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Elluvium, not Alluvium. By KJ Hannah Greenberg .


Miranda’s fiancé, George, possessed the emotional availability of a deepwater squid. Although he had once been employed as a high school algebra teacher and drama coach, George was better known, at least at Harry’s Pub and Grill, as “That Navy Seal Commando.” Within Miranda’s boudoir, though, his appellation continued to be “That Lackluster Sailor.”

George had seen more quadratic equations and misshaped costumes than he had witnessed aquatic exploits. His aunt, an assistant federal clerk, had ranked as enough of a bureaucrat to insure that her sister’s boy saw no action. Not incongruously, always, mere moments after George had finished “the deed,” he fell immediately to sleep, leaving Miranda to contemplate just why George was sharing her pillows.

When not being comforted by a marijuana haze, George busied himself with a part-time job selling cards and CDs at a local gift store and with trying to figure out new ways to stuff a month’s worth of laundry into a pillowcase. The proprietor of his neighborhood laundromat gladly cleaned George’s socks and “tighty whities” whenever George bothered to haul them to that establishment.

As for “the professor,” George’s girl, she was preoccupied with trying to extricate herself from an inherited scandal of sorts. She had ten days to remove all traces of her father from a school-owned bungalow.

Dad had taught at the same institute as did Miranda until becoming lethally yellow from liver failure, which Miranda attributed to Dad’s incessant fondness for Jack Daniels, for cream doughnuts and for fried calamari. Dad had agitated their school over a plethora of issues, the least of which had been complaining undergraduates and an annoyed dean.

There had been troubles with Dad’s favorite graduate assistant, the girl with whom he slept when being divorced by Mom. There had been troubles with the family business, which marketed pens and ski caps on campus and which, eventually, had to be taken over by Uncle Ralph. There had been, most of all, trouble with the university-owned house issued to Dad.

Shortly before his demise, the university had informed Dad of its intention to reclaim that unit. An incoming, ivy class professor had insisted upon looking out at cedars while smoking cigars. He had overtly coveted Dad’s nest and the two university-owned acres upon which it rested.

Dad, however, had rejected the compensatory three bedroom split level, on half of an acre, within a nearby suburban development. What’s more, he balked loudly.

The school owed him for his four decades of ceaselessly guiding new faculty and spearheading community relations efforts. Plus, there was that matter of the semantics journal he had founded. Few of the college’s employees had brought to life a publication which had earned and retained such scholarly ranking. As far as Dad was concerned, there would be no relocation.

The administrators answered bluntly. Dad was given a new set of behaviors from which to choose; either he could elect early retirement and its associated loss of faculty housing or they could broadcast their knowledge that the footnotes for Dad’s opus on urban rhetoric had been forged. The university’s management was tired of having to negotiate with doctoral candidates stung from Dad’s rough remarks about their research and who, accordingly wanted to slap the school with sexual harassment suits. The university’s executives had paid fifteen women, over as many years, to “forget” about Dad’s deeds.

The school and the elderly professor never settled. Rather than acquiesce, Dad died.

Consequently, Miranda found herself sorting through her father’s bottles, crusted dishes and “borrowed” research. She would have preferred to have spent her time facing down rapid hedgehogs.

In addition, George, that man-critter of strange design, provided little help. Every time Miranda asked him to take a bag to the curb, to call a charity to pick up a few boxes, or to sweep out a closet, he countered with a request for his favorite food, for a back rub, or for some “couples time.” He forgot to lower the toilet seat and to load the soap in the dish washer, too. His greatest contribution to his gal’s efforts was the quasi-entertaining diatribe he spoke to a stuffed pink and yellow tiger perched atop an empty bookcase.

While sliding Dad’s cellphone and laptop into a suitcase, Miranda readjusted her dungarees, out of which her belly was starting to protrude. She sent her future husband down the block to the university. He could scout her office for rubber bands and other useful devices, while she debated the sagacity of telling him she was pregnant.

George smiled beatifically. Miranda, though emblematic of gender liberation, would remain unequal to him in aptitude. She was fortunate that such a do-gooder as himself had appeared in her life; she was, after all, the product of a broken home.

Miranda shook her head as her baby’s father jagged down the sidewalk. It was probably wise to stay coupled. George was not attractive or even smart, but his aunt was connected to useful people. As Dad had demonstrated, there was more than one way to acquire academic standing.



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