So they sat there in the front of Fortricks the Education Center, it was Saturday, sat there in the shade under some wide-topped umbrella looking trees, a busy road outside the gate of the military base, they sat on a stretch of grass that ran the length of the old World War Two barracks, now used as the Education Center, where they held classes from the University of Maryland.
Beyond the stretch of grass, the iron fence to the base, across the highway, beyond all that, were two guesthouses; beyond that was the town-let of Babenhausen. When he saw Remora’s curiosity, he put his pen and paper to the side, snapped up onto his feet. The other students turned away with their faces empty and continued to write out their zoological papers.
“Mr. Remora,” said Lee Wright, “what you doing here?”
“Nothing; just thinking about attending the University of Maryland, I got 90-credits with Central Texas College, but Maryland will only take twenty of them, so I pert near have to start my college all over, how about you?” “What’s that? What do you mean?” “It’s quite complicated,” said Mac. “I suppose you got all your credits from the University?” “So with ninety credits, you still have no degree?” remarked Lee. “Oh, yes. I can’t raise a beef; they’ll not even take the twenty credits if I choose to complain. They prefer them to be from a university, not a community college.”
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“How odd!” said the Sergeant?
- “Not really so strange, not really-I just lost a lot of time and money in the education.”
- Then Mac felt a slight embarrassed at telling him his situation, without him asking.
- “We all get screwed, now and then, you know, one way or another.”
- ‘Good god,’ thought Lee, what a misuse of time and effort and money, just to start all over.
- “Yes, we all take a thrashing,” agreed Lee, standing three feet from him, both looking in the eyes of each other.
- “I’m awfully sorry that you are losing all those credits, but did you sign up for the University classes yet?”
- “I just thought you’d like to know, we need not go any further with it; I mean, what’s done is done, and yes, I am in the process of signing up.”
- “Well, maybe we’ll be in some classes together?” Lee looked at him now warmly. He had not anticipated this.
- “Let me know which courses you’re going to take,” said Mac “maybe we’ll go together?”
- “Yes,” said Lee. “I’m taking philosophy here in Babenhausen, this next semester, and in Frankfurt Anthropology.”
- “Frankfurt’s forty miles away, I’ll take the course with you, and we can drive together…” adding, “you can be quite sure on that, it’s a larger school there, and I think stricter,” said Mac.
They had unknowingly both decided at that point to break away from the norm and not be independent, but a little more interdependent in selecting and going to university classes. They would eat together after school, find a bar, and Lee would get drunk, as Mac never did, but he depended on Lee’s company, paid for his food, his meals, and drinks, even the gas, never asking for a cent, said once, “You’ll never find a better nigger than me!” And Lee assured himself he wouldn’t.