Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Check Mate - Chapter 1

-Nine months earlier-


11:30 a.m. - Friday, August 15th
Andre’s head practically hung half way out the car window. He resembled a pet Labrador retriever as his wife of eight years drove along the mountain side.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this. How did I let you talk me into this mess? You’re crazy, you know that?” Andre slapped the glove box. “You need to calm down. I know that much,” Dionne said. Her eyes narrowed down to slits as she focused on the narrow winding road. She’d had enough of his complaining for one day.

The white Ford Escape whizzed past a sign that read: “Welcome to Grandridge, home of the Red Tornadoes.” The quaint town sat nestled in what’s called the foothills of the Smoky Mountain range, which cast its considerable shadow over the small college based community. The mountain filled spectacular views in the distance were a far cry from city noise and endless blocks of concrete they were familiar with.

North State University would never be mentioned in the same breath as Notre Dame, Michigan, or Duke, but still, a major university.

The professors at the school were paid well. Very well.

“I’m serious DeDe. I should have put my foot down. Give me one good reason to move here,” Andre said. His nostrils flared.

“For starters, you don’t even have a job. You keep up all that yelling and we gonna have some problems,” Dionne pointed at him. “Problems? Like what? Are you threatening me again? Don’t let that little professor title go to your head.”

“I’m not going to tell you again. Lower your voice. I’m not trying to argue with you on our first day here.”

“I’m not trying to argue either…I’m just saying.”

“Saying nothing, as always. You’re always talking. Why don’t you actually do something for once?”

“Whatever.” He folded his arms.

“Anyway Andre. I’m not letting you drag me down.”

Andre sulked in his seat. But inside he cringed. They would be living in a strange town, far away from home, in a house that dwarfed their former two bedroom brownstone apartment. It wasn’t the thought of a mortgage that scared Andre. It was the size of the mortgage.

The summertime heat offered little relief in the form of a breeze as they crept along through the sleepy town which seemed deserted with the students gone for summer.

“Look, there’s the campus where I’ll be teaching. Can you believe it? I’m a real professor,” Dionne said, pointing to her left.

“What’s that smell?” Andre wrinkled his nose and sniffed into the wind several times, ignoring her enthusiasm.

“It’s called fresh air. For real. I’m sick of your mouth. Nobody twisted your arm into moving here. You could’ve stayed in New York.” She sucked her teeth.

“It’s like that now?” Andre lifted an eyebrow.

“What do you expect me to say? I’m looking for a little support. I’m nervous about the move too. I’m looking at the positives.”

Andre closed his eyes and reclined in his seat.

No amount of negativity he dispersed would totally thwart Dionne’s state of bliss. If he was unable to partake in the delight and warmth she possessed for the relocation, too bad.

Ever since Dionne accepted to take the position to teach at North State all Andre heard about was how wonderful a place it was. Grandridge made the list as one of the top 100 places to live in America
by a recent online poll.

She’d shown him every website imaginable about this quiet college town. Charming. Rustic. Majestic. Pleasant. Those were the words used to describe this hidden gem of a community.

He used his own set of words. Boring. Expensive. Overrated.