“I’m telling you, she’s the best art teacher there is. She knows everything!” A young woman in her early twenties with ratted dyed black hair and heavy raccoon eyes gushes to her friend who is so nondescript, I barely notice her. “If Moira says it’s true, then it is.”
“That’s bullshit, Brenda,” the other woman says heatedly, her face flushing. Her shoulder-length mousy brown hair falls in her eyes no matter how many times she brushes it back. She finally gives up and peers at her friend from behind a veil of hair. “She’s a charlatan who gives good mouth. Her stuff is crap, and her advice is crap.” Her hands are clenched into fists, and her receding chin is thrust out as far as she can. “The bitch thinks she’s all that.”
“You’re so wrong, Tansy,” Brenda says earnestly, touching her friend on the arm. Tansy? I have never heard a more inappropriate name. Dorcas, maybe. Or perhaps Zelda, but not Tansy. “Moira really cares about people’s talent. She talked to me for fifteen minutes about my charcoal sketches in the caf one day. She didn’t have to do that.”
“She probably just wants to shag you,” Tansy says cruelly, her face a dark red. I watch in fascination at the scene developing. “You know her reputation, right? She likes them young and stupid.”
“Is that why you slept with her?” Brenda shoots back, her own face pinking. “You certainly fit the stupid part, though you’re no longer young.” The two of them glare at each other, and I’m wondering if I should step in.
“Here you go,” Emil smiles, holding out a glass. “Rum and coke, just as you ordered.” I accept it from him and take a sip, choking as I do. It is definitely not as I would order, being heavy on the run and nonexistent on the coke. “Oh dear, what are those two young women arguing about?”
“Moira,” I say simply. I’m beginning to think that everyone has a Moira story to tell. I recall the sway of her hips as she saunters around the room. I think about the curve of her lips as she smiles, dreaming about kissing those lips. I stop. Where have I seen her before? For the life of me, I can’t remember.
“—Don’t you think?” Emil is looking at me, but I haven’t the slightest idea of what he has said. Noticing my befuddled look, he repeats himself. “I said, Moira is going to get herself in trouble one of these days, don’t you think?” He’s shaking his head, but he can’t keep the gleam out of his eyes. He is looking forward to the day Moira gets in trouble. He is hoping that he’ll be there to witness it. Slightly sickened, I drain half my drink.
“There you are, hon!” Paris exclaims as he breezes up to me and Emil. “Emil! How the hell are you? How’s academic life?”
“Tedious, Paris,” Emil says with a smile. “I am taking a sabbatical next year, and not a moment too soon. Nobody cares about true learning any more. The students only want to know what’s ‘relevant’ to life.” He twists his lips in distaste before smoothing them out again.