Author’s note: A comment I got regarding the last version of the Ashley story was that Ashley had a solution dropped in his lap. He didn’t really work for it. So I changed the ending and in this version he struggles to find a room and solves the problem himself. The story starts when Ashley and Owen are returning from Pauls Valley.
The story has multiple pages. Please see the number at the bottom.
We didn’t talk much as we drove back. The normally talkative Owen was quiet. I wondered why? Was he upset by my behavior at the party? I really didn’t do anything to embarrass him. As we approached the campus he finally spoke.
“Want to go to the school cafeteria for lunch?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
He parked his car in the parking lot of his dorm. As we walked out he noticed that the car was not aligned properly in the parking lanes.
“Just a minute,” he said as he opened the driver side door and got in. I saw him turn the ignition key but the car wouldn’t start. After several attempts he gave up.
“Damn it,” he said. “I don’t know what’s wrong. I had just changed the battery. Could be the alternator. If that’s the case we are doomed. It may take several days to get the parts for this foreign car.”
“Don’t worry. It’ll work out.” I said, even though I wasn’t sure what was involved in getting the part. I had to say something to console him.
“I do worry. I had promised to take you around to look for a room. Now I can’t,” he said.
“It’s not the end of the world.”
“Shit, man,” Owen stamped his foot as he said that.
We walked for about fifteen minutes to the cafeteria. I had no idea where we were going. I simply followed him. A few students were walking around. Past the building that had Department of Physics etched on the top, stood a smaller building. A door to the side led us to the cafeteria. We each picked up a tray and walked along the counter. I was impressed by the long stretch of food — from salads, main dishes to desserts. I never would have thought a college cafeteria offered so much food. I wondered who the caterer was.
Owen met some of his classmates. They talked about the OU football schedule and whether OU would beat UT. I was aware of the intense rivalry between OU and the University of Texas. But, I couldn’t participate in the conversation much because I wasn’t familiar with the players.
The lunch and the time with his friends calmed Owen down.
“Let’s go over to the Student’s Union,” he said with a smile. “There’s a message board there with notices for room rentals.”
“Good idea. That’ll give me a head start tomorrow.”
The message board did have notices with tear off pieces with addresses. I tore off a few. On our way back we stopped at the Sunoco gas station and picked up a street map of Norman. That night Owen marked addresses on the map to make it easier for me to follow.