Pronghorn, Chapter 17: Meeting an Old Friend

Continued from the previous chapter, here.

Asa made his way across the campus of Pronghorn Community College as he had been directed, skirting the school’s library and heading into the three-story LeBeaux Hall where the English department head, Arturo Martinez, awaited him.

If it’s the same Arturo, I think he owes me a beer, Asa thought. He thought back to graduate school, when he and a man named Arturo Martinez had shared office space for several years and worked on no few projects together. They had also had many beers together, and there were a few nights when…

The ding of an elevator’s bell before him broke Asa’s reverie. He entered the waiting car, pushed the appropriate button, and in half a minute walked out onto the third floor of the building. A sign indicated which way he would need to go to get to LeBeaux 321, and he went that way, walking briskly and soon coming to a door with a nameplate reading “Arturo Martinez, PhD; Chair, English.” It stood slightly ajar, and Asa knocked.

From within came a call of “Come in,” and Asa recognized the voice. It is him, he thought as he walked through the door.

From behind a paper-festooned desk emerged a man of Asa’s age, thin in the shoulders and paunchy, skin the color of rosewood and hair dark and kinky. A broad smile split his face as he came around the desk, arms outstretched, saying “Asa! Damn, man, but it’s good to see you! How’ve you been?”

Asa returned the back-slapping hug and took the seat towards which Martinez gestured. “It’s been tough, Art, but it’s good to be back home, and its good to see you, too. How’d you land this job?”

Martinez seated himself. “Well, you know that I went off to that one job right after grad school, right, that one out east? Damned thing closed its doors.” Martinez shrugged. “Financial stuff, of course. But I was still looking at the end of the job, and I saw an ad for this one pop up–full-time continuing job, you know. And you were from here, I figured, so I might have some kind of connection to the place. I put in, got hired, and the chair rotated out; nobody else wanted it, so I took it. And now I’m living the dream!” He laughed, gesturing towards the piles of papers. “Wading through student papers and student complaints. And student complaints. And student complaints. And the occasional community complaint. So there’s that.”

He leaned forward. “What about you, Asa? I recall hearing you swear up and down you’d never come back here.”

Asa sighed heavily. “I landed the job teaching at the technical school, right? Things were going well; the school was heavily unionized, and we had a hell of a contract. Then we had some changes come down from Washington, screwed with funding. Between that and some embezzlement going on in the administration, the school was able to declare financial hardship. I got laid off–the flip-side of the contract was a last in, first out policy, and I was last in.”

Asa shook his head. “That one caught me mid-semester in a fall term. Trying to find work after was a trick I did pull in some adjuncting, and I managed to do some freelance stuff now and again, but those months…they were tight months. I pulled in some visiting jobs off and on after that, but the last one of those ended and the school decided not to renew me. Budget problems again. I didn’t really have any other place to go–but I’ve only been here for a few days. I’m hopeful.”

I actually am. That’s a surprise, thought Asa.

Martinez replied, “Damn, that’s rough, man. And I don’t know what all I can do to help you on it. I am looking for adjuncts for the fall, and if you want a spot, you’ve got it; I’l give you as many classes as I can. But I’m also looking at budget pressures, and I can’t offer you a continuing spot at this point. I also don’t have any summer classes open.”

Asa shrugged. “Anything you can do, I’ll appreciate.”

“Of course, man. I’ll need you to leave a CV; you can email it, but I have to have it on file. I also need you to fill out the application; it’s online. And I have to keep the post open for a couple of weeks–but I’m the only one who reviews applications usually, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Asa nodded. “Sounds good.”

“And we do need to catch up.”

Asa nodded again. “That we do. But I haven’t been back in a while; where’s good?”

Martinez laughed. “Hell, I don’t know. I live in San Antonio, or just outside it; I’m outside of 1604, off of 471. I drive in most days.”

“I can get to SA.”

“Cool. Here, let me give you a card; I’ll put my personal email and phone on the back. Let me know how things work out with other stuff, okay, and if you need a letter for something, just ask; I can have it up on Interfolio or something like that within a day.”

“Thanks, Art.” Asa took the offered card. “I really do appreciate it.”

“Asa,” Martinez leaned forward, elbows on his desk. “You’re my friend. You have been for years. You’ve been about the best friend I’ve ever had. Of course I’ll do what I can for you. Why the hell wouldn’t I?”

Asa started to reply, stopped, and then said “No good reason. And I probably ought to get out of your way. I’m sure some of those complaints will need some attention, right?”

Martinez barked out a laugh. “Only because I’ve got a small trash can!”

Did I bring you as much pleasure as a beer does? Could you kick in as much for me as you pay for that so I can keep doing what you like? Click here, then, and thanks!

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