Thursday, March 3, 2016

Chapter 2

Monday, August 17, 1964

My new digs could have been worse. The room wasn’t muchfifteen by fifteen feet, green vinyl tile, a twin bed, a wooden desk, a chest of drawers, an armoire, a red easy chair that proved to be rather comfortable, and a serviceable bathroom with a shower. The upside was the view, looking down the hill out over St. Mary’s Lake to the golden dome and the spire of Sacred Heart Church. The downside was that I was up on the third floor, sans elevator, between the freshman dorms. The climb and the proximity to the freshmen made it undesirable to the other faculty members, all priests. Bernie Fox, the new guy, had the only other faculty room, adjacent to mine. Hank had thought ahead.

However humble, the free room and board was the reason I had jumped at the seminary opportunity. After the second episode with my wife, she had left in the middle of the night but returned in the cold light of day and told me to get the hell out. I didn't argue. I was appalled at my behavior, the more so because I couldn't remember it. However, I still had a job at that point and was able to book a motel room on Dixie Highway at monthly rates. Lacking anything better to do in the evenings, I started attending AA meetings every night. This had a stabilizing effect on me. Sort off. The incident with Mother May-Eye had happened when I was sober. Apparently, I had anger issues. Rick, my temporary sponsor, said not to worry. I was what they call a dry drunk. Great.

On the plus side, Rick at least had some understanding of the issue. When I lost my job and any wherewithal to pay for a room, Rick offered me space above his garage for as long as I stayed sober. He didn't need to worry about me staying forever. The place lacked amenities. No electricity. No water. If I had to pee in the middle of the night, I had to climb down the stairs, walk from the garage across the sidewalk, unlock the door to Rick's house, creep up the stairs to Rick’s only bathroom, trying not to wake up Rick or his wife. Or I could opt for a leak in Rick's hollyhocks. I tried to think of it as camping, but it didn’t help much. Ever since the war, I didn't have much use for camping. 

Hank's job offer had come in the nick of time, When I told Rick about it, noting that the offer included room and board, all Rick said was, “Good thing. You’re killing my hollyhocks.”

Unpacking my suitcase, four boxes of books, and one box of odds and ends shouldn’t have taken long. The problem was I had to hike them from the parking lot up the two flights of stairs. By the time I made it two trips up the worn slate stairs
one for the suitcase and the other for my trusty Underwood typewriterI was breathing hard and decided to leave the boxes in the Edsel for another day. I made a mental note to give up smoking. 

Then I sat down in the easy chair, lit up a Lucky Strike, and wondered if I could learn how to teach English and be a detective in three weeks.


  1. I already made one correction, thanks to Bob Stevens: "Loved the new architecture--fourthfloor above the freshmen!" Okay, got me. I changed Bert's room to the third floor. I could have sworn there were four floors. It felt like it.

  2. This might be a "woman" thing, but I found myself curious and wanting to know a little more about the furniture...what kind of a red easy chair was it old, worn, or new, plastic, leather, cloth...and how big was the armoire, how tall was the chest of drawers, etc. I know too much description wouldn't be characteristic, so it's kind of a balancing act....anyway, just a small thing, but it seemed it would make it feel more real.......

  3. ME: Love the comment. It is an issue. One of my favorite authors is Robert Parker, who has a lean style. That's my bias. On the other hand, the story is set in a real time and place, one that is familiar to my classmates, who might be interested in a few more details.

  4. Well, when you consider that our "lockers" & showers where in the basement, it was a four floor climb between our cloths and beds. :-) John J

  5. Well, when you consider that our "lockers" & showers where in the basement, it was a four floor climb between our cloths and beds. :-) John J