Runaway! - Cover


Copyright© 2017 by Ernest Bywater

Chapter 04

University Life

In the November before his high school graduation David speaks with the trustee of his US based trust about attending university and emails him a copy of what courses he’s finished with a list of what he wishes to do for the next few years. Based on the course information from the university he can start studies in the summer after high school finishes to attend the uni for two years, plus summer classes before, between, and after those two years to have degrees in both business management and computer software design. David’s concern is the cost of the studies and living while he’s at college. This is a concern because the university may see him as an out-of-State student and it might cost him more than if he went to an Arizona based facility where he’s an in-State student.

At the request of his trustee David leaves it all in his hands to enrol him for the studies listed, pay the fees, and organise the accommodation. After everything is organised David learns his trustee is an alumni of the uni and that gives him an inside track on getting David to attend there.

The Monday of the week before the Summer Semester starts David arrives at the university and goes to the Administration Office to finalise the paperwork for his enrolment, which includes showing them the originals of his transcripts as they already have photocopies. He’s not surprised to see they have him enrolled as a Sophomore for the summer and as a Junior for the coming fall while in the same accommodation.

Amongst the various documents they give David is a limited time permit to park in an area close to the student residence to make it easier for him to unload his things to go into the apartment he’ll be sharing with five other students over the coming year, but he’ll be the only one there for the summer semester. Being the first to arrive he gets to choose which of the bedrooms he wants to use because the other five students are all incoming Freshmen. They also give David his permit for the long term parking in the student parking building that’s a few minutes’ walk from his apartment. The university gives him permission to have full AEMT kits in the car and in his apartment as well as a decent first aid kit on his person, all at his own expense. David already has the kits as his trust manager supplied it all for him when he asked for money to buy them. David had doubts about being able to have them on-campus as they all include sharp objects and some drugs which are things students aren’t normally allowed to have with them on-campus at any time.

The lady helping him with his paperwork is amused when she says, “David, being a Junior you’ll be expected to give mature direction to the other students living in your apartment next semester.”

He grins, “Yeah, I’m the same age as them so I’m sure they’re going to listen to me! Just because I worked hard doesn’t mean I can make them work hard as well!”

“If they give you too much trouble give me a call and I’ll have my husband drop by to have a word with them.” David half frowns at her. She hands over a piece of paper with a name and contact details, “He wants you to call him as soon as you get your car registration and license changed over. Now you’re living here he wants a few trophies for their office.”

David looks at the name and laughs. It’s one he recognises so he looks up and says, “Tonight you can tell Sergeant Baker I’ll happily shoot on his team but he’ll need to collect my twenty-two from Window Rock as well as providing me with a good handgun and heavy rifle to practice with and use here plus organising range time around my schedule.”

Mrs Baker laughs as she says, “I’ll tell him and he’ll agree. He already has the approval of the Chief of Police for you to use their range and the ammunition they have. So they’ll be happy to get it organised for you so you can shoot for them.”

David leaves the Administration Office to take his personal gear to his apartment. He chooses the bedroom nearest the unit’s front door so he’ll be close to it if he has to grab his medical gear and run. After he unloads his gear he returns the permit then he goes to get his car registered in New Mexico as well as a New Mexico driver’s license.

When that’s done after only a half hour wait David buys groceries from the store Mrs Baker recommended. He also stops at a hardware store to buy a fold-up handcart to move the food from the car park to the apartment. He figures it’ll be needed a lot while he’s at the university. Once the food is put away he decides to take a walk around part of the campus while heading to a local eatery Mrs Baker also told him about. He has a meal plan with his accommodation but that starts next week and it doesn’t allow for late night snacks while studying, etc.

The food at the restaurant is well prepared and filling so David takes one of their menus when he leaves as he can call in a delivery order when he wants one while studying.

Tuesday morning David is up and off to the University Bookshop to buy his textbooks for the semester. He also buys a new laptop computer since his current one is a few years old and he doubts it’ll handle the extra load of the university course demands as well as a computer should. The old one will be good to use in the apartment as an extra when conducting research for assignments. He adds a large screen to use as an external monitor to make such research work easier to do.

After taking the books and the computer gear to the apartment he goes to the nearest hospital to register his contact details and show them his credentials as an AEMT in case they need him to help out at any time. They’ll pass his information along to the other medical services in the city, and that’ll save him time in not having to visit them all.

David has lunch at Taco Bell then he calls in to see Sergeant Baker in the Triangle Sub-station of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) on Dartmouth Street to discuss collecting David’s rifle from Window Rock for him. An officer with family in Fort Defiance offers to collect it when he visits his family there in a few weeks. Until the summer semester is over David’s weekends are going to be busy with studies and his Sunday afternoon visits to the Police Range to practice with the guns being loaned to him by the APD for the shooting meet.

Having finished everything he needs to organise to live at the uni David is free to wander the campus and the city to get to know it better. For the rest of the week he’s walking about the campus and the city when he’s not reading ahead in the textbooks or making clothes. His class schedule is a three hour morning class starting at 9:00 a.m. with a three and a half hour afternoon class starting at 1:00 p.m. every day.

On Friday morning he gets an email to visit the Administration Office. A summer student down to live in another apartment needs to move because the others in that apartment object to sharing with him, sight unseen, due to his religion. He’s doing the same courses as David so it makes a lot of sense for him to move into David’s apartment for the summer if David has no objection to sharing with a follower of the Hebrew faith. David agrees to the change. The two are introduced to each other and David helps him move his gear into the apartment.

Summer Semester

David’s first semester at the uni is mostly event free, apart from the usual type of student rowdiness in discussions. But there are two events that stand out. The first is at the start of the first lecture of the semester.

Jacob and David arrive at the lecture hall at the same time as most of the other students. However, when they enter the room the people just in front of them are the ones who objected to sharing an apartment with Jacob. An older student is turning to enter a row of seats when he spots the two and he turns to say, “Well, if it ain’t the Jew and the Jew lover!”

David grins as he responds with, “Just for a bit of clarity, are you an idiot or a pretend to be Christian or a pagan or what?”

The one who spoke doesn’t like the question, nor do his room-mates. The student turns more to David while asking, “What’s that supposed to mean?” The professor is at the front of the room and the voices are loud enough for her to hear them. Normally she lets the students deal with student issues but she doesn’t like the tone of their voices or the subject matter so she reaches for the lecture platform’s phone to call security.

“Well,” David starts his reply, “real Christians follow the teachings of Jesus Christ,” all hear the heavy emphasis he puts on the word real. “As for being a Jew lover! All true Christians love Jews, even if it’s just for the fact Jesus was a Jew! Not only was he very knowledgeable in the Hebrew faith the Bible tells us he spent many years as an approved and accepted Teacher of that faith and he later went on to be a Rabbi; which is their equivalent of a minister of religion. Only someone who doesn’t read the Bible often or doesn’t understand it wouldn’t know those facts.”

The first student is very red under the collar and he’s moving toward David when one of his companions says, “Damn, he’s right! Last week’s sermon at church talked about Jesus being a Rabbi. I just never linked it with being Jewish, until right now!” Two of the other students grab the angry one and hustle him into the seats. Jacob and David move down the room to sit in seats for the lecture. The professor hangs up the phone when she sees she doesn’t need security staff, then she hands out the course outlines.

The student David put down avoids David and Jacob after that, but the other students no longer have an issue with either of them.

The second incident is less of an issue while being a bigger problem in a different way. On Sundays David attends the Presbyterian Church the Bakers go to as it’s only several minutes drive north of the campus with a large park opposite it. After the service one Sunday there’s a car accident on the street outside so David grabs his medical kit to treat an injured woman. The follow-on paperwork eats up a lot of his afternoon. He’s happy to have helped the woman but he isn’t happy about all of the paperwork he has to fill in for helping her. It also brings him to the attention of the emergency medical services in the city again, and they finally contact him to work for them from time to time. Thus it results in him spending a lot of time doing work away from the university in his otherwise free time. He doesn’t mind helping out and he does enjoy the money they pay him. However, the lady he helped is related to the State Governor and David gets attention from the Governor’s office, which takes up some of his free time as well.

Life in General

Starting university the way he does results in David missing out on a lot of the more organised social life activities at the university. This is due to most of them being aimed at recruiting Freshmen and are all set up to organise Freshmen during their first year. None of the many organised university groups, like the activity clubs and the fraternities, seek David out to sign him up as a new member of their organisation. This is because David isn’t on their Fall Semester lists of incoming Freshmen, nor is he on their Fall lists of students transferring in from other institutions. Nor does he get the event alerts sent to people because he’s not on their existing lists or the other new student lists they use to add people to their contact lists. Nor does he sign up with any of them at the university publicity day for them held each year. David goes to some of the organised events due to the general advertising signs on noticeboards or word of mouth from friends.

David does spend time with the students from his apartment block in semi-organised social activities like scratch games of flag football, but most of his social activities are outside of the university with the Baker family, the ambulance crews he works with, and the police officers he knows. Although he spends a lot of time with older people he fits in very well with them so he has a good time at the various barbecues and parties they put on, invite him to, and he attends.

While at university David spends many of the public holidays at work as an EMT working as the junior medical technician in the ambulance so others can have the holidays off to be with family or because they want extra crews on when expecting troubles. Most of his EMT work is night shifts and some weekend shifts to cover people calling in sick or asking for a day off. Yet he does end up spending part of most of the major holidays with the people important to him, such as the Thanksgiving weekend with Jason and Christmas lunch with the Baker family.

David usually gets away to spend a weekend in Window Rock every four to six weeks and for a week at the end of the two main semesters.

He does well at the annual shooting event, as expected, and he makes the local cops happy to have some trophies. After he does well in his Senior Year he tells them he’ll be leaving the area before the next shoot so he won’t be competing in it. A lot of people are sorry to see him going away, but others are happy to see him going because they’ll now stand a better chance of winning some of the events.

During his two years on the university cross country team David does well; often winning and no lower than third place in his events. Thus the coach and his team-mates are happy to have him on the team because his performances add to the team points and the team’s position in the competition. Despite doing well in the regular competitions their team isn’t good enough to qualify for any of the higher level meetings.

David does very well in all of his courses. He’s rarely in the top ten students in the course for the year but he’s always in the top ten percent of the students. He’s often on the Dean’s List for having a good overall performance.

One other activity David does is to make children’s clothes and cloth dolls in his spare time. He attaches a maker’s label for his trade name of L A Jones Custom Clothing so people think they’re factory made clothes. He arranges with the church he attends for them to be given to local poor people when they need them, or for Christmas and birthdays.

In general his life flows along on a fairly even course with a balance of studies, outside work, and recreational activities. He’s happy with how things are going and he’s very happy he’s on track with his long-term plans for his life.

Junior Year

David is well settled into the apartment when the first of his new room-mates arrives, Patrick Mills. David uses his handcart to help move Patrick’s gear. There are lots of volunteers and officials to help on the official moving days but Patrick is a few days early. Both are on hand to help their other four room-mates move into the dorm then leave them to get organised while they go to help other new students with their gear.

One amusing point about the moving day is David loses track of the time and all are surprised when a police car pulls up. Sergeant Baker gets out, walks up to David, has words with him, escorts him to the car, David gets in the back, and they drive away. There’s a shooting team practice shoot on this afternoon so when David didn’t show at the station to travel to the shoot with the Sergeant at the agreed time the Sergeant came looking for David. The real fun starts after the practice when David returns to the apartment. Most of the students saw him being taken away and they want to know why the police wanted him.

David enters the room and is asked by Jim Weeks, “David, what did the cops want with you?”

He manages to keep his face straight when he replies, “They had a few people down at the gun range and they needed someone to show them how to shoot properly so they came to get me to show them how to shoot well.” They don’t believe him, until he takes them into his room to show them the displays he made for his medals from the shoots for the last few years. He has a simple but elegantly engraved wooden plaque for each year with the medals he won that year pressed into cut-outs in the plaque and then sealed. Of course the gossip on the incident is quick to spread across the campus.

The next amusing thing is when his freshmen room-mates learn he’s the same age as them yet David is a Junior and not a Freshman nor a Sophomore. That’s when they begin to worry about how much he’s going to pressure them on their studies because they realise he must study a lot, and real hard. They’re pleasantly surprised when they find he also wants them to have some fun and frolic to keep a balanced life.

David’s attitude to life and studies slowly becomes the prevailing one of the accommodation block he’s in. Over the first few months of the semester the other students see David enjoying life while he studies hard. It’s clear he gets good marks through hard work and they all see the many benefits he gets from that. So they follow his example.

The other students are surprised David has a sewing machine in his room. It’s quite a feat to fit it in the small room. However, he does get it in with room to move around it. The first time he makes his own repair on damaged clothing they think they know why he has it there. What they don’t realise is he also makes new clothes. Because they don’t see him cutting out the patterns or sewing the pieces together they assume the new clothes are bought due to them having his fashion label.

Life is similar to the summer semester with most of the meals being in the uni cafeterias with some meals at the restaurants and take-away food stores near the university. He also eats a few simple meals he makes in the apartment from the foods he buys. The classes and studies keep them all busy most of the time, plus their many tests and exams are held and passed. However, they do manage to squeeze in a lot of personal and group fun and frolic during the year.

Plaza Emergency

The one significant event during the first year occurs on the day David has his last mid-term exam. Just before lunch he’s one of many students crossing the large plaza area in front of his apartment block when he hears some loud angry shouting and he turns to look at the side of the area. A small group of people are shouting at each other. A security officer is heading to the trouble spot, along with many students which includes David. He’s still a few steps away when one of the group pulls out a knife and he stabs a girl. David immediately darts forward the last two paces to strike the hand with the knife a hard blow to disarm him, and David also kicks the man in the back of the thigh on the other leg to make him fall away from the knife. David drops down beside the girl while taking his pack off his back to get at his first aid kit.

The source of this story is Finestories

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