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a story from

Inky Flesh:
Stories Written by the Body

Mark John Isola

Acknowledgments: An author’s work is a collective product, for it takes a village to catch typos and errant wording. The stories in the Inky Flesh series have benefitted from the rigorous reading and editorial support of Dr. Emily Hinnov, Dr. Adrian Gras-Velazquez, Mark Westman, and others. This book would not have been possible without the support of Gregory Ciaglo and Arlene Isola. I am grateful for everyone’s generous efforts.

Higher Education

Inky Flesh: Stories Written by the Body

Copyright © 2017 by Mark John Isola

Smashwords Edition.

All Rights Reserved

This book or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted in any form—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without prior written permission of the publisher, except as provided by United States of America copyright law. Brief quotes are permitted for review, interview, and academic purposes.

Cover Design by Benjamin Seyler and Daniel Lambert

Author photo by Sharona Jacobs


Acknowledgments & Copyright
Higher Education 
About the Author 
Author Acclaim
Welcome to Inky Flesh

Higher Education

“Has anyone heard from Dick?” Tanya looked up, but she could not tell who had asked the question. She decided against making an easy joke as she eyed Serge. She sipped her beer before returning her pint glass to the table with a loud report: “Here we are again, a fag and his hag fattening their livers.”

She laughed aloud as she scanned the men standing and posing around the bar. This was the lesbian’s life as she lived it. She was surrounded by men while out with a gay male friend. Alas, she was used to this. It was easier anyway to focus on Serge’s actual chances than her own improbable ones when it came to meeting another woman, at least tonight in this bar. She confirmed she was being more pragmatic than pessimistic as she once again surveyed the crowd. It was all men. She reminded herself that York Street Café was a boys’ bar; but then again, what else would there be when it came to gay nightlife in New Haven?

“I think we’re more like gay friends. I’m not sure a lesbian can be a fag hag.”

“Words, words, words . . . point’s the same.” Tanya continued to assess the crowd before settling her gaze back on Serge: “You haven’t had a boyfriend in months.”

“I know,” replied Serge as he sipped his beer. 

“And, I haven’t had a girlfriend in years.” 

“That’s because you’re too picky.”

“Not half as picky as these Yalies.” Tanya glared over her beer at the men milling around their table. It was standing room only tonight, which was unusual for this time on a Friday evening. “This place is packed tonight.” 

Tanya observed there were more students in the bar than usual. She could tell from the logos that branded their clothing. She could also tell from other subtle signs, for the expressions of the fresh-faced students, who were confident of bright futures, tended to contrast the workaday weary faces that otherwise populated the bar and the streets of New Haven. These postindustrially pale faces progressively faded beneath the sun-tinted features of these certain young college men, who were apparently out in droves this evening. There were Yalies, for the renowned university sat just blocks away, but there were many more Palies walking the streets of New Haven. For these other people, the college felt like an alternate universe, something akin to a Hollywood film, despite the proximity of the campus to the city streets. While the locals were never quite tuned to the university’s academic calendar, much less the social schedule of the houses and fraternities, they were aware something pinged on those calendars when the bars and restaurants filled like this. 

Tanya lost herself considering the surety of men, much less the easy confidence of these particular young men. One of them, who wore a Yale T-shirt, moved to stand behind her as she converted her observations into words: “They can afford to be picky. They’re young, rich, connected, and they’ll get out of Old Haven someday.”

“They’re cute. I bet they make great boyfriends,” Serge responded as he made unavoidable eye contact with the man standing over Tanya’s shoulder. The young man winked at him.

“Hah, get real! These guys wouldn’t give you the time of day.” Unaware of the one standing behind her, Tanya continued: “Unless, it’s a few minutes late at night in their dorm.”

Uncomfortably uncertain of whether the winking man was responding to Tanya’s comment or if he was just flirting, which felt unlikely, Serge sat speechlessly staring over Tanya’s shoulder.

Displeased her pithiness had not incited a response, Tanya demanded: “What are you looking at?”

“The Yalie behind you winking at me.”

“Wishful thinking!” snorted Tanya. As she raised her pint glass to her lips, the man behind her winked again.

“No, he’s winking.”

The winker responded by closing and opening his eyes several times, prompting Serge to extend his play-by-play commentary: “Now he’s blinking.” Responding further to Serge’s description of his actions, the young man tapped his temple. “And, now he’s thinking.”

Serge’s cheeks burned with a rosy hue, which told Tanya he was not joking. “Oh, hell, I guess it’s time for my twenty-minute trip to the bathroom.” Tanya rolled her eyes as she stood. “But I’m coming back for my beer, so keep your clothes on.” With that, she darted into the crowd.

Sliding into her chair as she walked away, the newcomer commented: “Nice girl, but I was hoping she’d leave at some point.” The stranger smiled directly into Serge’s eyes: “Hello, I’m Adam.”

Serge could not believe what was happening, and he hoped his burning cheeks did not reveal how flustered he felt: “Hi, I’m Serge.”

Adam leaned over the table and pressed his lips to Serge’s before pulling his upper lip between his own. Serge lost himself in the playful-yet-sexy kiss.

Breaking the kiss, Adam reclined. A smile spread across his lips. “Get your cultural anthropologist friend, and we’ll head over to the Gypsy for a drink.”

Serge did not understand. From context, he knew Adam must be referring to a bar, but he had been going out in New Haven for years and had never heard of this bar before. “What’s the Gypsy?”

As he stood to lead the way, Adam explained, “Gryphon’s Pub at G-P-S-C-Y. It’s a graduate student bar on campus. We just call it the Gypsy.”

“Can I get in?”

“No worries; usually, you pay a couple bucks to get in, but my house has a function on, so we won’t have to pay cover. The beer is also cheap.”

Serge stood to follow, but once standing, he hesitated, caught between willingness and worry. Adam urged him onward with another kiss. This time, as his lips touched Serge’s, he winnowed his tongue between them. The kiss was warm and soft, prompting Serge to follow wherever it led.

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