Untitled Fiction (Chapter 1, Section 2)


This is an ongoing story, hopefully to become a length of a book.  Click here for the prior section.

Did anyone notice there was an error in the prior piece?  How could Lowell be from the town where Wellington’s office is located yet not recognize the area code from which Wellington called him?

This is why I post it online, to get people’s feedback (this mistake I caught on my own because no one cared enough to comment) and improve the piece.  I’ll think  about how I’m going to fix that prior mistake, but meanwhile, here’s Section 2.

Incidentally, I already have Section 3 done, so I am just chugging along.

______________________________________________________________________________________

Back

Classes in the history department were mostly held in McGuinn Hall, halfway up the hill that constitutes the main campus of Boston College.  The story goes that the president who moved the school to Chestnut Hill from downtown Boston sought inspiration from John Winthrop’s vision of Boston as a “City Upon a Hill” for the new campus.  Despite being well on his way to becoming a historian, Lowell had little clue as to what that meant.

Lowell rushed out of McGuinn Hall and headed down the hill.  He headed towards the main parking garage where he easily located Martin’s black Volkswagon Golf on the 5th floor.  He preferred to drive a manual, but an automatic would have to do.

Lowell got into the car, turned the ignition, put the car on reverse and started to roll when he heard someone yell, “Hey!.”   He slammed on the breaks and realized, in his mirror, that he almost ran over a guy who appeared to be a graduate student.  The student in a Red Sox cap stared into the car and banged on the trunk as he moved across the car with deliberate slowness.  Lowell stared right back, showing impatience but no apology.  Once the graduate student got out of the way, he backed out the car and stepped on the gas as the car screeched towards the exit.

The bar at the exit of the garage did not rise, a common issue that was particularly unwelcome on this day. Cursing, Lowell rolled the car backwards then forwards, and this time the scanner read the tag.  Thankfully no one was crossing to test Lowell’s patience further.

Driving through the campus, he observed undergraduates in shorts and T-shirts throwing a Frisbee.  Spring arrives as quickly as winter arrives slowly on a college campus where students spend as much time outside as the temperature permits.  Only a week ago, the temperature was in the low thirties and students were still bristling through campus.  Now, with the temperature in the high forties and not a cloud in the sky, the same students were anxious to be active outdoors.  The ground was still wet from the melting of whatever snow remained, but it won’t be long before students lie on the grass with their books and earphones in the uniquely collegian method of studying.  Spring will soon arrive even outside of college campuses  in New England and Lowell guessed it had already arrived in New Jersey.

The house that Lowell shared with three others was located in the residential district of Chestnut Hill, to the Southeast of the main campus. A seven minute drive, it was close enough to be advertised “Convenient for Boston College Students,” but too far to be convenient enough to walk.  In the winter, a commute by foot was out of the question.  What was convenient, though, was the wide and long driveway rarely found in other houses in the area.  The space supported three cars, more than enough for four graduate students to get by.

Lowell didn’t bother driving into the driveway and instead parked the car in front of the curve facing the house.  The roommates operated under a silent rule that the front door unlocked when one of them was in the house.  With a car in the driveway, the odds were the front door was open.

He jumped over the low level stairs in the front yard and hustled to the front door.  It was unlocked.

“Hey Mike,” Lowell heard Daniel Briggs say as he entered the house.   By the time Lowell looked into the living room to the right, Briggs was turning away from him and returning his focus back to the TV.

“You’re back early,” Briggs continued, facing the TV.  His tone clearly indicated he was more interested on his Xbox than Lowell’s explanation for his premature return home.

Nor was Lowell interested in explaining.  He just ignored Briggs and ran up the stairs to his room on the second floor.  He went to the bed and laid down to collect his thoughts.

Lowell had no desire to return to New Jersey.  He was neither nostalgic nor proud of the life he had in New Jersey and he tried over the years to leave it behind.  The truth was, New Jersey scared him.  He constantly feared tumbling back to the depths from which he desperately and finally climbed out of, and no matter how many years passed, he was haunted with the feeling that he was only a few wrong steps away from returning to his past.  To Lowell, the geographic location of New Jersey always represented the first step of that wrong path.

Yet even Lowell couldn’t deny that the past he left behind in New Jersey had deeply affected him, an influence he did not reject.  Lance represented that paradox, that intersection between the past he’d rather forget and the past he’d guarded as what made him today.  It was for that reason that Lance was one of the few people for whom Lowell would risk the trip to the state of his childhood if called upon to do so.

And now Lance was dead.  The thought was numbing, but Lowell had to honor the wishes of an old friend.  Whatever was the motive or reasons for appointing him the executor of his estate, Lance clearly wanted him to return home.

He got up, reached into his pocket and took out the cell phone that caused him irritation only half an hour ago.  He went to dial a number and realized he didn’t have it.  Cursing, he walked over to his computer, impatiently tapped on the keyboard to wake it from sleep and looked for an e-mail  in which his parents notified him of the phone number at the new house.  The number had a familiar area code, the one he left behind what seems a lifetime ago.  Lowell took a deep breath and dialed the number.

“Hello?”  a voice answered.  His mom sounded older than the last time they talked.

“It’s Michael.”

“Michael?”

Lowell could tell his mom didn’t know what to make of the phone call.

“Is everything all right?” she asked, breaking the brief silence with a concerned tone.

“Yeah, everything’s fine.  But I need a favor.”

“What is it?” she asked, now sounding uncertain.

“If I needed a place to stay in Jersey, can I stay at your place?”

“Sure, I suppose you can use the guest room.  There’s no room for you anymore,  you know.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“When will you coming?”

“Tonight, if possible.”

“Tonight?”  The urgency caught her off guard, but she continued.  “Sure.  I’ll be here tonight.  So will your father.”

“That’s fine.  Thanks.  I’ll see you later.”

“Okay.”

The call went as smoothly as one could hope for in a first phone call with the parents in nearly a year.   His mom didn’t ask the question he knew she wanted to ask–“What’s going on?  How long are you staying?”–but then, making conversation wasn’t easy for either one.  The last time Lowell called home wasn’t much of a conversation.  He called to report that he graduated from college and he’s sticking around to get a master’s degree.  And he only did that at Lance’s urging.  Even then, he hung up before his mom could get his dad on the phone.

Calling a stranger was much easier than calling blood.  He looked through his call history and dialed the last incoming call.

“Law Offices of Gunther Wellington,” a familiar voice answered.

“Gunther Wellington?”

“Yes?”

“This is Michael Lowell.”

“Oh yes, Mr. Lowell.  Thank you for getting back to me so quickly.  Do you have a time frame of when we can meet in person?”

“I’m driving down to Jersey tonight,” Lowell answered curtly.  “I’ll see you in your office tomorrow.”

“That’s great news.  I appreciate your being so accomodating.  I will schedule you in for an appointment at eight o’clock.  Is that all right?”

“That’s fine.”

“Do you know where my office is?”

“No, but I’ll google you.  I can look you up online?”

“You should be able to.  My practice maintains a website.”

“Good.  I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“That’s very fine, Mr. Lowell.  If you have trouble locating my office, you have my number.  I will be in my office all day tomorrow.”

Lowell had no intention of staying in New Jersey longer than necessary.  He packed clothes for one night and grabbed his keys.  When he left, Briggs was still keenly focused on his xBox.

Next

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6 Responses to “Untitled Fiction (Chapter 1, Section 2)”


  1. 1 Joseph Lee April 30, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Hmm, I didn’t realize from the first segment that this was based at BC. That turns me off a little, not going to lie. Also, why does Lance sound so much older when he should be close in age. They went to high school together, but Lance was married and has an estate? Perhaps that will unfold later in the story. Anyway, good work, full of intrigue.

    • 2 joesas May 1, 2009 at 2:19 pm

      Joseph,

      You know, why do you nitpick. Why can’t you accept this story for what it is? A flawed, incoherent, inconsistent, contradictory work by a first time fictional writer whose limited creativity was sapped when he joined the legal profession.

      And yes, the story will unfold and you will see that the age issue was not accidental.

  2. 3 Ezzard May 1, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    In section 1, “back to the past,” that line was so melodramatic it made me laugh out loud. It wasn’t bad though, just jarring.

    Overall it’s great writing. I hope it’s not partially biographical o_o

    • 4 joesas May 1, 2009 at 2:44 pm

      You know, you’re not the first person to think this story is autobiographical? Why do people think that? It’s not like I resent my parents. Sure I studied a useless major like history, but most people at BC do. And yes I’m from NJ, but I love that state. And as far as I know, I don’t have a dead close friend.

      I think what you’re telling me is that that line, which I thought was the best one yet, is cheesy. Now I’m just going to have to quit writing.


  1. 1 Untitled Fiction (Chapter 1, Section 1) « The World According to Joe Trackback on May 1, 2009 at 2:16 pm
  2. 2 Untitled Fiction (Chapter 1, Section 3) « The World According to Joe Trackback on July 7, 2009 at 9:23 am

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