Chet came into the house through the side kitchen door laughing with his friend Kevin about one of those things that only teenagers seem to find funny. “Hey Laurie.” He said as he waved halfheartedly to his step-mother who was busy cooking something up at the stove. “Smells good, man.”
Laurie gave him a tight little smile and said “Hello boys, Chet your father is in his office, he wants to talk to you about something.”
Chet exchanged a wary glance with Kevin “Yeah? You know what he is on about?” he asked.
“Something came in the mail and got him worked up into one of his moods, you know how he gets”.
“Shit man…” Chet muttered as he tasted the sauce his step-mother was preparing on the stove.
“Language Chester!” His step-mother admonished as she swatted his hand away from the pot. “And don’t spoil your appetite, dinner will be ready soon!”
Chet exchanged grins again with Kevin and said “Go wait for me in the garage man, I’ll be right down once I deal with the old man” He and Kevin exchanged an overly-complicated handshake and Kevin headed for the garage stairs. “Thanks Laurie. Guess, I better get this over with” Chet muttered as he headed in the opposite direction, towards the stairs up.
“…and this is the last straw! I have given you chance after chance after chance…” His father yelled on and on as he stood behind his desk waving the latest rejection letter about. This would make twelve, one for each school Chet had applied to. Chet sighed as he sat in one of the plush office chairs across from his father and stared out the window, fingering the thirteenth letter in his hoodie pocket. His father’s office had a splendid view of the San Francisco Bay, with their house perched in Presidio Heights as it was. Chet watched the little boats flit back and forth across the water while container ship made its slow way towards the docks.
“Well?!” His father’s voice came crashing back in on him. “Not going to say anything for yourself?” His father asked, voice dripping with menace, as he leaned over his desk, rejection letter crushed in his hand.
Chet put on his most vacant face before looking back at his father and asking “What man?” That set him back off again and Chet went back to looking out the window letting his father’s shouts wash over him as he considered.
He felt the seal embossed on the envelope in his pocket. He hadn’t applied to Klamath College, he hadn’t even known it existed but he had been accepted there. Refused from the schools he actually applied for and accepted to one he hadn’t even heard of. The letter hadn’t come to his home either, the postman had found him hanging out with his friends in Golden Gate Park, smoking and kicking the hacky-sack around. The man had just walked up out of the trees in his postman blues and asked “Are you Chester Flynn Lemon?”. When Chet had just stared at him and nodded, he had handed over the letter and said “Congratulations” before walking back the way he had come. There was no address on the letter, just his full name and the seal of Klamath College. Chet had peered after the man, confused, until his friend had hit him with the hacky sack. The school existed though, the website was pretty much like any other university website he had seen, but with a huge bent towards human ecology. He hadn’t even heard of human ecology before today but it seemed pretty rad. And really what else did he have to lose, it was the only school that had actually accepted him.
Chet tuned back into the here and now as his father was winding down once again “…and don’t you think for a second I will support you any longer than I have to, if you throw your future and your grandfather’s trust away by not going to college you are cut-off!” The trust wouldn’t get thrown away, just donated to a charity but they were much the same to his father’s point of view.
Chet sighed and leaned forward, pulling the letter out of his sweater and tossing it on his father’s desk in front of him “I got accepted to Klamath University” he said as he leaned back in his chair. “Winter semester starts in a two months.”
“Klamath?!” His father exclaimed as he snatched up the letter “Never heard of it.” Chet went back to staring out the window as his father tore the letter out of the envelope and began to read it. His father snorted about half-way through, muttering “liberal arts…” as he continued to read. Chet smiled and watched the ships, The school had actually looked really cool, multiple greenhouses and gardens, right on the coast, a two to one girl to guy ratio, and a progressive stance on environmentalism. It was like someone had custom built it for him. He hoped for all he was worth it wasn’t some elaborate prank.
His father grunted “Huh, guess it’s better than nothing.” He said as he tossed the letter back onto his desk. “Can’t fathom why they would want a layabout like you though.” Chet looked back at his father with a sardonic smile on his face, Klamath or Humboldt or SDSU, whatever got him out of his father’s house soonest.