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An Excerpt from The Fraternity


And as therapy goes it was a good night for Bonni, right up to the point where it stopped being a good night for Zed. In the middle of a bite of pizza at Papa Joe’s, he felt as if he’d been hit in the head with a hammer. He dropped his crust on his plate, put his head in his hands, and didn’t look up. “Are you all right?”

   He spoke through his hands. “I don’t believe I’m doing this.”

   “Doing what?”

   “Having a date.”

   She didn’t catch it. “Has it really been that long?”

   Zed put his hands down. “I have two finals Monday, and instead of studying for them I read magazines, played pinball, wandered around the house, called you, and read an assignment that was due last week. My break-to-studying ratio was about 8 to 1.”

   “Well, Zed, there’s no magic amount of time you have to study—”

   “In my case I would have to spend enough time to have some basic concept of what’s going on in the class—say, about three months. Actually, I know economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources. I know who wrote all the books in my English class and which two I actually finished reading. That’s about it.”

   Bonni groped for something to say. She put her hand over his and found it trembling, and while she wanted to make everything better for him she didn’t feel she knew him well enough to take on his burdens. She was torn between mothering him and calling it a night, and finally she whispered “Zed—say something funny.”

   He tightened his lips. “You know what my GPA is? It’s negative. I have a negative GPA. I actually owe the college points.”

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