Economics 101, a Novel, ch_29 -- Dreams

(The story starts here:
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Karel scanned the cafeteria, looking for Bobbie's jet silhouette among the students at tables. He found her, sitting with the red-headed Dan and blonde bombshell Kristie at a table near the circular stairs that led to the mezzanine. Kristie saw him and waved, and he waved back and made his way over to them.

"Hi, guys," he greeted them, refraining from taking the open seat by Kristie.

"Hey, Karel. You're lookin' a wreck. Not sleeping well?" Dan was his usual jocular self.

"It's not my fault. He kissed me at the door at midnight and just went home." Kristie bragged semi-obliquely, asserting her presumed ascendance.

"Okay, I look as bad as I feel. I'm sorry I was not much company last night at the movies, Kristie. Haven't been sleeping well for a while. Bad dreams. Long dreams. Painfully detailed."

Bobbie was not saying anything, avoiding Karel's eyes.

"What's the problem, man? Too much excitement? Too much homework?" Dan's question was pointed in both tone and implication."

Kristie was equally pointed. "You're working too hard, planning your research project. I don't know why you and Bobbie have to go and do research all by yourselves among some strange aborigines on desert islands somewhere off the map."

"Doctoral level research requires a bit more than masters level." Bobbie said quietly, not bothering to parry Kristie's misrepresentations of their planned destinations or the people there, or suppress Dan's probing insinuations.

"Bobbie, I need to talk with you," Karel said in a voice just as quiet.

"What about?" asked Bobbie, still quiet.

"Not here." Karel deferred.

"Anything you have to say to her, you can say in front of me." Dan was clearly staking claims.

"And it's not like I have no interest." Kristie wanted equally to make her claims understood.

Karel dropped his head, sighed, and turned to face Kristie. "Begging your pardon, Kristie, but this really doesn't concern you." Today, he just didn't seem to have much patience for the woman he had been dating more-or-less steadily for the last month.

"But honey, I'm here for you." Kristie's voice dripped sweetness, and she reached for Karel's hand.

Karel physically backed away. "Thank you Kristie, for being supportive and all, but I'm afraid I really don't need your support."

"Ouch." Bobbie muttered, still not facing Karel, wincing in sympathy for Kristie.

"Wha-at?" Whether Kristie was surprised or was pressing her attack on Karel's sympathies was not clear.

"I guess this is not really a good a place to tell you this, Kristie, but I really haven't been enjoying our dates."

Kristie was not speechless. "What more do you want from me?" Her tone was just a tad shrill.

"Please. Let's not go there again. Especially not here."

"Melodrama." Dan was now being observant. "Karel, you really should be nicer to your friends when they are being nice to you."

Karel ignored Dan and turned back to Bobbie. Kristie and Dan could at least read the earnestness in his expression, if they seemed to be unable to read anything else. "Bobbie," he said, searching for her response. "Can we go talk somewhere?"

"So, you really can't talk here about this thing, whatever it is?"

"I don't think it's a good idea."

"Why the secrecy?" Dan was inquisitive. Kristie seemed to be at a loss, now.

"Give me a clue." Bobbie prompted.

"Like I say, I've been having bad dreams. Nightmares, really."

"Nightmares?" She finally faced Karel, but she was keeping her guard up.

"About going to the islands with you."

"Now, see, Bobbie. I've been telling you all along that you don't need to do this. And now your study partner is telling you he's having bad premonitions."

"I'm not asking you, Dan. Nightmares, Karel? About what?"

"About ending up alone with you on an island that really is off the charts."

"And that's a nightmare." Bobbie was not asking a question. "I didn't realize you found my company so unpleasant."

"Karel. You're usually much more polite. Are you sure you're handling your class load?"

Karel continued to ignore Dan. "It's rather the opposite, Bobbie."

"Now, if you were on a desert island alone with me, that would not be a nightmare, right?" Kristie had recovered a bit and was back on the attack.

"Well," Bobbie said, suddenly brightly, "if it's such a nightmare to be kidnapped and left alone with me on an uncharted island, maybe we should do something to make sure the nightmare doesn't happen."

"Yeah. Cancel the research project." Dan was now pressing his opportunity. "In fact, I still don't see why you see the need of getting a PhD in anthropology, Bobbie. How is that going to help you raise our kids?"

"You have always assumed too much, Dan." Bobbie's voice had no rancor, but Dan could now sense the wall between them.

"That is precisely why I wanted to talk with you, Bobbie." Then a light come on in Karel's eyes. "Wait. I didn't say kidnapped." He seemed to be picking up on something Bobbie hadn't put into words.

"You didn't?" Bobbie said innocently. "Where did I get that from?" And she finally met Karel's eyes full on. Her expression was readable to neither Dan nor Kristie, but Karel read well the challenge in her eyes.

"Why do I suddenly have no idea what's going on?" Kristie stood and reached out for Karel's arm as he moved away.

And Dan reached across the table to hold her back. "Somehow I think we aren't needed here any more, Kristie."

"Let's go for a walk," Karel said to Bobbie.

"I think that's a good idea." And she stood up and walked around the table to join him. "See you guys around," she said, pleasantly.

Kristie and Dan watched as they left.

"Those two are just out of our class, Kristie."

"Too good for us, I guess." Kristie was sulking.

"No, they just seem to relate on a different plane. I really never could tell what Bobbie was thinking, anyway." Dan stood up. "But I can tell what you're thinking. Want some company at the hop, tonight?"

"I don't want the booby prize."


"Wait. Sorry. You're not the booby prize."

"But you're feelings have been hurt."


"Mine, too, but I guess I've been seeing it coming."

"I probably should have been seeing it. He never really responded when I kissed him. I wonder what that dream business was."

"Who knows? I'll buy you lunch."

(The link to the next chapter will be here when it's ready. [How did I forget the link? JMR20160428] Here's the next chapter:

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