Padgett Arango

The first thing to go in a fight is your watch. I sat down at the table with the others, Tyler and Linda and a couple other girls I didn't recognize. Tyler was telling some story about a demonstration he had been at a few weeks ago and had lost his watch. I wanted to ask what the demonstration was for, but I was thinking about the watch and trying to see whether he was wearing one at the time. He was wearing a nice long sleeved shirt, which covered up his wrist. I considered asking him to roll up his sleeves, but couldn't think of a way to do it politely.

Linda elbowed me in the ribs lightly, and I looked at her. She was smiling, looking at me as though I was some sort of idiot. I wanted to slap her, but decided Tyler would get mad at me if I did that. I think Tyler was on the football team, but I'm not entirely sure if we have a football team anymore. Linda said something to me again, something about whether I had ever been in a fight or lost a watch or something like that. I turned my head down to my plate of food and muttered something about a fight I had once been in. One of the two girls I didn't recognize laughed, and I looked up at her. She was fairly cute, in a Midwestern sort of way. Kind of large, but I don't really mind that in a woman. She smiled at me, then looked down, pretending to be shy.

I really don't like all that coy sort of behavior, so I got up from the table and grabbed my tray. Tyler asked me if I was coming over to his room later. I told him I would, then made my way out of the dining hall.

On the way back to my room, I ran into Kelley, who I slept with a couple times sophomore year. We still talked now and then, but I didn't really like her and tried to avoid her as much as possible. I have a really hard time talking to people I have slept with, as I always think about having sex with them whenever they say anything. She told me about her new boyfriend, and I said I was happy for her. She hugged me, but I didn't feel like hugging her back.

I really like my room. Merritt has a really great system for deciding room draw, so I've been able to get the same room for the past three years. It's not very big, but the walls are thicker than any other dorm room on campus. One night, Madison shot his pistol into the wall, and none of the neighbors heard it. The hole is still in the wall, but I covered it up with a Phish poster.

There was a message on my answering machine from my father. He said that my mother's cancer had come back. It had been in remission for the last four months. She was in the hospital and wanted me to call her.

I picked up the phone and called the number my father had given me, and talked to my mother for a while. She asked me about classes and whether I had a girlfriend and when I was coming home. I didn't say much. Neither of us said anything about the cancer.

I lay on my bed for a while, listening to a God Street Wine CD I had bought that morning. After a while, the music began to annoy me, so I decided to leave my room to go buy some wine for that evening. Even though Tyler would probably have drinks in his room, I kind of wanted to start drinking early. I didn't have much else to do.

The nearest liquor store to Merritt is about two miles away, so I had to drive there. The store is kind of in a bad neighborhood, almost over in San Jorge. I felt a little unsafe leaving my car parked on the street, but it was still light out, so I didn't worry about it too much.

Inside the store, I found a few men with masks on pointing shotguns at the clerk. I stopped in the doorway, hoping they wouldn't notice me, but one of the men pointed the shotgun at me and screamed in Spanish. I don't speak Spanish, but I assumed that he wanted me to get down, which I did. I lay with the cold linoleum pressed against my cheek for a while, while the men shouted in Spanish and ran around. Eventually, they walked over to me and took my wallet and my watch.

After they ran out of the store, I stood up and looked around for a bottle of wine. Most of the people were still on the floor. One woman was crying and mumbling something in Spanish. I found the wine I was looking for and took it. I would have paid for it, but they men had taken my wallet.

One of the headlights of my car had been smashed in, which made me angry, so I opened the glove compartment and found my pillbox. I took a few valiums, which I washed down with some of my wine.

I spent a while driving around, drinking wine and watching the sun set. I usually listen to the college radio station, but they were playing rap, so I drove out of town listening only to the hum of the car engine.

It was getting dark, so I thought I should probably turn around and get back. Earlier that day, Jim had told me how to turn really sharp corners by dropping into second as you turn the wheel, so I decided to try it. The car jerked sharply as I shifted into second, then began to skid as I pulled on the wheel. I slammed hard against the door, the wine bottle dropping from my hands.

I think I passed out then, because I don't remember hearing the noise from when my car hit the kid. I didn't even realize I had hit anything until I pulled back onto the road and realized my alignment was off. I pulled over again, and saw the body of the child lying by the side of the road. I walked over to him and looked at him.

He couldn't have been more than nine or ten years old. I think he was Mexican, but I can't be sure. He was wearing a t-shirt and shorts and some tennis shoes. His neck looked like it had been broken. I guessed that must have happened when I hit him. I picked up his wrist to see if I could find a pulse, but I couldn't find one. I tried his other wrist, but had to take off his watch to get at it. I still couldn't find one.

I looked at the watch in my hand, then tried it on. It sort of fit at the largest setting, so I decided to keep it. I got back in my car and headed back to town.

By the time I got to Tyler's room, everyone had already moved on to doing lines, and a few people had passed out. Tyler got up and put his arm around me. He asked me where I'd been, and I lied and said I had fallen asleep after dinner. He told me that he had tried calling, but had only gotten my machine. I shrugged, so he handed me a beer.

I sat down on Tyler's bed, next to Stacy, a girl I had met once or twice and wouldn't mind sleeping with. She looked like she had taken a few too many Quaaludes, so I put my hand on her thigh. She didn't move.

Tyler came and sat down next to me. He had a plate that he had stolen from the dining hall that he was using to display his pills. He handed it to me and I took a few more valiums. I was worried that if I stopped taking the valiums, I might get scared about the kid.

Tyler asked me about the watch, which was on the hand I had on Stacy's leg. I said that I had gotten it as a joke at Walmart. I took it off and offered it to him and told him not to lose it. He laughed and took it. I reached for the plate and grabbed a few more valiums.