“Hey do you want any help with that?”
A guy comes around the corner and I nod. He has sandy coloured hair swept into a long fringe and is olive skinned. He is also incredibly well dressed in cream chinos and an Abercrombie and Fitch hoodie and funny loafers which my dad wears.
“Yes please that would be great. Thanks.”
He takes one of my suitcases and is about to head up the stairs that are on are on my right when instead he goes down one of the corridors on my left and yells:
“Chewy you little dipshit, get here!”
“No he doesn’t have to its fine… I don’t want to put anyone to any trouble.”
“He’s not doing anything productive. I’m Brad by the way.”
“You must be the other roommate.”
“Yeah I suppose I am.”
I’ve honestly got no idea.
He goes up the stairs on my right and beckons for me to follow.
“You’re from Yorkshire aren’t you?”
“Yeah, it’s the accent isn’t it?”
He nods. Brad has a kind of posh accent that you can’t really tell where he is from but you know he is private schools and yet there is something else in his accent is slightly foreign.
“At least you don’t have where you are from? South Africa. Oh you don’t have a fucking accent.”
“You’re from South Africa, that’s awesome.”
“Yeah. It is, most of the time.”
“How come you’re in Scotland?”
“Mr H is my dad.”
I’m not really sure who that is but I smile and agree anyway.
“Wait Brad, what did you want?” The guy Brad has called a dipshit comes running up the stairs.
“Can you get the other suitcase?”
“The one at the bottom of the stairs, Thickie.”
We continue up the stairs and it suddenly clicks in me that I am going to be living here, in these corridors and among these stairs for the next four years. It takes quite a while to truly call Arkansas home but once it clicks in me this is all I’m going to get, I never look back.
“Oi fatso, hurry the shit up!” Brad yells down the stairs and the other guys comes panting up the stairs carrying my biggest suitcase.
“Ben, Henry, Henry, Ben.” This is the first time I hear him being called Henry.
“Cool. I’m presuming this is yours.”
“You from Yorkshire?”
“I have an aunt who lives there.”
“Seriously? I live like 8 miles away in Filey.”
“Oh yeah I’ve been there. Nice place.”
“Hmmm, that’s one way of putting it.”
We drag my suitcases along the corridor and out of nowhere somebody yells:
“CHEWY!” Somebody runs up to Henry and jumps on his back.
“Zook, you weigh a bloody tonne! Get off me!”
“I don’t way as much as you!”
“I’m not taking you down the stairs to house meeting.”
“Yeah you are.”
“We’ve done that once and I don’t really feel like falling down those stairs again.”
Then Zook sees me.
“Wait. Who’s this? I could have sworn you aren’t at dinner?”
“Oh yeah. This is Ben, Ben this Zook who’s a complete weirdo.”
He gave me his best smile and then yells:
“Henry! Charge! To house meeting!”
We go down the stairs, (Zook still on Henry’s back), along a corridor, down some steps and then we enters a massive room which has sixty guys all aged from about 13 to 18 and all shoving each other around and when I came in they all look at me. Everyone is lounging on leather sofas all on top of each other. It seems that no-one has any personal space at all.
“Seems like we finally get a sofa.” Brad mutters to Henry and they sprint and suddenly Henry loses his footing and falls onto the sofa and Zook goes crashing onto the ground. Brad steps over both of them and climbs onto the sofa and beckons for me to sit next to him so I have Henry on one side and Brad on the other. Then Zook squishes in next to Brad and leans across me and takes Henry’s face his hands and says:
“Brad, I swear Chewie’s acne has got worse. Don’t you think?”
Brad gets up close and takes a good look.
“Yes it definitely has. Don’t you ever wash?”
“Yes like three times a day.” He replies, exasperated from between Zook’s hands.
“Hmmm…I think you should squeeze this spot.” Brad prods one on Henry’s forehead. “Oh I think I almost popped it.”
“Seriously? Oh Bradddd, now you’ve made it pus.”
“Ah Ben Middleton Jones, so you finally decide to arrive.”
I turn around and great brute of man has enters. He is at least ft. ‘4’ and has a receding blond/going grey hairline and tiny little eyes that look out through square glasses. He is also olive-skinned and has the same accent as Brad. So this is Mr H.
Everyone is staring at me.
“I’m Mr Higgins your housemaster and I can see you’ve met the others in your year. Speaking of which, where is Jeremy?”
They look amongst themselves and turns out none of them know.
“Well I’ll speak to him afterwards. Everyone this is Ben Middleton Jones, our new year ten.”
Once he says that, they all stop staring and get back to annoying each other or texting or whatever they are doing. Mr H began to talk about various house related things and there’s so much to take in and my head is completely spinning with everything that has just happened and is continuing to happen.