Orpheus Looks Back
ORPHEUS LOOKS BACK
U. S. A.
“You’re getting the hell out of here pronto, kiddo.”
This was the message distilled. He took five minutes of verbiage to palliate the
brusqueness. My advisor’s eyes had a humorless petulance. People like me wasted his
time and for a busy scientist that was quite unacceptable. He was tall and unattractive
with grey, short frizzy hair and round granny eyeglasses that reflected the light as he
talked and moved his head. I kept thinking…Yes, yes, I know, I had it coming. Get
done with it. Oh Lizzie, what am I going to do without you?
“I did warn you.”
His blue eyes glowered. Luminous blue eyes wasted on that face.
“Yes, Dr. Schoenwald, you did.”
“Well, good luck, then.”
We shook hands. A sad smile. Not your fault, old man.
I thought, perhaps it’s for the best. I was getting nowhere with Lizzie. I was in
love with her even though Teddy kept telling me she’s a pig. A few days ago, it came
up again when I told him that things at college were hopeless and I would probably
have to leave the States.
“You don't have to leave,” he said. “Get married to an American broad, get an
American passport, and we'll find you a job. What's the problem?”
We were walking towards his car. It was some way off. Cars belonging to
students occupied all the parking places close by. It was like a blow to my head. What
he said. I almost got dizzy. What an intriguing thought.
“Do you think Lisa will have me?”
“For God's sake, Michael. Don't you understand plain English? Lisa's a pig. I
told you that before. She'll probably get involved with some Italian gangster sooner or
later and one day we'll find her with her throat slit.”
You bastard, I thought, you creep. You’re the pig, you son of a bitch. Engaged
to be married with Joan and fooling with Lizzie on the side. Telling her you love her,
you big hypocrite. Lisa was so beautiful. I was in love with her. In love with her voice,
her smile, her laugh, her gestures and expressions. I could not find a fault and tried to
figure why she was a coffee bar waitress and not a Hollywood star, a model or a
receptionist at some swanky hotel. Even, since she was a pig, a super high-class call
Teddy was a distant cousin and as soon as I arrived in Boston from Egypt for
university studies, he took me under his wing. His friendship, my loneliness and
inexperience of university demands were the reason why my studies went to hell. He
distracted me ever so pleasantly passing by in the evenings to take me for drives with
both Joan and Lisa. Separately, of course.
Lisa was of Italian stock, about Ted’s age, that is a few years older than I was,
and because she was so exceptionally beautiful, I asked him, that first time, if he was