Control: Person Focus: Gilbert

I, Dalton Lewis, went to college at the University of Iowa. When I went there I knew no one else at the college. I arrived on the third floor of Stanley Hall — which, strangely, was the ground floor. I don’t know why; that was just how it was. I had two roommates, one a slacker and the other a preppie frat boy who wanted to smoke in the room. I told him that I didn’t want him to but he did anyway. He brought girls to the room occasionally — they both did. I didn’t. I didn’t have anyone to bring home.

The first class was a class about learning how to study and write research papers and get ready for college. When I walked into the room a nice, clever geek was in the same room: Gilbert. He liked computer games and studied hard and was always told he was a good writer. He tried to write a novel but quit in disgust when it wasn’t what he wanted. He and I joked about something or other. When I went to eat after class I went into Burge Dormitory to eat and sat alone. Gilbert waved for me to sit with him. I did so. We became friends, playing video games and listening to music and hanging out.

He was from Iowa, with wealthy parents. He loved the X-Men comics and had spent the last two years bagging groceries to afford to buy a good new computer. I had spent the summer working at the amusement park or something. We started to study together and play video games. In that era we needed to connect computers via wires to play multiplayer games, so we did that on the floor he lived on — Stanley Seven. We made friends with many of the people on that floor.

He fell in love sometime during college — sophomore year, I think. He had hated the English classes he took and given up on the idea of being a writer. He instead started to take Latin and Greek and study classics, and there was a girl there, a girl that he liked and knew from childhood. He started to go out and drink with her, but she never really dated him.

Senior year was the first time we lived together. I suppose that I was a bad roommate, bad at cleaning and being someone easy to live with. We watched Roswell and I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When we graduated he got a grad school opportunity in Texas — where his parents had moved to, in a large home.

He learned how to be a classics teacher. We met up again in Pennsylvania a few years later when he had become an adult. He no longer drank to excess. He cleaned his home regularly. He had a job that he worked hard at. There was still the clever, good person that he had always been. He had just become an adult, for better or worse. I stopped drinking and got a job as a cashier somewhere but didn’t make any friends besides him. Then after most of a year I decided that I shouldn’t have gone out there. He also decided that teaching wasn’t his thing because he didn’t think he could raise a family on a teacher’s salary. He went to law school in California.

We started to talk over the phone then. He made it through grad school and worked as a lawyer. He moved to Seattle where he works at tax law writing wills for people. He has a fiancee, I think, and is doing well. He still plays computer games and role plays. His life turned out pretty well, in the end. I think he is satisfied with it. He didn’t cure cancer or anything, but he has had a good run. I’m glad to be his friend.

Thanks, and take care, friends.


Dalton Lewis wrote a novel about a cult infesting a small Iowa city.

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