The day after, I received a phone call from the College reception on behalf of the College Master. There was the possibility of the University taking disciplinary action against me, and the Master was to speak to me in order to attempt to either implement or block the action. I was to meet her in half an hour in her office, and bring my student ID card. This was a bit of a shock to me. I had no idea what this could be about, as I had managed to kick the habit of downloading a gigabyte of music a day, had never downloaded a movie to my hard drive and, unless I was doing it in my sleep, had not taken any action in my courses that would have damned me in an academic sense.
Nevertheless, I made it to my appointment on time and entered the Master’s office. It was minimally decorated. There was a large gray desk on the top of which sat a black desk lamp, a white MacBook, and a framed portrait of a happy family. The Master wasn’t in the picture, so I assumed they were her brother’s or sister’s happy family. The bookshelves were only about a quarter of the way full—all of Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and historical novels about swashbuckling members of the Royal Navy—and I got the general impression that the Master spent the bare minimum amount of required time in her office.
The Master herself was a middle aged woman with blonde, yet slightly graying, hair, and gray glasses. She wore a black pantsuit and looked more like a businesswoman than an academic in charge of administrating a postgraduate college. She stood as I entered and said, “Ah, Mr. Narrator, there you are. Er, I am pronouncing that right, am I?”
I nodded. “Yes ma’am, just like the literary term.”
She smiled and waved at a chair. I sat across from her desk and she opened up a folder. “Mr. Narrator, I suppose you know why you’re here today.”
“Actually I don’t. It was quite a shock to get the phone call on such short notice.”
“Well, we didn’t have much of a choice in terms of timing, as the University just alerted us to the possibility of the lawsuit today.”
Lawsuit? “Excuse me, ma’am? Did you just say lawsuit?”
“Oh yes, dreadfully serious, I’m afraid. Assault and battery. You seemed to scare the hell out of that bartender.”
Ah-ha! So that’s what this was about. Well, fair’s fair and I did almost choke the man to death. “In my defense, he didn’t know where the red wine was kept, and, really, as a man working in a bar, I find that he should have known that.”
“Well,” she said, “I’m not certain that such a defense would fly in court. Luckily, though,” she turned a page in the folder, checked something, nodded and said, “yes, the possibility of lawsuit has been dropped. I can assure you, I was quite puzzled as to why it was; if I were attacked, I would want to press charges.”
“I, uh, have a bit of a short fuse, ma’am. He was chatting up this woman who, clearly, had no business being in the University, judging from her butchering of the language.”
“Mmm.” She said. It was the first time I’d been studied by another person, and being in the cold gaze of the College Master, I didn’t really want to be studied again. I knew that they were going to give me some sort of punishment. Probably a large one due to the near-death of another student. I started sweating as the punishments flitted through my mind. Would the expel me? I couldn’t blame them if they did; after all, I wouldn’t want a murderer next door to me. Worse, would they decide that I was too dangerous to be even alive and decapitate me? If the French had a guillotine, what would the English have?
“Yes, Mr. Narrator,” said the Master, “I’m afraid there will have to be some sort of punishment. Quite a severe one. After all, you did nearly kill a man, you understand.”
“Then I’m afraid,” she said, taking on a solemn voice, “that we shall have to take the measure of revoking your privilege to use the student sports grounds. I know, it may seem vastly unjust, but you’re actually getting off easy: you could be barred from all athletic facilities on campus.”
What? This was their severe punishment? This country was fantastic! It was like living in the 50s, when people still thought the best of one another! I wasn’t even going to use the athletic facilities when I was allowed to, the shlemiels. Still, had to appear calm, even hurt a little bit. I slumped in my chair and covered my face with my hands. “O! Woebegone man I am! What sort of cruel mistress Fate is, to take away mine own vitality, the health of youth stricken from me by mine own folly! Accursed, accursed emotion, anger is.”
“Chin up, Mr. Narrator. We’ll see if we can get the sentence to only this term instead of the year.”
“Would that you could,” I said, dropping to my knees on the floor. “I would forever be in thine debt.”
She stood, I stood. She offered her hand for me to shake, and I did. “Good luck with your studies, Mr. Narrator, and please do try to contain your emotions. This is, after all, Britain, and one simply must be stoic in certain times.”
“I understand,” I said, taking a deep breath and puffing out my chest. “And now, madame, I must leave this place and take up my studies and attempt to put this dirty business behind me.”
Leaving the administrative offices, I chuckled to myself. “Heh,” I thought. “Schmucks.”