Bia Biscayne earned everything she had, and that included her reputation, her stretchmarks, and the moniker—Judge That Effing B*tch. She was damn proud of every one of those things. A no-nonsense, straight-laced woman, her professional life was marked by orderliness that was a product of her mild-mannered temperament. And then she gave birth to her daughter, Zest, and her personal life started to resemble a mix between Looney Toons cartoon/action adventure films and science fiction. It was a good thing Bia counted a surgeon, a judge, a rabbi, a cardinal, and an orthodox priest as her friends, and that Zest counted a Texas ranger, a habitual felon, and the chick that was #1 on the International Fraternity of Mime’s most wanted list as friends, because all of them (sometimes at the same time) had been called into action to save the world from Zest’s brand of crazy.
Being the one who birthed that kind of crazy into the world, Bia felt it was her duty to contain it as best she could. She was doing a good job…until the day she got a call from a town called Mid-NFW, Georgia…wherever the heck that was. All Bia had needed to hear was “blood feud with an international crime family vowing revenge” and she was in her car dropping the hammer all the way there. Instead of the massacre she was expecting, she found a Norwegian warlord who looked like he’d been dreamed up by a comic book artist. She should be trying to thwart an international incident, yet all she could think was how many ways she could ride the Norseman’s face off.
Vasily Gu∂brander could be summed up in five words: As*holish Som’B*tch of MotherF*ckerish Proportions. Just as products had warnings, ads had small print, and printed material had asterisks, Vasily—and every member of the Gu∂brander clan—was the type of crazy that required nothing short of full disclosure. Half berserker, half Russian, and a hundred percent WTF, sometimes even that wasn’t enough. That is why the Berserker Tribunal had an entire section of their laws dedicated to that family. Banished to Atlanta—in summer—just because everyone else was a pussy, his goal was to not get any blood residue on his sister’s jet and something that involved not killing and maiming. But you throw five people out of a jet (in midair), and suddenly you’re the bad guy. Thank goodness his friend knew people who knew people who owned a bar that was so buck wild it had an entrails detail. Everywhere that wasn’t Aghi, Norway was forsaken territory, but he was learning to appreciate Mid-NFW. They weren’t offended by anything, so while there’d be bloodshed, no one would bitch about it.
He’d planned to while away his time in the backwoods and then hightail it back to Norway, but then he met the sweetest child…and then her mother, which led him to wonder how a woman so mean could birth a child so sweet. That of course, led to him getting cussed out, and if he’d been a lesser male, killed. And while that was the sort of thing that usually led to him kicking off a massacre, all he wanted to do with Bia Biscayne was kick off his shoes, then tear off his clothes and make that feisty woman his.
Zest Biscayne was a peaceful woman. It was just pure irony that brawls happened in her wake. Not her fault and not her problem…unless she got hit in the face with a chair. Then, if people went missing and countries got wiped off the map, they brought that shit on themselves. There was a reason she taught a class called Retribution 101, which consisted
of three parts: Learning to shut the fuck up; learning to get the fuck out; and, learning to keep your head on a swivel. She taught it as a favor. It was her way of trying to spread the message about how to avoid being on the wrong end of bad happenings.
Zest knew her colleagues and students thought she was a bitch; she just didn’t care. She’d made the top-ten list of most hated people in academia every year since she’d started teaching college. She’d had a line of students wanting to whip her ass since she began TA’ing. Oh well, wish in one hand and shit in the other. To date, she still hadn’t had her ass whipped, which was a trend she planned to keep going.
It wasn’t her fault dumb people kept signing up for classes she taught. Yet, here she was sitting in the dean’s office…again. They may as well make this her new office being she was here so much. She’d tuned the dean out two seconds after the man had started talking. Really, the man could at least have the decency to revamp his lectures.
Trying to decide if she was more hungry or angry, she settled for hangry, which never boded well for anybody. Zest decided she was done listening…done sitting here…done being berated for a) pointing out the obvious, and b) doing her damn job.
“Dean, with all due respect, no. I will not attempt to be a kinder, gentler professor. What I will continue to be is an informed, engaged, part of this community who brings my best to the students I teach. They deserve that and my personal integrity demands that I give them nothing less.”
The Dean interrupted her. “No one likes you. And that includes the staff.”
“That’s not really news.”
“You’ve gotten two death threats this week alone.”
“So that makes what, fifteen in the last two years?”
“It makes fifteen this semester…and it’s not over.”
“Well, note how no one has whipped my ass yet? There’s a reason for that.”
“You can’t taze students.”
“Dean, maybe you can’t taze a student, but I would taze the shit out of a student if, of course, it wasn’t against the university rules to be in possession of a Taser on campus.”
Zest smiled. She didn’t have a J.D. from one of the top law schools in the nation for nothing. She knew her rights; she knew the rules; and, she knew the way around the rules. And the Dean knew it…and hated her for it. Too. Fucking. Bad.
“Whatever it was that you did to him, you can’t do that. ‘Professor Beats Student Unconscious’ is not a good headline.”
“Neither is ‘Student Kills Professor.’ You beat the shit out of one student and no one else strolls into your lecture late or unprepared. That’s a win-win in my book.”
The Dean looked like he was about to launch into another futile argument, but she was past tired of this shit.
“Dean, when a student tells me to go fuck myself, I’m going to put him or her out of my class. If he or she doesn’t want to go, I’m going to have security come and remove them. If the student would’ve left it at that, we could’ve talked it over, and moved on. However, when you walk up on me with your dick swinging, threatening to whip my ass, you better be able to whip my ass. I will never throw the first punch, but I will never let you throw another punch at me after that. And before you ask, no, I will not drop the charges. My cousin taught me ninety-nine ways to take down an insurgent.”
“That’s the problem. No one else refers to their students as insurgents. And you are not a government or civil authority.”
Zest stood and pointed at herself game show hostess style. “This body right here. This is the Temple for which the Supreme Creator has both gifted and entrusted me. In this realm, I’m the absolute ruler of it. You don’t get to touch it in any way that’s not reverent. When you come after me, you’re an insurgent, and you’ll end the interaction on the ground holding something in, whether it’s an internal organ, vomit, or the contents of your bowels.”
“Dr. Biscayne, I truly don’t know what to say to you.”
“Dean, I believe you know exactly what you want to say to me, but I also believe you don’t have the guts to do it. You’re too sophisticated to call me a fucking bitch. However, I expect to receive a politely-worded letter denying me tenure because y’all can’t handle the truth…and you can’t handle me.”
“I just want you to be a team player.”
“I know, but being a ‘team player’ means lying down and taking it. I’m just not built that way. You do what you have to do, but cross all of your T’s and dot all of your I’s because if you don’t, the university is going to be writing me a big, fat check. While you and the staff are here being team players, rolling over and just taking it, I’m going to be in Tahiti, not wasting one moment thinking about y’all.”
Zest didn’t get a chance to say more, because her attorney took that moment to speak. “I believe we’re done here. You have my client’s contact information.”
The dean made a futile effort to stop them. “I—,”
“Good day, Dean.”
“So, I thought that went well.”
Zest’s attorney didn’t even bother to respond to that. “You do know that I enjoy living in Texas, right?”
“Yeah, I was at the wedding. If I was on the fence about how you felt about living in Texas, I would’ve known for sure when I got a gander at your wedding refinery. The cowboy boots were okay, being you’re Texan. However, I thought the gun holster was a bit over the top.”
“You, of all people, have no right to tell anyone any damn thing about being over the top.”
“As the kids say now, ‘whatevs.’ Anyway, if I still had lingering doubts after that ridiculous display, when you eschewed the traditional wedding march for the theme song of Walker, Texas Ranger™, yeah, that pretty much cemented it for me. I’m not even going to say anything about the steer horns on your Cadillac® being that I’m riding with you and all.”
“Did anyone ever tell you that you’re a douche?” Brix asked without heat.
“If we don’t count the last twelve years of my teaching, then no. No one’s ever told me that I’m a douche, which is why no one has lost any teeth.”