Shelly was still staring at the wall when she heard the bathroom door open. She tightened the towel around her body.
“That Jack is a real dud,” Shelly heard a voice she recognized, a girl from somewhere in the South. “He takes me to a movie and then expects me to pay half! What a jerk!”
“Actually, Ronnie, I think that’s not bad,” another voice replied.
“Are you serious? What kind of boy takes a girl to the movies and doesn’t pay?”
“A guy who’s telling you he doesn’t want you to feel obligated,” the second voice said. “You don’t know the rules, Sue,” Ronnie said and burst into laughter. “We play different
in Atlanta. The boy pays period.”
“That’s not what’s important,” Sue said, sounding irritated. “Did you have a good time with him,” she asked.
“Yeah. kind of,” Ronnie replied. “Did he hit on you?”
“No. Not even once.”
“Well that proves it. I think you found a good guy there.”
Shelly had never gotten to know Susan Robinson, a black girl from Harlem, but was suddenly impressed by the intelligence she was expressing to Ronnie, who Shelly grouped with Lisa as an airhead of the first order. She stared at the stubborn letters on the shower wall and decided Sue might be just the person to help her. It was worth a try. Anything was worth a try.
“You startled us,” Ronnie said, not bothering to cover up with a towel. “We didn’t know anyone else was here this early.”
Sue was silent, her black body covered in a thick white robe. She seemed to be studying Shelly with her dark intelligent eyes.
“I’m sorry,” Shelly said. “I’m an early riser.”
“Not like your roomie,” Ronnie said with a wicked look, finally covering her lower body with a towel, but leaving her ample breasts exposed. “She sure can party. I saw her at Crotch’s Pub last night. You should go with us sometime? Your roomie loves it there. I never seen anyone so hot for it.”
Shelly felt like saying it takes one to know one, but was looking at Sue who was still staring at her. “Is everything okay?” she asked, feeling threatened.
Sue frowned. “How about you? You look like you’ve seen a ghost…or Ronnie’s tits.
Hey, Veronica, why don’t you cover up for a change?” “Why should I? If you got them, flaunt them, I say.”
“Fine. You just keep letting those things hang out and one day when you’re old, if I know you then which I doubt, those melons of yours will reach your knees.”
Shelly laughed at the shocked expression on Ronnie’s face. She knew she was making the right choice. Suzanne was smart enough and honest enough to help her.
“I apologize for Boobsie over here, but did you want something from me?”
Shelly trembled. Did she know? How could she? Sue was definitely worth a try, but what about Ronnie who was now covering up with her towel at last. “Can you two come with me a minute, Sue? I want to show you something.”
Ronnie shook her head. “You’ll excuse me. I have to rush. I’m late for breakfast as it is.
I’m meeting that jock, Bill. I’ll bet he’s willing to pay for a damn movie. Y’all have fun.” She turned to Sue. “I’ll think about what you said, but if you like that boy that much maybe you should go out with him? He doesn’t do it for me…if you know what I mean?”
Sue shook her head and followed Shelly toward the shower stall. “Some girls don’t know when they’ve got something good. Now what’s going on?”
Shelly wondered if that had been her problem with Jeff. Had she not realized how good he was? Was the breakup really her fault? No! Damn it! No! She hesitated and then pulled back the shower curtain. She pointed to the wall. “Do you see that?” The letters on the wall were still visible to her.
Sue peered into the stall. “What exactly am I looking for?”
“You don’t see the letters…right there on the back wall of the shower?” Shelly touched the letter L with her finger.
“Sorry,” Sue said. “All I see is a wet wall. You just took a shower.”
Shelly stared at the name again. “I’m sorry I bothered you,” she muttered, pulling the curtain shut. I was really hoping she could see it
Sue gave her a smile. “Just because others can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t
“I don’t understand,” Shelly mumbled as the taller girl pulled the curtain back again and searched the wall.
“You still don’t see it,” Shelly asked, surprised this girl was apparently believing her.
Sue turned back to Shelly. “My Grandma used to see things all the time. Everybody thought she was nuts, but she wouldn’t give in. One day she told me she had a dream that I
would be the first in our family to go to college. My mother laughed and said I’d be a cleaning girl just like all the rest of us, but Grandma said I’d be a doctor. When anyone asked how she could come up with such a crazy idea, she told them the ghost of her husband told her that.”
Shelly froze at the word ghost. “Do you believe in ghosts?” she asked.
Sue looked over Shelly’s shoulder toward the shower stall. “Is that what’s going on with you? Do you think you’ve seen a ghost?”
Would this girl she hardly knew think she was totally insane? “I don’t know,” Shelly answered honestly. “I don’t know what is happening to me.” She sighed. “You hardly know me and I put you on the spot like this. Sorry.”
Sue studied Shelly’s face. There was something she was sensing, something not quite right. “I don’t know what’s happening to you either,” Sue said, giving Shelly an anxious smile. “Just be careful.”
Shelly nodded. “Thank you. I plan to be.”
“And don’t tell anyone else about this. They’ll think you’re whacked.” “Do you think I’m crazy?” Shelly asked.
Sue tightened her robe. “No. At least I hope not. I really hope there are ghosts somewhere out there. Maybe someday I’ll see my Grandma and be able to thank her in person?”
Shelly nodded. “I hope you can.”
“Thanks,” Sue said. “I’d give anything to have that chance. Later.”
Shelly watched as Sue walked to another shower stall. She wished she could tell Sue the whole truth, but wondered if someone who was a stranger would believe her. Sue’s warning, “Just be careful,” echoed in her brain.
Shelly pulled the curtain open again and saw Dr. Lasker’s name scrawled in the residue on the wall. What was it doing there? Was it a message from some unknown source, hopefully friendly, affirming her decision to go see the chairperson of the Parapsychology Department? Was it her imagination again? The name was still there. It must be someone who wants me to see him. Yes, that’s what it is.
It never occurred to Shelly it might be a warning from someone who did not want her to see Dr. Lasker, someone who would do anything to stop her.