What did you say Your Name was? – A novel, Prologue

When I opened my eyes the next morning, I noticed that Owen had already been up and had returned from a run.

When both of us were ready we took off in his Renault to Pauls Valley. The sky had cleared up and it was sunny. Owen wore his baseball cap.

We stopped by the McDonald’s on Jenkins Street for lunch. It had a sign heralding that they were the “House of the 15-cent Hamburgers”.

The ride to Pauls Valley took about forty-five minutes. Owen was listening to a church program. My mind, however, was filled with thoughts of my upcoming meeting with the dean. I was not sure how much help I was going to get from him. When we reached Pauls Valley, Owen drove by his high school. He mentioned how as a senior he had coached a youth basketball team.

Owen’s parents owned a small ranch-style home with a red brick facade and a white picket fence. The front lawn had a few rose bushes to the right of the house. There was a barren spot to the left that appeared to have been reserved for a vegetable garden to be grown in summer. The living room had a brown plaid sofa and a matching love seat that I had seen in a Sears ad.

Only close family members and Owen’s sister’s friends were invited to the birthday party. I watched the festivities from a corner. Perhaps Owen had told his mother that I would be accompanying him. The meal she had prepared, pot roast and the homemade apple pie topped with French vanilla ice cream, was special. It was obvious that she wanted to be a good host to her son’s friend. During dinner Owen’s parents inquired about my family. My response was short. It was not a sign of disrespect, but my natural inclination was not to elaborate more than necessary. At one point Owen’s mother remarked: “You are a nice boy, but not much of a talker are you?”

The next morning the family went to attend the Sunday church service. I excused myself and spent the time reading brochures published by the Pauls Valley Chamber of Commerce.

We left for Norman in late afternoon. Owen’s father walked us to the door and said, “Drive carefully. God bless.”

In the evening Owen took me over to the student’s union where there was a large television. The union was a favorite gathering place for students on Sundays. Watching music programs such as the Hootenanny or Shanana in the company of other students capped one week and prepared the students to face another grueling one. It was also a place to make new friends.

This is where I met Dushyant, an international student from India. Dushyant said that he was renting a room in a two-story private house owned by a Mrs. English on Asp Avenue, a couple of blocks off the main campus. It was also very close to the engineering building. Mrs. English occupied the first floor and rented out rooms on the second floor, and she happened to have a vacancy.

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