It was closing in on Christmas time. The College dormitory was nearly empty. The semester was over and most of the students had gone home to their families.
James was still there. Still in his dorm room. He was cold. The campus had turned down the heat in the dorms. The frigid winter bit right through the concrete walls. James' college experience had lasted four and a half months. One semester. His grades were all F's and one D. This was his last night in the school. His father was coming to pick him up in the morning. A mere eight hours from now.
James smiled and shook his head as he thought of the one passing grade he'd earned. It was for his Friday morning English class. The class met very early. James drank almost every night, but Thursday nights were when the huge drinking parties happened. He spent many a Friday morning English class hung over to the point where he felt like dying. For some reason he went to the class. He wondered why he'd bothered doing that. He never showed up for any of his other classes.
James looked down at his stash of liquor. Some of his friends gave him their leftovers before they left. He had a half bottle of Vodka, about a fifth of Tequila, two beers and one bottle of pear Woodchuck Cider. Jame opened the bottle of Vodka and drank deeply. He looked around his dorm room. Nothing was packed. His posters still hung on the walls. His clothing scattered the floor. Nothing was done.
He knew he should get to work on it. He knew he should have had this done by now. His father was coming to pick him up soon. For whatever reason, it didn't really matter, he didn't do anything. James sat and drank. James didn't sit on his bed or any of the room's chairs. He sat in a little moving wagon. It looked like a furniture dolly, except built with three walls. He'd moved it up to his room three days ago to put all his stuff in for when he moved out. He thought of his father.
James remembered a phone conversation with his dad the day he walked away from his parent's car and to his new life as a college student.
"I shouldn't be calling you the first night," His dad said.
"It's okay dad," James said.
"I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you. After I gave you a hug, I watched you walk away from the car until I couldn't see you anymore in the crowd of students. I can't describe it very well. I'm just proud."
"Thanks Dad," James said.
James shook the memory from his head. He drained a beer in one long gulp. He threw the empty beer can against the wall. He picked up the Tequila.
James woke up to the harsh sound of the dorm phone ringing. His head hurt. He could barely open his eyes. The phone clattered to the floor when he tried to pick it up. He nabbed it off the carpet.
"Hello?" James said.
"Hi," His dad said, "I've been trying to call you for awhile."
"Are you on your way?"
"I'm here," His dad said.
"What time is it?" James said.
"It's after ten. I'm coming up."
James got dressed in a hurry. He was very much still drunk. He stumbled and fell while trying to put his pants on. He grabbed some toothpaste and squeezed a bunch in his mouth, swished it around and swallowed. His dad knocked on the door. James opened it.
"Ready?" His dad said.
James felt like his dad could see right through him. He knew his dad could smell the alcohol and the stink of the unclean room. The stink of his failure.
"I'm ready," James said. He felt like he needed to be sick.
"Are you packed?" His dad said. James grabbed a canvas bag and put his clothes in. He grabbed his computer.
"That's it?" His dad said, "What about your posters? What about all your other stuff?"
"I don't want it."
"You're going to leave all your stuff?" His dad said. "Once we leave the room, we're not going to be allowed back in. The guy who moves in here will get it all."
"Let's just go." James said. He and his dad walked out the door and down the hall to the dorm elevators. They took the elevator to the parking garage in the basement level. They got in his dad's van and drove off for home.
His dad stopped once for gas. When he went inside the station to pay, James opened up the car door and threw up on the ground. They didn't speak much on the way home. James told his father he was tired. It was a lame attempt to explain his hangover. His father didn't say much at all. His father didn't ask him what happened. He didn't ask him what he was going to do now. He didn't even seem like he was angry. He just drove the car.
His dad pulled into his driveway and they got out of the car. James took the computer and his dad helped by taking the bag of dirty clothes. They walked up to Jame's childhood bedroom and put the things on the floor. James crashed on the bed. He waited for his father to say something. His father watched him at the door for a second, then turned off the room light and left. James could hear him walking down the stairs. He remembered his dad telling him how proud he was of him. He remembered his father saying how he watched him walk away until he melted in the crowd of students. James lay in his childhood bed. He needed a drink.