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Published by Devon Pitlor
Following a creative writing class for senior citizens, an old man relates a bizarre tale from his youth, a story which suggests a human breeding season each year.
Following a creative writing class for senior citizens, an old man relates a bizarre tale from his youth, a story which suggests a human breeding season each year.

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Published by: Devon Pitlor on Feb 06, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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by Devon Pitlor 
I. Elderhostel...old people on a college campusThough getting on and off the bus wasn't alwayseasy, and some of those shit-little colleges hadn't yetcaught up with providing ramps in and out of all thebuildings, the idea of college courses for seniors wasn'tall that onerous for Gregory Tolmer and the nine or soother surviving husbands who all summer had beendragged around campuses by their wives amidstoblivious ranks of regular students who mostly ignoredthem as they hobbled and crutched in and out of dormsand classroom buildings. Some of the instructors hadeven taken the oldtimers seriously and attempted toteach them something without patronizing their age or revealing too obviously the fact that the small collegesgenerated much-needed revenue by welcoming such atwilight band to non-credit classes. Other assignedfaculty came off only as clones of the solicitous activitydirectors working in senior citizen community centers,the kind who specialized in praising one's everygeriatric belch and arthritic groan with the plasticenthusiasm reserved for the dying and near dead.Gregory Tolmer, 77, retired mortgage banker, ex-golfer (his knees had finally given out one morning on agreasy fairway back in his home state) wanted a cigar.He always wanted a cigar, not the trendy icon of modernmartini-sipping yuppies, but an honest and reasonablypriced stogie from his own salad days. Of course, eventhe mention of smoking, let alone the actual
consumption of a foul, stinking object like a cigar, wasexpressly forbidden by the organizers of the campustour. Although the elderly scholars always returnedhome fewer in number than they began, smoking wasgenerally deemed the most blatantly deleterious habitpossible. But Gregory, always observant when inunfamiliar places, had spotted a totally secluded benchin a grove of stunted pines at the current college andhad more than once slipped off to light up the lingeringcigar stub of a cheap White Owl, which he secreted inhis trouser pockets in a plastic bag like a morsel of themost controlled substance ever introduced onto anycampus.The creative writing instructor, a certain MissLeonard, had rhapsodized about "summer loves" andthe "hum of excitement in the sticky night air" and hadsent the class off for two hours to compose a storyabout being young (or horny, Gregory had addedmentally) in the summer. Miss Leonard, who wasworking on her dissertation, was to meet them back inTasco Hall at 6:30, and they would each read aloud thefruit of their labors. Gregory's wife, Aileen, hadsuddenly developed a headache and had retired to thedorm room where they bunked. "I may get somethingdown on paper," she said. "It'll be about you, I'm sure. You remember we met in the summer."As Gregory smoked his cigar alone on the secludedbench, he indeed remembered that he had met Aileen inthe summer. He also knew that she would expect him towrite something about her, something sweet andromantic, something suitable for a man of 77 in a groupof his peers, something dignified and lofty perhaps,elevated in emotion, redolent of youth and vitality, but
nostalgically whimsical and not too deep. Not too manybig words. Miss Leonard had warned about that. AndGregory was in fact composing this very minute in hishead, musing over how he'd met Aileen some fifty-sixsummers ago at her parents' cottage on a lake in thewoods which he hadn't seen for more than half acentury, a lake he'd often tried to forget, though that hadnothing to do with Aileen, and to be honest, he oftenforgot why himself. But this detail was just aboutcoming clear to him once again when his solitude wasinterrupted by another old coot from the group namedRandolph, an annoying sort who had been trying tosidle up to Gregory since they had boarded the first busto the first college."Evenin' pardner,"said Randolph with a chuckle."Mind if I join you?" Gregory did, of course, mind, butwas too polite to say it, and Randolph sat down next tohim on the bench and immediately rewarded him with afull length cigar which he had hidden in a pocket of the jacket he wore despite the eighty degree heat of the lateafternoon. "Wonder how many of these they'd find onus if they did a search?" said Randolph. "Bet they'dturn up all kinds of unexpected stuff. How are you goingwith the assignment? Myself, I can't think of a thing. Inthe Depression in Connecticut, we had to work in thesummer just like in all other seasons. We pickedtobacco, we did, the same tobacco they wrap these oldstink bombs with, or at least used to. It's hard to saywhat they put 'em in now."Gregory nodded. Randolph, given the chance, wouldramble on for hours. And it was mostly about theDepression, or playing cards on the back porch, heartsat a penny a point, which is what Randolph still would

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