The Student: Part Four

The scene is the same as before. This time Holderman is in his chair rocking gently when a knock comes at the door. Holderman doesn't budge. The knock sounds again but this time it's much louder than before and is followed by several doorbell rings. After the third ring Holderman finally gets out of his chair slowly and lets William in. William is carrying with him two sheets of paper. Holderman motions for him to take his typical seat and William does so without a word being exchanged and sets the paper on the table next to it. Holderman continues to stand over him.

Holderman: Sorry for taking so long answering the door, are you comfortable dear William? It's a warm day out, would you like something to drink perhaps, some juice, a soda? Perhaps a bite to eat?

William: (puzzled) Why… no… I'm fine.

Holderman: Are you certain?

William: (uneasy) Yes, thank you…

Holderman: (backhands William as hard as he can across the jaw and hovers over him staring at him) You lied to me.

William: (shocked) What? Huh? What the hell did you do that for? I never did anything to you? What's going on here? Are you CRAZY!?

Holderman: (sits down calmly) The owner of the club you mentioned yesterday is an old friend of mine, after hearing your tale I gave him a call. He told me that night no one was thrown out of the club for any reason and no one matching your description was even there. He says he even knows of you and would have recognized you. (Angrily) So one of you is lying to me and I know for a fact he has no reason to.

William: (stands up and starts to pace) Alright, Alright, Alright, you got me. Jeez, calm down. I lied. Take it easy. I'm sorry (getting louder). I didn't have the courage to do it, is that what you want to hear? I didn't have the guts to go through with it, I was a damn chicken who couldn't do a simple task! There are you happy? I said it! I never set a foot inside that club, I hate that place anyway. I'm probably not cut out to be a poet and you have no business dealing with me. Is that what you want to hear? To hear that everything I do is crap and nothing you can do can fix it? Because it's the truth. (Throws himself back down in the chair)

Holderman: (Slaps him again) Dammit man calm down! You're overreacting.

William: Well I'm not the one hitting people left and right.

Holderman: Well some people need to get hit. (leans into William as he finishes the sentence)

William: (pauses and thinks) I don't see what you're so mad about, it's just a stupid lie.

Holderman: You're right, lies are a part of life. Everyone tells them, I've told my share and I can safely assume you have told yours. Now I don't care if you lie to your parents, your siblings, your girlfriend, your grandmother, your pets, your teachers, your friends, your enemies or even God himself. You can go out, cheat on your wife, beat your kids, drink like a fish and do drugs until you can't stand and still come in here and not be judged by me. But the minute you lie to me, you've broken the sacred code and have stepped on hollowed ground. (raising voice) You will be honest to me no matter what! You will tell me the truth! Otherwise there is just no hope for your as a human being, much less a poet.

William: I-I-I-I'm sorry, I didn't know how much it meant to you.

Holderman: You knew, but didn't care. Within the confines of this room, THIS ROOM, you will be completely honest. I wanted to guide one of the best poets of the next generation and I got some child who couldn't hold his own spine with both hands. I suppose it's just another one of fate's cruel tricks on me.

William: (hangs head) What do you mean "wanted?"

Holderman: Why should I bother? You can't handle the work obviously, you'll never make it as a poet if you can't live your life and be honest about it.

William: Don't I get another chance? I mean it was just one mistake.

Holderman: Some sins are unpardonable. Lying to another poet is one of them. People rightfully expect honesty in print and they should get it. People like you can't give it. Just because people today live in fantasy worlds doesn't mean that they can't and won't call you on a lack of sincerity on your part. Don't be naïve and think you can lie to the world, you'll get caught William and pay for it dearly.

William: So I guess that's a no.

Holderman: We'll see what fate has in store for you. (reaches over to the nightstand and grabs a deck of cards and begins to shuffle) I'll cut you a deal you can't beat. We'll both draw a card. If I get the higher card, you leave and never return, if you get it, we continue as planned and try to put this behind us. If there is a tie, we draw again. Do you understand?

William: (nods excitedly) If I win you'll teach me?

Holderman: If what you did last night is any good at least. But yes, I will continue. (Shuffles some more and then lets William cut it. William pulls off the top card and starts to raise it to his eye when Holderman grabs his wrist to stop him) There's a catch to this Game William. You don't look at your card, you just show it to me and I tell you what it is. You'll do the same for my card. So now hold it up where only I can see it. (William does so) You have a three dear William, things don't look good for you.

William: But a two or a three for you would…

Holderman: Yes, it would. Either a tie or a win would save you, but be realistic about the odds. (Draws the next card and shows it to William)

William: (looks at it and thinks for a few moments) You have a t-t-t-t-tw… (upset) You have a seven goddammit. You have a seven. (long pause, rocking gently in his seat) I guess I'll be leaving now.

Holderman: (turns the card over and looks at it) So I do. So I do. (William starts toward the door and reaches to open it when Holderman calls out) You don't need to leave William, you have passed my test fine.

William: (confused) Test?

Holderman: Yes, test. This one of the pass/fail variety.

William: (eagerly sits back down) So this whole card game was just a test?

Holderman: Yes, exactly.

William: But how did you know the cards that would be drawn?

Holderman: When I was younger I would frequent Vegas. I knew a blackjack dealer who could stack any deck in any casino he worked. He was kind enough to show me a few tricks.

William: (amazed) But I cut the cards.

Holderman: To exactly where you were supposed to cut them. Besides, it's marked deck, I knew what I had even before I flipped it.

William: So what would have done if I had said two?

Holderman: Physically remove you from my home. That's what.

William: (deep sigh) So now what?

Holderman: Now I think you have learned today's lesson. You will walk away from here wiser than when you came in.

William: (confused) I see, what about the things I did last night.

Holderman: (scratches chin) Leave them where they are, I'll go over them tonight and I shall see you tomorrow. We can discuss them then.

William: Ok, do I have an assignment for tomorrow.

Holderman: (Tosses him the deck of cards) Yes, learn to read the marked cards and a card trick for tomorrow. I'll explain why then. The instructions for the cards are in the box and you can ask about anyone for a card trick.

William: (sits up) Ok… I guess that's it then.

Holderman: For today…

William: Yes… for today.

Holderman: Be back at the usual time tomorrow, I'll be here.

William: Ok, so will I. (Starts to leave)

Holderman: William, one more thing. If your mother asks you where you got those bruises on your face, well, don't be a fool and carry today's lesson too far.

William: (looks over at Holderman) Ok, I won't.

Holderman: Good boy, now go on.

William: (nods and exits)

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1 Response to The Student: Part Four

  1. Daria says:

    "Don't be a fool and take todays lesson to far"

    I for some reason am drawn to that line, other than its funnyness. It is true for any lession… i supose. I still don't understand why I'm drawn to that line but none the less everything Holderman teaches is somthing new for me to think about when writting, though as far as i know i don't have the honesty issues that william does… then again I might.. can't be to sure.

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