One Semester.

Date 10 June 2016.
Author Palantir
Subject One Semester.

The author retains copyright (2016) to this story. Reproducing this story for distribution without the author's permission is a violation of that copyright.
This story is fiction.

Thank you Nifty for the opportunity to post this story.


Joel surveyed the room with great interest. As he understood it, this was the group of people he'd be working with for the rest of the year. According to Peter, more than half would probably drop out by the start of second semester. Well, the room was sure crowded. He counted twenty-eight people, with one spare computer next to his and another at the very front of the room.
Hmm, quite a few older people, Mature Age Students they were called, one of them even had white hair.
There was a posh looking lady too.
On the opposite side of his table there were five guys who must be friends. They were laughing a lot and talking about a party they'd been to on the weekend. They all had dyed hair and the one with the blue fringe almost hanging over his eyes had a sparkling silver stud piercing his bottom lip.
Whoops! Joel gave a quick nod and opened his folder when their eyes made contact. He didn't want the guy to think he was staring.
The door opened and all eyes focused on the short, dumpy man who walked to the front table. He introduced himself as Ken Parker, took a sheet of paper from his briefcase and made a roll call. The blue haired guy was called Sam. At the end of the roll call the lecturer asked about two missing people, explained that it was a legal requirement to make the roll call every day, and that at least 75% attendance was required to pass any subject.
There was a hold-up of nearly ten minutes while everyone logged themselves into the system. Joel was surprised that some of them hadn't done this before but they all had some reason or other. Sam was the biggest trouble and had to be given a temporary password because the system didn't recognise him.
After a run through the subject requirements, the lecturer spent an hour on flowcharts and logical decisions then set a group task.

"Work in pairs please. There's half an hour allowed but if you need extra time that's okay. Sign your names on the task sheet and hand it in before you leave."

Joel turned to the girl beside him but she was turned herself and already asking the girl on her other side.

"Hey, want a partner?"

"Um. ...for sure."

In a moment Sam was next to him.

"I hope you know this stuff?"

"It looks okay."

In fact it looked easy. Joel didn't like flowcharts much but he'd never had any trouble with them back at Wycheproof. He didn't now.
He could have finished in half the allotted time but Sam needed more explanation on several of the questions.
After a break they were back in the same room for Business Principles and Personal Presentation. The lecturer was a really friendly lady and Joel liked her straight away. Once again there was logging in and course outline. There was a presentation about types of business, public and private, partnerships and single owners, and the second half of the time was about ways to present yourself. The exercise was with PowerPoint and because Joel had never really used it he ended up getting a great deal of help from Sam.

"What are you doing for the break?"


"How about a burrito? There's a new place just opened and they're meant to be unreal."

Joel was surprised. He presumed Sam would be hanging out with his four friends.

"What are they? I've never had one."

Sam was very enthusiastic in his description and quickly had Joel interested. He led the way to the car park.

"Hey, great set of wheels."

"Yeah, pretty good."

The tone said he was really proud of it. The food place place was a few kilometres down the main highway in a big shopping complex, and Joel found it all very interesting. He had a stop outside a second-hand bookshop to look through a stand of sci-fi books on special. Wow, Enders Game, Peter had been talking about it last night and here it was. What a coincidence? And only four dollars.

"You like books?"

Sam wasn't very interested, but a couple of shops further along was a Game Traders and they were both keen to look at the latest computer games.
This was quite bizarre. A copy of Rocky Horror Picture Show in the pre-played DVD section. Joel nearly bought it. No, a waste of money, he had a copy back at Tittybong. Another title caught his eye and an idea popped into his head.

"Priscilla? That's the one about the trannie isn't it?"

Trannie? Joel's immediate thought was for his mum's little radio, which she always called the trannie. Oh, transvestite.

"No, a drag queen."

The burrito was as good as Sam had described but Joel nearly had a fit at the price. They had to rush to get back to College and Joel could tell Sam was enjoying having an excuse to put his foot down.
The afternoon lecturer was Ken Parker again with HTML. So easy. Still, it was very satisfying working through a set of exercises and there were lots of things Peter hadn't showed him.
Joel didn't have anything to do with Sam for the rest of the afternoon as they ended up sitting apart when they were almost late arriving.


"Hey Hotdog, how did the first day go?"

"Dork. It was easy. Especially HTML. So, what have you been up to?"

"PHP... All day. I've been dying for a swim. I nearly went without you."

"What's PHP?"

"It's easy. You do it in second semester."

"Ha. You say everything's easy."

"Are you ready for your show?"

"What show?"

"The Hot-Dog show. You're wearing speedos all this week. Remember?"

"All week? I don't remember that."

"You must have had too much apple cider. You're showing off the goods for the rest of the week while I wear the dork shorts."

"That's right. I do remember."

"You do?"

"Yes. I remember Martin. He said not to believe anything you say."

Peter burst into laughter.

"He's a wanker. You ready to go?"

"As soon as I get my good shorts and a towel."

"All right then. I'll get my good speedos."

In the changing room Joel took the speedos and this time just laughed when Peter did his leering act and made Bikini Bulge and Swimming Package comments.

"Get original. You said all this last night."

The swim was fun and by the time they got back to 42 Joel felt like his face was splitting from laughing.

"You're a total nutter, Peter. What d'you want for tea? Spaghetti, or bacon and eggs?"

"I'm having tea with you?"

"I hope so."

"Yum, bacon and eggs. You start and I'll be back in a sec."

Joel got everything going and when Peter returned he had a tub of ice cream. They ate and talked, laughed and stirred each other.

"Um... I got a DVD today. Want to have a look at it later?"

"Sure. What is it?"

"You'll see."

"You're not telling me? Whoo!.. Sounds good."

"Go and do some more of that PHP. I'll bring it in at about nine o'clock."


As soon as Peter was gone Joel grabbed the DVD and counted how many times it said `Priscilla' on the cover. Once on the front, and three times on the back. Ten minutes later, each occurrence of `Priscilla' was replaced with `Peter', with the aid of sticky tape and paper carefully cut to the right size.

"Peter, Queen of the Desert! You cheeky bugger. You reckon I act like a queen do you?"

"Only when you're awake."

Peter raised his eyebrows, puckered his lips and made a smoochy sound.

"Give us a kiss."

Joel dissolved into laughter.


"I knew you'd act it out. It didn't take you long."

"You were waiting for it? You're evil. All right, we're not watching unless we both act it out."

"Act it out? You can. There's no way I'm wearing a dress."

"Hang on. I'll be back in a few minutes."

It took him longer and then somehow Joel couldn't help being dragged in. Well, partially dragged, because of the lipstick and blue silk scarf around his neck, and from his no dress comment he somehow ended up in the speedos as well. Peter had a red scarf and through his convoluted logic, a pair of red jocks.

"You haven't got an electric fan have you? We should have these scarves blowing back behind us."

The DVD was fun, and serious. Peter kept pausing it to mimic some of the actions and dramatic poses and Joel was pleased he'd bought it.

"What time are we swimming tomorrow?"

The DVD was finished and Joel was back in his cargoes and a T-shirt.

"My timetable's weird tomorrow. The first lecture finishes at midday, then there's a gap till 4:30."

"How about three o'clock?"

"Sounds good to me."

"Hey, guess what happened?"


"I found Enders Game and five minutes later I found Rocky Horror. It was weird."

"Neat. You must be psychic."

"Ha. As if... See you tomorrow."

"Aren't you taking the DVD?"

"It's yours. It suits you."


Back in 42 Joel went to clean his teeth. Gods. The lipstick. He'd forgotten about it. He tried to wipe it off but without much success. Well, a good shower in the morning would do it. All he wanted now was bed.


Sheba. This was embarrassing. Washing with soap, shampoo, and out of desperation even a strong rub with straight dishwashing liquid, failed to remove the lipstick color. It was like a stain. Maybe if he sat at the back of the room no one would notice? Fat chance. Before he even reached a seat two girls had given him a funny look. God dammed Peter, wait till he saw him next.

"Hi, Joel."

"Hi, Sam."

"Ready for this scripting stuff? I had a look last night and it's all double dutch."

"I did some of it at school."

"You did? Neat. Can we partner up?"

That was great as far as Joel was concerned. Sam took the next seat, started setting his computer going, then paused and stared.



"The red lips."

"Are they very noticeable?"

"With that color? Are you kidding?"

"It won't come off."

"What happened?"

"Tell you later."

Joel opened his folder and put his head down. Two guys on the opposite side of the table were looking at him. By the end of the three hour session everyone in the whole class had stared at him. That's what it felt like anyway. Some of the problems were tricky and Sam needed a lot of help. He was cluey though.

"You're a lifesaver, Joel. Want to go to the shopping center again?"

"Um... Not today. Do you like toasted sandwiches? We could make some at my unit."

After the look he'd got from the guy serving at the college cafe when he bought a drink during an earlier lecture break, Joel definitely wasn't going there again.

"Home-made? Great. So, was it something to do with the Priscilla DVD?"

Joel nodded but waited till they were outside and away from people before explaining.

"I got it for my friend. He's crazy. And when we watched it last night he said we had to get in the mood. He got lipstick and some silk scarves from one of the girls he knows in the residences."

"You dressed up?"

"Not in dresses. Just the lipstick and scarf, and this morning I couldn't clean it off."

"I think you need special cream. I've seen my sister using it."

"There must be something. I even tried dishwashing liquid."

"It looks cool. You should leave it."

"Leave it?"

"Think about it. It's kind of sexist isn't it? Why should girls wear lipstick and not guys? It's just a fashion."

"Well, it's not my fashion."

They reached 42 and Joel led the way in. Sam had a good look round.

"Cool. You could do whatever you like here."

Joel wondered what that meant. He made toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches and they were so good they had three rounds each. After talking a bit they sat at Joel's laptop and started looking at the outline for the afternoon's subject. It was called Certificate 2 Pre-requisites and some of it looked so cinchy Joel couldn't believe it.

"Let's do the Word module. The only thing I don't know is the mail merge stuff."

An hour later they'd finished what they could so they changed to exercises from the morning's lecture. There was a loud knocking on the door and Peter's voice.

"Yo, Hot-dog. You in there?"

Joel jumped up and opened the door. Peter came in then stopped when he saw Sam.

"Whoo! That's colorful!"

Joel introduced them then saw straight away that Peter's lips were normal.

"How did you get the lipstick off?"

"I meant to give you the cream last night but I forgot."

"Funny how your memory's so good for everything else... He set me up, Sam. He's been laughing about it all day. I told you he's crazy."

"Joel, I was doing you a favour. You look so kissable... Are we still having a swim?"

"Changing the subject so I won't kill you?"

"I love it when he acts forceful. He looks so cute."

Sam's eyes widened and then he laughed. Joel relaxed.

"Want to come for a swim, Sam? It was meant to be three o'clock but Peter's barged in half an hour early."

"Um... I haven't got bathers."

"No probs. I've got shorts you can use."

"I'll have to wash my hair or the pool will turn blue."

"The color comes out in the water?"

Peter and Sam looked at each other.

"He is from the country, Sam. Just make allowances."

When Sam came out of the bathroom the blue fringe was now blonde, against his natural dark brown hair.
Swimming was fun, and a bit unusual when Peter spent time showing Sam how to float because he didn't know how.
After the Pre-requisites lecture was finished Joel dumped his folder and memory stick and went straight into 43.

"Microsoft Access. Like we said."

"Yes, but what else?"

"You'll find out."

He wouldn't say either and it was another hour before he decided Joel was catching on to the intricacies of a relational database.

"Okay, you need the speedos."

Joel had them in his unit because of the agreement to wear them for the week.

"The speedos?"

"Yes, we have to do this properly."

"Do what?"

"You'll find out."

He'd said that twice now so Joel went for the speedos. He nearly put them on in 42 but the staring and package routine was almost like a ceremony now. Back in 43 the procedure started as usual.

"What a Hot Dog."

"Penis perve."

Evidently Martin was always saying that Peter had a penis fixation.

"Just enjoying the view."

"So why am I in speedos?"

"Lifesaving. You don't know what surf's like so you have to be prepared."


"Martin's orders over the phone. I have to practice mouth-to-mouth with you."

"Martin said that? As if."

"Yes he did, when I told him you're going to Anglesea next weekend, and you haven't been at a surf beach for ten years, so lie down on the floor."

"I'm going to Anglesea?"

Joel laughed at the blatantly overacted puppy-dog look of entreaty, nodded and went along with it.
Fully expecting a carry on of some sort he got a serious lesson instead. The full ABC thing of Airways, Breathing and Cardiac, the technique for blocking the nostrils and the timing for breathing, and watching the chest rise and fall.

"Understand all that?"

"I think so."

"Okay, do it on me but without the CPR."

He was saying it in his serious mode, but there was also a hint of amusement and an `I wonder if you're game' tone. Joel went straight ahead, coma position first for checking and clearing airways, then lying Peter on his back with a towel under his neck he blocked his nostrils, simulated blowing into his mouth then watched his chest rise and fall. Peter sat up and nodded.

"That's good. You've nearly got it right."


"Your timing's a bit fast. I'll show you."

It was an interesting, rather personal feeling having someone else move your body in different positions and Joel was enjoying it. He couldn't help smiling when his nostrils were pinched.

"Just relax your lungs."

What did he mean? Whoo! His lips were covered with Peter's and the shock of it meant he resisted when air pushed into his mouth. Peter lifted away.

"Can you do it?"

"Um... I think so. I wasn't expecting it."

After two or three breaths Joel adjusted and Peter lifted away again.

"Great. This time I'll do ten breaths so you can gauge the timing."

It felt weird. Joel liked it, but after six breaths he twisted his head to one side and sat up.


"Nothing. It feels strange that's all. I think I know the timing now."

"Aren't you going to show me?"

"Not now. Tomorrow night when we pack our stuff."

Trying to look casual, Joel reached for his T-shirt on the nearby chair. Thank goodness it was a long floppy one.

"Want some apple cider?"

"Sounds good, but I want to work on logic and flowcharts for a while."

Joel scrambled into his cargoes and said thanks for all the help.

"What time tomorrow night?"

"Is 7:30 okay? I don't finish lectures till 6:30."

Back in 42 Joel worked for a couple of hours but gave it up because his mind wasn't on it. Going to bed early didn't work too well either.


Thursday's timetable was full on from nine o'clock till 6:30, with three main topics and only thirty minutes for a lunch break.
First off was HTML. Great. Personal presentation followed, with Andrea as lecturer.
Yikes! Next week he had to stand in front of the class and talk about himself for five minutes.
VBScript was last and he loved it. The lecturer was a bit off. He dressed up all posh with a suit and tie and sounded like he was up himself. Maybe he wasn't. Peter would know.
Sam was back and sat next to him all day. That seemed like the pattern now and Joel was happy because he was easy to work with. His hair was red today. Not so good, as blue looked better.
Evidently he'd been at the Government Center yesterday, trying to get his study allowance worked out and they'd made him wait an hour and a half for an interview.


Organising for the weekend was easy. In Peter's unit they looked up the weather forecast and found it was going to be hot for the next four or five days, which was just what they wanted, and that meant they wouldn't need much in the way of clothing. Basically just shorts and shirts. When Joel was about to leave Peter sat him at the desktop.

"What is it? Something you did today?"

"Yep, I hope you don't mind."

Peter pointed to a file called `joel.html' and Joel double clicked to get it started. A web page appeared with a picture of his head in the centre surrounded by a circle of six little hot-dogs.

"Hey, where did the photo come from?"

"When I was showing you how my phone worked. Remember? Click on the hot-dogs."

It was really clever. Each time you clicked on a hot-dog something happened at the bottom of the screen.
The first click was a picture of two guys, one in blue speedos and the other in board shorts, with two word balloons saying `Hot Dog' and `Dork'.
Joel loved it.
A picture of Enders game appeared on the second click, and after that a plate of bacon and eggs.
There was a short video-clip of Priscilla standing on top of the bus, and after that Rocky doing a couple of his poses.
On the last click, a pair of lips opened and closed and the computer speakers said `Kissable'.

"Wow, unreal."

Joel clicked them all again, and then, deciding he liked the lips best, made them say `Kissable' three more times.

"Peter... You... Are... Crazy!"

Peter was looking extremely pleased with himself. Joel started the text editor and loaded the coding, but most of it he didn't understand. There was an awful lot of it.

"How long did all this take to do?"

"Half yesterday and most of today. It makes my revision work more interesting if I have some fun at the same time. Do you like it?"

What a strange question.

"Of course I do. Peter, it's terrific."

"Good, I'll keep going then, but you have to do something too."

"Me? I can't do anything like this."

"Yes you can. Just work with stuff you already know. It'll be great fun."

Joel went to protest again but an idea popped into his head. And, yes, fun was the right word.


The end of chapter 3.
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