Vanity Plates
September 1987

Cody and I had quickly hit it off as friends and started meeting for lunch in the campus grill that Friday at the end of the first week of classes at Hinds.  The grill was a short order casual setup serving small numbers of students who wished to pay for their meals out of pocket whereas the cafeteria on the other part of the campus had a fixed daily menu, served the majority of students and dealt in the meal plans that students could sign up for and pay for as part of their tuition. 

The difference in food quality between the two was telling.

I preferred the short order grill to the cafeteria because I hated cafeterias, always had.  Even as a child in the public school system I’d always carried my lunch from home, ever single day, except for pizza day when the cafeteria served that rectangular slab of thin pizza that didn’t look like pizza and only kind of tasted like pizza.  That was the only time that I ate in a school cafeteria.  Eating was important to me, what little of it I seemed to do, and I always liked having a choice in where and what I ate as well as who I ate with.  I also wanted my meal prepared while I waited instead of hours before, out of some huge industrial sized container then left in a heated tray for everyone else to pick and choose from.  Eating, to me, was even more about the freedom of choice.  I didn’t like being told what I could eat, when I could eat it or where I could eat it.  Cafeterias took those choices away and moved you through the limited selection offerings like so much human cattle at a feeding trough and the noise of all those cattle getting fed at the same time was unreal.

Cody, oddly enough, felt the same way that I did and so it was at the campus grill, during lunch and between classes that we started to hang out together.  Cody and I would sit and talk at one of the booths in the corner, able to look out two huge windows that intersected behind us while we did our class work, talked about what ever became of interest to us and just cast a cold eye on the human race in general.  We particularly enjoyed commenting on people mercilessly whenever and however we saw fit, especially if they seemed to be begging for it with how they dressed or how they acted.  I soon discovered that as scathing as I could be in ridiculing people at large, Cody was every bit as good if not sometimes better than I was and we each taught the other a few things when it came to insulting people behind their back and occasionally to their face if they were stupid enough to confront us about our opinions of them.  In the first two weeks that Cody and I were establishing our supremacy in the campus grill we were almost thrown out at least four times.  After that, there seemed to settle down some kind of uneasy truce between Cody, myself, the grill staff and the other students.

Cody and I became icons of the grill, more or less and if we weren’t icons we were at least semi-permanent fixtures; regulars of another name.

As people that I had met from my other classes passed through the grill and met up with us, Cody and I would soon see our band of two caustic misanthropic loners swell to a small group of ten campus irregulars, a group where Cody and I were the core and everyone else seemed to gravitate to and orbit around us in the friend of a friend type holding pattern.  Before we knew it, Cody and I had some kind of campus anti-social club going that met every day at the same time and in the same place at the grill just to hang out between classes and have a good time.  

Our group had no jocks, no cheerleaders, no beauty queens, no posers … only social outcasts and campus rebels.  I’m not saying that we were the prettiest people on campus (Cody and myself excluded) but we were probably the most easily visible and the loudest group in the grill if nowhere else.  We were probably also the most interesting. We had a lot of fun together and everyone else around us knew it.  All in all I thought it was a pretty damn good start to my first semester of college and it had been a pretty fast start as well.  My life just seemed to be falling together and that felt really good at the time.  

After all that I’d been through in the last four months that felt really good and I think Cody was feeling the same way.

September 11th, 1987

It was Friday, the end of my second week of classes at Hinds and I was ready for the weekend.  I sat in the Student Grill, thinking about my week so far, trying to get a feel for what I’d done and where it was going.  It had been a pretty good week so far, all given, but still it was a lot to sort through and come to grips with.  I had just finished eating a hamburger and fries when Cody walked in like he owned the place, pushing the big glass door open and striding in.  He stood there, sunglasses on, leather jacket, orange backpack slung over his shoulder and red, white and blue Bell motorcycle helmet gripped in his gloved hand.  Looking around, he saw me, nodded and walked over to where I was sitting.

“Hey, Ray-Bans!  Want some company?” he asked.

“Have a seat.” I said, motioning the bench opposite of me in the booth.

“Appreciate it.” Cody said.

Cody sat down at the booth on the bench in front of me, put his helmet and backpack down in the bench beside him, kicked back, put his feet up under the table clear across to my side of the booth, ran his gloved hand through his hair and smiled.  He looked down at the almost empty tray in front of me.

“What did you have?”

“Hamburger and fries.”

“The burgers any good here?”

“It’s decent.  What's between the bread passes more for meat than the stuff you get in the cafeteria.” I said.  “Fries are good, though.”

"How good?" he asked.

"Real good."

Cody reached over with his gloved hand, took one of my fries and ate it.

“Damn!  You’re right.  Fries are pretty good.  I’m sold.”

He took another fry from my tray.

“Hey!  You got your free sample.  Go get your own.” I said, laughing and pulling my tray back towards me in mock defense.

“Aw, don’t get your panties in a wad, bro.  I owe you two.  I’m good for it.” Cody said, eating the second French fry.

Cody peeled his driving gloves off, pulled out his wallet, checked his cash then started to get up.

“Save my seat.  I’m going to get what you had.”

I nodded and went to looking back out the window.  Cody walked up to the register, put in his order and a few minutes later he sat back down, unwrapping his hamburger, salting his fries and squirting out a pond of ketchup on the burger’s wrapper.  Then he took two of his French fries, the biggest two, and nonchalantly tossed them on my tray with the few other fries that I had left.

“There you go.  Payback, bro.”

I took the two French fries, still hot, and ate them, then reached over and got another one of Cody's fries.

"What was that for?" he asked.

"Interest on the loan." I said.

"Fifty percent interest isn't too good ... I can get better at a pawn shop." Cody said.

"So ... go to a pawn shop and get your fries."

Cody flipped me off nonchalantly.

“Mmmm.  This is good burger.” He said, taking a bite of his hamburger.

“You think so?” I asked.

Cody gave me a serious nod and a thumbs up.

“Yeah.  You usually don’t find quality meat like this outside of a bowling alley or a truck stop.”

“Or a Burger King …” I said.

Cody wagged a finger at me.

“Don’t you dare mock Burger King.  That institution is sacred.”

I chuckled and Cody laughed as well, taking another bite.  After he’d swallowed and washed it down with some of his Coke he pointed a finger at me.

“Listen!  This morning I saw Robert Edward in the commuter parking lot.”

That’s all he said.

My expression said “And …?”

“And do you know what he drives?”

“A hot pink Chevy Chevette?” I asked.

Cody laughed and shook his head.

“No.  You’re not going to believe this but that foreskin drives a brand new Nissan 200SX.  Red one."

So ... Robert Edward drove a new red Nissan 200SX ... I'd seen a new red 200SX a few times in the parking lot ...

"The red slope back one with the black louvers?"

Cody nodded.

"200SX is a girl's car.  It's got no balls under the hood."

"I heard the new 200 is kind of quick." I said.

"Yeah, well ... Being kind of quick doesn't make it actually fast.  200SX is a girl car which is why it's kind of quick.  If it was fast, it'd be a guy's car.  That Nissan's got nothing under the hood but a two liter inline four which has about as many balls as a transplanted vagina.  He's got a few horses over a hundred.  I've got a good sixty horses on him, more or less.  His car's a roller skate with pubic hair.  My Supra will eat it for lunch."

I chuckled.

"You said he drives a new 200SX ... Does he drive that red 200SX that's always taking up two parking spots in the commuter lot?" I asked, because that's what caused me to notice one particular red 200SX in the first place; asshole driver parking.

Cody nodded.

"That's the one.  It’s red, got an automatic in it, and the douchebag’s got a personalized tag on it … check this out.”

Cody took one of the napkins on the table, took a pen from his backpack and started writing out numbers and letters.  He slid it across the table to me and I looked at what he’d scrawled on the napkin.


I frowned, thought about it and sounded it out in my mind.  I got it on the third try.

Tennis Man?” I asked.

Cody nodded.

"Seriously?  That's his personalized tag?"

"Well, it's not a real personalized tag ... it's one of those fake tags that look like a real tag, one of those fake vanity tags you can mail off for.  He's got the fake tag on the front and the real tag on the back."

Tennis Man?” I asked, again.

"Tennis man."

“That’s kind of being a bit liberal with the definition of the word "man" I think ...” I muttered.

I took the pen from him and wrote some more numbers and letters on the napkin.

“This is what his personalized tag should be …” I said, showing Cody what I’d written on the napkin.


“Penis!” Cody laughed so hard that he almost spit out the mouthful of food he was chewing on as he pointed at the napkin.

“Yeah, that should be his personalized tag.  Or better yet, this.”

I wrote “D1KH3D” and pushed the napkin back to Cody.

Cody stared at it, tapped it with his straw leaving a damp spot then with a furrowed brow looked up at me.

“Dickhead?” Cody said.

“Yeah.  You might can add or subtract a letter here or there to make it easier to get ... I forget how many you can have on a personalized tag.”

“I think you’re limited to six letters or numbers or both and that’s probably including spaces.  I really doubt it’s eight letters, though.  I was going to get a personalized tag when I moved here back in June … just haven’t done it yet. Cody said.

“Yeah?  You were going to get a personalized tag?”

“I was thinking about it.”

“What were you going to get on your tag?” I asked.

Cody didn’t answer, he just took the pen and the napkin we’d been using and wrote something new then shoved the napkin back over to me to see.


“If it’s six letters I’m thinking of something like that.”

“Axelerator!  Your band!” I said, smiling.  “Hey!  That would be pretty damn smurfy!”

“Yeah, it would.  Just a thumbs up to the old band back home.  No one but you, me and a few other people from way, way down south of the panhandle would get it, though."

Cody looked at the napkin and his look was one that crossed a lot of years and a lot of memories.

"Think I should still get it?” he asked but I didn't know if he was talking to me or throwing something rhetorical out into the mix.

“Hell!  I would!” I agreed.  “It’d be different and since you had the band you kind of earned it.”

“There's that.  Guess I did earn it.” Cody mused.

“Yeah, I think you should get it.  Even if no one knows what it means it still would look good on the back of your Supra.”

“Yeah.  Maybe.  Something to think about.  Anyway … back to Robert Edward.  I saw him in the commuter parking lot this morning.”

“Hey!  Not to go off topic but if that dick wrestler has as much money as he brags about having ... why is he going to Hinds?  I thought his parents were loaded like Scrooge McDuck ... swimming in the loot.”

Cody shrugged his shoulders and I thought about that some more.

“Yeah.  I thought about that as well.  Him going here, to Hinds?  That doesn’t make a lot of sense …  to have that much money and they send him to a junior college.  I figure with the money his parents have that he’s easy State material, maybe even Ole Miss if he’s good enough … or at least, Milsaps if he stays local.  Hinds seems kind of ... beneath him, you know, for the money he's grown up in."

"Maybe this is his dad's old school ..."

Cody shrugged his shoulders.

"From what I hear his dad did marry into some old money.  Maybe his parents are starting him out cheap to see if wonderboy can hack it or not, to see if he can do more than just swing a racket and jerk off to pictures of George Michael and Wham!." I said.

"Wham!  Oh, damn!  I'd forgotten all about those two ass pirates!" Cody said loudly, laughing.

"Ass pirates?" I asked, laughing.

"Ass pirates! " Cody said, putting his forefinger of each hand together at the tips then stabbing them together repeatedly.

I'd never seen that sign before and we had a good laugh at that.

“I’d have thought he’d be at Milsaps.” Cody said.  “Lots of his kind go there.  Rich kids who would just get their ass whipped and their lunch money stolen if they ever came to some place like Hinds.”

“I know someone at Milsaps this year.  We went to school together …”

“Smart guy?” Cody asked.

I nodded.

"Rich?" Cody asked.

I gave him an "iffy" hand gesture.

“His dad's a lawyer, not sure if he's rich but with a scholarship you don't have to be rich if they're cutting your tuition.  Yeah.  He's really smart, all book sense just no common sense.”

“Heard about people like that … never met one."

"You probably wouldn't get along well with them if you did.” I said.

Cody nodded.

"Besides ... what are you worried about?  Your Supra would eat his 200SX for lunch."

"Yeah.  Just why does a dickhole like that drive something mundane like that?"

"Because he's a girl and that's a girl's car?" I asked.

Cody chuckled and shook his head.

"He does like to prance all over the court, doesn't he?"

I nodded.

“That 200SX is probably his mom’s car." I said.

“It’s his car.  With a vanity tag on the front like "Tennis Man", it’s his car.  Trust me.” he said, raising the now written all over napkin for verification and pointing to the original scrawl he did.  

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.  With a tag like that I guess it’s got to be his car.”

“Oh, it’s his car.  I saw him get out of it the other morning.  He almost pranced across the parking lot.  I’m surprised he didn’t leave little bits of glitter in his wake like the fucking fairy that he is."

I laughed at that.

"I tell you man, the way he treats Wanda on the court and the way he prances around, if that retard isn’t gay then he’s missing a golden opportunity to be so.”

I laughed again, agreeing.

"Golden opportunity.  G-O-L-D-E-N.  Golden." Cody reaffirmed.

“Now that you put it that way, yeah, I can see him driving something like that.”

“I guess that's what surprised me the most.  He’s got rich parents.  His dad’s a lawyer, his mom’s on top of some hospital board, somewhere, I hear.  They say she’s not bad looking.  Really not bad looking.  I may have to see that for myself, maybe take it for a test drive.  Never fucked any old money before.”

And right then I could see part of the Lone Star Gigolo starting to weigh options and maybe make plans.  If Robert Edward’ mom was a hot older woman, and Cody scored with her, that would be nigh on legendary in achievement and I think he knew it.  I could see Cody strutting up to the net during an argument with Robert Edward and telling him flat out “Shut the hell up, bro.  I fucked your mom last night.”

“Going to track down Robert Edward’s mom and turn on your Lone Star Gigolo charms?”

“I might.” Cody said.  “If Wanda doesn’t pan out I think I may just look up Robert Edward’s mom and just for spite I'll grudge fuck her brains right out of her skull.”

“Grudge fuck her?” I asked, laughing.

“Yeah.  Grudge fuck her for ever spreading her legs wide enough to shit that retard into the world.  Then I’m going to wipe my dick off on her posh bedroom curtains, reach in her purse and get cab fare on the way out and tell her that if she wants any more Miller Time that she's got my number and to call me when she gets the damp itch in her crotch ditch.” Cody said, using his hands and arms to gesture wildly.

“Damn.” I said, trying to imagine all of that.  "That's just ... damn."

“Yeah, don't sweat it.  It’s just something I’d do.  You know, fuck his mom, just to add a little insult to injury.”

“Injury?” I asked him.

“Bro, if his mom’s hot I would fuck that till it hurts.  Me and her.  I’d get sore making her sore, rub us both raw.  Maybe even throw something out of alignment and need a dick cast.”

I laughed as Cody made a loop using the thumb and forefinger of his left hand then took his forefinger of his right hand and stuck it in the loop, pulled it out, and stuck in it again, repeatedly, just for emphasis, making soft little sex sounds for effect.

“Automatic?" I asked.

Cody stopped pantomiming the act of sex using his fingers mid-stroke and looked at me.

"Huh?" he asked.

"Automatic.  You said his 200SX was an automatic?” I asked.

“Yeah.  Automatic.” Cody said, abandoning the sex-pantomime act completely and going back to his food.

“So it’s not a stick?”

My knowledge of Nissans was limited, I just didn't have much interest in them, but I did think that only the fast ones had sticks or turbos in them and even then "fast" was a relative term ... the Japanese were making some fast cars but a turbocharged four cylinder or six cylinder, even with a bunch of high tech and forward thinking thrown at it, still just wasn't able to compete with a good old big cube American V8 ... maybe in a couple of years ... maybe ... but not now, not today.  Cody shook his head as he continued to eat.

“Stick?  Are you kidding?  Fuck no, it’s not a stick.  That retard’s not coordinated enough to drive a stick.  I mean, come one!  An automatic 200SX?  That’s a girl’s car if ever there was one!”

Cody went back to eating.  

I looked back out the window again, trying to imagine Robert Edward driving the brand new red Nissan 200SX that kept taking up two parking spaces in the commuter parking lot.  Somehow I could see that.  I’d gone to high school with kids who had parents who were loaded and they usually got brand new cars when they turned fifteen and got their driver’s license and then again when they’d graduated high school.  None of them knew a thing about cars but they had some of the most expensive, most powerful and most complex machines on the planet.   200SXs, 300ZX Turbos, Chrysler Lasers, Fiero GTs, Chevy Camaro Z28s and Pontiac Trans Ams, Ford Mustang GTs, Chevrolet Corvettes ... all brand new.

“So … what was Robert Edward doing in the parking lot when you saw him?” I asked, smiling.

“It looked like he was getting some attention from one of the campus police.”

“Those guys are dicks.  Real dicks.” I said.

“Tell me about it.” Cody agreed.

“So, was he getting a ticket?” I asked.

“No.  I think he got pulled over because someone did something to his license plate.”

I smiled and chuckled.

"Someone did something to his license plate?" I asked.

"Yeah.  Someone.' Cody said.

“Wow!  You’re serious?  Really?”

“Really.” Cody said, twirling a French fry in ketchup and shoving it in his mouth before any excess ketchup could drip off.

“And … what did someone do to his license plate?”

“Well, from what I could see it looked like someone made up a fake license plate and put it over the vanity license plate.”

“A fake license plate?” I asked.

“Yeah, someone took some cardboard and paint and made up a fake tag then taped it over his vanity tag.  It looked almost real, from about ten feet away.”

“A fake tag on a fake tag?  That doesn’t seem so bad.” I mused.

Cody took the napkin and wrote some letters down then pushed the napkin back over to me; on the napkin was written “TAMPON”.

“No!" I said, laughing out loud.

Cody nodded, smiling.

"Serious?  That’s what the fake tag said?” I said, laughing.

Cody nodded again, almost unable to control his laughter.

“Robert Edward probably drove around with the fake plate for a day or so then campus security pulled him over when they noticed it.  Maybe someone complained about it being vulgar, all that, you know.” Cody said, taking another bite of his hamburger while looking out the window at a group of girls walking by.

“Who do you think would do something like that?” I asked.

Cody shrugged his shoulders as another French fry got drowned in ketchup and eaten.

“Probably lots of people.” Cody said.  “I can think of a few that might want to do something like that.”

I nodded.

One person in particular that came to mind was sitting right across the table from me.

Cody was still looking out the window, this time at a pair of girls walking by on the sidewalk.  His head was on a swivel then his entire body rose up slightly in the bench seat to let his head keep on tracking the two girls as they walked on by.

“Jesus, look at the set of tits on that one …” He muttered to himself, chewing as he watched.

"How long do you think he drove around without noticing it?”

“What?” he asked, snapping back out of whatever daydream he was having and looking over his hamburger at me, rearranging the wrapper to expose more of his hamburger.

“How long do you think he drove around like that?  You know, with that fake tag on his car?”

Cody smiled then shrugged his shoulders.

“Oh … probably a day or two.”

I laughed.


Cody broke just the little hint of a smile.

“Yeah.  Tampon.”

I laughed and shook my head, pointing an accusing finger at Cody.

“Don’t look at me.  I didn’t do it.” Cody said flatly.

“Sure you didn’t.” I said, laughing.

“It wasn’t me!” Cody pleaded.

"The hell it wasn't." I said.

"The hell it wasn't, bro." Cody stated matter of factly.

Poker face.

Stone cold poker face.

Somehow, I knew better.  Deep down inside I knew better.

A few days later, after my last class, I was driving out of the parking lot headed into Clinton to Videophile to rent a movie for the night.  I saw Robert Edward’s brand new Nissan parked in the commuter parking lot, taking up two parking spaces … and then I noticed that someone had put something over Robert Edward’s license plate on the rear of his brand new red Nissan.  From a distance it was a fairly good artistic representation of a personalized state of Mississippi license plate, almost spot on except that this mock-up had the word “D1KH3D” written in big green letters outlined in black.

Still …  I laughed out loud when I saw that.  I laughed out loud for a good minute or so because that's exactly how I had spelled out "dickhead" for Cody the other day on the napkin.


Had to be.

I don’t know how he did it but I know it had to be Cody because two days after that someone put another fake handmade tag on Robert Edward’s Nissan; this one said “P3NIS”.

After that I noticed that campus security was making extra patrols on a more regular basis through the commuter parking lot, looking at any student walking in that parking lot with an extra amount of disdain and even stopping some students with portfolios or satchels to see if they could find out who the mystery tag maker was.   The irony of all of this was that Robert Edwards kept parking his Nissan 200SX in such a way as to take up two parking spots.  I saw a ticket on his windshield one day and guessed it was because of his disregard for other commuters.

Maybe someone had complained about his parking.

That was great!

The next day Robert Edward showed up at tennis class mad and huffy that someone had put something over his vanity tag.  He held up the fake tag and showed everyone.


“Hey!  Eddy Bo!  This is tennis, not art class.”

“You think this is funny, Miller?” Robert Edward shouted back, so mad that he didn't even bother trying to correct Cody on using his name wrong.

“I think it’s funny that you’re standing here, in tennis class, holding up what looks like a car tag with … that … word on it.  Is that your personalized tag or did you bring that for Show and Tell?”

Robert Edward held the tag up to show Cody.

“This isn’t even a real tag … it’s just paint and cardboard.  Someone stuck this on my car the other day.”

“Well, all I’ve got to say about that is … Hey!  If the name fits …” Cody shouted back, holding his arms wide for emphasis.

A lot of the people in the class laughed at that.

Obviously, Robert Edward didn’t think that was funny.  The teacher was starting to have enough and she asked Robert Edward to put his “craft project”, her words, back in his backpack so that class could get started and he did, reluctantly, even though a few people near him snickered at that.  Robert Edward kept looking at Cody … sneering, even once or twice implying to those within earshot that it was Cody who may have done it.  At one point during the class he and Cody had words, I didn’t hear the exact words because I was talking to Debby Lee off to the side but the gist was that Robert Edward went ahead and directly accused Cody of being behind the fake tags on his Nissan.  Words were spoken, angry, and the angrier that Robert Edward became, the bigger Cody’s smile became.

“You’re the one that’s doing it and you know it, Miller!  Stop laughing!  This isn’t funny!  It’s vandalism!” Robert Edward shouted.

Cody, still smiling, and now chuckling, shook his head.

“Sorry.  Much as you’d like to think that I care enough about you to do something like that I really don’t have time like that to waste on a retarded, limp wristed prancing fairy like you.”

“Prancing fairy …?” Robert Edward said, shock in his voice.

“No.  Retarded.  Limp.  Wristed.  Prancing.  Fairy.  That's what I called you.  Get it right.” Cody said flatly, leaning slightly forward to project his voice.

Then Cody took his tennis racket and went into a little skit.

"Look at me!  Everyone!  Look at me!  I'm the best tennis player out here!  Oh!  Sorry!  I must have dropped some glitter on the court!  I do that when I prance around.  Has anyone seen my tennis leotard?  Anyone!?  It's pink!  Size extra small in the crotch!" Cody said as he pantomimed something that looked like ballet, tennis and a high school rendition of the title role of "Peter Pan" in a play all together.  

It was hilarious to watch because Cody was the consumate showman when he had a crowd ... and that’s when Robert Edward threw down his tennis racket and started walking towards Cody, across the court, just walking then walking faster and then walking even faster.  Cody saw him coming and set down his own tennis racket, loudly said “Oh, it’s on now, faggot!” and started jogging towards Robert Edward.  Fast walking and jogging then jogging and running.  It was like watching two locomotives on the same track, building up speed and steam with the inevitable outcome in plain sight.  Cody's fists were clenched and he had this kind of happy gait to him, like he was about to do something legendary without even breaking a sweat.  For a few seconds there I thought there was going to be an epic fight on the tennis court any smart money said that Cody would mop the court with Robert Edward but the tennis troll also saw what was going to happen as well and, blowing her whistle and slapping her clipboard against the open palm of her hand, she intervened and sent both Robert Edward and Cody to opposite sides of the court to cool off, warning them that if there was any more trouble that she would kick them both out of class for the day and count it as an unexcused absence.


That would be a real punishment, I thought.

I walked over to where Cody was standing.

“You okay?” I asked.

He nodded.

“Yeah, Ray Bans ... I’m fine.”

“You sure?” I asked.

Cody nodded again.

“Yeah.  Yeah.  Look, I could have handled him no problem.”

I nodded.

“I never had a doubt of that.” I said.

“It would definitely have been Miller Time.” Cody said.

“He’s not worth it.” I said.

“I know but if I ever see that walking scrotum off campus I’m going to put my fist so far down his throat and my foot so far up his ass I’ll be able to tie my shoelaces somewhere in his ribcage.” Cody swore in a hushed breath.

“Can I bank on that?” I asked, smiling.

“You can bank on that, Ray-Bans.  Oh, you can damn well bank on that.” He said but Cody wasn’t smiling.

Cody was dead serious and there was murder, real murder, in his eyes.  Wanda walked over to stand beside Cody and I moved a few steps to the side.  Wanda had started getting really close to Cody the past few days.  Standing near him.  Talking to him in hushed whispers.  Sometimes touching him, a hand on his shoulder, flirting, a gentle poke or a quick pat on his ass with her tennis racket.  That smile … and I remember what Cody had told me the other day while we were sitting in the Student Grill;  “If Wanda doesn’t pan out I think I may just look up Robert Edward’s mom and grudge fuck her.”

Cody just seemed to have a way with women, especially with older women, and right then, the way that Cody had gone after Robert Edward, I could believe him now.  I really believed that if something didn’t happen between Cody and Wanda that Cody really would find, and seduce, Robert Edward’s mom just for spite.  Cody was the kind of guy who would do something like that then find Robert Edward and tell him just what he had done just to see the look on Robert Edward’s face, maybe even hand him a pair of his mom’s damp panties for proof.

As I was standing there Debby Lee walked up and stood beside me, a look of concern on her face.  I reassured her and explained what had happened.  The four of us, standing there in our little group, cast occasional glances back at Robert Edward.  No one was standing around Robert Edward, he was standing there, on the opposite side of the tennis court, all alone, holding his tennis racket and leaning up against the chain link fence that surrounded the court.


There was trouble brewing between Cody and Robert Edward.  

Bad trouble.

The kind of bad trouble that would get one or both expelled and I knew that Robert Edward had more pull through his daddy than Cody did.

The next couple of days in class Wanda and Cody got even closer.  A lot of their shared conversation seemed to be about and directed at Robert Edward but I only got a little bit of what they shared, mainly because they shared it in hushed whispers and blunt gestures.  Both Cody and Wanda seemed well experienced in dealing with someone like Robert Edward in a way that never directly indicated that they were doing it but which was obvious to Robert Edward and only worked to infuriate him even more.  During this time, the campus cops kept up their vigilance on the commuter parking lot but after a week they relaxed their interest in that area of the campus and that’s when someone put another fake license plate over the real license plate of Robert Edward’s Nissan.  This one was almost identical to the fake one before only instead of “P3NIS” this one simply read “4SKIN”.


I don’t know how Robert Edward took that but the campus cops resumed their extra patrols of the commuter parking lot.  It was around then that I had a suspicion that whoever was putting the fake tags on Robert Edward’s Nissan was doing it off campus, maybe even late at night, maybe even following Robert Edward when he left and waiting for him to let down his guard, maybe even doing it in the driveway of his own home while Robert Edward was sleeping.  If it was Cody who was doing it (and I was pretty sure that it was) then I had to start to believe that Cody was part ninja.

Robert Edward dropped the tennis class a few days after that near confrontation with Cody and I can’t say that anyone really missed him or his antics.

Two weeks after that I heard from that Robert Edward had transferred from Hinds to some fancy college out of state, his mother's alma mater, and neither Cody nor I ever saw Robert Edward again which was probably for the best, all things considered, especially in Robert Edward's case.