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Professor at Risk, Chapter 2

Please read Chapter 1 first, or this one won’t make much sense.
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Charlie had the week-end days to mull over his problem. He also had the nights because this one didn’t allow for much sleep. When he finally heard the alarm ring on Monday morning, he really hadn’t progressed very much. But the start-of-Monday-class deadline could not be delayed. He had to be there. He reluctantly decided he would just have to play it by ear.
Once he stood in front of the class a remarkable calm came over him. This was HIS milieu. This was HIS territory. He handled it professionally as he always had. But when the end of the day came he felt a lump of apprehension as he walked to HIS office and took his place at HIS desk in HIS time frame. The odds were favouring him but this was not a contest to be won or lost. This was a situation he wanted to nip in the bud.
He thought about it as the evening approached. He realized that the probability that Taverna was in love with him was still only a theory, inspired by Samantha’s intuition. So maybe it was something completely different. Maybe Taverna was only interested in scholarship and she wanted more than she could get at class or by studying. Then he remembered that intuition was a remarkable gift of Sam’s and that she was usually correct.
He settled down in front of his computer but with an ear cocked for footsteps in the hall. Yes, there they were. He recognized Taverna’s step. She knocked on his door trim and he looked up in mock surprise. “Oh, Taverna. I was wondering what problem or observation you were going to bring me tonight.’” [Act normally, he told himself. Just act as if her visit was last week rather than after Sam’s warning.]
She walked into the office. She was wearing a form fitting cardigan-sort-of-thing with buttons down the front. The top few buttons were undone but not to a provocative level, just fetching.
“Hi Charles,” she responded brightly. “I really don’t have any problem related to my studies. I have some personal issues. Do you mind, if I ask you about those?”
[What’s coming up?] “No. Not at all, Taverna. What’s on your mind?”
“Well, it’s… It’s sort of private. May I close the door?”
[Oh, oh.] “I’m afraid not. University orders. No private meetings of a staff member with a student on University grounds. I guess you can understand why with all the accusations of sexual abuse.” [I think I’m handling this quite well.]
Taverna looked around. I’d rather not bring it up here. Can I drive you home and we can talk in the car?”
“That’s a good idea. I live in south Rosedale—not too far away. And if we haven’t finished addressing your problem we can park at the side of the road for a while.”
They left. No coats, it was a warm early spring evening. The car was close by and they got in. He mentioned his address and she seemed to know the location. She pulled away and drove carefully as one with experience.
He started the conversation. “So what’s bugging you?”
“You are!”
[Oh God, here we go. Help me!] “I’M BUGGING YOU? In what way?”
“You’re so much older than I and with so much more experience. You’re wiser. You’d handle this better than I could.”
[Hmm. Maybe it isn’t about US but about a boy friend or something. Glad I didn’t jump in.] “Are you in love with one of the men on campus and he’s not playing your game?” [Gee, maybe that’s too open a question.]
“Sort of.”
[Tread carefully.] “If I’m to offer advice, or even just a shoulder to cry on,” [Oops. Not a good suggestion.] “I have to have a little more information.”
She seemed to change course abruptly. “Do you think that there are some things that make a relationship unworkable?”
Charlie tapped his chin with his forefinger. “I haven’t given that much thought, but yes, I guess there are. Perhaps… previous commitments, ill health [keep searching], differing cultural or religious backgrounds, disparity in age, disapproving parents… But you obviously have one thing in mind.”
She prevaricated. “But if both sides reach an understanding can’t these things be overcome?”
[Might as well bite the bullet. This sparing could go on forever.] “Look Taverna, you know as well as I do that when you’re dealing with people, as opposed to say machinery or computers, anything is possible on one hand or impossible on the other. Do you remember when you were here a month or so ago? You had found a case study which detailed certain symptoms but offered two totally different diagnoses?”
“Yes.”
“Maybe the human relations problem that you have in mind is like that. Only we don’t even have a list of the symptoms. You ask hypothetical questions. I can only give hypothetical answers, which really are of scant value. Why don’t you leave the problem alone and maybe it will work itself out? Human nature often has a strange way of solving a problem while the protagonists are still trying to describe it.”
“I can’t do that. It took me months to work up the courage to ask you. I can’t back down now. I’ll never find out.”
“Find out about what?”
“YOU.”
[I think this is it.] “ME? What have I got to do with it?”
“I’m in love with you.”, she whimpered.
Charlie took a deep breath. “Well, that IS impossible!”
“Why is it impossible. You’re a man. I’m a woman. Most couples are no more than that.”
Charlie was about to take her hand then jerked away. “Look Taverna. You’re 20, I’m 60. When you’re 50, still in the prime of your life, I’ll be a doddering old 90… or dead.”
“I know. I’ve thought of that. I can cope. Even if I have to nurse you. Can’t you understand? I love you.”
“ OK, next barrier. I’m married and happily married at that. Samantha is intelligent and attractive…” [I recall one of Sam’s proverbial expressions: “You can’t win an emotional argument with a woman by applying logic.” Better not elaborate on the family.]
Her eyes were damp. “Couldn’t you love ME?”
“Not the way you want. Look Taverna. I’m impressed by you. I think you very clever. You’re extremely attractive. You’ve got a great shape and you dress well. You’re a leader among your peers. That’s admiration—but that’s not love.”
She turned off the street into a lane just a block from his house [she really does know this territory] and in a particularly dark spot, pulled over as much as she could and turned off the motor. [I guess she realizes that this is going to take longer than she thought.]
They turned to each other and it was only then that he saw she had unbuttoned her sweater while driving and even her front-opening bra. Faster than he could react, she was all over him with kisses. In what may well have been an instinctive gesture to ward her off, he found himself cupping two luscious, firm, warm, young breasts in his hands. Then he felt her hand fumbling around his belt buckle. [……mental fuses all blown, no thoughts……..]
At that precise moment there was a tap on the passenger-side window. Charlie looked out to see a policeman’s uniform. Taverna hurriedly covered herself. Charlie lowered the window slightly. “Yes, Officer.”
“Sorry to bother you, sir, but this is a fire lane. You can’t park here.”
“Thank you, officer.” Charlie motioned Taverna to move on. She started the car and moved to the next street. Charlie held up his hand for a stop. He opened the car door.
“Are you leaving NOW?” asked a petulant Taverna.
“Sorry Taverna, but I have to get home to Samantha before I do something I’ll regret for the rest of my life.”
Taverna was devastated. “So what does she have that I haven’t got?”
Charlie thought for just an instant. “Me!”
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Questions to consider before Chapter 3 is published. You can send your answers as suggestions to me if you wish. I don’t know how it is going to conclude.
1. Should Charlie tell Samatha what happened or just ignore everything?
2. Should he mention this to the University authorities?
3. Should he be prepared to resign his professorial position?
4. What action should he take regarding Taverna?

9 Responses to “Professor at Risk, Chapter 2”

  1. Fran Deacon says:

    In my mind, Charlie has handled an awkward situation well but it doesn’t need to go beyond Samantha. As his wife
    she grasped the situation and the realization of 20 year old Taverna’s
    infatuation without concern, and today’s
    development will come as no surprise.
    If Taverna should go to the University
    authorities…with a false accusation…
    Samantha can tell them differently.

  2. Libby Buchanan says:

    I agree with Fran entirely. Keep it in the family but be firm about seeing her in the future>

  3. gay. Thius requires a sequel !!!! says:

    Lyman, we’ve known each other for 60 years: now confess! Does this have a personal connection? I’ve seen you in a number of situations over the years but never thought of you in this light. Hope you can clear your conscience with some clever ending. Hey! It’s a good story even if you’re not involved. Cheers!

  4. Lorna Kelly says:

    Definitely tell Samantha, and if possible think of another way of protecting himself.
    This young woman is clever, and will obviously do what it takes to get what she wants.

  5. Lynn cochrane says:

    I think he made his first mistake in agreeing to talk to her about a personal matter when he knew that he might be the subject but he really blew it by letting her drive him home. Sorry Lyman but i think your character is very naieve for a 60 year old man who through experience should know better. He already is in up to his neck if she decides to report him to the university in an immature act of revenge. A woman scorned sort of thing. He if he really is not interested then he should exit the car immediately, tell his wife and speak to his university superior asap about the situation so they are aware in case she does report him in an immature act of revenge. Looking forward to the next chapter.

  6. Jack Long says:

    Lyman it’s your problem. You got your man into it so you figure it out.

  7. Taverna should be put very squarely in her place which is NOT beside her professor. Samantha should know about this development and the Dean must be told as soon as possible. No more office meetings for Taverna (email questions only) and Charlie should know better at his age…..

    You are certainly full of intriguing surprises, Lyman, so I will quite understand if Chapter 3 takes a completely different tack from the one I have suggested.

  8. Rose says:

    Hi Lyman,

    Loved chapter two. I agree with Jack Long. That was a great response and how I feel too.

    have a wonderful weekend.

    Love Rose

  9. Toni Henderson & Frank Cox says:

    Well Jack is right Dad, you got Charlie into this mess and you need to get him out. But REALLY Charlie should know better (and most likely does). He balks at closing the office door but agrees to talking to Taverna about a personal matter (that is what the University Counselling Centre is for), and happily lets her drive him home, even suggesting they park for awhile to finish up their talk. I suspect Charlie is not so naive as he claims! What he SHOULD do and what he WANTS to do are not the same thing I suspect. Can’t wait till next posting ….
    Love Toni

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