Jeremy walked deliberately past the concrete buildings of the Campus. Students made their way to classes and chatted oblivious to the atom bomb in their midst. He felt like he could kill anyone that got in his way. Like a guided missile, getting to John had become his sole thought. He hadn’t spent much time on the University grounds he traveled through. Occasionally he had come to do some laps in the Campus pool or surf at the nearby beach. Somehow he knew intuitively where he was headed. He crossed the school grounds almost diagonally cutting across the grid-like layout in a bee-line for his destination. He had no building name or room number to direct him but navigated by identifying the groupies. They were easy to spot among the undergrads and they were all headed in the same direction. John taught self-help seminars associated with his book franchise. He’d made a fortune on telling people how to be successful. He had a whole library of titles that addressed each possible group of people who might somehow have a handicap in achieving it. That was his niche. Stories of those who overcame their particular difficulty filled the paperback books but all had John’s smiling silver haired visage on its cover. John was listed as the author but in fact all he’d done is collect the stories, package and market them. He gave high-priced seminars on how to be like him. Today he was giving one such seminar and all the followers who could muster the expensive ante had come to learn from their Guru.
Jeremy began walking past them hate filling him more and more with each step through the gathering congregation. “Oh my God!” he suddenly heard off to his left. He turned to see Ina collapsing against a nearby tree. She seemed now pathetic to him. Pale, limp and weak. Just another gullible sheep. “Wha, what are you doing here?” she sobbed as she grabbed him by the arm.”Your storm is here.” Jeremy said shaking her off roughly. She collapsed again crying and a small group of followers gathered around her. Jeremy could hear the buzz of questions behind him as he now began weaving through the denser crowd. Someone stepped out in front of him. A trim late 30’s blonde woman with striking blue eyes and very groomed shoulder length hair. “Jeremy!” she said. “What are you doing here?” she asked. “Tami” Jeremy said to himself now jarred out of his trance. “I’m here for John.” “Oh my God.” Tami said her eyes widening. She drew in an audible breath. Patti was John’s VP and personal assistant. She knew EVERYTHING about John’s day to day schedule and Jeremy felt sure he knew about Ina. Jeremy began to feel maybe they ALL did. All of them were in on the big joke. “You’d better get him Tami or I will.” Jeremy said with his jaw clenched. Tami looked at him with frightened eyes for a beat “Ok Jeremy, please wait here.” she said motioning as if to keep him in place. She backed away at first then turned on her heels and walked quickly away from him. “That fucking asshole.” Jeremy said again to himself as he watched her go. “He doesn’t deserve any warning. I certainly didn’t get one.” Jeremy began to pace like a caged animal. He could feel the crowd beginning to coalesce around him. The buzz of their conversation seeming to close in around him like a tightening noose. Just when he felt he would have to lash out to keep the group back John appeared in front of him. “Jer!” He said with his hands held open at his sides as if to say, “I’m unarmed.”
“You Fuck!” Jeremy blurted as he swung with his right arm. It had been years since he’d thrown a punch and this one only glanced off John’s chin. John leapt backward partially stumbling into a squatting position as Jeremy moved forward anxious to connect more solidly. John pivoted on one hand turning around more nimbly than Jeremy would have thought possible and began running. The crowd closed in and Jeremy became aware of hands grabbing at his arms and his shirt. He swung his arms wildly breaking free enough to give chase. “Call the police!” he heard a woman yell. “Get him!” he heard a man say. Jeremy ran steps in front of a group chasing him as he followed John on the lawn in front of a three story cement structure surrounded by pine trees. John wove through the trees trying to shake Jeremy slipping and losing his footing on one turn. Jeremy almost had him but a man grabbed Jeremy and slowed him enough for John to scramble back to his feet and begin running again. The man was short, stout and bald with a reddish beard. Jeremy shoved him in the chest dislodging himself and continued his pursuit once again with the rest of the group hot on his heels. The whole thing began to resemble a Charlie Chaplin chase and had become far more of an absurd spectacle than Jeremy would have wished. He had imagined instant death from one fatal blow, instead he’d created a comical Keystone Cops routine.
Mercifully the Campus Police pulled up lights flashing and siren going just as Jeremy, John and the crowd were all losing steam. They pushed through the group and took hold of both men. Jeremy was quickly identified as the assailant by the crowd and lead away. Jeremy’s resolve had evaporated. He felt worse than ever. Weak and ineffective, he couldn’t even punch his wife’s lover properly. What a failure. A large blond cop with military cut and blue police uniform cuffed Jeremy and put him in the back of the Campus Police car. Jeremy watched as the police spoke with a few people and took notes with small note pads and pencils. Many of the people stared at Jeremy through the car window as if he were some sort of dangerous beast. Maybe he was. He didn’t even know himself. He began to wonder how he had gotten here. It was as if he weren’t present for the last 30 minutes and someone else had been in charge of his actions.