It amazed Sharon that she was close to people who were talked about on radio and TV. Enoch took it as a matter of course, and Tim was getting used to the idea. And, of course, Sharon had had her moment of fame in the Boston papers in connection with the death of her parents. But this was in the sports media, a much more serious business. It was complicated by the fact that the reporters couldn’t find either Enoch or Tim. While she had herself spirited Tim away, Enoch had darted off while the opponents were killing the final seconds on the clock. The room was registered in Diana’s name, and so they were in effective seclusion. Diana brought over fresh clothes for all of them from the boat.
Tim said that his leg had swollen up so much that it was pressing against the inside of the cast. Enoch took a wire coat hanger, untwisted it, and used it to probe gently inside the cast. He then announced, “There’s room between the leg and the cast. Casts always feel like that, but it’s the leg itself that’s causing the pain.”
Almost any NFL player was an expert on casts, and Tim accepted the verdict. Enoch said, “Later on, it’ll begin to itch. Some people shove dowels and little sticks down, but they break off. The coat hangar is the instrument of choice.”
Tim still refused to take any pills, but it was agreed that he needed to soak his various contusions in hot water. Having drawn warm water into the tub, they sat him sit on the edge of it. Enoch lowered Tim’s upper body into the water while the others held the cast up. It turned out to be possible to rest that leg in a comfortable elevated position while Tim luxuriated in the warmth. He remarked, “This feels almost as good as having Diana wash my lower parts.”
They left him in position until he began to feel boiled. It then took all of Enoch’s strength to get him out. Diana and Sharon worked with towels, and Tim was put back to bed. It was judged that Enoch was then the one most in need of hot water and soap, and he took off his uniform without hesitation. He was, after all, used to the locker room with the lady reporters.
Enoch took a short vigorous shower, dried himself with energy, and got dressed in some of the clothes Diana had brought over. It was funny to see people in other people’s clothing, and Sharon was amused to see Enoch in an outfit he would never have bought or worn of his own volition. Enoch was, after all, a rather elegant man, one who didn’t appear in torn pants and a shirt with paint splotches.
Diana was next, and she looked over at Tim and Enoch. It was acknowledged on all sides that Ted was long gone, and that she was now paired with Enoch. But Sharon doubted that she knew the rules that Enoch had grown up with, or now followed. Did women flirt with the friends of their boy friends, but only when the boy friends were present? What about undressing? Or were there times when people decided not to be sexual, just boy scouts and girl scouts all together in the cabin? Enoch gave a little smile, and perhaps even a slight nod.
It might have been because he thought Tim needed a little cheering up, particularly if Enoch thought that he, Enoch, was partly responsible for the injury. In any case, Diana unbuttoned her loose top and slid it off. She had a white satin bra, perhaps inspired by Hollywood, which pushed up her rather small breasts from below and covered them with lace on top. It was then funny to see what trouble even a slim woman had in getting her tight stiff jeans down. Sharon herself wore ones loose enough to drop when undone, but Diana had to push with both hands as she bent forwards and backwards. Sharon supposed that she felt the way Audrey probably did with Meredith, a little contemptuous in a forgiving way for a woman in the thralls of fashion.
Finally out of her jeans, Diana looked bare and embarrassed as she reached down to take off her white socks. With a little self-conscious smile, she got quickly behind the shower curtain to remove the rest. Then, a little mischievously, she poked her head out and called to Sharon to get in with her.
Sharon knew that her talk about being a lesbian was something of a joke among them by this time. Indeed, her last pronouncement had been that she wasn’t much of a lesbian, or, indeed, much of anything. However, there was the matter of how she was to manage the removal of clothing.
In the event, she positioned Enoch so as to shield her from Tim in the bed, turned him back to herself, and removed her outer clothing. Diana, with her head stuck out, called, “Since you’ve received pay for exposing yourself, that makes you a professional who doesn’t have to hide.”
“But I’m still only an apprentice.”
With that, she jumped into the tub and removed her underwear.
Once standing in the tub with the shower on, Sharon and Diana did their best to get their hair washed with the inadequate shampoo that the hotel had provided. There was none but accidental touching, and, once the water was off, they got dry and dressed with towels and clothing reached around the curtain to them.
Someone then noticed that it was dinner time. Tim and Enoch could have room service, thus prolonging their anonymity. Diana suggested to Sharon,
“Let’s get away and leave them to their football stories.”
“The dining room here has an outdoor patio with heaters next to the pool. We can eat there with towels wrapped around our hair.”
It was something Diana would never have done on her own, but she laughed and agreed.
The dining complex was quite pretty with a glass-enclosed indoor area and a much larger patio with fancy lights and heaters disguised as palm trees. Sharon’s spirits sank a little at the sight of a glut of middle-aged men wearing on their lapels little placards with the word, ‘Hello’, in big red letters above their names. Diana muttered,
“Low echelon groups buy generic name-tags that don’t even have the name of the organization on them.”
Luckily, some diners were leaving, and Sharon and Diana sat down around the debris on the table before anyone could stop them. There were looks from some people who might have been waiting for a table, but a hurried waitress, ignoring them, brought menus, and said, “It’ll be a few minutes.”
After she hurried off, Diana said, “That means that it’ll be practically forever. At least one waitress or cook hasn’t shown up for work.”
“This is as good a place as any to get our hair dry.”
They both smiled at the middle-aged busboy who cleared the table, and then exchanged some humorous comments on the men that they saw around them. After a bit, Diana remarked,
“I think Enoch and Tim want to be left alone so that they can talk about the game.”
“My impression is that the regular players get together and rehash every single play. Tim isn’t included because he’s the punter, and Enoch because he’s an outcast.”
“I certainly seem to have taken up with the outcast.”
Sharon, feeling rather gossipy, said, “Just before Enoch met you, he was telling Tim that we all need to choose people who will understand our background and childhood. So we were amused when he chose you.”
“He told me that, as far as he’s concerned, I might as well be from Outer Mongolia.”
“Are you learning about his background faster than he is about yours, or vice versa?”
“He’s faster. He’s also smarter than I am.”
“That’s another funny thing. He told Tim he needed a woman a little smarter than he is.”
“He’s really very smart. But he underestimates himself.”
“He feels the lack of formal education. But I think he’s about to remedy that big-time.”
“And I’ll have to try to keep up. You’ll see me sitting on deck trying to struggle through all kinds of damn books.”
“He as much as said that he was drawn to our group because he thinks he can learn from us. Myself excluded, that is.”
“Yourself not excluded! One thing about Enoch is that, despite all the controversies, he’s coachable in the way that athletes are. He’s rejected bad or ignorant coaching, but I’m pretty sure that he’s accepted good coaching. You people are obviously good coaches.”
“Our group does have the idea that getting people to kayak or row isn’t very different from getting them to do mathematics or philosophy. Clint raised some serious problems in our approach, but that part remains.”
“There are a number of things Enoch has learned, apart from football, which he could teach while he’s learning different things. I’m the one who doesn’t know anything worth teaching.”
“What about film-making?”
“If it weren’t pornography and the correct method of pulling down one’s panties, that might count.”
“You’ve explained a number of things to me that aren’t specific to pornography.”
“Acting in general, I guess. Well, maybe.”
“Anyhow, that’s all in the future. More immediate are the sleeping arrangements for the night.”
“Tim obviously has to stay here, and Enoch pretty much has to, too. The reporters know about the boat as well as his condo, and they’re camped out. You probably want to stay to look after Tim, but I could go back to the boat.”
“I bet Enoch would like to share the other bed with you. I could have a cot brought in for myself.”
“He and I are both much too shy to do anything in the presence of others except lie next to one another. We actually haven’t made love yet.”
“Delayed gratification is supposed to heighten the experience.”
“I think it’s more that neither of us knows what to expect from the other, or what the other expects.”
“As you said, you haven’t come from the same suburb.”
“Neither have Jimmy and Meredith in your group.”
“I think there was some confusion in that case that eventually got sorted out. But, anyhow, you and Enoch could lie next to each other, each fully dressed, and hold hands.”
“You know, that might be a good idea.”
The waitress finally came to take their orders, and, just afterwards, some conventioneers descended on them. One affected to think that women with towels on their heads were adherents to an exotic religion. Sharon bantered with him as he stood beside their table, and it gradually became clear that he wasn’t an idiot delegate of a fraternal organization in Kansas seeking a little sex in the big city. Indeed, the convention turned out to be that of the Southern California Philosophical Association. Sharon was curious about such creatures, and invited Duane, as he proved to be, to sit down with them. She caught a look from Diana as she did so, but it didn’t sound as if Duane would be boring.
Duane was a little drunk, not incoherently, but inclined to talk about his personal problems. Sharon didn’t mind that. She even subscribed to a magazine in which people wrote long and literate letters about their trials, hardships, and disasters. Some people found the magazine terminally depressing, but Sharon, with some misgivings, enjoyed it. Duane didn’t have problems as dramatic as that. Indeed, they seemed to center around his son, a boy standing alone looking into space some fifty feet away. A tall frail-looking teen-ager with glasses, one could see at a glance that he wouldn’t be the life of many parties. Duane, pointing, said, “He’s almost a typical professor’s kid, cut off from the other kids, and bullied by them. He has lots of esoteric interests which make him seem really weird to the others.”
Apparently on impulse, Diana stood up, took the towel off her head, and approached the boy. She could then be seen carrying on a conversation with him. Duane said, “He has some interest in philosophy, so I took him to one of the papers being read this afternoon. It was by a man named Peter John Poore, and, unfortunately, it was really dull and pedantic. I hope it hasn’t spoiled philosophy for Christopher.”
“At least you’re making the attempt. With a little luck, you’ll find something that’ll interest him.”
“He looks interested in your friend over there.”
“All men and boys are interested in Diana, but she’s a good honest person. She doesn’t play games.”
“Well, apart from being interested in all sorts of different things, Christopher is interesting himself. If we can just get him through this awful teen-aged business, he’ll be fine.”
Watching him talking with Diana, Sharon nodded, wondering if the boy might be rather like Jimmy.
A few minutes later, Diana approached with Christopher, and said, “Chris is interested in the battle of Salamis in ancient Greece, and thinks it must have been fought in waters rather like these. I heard Tim and Enoch talking about ancient rowboat warfare the other day, so I’m taking Chris to meet them.”
The food still not having come, Sharon talked with Duane. He was a man of no great pretension, claiming only to be a mediocre philosopher teaching at an obscure little college in the area. He obviously had greater hopes for his son, but seemed not to be overly pushy. Diana came back as the food arrived, and said, “I think Chris, Tim, and Enoch will soon have little objects representing war galleys spread all over the floor.”
It was then explained, to Duane’s amazement, who Tim and Enoch were.