Chapter Two: Manan
The Paine Towers and Apartments of Paine University housed over hundreds of students. I wasn't sure how many were staying in student housing this semester, but it was enough to keep me busy when I wasn't studying or in class. I was the Residential Network consultant for computing services. Our office was located adjacent to Paine Towers in the Business and Science building where Business, Computer Science, and other technology field students had classes. I took care of networking issues for the students in the dorms. I loved my job and I feel I'm great at it. There was nothing better than the feeling of successfully fixing an issue someone had. Most problems were simple, some people may have loosen their ethernet cables, the signal of their laptops were weak or not connecting to the network if wireless. There was a team of us, five students and our supervisor was Bob. What a plain name for someone in charge of making sure students were happy with the internet connection. Bob placed me as the team lead and I even worked some nights if I wanted too depending on the technical issue. Again most of the issues were simple, at least for me.
Jason, one of my suitemates, had come with me as I responded to one of the rare night tickets. The customer's name was Rebecah Baker. She was a tall woman, about eighteen years old, meaning she had to be a freshman this year. Her brown hair was shoulder length, straight, and bangs reached down to her rather large glasses. She had a bookish, nerdy look to her with her black turtleneck and jeans that were loose. Apparently, she was the only one in her suite. Each suite on the Paine Towers side were for first-year students and there were forty-two furnished suites in all. With two students sharing one of the three bedrooms that came with a dresser, bed, desk, and closet. Suitemates shared a living room, vanity area, and a bathroom.
"Thanks for coming by so late, I thought I had to wait till tomorrow." Her voice was deep, but pleasant as she walked us to the door.
"Oh, usually don't respond to night time issues, but when I checked the query log and saw your issue, I figure I could stop by. I live on the apartment side, so it wasn't a bother. Just make sure the next time that you check your ethernet cables, both of them. Most people only check the connection of the computer port and not the wall jack. I'm sorry you had to deal with that." I smiled and meant every word. When you help people with technology issues they thought of you as a savior. I prided myself on being good at my tasks because that meant more customers.
"I will and thanks again." she said closing her door. Jason and I started to walk towards the elevator. We were on the 8th floor of the Towers.
"I can't believe you decided to work on our movie night." Jason said. "Like she said, it could have waited until tomorrow." He stretched and yawned, something he does a lot of. If you didn't know him you would think he was just bored all the time or at least with you. He was about an inch or so shorter than my own 5'5. He was definitely the thinner of the two of us. I was 170lbs and I knew I could lose some weight or maybe tone up a little, but I was happy with myself. Jason looked almost like a twig standing next to me.
"You could of just stayed in the apartment." I said still smiling. "We could of just met at Crystal's apartment. The Paine apartments were on the other side of the Towers connected by a small lobby where two security officers and the housing office were located. They had to buzz in visitors to either side. Students could just use their Id cards as fobs to get into the Towers or Apartments side.
"If I didn't come with you, I might not have gone to a movie night. In fact we really should be studying for the upcoming chemistry test." He looked at me and shook his head. "Stop smiling all the time, it's creepy."
"It's only creepy because you lack confidence." I said. I believe that in all honesty. I smile because I was good at what I did. People trusted you more when you smile. Yeah sometimes they thought it was creepy, but in general people respond better when you smile.
Jason yawned again. "Whatever. I just didn't want to go by myself."
"And the truth comes out. You know you shouldn't be so dependent on others." I told him. Jason was sort of a recluse. If he didn't go to class you would think he was a hermit. He stayed in his room of our apartment. He wasn't my roommate though. He shared his room with David. I shared mine with Shalin.
"I'm not dependent on others, I just like spending time alone to study or practice my guitar."
"There's nothing wrong with that, but you also need to get out more, experience the world, the campus. Trust me, you don't want to look back at your college life and feel like you didnt' live."
"Says the perfectionist who is willing to work at night even though he is off and makes no extra money from doing so?"
"I'm not a perfectionist." I said as we walked to the apartment side and buzzed ourselves in. The security officer on duty was reading his paper. An older black guy with readers and a bald head.
"Now, you trust me, you are a perfectionist, a control freak, I might add."
"You're just mad because I'm calling you a recluse."
"Maybe, but if I were a recluse why do I come to Crystals for movie night? You know why? Because you're my friends. Reclusive people don't have friends, much less friends they consider family."
"Wow, if you would of said that with some more emotion, I might have shed a tear." I pushed him softly. "You're right, you do hang out with us, but you still don't get out much. You're right though these weekly movie nights feels like the seven of us are more like a family. Almost like the seven dwarfs which fits for you being short and sleepy all the time."
Jason rolled his eyes. "I feel shorter today, do I look shorter? I know it sounds crazy, but.."
"No." I said. That was weird for him to ask, but I have to admit that the last couple of days he did seem shorter sometimes. I thought it had more to do with shoes than anything else though. Sometimes it even seem like he was four inches shorter. It's not the first time he brought this up and I had similar issues. I'm only 5'5 and while I was at the gym I was able to jump and grab the rim when I was with David. He was impressed, but I never jumped that high before.
"I feel short."
"Because you are short." We both laughed as we got on the elevator. "You're right though tomorrow we should start studying, but tonight, we enjoy our campus family."
"Sounds like a plan." he yawned again. "Speaking of studying have you seen Andy? I haven't seen him since Halloween. That was like three days ago."
Jason was right I haven't seen him since the Halloween party. "No, the last time I saw him was at the party that you decided to skip. I saw him leave with a tall white girl dresses as a bee.
"It's not like him to not check in. I hope he's okay." Jason said.
"I'm sure he is. You know he loves having a good time. I wouldn't be surprised if he showed up at Crystal's. After all, he's the one who kind of started this tradition, remember?"
Jason smiled but it look like it took effort. "Yeah, he did. That goofball. We started last Fall so it's been almost a year."
"That's right. If he isn't there tonight, I guess we should call him." I said as the doors to the elevator closed. Something inside of me told me something else was going on with Andy. Like Jason said it wasn't normal for Andy not to talk to us. Not this long. I hope everything is alright.
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