How to Deal with Hysteria

“How are you today?” Suzy asked Billy. 

“I’m good,” replied the jovial Billy as his hands were full of Twinkies from the local gas station. 

“Good to hear, Billy,” Suzy then said. “Would you want to go on a date with me this weekend?”

Billy was surprised by Suzy’s question. They were only friends before this moment. Now, they were on the path toward a different future. 

“Can I think about it?” asked Billy, and as soon as he asked, Suzy’s face, and her heart, sank. 

“There’s nothing to think about. It’s either yes or no.” 

“Then no,” Billy deadpanned. 

“No? No? What do you mean no? I’m Suzy Johnson, the most popular girl at this university. How dare you reject my advances, you stubborn buffoon?”

“Listen, Suzy, it’s nothing personal.”

“Nothing personal? I’m going to tell the whole campus you don’t wash your hands after you use the bathroom.”

“Why?”

“Don’t ask questions! Either you go out with me, or I’m going to spread so many rumors about you!” 

Billy took a step away from Suzy. She was emitting too much heat, more than the pot when the kettle calls it black.

Suzy crossed her arms and then Billy smiled. 

“Have a nice day, Suzy,” Billy said, then walked away. 

A flurry of choice words followed him, but he didn’t care. Life was too good to deal with the negativity of a scorned female. 

Billy arrived in class a few minutes later and sat down at his seat, the one that always faced Mr. Ford’s right cheek whenever he became entangled in a battle with his computer. 

“Why won’t this stupid thing just do what I tell it to do?” Mr. Ford scoffed halfway in to that day’s lecture. 

Mr. Ford then dropped to one knee and began toiling with some cords below his computer. 

“I’m going to need…” the professor softly muttered to himself before his voice became inaudible. 

Billy looked to his left and saw a small contingent of undergrads giggling. He turned away and whipped out his phone, hoping to find solace in his fantasy football team, but instead he received a text from Suzy. 

“I’m going to ruin you,” Suzy’s message read. 

“You need to chill,” Billy replied, then closed his messaging app. 

He couldn’t even change his fantasy football team’s roster before Suzy sent him another message. 

“You’re a disgrace to the male anatomy.”

Billy didn’t understand Suzy’s hostility. She clearly was deranged, and it all stemmed from him not accepting a romantic evening with her. 

In truth, Billy just didn’t want to have a girlfriend, especially one like Suzy who already was a handful. 

Billy’s phone vibrated as Mr. Ford yammered into the phone placed on the wall. “Yes, I need a technician down here right away.” 

Billy opened the new text message, then was interrupted by Mr. Ford’s boisterous chirping into the phone. “Gosh, you know, if I tried switching it off and then turning it back on, do you really think I’d have called you?” Mr. Ford said, his words a surefire way to make whomever was on the receiving end of his frustration hate their job. 

Another text message then stumbled into Billy’s inbox. 

“Bro, Suzy told me you’re lacking,” read the new message from a guy named Chris. 

“I’m lacking?” Billy wrote. 

“Yeah. You’re not a man.” 

“What are you even talking about?” Billy asked, but five minutes later, he still had not gotten an answer. 

Eventually a grad student with horn-rimmed glasses and a dragon tattoo on his shin walked into Mr. Ford’s classroom. 

“I’ve been waiting for ten minutes,” Mr. Ford said, in a tone that clearly was meant to lambast the grad student. 

“I was told you have a computer problem,” replied the student. 

“I also have a problem with all the technology in this school,” Mr. Ford cackled, but the entire room knew he was more bark than bite, especially if the rumors about his involvement with attractive, academically-fledgling female undergrads were true. 

“You know what, Mr. Ford?” the grad student began. “Fix your own computer. I’ve been in here three times in the past two weeks and each time you’ve been rude.” 

“What’s your name?” Mr. Ford asked the student, even though it was clear to everyone that the student was wearing a name tag. 

Without answering, the student left, and two minutes later, following the conclusion of the class, so did everyone else. 

Billy walked over to his apartment to snag a bag of Dorito’s and a banana before then making his way to Storm Hall to get a 30-minute run in on the treadmill. 

Suzy had by then left five more unflattering messages in Billy’s inbox, but there was nothing he could do. 

The court of public opinion wouldn’t care that this sorority girl was casting more shade than the tall oak tree in front of the cafeteria. 

“I’m going to end you,” Suzy had written. 

“Leave me alone, or I’m blocking your number,” Billy said. 

“I already told everyone what happened.” 

Billy sneered as he got back to his dorm and plopped on his futon. “Cool,” he told Suzy, even though he didn’t know what event she was talking about.

An hour later, after throwing a frozen pizza in the oven, there was a knock at Billy’s door. 

“Joe, is that you?” Billy asked. 

No answer. 

Billy, in no mood for theatrics, stood up from the futon and opened the door, but there was no one on the other side. 

“Jesus Christ,” Billy murmured to himself. 

He closed the door and then went back to loafing on the futon before another knock came from the door. This time, Billy waited ten seconds, and then another knock ensued.

“Who is it?” Billy asked. 

“Open this door,” demanded a voice that Billy soon recognized to be Suzy’s. 

“What do you want?” Billy asked. 

“To talk.”

“About what?” 

“Will you just open this stupid door?” Suzy yelled, the volume in her voice suggesting an urgency that Billy would be wise to address. 

Billy once again rolled off the futon and stumbled toward the door. He turned the knob and cracked the wooden door, at which point Suzy burst through before beginning a discourse that was so full of wanton remarks, Billy nearly lost his composure. 

“Thank you for informing me that you let all my friends know I am lacking in the southern area of masculinity, but what do you want me to say now? I’ve already told you we’re not going on a date, and I stand by those words.” 

Suzy paced around the room and then opened Billy’s mini-fridge. 

“Why is there no beer in here?” she sharply asked. 

“I don’t drink beer.” 

“And you don’t know a good thing when you have one.”

“I would hardly qualify your incessant bombardment of vitriol as a good thing,” Billy retorted. “Nor would I say that you telling everyone about my genitalia is something I need in my life.”

“Those are necessary evils, Billy.” 

Billy grabbed his keys and prepared to leave his apartment. 

“Where do you think you’re going?” Suzy asked. 

“Out, away from you,” Billy said. 

“No, you’re not.”

“Yes, I am.” 

“If you leave,” Suzy began, “I’m going to trash your entire apartment.”

“Classy.” 

Suzy then threw her purse at Billy. “You know, you can’t go through life doing whatever you want. It doesn’t work like that.” 

Billy ignored her unsolicited advice and proceeded toward the door while softly kicking Suzy’s purse out of the way.

“That’s a $3,000 Gucci purse. Don’t put your clearance-rack shoes on my purse,” yelled the now hysterical Suzy. 

Again Billy refused to verbally engage with the clearly defeated Suzy. 

“Fine, leave. I’m still going to destroy your apartment,” Suzy guaranteed. 

Billy then took out his phone and pressed a few buttons. 

“What are you doing?” Suzy asked. 

“Something you probably won’t like,” Billy admitted. 

“Which is?”

“I’ve been recording our entire conversation from the moment you walked in here, and I just sent the recording to all my email addresses. I’m going to report this to the police, and to administration, so if anything is missing from my apartment, or destroyed, I think I’ll have a pretty good case against you.”

Suzy bolted toward Billy, coming to a halt just in front of him. She reached out to grab his arm but Billy pushed it aside and walked out. As soon as he shut the door, he could hear sobs emitting from inside his apartment. 

Suzy was broken, but the reason as to why would not be discovered until much later.   

**

Interested in reading Quentin Super’s debut novel, The Long Road North?

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