She was a handsome woman, Raylene Thomason, notnwhat you’d call beautiful, but with Cherokee blood thatngave her a broad pleasant face with a clean jawline andnsteady dark eyes. She took her looks so much for grantednthat it seemed she paid no attention, and maybe she didn’t.nHer appearance was useful for getting men interested in her,nthough she was not a flirt or a tease. But she was curiousnabout men because she simply could not make them out.nThey were helplessly attracted, always putting moves onnher — well, okay, that’s how men are—but when she tooknup with a man and tried to make him happy, it was only anweek or two before he began treating her shabbily, lying andnsneaking and cheating. Now why was that?nShe was taking a continuing education philosophy classnTuesday nights at Sugdon College and the demeanor of thenaffable fuzzy young instructor had gained her confidence,nthough she hardly knew him. After class one night -innOctober she had waited patiently to speak until the othernstudents departed and then had told him quietly: “I’m goingnout tomorrow night.”n”Going out?” he asked.n”Yeah,” she said, and her gaze turned inward and shennodded in agreement with some thought that RodneynHegen knew he would never hear. Then she hitched hernFred Chappell is a professor of English at the Universitynof North Carolina in Greensboro. His most recent novelnis I Am One of You Forever.n22/CHRONICLESnAlien Worldsnby Fred Chappellnnnbooks against her chest and walked out of the classroom,nmarching away as steady as a soldier.nAnd because he was an unworldly fellow or maybenbecause he had come recently to east Tennessee fromnAlbany, New York, and didn’t understand local custom andnidiom, he could not at first figure out what in the worldnRaylene was talking about. Rodney knew the ideas of wisenmen as they are revealed in books, but he was lessnacquainted with emohonal impulse, and he and east Tennesseenwere nearly strangers to one another.nAsking among his amused colleagues, Rodney discoverednthat for Raylene “going out” would mean cruising thencasual streets of Sugdon in her shiny black Dodge pickupntruck and inspecting the parking lots of a couple ofnhamburger drive-ins and finally settling down for a beer butnnot more than two at a joint called Happy Rabbit. She wasntaking revenge on her boyfriend for her hurt feelings and ifnthere was a man who struck her fancy and showed somenhumor and halfway decent manners, well then, she mightnconsole herself a little while in the night. Probably shenwouldn’t. But she might and if she did she wouldn’t feelnguilty about it, not in the least, because Frank had no right tontreat her the way he did. Who made him the Emperor ofnWomen anyhow? ,nSo then the question remaining with Rodney was whethernRaylene had extended an invitation. Was he supposed tongo out tomorrow night in his dinky yellow Toyota and prowlnup and down the avenues in hope of accidentally encounter-n