Che and Jane Austen Walk into a Bar…: Friday Sept. 19, 2014

Timothy Jensen is cute! And I don’t mean the well muscled and square-jawed, Superman kind of cute, but the other more subtle kind. The bespectacled, bookish sort of cute. Like Clark Kent or Harry Potter.

I show his Facebook page to June. She squints at the distorted image on my vintage I3’s cracked screen.

“More like Harry Potter.” She says, pushing my phone away and pulling her chair closer to the computer monitor, one of a dozen spread throughout the Greenville Public Library. “Honestly Mable, you’re a loser.”

“He seems like a nice guy.” I scroll through his photo albums, finding pics of him white water rafting in Virginia and playing flag football with other equally cute guys on a manicured lawn. There are even a few stills of him in a Christmas program wearing the long robes and heavy beard of a Magi.

“I can’t believe I have to write a report. ” June complains, chewing her tounge like a cow chews cud. I wouldn’t be suprised that if she could taste blood. “The presentation was fine. It’s because I got stuck with Penny.”

“Well, everyone else did fine.” I say. I know when to let June vent, but the report (fifteen pages double spaced on a Romantic author) is a mercy. “Why didn’t you just follow Penny’s lead. It was suppose to be about Emma. Hello?”

Sé que!” June growls, “Turkey didn’t give me a chance to explain, she just sent me to see the school counselor, your friend Mrs. Jane. Como que estoy loco o algo. Everyone thinks I’m crazy.”

To be honest, she may have a point. Mrs. Powell (Turkey to those of us with a sense of humor) really didn’t give June a chance. Penny, wearing what looked like her grandmother’s nightgown, was allowed to ramble on for ten minutes about Georgian fashion, courtship, and the later romantic writers, while June (dressed like Che Guevara, black brie and everything) was hardly a minute into her rant about imperialism, before the plug was pulled.

“Nobody understood what you were talking about anyways.” I say, but I doubt June really cares. Sometimes the girl just wants to put on a show and give the middle finger to the world.

“I was speaking on explotation.” June says, mothering her words, “Thats what the British Empire was all about for like four hundred years. And Che would have approved of the brie. I got it from the Salvation Army store for fifty cents”

There’s no arguing with her, so I change the subject. “What did you and Mrs. Jane talk about.”

Nada. Just had a staring contest.”

“She speaks Spanish.”

“Not to me.” June takes a handful of change from her pocket, counts it, then selects a ridiculously small font to print a few wiki pages in. Unreliable sources for sure but Mrs. Powell won’t notice. She just want’s her pound of flesh. “A nickel a page is crazy. Che would not approve.”

I continue though Tim’s photo albums, then move to his About page. Relationship status: single. I allow for a small bloom of hope, nearly microscopic but there.

“Got any change?” June asks, her hand outstretched.

I giver her a buck and a quarter and we walk to the printer station.

“Want to read the email he sent?” I ask.

“You already read it to me.” She counts out one-seventy-five in nickels and dimes and inserts it into the coin slot before entering her password, “He sounds boring.”

“In a way.” I say. His email was just like the one I sent to him, boring. He went on about school and family, his job at a cafeteria and his ride, an oil burning 92′ Oldsmobile Royale named Fancy. Everything and nothing. But his words were playful and inviting where mine were distant.

“What author did you choose?” I ask. She doesn’t give back any leftover change, but slides the remainder into her pocket. She must have nearly a dollar left.

“Coolidge and I’m going to write my a** off. Twenty, no, thirty pages. Screw Penny and Turkey.” Her voice raises two dozen octives, echoing between the library’s high book cases.

The librarian, an old women with a perpetually sever look, shushes us. June begrugingly complies. She’d been warned before and doesn’t want to lose her access to free afterschool internet.

“When are we going to the bridge again?” She says. “I got to get out before I lose my freaking mind.” She begins looking through her printouts. “I’m racking leaves for some people around Hunter Estates, so I can help with gas.”

“Look at you Ms. Team Player.” I chide, wondering how much of my change will make it back into my gas tank.

We make plans for Saturday and find a table away from Mrs. Librarian’s prying eyes. June begins her research in earnest while I read and reread Timothy’s email. If this were a Lifetime movie it wouldn’t be an email, but a really true to life letter, and I’d sneak a taste of the top flap knowing that his tongue had been there.

“Tell Sunny thanks or the Bible verse.” I say, nudging Junes shoulder, “Timothy really liked it.”

“Yeah, well that little snot has a thousand of them crammed up his butt.” June doesn’t looking up as she highlights each page wet before moving on to the next.

“It was one about iron sharpening iron, about friends.”

She says nothing, immersed in a world memorialized by a thousand episodes of Masterpiece Theater.

I look again at Timothy’s photo albums and begin wondering what he would look like without glasses.

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