As Ren briskly walks to the teaching room, he can feel himself covered in sweat, which is starting to go unpleasantly cold. The sweat is probably itself highly alcoholic. His hair is soaked. He enters the room to some odd looks, and sits down. ‘I’ve just had a game of squash’, he says, to explain his sweat-soaked state. That was probably a mistake, he thinks. They’ll smell the booze, they’ll see my state, they’ll know I’m lying. I might as well be a wino from the park who’s just wandered in. He attempts a smile to reassure them that all is well. That was also probably unwise. He doesn’t think it came out very well. Probably even worse than one of Robot’s smiles, and it doing it has hurt his head some more.
As he takes the register he surreptitiously sniffs the air to see if he can smell alcohol. He can’t, but what he can smell shocks him. It’s faint, but not as faint as it was in the car. Semen. Sea. Men. He has a horrible realisation. It wasn’t in the car. It’s… on him. Hedley. That limaceous bastard Hedley must die. Horribly. Where is it? It’s hard to tell, but he thinks the smell emanates from above his nose line. His head. His hair. Hedley must have spunked onto his hair. You fucking dirty cunt, Hedley. I’m ruined, he thinks. I’ve walked into my own personal Gallipoli. Dozens of rifles are drawing a bead on me now, about to blow my career, and my life, away.
After the pause brought about by this train of thought, he resumes his attendance check, calling out some more names. He realises why the smell is now less faint than before. Hedley spoofed into his hair, and it dried overnight. But when he ran from the car park his hair got soaked in sweat, and now the dehydrated semen has been reconstituted, the liquid gel regenerated like fruit juice from concentrate. Jesus, has it been recreated in all its thick white odiferous glory? Is it now slowly sliding off his hair, about to fall in mucus-like globs onto the attendance sheet in front of him? He has finished the attendance register, but he’s frozen in place. He desperately wants to run out to the nearest toilet to check himself in the mirror, but he is unable to move or talk. Maybe he should pretend to smooth his hair down with his hand to get rid of it, but he cannot bear the thought that he would bring his hand down to eye level and see it covered in cum.
Get a hold of yourself, he thinks. The semen isn’t going to reconstitute itself back to how it was. Not after all this time. That couldn’t happen, right? It’s all broken down now, surely. Has to be. But there’s still the smell. He prays that the smell (or the booze smell, for that matter) won’t carry far. There are no students sitting in the front two rows, as usual. Normally he’d get some of them to come and sit closer, but not today. Just stay away from the students, and keep them away from you. Would all the girls recognise the smell anyway? Even if they have had experience of the stuff, they may not have the familiarity with it that the boys have. But then they are third-years. So maybe… no, this speculation isn’t helpful. Concentrate on the seminar.
The students in this class are normally chatty, and get on with the discussion without too much prompting, but perhaps sensing something today, they don’t say much. He forces himself to grit his teeth and ignore the pain. It takes a superhuman effort not only to talk, but to stop himself holding his head and squeezing it. When is the fucking codeine going to kick in? He’s trying very hard to get things going, even though in his head he’s really thinking of ways he can kill Hedley at the next conference they’re both at, and gradually the students warm up and eventually the conversation starts to flow. He’s not doing a bad job, but all that’s keeping him going is the expectation that the codeine will kick in any moment now, and the desperate hope that what is coating his hair can’t be seen or smelt. The fact that the students are acting fairly normally gives him hope about his hair.
The class draws to an end, still without any codeine rush. He starts to get nervous. The class has been fine, but in a minute he is going to have to go and examine himself in a mirror, and he’s afraid of what he might see. The students file out. He avoids rushing out, trying to act normal, but what if one of the students wants to come and talk to him? None do, though. That’s good, as long as it’s not because no-one wants to talk to a man with hair covered in penis snot. As soon as he can he leaves the room. He avoids the toilet across the corridor in case any of the students have gone into it. He goes the other way to the students, wandering around the building in search of another male toilet, but is unable to find one. He’s starting to panic because he has to be in another building in a few minutes for the next seminar. Somewhere in this building there must be another male toilet, but a lengthy peregrination is not something he has time for. He’s forced to go back to the toilet outside the teaching room, which should at least be free of any students from his class by now.
He closes the door and looks in the mirror. There’s no visible sign of cum on his hair. Relief floods through him like the codeine should be doing. Perhaps it is the codeine, released now by the disappearance of the tension that was preventing it from working. He looks rough, and his hair looks dishevelled, but nothing too out of the ordinary for a philosopher. His head still throbs, but that no longer seems to matter. He sticks his head under the tap and soaks his hair, and then gives it a quick blast under the hand dryer.
He’s a bit late for the next class, but not so late that it matters. As he takes the register, he feels the codeine wash trickle into his consciousness, and his headache starts to recede. Everything is all right after all. He even starts to see the funny side of Hedley’s behaviour. Silly old bugger. He suppresses a hysterical chuckle. Maybe he won’t kill him after all.