The side of his face was bandaged. I tried not to look. When he took the bandage off I saw the burn underneath. It was red and pinkish. He had smooth skin. He was beautiful. I wondered if it was going to leave a scar.

He lay on his bed. The school nurse fussed around him. She looked at our piles of dirty laundry on the floor. That’s not hygienic, she said. Women were not allowed in the men’s dorms. It felt strange to have her in the room. She changed the bandage, applied ointment. Oh, why did you do this to yourself, Edmund? she said. Oh why? His mother was flying in the next day to bring him back to Michigan. I was sitting at my desk trying to work through Ptolemy. The prefect had asked me to keep an eye on him. Are you in pain? she said. How does it feel now? Oh poor boy, why did you do this? He was staring at the ceiling. When she left he said quietly, Bitch.

We went to Santa Barbara. It was Easter Monday. It was his request. We walked on State Street. We got burgers. We went to the bookstore. He picked up Nietzsche. God is dead, he said. He put the book down the front of his pants. What are you doing? I said. What does it look like?  he said. I’m fucking this book. I’m fucking Nietzsche. I won’t be around to read him so at least I get to fuck him. We left and no one stopped us. I’d never stolen anything before. I was an accomplice, implicated in his crime. I would need to go to confession. It’s Barnes and Noble, he said. Fuck them. Greedy corporate bastards. It’s still not right, I said. You’re right, he said. I wasn’t thinking. I don’t think sometimes. He put his hands on my shoulders and looked at me. I respect the shit out of you, he said. He gave the book to a man sitting on the sidewalk and strumming a guitar. Are you a philosopher? he said. Let Nietzsche be your lover. We tried to get into a bar. We didn’t have fake IDs. I’m dying, he said to the bouncer. My face is being eaten by cancer. I just want one last drink with my friend before I die. Get the fuck out of here, the bouncer said. Merry Christmas, he said.

He was in love with a girl named Celine. She was one of twelve children. She was very pious. She prayed the rosary every night. He’d go and sit behind her. He never talked to her. Celine cut hair. I suggested he ask her to cut his. He said no, it would be too difficult to be that close. Cutting hair is an intimate thing, he said. Very intimate. He got drunk one evening. He wandered back on campus and asked her to play pool. After she beat him, he pulled out a knife. Look at this, he said. Someone put this in my mailbox. Isn’t that strange? The prefect told me this. He was in the Assistant Dean’s office talking to Edmund. You can’t pull a knife on a girl, the prefect said to Edmund. She’ll take it the wrong way.
    What way? he said.
    She thought you were threatening her.
    Threatening her? I was just showing her the knife. Someone put it in my mailbox. I thought it was funny that someone put it in my mailbox.   
    Well, you can’t do that.
    The Assistant Dean had said nothing. He was called the Silent Baby-Faced Killer. If you pull any more pranks like this, he said, you’ll be expelled.

We went up to the Painter’s Cabin on the hill overlooking the school. Edmund had managed to get a six pack of beer. What are you going to do? I said. I’m going to Canada, he said. I’m going to hunt polar bears. I’m going to get rich. I’ll buy this fucking school and burn it to the ground.
    He was kidding, I knew. I had gotten used to his sense of humor.
    Did Celine go home for the break? he said.
    I screwed things up, he said. I really fucked up. It’s over. It’s all over. I’m going to be a monk. I’ll be a monk in St. Petersburg. I hate the cold. I’ll punish myself. I haven’t suffered enough. I’ll suffer more and then I’ll be pure.