“What are you doing in my lab?” Shelly heard a voice ask, as she tried to focus her eyes. “How did you get in here?”
Shelly saw a man with a grayish beard staring down at her through wire-framed eyeglasses. She wanted to pull away from him, but seemed to have turned to rubber.
“I asked you, what are you doing in here,” the man repeated.
Shelly thought he sounded rude and loud. She wanted to go back to sleep.
The man was shaking her. “Damn it,” he said, as he shook her again. “Stay awake! I can’t afford you dying in here.”
Dying? Who’s dying, Shelly thought. “Stop shaking me,” she suddenly shouted. “Who the hell are you?” She felt her eyes closing again, and wanted to stand and get away from this lunatic who was shaking her like she was a rag doll.
“Wake up, damn you,” the man shouted. “If you don’t stay awake, I’ll slap your face.” He raised his hand.
“I’m awake,” Shelly said. “What happened…who are you?”
“That’s what I want to know,” he demanded, his eyes angry and large behind the thick
Shelly wanted to close her eyes, but heard herself say, as if in a distance, “There was a smell…a funny smell.” She was searching her memory which seemed fuzzy. “I think I passed out?” She pulled her legs backwards, as far away from this bearded stranger as she could get. Where the hell is Dodd, she wondered, remembering his had been the last face she’d seen, remembering she thought he was going to kiss her…that he did kiss her…and then she fell asleep. Was he that bad a kisser? What the hell is going on?
The man frowned. “It was gas. Someone left a gas canister open.” He eyed her sternly. “Did you? Did you? You could have been killed, young lady. Young lady?” He shook her again. “Damn you, wake up!”
Shelly felt whoozy still. “Gas? Gas?” That was the smell. Is Dodd okay? Where the hell is he? Maybe he’s going for help? Why can’t I see anyone but this guy with his big owl-eyes? “I feel sick.”
The man was in her face, staring at her, his hand still ready to slap her if needed. “I guess I should ask if you are okay, but you’re trespassing. This is my office, and it was locked. How did you get in here? Are you going to be sick on me?” He ran for a plastic bag. “Here. In here.”
Shelly held the bag below her mouth. Nothing happened.
The man shook his head. “Are you on something? I won’t tell, but you must tell me what the hell you are doing in my office?”
“Your office,” Shelly said, still in a daze. How did I get in here? She was trying to remember. “He said this is his lab?” Shelly felt for the buttons on her blouse. They were open. “Did you do this?” she shouted as her fingers rushed to close the buttons.
“Are you insane? You break into my laboratory and then accuse me of --”
“I’m sorry. I’m a bit fuzzy still. I’d better just go.” She tried to lift herself off the chair, but slumped back down, her legs still too rubbery, her brain still fuzzy. “I’m sorry. I can’t seem to stand yet…another minute.” Where the hell was that damn Dodd? Was he unconscious too? She felt a spike of fear race through her brain.
“Hold on Miss. What’s your name anyway? Are you a university student? I know you’re not in my department?” The man pulled an old fashioned cell phone from his pocket. He saw the girl was struggling and despite his anger at having his office invaded he felt a little concerned for her. He was also thinking if she had died here, that would have been a real mess. That would have nailed the coffin shut on this place for good. He looked at the girl and realized if she talked, complained to anyone that would also be the end. He could imagine her telling the campus cops that she had been almost killed here, her blouse opened…raped. Oh my god! He had to be nicer to her. No choice. “Okay, Miss, you’re getting some color back. You’re feeling better? Right?”
Shelly was trying to focus, definitely in defensive mode. She was angry, angry at Dodd, angry at being here with this lunatic, angry at finding her breasts exposed. “I’m not telling you anything. I have no idea who you are. I just know that he brought me in here and said it was his office, and was getting me some water when--”
“For the last time, this is my office!” The man exploded despite his resolve to keep calm. I’ve got to get to the bottom of this. I’ll put her on the defensive. The man pulled out his phone.
“I’m calling security. You have a bad attitude, young lady, considering you are the trespasser here. What is your name? Now! I have no time to waste.” He knew he could be very intimidating if he wanted to be, and this was one time when he definitely wanted to be as frightening as he could. He had to convince her she had more to lose than anyone if this ‘incident’ got reported. “Now tell me who let you in my office? It’s more his fault than yours.”
Shelly shook her head, still trying to clear it. “Dodd,” she said, still not convinced this was not Dodd’s office.
At first he thought she had said, “God”, but then the full impact of what she had said hit him. The man looked around the room quickly. “I don’t know anyone by that name.” He felt his stomach sinking.
“What do you mean you don’t know Dodd? He said he works in this department. He brought me here? Where is he?” She was coming to and wanted answers.
The man stared silently at her. What am I supposed to do now, he wondered. She seemed genuine. What was she doing here? Why had Dodd brought her here? Had he turned on the gas? Not even that insane kid could do something like that. “I would know this Dodd of yours if he existed. I’m chairman of this department.” He sighed, weighing his options. The most important thing was to silence her. Fear. Fear would do it. He aimed his eyes at her and said with masterful cold authority, “I’ve heard enough. You don’t belong here. Now be silent while I get security to take you wherever trespassers are taken on this crazy campus.” He picked up the desk phone.
Shelly groaned. “Wait a minute. You said you’re the chairman of this department? Is this the Parapsychology Department? Are you Dr. Lasker?” She studied him quickly and noted he looked younger than she expected, his beard neatly groomed and his hair just showing signs of
gray. She also noted he was short than Dodd, perhaps five and a half feet, and stocky, with a paunchy belly made larger by his plaid jacket.
Dr. Lasker gave her a surprised look. “Exactly who are you? How do you know my name?”
Shelly tried to shake herself awake. Her head was still so fuzzy. What a way to meet the chairperson of the department. Oh my God, he saw my breasts! She felt a red flush fill her face. “Sir, I’m so sorry. I was supposed to meet with you. I heard you might be able to help me.” She involuntarily pulled her blouse tighter. Had Dodd done this? Where the hell is he? Why do men always disappear when you need them?
“Help you?” Lasker looked at her. She was coming to see me? Dodd tried to stop her? Why? The girl looked young, barely conscious still. She had almost been poisoned, gassed…in my office, he thought, wondering how such a thing could happen, again all too aware how a complaint from this student, her blouse found undone, almost gassed to death, in his lab, could seal the fate of his department once and for all. What was Dodd thinking? Looking at her body even now he had a feeling he could guess. Damn Dodd! Imagine if she got it to the papers that she had been molested in my office? Dodd would get his revenge alright. He sighed. He had to try and help her even if it was a damn nuisance. “You can kill more flies with honey…
Shelly was slowly regaining all of her senses and realized she was in big trouble. If this guy reported her as a burglar, even a trespasser, especially in this weird lab with all the exotic equipment, she’d get booted out of school at least, maybe end up in jail. Where the hell is that damn Dodd? “I’m feeling better,” she muttered. “I think I can go now.”
He blocked her rising from the chair with his body. He tried to smile, but it wasn’t easy with all he was contemplating. “What kind of help were you seeking,” he asked, hoping he could help her quickly and then be rid of her forever.
Shelly wasn’t fully awake yet, but awake enough that she wasn’t sure how much she should tell him. He would really think she was crazy after finding her half naked in his office with the gas jet turned on. “I’ve had a terrible time,” she began, almost laughing at the realization of how many awful things had been happening to her lately. “I was almost mugged, witnessed a murder- it doesn’t matter who- almost got run over by a bus, and now I was almost poisoned by some kind of gas in your laboratory.” And you saw my boobs, she thought, wishing she knew if
that was all he had seen. What the hell does it matter, she sighed. “Dr. Lasker, I was warned not to come here. Maybe I should have listened?”
Dr. Lasker sat down on a rolling stool and moved it closer to Shelly who was still seated on a chair fighting for balance. “I’m listening,” he said, his voice showing concern, partly for her, and partly for himself if she decided to file a report. Damn Dodd! Why didn’t he play with his new ‘friend’ at her place, or in the back of his car? I never should have let him stay on.
Shelly felt tears in her eyes. “I can’t believe what I’ve been through. A damn bus almost ran me down on my way here. I thought Dodd saved me at first--”
Dr. Lasker interrupted, “Okay, let’s start with your name. What is it and are you a student at the University? I can’t help you without knowing who you are and what you are doing here.” He was trying to sound helpful, friendly, two qualities he was known for.
“You’re really Dr. Lasker?” Shelly asked again, wondering if she should ask for some ID. He looked like a professor, sport jacket, brown plaid, tie half mast, corduroy trousers slightly
sagging at the beltline, a blue belt totally out of place against brown trousers and jacket. She looked up at his face, and the beard was what she noted most, brown, some gray, kept reasonably short, probably hid cheeks marred by acne scars, slightly graying eyebrows -- forty to fifty years old -- reddish complexion, furrowed forehead, brown mud-ball eyes made larger by wire- frames…but not bad looking…for an old man, she thought.
“Would you like to see my identification?” Dr. Lasker asked. “That’s not going to happen. Now stop wasting my valuable time. Tell me your name now and what happened or you can spend the rest of the semester in jail or at home.” Maybe if he played tough he could scare her enough that she would just want to get back to wherever the hell she belonged. He had little patience for playing Mr. Nice-guy and so far that hadn’t worked at all.
Shelly detected the change in his tone. He sure sounds like the Dr. Lasker I’ve imagined, Shelly thought, finally able to see his face clearly. “My name is Shelly Adams, and I’m a grad student… in the Education department.”
“Education Department?” He let out a disdainful growl. “So Miss Teacher, what are you doing all the way over here?”
Condescending sonofabitch, Shelly thought. If she didn’t need his help, have hope he could help her, she would have stormed out of here, but not before telling him exactly what she thought of his snottiness and his poison-spewing lab. One last attempt and then…“Dr. Lasker, I came to see you because….” Shelly hesitated. “You’ve never heard of an assistant named Dodd? Really?”
Dr. Lasker was becoming annoyed that she kept bringing Dodd into the picture. “No, Shelly, I have never had a student or an assistant named Dodd. I would know. We have a very
small department here for reasons which do not concern you at this moment. Now Shelly, one more question before I boot you the hell out of here, no more beating around the bush, no more wasting my time with your insignificant questions, exactly why were you coming to see me?”
Shelly felt her anger rising. She had anticipated he would be tough and impatient, but now he just seemed rude. Was he someone she could trust? She had trusted Dodd, and now where was he? And he looked so cute, Shelly thought, remembering how she had thought of making love with him. Where the hell is Dodd? She found nothing cute or loveable about this pompous and inconsiderate ass of a professor. And she didn’t like being threatened. She wanted to leave. Would she be able to make it to the door? Would he stop her?
“Miss, I really have no more time to waste. Security will be here to check on the poison gas that you claim was used on you, and hopefully then they will take you with them and you and I shall enjoy wonderful lives…apart from each other. So speak now or forever hold your peace.” He rose from his chair and was about to push it back toward the wall when he heard the young girl sitting in front of him say, “Dr. Lasker, I think I have a ghost.”