Connecting with his only friend, Thomas Marlowe felt a sense of relief that he wasn’t the only Valor College student to make the ‘experimental’ switch to Glendale. While he was more than eager to join a college full of beautiful women, he wasn’t too thrilled at the thought of navigating new surroundings without at least one familiar face. Selectively social, he didn’t really want to go through the struggle of reading people and deciphering who had good intentions or bad ones.
Robert Gilliam pulled at the straps of his suspenders, peering around them nervously as girls passed and giggled in his direction. His glasses began to slide down the bridge of his nose, bothering the twenty-one-year old a little. “I sure hope their English department is truly worth all the fuss.”
“If not, at least you got a scholarship out of the deal. Nothing beats a free education, Bobby,” Following the shapely frame of a young woman passing, Thomas chuckled. “Well, maybe a pretty face does.”
“It’s insane they won’t honor your athletic scholarship.”
Thomas shrugged it off, his green eyes taking in the glory of beautiful back and brown frames and faces moving around him. “How could they? They don’t have any sports teams or programs. And the only one they’re interested in starting and supporting is for football. I play basketball, but I don’t want to play for a team that’s going to be considered second priority by a school I’m supposed to give all of my pride to. No, I think I’m going to work towards my degree, and have a little fun with a beautiful girl … or two.”
Robert looked at his friend, wishing he could exude the confidence that seemed to come natural to the strapping man before him. In comparison to Thomas, he was as big as a twig. His voice, soft and timid while Thomas’ often roared like loud thunderclaps when he spoke or laughed. “I’m glad you listened to me and decided to finally take your academic career seriously, Tommy. A career as a professional athlete is great, but we all need something to fall back on.”
“And I appreciate your concern, Dear Friend, but we don’t all have ambitions to be professors, anthropologists, scientists or anything extraordinary like that.” He sighed. “Besides, with my flare for dramatics and my slight obsession with the Shakespearean Theater, that program seemed natural. Who knows; they’re treating our people a little better, and we’re loved on stage. Maybe that’s a direction I could take.”
Robert nodded in agreement, briefly recalling how he and Thomas had met in the first place. It was in a theater class, their freshman year. They starred in Othello together, and when Thomas won the title role over him, Robert found it hard to be upset about losing out. His friend was outstanding, more than Thomas often gave himself credit for.
“How do the folks feel about you transferring and moving away?” Robert groaned.”I know my mother had a fit. I think I’ll be lucky if I return for the holidays and the locks aren’t changed.”
Thomas chuckled. His parents were simply enthused that he wished to go to college in the first place, that he sought to find a life of his own and do for himself rather than leeching off of them for the rest of his life. He very well could have. “My mother’s biggest fear is that I come home to report the conception of a child. Other than that, the Marlowes of Georgetown are ecstatic that I’ll graduate from an institute of prestige, regardless of where it is.”
Growing a bit tired, Thomas looked down at his watch and let out a deep sigh. He hadn’t realized that it was growing so late in the afternoon. They’d been on the Glendale campus since ten a.m., and it seemed they had yet to receive their housing information or class schedules.
“Do you think they underestimated the full turnout, Tommy?”
“Greatly. Long as I have a place to lay my head, I can deal with everything else later.” Hearing his name being called across the large space of Athens Hall, Thomas turned around and spotted another old friend. An individual he hadn’t seen since he’d graduated high school. “Well, I’ll be damned. Ricky Dennis! Good to see you, Brother!” The men shook hands, examining the change in one another as Robert looked on. “Now how and the world did anyone convince you to leave USC?”
Tugging at the bottom of his suit jacket, smoothing its appearance, Ricardo Dennis gave a simple shrug before speaking. “Well, I’ll tell you, I wasn’t crazy about it at first. Then I realized that I wasn’t really happy, and I wasn’t doing too well either. A move to an institution that might offer less of a challenge, I figured why not. There’s also the fact that my lady talked it up once she realized they were going co-ed.”
“Oh, got a little lady in attendance, huh?”
Ricardo nodded. “Yeah, but she doesn’t know that I’m here yet. I figured it’d be a nice surprise. Anyway, I’ve got to find my way around and get settled, but I’ll catch you around. Good to see you, Tommy.”
“You too man, and good luck with surprising your lady.”
“Oh, she’s going to fall out when she sees me.”
Ricardo went on his way, giving a headnod in Robert’s direction before disappearing within the crowd of students heading out of the main entrance.
“Seems like a great guy. At least my competition is limited with the ladies.”
Thomas laughed, throwing his arm around his good friend. “Don’t worry, Bobby, we’ll find you a good woman before graduation.”
Once they finally received their room assignments, got their schedules in order, and completed their one on one meetings with the dean, Thomas and Robert went their separate ways.
Just his luck, Thomas received one of the few single rooms made available to the new students on campus. It was within the designated co-ed dorm, an old building cleared out and remodeled to accommodate the growth on campus.
His was a decent sized room, though he hoped he wouldn’t have to see the inside of it too often when he wasn’t studying or sleeping. Since the rest of his things would be arriving the following morning, he unpacked the one traveling bag he’d brought with him and made himself acquainted with the bed he’d been given.
He chuckled. “I make one wrong turn in the middle of the night and I might fall off this thing.” It felt comfortable though. Lying back, he placed his hands behind his head and took a deep breath. “I really hope I made the right choice.”
Hearing a knock at his door, Thomas stood and moved quickly to answer. “Yes, can I help you?”
Before him stood a woman. Instantly, he called to mind all of the beautiful models he’d spent his childhood around. Tiny figure, manicured hands, skin that seemed to be kissed by the sun, and legs that went on for days. She shared his fair complexion, her eyes pulling him into a fixated trance. And when she finally spoke, it was with an eloquence that forced him to pay attention. She was of the theater, he could tell. “Good evening, I do apologize for bothering you. But I thought I’d make a brief introduction to everyone I’ll be sharing this floor with.”
She extended her dainty hand, and he accepted, encasing hers with his as they shook briefly. “How do you do, Miss?”
“Quite well. I won’t waste your time, as I don’t have much to waste myself. I’m Patricia McClellan and I stay right beside you. Out of respect for space, I only have one minor request and I do hope that it won’t be too much of a problem for you to follow, Mr…”
“Marlowe. Thomas Marlowe.”
She gave a light smirk. “Charming.” And with that, she pressed on. “I only ask that you keep any and all noise to a minimum. I have very little patience for extreme racket, and I’d very much like to avoid being that person that has to constantly involve the residential advisors. Will this be a problem?”
“No, not at all.”
“Great.” Before he could say anything else, she sauntered off.
“Ha, well, that was nice.” Closing his door, a few thoughts began to skip through his mind. The main being how he’d propose a date the next time he and Miss McClellan came face to face.
Part I :