Youth must pay a toll and the path to wisdom starts at the hilltop campus of Wessex College. There you can find a good party but you can also lose your mind like Joaquin Chandler did. He's an eighteen year old from Fairfield County looking for love and his own trail to tread during his freshman year in 1993.
The party scene at Wessex is overwhelming for Joaquin and even though he feels like an outcast the kid makes friends. Then the beautiful Elyssa comes along and his heart sets. The chase for her affection begins with an unsettling event but she enters his life. After an initiation into the grittier reality of college life, Joaquin discovers his new best friend Tim is the campus drug dealer and Elyssa is using him to get drugs ...
Hallucinations in the shower suck worse.
As I soak under the warm spray with my head down, hair in my eyes, everything gets heavier like gravity got stronger around me and nowhere else. This is a warning and there’s nothing I can do. My fist moves back and I punch through the column of water. Below the showerhead, my scarred knuckles meet the wall and the thud rumbles through the empty stalls. Blood drips down the tile.
Before the change, I looked forward to showers where the world fell away down the drain. No murders, no cops, no Rascal, no Professor Campbell and no red dots appearing right before my eyes. A shower was a shower, safe and warm, but now it’s not safe.
Nowhere is safe.
The spray narrows with a quick spin of the metal knob that’s hot to the touch. It squeaks to a halt and the shower head cuts off the stream. Pruned hands cover a face that I don’t recognize and then glide over the top of my head to swipe away the excess water. The empty shampoo bottle and sliver of green soap are abandoned by the drain.
Outside of the stall I expect to hear random conversations that only college guys can have about s_x or back hair, but a thin silence hovers like the steam. Water drips from the showerhead with the rhythm of a slow heartbeat and the stall door creaks shut as I step out under the flickering of the florescent lights. One last clean towel hangs uneven on the wall-hook and it tumbles off with a weak tug. Soaked toes slip over tile and grout.
The vent fan in the changing area hums with a slow suction but the windows above the steel frame are fogged up with a grainy mist. I walk off and sling the plush towel over my shoulder. The mirrors above the sinks are fogged up too. Didn’t think I was in the shower that long.
“Hello. Anyone there?”
The scent of bleach burns my nose as I take the corner and pass by the urinals fresh with blue cakes. The bathroom hasn’t been this sterile since before the first day of classes.
Half-way down the hallway, I wrap the towel around my waist after leaving a trail of slick footprints behind on the recently polished floor, polished to a high shine. With each step, spotty moisture evaporates and cools my bare chest and back.
The Southern air hits me as I cross the threshold into my box of a room. The single window is open to air out the accumulated scents of my freshman year. One swollen hand grips the terrycloth and the other slams the thick window shut to keep out the muggy air. With a short yank of the chord, the plastic blinds zip down to the windowsill and banish the night from my dorm room.