He smoked hand rolled clove cigarettes, finger tips stained yellow. The taste was bitter, thick and heavy. Producing the type of stink that clings to clothes, skin, hair, teeth. That smell, the one he carried with him, made him want to vomit. The record breaking projectile vomit shit that only happens in movies. But the smell held purpose. Mainly, the attraction of hippy-esque college girls. Young, stupid and inquisitive. The perfect combination for fireside foursomes. Also, clove covered up the sweet skunk of marijuana.
He wasn’t a professor. He held exemplary talent with technology. Programs, mostly. Corporate bullshit. He worked from home. He dabbled in forgeries. His doctrine – fake. His awards – fake. He displayed them in glass frames, simple onyx inlays. The frames he carried in a briefcase, quick to toss them on the walls whenever a ‘student’ came to call. Four years ago, he happened open this cozy office, vacant. Lousy location, in the old gymnasium wing, but he never complained.
The name on the certificate was Dr. Sheldon Holmstead, graduate of Yale, degree in philosophy. Those college girls especially loved that he was Ivy League (in print) and possessed the audacity to choose a basically extinct theory of thought. No one contemplated anymore.
There were no great wondering thinkers walking the streets, and if there were people typically avoided them. Crackpots proclaiming the end of the world. Hookers, too doped up to realize that their problems didn’t matter. Musicians who haven’t bathed for a month belting out original melodies with no paying fans. Radicals disguised as ‘liberals’ – wanting equality, equality, equality, an underlying hint at socialism.
The ‘students’ loved his take on life. His subjective persuasion to enlighten the soul. He memorized Whitman and Longfellow to show off. He quoted Milton to humble the audience. He ended with Lenin to inspire revolution. He smoked pot to The Beatles and handed out acid. Who knows what the girls thought, hell, who truly cared. They loved his theories, but most of all they loved the sex and drugs. If a problem arose, say angered parents; Dr. Sheldon displayed the signed document of release which safely protected the university in question. The document clearly stated that pharmaceutical additives were required to participate in the study. This same document, presented to the girls prior to entering the course, was described to them as a petition to incorporate mind enhancing narcotics to public mainstream. Being college students, many wishing to practice law or run for office one day, were eager to agree with the good doctor to avoid a littered past. Four years sailed by smoothly. No discoveries, no problem. Dr. Sheldon acquired a lunch pass, parking space, and gym membership. The only thing the university wasn’t giving him was a salary. None of the higher ups knew that he existed. The philosophy program held low status, yet was required by alumni funded desire to stay operational. He avoided the philosophy professor at all costs, and informed his ‘students’ of a threatening past with Dr. Grettenhauser, life long rivalry and hatred.