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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Comedy · #1236387
winner of the My Dog Ate My Homework, it's not just lost homework that may be a problem.
"I just got mugged!  He flashed a knife at me and grabbed my book bag." Gina crashed into the chemistry lab, disrupting the final exam.  "I'm sorry, I didn't know I was late."  Her voice shook more when she spoke softly.  Her entire one hundred and ten pounds quivered.  Wringing her twitching hands a single tear trailed down her cheek.

"Come here, are you okay?" Professor Bolidori asked, amazingly gentle and warm for a chemistry professor.  She'd been mugged outside the university herself, shortly after she'd began teaching and knew what turmoil it stirred within a victim.  Gina approached her instructor and was caught off guard by the professor's arms extending out into a hug.

"I'm okay, but my life is just ruined.  I had my final reports for this class and two other courses, all my notes and a couple rather expensive library books in there.  I need to reschedule my final exam, I have to go look for my bag.  He'll throw it away once he sees there's just books and not a laptop in there.  May I?"  Gina asked, needlessly throwing in a very heartfelt set of puppy eyes.

"Oh no, it'd be dangerous.  Let's call campus security and you can file a report.  Just sit down, don't worry about the test, it'll be okay."  And the professor turned to the phone to dial campus security.

"No, I need go right now.  Maybe he'll be with the bag and I can hold him until someone comes to take him away, if I don't kill him in the process."  Her eyes were glinting in ways Professor Bolidori had only seen in overly dramatic movies.  Gina had lost it.  Sometimes it's the academic workload that leads graduate students into psychotic episodes.  This time, it was blended with victim's rage into a volatile cocktail of psychiatric malfunction.

"But Gina, the security officers can..."  The professor trailed off, still holding the phone, watching the five foot, four inch tall student dashing into the hallway.  The lab fell utterly silent, listening to the clatter of Gina's steps in the hallway.  In this silence the class resumed their exams while the professor spoke in hushed tones to the security officer on the phone.  Ali, who'd been Gina's lab partner that semester rose from his work station, glancing out the window en route to turning in his exam.  He had a grin on his face much larger than the traditional end-of-semester look of relief.  Professor Bolidori had come to expect Ali to go a bit beyond the norm, he'd been an A-plus student all semester and done needless extra credit work with a strange glee.  She looked up from her desk, where she'd been cradling her head in her hands, waiting for campus security to arrive so she could explain why she'd let a student run out of a final exam to attack their assailant.  "All done Ali?"

"Yes, and Gina is too.  I saw her running this way, bag in hand."  Ali handed in his final and added "If you don't mind, I'd like to stick around a little while, if that would be okay with you, professor."  Beyond being a star student, Ali had exceptional manners.  If the tuition weren't so deeply discounted the professor might wonder why he'd not tried for a better school.

"Certainly Ali, that's very sweet of you to wait for Gina."

"You rang?" Gina burst into the room once more, this time clutching her book bag the way one would support a frail newborn baby.  She fumbled in the bag, extracted a folder and placed it on the desk, "Here's my report." Gina stammered, out of breath but oddly calm given the situation.  "Do I have enough time left for the exam?"

"Oh dear, you've been through enough today.  Just send me an email or call my office and we can set up a time for you."  Professor Bolidori shot a look at Ali, he was an upstanding young gentleman, he'd know the right thing to do.

"Yes, come with me Gina, let's go have lunch." And Ali ushered his lab partner into the hallway.  Once he believed they were safely out of earshot, he looked to Gina and said "That was just brilliant, why aren't you in the theatre?"

"I was working off fear, I didn't think that friend of yours was going to come through."

"Oliver's my best guy, he's just always late."  Ali said, as if Gina should have known it quite well.  The academically dishonest entrepreneur dropped his classroom mask to the hallway floor.  For his first semester in the business of paper-brokering, he'd done quite well for himself.

"That's something you should tell people before they pay some stranger a couple of hundred dollars for a semester's worth of research papers."  Gina looked her friend and smiled.  "There's this great thing called customer service, you should look in to it."
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