Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kate and Jake

Kate watched as Jake slammed the Frisbee home to Fred. They looked identical, even though one hailed from Missoula and the other from Long Island. Fred caught it with ease, leaping like a gazelle, his Phish t-shirt baring his toned midriff. Fred slid the Frisbee from his fingers and sent it flying towards Jake, where it caught him squarely in the face.

She almost laughed. She felt they were both wasted but, unfortunately, she was going to need Jake’s help. Erik Jackson and his minions were trying to shut down the Women’s Health Collective and Kate had puzzled out all other possible solutions. So, it had come down to this. Tool or not, she was going to have to beg, borrow, or steal Jake’s help. He was the most connected (and loud) activist on campus.

“Ow! Shit!” Jake squatted down to retrieve the Frisbee and rubbed his sore nose. Nope, it hurt, but it didn’t feel broken. He should’ve been paying much better attention, but he’d been distracted by Kate.

Kate was a pain in his ass, and now she was coming his way.

“Are you hurt?” She kneeled next to him and touched his nose, probing, the way a doctor-in-training might. Which made sense, given that she was a doctor-in-training, which anyone who talked to Kate for thirty seconds would learn immediately. This was just one of the many things that made Kate a pain in Jake’s ass.

“No, I’m cool.” And why the hell would she care, all of a sudden? Kate had made it perfectly clear in the past that he was a total tool and not worth her attention. He stood. Kate stood with him and cocked her head to one side. Damn, she was cute that way. Hell, she was cute any way. She was just a bitch. And she drove an SUV. And probably smoked cigarettes.

“Hey, I thought you should know that Erik and his crew are trying to shut down the Women’s Health Collective.” She turned and walked away, her lush, black hair swinging behind her like a horse’s mane.

Jake ran up beside her and grabbed her arm.

“Whoa! Dude! What’s up with that?” They both stopped and faced each other, ignoring Fred’s calls to Jake to return to their game.

Kate bit the edge of her nail. Jake remembered that she used to do this at the table when they were freshman and all living together in the dorm. Kinda gross, but kinda cute, too. Especially when you weren’t eating.

Kate looked up at him, long lashes rimming her amber eyes. “Okay, so Erik Jackson is complaining to the Administration that we might ‘contaminate’ the Student Activities Building with the germs of the women whom we treat.” Her brow darkened. “Like the folks in the Cigar Club don’t contaminate the air we breathe there?”

“Dude! You don’t smoke?” Jake realized it sounded lame, but he was so surprised, it just kinda slipped out.

“No! Ick! Where’d you get that idea?” Kate paused for a second and then pushed on, “That’s besides the point. Anyway, what’s really going on is that Mr. Power Junky wants an office all to himself, and a lounge for the Student Government, and a conference room, and he figures he can get that space from us because we’re an ‘elitist’ group, because men aren’t allowed treatment, and he feels he can play that angle on the Administration.”

“Wow! That sucks! And your work is way too important to let something like that happen.” Jake felt the injustice of it all. In fact, this is what he felt for most things in U.S. society, and he’d spent most of his time in college trying to fight all the fronts he felt were wrong. And there were a lot of them. The Women’s Health Collective provided care and counseling to women from both the U. and not - to folks who might not be able to afford it otherwise. Jake just couldn’t let the Collective down.

“So,” Kate was still nibbling on that cuticle and tapping her foot, like she always did, java demon that she was, “d’you know some folks who might wanna help us with this?” She needed to chill on the caffeine, but Jake drowned in those liquid eyes anyway. And even if the cause hadn’t been important, those eyes might have sealed the deal for his help.

“Shit, yeah!” Jake was rocking from side to side, as he tended to do when his sense of injustice was taking hold. “There’re some dudes I work with at the Food Co-op who would jump on this. And some of the folks from my “Politics in the New Millenium” class might help. At least the good folks. Not the Republicans, obviously.”

“Hey! I’m a Republican, and I’m ‘good’.” Kate remembered yet another of the many reasons she didn’t like Jake Harrelson. This was certainly a deal with the devil, but not as much of a devil as her ex, Erik, had turned out to be.

“Yeah, yeah, don’t remind me.” Jake closed his eyes as if to banish the thought, and her image, from his head. “Look,” he said, opening his eyes and trying to give her a hard stare, which was really, really hard because whenever he was around Kate his head said one thing and er, other parts of his body spoke a totally different language, “Look, I’m only helping with this because there are women who need that Collective. I’m not helping,” here he paused, and took a deep breath, “you.”

“Fine!” Kate couldn’t believe she’d even stooped to ask Jake Harrelson for help, he was such a slacker, but he was the connection on campus to all things protest. She stood back and sneered at him, taking in his torn Umphrey McGee t-shirt, filthy jeans, and the fuzz on his chin that she figured he thought was sexy. Ewww to the nth degree.

“Fine! I’m going back to Frisbee now. I’ll find you on Facebook when I’ve hooked up with the others.” Jake turned on what was left of his tennis shoes and slouched back to Fred.

Kate continued to the edge of the path across the main campus and found her Explorer in the parking lot. She drove to her favorite martini bar and met up with some fellow med students. As she slowly got buzzed, she plotted her next move.


Jen of a2eatwrite wrote this, based on these ideas from Thalia's Child of Musings from a Muse:

Story idea: 2 university students from very different ends of the political spectrum are constantly butting heads until they (and their collective clubs/organizations) find they have to unite against a common 'enemy'

Three Characters:
Jake is an activist and ardent environmentalist. He's a fixture on the campus green, always playing frisbee or hackey sack. He seems to see University as a long-term experience, bouncing from major to major without actually finishing a degree.

Kate is busy focusing on med school. She's helping a Women's Collective and other than this she's quite conservative. She lives on caffeine when working and martinis when playing and she drives an SUV. She loathes Jake on principal, as he reminds her of her parents, who she considers to be flaky, old school Hippies.

Erik Jackson is the student society president with one ambition in life: political power.

The Conflict: Erik wants to shut down the Women's Collective. He has the support of the university Administration.


Thalia's Child said...

Oooh! I love it!

cablegirl said...

Wow, this story could really be expanded. The possibilities on this are nearly endless. As a first glimpse of a much larger conflict this is a great effort. :)

anno said...

What fun! I love the dynamic here, and I especially like the Kate & Jake effect. Any plans to enlarge this? After the mystery novel, of course!

Luisa Perkins said...

Ni-i-i-i-ce chemistry and tension! I could definitely see you doing something more with these really vivid characters. LOVE it!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I agree...this could be expanded. Very nice. Wasn't sure where this was headed. Love the dynamic between Kate and Jake.

I really enjoyed reading your story Jen.

darcy said...

It's been too long since I read any of your stuff. I know you weren't 100% happy with your result but I think you should cut yourself some slack. This is a bigger story than two weeks and a short space on a blog can tell.
FWIW, I thought you captured the character of these two perfectly and I really enjoyed the interplay between them. Nice work!

Wholly Burble said...

Ah the stuff romance is made of--opposites attract and they get so huffy about it LOL!

Nice weaving in of those little details that make these two come to life for us. Jake and his "other parts", Kate, her "agenda" and evidently her other parts too--what drama and all between frisbee throws.

There's great potential here for a longer romance story--you even have laid the foundation for political intrigue or university/political graft--good job!

painted maypole said...


Leslie said...

Jen, your writing is just so fluid and smooth. What a pro! I loved this story.

Charity said...

Oh, yeah, I'm right there, waiting to the turn the page. This was great! Maybe one of these days, I'll take the leap and play the writing game.

Or not.

Karen Olson said...

This is good,although the switch of POV threw me for a second. Are you going to keep going with it? Fascinating characters.

Thalia's Child said...

I came back to read it again, and I still love it, and still think you should expand it into something longer.