This introduces and covers the initial meeting between Riki and Jerry as both arrive at college and discover they are roommates.
Richard “Riki” Robards shoved the scuffed door open before he skidded to a stop. Grim and austere barely described the room he viewed. He’d seen sweeter jail cells. Oh shit, oh goddam fucking shit. And I’ve gotta share this grody overgrown closet with a roommate?
He stepped aside as Sanchez shuffled in with the fourth load of Riki’s stuff and dumped it in the middle of the dark, dreary room.
“Tha’s it.” Sanchez, the senior Robards’ current man of all work, huffed out an aggravated breath. “I’m goin’ home now.”
That left nothing for Riki to say except, “Gracias. Hasta luego.” He knew Sanchez did not care for him, but that was okay. Neither did his family, really. Riki was on his own now, anyway. Taking a step through the door, he caught sight of his reflection in the streaked mirror hanging over a battered chest of drawers. He addressed the image aloud.
“You gotta make it work this time, my man. You’re down oh and two here. It’s either become a college student for real or head for boot camp. No other choices.”
For an instant he saw himself with a shaved head and baggy camouflage uniform. The picture was not pretty. No, his party was over. Family purse strings had been tightened with a severe hand. And a Robards, he had been informed, did not run off to
Canada as an alternative to
military service. If he even attempted it, he’d be disowned completely. This
time he’d better buckle down to produce decent grades and acceptable behavior.
Or else. After failing in one college and being expelled from another he was
running out of options.
Exhaling a ragged sigh, he stepped aside at the sound of footsteps closing behind him. He turned to see a slender fair young man stumble to the door, holding a box balanced on his right shoulder while he dragged a clumsy, abused-looking suitcase with the other hand.
“Hi,” he said, in a low, somewhat hesitant tone.
“Wish I was.” At that, the other man’s eyes widened for an instant before he schooled his face to a neutral expression.
The new arrival glanced at the number on the door and then gave a nod. “You picked your side yet?”
Riki shrugged. “I’ll take this one, the right.”
“Okay.” The newcomer dumped the box onto the desk in his half and propped the suitcase against the foot of the second single bed. He took a couple of deep breaths. “Those stairs are a bummer. Just one more load, though.”
For a moment the two of them stood, taking each other’s measure. The newcomer wore a light yellow
Oxford shirt, button down collar and all.
With it he had on neatly pressed khaki slacks and… penny loafers? Did anyone
really still wear them these days? Riki suppressed a smirk. Holy shit, a real preppy type nerd, dork or
something, like square squared. Still, despite the uncool attire, the guy
wasn’t bad looking.
Part of Riki wanted to launch into a sneering attack but something held him back. Maybe a vague sense of self preservation. No use making an enemy of someone you had to live with, even a guy who might be induced to help with your homework or do papers for you. Fast as a riff on his Strat, Riki shifted mental gears.
“Hey, I’m Riki. With two “I’s”, like Jimi.
“Err, Hendrix you mean?”
“Yeah, the man, the hip one, the killer.”
“Okay, cool. I’m Jerry.”
After a beat, Riki surprised himself. “Need a hand with your shit?”
“Nah, just one more load. My typewriter and another box. I can deal with it.”
Jerry clattered back down the stairs. He moved his rusty VW away from the loading zone before he grabbed the last of his stuff. With his portable typewriter under one arm and a second box tucked against his right side, he headed back up to his new home. Wow, college was really going to be different. He looked around at other students arriving, lugging their assorted shit into the dorm.
Most were in wide-legged blue jeans and bright t-shirts or flashy cowboy attire. Well, this was
Texas, after all. A few were dressed like he
was but they were the minority. Across the parking lot, in front of another
dorm, the incoming students appeared mostly female. Big hair, really short
skirts or those grandma looking long dresses. Foxy, most of them, but even from
here he could hear them, most cussing up a storm. Back home girls didn’t do
that, at least right out in public. Every second word seemed to be “fuck.”
Holy shit, he’d never ever said that word in front of a woman or a girl! Good thing Mom and Grandma were not here. They’d be ready to drag him right back home to Piney Creek. All at once he recognized that his education was not all going to be academic. He’d fallen into a brand new world here, a world light years from the conservative little town where he’d spent all of his nineteen years. He thought about his new roommate and grinned.
Riki, huh. Some name. Riki was one of those in jeans, elephant legged and long, right down over whatever he had on his feet. On top a black t-shirt with glitter and those psychedelic flowers and stuff all over it. Good looking, too. Almost black hair down over his shoulders and a wicked grin. Jerry was sure he’d seen a guitar case and a big amp in the heap of the other guy’s stuff. Maybe he even played in a band. Oh man, that would be outta sight!
And that was how it all began…