It was only a ten minute ride by car to the psychology quadrangle, but it was one of the longest rides in Shelly’s life. She kept searching for a hurtling car or a falling lamp post, anything that could cause an accident and prevent her from reaching her destination. It could be
Allen, she thought as her eyes searched the road ahead. He might have guessed my real reason to see Dr. Lasker is to get him out of my life. Who else would want to stop me?
“You must still be nervous from the bus accident,” Sue commented, observing Shelly’s anxious reactions at each intersection. “Don’t worry. I’m a safe driver. This is a used car. It’s all I can afford right now.”
“Sorry,” Shelly replied. “That bus was very close. I guess I am being a bit of a back seat driver. Sorry.”
“No problem,” Sue said. “Maybe if we talk it will calm your nerves? Where are you
“Long Island…Queens, like almost everyone else on this campus.” “I’m from Brooklyn,” Sue said. “Your folks visit often?”
“Not really. My dad wanted me to live at home and commute. It’s a lot cheaper.” She almost added, and he’s spending his money on his new bimbo wife and her baby.”
“What about your Mom?”
Shelly sighed. “Mom goes along with most of what he says even if they’re divorced.” What else can she do with him controlling the purse strings, Shelly thought bitterly. “Where are your parents,” Shelly asked, only half interested, still scanning every possible site for an ambush.
“My grandmother raised me. Mom ran off when I was little.”
“Sorry.” Shelly was beginning to like this girl. She remembered the common sense Sue had shown in the shower room with Ronnie. “My dad waited until I got older.”
“My grandmother passed away about two years ago. She left me enough money for college.” Sue smiled sadly. “I told you about her already though.”
“You said she had a dream and saw you graduating as a doctor. Am I right?”
Sue nodded. “Tell you the truth, I wish I could see her just once more so I could thank her.” She stared at Shelly. And so I could ask her a few questions, Sue thought to herself.
Shelly wondered why Sue was looking at her like that. What does she think? Does she think that I can talk to her dead Grandmother or something? Is that why she’s helping me?
Sue sighed. “My Grandma, she saved all her pennies from cleaning houses so I could go to school. That’s why I take my studies so seriously.” She laughed. “I guess I’m a bit of a wet blanket compared to your roommate and a lot of the girls in the dorm, but I can’t let Grandma down.”
Shelly was feeling antsy. Was this the right way to the Psychology Buildings? Why was this trip taking so long? She glanced at her watch and back at the road. It was almost fifteen minutes already. Why did I trust her?
“There they are,” Sue said, spotting the twin buildings that housed the Psychology Department. “Which one do you need?”
“I didn’t know there were two buildings.”
“They’re pretty far from everybody else,” Sue said. “Any idea which one you want?” “Which one has the Parapsychology office?” Shelly replied and realized she was saying
more than she wanted.
“Is that where you’re going?” Sue asked, making a left turn toward the building known only as Psych B. “I’ve never been there.”
“Yeah, I’m thinking of changing my major,” Shelly lied, wondering why Sue seemed so interested in where she was heading.
“A lot of kids do that, but usually not in their first year,” Sue said. “I don’t know too many that are in this department though. Are you sure this is what you want?”
Shelly wondered if this was yet another person trying to keep her from seeing Dr. Lasker. “Well, I’m just exploring my options,” She said. “You can let me off here. It’s got to be in one of these two buildings.”
“It’s in B building. The other one is named after some billionaire, Dr. Howard Hudson…nobody wants to sponsor this one though. Are you sure this is where you want to go?”
There she goes again, Shelly thought, wondering again if even Sue could be trusted. “I’ve always been fascinated by parapsychological...uh…studies,” she lied, knowing that she really knew almost nothing about the strange world of ghosts and other such make-believe creations of the imagination except from T.V. and movies. She still didn’t believe in ghosts…Allen might be a ghost or he might be something even worse? “Thanks for bringing me,” she said, not wanting to discuss this any further. “I’m sorry I took you out of your way.”
“How will you get back? Want me to stay with you?” Sue was reaching toward the passenger side of the car, leaning toward the window. “I don’t have anything urgent?”
Shelly gazed at the tall windowless building. Without windows it was hard to tell how many floors the building had. She turned to examine Psych A and noted windows along all the walls. Why no windows here, she wondered, strangely disturbed by the building’s stolid concrete façade. “I’ll catch the bus later. Thanks for the ride,” Shelly said, knowing she was lying again. Dodd’s phone number was in her purse. It would be the perfect excuse to give him a call.
“Call my cell,” Sue said, handing Shelly a printed card. “I carry these in case I meet some handsome African prince who wants my number,” she laughed. “Seriously, call me when you’re done, and I’ll zip back to get you. The Student Union isn’t that far from here.”
Shelly couldn’t help being suspicious. Why does she want to help me, ran through her brain again. She took the card and slipped it into her pants pocket. “Thank you, Susan,” she said, deliberately formal. “I’ll be fine, but if I get stuck here late, I’ll give you a call.”
“Whatever time you finish, call and I’ll get you. And by the way, call me Sue. All my friends do.” She gave Shelly a warm smile.
Shelly was surprised by the friendliness of the girl. In high school, most of the Black kids tended to stay to themselves, and she had expected pretty much the same here. Maybe that’s why she was suspicious of this girl? What does she want from me? It was natural to be suspicious, and yet, she found herself liking Sue. She seemed genuinely friendly and eager to help. But
that’s what made her more suspect. Just when Shelly thought about asking Sue to stay with her to meet the infamous Dr. Lasker, her show of friendliness and eagerness, aroused Shelly’s suspicions again. She hated feeling this way, but everything that had happened in the last day had made caution seem the best route, and something told her that whatever she was about to face she had to confront alone.
The sound of the P.T. Cruiser pulling away made it very clear she was now getting her wish, she was completely alone. The sight of the windowless, nameless tower drawing closer with each step made her wonder if she was making a fatal mistake.