College. Alcohol. Trouble. A bunch of friends who never would've thought that the hardest part was living.
I grabbed my keys, double-checked the content of my bag, "Phone, wallet, keys, phone, wallet, keys" I ranted and ran for the door.
"Bye Mikes!" I yelled as a yanked the door open and sprinted forward, not waiting for a reply.
Today was my first day of school in what felt like forever. I had dropped out of high school on my senior year and had worked at random shitty bars and such ever since.
This was my one and only shot on college, since it turned out they weren't all nice and cool about accepting people like me as their students. Somehow, against all odds, my boyfriend's father had hooked me up with an interview using his connections.
He had promised me that my school history -or the lack of it- wouldn't be a problem as long as I made a good impression.
A good impression, me? Sure, a piece of fucking cake!
Why he had even bothered remained a myster to me, I had been dating Nicholas for less than three months and honestly, if it had been up to me, we wouldn't even have made it to the meet the parents level. Nicholas insisted on it, though, and I stopped reasoning with him the minute I realized something good could come out of this.
I was such a bitch, but I'm doing OK living with myself despite that, thanks for asking..
So visual arts, here I come. I had no fucking clue about arts and my vision was quite messed up for the most of the time, too, but a girl's gotta take what she can get.
I really felt like I had lived my drop-out life to the fullest and reached everything that was within reach on that path. My career as a waitress was simply as high as it gets and unless I made this brand new option B work out, that's where I was gonna stay. I cringed.
My life was a pretty average high school drop-out one, and my job fitted the scene perfectly. At least the part of my job I knew about.
I was a waitress, for all I knew. The thing is, my boss Harwick wasn't just another bar owner. He was a business man, and the kind you'd rather not know about. I knew the essentials and I could share my knowledge by stating two things:
First, the affairs that were dealt with in his demolition zone-ish office were not entirely, if at all, legal.
The second thing was to shut up about it.
My job was probably quite close to any other bar related job; dealing with drunks, serving drinks, cleaning tables, doing the dishes, getting assaulted and then beating the fuckers up.
That, and I ran Harwick's errands, neatly folded pieces of paper from table to table. They would reach out for it, place it in their pocket, thank me, and order another double whiskey. Easy, huh.
I was glad moral was never a big thing for me, and being aware of this didn't bother me much. I knew things went on in there, things that couldn't bare daylight, but I didn't care.
No, Harwick was my problem. The cause of my headache and the reason I suddenly felt so anxious to continue my educational life.
This charming gentleman was an utter and total nightmare, and if given the choise I would gladly erase the fucker from the planet, and smile.
There was a strict hierarchy Harwick stuck to, and I was the very last on the line. Somehow even Fiona, the slut who unsuccesfully pretended not to be of east-european descent, and whose legs -I assumed- were permanently a few inches too far apart, ranked higher than I did, though her only job was to entertain the men Harwick felt was crucial to be kept happy.
The only way she knew how seemed to work its magic, since she was still around.
I could only count days until she got some of the most important dons a herpes, and I'd never have the misfortune of seeing her face again.
I felt that getting out myself was the easier solution, and for that, I needed this college. Or any college.
Or a rich husband, which would be even harder to get.
I would also be making Mikey, my roommate and friend, a lot happier by quitting my job. He almost had a stroke when he answered the phone the first time Harwick called our house. And then, I think he actually had a stroke when Harwick first appeared behind our front door. Mikey knew just as well as I did that there was something fishy about the guy.
The difference was that I didnt care so much, Mikey on the other hand was scared shitless. He was the type who got very paranoid very fast, and he was busy now making up theories about Harwick's businesss that -in his mind- sometimes involved the mob, sometimes the CIA. He hadn't seemed to have made up his mind on whether they were the bad guys or the good guys.
One time when he started ranting about his suspicions yet again, I actually heard him mention Area51 and stopped listening.
I found myself wandering around the college campus with a minimum amount of time on my hands. I was sort of starting to panic, I mean, how the hell was I supposed to know where the office was? Building C, had Nicholas said, down the hallway and the last door on left. Right.
Having all these buildings in alphabetical order would've made sense if they actually were in alphabetical order. What was the logic in naming the first three buildings T, L and H? Seriously, I was so fucked. Fucked, and pissed off as well.
Nick had promised to pick me up, escort me all the way to the door, knock on it for me, and wait outside until I was done. That, and a friend of his and also Mikey's big brother -this Gerard guy that I vaguely remembered from high school- went to this college and had promised to help me incase Nicholas couldn't make it.
I had no idea what that Gerard looked like these days, so there was no point in trying to look for him, either. He was three years older than Mikes and had attended the same high school as us. I was a year older than Mikey, but we grew to be quite close friends during our three years in that purgatory of a school. I dropped out in the middle of my senior year, spending my days getting drunk and misbehaving. The story of my life.
Mikey went off to college after high school, refused the dorm room he would've got, and managed to find himself an apartment that he -in the end- could not afford. I decided it was time to leave my childhood home and go live with him.
During all those years in Belleville I saw Gerard maybe five times in total. One time in church during the holidays, our parents had dressed us all in our Sunday Bests and Mikey made faces at me the whole time. In school I saw him once or twice.
And at Mikey's house once when I was ten years old and had been dared by Mikey to go into the pitch black basement to spy on Gerard. One time at the age of thirteen, I think, I ran away from home in the middle of the night because I felt I'd been grounded unnecessarily after Mikey and I broke my mother's best china set as a result of a three-hour food fight. I'd headed for park nearby and almost peed my pants when I ran into Gerard. He cursed and told me to go home, and so I did.
Those were the few memories I had of the guy. He was a little sturdy back then, cute small teeth, dark hair and the Italian origin of the Way family was more apparent on his features than Mikey's. That's about all I remembered.
I caught a sign that said Main Building and the arrow pointed straight up.
"Okaay", I murmured to myself slowly.. Great, now I'll just grow a set of wings and I'll be on my way.
I let out a sigh in frustration and decided to call Nicholas, he was so gonna get it.
"Are you Em?" I heard a tiny bit familiar voice behind me and I turned around to see a tiny bit familiar face, Gerard, it had to be. He was much taller now. His face was the same, only paler. A tiny, crooked smile that appeared on his lips spoke of recognition.
"Yes, now help me, please" I sighed only to make his lopsided grin wider.
"Cause you know, the arrow points up, but I never realized the ability to fly was required" I paused for a second, "even though, most of these people are propably into superheroes" I added looking around only to see the weirdest looking people I ever saw.
He started walking towards a big building right ahead of us and I followed.
"It's junior day" he was still smiling "The year's newcomers always get to dress up for a day.. And looks like the the most popular costume is the same as every year"
I couldn't help but chuckle when he talked about getting to dress up. First, I was pretty positive I detected a hint of envy in his voice and second, what the hell? Playing dress up on the first day? It's like kinder garden all over again.
"You mean Superman?" I asked still shaking my head at the weird scene I was caught in, numerous superheros going around minding their own business in middle of NYC Visual Arts campus.
"Yeah, and Clark Kent, too" he mused "Some of them actually change their costume on lunch break. The joke got pretty old pretty fast"
I laughed as he opened the huge mahogany door for me, and I walked in past him.
"By the way, an arrow pointing up usually means straight ahead" He stated with a playful tone. I crinkled my nose, not bothering to answer.
"You have a driver's licence?" he asked
I shook my head.
"Good" He laughed and turned around to leave.
"Thanks" I shouted after him, partly for helping me, and partly for the compliment.
I found myself standing infront of an oldish brown door, and gently knocked on it a couple times. I was suddenly nervous beyond belief,
a part of me was scared I'd fuck this up like I fucked up every other good thing in my life and another part just wanted to screw this, run home
and go on with my waitress career and smile and never have to deal with the shame of getting rejected.
And what if I got in? That scared me as well, I didn't know anyone except for that Gerard guy I remember seeing here and there during my high school years, I couldn't always just follow him around like a little puppy and expect him to introduce me to his friends so we could be a happy bunch.
Also, I wasn't too confident on not getting lost 3489 times per day.
I snapped back to the present moment as the door was opened and I was greeted with a friendly smile.