What if getting the girl meant becoming a terrorist wet boy? On an unnamed university campus late in the 20th century, a young man named Fenton Bland joins a society of student Maoists in order to get near the girl he loves. But the girl turns out to belong to the chief Maoist - and HE turns out to harbor alarming aspirations in the field of revolutionary terror. And so Fenton, wearing a forcibly grown beard, finds himself propelled into a bizarre covert world of death lists, backyard bomb labs, untraceable handguns, and attempted wet jobs of wildly varying quality - a world in which he must choose between losing the girl forever or else participating, perhaps very soon, in a successful terrorist atrocity ...
You lunatics, Fenton Bland pretended to think, while taking a fiery glance at his watch. What the hell am I doing here?
In truth, he knew perfectly well what he was doing there. He had, moreover, no genuine urge to know the time. The manoeuvre was wholly designed to impress her. She was supposed to conclude, on the basis of it, that he was rich-inner-lived, sexually deft, and incredibly left-wing, and had many better things to do with his time than the thing he was doing with it now. None of these propositions was remotely accurate. In truth, he had nowhere better to be. In truth he found politics boring, and extreme politics extremely boring. In truth, his most passionately held social ideal was a desire to get through the next ten minutes without vomiting lavishly on the long green table that lay between them.
When he felt well enough to look at her again he found her doing precisely what she’d been doing before: sitting at the far end of the table, staring boredly out the window. Her chair was angled away from him; her chin was propped on her hand; her elbow was propped on her thigh; her thigh was crossed over her other thigh. A rhombus of sunlight fell across her from the window. In the hand that wasn’t propping up her chin she held a half-eaten apple. Idly she now raised this to her mouth and took another bite, leaving a clean white crater in which tiny bubbles of juice mingled with her spit. Whether she had seen him glance fierily at his watch was an open question. He wondered whether it would be a good idea, or a very poor one, to glance at it fierily again.
She was dressed in the painfully breezy manner he’d come to expect. A band or ribbon of some sort held back her dark hair. A few spirited tresses had fought their way free of it, and hung wispily around her ears and throat. She wore a short white skirt he hadn’t yet dared to look fully down at, and a thin woollen top with brown horizontal stripes that went all weak and shivery where they passed across the divine weight of her breasts. One white bra strap was visible, taut as packing tape over her tanned shoulder. Her sleeves were rolled up to the brink of her elbows. The glossy fur on her forearms looked light enough to be blown free, like sugar from a donut. Her finger-nails, he febrilely noted, were of the subtly chewed kind, nibbled but not bitten to the quick, and something was written in blue ink across the delicate bonework on the back of her hand.