"The Professor Spends the Night" by Joseph Pascale

Categories: ISSUE 04: Eleanor

The Professor Spends the Night

“Baby,” I whispered to my wife. Her back was to me, so I couldn’t see if her eyes were open or not. Putting my knees into the sagging springs of the mattress, I leaned over to glimpse half of her face. “Baby, are you awake?” I said in a low voice. The eye I could see was locked in slumber.

Reaching over to the night table on my side of the bed, I grabbed my cell phone and typed a text-message: Alright, you can come in now.

The creak of the door sounded like trumpeters announcing his arrival as the young man shuffled into the bedroom. I really should have put some WD-40 on those hinges. A quick glance toward my wife showed her brown curls unmoved.

The young man - I thought of him as “The Professor,” but don’t want you to picture an old guy with unkempt hair (he’d only finished his Ph.D. and become an adjunct five years ago) - hung up his suit for the next day on my side of the closet, as had become his custom. The metal hanger touching the horizontal pole in the closet sounded as though he’d banged two pans together, but my wife didn’t move.

He was already in a t-shirt and plaid boxer shorts, so I put my phone back on the charger and shifted closer to my wife, gently pressing my body to hers in an effort not to disturb her. The professor climbed in bed next to me.

“Goodnight,” he whispered, placing his glasses on the night table.

 O Typekey Divider

I nodded in response to him and placed my head on the pillow. My consciousness couldn’t tell when my weird thoughts turned into dreams, but I was jolted awake by a noise as though a Norwegian Black Metal guitarist had played a chord next to my ear. My eyes stared at the blackness for a long moment of silence before the sound repeated.

As I realized that it was The Professor snoring next to me, my wife elbowed me in the side. “Karl, stop snoring,” she grumbled in a tone heavy with sleep.

“Oh, sorry honey,” I grunted, turning over and throwing my hands on The Professor’s face. My left found his nose and squeezed it shut, my right covered his mouth. He started thrashing around as though someone were drowning him, and I took my hand off his nose and attempted to hold him still, but it was like trying to hold onto a slippery shark who was drowning in air.

“What are you doing, Karl?” my wife said in an annoyed tone.

“Just trying to get comfy.”

The Professor and I had a conversation with our eyes that said, “STOP SNORING!” or maybe he thought it said something else, but he turned his back to me and presumably returned to sleep.

 O Typekey Divider

It seemed as soon as I closed my eyes I was opening them again, right as The Professor climbed out of bed. My body forgot to breathe as I watched him put on his glasses. He stumbled over to the closet and wordlessly slunk into his collar shirt, which he buttoned over his t-shirt. I nodded off for a moment, but reopened my eyes to see him fully dressed and finishing the last loop of his striped tie.

“See you tonight, Karl,” he whispered. Shoed-footsteps like a lady in high-heels walking down a marble corridor followed, then the trumpeters announced his entrance into the hallway.

I knew I should get up for work too, but I didn’t, and I hit the snooze on my phone alarm when it went off. My wife got out of bed before me, and having slept in only panties, she treated my squinting eyes to the full grandeur of her breasts in the weak light of early morning. When next my eyes opened, she was fully dressed, business casual.

“C’mon Karl, get dressed,” she said as she poked me. “I’ll go make us some coffee.”

“Okay,” I grumbled.

People were already milling about in the apartment complex’s common kitchen when I arrived. My wife was still in front of the single-cup coffee machine, which was slowly filling her mug with coffee. “Here you go,” she said, handing me a light and sweet arabica in my “World’s Greatest Engineer” mug.

“Thanks,” I said, taking a sip and burning my tongue.

“You kept waking me up all night with your snoring, Karl,” my wife said. “Something must be wrong. You never used to snore.”

“I uh,” I muttered, “I think it’s because now I, well, I didn’t used to, it’s just, um, a cold really, I think, yeah, that it’s a cold, I’m probably coming down with a cold and it’s blocking my airways is all.”

She put a hand to my forehead. “Well I hope it’s not anything too concerning. Snoring can be a symptom of more serious issues.”

 O Typekey Divider

At work as I attempted to figure out an unexplained temperature increase in the machinery, a co-worker appeared and began to shoot the breeze. “So the extra income from the boarder is pretty nice, huh?” he said in his lazy drawl.

“Oh yes, well, I do appreciate your tip on that. I hadn’t realized the practice had become so prevalent, but...”

“Whew, I tell ya,” he said, his bushy gray mustache twitching, “I ain’t had it so good since I took on my boarder, in fact, I just got a second one. See, I got a king-sized bed and just the two o’ us wasn’t taking up that whole bed, so I rented out the last third of it to another feller. Sure, I can’t toss ‘n turn as much as I used’ta, but I clear my apartment’s rent and all my student loans and other bills so well that I’ve been going out every Saturday night, livin’ the high life.”

“That may be fine for you, but you’re not married.”

“Divorced and proud of it!”

“But it’s not so easy to keep from my wife as you made it out to be...”

“You’re not lettin’ that feller take over the place are you, Karl?”

“Not at all, when he’s not teaching, he spends his time grading in the shared adjunct office, and when he’s done with that, he sets up shop in the cafe down the street until they close.”

“So what’s the problem?”

I let out a sigh. “Nothing, I guess.”

“That’s the spirit,” my co-worker said, slapping me on the back.

 O Typekey Divider

That night, my wife decided to update her blog. She was hard at work on it in bed, her computer on her lap. My phone buzzed on the night table. It was The Professor again. You didn’t fall asleep on me, did you Karl? She’s still up? It’d been almost an hour since the cafe closed.

She’s still up. I’m going to feign sleep and maybe she’ll join, I texted back.

“Who are you messaging?” my wife asked, not removing her auburn eyes from the screen.

“Just someone from work asking about a meeting tomorrow,” I lied. “Well, I’m wiped. I’m going to get some sleep.”

“Yeah, I think I’ll finish this tomorrow. We’ve got to be up early,” my wife said, putting away her computer.

It was difficult for me to not actually fall asleep for the next fifteen minutes, but when I was sure she was actually asleep, I texted The Professor. The door trumpeted, he put away his suit, took off his glasses, and climbed into bed next to me.

“I’m taking that time out of this month’s payment,” he whispered as his leg brushed against mine.

“Fine,” I whispered back, closing my eyes.

My nightmare was interrupted by my wife whispering in my ear. “I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Can’t you go by yourself, just this once?” I asked with a wince.

“Karl, you know I’m scared... between the cockroaches and that creepy guy.”

“Alright, let me just get my--AHH!” I let out shout as I shoved The Professor off the side of the bed and tumbled after him. We landed in a tangle on our shoes and clothes.

“Karl, are you okay?” my wife asked as she turned on the lamp. I had known she was going to do that to get dressed.

“What the heck are you doing?” The Professor shout-whispered.

“Get under the bed!” I pushed on his arm and he complied, shimmying underneath the box-spring.

“Karl...?” my wife said.

“Just grabbing my shirt!” I said as I popped up to my feet.

“Let me get mine,” she said.

“Here you go.” I threw it over the bed to her.

“Thanks,” she said, sliding her head into it and letting it fall down over her breasts, failing to hide her erect nipples and barely covering her panties. “Let’s go.”

The hallway was desolate at this hour, everyone asleep in their apartments. I went into the stall and checked that it was all clear before my wife sat down to pee.

 O Typekey Divider

Back in our apartment, lights out, The Professor emerged from beneath the bed. “Karl? A word?”

I shushed him.

“In the bathroom. Now!”

Thankfully, my wife’s slumber had retaken her, so we crept toward the door in the darkness. I opened it for The Professor, and he slipped into the florescent light of the hallway, but before I could follow, my wife called out, “Karl? Where are you going?”

“Now I have to go to the bathroom.”

“But we just went!”

“I didn’t realize I had to go then. I’ll be right back.”

“Karl, do you know what time I have to teach my first class in the morning?” The Professor shouted once we were alone in the bathroom.

“I know...”

His tirade continued, “Do you realize what you’re doing to me here? I told you that I don’t sleep much, but you promised I’d have five or six hours, uninterrupted!”

“Look, I’m sorry. This clearly isn’t working out, so let’s just make this your last night staying with us. You don’t even have to pay me.”

The Professor’s face flickered from rage to dismay. “No, please Karl! Don’t kick me out! I can’t go back to the streets!”

“I’m sorry, but there’s just no way,”

“Please Karl! I take it all back! It’s not a big deal. As long as I get a couple hours sleep, I’ll be fine. I’ll even pay you all the money. It’s okay, just don’t throw me back to the streets! I agreed not to disturb your wife, so I’ll just quit complaining.”

“Well, alright then,” I muttered, and as we headed back, I realized that I should have used the bathroom while I was in there.

I opened the door to find my wife sprawled out across the center of the bed over the covers, completely nude with her legs spread. She wasn’t moving though, so she must have had the intention to seduce me, but fallen asleep. The Professor was standing right behind me, unsure of what to do. Just when I was about to reach for the lamp to turn off the light, my wife awoke.

“Oh, there you are Karl. I was waiting for you to come back to bed,” she said in a sultry, if sleepy, tone.

I stepped forward and climbed onto the bed, The Professor crouched down and stayed hidden on the floor at the foot of the bed as I mounted my wife. It took longer than it should have because of my failure to use the bathroom on my recent trips, but in due time we were both satisfied and sleeping. I was in such a torpor that I didn’t even notice The Professor leave in the morning.

.

So I suppose everything’s working out fine, more or less, although I still have to ask The Professor how things went the week that I had to cover the night shift at work, and he was on his own sneaking into my bed.

--Story by Joseph Pascale
***
--Foreground photo by Doriana Maria