Untitled Fiction (Chapter 1, Section 3)


This is an ongoing story, hopefully to become a length of a book.  Click here for the prior section.  Comments on inconsistencies welcome!  I’d like to say so is plagiarism since imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but the truth is, I’m hoping to fix this up and get it published, so I’d like to retain copyright.

The good news about this section is that I was able to improve and elaborate on it so much that I spun off another section out of it.

The bad news is that  I hate the last two paragraphs and I welcome any suggestions to improve it.  I’ve stared at it for three weeks now and at this point, I’d rather just give up and post.

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Previous

The drive on the  local streets proved treacherous as Lowell’s concentration drifted.

Lowell realized he didn’t know how to cope with Lance’s death, or rather, how to feel about it.  Shock over the suddenness?  Confusion over not knowing the how?  Anger over the why?  Emptiness in a void he felt?  Dealing with emotions were never his strong suit.  Lowell instead tried to distract himself by appealing to his memories, by recalling the last time he spoke with Lance.

It didn’t come easily, for over the last ten years, his interaction with Lance had increasingly grown sporadic, a consequence of physical distance rather than personal detachment.  He eventually remembered, though, that about a month and a half ago, just as the semester was beginning, Lance called during a Friday night out with his roommates from college and Martin.  Lowell couldn’t remember much about the call except that the bar was noisy so the conversation was short.  Whether Lance wanted something or he was just saying hello, Lowell could not remember.  He probably promised to call back but never did.  Lowell just shook his head in disgust, although he himself wasn’t sure whether it was because he couldn’t remember much or because he let an opportunity slip away.

But Lowell did vividly recall the last time he saw Lance nearly two years ago.  Lance, freshly married and well into a career as an accountant, took a week off from work in May to make a  trip from New Jersey to Boston.  He called it his annual respite of celebrating the end of the tax season with his wife.

“I’m coming up on the third Saturday in May through the Sunday after,” Lance said when he called in early March.  “You’ll be around, right?”

“I wasn’t planning on it,” Lowell tried to demur, “I finish exams way before that.”

“Oh yeah?  Where were you planning on going?”  Lowell had sensed sarcasm in Lance’s voice, for they were both fully aware he wasn’t going back to New Jersey.

“Travel, maybe.”

“Maybe?  Oh good, so you haven’t made any plans.  You can stick around, then.”

“Look,” Lowell said as he raised his voice,  “I’m not going to stick around doing nothing for two weeks so I can keep you company.”

“It’s not for me, it’s for Sam.  She’s never been to Boston.  She needs someone to show her around.”

“And why am I the one….”

“Because you’re the only one I know up there.  Besides, I thought you’d be around anyways.”

“What are you talking about?”  Lowell had to feignt ignorance knowing full well where the conversation was headed.

“Aren’t you graduating in May?”

“Is that why you’re coming up?”

Lowell’s voice turned confrontational.

“You are graduating, aren’t you?”

“What difference does that make?

“It doesn’t.  But since I’ll be around, we should celebrate.”

“And what if I’m not around?”

“You will be, won’t you?  Haven’t you spent every summer in Boston?”

“Yeah, but…”

“Well I’ll be coming up that week.  We’ll get together if you’re around.  Let me know.”

Until Lance called, Lowell had no intention of attending commencement.  In fact, he wanted no part of the senior week.  What he had told Lance, that he intended to travel and be out of town, was the truth.  He had to get away from the jolly festivities.  He wanted to move on with his life alone.

Lance’s call forced Lowell to reconsider.  Graduation had little meaning for Lowell, but he also knew Lance didn’t share the same cavalier attitude.  Despite what was said on the phone, Lowell suspected Lance was making the trip to coincide with Lowell’s graduation.  Just as Lance was the only person whom he would have returned to New Jersey, he was also the only person for whom he would stick around for commencement week.

A week later, Lowell reluctantly called Lance back to tell him he’d be around that week in May and offered him tickets to commencement if he wanted it.  Lance expressed no surprise that Lowell would be around and that he decided to attend the ceremonies.  He simply said he wanted the tickets and asked whether he could have two.  Samantha would like to attend as well.

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