[For those encountering this tale for the first time, this is the sixth installment of a story I began without any idea of a title. If you’re intrigued by today’s entry, I encourage you to start from the beginning. As for that title, it continues to elude me, so today’s post will be framed with an inspirational ritual dance of my own creation. Ki-ya, ki-ya, ki-ya, ki-ya . . . ]
The Camry passed the last exit for Columbus, and a few minutes later they stopped for lunch. Over hastily devoured sandwiches, Andrew and Clarence began a conversation about Cleveland professional sports teams. It had always been a safe topic between them, as both were impressed by the other’s knowledge and judgment, and there were enough points of contention between them (Did the Indians have enough pitching? Which team could keep the Cavs from repeating? Should the Browns draft another quarterback in the first round?) to keep both actively engaged. This conversation continued as they got back into the Camry, Andrew taking his turn behind the wheel and, with his father’s permission, tuning the car’s radio to a contemporary rock station. Clarence let his son have the last word (a well-reasoned argument that the Browns should use their first-round pick on any position other than QB), then stared out the passenger window blankly as they continued their journey south. Andrew noticed his father’s withdrawal, and turned up the radio’s volume.
A stop for gas an hour and a half later, then the final two hours to campus. Over the weekend, Clarence had been pleased to see Andrew packing far less than he had as a freshman last year; they were able to unload the car and get settled into the dorm room within an hour. As Andrew opened the last of his plastic storage crates, Clarence sat on the still absent roommate’s bed, his body sinking into the uncovered mattress. He took his phone from his belt holster, looked at the time — 4:41. Last year, he remembered the move in concluding well past dinner time.
Andrew was moving about his new dorm room like he had been living there a month. Clarence cleared his throat — “You seem, I don’t know, a lot more comfortable here, than you were with that other dorm.”
Andrew shrugged. “It’s a dorm. They’re all pretty much the same.”
“Huh.” Clarence wiped sweat from his brow (the effort may have been much less than it had been last year, but he still felt exhausted from all those flights of stairs), and let his son continue unpacking in silence.
[. . . ki-ya, ki-ya, ki-ya, ki-ya . . . ]