My personal favorite place to study on campus was the music listening rooms in the basement of the McHenry Library. They were sound-proofed—well, nominally, anyway—had good stereo equipment, and plenty of space on which to spread your books out. The only downside was that the listening rooms were reserved for music students—or any student taking a music class—and so you often had to wait to get one, especially on weekends. It was no exception that day, and I grudgingly accepted a pair of headphones and joined the throng in a side room that had been set up for the overflow, just a bunch of tables with receivers on them, one per studier.
After an hour or so I was able to take over a room, and so with a contented sigh I set myself up in there. Sometimes I brought my own tapes, but more often I checked something out from the recording library. That day I went with Dizzy Gillespie; I was going through a phase where I was listening to a lot of jazz and blues players from the 50s and 60s. (One weekend it was Ray Charles; another, Nat King Cole. When you have access to a huge library of music, why not?)
I had been slogging away at my Chemistry homework for about another hour when there was a tap on the door. I startled a little—when I'm concentrating really hard on something I tend to hyper-focus and not notice small things, like people coming up behind me, or earthquakes, or such—and turned around to see Tosh standing at the door. At my wave, he came in, shut the door, and perched on a corner of the table near the cassette player. Reaching over, he actually turned the music up, rather than down, and then leaned over to me.
“Decided you needed me today after all?” I said.
“Heh.” It was funny that both Tosh and Sara shared an explosive laugh, though they differed by an octave and a half, of course; it's hard to imagine two people being any more different in pretty much every other way. ”Yeah. I was able to find the guys I needed to talk to quicker than I thought, so I'll be able to do some hunting around and I kind of need your help.”
“Sure; I don't have anything big planned for the rest of the day and I’m pretty sick of calculating electron valences anyway. Right away?”
“No, no; closer to dark. Maybe around 4:30. Can you meet me around then at the Baytree?” The Baytree Bookstore was where you went on campus to purchase your ridiculously over-priced textbooks.
“No problem,” I said. ”Oh hey, as long as you're here, Tosh, I was wondering if I could borrow the Rabbit on Thursday?”
“Thursday?” Tosh stared up at the ceiling thoughtfully for a moment. ”Yeah, I think Thursday night will be fine.” He looked down at me and smiled. ”Sara?”
“Yeah, Sara.” I said, grinning with one side of my face, slightly embarassed.
“Cool. Well, if you don't come home, at least I'll know where you are.” He frowned for a minute. ”Actually, that's a good point.”
“What's a good point?”
“Can you give me Sara's phone number, just in case?”
“Tosh, c'mon, man!”
He sighed. ”I know, Zack. I'm sorry to even ask. Probably nothing will come up. But just in case, you know?”
It was my turn to sigh. Woman’s life at stake after all, and that “help others” thing is pretty deeply ingrained in jarheads. ”Yeah, okay. Just a sec.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out her number, copied it onto a corner of one of my notebooks, tore it off, and gave it to him. ”Here you go, man. Try not to use it unless absolutely necessary. If you know what I mean.”
YOU ARE READING
A Study with SlugsMystery / Thriller
It is the early 1980s, and women are disappearing from the university campus in Santa Cruz, California, home of the Fighting Banana Slugs. The local police and state investigators are baffled, and so solving these crimes is left to a dope-smoking...