691 Suburban Dr – An Excerpt

Argh, sorry it’s taking me so long to get ‘691 Suburban Dr’ (my eleven-years-after-the-fact sequel to ‘428 College St’) up for sale. What can I say? I’m lazy, or busy, or something. At any rate it should only be a matter of days at this point. In addition to being available on Amazon it will be available in the Queer Young Cowboys store in .epub, .mobi and .pdf versions.

Anyway, here’s part of the first chapter!

They tore down 428 College Street a while back. It was the house I lived in my second year of college.

The University razed that whole block of College Street, in fact. They put up student condos called Ellsworth Gardens. I’ve been past them. Each unit houses four students. The siding is beige. The grounds are landscaped with white concrete walkways and bushes to keep you from walking where you aren’t supposed to walk. It’s one of the places they take prospective students and their parents on the University tour to show you how modern, safe, and utterly characterless the students’ lives can be.

Character implies something that is out of the norm, something dangerous or profound. Something like what I experienced in that same location all those years ago, with my roommates Darrin and Randy.

I got a job with the University four years ago. Sometimes I feel like I’ll never leave this town, like I’m harboring some sick attachment to it. The events that occurred here in my college days, particularly at 428 College Street, left an imprint.

Grand Avenue is the epicenter of the campus. It’s the street where I work. Once it was lined with head shops, coffee houses, performance spaces, and hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants. Now there’s American Apparel, Starbucks, T-Mobile, and Chipotle. I watched it happen, watched them go down one by one – their rent raised by the University (who basically owns all the land within a five-mile radius) so that the local businesses had to close up shop. Then the corporations came and turned the spaces into so many fluorescent-lit zombie shells of their former selves.

In turn the University raised tuition, and then raised it again. (While keeping a cap on employee salaries cause, you know, the economy). I couldn’t afford to go to school here anymore if I wanted to, and they probably wouldn’t accept me anyway. They want the cream these days, the stuff that floats to the top. I was always drifting somewhere in the middle.

Not that I’m bad at my job; I’m actually pretty competent. I head up communications in the computer science department – do press releases, newsletters, advertisements, organize events, that sort of thing. The benefits are good, the schedule is flexible. I couldn’t ask for a whole lot more.

Except sometimes, I want to.