“How long are you going to keep ignoring me?” a voice whispered behind him.
“Aaah!” Marcus jumped, turning around. His eyes met two large ones. “Hey, sweetheart,” he smiled. “How long were you there?”
“Long enough,” she replied. “I’ve been looking for you. Are you okay?”
“Well, I am now,” he whispered, his eyes trailing over her face down to the globes dancing beneath her red silk blouse.
Such a distraction. He moved in to kiss her, but she poked him in the cheek.
“You haven’t called all day. I have no idea where you’ve been,” she complained. “…and I had to cancel the reservation.”
“What reserv…oh! Shucks..,” he groaned. “I’m sorry. I totally forgot.”
“Clearly,” Roseanne replied. “Care to explain why?”
Marcus nodded. “Gladly. Just meet me at my room in a few minutes.”
“Your room?” she echoed. “No, mister, tell me right here, right now. Where were you?”
Marcus put a finger to her lips. “Not now, little lady,” he cautioned. “Just meet me there. I’ll tell you then.”
Roseanne clutched her bag up over her chest and turned away. “Fine,” she scowled, her heels going clickety-clack down the hallway.
“I wasn’t up to anything, just so you know,” he called after her. She didn’t reply, and he couldn’t help but notice that her hips swung much like a pendulum when she was angry.
He shook his head and started walking again.
Her pretty brown eyes had him hooked, even though she was fussy. He hadn’t meant to upset her, but an argument in the hallway wasn’t going to help his case.
Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the letter to read it again. His brave face wasn’t enough to hide the sick feeling he had in his stomach. Someone must have made a mistake with the graduate list. He was the top medical student at Gwendolyn University of Medicine, and everyone knew it.
There was no doubt–he had to be graduating. Stuffing the letter back in his pocket, Marcus glanced up to see a huge cart rolling towards him.
“The heck!” He yelped, jumping out of the way.
“Gee. Sorry, man,” a voice drawled.
Marcus straightened his clothes and marched around to the other side of the cart. “You thought pushing a cart piled this high down a hallway was a good idea?” He snapped.
The other man stretched his neck and yawned. “Look man, I said I’m sorry, I figured people would just go around me, ya know? Usually people look in front of them when they walk.”
“And that precludes you from being careful yourself?” Marcus sneered. The other man shrugged. “What does preclude even mean, yo…” he replied. “…who even uses words like that?”
“Ugh, idiot,” Marcus muttered. “It means…”
“Idiot, eh?” The guy repeated. “Nah, my name’s Justin. I work in the computer lab. You are…?”
“Marcus,” he replied. “Wait …no! Why am I even telling you my name? Just…just go.”
“Alright man. Hey, don’t make a big deal outta nothing. Relax. Positive vibes.”
“Take your new age crap somewhere else,” Marcus said, turning on his heel.
He had more pressing matters to deal with than an awkward techie.
Turning a few more corners, he arrived at the bridge to the dorm. Someone what humming a pretty melody, but he wasn’t sure where it was coming from. Opening the door, he slipped through and shut it behind him. He could hear the humming more clearly now.
“I know that voice,” he chuckled to himself. He could Roseanne at the end of the hall, tapping her foot with crossed arms. Her dark curls bounced around her cheeks with each tap.
She was almost 27 but her baby face never betrayed that fact. Her round face was motherly and gentle, unlike her tongue.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” he said, going to bite her soft cheeks. He stopped short when she pressed her hands against his face. “Don’t even think about it,” she grumbled. “You’re going to make them bigger.”
“That’s impossible,” Marcus laughed. “They are naturally big whether I bite them or not.”
“Well, between you biting them and everyone else pinching them all the time, how do we know they couldn’t get smaller?”
“Heh,” he scoffed. “You fuss too much. Let’s go inside.”
Roseanne nodded, saying nothing. Marcus unlocked the door, gesturing for her to go in first. Once inside, he scraped yesterday’s clothes off the bed and picked her up, nuzzling his face under her chin. “I’m going to be straight up with you, babe,” he began, sitting down on the bed.
“Aren’t you always?” she muttered, trying not to laugh as he tickled her sides.
“Yes, probably,” he nodded, reaching back into his pocket.
He handed her the letter.
“What’s this?” she asked, taking it between her index and thumb.
“It’s not dirty,” he laughed. “Hold it properly. And, well…just read it.”
Roseanne raised an eyebrow, and tore into the envelope. Her eyes scanned the first few lines, growing wider as they travelled down the page.
“Why aren’t you on this?” she whispered. Marcus shook his head. “I don’t know, Rose.” Wriggling off his lap, she stood up. “This isn’t correct. Someone made a mistake. Who gave this to you? Did the professor approve it?”
Marcus’ sighed. “It was in my mailbox. Professor Warren’s signature is right there at the bottom.”
“What? No…not Professor Warren!”
“Well, it’s right there. That looks a lot to me like I’m not graduating. He doesn’t sign these lists until he has reviewed them several times.”
“Ridiculous,” Roseanne snapped. “You’re not walking out of here after 10 years of tears and sweat with nothing to show for it. I’m going to talk to him.”
“No,” Marcus said, taking the letter from her. “You don’t need to get involved. I’ll do it.”
“Well, whatever works for you. Just get to the bottom of this. I’ve seen you study. I’ve been there every time they found you passed out, accidentally locked into every study room in this university.”
“You’re right,” Marcus agreed. “I’ve spent a good chunk of my life here.”
“Go fix this,” Roseanne demanded. “You’re graduating. I won’t have it any other way.”
“Yes ma’am,” Marcus nodded, knowing what the five foot tall midget standing before him was capable of. “Can I do it tomorrow at least?”
“No,” she insisted. “Go now.”
Marcus nodded and got up. “Alright,” he said, “…get some rest till I come back.” She nodded and layed down on the bed, as he fluffed the pillows and spread a soft blanket over her. “That’s my strong, handsome man,” she smiled. “Get ‘em!”
Marcus gave a thumbs up before heading out the door. “Here goes nothing,” he said to himself, releasing the air trapped in his lungs.
Dean tapped his fingers on the desk, staring at the door. He really didn’t want to answer the knocks. “Professor Warren?” Marcus called. “I know you’re in there.”
“Come in,” Dean called back. “It’s open.”
Marcus opened the door and stepped inside. “You’re up late,” he said. The older man stared hard at him. “What do you want, Whitman?” he asked, not in the mood for small talk. “I have a question,” Marcus replied. He pulled the letter out of his pocket and smoothed it out on the desk.
“Ah, that…” the professor began. Marcus put the paper down in front of him and frowned. “My name isn’t on the list,” he said. “That’s a mistake, right?”
Dean leaned back in his chair. “Have a seat, Whitman,” he said, loosening his tie.
“I think I’d rather stand,” Marcus replied. “This shouldn’t take long. I just wanted to let you know that there’s been a mistake. How soon do you think we can have my name put on the list?”
Dean stroked the red stubble he called a beard. “Marcus …Mr. Whitman,” Dean sighed “the truth is, there is no mistake.”
Marcus felt the blood drain from his face and straight to his big toe. “What do you mean there is ‘no mistake’? I’m supposed to be graduating.”
Dean shook his head. “I’m afraid not. The faculty has decided that you’re unfit to practice medicine. In any capacity.”
Marcus leaned over, grasping both ends of the desk. “Please tell me you’re joking,” he hissed, leaning forward. “I want the truth, Professor.”
Dean pursed his lips.
“The truth? Mr. Whitman, the faculty is not satisfied that you meet the requirements to–”
“What faculty?” Marcus interrupted. “Like… you? And the other professors?”
Dean drew his lips into a thin line.
“You brought this on yourself, Whitman,” he said, flicking the ash from his cigarette. “Medicine is so much more than anatomy and diagnosis. It’s more than prescriptions and operations. It requires a certain kind of savvy for dealing with, oh…other things. Like politics. Interpersonal matters. Knowing how to truly liaise with your team members. We are not convinced that you posses those qualities.”
“I’m not following,” Marcus said. “Explain?”
“You’re 100% by the book,” Dean continued. “A good thing, in theory. But not practical in the real world.”
Marcus took off his glasses. “I don’t get it,” he said, wiping his eyes. “What does that have to do with my studies? I’m not buying any of this. What’s really going on?”
Dean leaned back in his chair. “Let it go, Marcus. This is all I have to say to you tonight.”
“Well, I’ll wait,” Marcus said, sitting down. “We both know this has nothing to do with my performance.”
“Pah! This pointless arguing,” Dean scoffed, reaching for his coat. “If you had just put this kind of energy into your studies, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The decision is final. Go home.”
“Not so fast,” Marcus jumped to his feet. “No one has put more sweat and tears into their studies as I have here,” he began. “I’ve been locked in the library so many times that the librarian leaves a sheet and a pillow for me now at the end of her shift. I know the human body better that I’ve ever wanted to know it. I–”
“That proves nothing,” Dean replies, picking up his briefcase. “I have to go. Have your things out of the dorm by the end of the week, please.”
“What are you hiding?” Marcus called after him as he walked away. The professor didn’t answer. He just kept walking towards the door.
Marcus cleared his throat. “Professor?” he said.
“What?” Dean roared, opening the door.
Marcus’ eyes burned with all the flames he felt inside.
“I’m going to turn over every brick in this school until I find out the truth.”
Dean brushed at the dew forming on his forehead.
“Suit yourself,” he replied, shutting the door behind him.
Marcus felt for his book bag on the floor, which he found and slung over his shoulder. “Oh I certainly will,” he thought, waiting for the sound of Dean’s angry footsteps skittering down the hall.
Coming out of the room, he turned in the opposite direction. Everyone walking around him looked like faceless pillars, blurry and out of focus.
Just like my future, he thought to himself. He didn’t know where he was going to start searching, and he needed to find a place to move to in a week. Without a job, that was going to be tough.
–end of chapter 1–
It’s been over 5 years since I published my first novel, From Pit to Palace (2011). I was 17 then, and that was 200+ pages of passion, poured into recreating one of the Bible’s most popular stories (Joseph and his colorful coat).
Since then, I’ve been involved in many different forms of writing, but haven’t published a full length novel since. That is changing this year, with my pending release of my murder thriller, Doctor Death (October 2017).
I hope you enjoyed the free first chapter. The rest will be made available for Amazon Kindle by Halloween this year.
Don’t forget to leave your comments!