School foR sex
Paul Curtin could hear a girl’s throaty chuckle. The deep, husky laugh was what he’d have called a preliminary-sex-play sound without knowing exactly why he was so sure about it. The sound he heard after that was the rustle of a woman’s undergarments.
Paul realized what was going on. A couple of students were having a good time in the open air on the college grounds.
Paul knew that a lot of students had what might be called adventures with each other. He was an expert at judging the patterns of human behavior, and this was the third year he’d been a professor of anthropology at the college. He took it for granted that kids in their teens or just out of them were sex-crazy. They’d enjoy it at the drop of a skirt, and didn’t generally care what risks they had to take in order to get it.
But this sort of thing shouldn’t have been happening on the campus grounds itself. The kids might be found by somebody else in the faculty who was likely to raise high holy hell. They could ruin their college careers and regret it forever. This might turn out to be the blackest night of their lives if they stayed there much longer.
He was also curious to see who the stupid kids were. Curiosity was his professional strongpoint, and his personal weakness. He knew this, but couldn’t help himself. His light blue eyes were inquiring and his brows were shaped like question marks. He knew that the students often called him Paul Pry. He was thirty-one years old, with a thick shock of blond hair, and he still appeared young enough to be mistaken for a freshman.
Paul looked around him at the buildings that gleamed under the wedge of moon. The sounds were coming from his left, he decided, and started walking in that direction. A few steps convinced him that the sounds were actually coming from a place behind the good-sized statue in the campus oval that showed one of the college’s founders riding a horse. The back of that statue would offer enough room for a couple to lie down and be hidden from anybody going about his business. Paul wondered vaguely how many other times it had happened, how many other couples had met and made love at that spot. It would have been surprising if the two kids using the place now were the first ones who had thought of it.
When he had walked around the oval in which the gigantic statue was located, he paused.
What he saw was just about what he had expected. The girl was flat on her back on the clipped grass just beyond the oval. Her skirt was off. Her slip had been raised. The boy, dressed in full, was raising himself on both elbows.
Paul was keenly interested by the nervousness that these two kids were showing in their hurried gestures and taut faces. He’d have liked, in a way, to see how they behaved through the whole act and to take notes afterwards. But he’d have hated himself for it in the long run. He was a behavioral scientist, but that didn’t make him a peeping tom. He had his scruples.
The boy gasped and the girl’s face showed anguish. She started puffing down her slip frantically. Her breathing was loud and irregular.
“All right,” Paul said slowly, when the boy had stood up and finished fumbling with the zipper on his pants, “I’m not going to ask you what happened here because I can figure that out for myself.”
“Y-yes, Professor Curtin,” the boy said nervously, his voice soaring. He raised both hands in a hurried gesture to his bright tie and then patted his hair back needlessly. Harry Davis’ jumpiness was a byword in the school. He had jittered his way through freshman and sophomore years and he hoped he’d become a lawyer in time.
The girl was supposed to have a very good chance of becoming a lawyer. Donna Miller had taken top honors in her sophomore year. She was a small blonde who worked so hard at her studies because she knew that her family had scrimped and saved to send her to college, and she was dead set on proving that the money wasn’t being wasted.
Paul didn’t look at her as she pulled on her skirt hurriedly. He turned to the boy, who was staring down at the ground and swallowing again and again. His hands were shaking at his sides. His lips were drawn tight by fear.
“There’s something I want you to tell me,” Paul started. “Didn’t you figure on being caught?”
“Didn’t you think that sooner or later you’d be caught here? People are walking back and forth at all hours. This place is public, after all. You might practically use the stage of Garbold Hall during commencement exercises.”
“No-no, sir, I didn’t think I’d be caught.”
“How come? Is it because you got away with using this place before?”
“Me, sir?” Harry Davis’ eyes nearly popped out of his head. “No, sir, I’ve never brought a girl here before in my life. I swear I haven’t.”
“What about other students? Have they done it?”
“I wouldn’t know about that for a fact.”
“Tell me the gossip, but don’t say anything you know is a lie. I want to find out if this is a very popular meeting place for students.”
“Y-yes, sir, it is.” Harry Davis looked up miserably at the gleaming statue of horse and rider. “It’s called the riding academy, sir.”
Paul grimaced. It always bothered him to come across one more proof that kids didn’t care about the future at all. They wanted to live for each day and get then kicks while the getting was good. They had been sent to college to prepare for a tomorrow that very few of them gave a damn about.
Donna Miller asked softly, “Are you going to report us for this, Professor Curtin?”
“Of course not.”
“What you two do is your own business as long as you keep it private. Go to a hotel or borrow a room if that’s possible and you have to have each other. All I want you to do is not use the college campus for this. Otherwise, I couldn’t care less about what the two of you are up to.”
From behind Paul a new voice boomed out:
“You may not care, Professor, but I can assure you that I care very much.”
Paul whirled around. The man striding pompously into the circle was big and imposing looking. He was probably in his late fifties, and he behaved as if his every move or remark was being noticed by people over whom he had authority. What’s more, he wouldn’t have hesitated to use it.
He behaved like the dean of a college. Which he was.
“I was passing by,” Dean Alfred Vedder said in response to Paul’s sudden inquiring look. “I’d had a hard night planning a speech I’m going to give to the Alumni Federation tomorrow, a very important speech, of course. When I heard what you three were talking about, I came closer and made sure I’d have to take steps about this.”
“Sir?” Harry Davis blanched.
“This means dismissal for the two of you,” Dean Vedder said sonorously. “Your careers are going to be cut short on account of your own folly, your own stupidity.”
Harry’s teeth chattered. Donna asked pointedly, “Can this decision of yours be appealed, sir?”
“Certainly not. It’s final.” Vedder glanced to his left. “Professor Curtin here will bear me out—”
Paul cut in quietly, “No, sir.” Vedder had been starting to make another one of his short speeches, but he was caught flat-footed this time before he could get under way. He gaped, and actually rubbed his ears as if he thought he hadn’t heard correctly.
“Did I understand you, Professor?”
“Yes, Dean Vedder, you did.”
“Isn’t it true that you caught these two students making love on the grass?”
Paul said stolidly, “They were doing what my generation used to call ‘necking’, sir. It was harmless, as far as I could see.”
“Nonsense! Some of the girl’s clothes must have been taken off. I heard her fumbling with them.”
“No, sir, you must have heard something else.”
He met Dean Vedder’s eyes steadily. For any number of reasons he had made the only possible decision. It was mostly his fault that the Dean had been drawn into this, and he could only make up for it by doing his best to see that the kids weren’t hurt on account of him. If they were expelled for what they had almost done on the campus grounds, Paul told himself that he’d never be able to look at his own face in the mirror again. He’d fight as hard for these kids as he knew how.
“I hope you realize,” Dean Vedder said frostily, “exactly what you’re doing, Professor.”
“I think so, sir.”
“This is the sort of event that can have unfortunate repercussions on any man’s academic career—not only a student, you understand, but any professor involved. Am I making myself clear?”
“You could find yourself in a bad position, Professor, if charges were preferred against you. It’s possible that you’d be dismissed from your position.”
“I realize that, too, sir.”
“And you won’t change your mind about telling the truth, Curtin?”
“I’ve told you the truth, sir. The students were kissing each other, and there was nothing more important going on between them. I’m willing to swear to that.”
Dean Vedder’s eyes glinted angrily. He must have known that he’d only start a mess if he didn’t have Paul’s backing on this incident. He’d hurt his own authority and couldn’t do the school any good. There was no way for him to go further with it, directly.
“We will leave this matter in abeyance,” the Dean said huffily. “The students will take one week’s suspension from classes, beginning tomorrow. You, Professor, will be in my office at exactly eight-thirty tomorrow morning.’’
He turned on his heels and started walking towards the North gate. His steps were almost rhythmic and his head was erect, his back straight. He might have been an Army officer leaving the scene of a court-martial.
Donna Miller waited till the Dean was out of earshot, then said quietly to Paul, “We’re very grateful to you, Professor Curtin.”
Paul shrugged. “Let’s break this up, all of us.”
Harry Davis gave a nervous little smile, then started running towards his dorm. Donna moved slowly in the opposite direction. Paul watched her walking with lonely dignity till she passed out of sight.
For once Paul was glad he was single and that he’d be sleeping alone tonight. He’d have been surly and impossible with any woman as long as he felt as downhearted as he did now. If a woman of his had wanted some loving tonight, he’d have snarled at her and avoided it, not caring if he did find himself in the middle of an argument.
Paul cursed himself steadily. He had done enough damage for one night on account of that eternal curiosity of his. He had wanted to know everything that was going on, as usual. It never occurred to him not to find out about whatever interested him on the grounds that other people might be hurt. His science-trained curiosity was likely to cost him everything he had worked so hard to get.
Looking around him because it was a habit that wouldn’t die, he walked out the North gate and over to the faculty parking lot. His flame-red Fiat 600 was the only car there. He drove slowly, so that he could take in the scenery that already was as familiar to him as one of his own hands. He parked in front of his one-story house at the northeast end of the town, the so-called faculty row. He checked all the doors and windows before going into his comfortable bedroom for the night and dropping open-eyed into the big double bed. He couldn’t help wondering what the Dean and Harry Davis and Donna Miller were thinking about, right now.