Too far, he thought, divided between impious enjoyment of their reaction and a vague concern for their evanescent respectability as university students. He took him by the arm and dragged him away, all the while laughing despite himself. What were they complaining about, anyway? Pete had just had more success in bringing Shakespeare back to life than they ever would.
‘I do love Shakespeare, you know?’, Pete whispered in his ear as they went on to the cafeteria. That was the guy who could turn even Aeschylus’s darkest dramas into delicate, artistic tragicomedies. In his telling of her tale, blood-stained Clytemnestra would, no doubt, trip over the folds of her dress, barely managing to retain balance, struck in her victory by a prick of precariousness, as if Orestes’ shadow were already behind her, waiting for the time to strike as the Elders of Argos stared indignantly at her shame. Any tale he told would be endowed with beauty, tragedy and delicacy. It was an amazing gift, he thought. But then, that was an amazing person.
They made their way through the crowded cafeteria and found themselves a table outside. They sat across the table from each other, their trays resting in front of them. It was so difficult to focus on eating any meal, he always found. All he wanted was to drink of Pete’s words and get drunk on the sound of his voice. That voice always stole away all other thoughts, concerns or needs. And his eyes, so unlike all he had encountered before, always comforted him for their warmth.
All lunchtime was taken up by cover-up academic discussion and by these stolen glances at one another that tied up in nervous giggling whenever they happened to do it at the same time and their eyes met.
‘…I swear, that Stuart guy will still be dabbling and fooling around in Dante’s verse jungle by the end of the semester. I mean, okay, that crap needs close reading, but what he has been doing is getting everybody lost, beginning with himself.
‘ “Lasciate ogne speranze, voi ch’intrate”’
‘Yeah, right, that’s what I think whenever I walk into his class. He has gotten us to the Gates of Hell, at last, but there’s little doubt that he will be floundering soon with the tale of Paolo and Francesca. We will never get past that.
‘Don’t complain. It is not such a bad one to be stuck into for the rest of the semester; ‘tis better than Brunetto, anyway.’ Luke said.
‘Yeah, for them it’s hell, alright, but they are in there alone, hugging for all eternity, the pair of them. And I mean, if you take the wind, that is not at all a bad way of spending eternity.’ Their smiles met and the hint was clear. Then, there was a discreet movement of the lips, Pete sending him a message of conspiracy by means of a secret messenger.
And then the glow faded suddenly as Pete asked:
‘Hey, the guys told me there is a party today here at college, from around eight to…who the hell knows!’ He held his breath and Narcissus across the table noticed it…or was he Narcissus and the other the lake? And then Pete asked the ill-fated question ‘Luke, why don’t we come by? Together. I could wait for you by the clock. We could go to my place and crash there afterwards.’
To be continued…
Tomás Ferreira (Get Real. culture editor)
This series, entitled “A Horse!” will be in 8 parts. This is part 6/8.