"Okay, you have a pretty good handle on the story. So let’s talk about the theme of the Great Gatsby. What do you think it is?" Elizabeth glances at Murty, but says nothing. "Liz?"

She swallows hard. "I, uh, think it deals a lot with, um, the American Dream, and how it isn’t always as good as its supposed to be."

Murty nods. "Okay, dig a little deeper. How does Fitzgerald show this?"

"Well, Gatsby lies and cheats his way to a fortune. He’s a bootlegger and he deals with the mob, and that’s not the idea of the "pure" American Dream."

"What else?"

"Well, all the impure and immoral people have the money. Gatsby, Meyer Wolfsheim and all those people. Daisy has money but she isn’t one of the noveau riche."

"That’s right… Moving on, let’s talk about the women in the novel. Tell me about Jordan Baker."

Elizabeth glances at him. "Jordan?"

Murty stares at Elizabeth. "Yes, Jordan. You do remember who she is, don’t you."

Flustered, Elizabeth turns red. "Yes, I remember who she is," she retorts. "Jordan Baker is the character that connects Nick to Gatsby and Gatsby to Daisy."

"Anything else?" Elizabeth stares at him, sullen. Murty sighs. "You know I really don’t have to be doing this Elizabeth. I have better things to be doing with my time than tutoring someone who obviously doesn’t want to be here. I could be reading a book, watching tv, jogging in the park—"

"--She’s a golfer," Elizabeth interjects, "which was uncommon in the ‘20s. She’s a bit of a party girl. And she’s careless. She’s a really bad driver." She slides the knife out of her pocket.

Murty grins, victorious. "And why is that significant?"

"Because she says she hates careless people."

Murty smiles. "Good job. Now tell me about Daisy, the love of Gatsby’s life."

"She’s money-hungry. She only wants a man who has a fortune and fame. Gatsby devotes his entire life to her, trying to win her back," Elizabeth says. "She’s so shallow. I mean, Tom bought her love with a necklace, and Gatsby won her over with a fancy house and a nice wardrobe."

"I take it you don’t approve of Daisy?," Murty asks.

Elizabeth shakes her head. "You can’t buy love or manipulate it... you have to earn it." She smiles slightly, getting lost in her thoughts. "Sometimes you fall in love at first sight, but sometimes, it takes awhile for you to realize what’s happening."

"You sound like you’re speaking from experience."

Elizabeth’s blood runs cold and her face becomes stony. "What do you mean?"

"Well, it’s pretty obvious to me that young Lucky Spencer is very enamored of you. I’m always seeing you two together, in the park, the docks, at Kelly’s… If I didn’t know better I’d think you’re following me," he smiles, staring at Liz.

"I don’t want to talk about this," she says shakily, opening the blade on the knife.

"I’m sorry," Murty replies, still smiling. "Not another word will be spoken on the love this session, I promise." Liz feels paralyzed with fear. "Well, it seems to me like you’ve got a pretty good handle on The Great Gatsby. How about a two page essay on the significance of symbols in the book? Pick one of these three: the Valley of Ashes, the green light or the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg. Also, I need you to read A Streetcar Named Desire for next time—and no going out and renting the film version, okay?"

Elizabeth shakes off her fear. "Fine." She discreetly close the knife, sliding it back into her pocket. "Can I go now?"

"I don’t know, can you?"

Elizabeth glares at him. "May I?"

"Sure. Just one thing. Have you thought about what we talked about last week?"

Elizabeth starts to walk out of the room. "I don’t remember what we talked about last week," she lies, backing towards the door.

Murty shrugs. "Have it your way, Elizabeth. Just remember what I said. There’s nothing wrong with having a crush."

Elizabeth turns the knob and starts to walk out the door. "Yeah, right."

She leaves the room, walking briskly down the hall. Lucky appears in the doorway. She races through the door into his arms, almost knocking him over.

"What happened? What did he do to you?," Lucky spits, holding Liz close to him.

She pulls back, shaking her head. "Nothing, he did nothing, except he kept giving me these weird smiles…. They made my skin crawl… I don’t understand, last week, he was talking about rape, and crushes and this week…"

"Well, did he say anything?" Lucky searches her face. "Honey, did he say anything that we can use?"

Elizabeth shrugs. "I can’t even remember… All I know is that I was on edge around him, and I pulled the knife out, but then things were better." She pulls the mini-recorder out of her pocket. "You can listen for yourself."

They start walking, heading towards the boxcar, hand in hand.

To be continued...