Pat had a backpack stuffed to the gills. At least it could breathe underwater.
"What's this?" I said.
He pushed the backpack across the table at me.
"This is for when I have to get away," he said, eyes narrow. "My parents are crazy. And I might have to go at a moment's notice. So can you keep this at your place? I hate to ask, but..."
"Oh, okay. So... uh... what's in it?"
"Dog food and clothes and medicine, and some cash."
"Oof! It's heavy. Okay. So, anyway, let's start again on chapter one of our Latin textbook, and..."
"It's getting really bad, Gregory. My dad says he's going to call you."
I looked up from my Latin declension paradigm. "He is?"
"He says we deserve each other. He wants to sell me to you."
"Sell? You, to, me?"
Pat nodded. He was crying.
"I don't think I understand. Fully."
Pat then told me about the time his father threw a soccer ball at his head repeatedly, to make him "tough." I pointed out that Pat was a girl then, so wasn't that a little confusing? Not that a girl couldn't be tough and flinch-free when it came to getting balls hurled at one's face, but.... I was getting confused myself.
"He made my cousin kill himself because he was gay."
"I'm sorry. This is... really tough, I know. But you'll notice that the masculine nouns all end in -us, while the fem--"
"I'm afraid he's going to out me in his obituary. I've asked him to just put in a line or two that explains, but he won't do it."
"Yes! The obituary will say that I was once a woman. And now I'm a man, and how he never agreed to that."
"Funny that you say agree, because an adjective must agree with its noun. You'll see in this sentence how--"
"He took away all my cans of food that I sleep with. And I can't find my papers. After my vagina got cut down by a third, I..."
"You know what? The third declension has the ending -is, while the fourth--"
"I just want my truck, and my dog, and my bird. And some money. A-and a radial tire to keep me company at night."
"Okay." I shut my Latin book. "That ends today's lesson. Next week we'll work on conjugating vaginas."
A few days later, Pat called me at 7 am and left a message about the trees. There was a maple tree. And an apple tree. He could not recognize where he was. Did I know? D-did I know? Pl-please? Oh, there's some people, he'll ask them where he was?
I haven't returned his call.