by Marian Allen
Douglas Castelan exchanged holding his throbbing head to pinching his pug nose. He tried not to focus on his glass, filled with a repellent mixture of raw egg and Worcestershire sauce, and tossed the disgusting elixir back without breaking the oysterish yolk.
Keeping it down was harder than drinking it, but, after a few minutes’ victory, he was rewarded with an easing of his symptoms.
There were only so many Mondays one could claim a migraine before college students understood one meant hangover.
Oh, students! The well that never runs dry! His secondary career as “First Impressions” columnist for Exploring The Classics would be so much more difficult without them!
He’d had that career for fifteen years, and he’d never actually written more than the first three columns. Once he’d realized he could assign his class the book he was supposed to review as if he were reading it for the first time, it had been free money. All he had to do was pick the most literate of the papers, clean it up a bit, and have another cocktail.
This year was even better: Young Brendan Montgomery consistently turned in good work. So good, Douglas hadn’t even read his last paper; he’d just deleted Brendan’s name, inserted his own, and emailed it to the magazine.
Life was good.
Brendan Montgomery lifted a mug of craft beer and clinked the mugs of all his friends.
“I might come back to college some day,” he said. “But I have to grab this chance, you know?”
He was good at everything he did, but computer programming was his first love. One of his programs had caught the eye of an up-and-coming company, and he was dropping out to ride the tail of that comet as far as it would take him.
“You know the best thing about it?”
His envious but genuinely delighted friends asked him to tell them.
They were even more delighted when he said, “Writing that last paper for Old Man Castelan. ‘I didn’t even read this stupid book. The first ten pages were so damn boring, I went to sleep. What kind of moron is this Thackery fool, anyway?’ And then I told him I was quitting and how I felt about school – I called it ‘the company’ – taking money from the ignorant and leaving them just as ignorant at the end as they were at the beginning. I hope he enjoyed it!”
A WRITING PROMPT FROM THE SPAM FILE: You’re going to review it. Of course you’re going to read it.