Chapter 4: The Fool

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The beginning of a journey, a leap into the unknown, a surprising solution, start of an adventure, significant and unexpected circumstances. Purity of action, a new phase of life, taking a risk, trust in a higher power. Pure potential, all things are possible. This suggests a need to take a risk with childlike optimism.

Having noticed Eddie's shaggy-haired machismo in a film class, their first true meeting was late on a superb September afternoon at the Thompson Quad pool. She watched with intense interest as he carried his bicycle to a spot near the diving tower, shucking riding shoes, helmet, gloves, and sunglasses before peeling a tight cycling jersey slowly overhead and posing his beautifully muscled torso for two passing co-eds, laughing at some unheard communication. 

Private girls schooling reserve aside, an urge to grab two handfuls of the spandex covering his well-developed ass was powerful.

Climbing to the highest board, he took his sweet time getting ready, bouncing several times, bantering with another diver, pacing and miming the intended twists and style before finally performing an effortless-looking combination 1 ½ tuck and swan, puncturing the surface with a rip entry that earned a smattering of applause from the sunbathers present, herself included.

Watching him from the darkened protection of her Mata Hari's, she was thrilled with a Celestine Prophecy glow around the diver, 99% certain about his being the semi-trouble man of fire and water Madame Brittalia so recently promised. When he surfaced beside her poolside chaise, wiping light brown hair back with both hands and offering a brilliant smile and friendly "Hey!" she pretended to tan religiously while slowly counting inside -one one-thousand girlfriend, two one-thousands girlfriend, three one-thousands girlfriend - before acknowledging his presence.

"Hey back. I gave you a 6.7 for being to one side, but besides being the tough Russian judge, nice rip. What kind of bike is that, a Giant?" she nodded toward the tower, nonchalantly wiping a single bead of sweat from between tan breasts. Going to an all- girls school didn't mean being unaware of having supremely effective assets in the attracting guys department.

"Yeah, a Cypress DX. 21 gears, twist grip shift, adjustable stems, brake mod..."

"Just got it, huh? How far do you ride, assuming you don't always carry it?"

"Twenty-five or thirty miles, longer if I'm working it good, and no, carrying it was because I couldn't avoid roadside glass when some dickhead crowded me around that corner near Wadsworth. I traded in a venerable Miyata three weeks ago for it, wanted something that could go off-road more."

"Venerable, huh? Good word for old. Mountain biking part of your routine?"

"Some fat wheel stuff lately to get in shape for the Bridge-to-Bridge race in a couple weeks, but usually just streets or in the country. Cycling is about keeping my butt in shape for swimming, which I skip until mid-October, because 12,000 yards a day of 'voluntary' workouts seems an awful lot like a job."

"So, you're on the team here?" Marlena leaned forward with provocative innocence, certain the outrageously priced bikini purchased in Marseilles had his attention.

"Yep," he exhaled, levering himself from the water and twisting to face her in a single motion. "Edgar Allan Starkes, #2 backstroker in school history, #3 in the conference last year at 200 meters, a little further back at 500. Lots of people call me Poe, get it?"

"Marlena Christie, specialty 200 IM, and soon to be #1 in the school and conference," she offered, pleased with a powerful connection in their handshake.

"Oooo, confidence! I appreciate that almost as much as great legs, which I'll say in the most un-drooling and complimentary manner possible, you definitely have."

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