor, pick one out. Pick out one a them steaks and you’ll sink your teeth into a real good bloody treat. I wouldn’t lie to ya about that.
A gray haired waitress came quickly up their table, looking over sixty-five. Sucker noticed her white shoes that looked like a nurse would wear. She was old and tired. Sucker was disappointed. I hope the food is better than the waitress, he thought. She looked like she might be one of the Sunday school teachers at a local church. She pulled her green pad from her pocket and poised her pen over it. She looked at Sucker and waited.
The last thing Sucker wanted was a big red steak. Some small amount of meat would be OK but not stuffing his belly with a lot of bloody beefsteak. Even well-done it would have been bad enough.
“Excuse me Professor Creamer,” Sucker began. “I am not feeling too hungry tonight. “I’m thinking that one of the hamburger plates would be fine for me.”
“Oh sure, order whatever you want. I’m not pushin ya.” Creamer said. “It’s all the same thing anyway. Just in a different form of juicy beef. But me, I like ta see the blood run out when I stick my knife inta it. That whets my appetite right up through the ceilin.”
“I’ll have the hamburger plate, there,” Sucker said. “And I’ll skip the fries. I want something from the salad bar instead.”
“Hamburger plate and salad bar, no fries,” the waitress intoned wearily, writing it down.
Creamer ordered the biggest thickest steak on the menu, since the college was picking up the tab. He asked the waitress if maybe she could do him a favor and pick out the thickest one back there.
“Oh, and I’ll have a glass of cold milk,” Creamer told her.
Sucker thought of how good a cold fucking beer, a Michelob, would taste with that hamburger but no dice in this fucking town. He was not going to go for a soft drink. What was left? Water looked too cheap. He ordered a fruit drink, guava. That was sweet but healthy.
“Whatsa guava?” Creamer asked him. “Nevah heard of that.”
“Oh, a tropical fruit,” Sucker said. He just realized he had made a faux pas. Why couldn’t he order something red-blooded American. Creamer was highly suspicious that such a thing might somehow be subversive. Even from a communist country.
“I think ya-ull be bettah off with American drinks,” he said. “We got plenty a good stuff to drink righ-ut here in this country. You can still change it to a cold milk. I like milk,” Creamer said.
“Good idea,” Sucker lied. “I’ll ask her if they got chocolate milk.”
“Oh, that’s better,” Creamer said. “But it is a little bit candy assed. But up to you. You are still young. That’s good for kids.” They called the waiter over and got rid of the guava.
This was hell, Sucker thought. He suddenly started to long for Sewanee State.
“The people ya see here are solid people,” Creamer continued. “I’ll bet that almost all of-em are a votin Republican. People around here don’t like welfaya. They have their jobs and work for a livin. They all go to Sunday school too. I’ll bet more than ninety percent of em do.”
“Maybe that’s to be expected in a small rural community,” Sucker said. “We know the context will affect their values.”
“Oh its morn that,” Creamer said. “They’re religious too. When the President sends the troops off somewhere to defend American freedom, you’ll see all these people pullin for America one-hundurd percent. Of course, they don’t like evreythane the President does. That is, mostly they don’t like the taxin and a spendin done by ya democrats. They don’t like takin prayer outa tha schools. They don’t like abortions. But I wouldn’t trade these people for any others in this whole God-blessed country from sea to shinin sea.”
“Now let’s see. The department needs someone that can prepare oyah students for doin bizznuss in developin countries. That’s why we invited ya up from Sewanee. Business is a shiftin to these underdeveloped areas. It’s a dammed good deal. They get the jobs and it is good for American bizznuss. We teach em how to produce thanes the American way, efficient, that is. They learn from us how they autah run a country. That way they get rid of the poverty. Raise the standurd a livin a little bit at a time. The market serves both countries. That’s the future. America is still spreadin freedom and democracy aroun the world.”
“That is good for business for sure,” Sucker said. “But I am not sure if it is always good for the American workers.”
“Oh, the American workers are always complainin no matter what happens,” Creamer said. “Sure it is good for them. With globalization companies can’t pay workers twenty dollars an hour to do the same thing people are doin for twenty-five cents an hour in other countries. The American workers will move into the high tech industries, the service sector, and sure that will be good for them too. Everybody wins when the market is free.”
“You got some experience in India, I noticed on ya CV,” Creamer noted. “Now there’s a country with real potential. All that cheap labor. What they need is American capital to put a lot of em to work producin for the mahkets in Europe and the US. Imagine the profits that can be made. That promises real bizznuss success. The country was doing OK under the British. But since, then, it has just gone to hell with them a trying to produce everything themselves. ISI, import substitution industrialization, that was a joke from the beginnin. Now they’re getting into the game and openin up to US capital. You can help us out with some research on how to move that fahward.”
Sucker was horrified. It was the farthest thing from what his research agenda included. He didn’t want to make them into the great work house slaves for American consumer goods.
“Maybe, ISI was not a bad idea just after independence,” Sucker ventured. “But there are certainly problems with it today under globalization.”
“You bet. We gotta gettem ta open up the mahket. That’s what we gotta do. Then they’ll join the global mahket like the Chinese are a doin. That way the country will benefit and it is a great oppahtunity for American firms. I hope you can hep us out in that. That’s what we have in mind. We have a bizznuss partnership with Cleanwave Corporation. That’s driven this community and university. We can sell a lot of our electronic waste to India as well as China. That’s a project we are a workin on right now. They’ve got plenty of people to do the recyclin.”
The conversation went on after the food arrived. Sucker made few comments. He didn’t want to see India or any other country going down that path. For him it was little better than a new form of colonialism in which western capital and firms ruled the world. Toxic imperialism.
Back in his truck, Creamer pulled out his bottle of Jack Daniels and some plastic cups. “Let’s have a little drink before headin back,” Creamer said. He poured out a healthy shot for Sucker and took one himself. He tossed his down in one gulp and started up his rig.
Creamer could not drink whiskey that way and nursed it along on the way back.
Creamer dropped him off at his guest house just after nine.
“Have a nice sleep and see ya tomorrah,” Creamer said. I think Professor Butcher will be over to get you tomorrow. Dick Butcher. He is in our marketing group. Good night, son. Nice to talk to you.”
“Good night and thanks for the dinner,” Sucker said. “And for helping me understand what is going on at the university.”
Now I am really in a world of shit, he thought, as he felt in his pocket for the key to his room. How the hell was he going to face these blooming idiots big on the marketing of hazardous waste. The whiskey had now clouded his brain but brought a sharp shot of reality. This fucking business university was unadulterated hell. He couldn’t wait to flee from the town.
Chapter Thirty: Wasted Day
Sucker pressed his hungry lips to those tender bulging fruits and tasted her pert pink nipple. They pushed upward, delicious blue-veined fecund flesh flushed with vibrant trembling desire. He tasted the salty delight deep in his mouth. He felt her warm velvet body next to him. He could feel the warm velvet of her inner thighs. He was almost there when he heard the fucking alarm ring in his ear. He awoke suddenly with a magnificent hard-on. The clock said six o’clock. He had almost made it. Fuck! His cock was not yet aware of the loss, still poised for action, pointing at something on the ceiling. Why did that have to happen? It could at least have been a wet dream. Now it had come to nothing. What a waste. Billie Jo would have enjoyed that early morning stiff mast. Now it wilted, evaporating in the thin morning air. A bad omen for the day. Shit!
He remembered that this was the day. Fuck. The reality hit him like a brick bat in the face. He would have an hour to go over his talk before Professor Dick Butcher would arrive to take him to breakfast. Professor Butcher was the marketing expert. Dick had not been satisfied with the previous three candidates.
Now looking over his notes in the early morning light, he began to realize just how far he was from the agenda of the modern business university. It was not just Mall State. Hell, all the schools had now gone in for the business agenda, marketing, neoliberalism, and the harvesting of cheap labor in Asian countries. Globalization, so called. Globolony, he thought. As a progressive and intellectual, Sucker realized that he was just exactly one-hundred and eighty degrees out from that agenda. How the fuck could he square a progressive agenda for developing countries with the corporate harvesting of surplus labor for profits in the West? It was simply a circle that could not be squared. Fuck capitalism, he thought. It has fucked up the world. It has fucked up the environment. It has fucked up the food. It is now fucking up the universities, turning them into business enterprises. It has certainly fucked up America, now progressively turning it into a third world country, while China and India produce their new billionaires and vast inequality. What are American workers supposed to do except to buy cheap shit from China from WalMart and try to piece together a living on part-time and temporary work? Now this neoliberalism is rolling back all the progress that emerging countries have made since the end of colonialism. It was depressing. But why should he sell out? He was right. The whole fucking edifice would come crumbling down at some point. It was just a matter of time. He would give them the straight dope. He could not pull many punches. Maybe a few. Tone his approach down a little. Nevertheless, one could not face the truth head on and get a job in a fucking American university. That was the simple truth of the situation. It was mission impossible. And now they wanted him to research how to market hazardous waste. They wanted to sell more electronic waste to India and China and other third world countries that would take it. What kind of fucking research agenda was that?
After an hour and a little tweaking of his points here and there for some moderation, he was ready. No more damage could be done. He had showered, shaved and got into his suit and tie.
When he heard the doorbell ring, he opened the door to see a graying professor in a dark suit.
“Good morning. Dick Butcher. Welcome to Mall State,” came from his broad beaming face. He too was getting up in years. Mid-fifties. A thin wrinkled small-town face. A good deal of whitish hair. Not the look of an intellectual.
“Stan Sucker,” Sucker replied, shaking hands. “Nice to meet you,” he lied.
“Fine day,” Butcher said. “After breakfast, we’ll go over to the department where you can talk to some members of the staff. I think the Dean and Provost would also like to meet you. Depends on their schedule. After lunch down at the faculty club, we’ll come back for your talk. We have also invited the students if they would like to attend. Most of them are business majors. We strongly emphasize marketing. We are a small department in a small school. A friendly place. Are you ready?”
For Sucker, it all confirmed that he was indeed in a world of shit. Fuck it, he thought, eight hours from now I’ll be back on a plane and out of this neck of the marketing woods forever. The events of the day would be a sort of equivalent of a drawing and quartering, a stretching on the torture rack of which now there was no avoiding. His blood would be on the floor. Meanwhile, he would drown his worries in some morning grub. He was hungry. He needed a strong cup of coffee. He needed a beer, but forget that. He needed another shot of that Jack Daniels. It would have to wait. He envisioned having a couple of them on the plane on the way back.
“Sure, looking forward to it,” Sucker lied. “I really like the campus. Quiet and beautiful in the spring.” He spun out some phony lies. Just as well.
“Oh, we don’t have to worry about radicals among the students here,” Butcher said. “Our students are very focused on their future careers in business. A sort of launching pad for executives, corporate leaders. We prepare them for success. They will know marketing forward and backward by the time they leave here. Nope, we’ve never had a student demonstration on this campus. Hope we never will.”
But I saw your students fucking in the bushes behind my guest house, Sucker wanted to say.
They would know marketing forward and backward. Mostly backward, Sucker suspected.
Sucker went for a heavy breakfast, ham, eggs, hash browns and toast with butter and jam. I’ll need it, he thought, to get through this day. God, give me strength.
Professor Butcher walked with him over to the department. Down in the corner office, her door was standing open. The Chair of the department, Professor Sally Jean Woodley.
She was ready and waiting.
“Welcome, I’m Sally Jean Woodley,” she said.
Sucker saw a middle aged heavy set woman with thick hips from too much sitting. She stood up and took a step forward. He could see a roll of fat around her middle. A smile came across her ugly pasty face. She had short, stiff, puffed out hair brown hair. Thick glasses perched on her nose. Sucker’s impulse was to back away as if he had encountered an ugly beast but he had to meet and talk to her. Well, she will never be my boss, he thought. Thank God for that.
“I am happy that we can interview you, Professor Sucker,” she began. “We have brought three candidates previously but we asked the Dean if we could interview one more person. You have a greater focus on the Third World, so we decided to ask you to come.”
“It’s nice to be here,” Sucker lied. Except for the change of location and travel, he could have done without the bother.
“For this position, we are basically looking for a person that can prepare our students for globalization in business. As you are aware, these new countries like India and those in Southeast Asia and Africa, are opening up their markets. This is a tremendous challenge for the future. There are great opportunities for academic research in these areas and now companies are eager to fund this type of research. You may be aware that we have a strong business-academic relationship with one of the up and coming companies in this area, Cleanwave Corporation. They specialize in waste. Recycling and marketing. They are looking for marketing opportunities in Asia for their products, particularly toxics. They are found in all types of products. Especially electronics. That is the growth aspect of it, of course, today. Fertilizer, building materials, road construction, glass, electronics, you name it. You see where I am leading. I am sure that they are ready with research money for a research focus on how they can market more of what they produce in these countries. We can talk about the courses that you could teach.”
It would be an understatement to say that Sucker was horrified by the vision that she conjured up before his eyes. Not only was the agenda imperialistic, it was flat out toxic imperialism, plain and simple. And his job was going to be to help them in this enterprise. All these young bright eyed students were going to march off to pollute countries around the world with waste, the worst kind of waste, and bring profits to the investors of capital. Thousands were going to be poisoned and die early deaths.
Sucker was somewhat at a loss for words. His impulse was to suddenly blurt out “Get fucked, you stupid greedy bitch, you ignoramus,” and high tail it out of there. But the school had bought the ticket to bring him there and was paying for the ticket to get his ass back to Sewanee State. He had to go through with it.
“Well, yes, I do love to teach,” Sucker said. “I am wondering which courses I would teach.” Her research agenda was far beyond the pale for him.
“Let see,” Professor Woodley intoned, reaching for a list of department courses lying on the side of her desk. “International Business Asia, International Marketing, International Free Trade Organizations, International Business Ethics and Emerging Markets. Those are a few of our courses the department has designed that you would be welcome to teach. Off course there are other elective courses. We are flexible. Oh here are some others: International Currency Trading, International Banking, International Corporate Agriculture, Innovative Marketing. Depends upon the semester. Some coursed are taught in the fall, some in the spring semester.
Sucker felt like groaning. What he had in mind was a much less business oriented approach, such as international political economy, International Development, Globalization, Third World Theories of Development and so on. Even democratization. Courses that would include the critical dimension on societies.
“Yes, I think I would like to teach some of those courses,” Sucker lied. He knew that there was not a ghost of a chance in hell that he would ever get the chance, however. He would just fake it.
“I am looking forward to your talk,” Sally Jean said. Sucker hated to be reminded of that. He knew that it was going to be a lead balloon in this department. His heart sank into his shoes just to think of it.
His meeting with the other members and officers of the university were not more enlightening. The provost, seeming rattled. Engaging in boosterism for the school, he emphasized how quickly the school’s academic rating had risen since the establishment of a partnership with Cleanwave Corporation.
“The marketing of our electronic waste has grown by leaps and bounds, he enthused. “Whole new divisions are being set up to deal with this innovation.
“It’s the best thing that has ever happened to this small university.” This was the provost, Professor Ben Gopher.
It was a relief, when Stan walked out into the spring sunshine to head for the faculty club. He was accompanied by a young professor who had just landed a lucrative research project from Cleanwave Corp to study the marketing of toxics in ten emerging markets.
Professor Alice Burns kept up a continuous chatter concerning her new quest for knowledge of the economy and politics of these countries for the purpose of marketing waste. She was a thin pale woman who seemed to have never been exposed to the sunlight. She seemed about to collapse as they strolled. Sucker wanted to tell her to go to hell. Did she realize how many innocent people she was going to help send to hell with all the cases of cancer this sort of marketing was going to produce? If she did, she did not bat an eye about it. He wondered if she had had the course in international business ethics. Only later, he discovered that she was the one who taught it for the department.
They settled down to lunch with half a dozen members of the faculty. Except for the salad bar, it was a set menu. Professors greeted each other and discussed their latest golf scores. Anxious to get out on the course, they were winding up their courses for the semester as quickly as possible.
`The conversation quickly turned to basketball. The playoffs in the conference of universities was in full swing. Sucker was amused to see Professor Woodley raising her voice about the recent games and getting into a heated argument with Professor Butcher about the talents of the players. Jesus, she is really into basketball, Stan thought. They were all heavily into basketball. Academics were refreshingly absent, but Sucker began to feel out of his element with all the talk about basketball swirling around his head. He knew little about basketball and cared even less.
He was the invisible man.
“How is the Sewanee basketball team doing this year?” Professor Creamer wondered.
Sucker was at a loss for words.
“Well, I am afraid that I have not kept up with that,” Sucker said apologetically. Several members looked at him as if he were a pitiful creature. Not keeping up with basketball at one’s university? What kind of professor was he anyway? He felt like a complete failure.
“Well, I know we played you a couple of times,” Professor Butcher said. “Sewanee lost both games as I recall.”
Good, Sucker thought cynically. Who cared if those bastards lost every fucking ball game? Only an idiot would.
Dessert came. The meal ended, mercifully. Sucker breathed a sigh of relief to be back out in the spring air with the group of professors but felt the sword of Damocles hanging over his head. His talk was coming up next. He had the urge to take a dive through one of the hedgerows and never be seen again. He would be the real invisible candidate. What would be the loss if he disappeared over the hill? Life would go on just the same.
At half past one, the faculty gathered in one of the cement-block classrooms. Some dozen students drifted in sitting back three or four rows. Sucker headed for the head to take a quick swill before getting to the task. He sometimes still thought in navy terms. Approaching the room, Professor Woodley indicated that in five minutes he should begin. He could go ahead and introduce himself and announce the focus of his talk.
It was the moment of truth. Sucker would have been delighted to have given his talk to a receptive audience, to academics who would be sensitive to his thoughts, arguments and concerns. But he felt that it was not going to be the case this day.
“Hello. As you know, I am Stan Sucker and have spent this academic year teaching political science at Sewanee State University. I am very happy to be here today at Mall State and have the opportunity to talk to you about my proposed research agenda.
I would like to outline for you my proposed approach to understanding political and economic development in the Third World. I have prepared some handouts along with the outline of my talk.
Sucker passed out the one-page hand-outs.
Then he spent twenty-five minutes arguing that while the anti-imperialist thrust of the pattern of Third World development since the end of colonialism had not been completely successful, it had not been a failure either in a number of countries. Import substitution industrialization had laid the basis for future development. Now these emerging nations in Asia and Africa had reached a turning point. It was true that they must engage more fully with the global market. This will increase the quality of the products they produce, Sucker argued.
But on the other hand, they should assert a good deal of autonomy and control over foreign capital. The pattern of development should benefit the local people and not lead to inordinate inequality. They must be sovereign nations. Sucker cited a wide range of literature, a good deal of it written by intellectuals from third world countries.
There is nothing wrong with globalization, per se. The devil is in the details, he said. If countries do not retain their sovereignty over their political economy, then it is just a new form of global imperialism.
It was not a direct attack upon globalization but critical of the present thrust of neoliberalism as it was being imposed upon the world.
Sucker then invited those in the audience to ask questions.
Professor Bert Hack, an economist, was leaning far back in his chair, sort of bent over sideways. Sucker saw a scowl on his fat ruddy face. His thick spectacles were balanced on his nose. He was clearly an irritated man. Sucker braced himself for the question.
“Professor Sucker, you have given us an overview of all these theories, some that question globalization. It seems to me that it is more simple than all that. If we use the principle of Ockam’s Razor it will be more clear. Let’s take Cleanwave Corp, our partner here, for example. It is simply elementary logic that toxic waste should be sold to India. Why? We know how much it costs to kill a person in the United States. Roughly two million dollars. How much does it cost to kill a person in India? Two thousand dollars. That is a great amount of savings. It is a thousand times more cost effective. It is water tight economic logic. It cannot be disputed. Everyone is going to be worse off if countries like India refuse to buy our toxic waste. That includes electronic waste which is the fastest growing category. It seems to me that political scientists have no business questioning the economists on such issues. I believe you have to rethink your approach.”
The fucking fascist. Sucker thought. Who corporations are going to kill is simply a matter of how much it costs to kill them.
“I agree that the logic of sending hazardous waste to the poorest countries is water tight from the neoclassical economic perspective,” Sucker said. “You have addressed a critical argument. We cannot argue with the practice from this neoclassical economic point of view. But I would argue that we should also address the question of whether it is ethical to kill Indians, simply because it saves companies money and increases profits.”
Sucker saw Professor Hack’s face turn a brighter shade of red. The answer clearly angered him.
Then a young student spoke up. “It seems to me that the people in India just do not know how to run their country,” he said. “They have way too many people anyway. They are overpopulated. If a few die from the waste, which has not yet been established, then it will not be a big loss. On the other hand, they will gain from the free trade. So it can easily be shown to be beneficial. Or what is normally referred to as Pareto Optimal. It seems to me that this is the logical way to look at it?”
“Well, I am afraid that it will be quite a big loss for those who lose their lives,” Sucker said. “And for their loved ones. I am not sure that they would be willing to make the sacrifice, regardless of the benefits that you argue they will enjoy.”
“Oh, but life is cheap in those countries,” the student put in. “It will not add up to a great loss.”
Professor Woodley then tried to clear things up. “Professor Sucker, your research agenda seems somewhat esoteric for our concerns here from a business perspective. If we are going to prepare students for the business world, surely we need to instill some simple basic principles in them. Surely free trade is one of them. The classical principle of comparative advantage. Research has shown that free trade pacts have benefited all member countries by hundreds of millions of dollars. It seems to me that we simply cannot question that. When the market works, everybody gains.”
“I agree that we cannot question these results using the precepts of neoclassical economics,” Sucker said. “But perhaps there are many elements of development which cannot be measured simply by economic variables. For example, free trade has led to thousands of poor Indian farmers committing suicide in recent years because they cannot feed their families.”
No one seemed to agree with Sucker’s approach. It had gone over just as he had expected. Like a lead balloon. They were not buying it. He had not made the sale. Just as he figured, it had been a wasted day.
He noticed the economist Bert Hack shuffling out with a completely disgusted look on his angry red face. He clearly was not going to want to see Sucker around.
Chapter Thirty-One: Farewell Sewanee
Back in Magnolia the next day, Sucker was up early in the morning to go over his material for the interview at Sewanee State. He was already prepared, but doing interviews on days back to back was a challenge. He was fairly sure that the trip to Mall State had been a waste of time. The prospects at Sewanee State were also dim. When he had met Wolfram Warburg in the hallway during the last week, Warburg had remarked “Oh, the competition is very rough.” It was a not too subtle hint that his application was not being considered very seriously. His interview was likely just for show. A formality. If the candidate had already been chosen for the job, it would just save the university money to interview Sucker. It was a very cost-effective decision.
Nevertheless, he had determined to go through with it. Give it his best shot. Since the faculty already knew him, the interview would consist of his presentation which would take place in the afternoon.
Arriving in the department, he was informed by the Chairman, Professor Gordon, that he would join the small group for lunch. It was standard procedure to take a candidate to lunch.
At three in the afternoon, the other professors gathered for the seminar. Sucker was already there and gave his talk on the political economy of East Asia. This was easier and Sucker ran through it easily. It was a relief to finally be free from all of the preparations.
In the evening, he went to eat pizza with the young assistant Professor in the department, Kurt Taylor. After the two interviews on the last two days, it was nice to relax and drink a beer. His friend, Kurt basically informed him of the result as he had inside information.
I’m afraid that the fix is already in, Kurt told him. It was in way before he even gave his presentation. He would not be chosen for the position. Wolfram Warburg had his pet candidate lined up. He had already been chosen months before. He was a guy who had been teaching for some six years at another school. He had written a paper arguing that the British Empire had been a great boon to India and claiming to prove it in his work.
It was not until the following Tuesday that Sucker was informed that he had struck out for the job. They had of course chosen Warburg’s pet candidate. Actually he was Professor Warburg’s former student and would be ideal for teaching some courses for the department on the nearby Air Force Base to the officers.
The same day, Sucker received a call from Professor Woodley at B
Mall State University. She informed him that now that they had interviewed four candidates, they had decided not to hire anybody this year. He had struck out at both interviews. Stan could not help feeling dejected after all the work he had put into the preparations.
Since there was nothing to lose, Sucker asked Professor Woodley what the main reason was for rejecting him. It might have been in bad taste to ask the question but he was curious to know. At first it seemed that she did not know what to say. She had not expected such a direct question.
“Well, the selection committee thought that you were too focused on economics,” she said.
“Oh, well, the position was for teaching about the Third World,” Sucker said. “The economic situation seems pretty basic to me. However, I thought that I had mentioned a lot of political factors too. But thanks for giving me the feedback. I appreciate your honesty and feedback.”
The bitch, Sucker thought. Like hell, that is the reason they rejected me. They just believe that I have my economics upside down. That’s what I think. Perhaps, it had been undiplomatic to ask her why he had not been hired. There could be all kinds of reasons, especially when the decision depended upon a committee. This was a tricky business and schools wanted to avoid any trouble makers at all cost. Sucker was still under the impression that decisions taken by universities should basically be rational.
He had struck out twice in a row. Twice in two days. It made Stan feel bitterly disappointed when he thought about it but one must journey on. This was part of academia. It was part of being a professor.
Just as suddenly, something else happened. He was not dead yet.
The same evening, he received a call from the Chairman of the Social Science Department at the small state university in Mississippi.
“Hello, I am Professor Benton, the chairman of the Social Science Department at Cotton State University. I was wondering if you are still available to teach next year.”
Sucker was surprised to get the call. But it meant another chance to grab a teaching position for the next year.
“Yes, I am,” Sucker replied. “I am just finishing up a one-year position at Sewanee State University.”
“Well, we have to hire a person for political science,” the chairman said. “I remembered talking to you last year. I called and talked to your wife and discovered that you were now teaching at Sewanee State. Would you be interested in teaching at Cotton State?”
Sucker remembered that this was the very guy who had asked him what his political beliefs were. Certainly, landing a job in Mississippi was not going to be his favorite venue but he needed a job for the next year. One job. That’s all. Any job would do and then he would move on from there. After all, beggars cannot be choosers. He would pull a career out of this shit yet.
“Sure,” Sucker said. “I will be leaving Magnolia in just a couple of days and driving up to Missouri. So I will be coming through Mississippi. The university is actually on my way. I could stop in on the way if that would be convenient.”
“Yes. That would be good,” Professor Benton said. “Why don’t we plan to have lunch that day and we can discuss the position.”
“Oh sure,” that would be fine,” Sucker said. “I can easily be there in time for lunch as I will be leaving here early in the morning.”
“Which day will you be leaving?” Benton asked.
“On Thursday if everything works out,” Sucker said. If my plans change I’ll give you a call.”
Sucker was back in the running. You can’t keep a good man down, he thought. They bounce right back. Of course, it was pretty far down on his preference list for places to teach but if he got an offer, it would be something to fall back on. At the same time, he hoped that a school in a better location would offer him a position. It was a long shot but one never knew in this business. Things happened sometimes, one way or another.
Sucker spent the next day cleaning up his office. He called the Salvation Army truck and had them come and take away his furniture. He just gave it back to them. He only kept one folding chair, which he would leave next to the dumpster the day he left.
In the early evening, he lingered around the department. The next day, he would turn in his keys and say goodbye to the chairman and the other staff and thank them for their support.
Shit, I would sure like to know something about this guy that they hired, he thought. If I just had access to that file cabinet in there, I could check it out. He knew where the applications were being kept. The room was just two doors away from his office.
Just for the hell of it he decided to try his key in the door. To his surprise, the door opened like a charm. He quickly slipped in and opened the file cabinet. Bottom drawer. There they were, about a foot thick collection of folders. There couldn’t be less than a hundred applications. If someone caught him there, he might be in trouble. On the other hand, what could they do? He was leaving the next day anyway. He could make an excuse.
He quickly went through the thick collection of applications. He quickly checked and found the applications of some of his friends who had been students with him in California. Shit, I can’t believe that these guys have also applied for this job. Some of them were Indians and Pakistanis. Wolfram Warburg had already laughed about those applications and told him no Indians or Pakistanis. No way. They were out. He said that he just threw the applications of Indians and Pakistanis aside without even looking at them.
Then he found the application of the candidate who had been selected. Going through his file, he pulled out his CV. Yes, there it was. He slipped his folder back in the drawer, got out and locked the door. In a little bit, he had taken the CV over to Kinko’s and made a copy of it. Back in the department, he slipped it back into his folder. Now he had the dope on the guy. He felt a little better having pulled that off.
He went through the CV. He had been told that the guy had an extensive publications record. But if he did, the publications were not listed on his CV. He had gotten one book published, likely his dissertation. After that, almost nothing. Only a couple of articles in more than six years. Then he spied something else. He had graduated from the US Military Academy. Could it be that he was Professor Warburg’s former student? Of course. There was no way of knowing that but he figured it must be the case.
The next day he showed his file to the graduate student who also taught in the department at lunch. Her husband who was a professor in Birmingham took a look at it.
“Ah ha, a Wolfram Warburg clone,” he said. “There it is. He missed tenure at his old university. He just published one book and rested on his laurels. He has not published anything of any significance since. That is surely how he missed tenure.”
Sucker was amused. He had not been able to understand that. Hiring the guy had little to do with him being a good scholar or teacher, it seemed. Perhaps it was just that he was a conservative and had the same ideas and values as Professor Warburg. Perhaps because he was his former student. Connections did make a difference. This made Sucker sad but somewhat vindicated.
It was his last day at the university. His things were almost loaded up and ready to go. Tomorrow he would be heading out of town in the early morning.
As he drove west in the early morning, Sucker felt relieved to be out but a little discouraged about the way he had been treated. I came and busted my ass every day beyond the call of duty, he thought. I never missed classes. I bent over backwards to be fair and reasonable with everybody. The Chairman, Professor Gordon, had told him that he was glad that he hired him. So it was the Chairman and not Warburg who had made the decision to hire him. Maybe he was the best candidate on the string. He knew that Warburg would have never hired him if it was up to him.
Nevertheless, it seemed like less than he deserved after all his hard work. In an American university, one comes and busts one’s ass working for the department, and then is rather unceremoniously thrown out. Academia was a quite hard, quite brutal business.
I probably made a big mistake,” Sucker thought. “I should have gone to all the football games and learned to play golf.
The year had taught him a lot about what it was like to be a professor. What he would encounter in future he could only guess.