The Girl From Boston
by Daniel Davis
I heard about Jocelyn before I actually met her. She was from the East Coast, a place she called “Southie,” which Billy told us was actually Boston. For twenty dollars, Billy said, she’d make out with any guy who dared to sneak into Adams Hall after dark. It was the complexity of the latter that made it so realistic; as if risking expulsion by sneaking into the girls’ dorm wasn’t enough, we had to fork over twenty bucks as well. The money seemed like an insult added to injury—just the kind of bullshit you would expect from a girl from Boston.
I’m not sure why anyone actually did it. A few kids had trouble with girls, but most could find them readily enough. Parties, class, Wal-Mart—they were around. Maybe it was that Jocelyn was so foreign. We had girls from Chicago and we had girls from St. Louis and Indianapolis and other Midwestern metropolises. Hell, there were even girls from Nepal and Japan, though they didn’t associate with townies like myself. But Boston…I’d seen it in movies, but I didn’t know anyone who’d actually been there. It wasn’t just the size of the city, either; Billy came from Chicago, and by the start of his sophomore year, he acted and drank and carried himself just like a townie. Boston was violent. It was the land of gangsters, where Jack Nicholson killed people indiscriminately and Christian Bale snorted coke. It was silver screen, loud and proud. And Bostonians sported an accent I’d been trying to mimic for years.
“I’m telling you,” Billy said. This was halfway through Jocelyn’s first year, just a week before fall finals. “She’s going back home in a week, and you’ll lose your chance.”
“There’s next semester,” I said. “It’ll be warmer.”
“How do you know she won’t find some nice Boston kid back east and decide she wants a boyfriend?”
“How do you know she doesn’t have a boyfriend now?”
“Because I know people who’ve gone to her,” he said.
“Like who?” I wanted names. Rumors were just lies until you had names.
“I swore I wouldn’t tell.”
“I did. I guess Jocelyn doesn’t want people to know.”
“But everybody knows.”
“That’s the genius—everybody knows, but they aren’t supposed to talk about it. It’s pure marketing genius, man.” Billy was majoring in Business Marketing.
“How come you haven’t gone to see her?”
“How do you know I haven’t? If I have, I wouldn’t be able to tell you about it, would I?”
He hadn’t been to see her and we both knew it; Billy could lie to his teachers and his parents—their biannual visits to campus were comprised of him preaching the joys of studying and extra curricular activities—but he couldn’t lie to his friends.
“Come on,” he said. A note of complaint entered his voice; Billy was a great whiner. “You gotta go. You and Candice broke up three months ago.”
“Two-and-a-half. And I’ve hooked up since then.”
“Fuck you, it still counts. And what about you? Why don’t you go?”
He grinned. “I’m waiting for you, man. You go, come back, and tell me how good it was. Then I’ll go next week. Promise.”
“I thought I wasn’t supposed to talk about it.”
He shrugged. “We’ll come up with a signal then. You can wink if it’s great, blink if it’s okay, and shake your head if it isn’t worth it.”
“I thought she just made out with guys. I don’t think that’ll rate higher than a blink.”
We were standing in the shadows of Clement Hall, the boys’ dorm next to Adams. Neither Billy nor I lived on campus—I lived with my parents, he shared an apartment with his cousin—but we had friends in the building, so if anyone had spotted us, we would only look mildly suspicious. Billy even had a cigarette in his free hand, though he didn’t smoke. It was too cold for us to just be standing around. I didn’t see anyone else. Most of the visible windows were dark.
Billy glanced at his watch. “It’s almost eleven-thirty. At midnight, her light goes out, and she’s done. This is your last chance. This is our last chance.”
“Then come with me. It’ll be more fun if we get kicked out of school together.”
He gave me a gentle shove, pushing me out into the open. He pointed toward Adams Hall. “Just go, would you?”
I scowled, then darted around the corner of Clement and pressed myself tightly against the side of the building. I glanced up at Adams. Was her window one of the ones I could see? I’d never been inside. Room 41A. A single, the stories said. No one wanted to shack up with the Boston girl, or the Boston girl thought she was too good for Illinois women. Either way, it was a convenient arrangement.
Seeing no one looking down at me, I sprinted across the small gap that separated the two buildings. I peered in through the window of the dining area. Nothing except the safety lights, which cast as many shadows as they dispersed. No janitors, no night crew.
I crept around to the back of the building. The wind was stronger here; my face went numb, and I had to lower my head, glancing up occasionally to make sure I didn’t trip over a bush. After struggling over a short wall, I found myself on the back patio. No one. I darted towards the smoker’s exit, reached for the handle. I hadn’t worn gloves; the metal stuck to my skin. Part of me prayed that the stories were wrong—how could a student arrange for the door to be unlocked one night a week without a janitor noticing?—but the door opened easily, silently. I slipped inside.
It was so warm I almost had to take my jacket off. I opted against the elevator—if someone found me, I would be trapped. Instead, I took the stairs, trusting college girls to be too lazy to use the stairwell this late at night. Wednesday before finals week—arguably the deadest night of the school year. The slowest night of any week, for that matter. Jocelyn knew what she was doing.
Fourth floor. I inched the door open and peeked out. Empty, but the hallway was brightly lit. It came to me that, at this point, I was technically breaking and entering; this wasn’t campus cop territory anymore, this was Westfield P.D. I had a clean record—a speeding ticket, a couple warnings—but they wouldn’t go easy on me for this. What excuse could I give them? I had twenty bucks lying around and I thought, Why not?
41A. I tiptoed towards it, stood outside the door. Standing there, I glanced both ways, as though preparing to cross a busy intersection. My breathing was labored, partly because of the winter that lingered inside me. I pressed my ear against the door, listened. Nothing. Perhaps she was studying.
I stepped back and almost left. I could always tell Billy I did it, palm the twenty and buy myself a case of Natty Light. I wasn’t hurting for attention; true, the only girl I’d hooked up with since Candice and I broke up was Candice, but she hadn’t been my only option. I wasn’t desperate. I wasn’t even really in the mood.
It wasn’t the sex, though. I could make out with girls pretty much whenever I wanted; I was no Casanova, but the girls on campus were no Mother Teresas, either. As a woman, Jocelyn was one of six thousand. Nothing special.
But she wasn’t just a woman. She was a Southie. And for a Southie, you snuck into a girls’ dorm in the middle of the night. It’s what they expected of you.
I knocked. Once, meekly. I’d meant it to be forceful, demanding, but at the last second I gave way to caution. There was an RA somewhere in the building, after all. And other girls could still be awake.
Jocelyn was quick. I expected to wait, to suffer. Instead, the door opened almost immediately. Perhaps she’d sensed me, had even been watching me while I hesitated. I was caught by surprise, my mouth open, my eyes down. I was glancing at the floor, then the door opened. I almost yelled.
She was gorgeous. Porcelain skin, almost translucent; long red hair, draped casually over one shoulder. No freckles. A slender frame, green eyes, full pink lips. She was wearing a college sweatshirt and pants, but even the loose cotton couldn’t hide what lay beneath. She was tall, my height, and stared at me with such intensity that I didn’t even bother introducing myself. Surely she already knew my name.
She pulled me inside. Didn’t say a word, just grabbed my wrist and jerked me into her dorm. She reached around me to close the door; her breast grazed my arm. Her room was small and rectangular, with a bed on one side, something like a couch on the other, a small fridge and a closet. There was a window opposite the door, but her lights were on and I couldn’t see what lay outside.
Door closed, she stepped back and looked at me. Her eyes swept me once; she knew from a simple nod of her head everything there was about me.
“Well,” she said. “You got the money?”
She sounded as though there were wires in her jaw that prevented her mouth from opening all the way. She sounded mean and vicious, like she kept a knife somewhere on her person and you would never find it until it was buried to the hilt in your gut. As she spoke, her mouth twitched into a half-smile. It was condescending and beautiful.
I fumbled the wadded twenty from my pocket, handed it to her. She unfolded it and glanced it over, turned it around, held it up to the light. “Nice,” she said, and stuck it into her pocket. “You’re cuter than the last one.”
I think I tried to smile. “You know,” I started to say. Two words, and I could already hear my Boston imitation slipping out.
But she didn’t let me speak further. She pressed tight against me, pushing me into the wall. My God, I thought, and leaned forward. Maybe this’ll be worth it after—
Her timing was perfect. Lips less than an inch from mine, breasts flush against my chest. Perfect.
Her hand shot to my groin. Long, elegant fingers found me through the denim, squeezed. Hard. I didn’t gasp—I whinnied, like a horse. Tears came to my eyes. I swear one of her nails ripped through the fabric. A grip so firm that when my eyes closed from the pain, I saw nothing but pure and absolute white. Blinding. I made another noise, deep in my throat. It may have been my gag reflex.
“Listen to me,” she said. Her breath was peppermint. Her voice was rusted iron. “You don’t never come back here again, you hear? You don’t never tell anyone what happened here. If you do, I’ll find you, and I’ll hurt you. I’m tired of punks like you thinking they know how to treat a woman. This is how I treat you.” Impossibly, she squeezed tighter. “I don’t give a fuck who you are, and I don’t give a fuck who you think you are. You don’t never think of me again and we’ll both die happy, you hear me?”
She let go. I was only mildly aware of her opening the door and pushing me out into the hall. I hit the opposite wall, fell to my knees. Her door closed loudly. I didn’t look around to see if anyone was looking. I lay huddled on the floor, gasping, until somehow I managed to get up. I took the elevator. Back outside, I sat down cross-legged on the patio, hoping the frozen cement would numb the pain. But I was already numb inside, and I got nothing but colder.
Looking up over my shoulder, I saw a light go out on the fourth floor. I stared at the darkened glass. I knew she wasn’t looking at me—I was already forgotten, just another dumb punk dealt with and done—but I could feel her gaze anyways, hot and bright. I turned away and stared at my feet. It began to snow, and I watched the flakes come down, one at a time. A billion different shapes, I thought. A billion individual shapes, and no one in Boston gave a fuck about any of them.