Seducing Professor Coyle(2)

By: Darien Cox

Finally Dr. Coyle’s eyes met his. “You missed a test.”

“No,” Ben said. “I’ve been to every class. I couldn’t have.”

Coyle sighed and removed his glasses. He turned the screen toward Ben. “February tenth, a test on chapters four through ten. My records show you never turned it in. I had no choice but to give you an incomplete.”

Ben frowned at the screen, shaking his head. “It’s a mistake. I remember that test, I took it. I swear I haven’t missed a single class. Can you check attendance or something?”

Dr. Coyle smiled, and while it was a nice smile, crinkling the corners of his blue eyes, there was no benevolence in it. “I don’t take attendance. This is college, if you want to be in class, that’s your choice, it’s your money wasted if you don’t show up.”

The professor’s voice held a tone of condescension, and Ben’s teeth clenched. “I’m aware of that, I’m a college student, not a child. But I just told you, I haven’t missed a class, and I turned in the test. I need this grade to graduate. There must be something we can do.”

Coyle stretched back in his seat and rubbed his eyes, groaning, as though Ben had shown up merely to ruin his day. Sighing, he dropped his arms on the desk and studied Ben. “What’s your major?”

“Information Science.”

Nodding, Coyle said, “I suppose you don’t have much use for my class, aside from needing the grade.” His gaze drifted over Ben, seeming to size him up and find him wanting. “Nevertheless, I can’t help you if I don’t have your test.”

“But you did have my test, because I took it. How will this affect my grade?”

The teacher shrugged. “Well, it wasn’t simply a quiz you missed. That exam covered most of what we went over first term. Your final grade will depend on how well you’ve done on all your other assignments, but unless you’ve maintained an exceptionally high average, this will set you back considerably. You might fail the class.”

Ben’s anger flared, fingers biting into his thighs. He could imagine how he appeared to the professor. Ben was twenty-three, older than most of his colleagues, but he likely looked like just another kid to Coyle: young, good-looking, an athlete’s body. Ben’s pretty face, neatly trimmed hair and immaculate wardrobe often gave others the impression he had money. “You look like good breeding,” his roommate Dominick teased sometimes. But Ben’s mother’s beauty was the only inheritance he’d gotten. Everything he had, he’d earned, and coming from less than nothing, he’d had to work twice as hard to get it.

“Well there must be something we can do,” Ben protested. “You have to change my grade, I took the test. I can’t prove it, but I know I took it.”

“Mr. LeClair,” Coyle said, linking his fingers in front of him, “you keep saying there must be something we can do. But last I checked, it was my class.”

Ben’s temper roiled through him. He leaned forward, clenching his fists to keep from smacking the arrogant smirk off Coyle’s face. “Funny, I could have sworn it was my class too. I am paying for it, as you pointed out. But aside from the money, which comes from my own pocket, hard earned, don’t you think it’s a bit counterproductive to the learning process, to the teaching process, to not give a crap about your students?”

Professor Coyle’s eyebrows rose, a hint of surprise. He leaned back in his chair, blue eyes focused on Ben. “I don’t respond well to hostility, Benjamin.”

“I’m not hostile, just frustrated. You lost my test, and now I’m going to have to pay for it. And you have no idea how hard I’ve worked to get this degree.”

“I assure you, I do not lose tests. I have a very organized system. If I’d received your test I’d have recorded your grade. I don’t know what more I can do for you.”

“Then let me take a makeup test.”

Coyle shook his head. “There is a structure in place for attending class and taking exams, and I expect students to adhere to it. I can’t give special treatment and hand hold, it’s your responsibility to turn in the work.”

Ben glared at the professor. “Most of the teachers have us take tests on the computer and submit them online. If you did that, you’d be less likely to lose things than with your old-school paper exams.”

Coyle’s eyes widened further.

Ben met his gaze without flinching, without even blinking.

Finally, Dr. Coyle’s eyes shifted and he gazed up at the ceiling, shaking his head slightly, like he was trying to summon the patience to deal with a rambunctious toddler. Drumming his fingers on the desk, he looked at Ben again. “I always return the paper exams and essays back to the students once I’ve graded them, do I not? So you would have noticed if you didn’t get it returned to you.”