To this day we don't know how he did it. Class starts at 7am, sharp -- look around, yes, everyone is here. Everyone. We come here three days a week, thirty-seven fresh-faced undergraduates crammed like overeducated sardines into an ancient, dusty room. Gray-green chalkboards line the walls, each one half hidden under a creamy linen sheet. Every morning the professor unlocks the door at exactly five till seven and we file into the room, piling homework papers onto the corner of a big roll-top desk at the front of the room. This is Dr. Cline's Honors' Logic -- sleepy freshmen crushed under the stifling weight of bad notation and a broken air conditioner.
If everything goes according to plan we will spend the next ninety-seven minutes struggling to stay awake while arcane Greek symbols are hurled metaphorically above our heads. As the good professor hits his stride, I lean forward in my chair, seeking momentary awakeness via a feverish eye rub. This is a mistake; I suspect the university furnished this room with my grandfather's GI bill-paid tuition. I am, of course, a spectacle -- half the class turns to stare at me, their distracted glares somewhat diminished for having passed through the nebula of chalk-dust which eddies merrily on a dead breeze.
In the front row, Justin raises his hand. All is not going according to plan. Slowly, stubbornly, we crawl towards wakefulness as our fearless peer inveigles the professor with a question. One question turns into three. Three turns into a debate. Argument begets adrenaline; our very lives are on the line. Assertions are made, hedged, and surrendered like so many hallowed French beaches. Despite this, the collective classroom has zero clue regarding the debate unfolding before us -- it is as if we have been sundered into separate houses, one for commons, one for lords.
Dr. Cline is at the board, chalk in hand, writing furiously in a script which ceased to be legible even before it ceased to be English. A rolling opera is being played out; the lyrics are in Latin, but the visuals are straight manga. Proof completed, he turns a steely eye on our fearless leader. Mere mortals cannot but quail under such onslaught, but Justin treads the foothills of Mt. Olympus with unmatched equipoise. The eyes of the class flick back and forth, from one to the other and back again, waiting for a rebuttal. It is not long in coming; Justin walks to the front of the room and, in one seamless motion, inscribes a single '9' on the board. Expectantly, he looks at Dr. Cline.