Fictionby Stoney Emshwiller
SO SHE SAYS TO ME she says, ''Janet?'' she says. So I turn to her and I say, I say: ''What?'' Just like that I say. And she says back to me — she looks me right in the eye and says: ''Bob's got the clap.'' That's what she says — just straight out like that: ''Bob's got the clap.'' ''Well, don't I know it,'' I say — real casual like, I say it. But the thing is, you see, the thing is I didn't know it — not 'til then. But I don't act it, see. I just turn to her and say: ''Don't I know it.'' Which really isn't a lie, you see, when you think about it, 'cause I didn't say I know it, you see. It was more like a question: ''Don't I know it?'' — which is like implying I know without saying it, you see?
So anyway, p.s., she says to me, she says, she asks right out--like it was nothing — she asks, ''Did you sleep with him?'' she asks. So what am I supposed to say? She puts me on the spot: ''Did you sleep with him?'' she asks. ''Well . . . ,'' I say, and I don't know what to say 'cause now I'm not sure which Bob she means. I'm thinking she could mean Bob Reinbeck from Manhasset--you know, Bob Reinbeck, don't you? He's always at the pub? Mustache? So anyway, or she could mean Bob what's-his-name, her old-boyfriend Bob. So I don't know what to say 'cause it could be either, but I don't want to ask, you see, 'cause I did sleep with . . . no, this is secret, okay? Really secret, like never-tell-even-your-closest-most-dearest-friend secret, okay? Okay, so anyway, I did sleep with her ex-boyfriend-Bob once — just once — and it was after she and him broke it off, so it's not like I was being gross or anything . . . it was legit — and anyway, I didn't really like him anyway, but it was just one of those things that happen, you know?
So, p.s., here she is asking me if I slept with Bob-whoever, and I'm acting like I know who she's talking about, but I don't know who she's talking about, and if it's her ex-boyriend, then I got to know 'cause I might have the clap, too! You ever have the clap? Another story, right? Sooooo, a-nee-way, I'm trying to act real cool, but I gotta find out who she means without letting her know I slept with her boyfriend. Her ex-boyfriend. So I turn to her and I say, I say — and this was really smart of me — I say: ''Did you ever sleep with him?'' I say — but I say it in such a way that it's half a joke, so that if she means Bob-her-boyfriend she'll think I'm just kidding, and if she means Bob Reinbeck she'll think I'm teasing but half-serious. Pretty smart, huh? I turned the same question around on her, you see?
So, p.s., she says to me, ''I asked you first,'' she says, like a baby, but I know from that that she doesn't mean Bob-her-boyfriend (ex) so I know I'm safe. So anyway, I think I've got it all tied up now, you see, so I turn to her straight-out and say: ''I never slept with Bob Reinbeck, ever. Not once,'' I say. So she looks at me real funny — just looks — and says: ''Not Bob Reinbeck, Bob Hawkins,'' she says. And I'm thinking . . . I'm looking at her just like you're looking at me now: Bob-Hawkins-Who? Never heard of him, right? Me neither, I'm thinking.
So, p.s., she just turns to me and she says, she says: ''Bob Hawkins. Bob Hawkins. Mister Hawkins,'' she says. Mister Hawkins! Mister Hawkins, the chemistry teacher, she's talking about! So I'm laughing — Mr. Hawkins! So I say, I say: ''How the hell do you know if Mr. Hawkins has the clap?!'' I say, and I'm laughing real loud now. So she starts to get all teary and starts to cry. Starts to cry right there — just like that! I can't believe it. So finally, finally, I figure it out. Can you believe it? Her and Mister Hawkins, the chemistry teacher. Her and the ''Hawk?'' Can you believe it? That's what the whole thing was about! From the beginning! Can you figure?
So, p.s., then I'm real nice to her from then on, you know. I tell her everything's okay and to go to the clinic and all, and all that. But can you believe it? She calls him 'Bob'' no less. I could hardly keep a straight face. Can you picture it? Her and ''Bob'' Hawkins. ''Mister Wizard'' and her. God. Really! I can't picture it. He's got hair all over his neck!
But anyway, promise not to ever tell anyone 'cause she's like my best friend next to you.