new exercises. She had come to Hawkins for help. Henhelped her into bed.nThis night, after the usual frenzy, he lay awake while shendozed. Her giant, tail-less Manx cat sat on the nearby chestnof drawers and stared at him. He looked as big as a bobcat.nStaring. The hard eyes made Hawkins feel like the strangernhe was in this bedroom. He finally dozed for a few minutes,nonly to be awakened by the cat when it lunged on the bednand began pawing Hawkins’ foot under the sheet. He kickednthe cat off the bed and hurriedly put on his clothes, as henexplained to the startled therapist that he needed to getnhome.nHawkins remained quiet for a moment andnthen a shudder passed through him. Hisnwhole countenance changed, as the skinndrew tightly across his facial bones, and thenperspiration broke out on his forehead.nThree days later he came down with rheumatoid gonorrhea.nHis knees and elbows had swelled and he began to feelnnot very upwardly mobile. While he was undergoingntreatment, he couldn’t drink, and he found himself loadingnup with ice cream at the nearby Baskin-Robbins. This lednhim to much solitary introspection. It was while browsingnthrough the Praline-Pecan, the Mocha Chocolate, and thenParadise Pineapple that he ran into a quiet, brown-eyednwoman who also lived in his complex. She lacked thenglamorous look that would have made her a target ofnHawkins.- Now, given the judgment that had fallen uponnhim, given his dark remorse, he was not feeling so glamorousnhimself Thus began his relationship with Monica.nSince sex was out of the question, Hawkins began for thenfirst time to talk to a woman with no intention of seducingnher. In the evenings after his classes at the medical school henwould stroll over to her apartment, where she usually busiednherself cooking an evening meal. By then she had slippednout of her secretary clothes and into jeans, looking like thenEast Texas farm girl she was. Her parents had urged her tonlearn typing, believing it would end up being worth morenthan the high school diploma, so maybe she wouldn’t havento stay on the farm. Frankly, she liked the farm, but hernfather felt this was a step up.nFor Hawkins, who had grown up in Chicago, Monica wasnas exotic as a Guatemalan Indian. He kidded her ways andnspeech as she fixed them field peas and cornbread and on anweekend even her version of East Texas barbeque. The peasnhad come from her father’s garden. Hawkins would do hisnversion of a hick farmer and Monica would smile and keepnon cooking. It came to him that the plainness of the foodnand even the unadorned healthiness of Monica were justnwhat drew him, what kept him there. She had a strong bodynand good legs which were more apparent when she was innher jeans. Around her small waist she wore a western beltnwith a large silver buckle. She carried herself with a vitalitynthat was self-restrained, bounded. He carried the painfuln24/CHRONICLESnnnreminder of the women who hung out in all the clubs full ofndesigner plants and designer pants. A darkness had, in fact,nmoved in even before the gonorrhea. He was not sure of thencause . . . maybe it was just leaving his wife. When he hadnfound no one else who seemed to suit him, he fell into anstate of drift. He drifted among a woman with a cat, anwoman with a membership in a tennis club, and a medicalnstudent trying to improve her grade.nLate one evening as he sat at poolside, his feet danglingnin the water, he heard, “OK, Hawkins, what’s this storynI hear you’re hustiing a Christer. I knew you were kinky, butnthis sounds like reverse kinky.”nHis wise-cracking friend Barolo backstroked down thenpool to where he sat. Barolo had had the typical reaction tonHawkins’ misfortune with the gonorrhea. He had laughed.nHawkins was irritated by this, but guessed he would havendone the same, though if someone caught the flu nobodynlaughed in his face. He remembered that in the Armyneveryone howled when someone got the clap. Somenapplause! A scholar draftee volunteered that the wordn”clap” came from Old French, from brothel and venerealnsore. Nowadays it looked like the whole city was a brothel.nBarolo heaved himself from the pool and as he sat next tonHawkins the water streamed down through the hair of hisnchest and legs. “So what’s this taking up with a fanatic?” hencackled.n”I don’t have anything else to do. Besides, she’s a nicengiri. She plays the organ at church. When’s the last time younwent out with a nice girl?”n”Ha. You’ll see to her corruption. Wait’ll the churchnelders get on to you. They’ll see you in the stocks and lashedntill you bleed.”n”I met some of them once. They’re not so bad. Most ofnthem are insurance salesmen or real estate brokers.”n”Right. A good place to make business contacts. So . . .nyou’ve even been hanging out at church.”nJust then the resident manager dimmed the lights in thenPleasure Dome. It was eleven o’clock. In the false twilightnthey continued to talk.n”Yeah, I’ve been visiting the natives. Monica invited mento go and I don’t mind. It’s like doing anthropology in somenexotic place.”n”Watch out you don’t go native. It’s happened to somenanthropologists. They start out with a kind oi noblesse obligenand before you know it they’ve married the chief’s daughternor shaman’s son and they’re there for the duration. They’renas misguided as Rousseau, that oaf”nHawkins knew he could expect an edge on anythingnBarolo might say about Christians. For Barolo had been one.nBorn one, raised one. Then he turned away. Not forty-fivendegrees,, but one hundred and eighty. Hawkins had nothingnin his experience that was much like that. He grew upnbelieving in baseball. His father had died when Hawkins wasnstill in junior high and he had gone to church with hisnmother for the funeral. He had been into another churchnwhen he had gotten married. That was his wife’s idea. Shendidn’t go to church either, but she couldn’t have all thenshow, the bridesmaids, the reception — a real feed after thenceremony with caviar, champagne, and the works — withoutndoing the whole thing. It was like getting in costume for an