Natalie Lind Writes it all Down For Posterity #18

By Anna Chastain

Jean-Baptiste stops me in the hall to tell me he’s feeling a lot better about almost everything now that Milosevic is interred, and then he squints at me searching for a blank look. “You all lose track of global politics don’t you.” I hear it’s not really a question but while I’m good with letting things slide I make an exception for this. By the time Len walks by Jean-Baptiste and I are talking up Carla Del Ponte’s hair. When Len disappears into the triple Jean-Baptiste remarks, “I know Kesia can do better than that. That kid has this weird conversation thing: like he’s always asking why he doesn’t ever see me in the lounge.”

I say: “Really.”

“Like he’d want me in the lounge commandeering the TV, that kind of thing: I bet it’s a control device that it smells like ketchup. I should plug one of those lavender scent things into the wall. Then it’d be tolerable and I could sort of take over. You have one I could use?”

“No.”

He shrugs. He makes an exploratory move into the lounge and then retreats back into the hall: “Damn. I don’t even know how they manage that.” I move for my door so he says, “Say hi to Kesia for me.”

I say hi to Kesia for him but she doesn’t pick up on it. She’s telling me about Len’s strong-points which start out as him getting a car next year and build to him aspiring to med school. He’s sitting there eating one of her chocolate bars and either he’s good with how long-term this sounds or he hasn’t registered it that well. Kesia’s ten minutes into it when Bernadette sits up in her bed and says, “I told you I’m taking a nap.”

“Life has kind of dulled-out on her,” Kesia says, “and she’s pissed.”

“Kesia has a boyfriend now,” Bernadette says to me as if the boyfriend isn’t sitting three feet from her, chewing. “We’re going to agree Len’s done well for himself. And I told her she’d get over Jeff. She was stuck on Jeff for a while,” Bernadette says in Len’s direction.

“She told me,” he says with his mouth full.

“I think Bernadette’s being hostile,” Kesia says.

“What are you guys doing tonight?” Len asks.

The three of us look at each other. I shrug, Bernadette says, “You don’t know us very well do you,” and Kesia says, “We’re not sure.”

Len says, “You know most people actually do stuff.”

Bernadette and I look at him. Kesia says, “Do you have some ideas, Lenny?”

Bernadette and I decide to go for a walk and leave them to brainstorm but we can’t decide where to go so we just stand in the hall for a while and then accumulate Toby and Warren as they head for Warren’s room. Toby has his arms wrapped around a small stack of books that have nothing to do with any of his classes and it seems like Warren has been talking a lot about the summer.

“My parents just won’t get why I wouldn’t come home,” Toby says.

“So tell them.” And then Warren adds: “I thought the Jews were always all about New York.”

“Just don’t say that kind of shit,” Toby says. And when Warren opens his mouth again Toby cuts him off.

Bernadette casually shifts the subject. “You’ve heard the chick having the loud sex down the hall?”

Warren and Toby nod. I’m leaning against Warren’s door and apparently we catch Jean-Baptiste’s attention since he comes to stand in the doorway and says, “I can hear that and that’s fucking annoying.”

“It’s almost funny,” Bernadette says.

“Do you have neighbors who do it?” he asks.

Bernadette arches her eyebrows. “That’s not something I need to know about.”

“As if I ask to hear everything through the wall.” Jean-Baptiste says as he surveys Warren’s room. “But like through one wall: I see that, I see where I can hear people’s cell phone through the wall probably I’m going to hear other stuff but when you live way the hell down at the end: come on.”

“The doors don’t really hold the sound in,” Bernadette says.

“Huh,” I say. “Really.”

“This is a fairly organized room,” Jean-Baptiste says. I can’t say I know what he means except Warren has floor space and you can sit in his chairs and the clothes actually make it into the hamper. Jean-Baptiste says: “It’s kind of tight without the bed lofted though.”

“It’s kind of tight even when the bed is lofted isn’t it?” I stare at him.

He starts to look unfriendly.

I say, “Though when it’s lofted and everything: that gets you nose to nose with your life-size photo portrait of Salvador Dali, that must be exciting for you.”

“I don’t have that pinned to the ceiling, Natalie.” He looks at Warren and then at Toby and starts to say something when the sex noise starts from down the hall and he changes focus and says, “I’m going to find out what room that’s coming from right now,” and walks away.

I step in from the door and let it close.

“And speaking of noise and room apportionment,” Bernadette says. “Shouldn’t we talk about roomdraw now?”

“Shouldn’t we wait till Kesia’s here?” I’m inspecting what Warren keeps on his shelf and apart from a dried pink carnation it’s not very interesting.

“Yeah. Though I figure we could just count her in.” Bernadette points to the flower: “What’s that from?”

Warren shrugs, “I don’t know.”

Bernadette says, “I think we should do something tonight and show Kesia we’re able to shift off campus now and then.”

“Go ahead,” Toby says. “Tell us all about it tomorrow.”

“I’m not going outside tonight,” I tell her.

She makes indifferent with her eyebrows. “You know, before I glued myself to Jeff I got around. But whatever.”

Toby says, “Maybe you guys can cozy in like it’s the weekend but I have a 3.30 class.”

“Damn.” Bernadette is sympathetic.

“It’s just I never have anything intelligent to say by 3.30,” Toby says. “It’s all drained out of me by like 12.45.”

“Oh you’re blaming that on the time of day?”

Toby goes for the door. When he’s gone we stand there looking at Warren, who says, “Maybe you should talk to him about the summer for me.”