NOTE: The following is part two of fifteen weekly posts by Tom Spencer ’16. It is a creative writing short story broken up into 15 chapters. This story is fiction, which is the creation of a story from the author’s imagination, and is not based on real events or people, though it may reference real events or people.
The complaint went like this:
A knock on my door. “Spike?” she asks. It was a girl.
“Yeah. Come in.”
I know her- not as well as some other residents, but well enough to be considered a good RA. What can I say, not everyone wants to chit-chat and I don’t hold that against them. I got a brief run down on her and everyone else living in my building when I got this gig. Lauren. A freshman. She hasn’t caused any trouble on my watch, but every so often she ran with a rowdy crowd. A few of ‘em I’d busted working in other dorms. But that was the past.
“You look fulla despair,” I say “what’s on your mind?” and I take my feet off the desk to be professional. “Won’t you sit down?”
She grabs the other chair in the room and plops down. The other chair is the one UNH gave me. It’s got wooden rockers designed to roll back two inches when you put your feet on the desk. I’ve brought in my own black leather office chair. Mine’s better. It leans farther.
She lets out a sharp breath, and looks to the left. She crooks one knee over the other, and folds her hands over her lap. “It’s my roommate,” starts Lauren. “I haven’t seen her in weeks.”
“Well. I can tell she stops by late at night, but she leaves before I wake up. She’s not gone gone.”
I relax a little. “I see. Well- stuff piles up. People get busy. I once had a computer engineer for a roommate. Kingsbury was his first home, and our room was his second. It may not be anything to worry about.”
“That’s what I thought at first, too. But then she stole $450 in cash from my purse. I just know it was her.”
“That’s a lotta lettuce for a college kid. Any idea what she’s spending it on?”
Lauren holds out a pink UNH sweatshirt. I take it, and look up at her, waiting for an explanation. “Smell it,” she says.
A bouquet of skunk and perfume hits me when I sniff the sweatshirt. There’s another smell I can’t place, but it’s noticeable. “Yep,” I tell her, “that’s it. That’s the plant all right.”
“My whole room stinks of it,” says Lauren. “I didn’t know what to do- I don’t want to get in trouble with housing. You see, that’s my sweatshirt. I let her borrow a lot of my clothes. Now every time I wake up more them are back smelling like that.”
I nod. “You did the right thing in coming to me. Look, you’re not gonna take the fall for this if you’re not the one doing it. You informed the police, of course.”
“Of course,” says Lauren.
“And they put it in a big stack of other reports. It’s the laundry bill too. I think my roommate ought to pay for that. But look, there’s more to it than the money. I’m worried about her,” explains Lauren. “You know she told me once that if she set it up right she might get a full ride? She never seemed like the type to do this kind of thing.”
That caught my ear. “I understand. Keep me posted, huh? And for now, try to take it easy.”
Lauren agreed and soon left. I snap a water bottle out of the pack below my desk, crack it open, and take a heavy swig. Who was Lauren’s roommate again? I flip through the roster and see it’s Gretta Hepburn. I get up to think about it.
Over by the window now, I spin the shades open, and the orange streetlights wash in. I look out at the towers of the neighboring dorms, rows of lit rectangular windows. A couple of people meet under a streetlight below, shoulders pulled tight in the cold. I thought about Lauren’s roommate out there. Freshman year is rough, and if you aren’t careful it can swallow you up.
You see, I wouldn’t have been too bothered, but in fact Lauren was the latest in a series of people who have come to me with this kind of story. I know how it goes, first a friend starts hanging out with a new crowd, then you see less of them, then maybe they’re skipping classes, or failing outright. Then money starts going missing. It’s quiet for a while, then you hear about an arrest for possession, for drunk driving, and you’re glad it wasn’t worse. You wonder if you could have caught it earlier, maybe stopped it sooner.
I figure some suppliers out there have decided 4th floor Hawthorne is their client base. They think they own this floor, but they’re wrong.
to be continued….