When the knock came Pintrip took a few moments to settle himself before answering the door. His computer had to be powered down and all of his files saved and closed. The browser window (which had been the focus of his attention) popped in the short hop the knock had hit in his reflexes.

“Damn,” Pintrip thought, wiping his hands off on his pants.

The door was opened, and he welcomed Dati—an undergraduate he knew—and gestured towards the couch. Dati was large and dark, his belly egglike, arms and legs thick and meaty. He sat with his legs spread open (besides reclining it was the only position he could assume with comfort) a hairy paw resting on each knee.

“Just a moment, Dati.”

Dati grunted. Through their conversation he looked off into the distance, past Pintrip, to the rows of bookshelves that lined the room. When forced to address Pintrip directly, to look into his eyes framed by their hanging skin, he did so with difficulty, massaging the porcine flesh around his left temple.

“Do you have a headache?”

Dati shook his head and resumed speaking into the corner. They were talking about nothing in particular, and Dati’s essay, which was coming along, but so far off that Pintrip wondered whether he had come to say anything at all.

In the midst of their conversation Dati’s speech was interrupted by one of Pintrip’s good-natured jokes. “Excuse me,” Dati said, filing away the joke for later dissection.

When Dati was finished he quickly turned to his bag and rose to leave. Pintrip rubbed his hands on his pants again and stuck out a hand to see him off. “Please, come again,” he said, as he led the heavy-footed student out. Dati did not turn or nod, but instead, stepping into the hallway, pulled his coat up at the collar and fastened with difficulty one of the buttons hanging loose before his neck.

“What an odd creature,” Pintrip thought, shutting the door.

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