This is pretty much Zach Weinersmith’s fault.
The woman was in a bad way — clear withdrawal symptoms. “Doc,” she said. “I… I’m sorry. I need something. Anything.”
I frowned slightly. “What do you expect me to do?”
“Please! Can’t you… y’know… prescribe me something?”
I looked at her for a long moment. “My Doctorate is in British Literature. I teach College English.”
“Please. You’re the only doctor I know. You have to be able to prescribe something.”
I didn’t change my gaze. “I can prescribe homework, that’s about it.”
She stared back, eyes burning.
I sighed. “Fine.” I pulled out a pad and wrote, quickly. “Give this to them.”
“At the pharmacy?”
“At the library. I’m prescribing you On Blake. Read the first two chapters and bring me back five hundred words comparing Blake with either a Romantic or Pre-Romantic poet. Robert Burns counts, Tennyson does not.”
She took the sheet, trembling with gratitude, and ran for the exit.
Doctor Wallis looked sidelong at me. “We’re professionals,” she said. “We don’t give assignments away. That’s a three hundred level course’s assignment and you know that girl doesn’t have financial aid.”
“I think it’s just being kind,” Wallis’s grad student said.
“Really?” Wallis looked at her student. “Don’t you get it? What’s she going to do when she gets that essay back, graded and with commentary? You think she can just give it up, or go back on easier stuff like heroin? He didn’t do her a favor. He gave her a free sample.”
The grad student blinked, and looked at me.
I shrugged, leaning back. “How do you think I got tenure?”