When Jared Gallagher’s alarm rang out on that icy November morning he was anything but pleased. Rolling over he pawed at the phone sitting on his nightstand; it’s LED lights flashing brightly in the dimly lit bedroom. Flipping the case open he glared at the time display, 6:15am stared back at him. Looking at what he labeled the alarm, he swore. “MCAT’s today, get your ass out of bed and review!” Caution to the wind he disabled the alarm and threw his phone somewhere into the dark recesses of his sheet folds. Within moments he had rolled over and was fast asleep in no time.
In what seemed like no time at all there was a pounding at his door.
“Jar!” his roommate called from the other side of the door, “are you up?” To which Jared muttered something unintelligible into his pillow. “What was that?”
“Go away!” he called out after he lifted his head from his pillow. His roommate, Peter, slammed the door open that caused a pile of books and papers to slide from the desk into a large heap on the floor.
“Dude,” Peter said, making no motion to clean up the mess he had just caused, “It’s eleven. What time is your test again?”
“I’ve got time,” Jared replied, pulling the sheets over his head, “the test doesn’t start until two.” Peter stepped over the books and sat down at the edge of his bed.
“Listen man, I know your grandfather died just last we-,” Peter began.
“Stop,” he called out from under the sheets, “stop, don’t we were never really good at the sentimental stuff. We just go out, get smashed, and then you haul my ass from the bathroom here.”
“I guess you’re right.”
“Of course I am, now get out.”
“I swear if you bail on this test for a third time, I’ll kick your ass.”
“How’d the LSAT’s go?” Jared countered.
“Fuck off, man,” Pete laughed as he left the room.
Not five minutes later did Jared roll out of bed and looked around the tiny bedroom. Every flat surface in the general vicinity was blanketed in study material. It was either notes typed up from spending hours sitting in late night lectures, sheets covered in his untidy sprawl, or thick textbooks that made the tables under them groan. Bending down he started to cleanup the mess his roommate had made.
“Typical Pete,” he sighed, “come in, leave his mark, and bails.” Cleaning up the notes reminded him of when he first moved in three years ago.
He had never before met his roommates; his mom organized his living arrangements. She was an acquaintance with Pete’s dad, Pete and his friend needed a third and Jared didn’t have a place to stay close to campus. On move in day, both Pete and Greg, Jared’s other roommate, had gone to campus before Jared had even arrived, leaving him to fend for himself. Only did they arrive once he had arrived and carried up half of his belongings three flights of stairs. Greg immediately volunteered to help carry up the remaining items meanwhile Pete offered to hangout with the gaggle of people he had invited. Once the beer started flowing and the pong balls flying it was only a matter of time before Jared called it a night on account of his early morning calculus lecture. His roommates and entourage left shortly there after to hit the clubs of downtown, only to return in the early hours of the morning. With all three of the boys of Irish decent, it was only a matter of time before they pried Jared out of his shell and got him to hit the clubs as well. Unfortunately for Jared, that meant a lot of time slumped over the toilet, the garbage can, or in some extreme cases—the bushes.
Shoving his molecular biology notes to the far side of his desk he gained access to his closet. Pulling out a white, blue, and green plaid shirt and a pair of dark jeans he quickly head to the bathroom. A shockingly hot shower later, he was almost read to combat the day. He leaned against the wall as he brushed his teeth, looking down at the rug by the toilet. It was not only a few weeks ago that he had lain there after vomiting up his soul after the passing of his grandfather. When he got the phone call it felt like something fell out of him, going deeper and deeper into the earth—never to be returned. When he got back from the funeral, he pulled out the emergency bottle of vodka they kept in the freezer and forwent the shot glass and just drank straight from the bottle. When his roommates found him, not a word was said just the bottle was passed around. Shaking the memories from his mind he gargled some mouthwash, spat, and stared at himself in the mirror.
“You can do this,” he told his reflection, “Gramps would want you to do well.” Eyeing the dark circles under his eyes he wondered if the would ever go away. The last month was spend studying for the MCATs and the next four years will be spent studying for all the tests he’ll have to write in medical school—assuming he got in.
“What are you doing in there? Putting on your makeup?” Greg shouted from the other side of the door.
“Yeah!” Jared called, “I’m borrowing some of yours, if you don’t mind!” Quickly running some gel through his hair he styled it in a fauxhawk fashion, he didn’t expect to run into anyone worth flirting with today, but you never knew.
He tried to sit down and have a bowl of cereal, but it would have been easier to chew through carpet than getting through the bowl of special K. He usually wasn’t nervous about tests but day was different, today he could feel the bit of cereal that he did eat churning in his stomach. He mused about all the different gastrointestinal issues he might have, studying really did pay off, didn’t it? Ambling back over to his room he sighed and sat down at his desk. Once he excavated his MacBook from it’s resting place, under binders, he pulled up a mock MCAT and began going through the motions of answering. He whizzed through the chemistry and physical science portion with ease. He actually sighed at some of the questions. Being a chemistry major had given him an advantage in this section, it was the essay portion he dreaded. Why does a doctor need to know how to write an essay anyway? They barely use English when they fill out prescriptions and writing a journal isn’t anything like writing a proper essay. Regardless he tackled that after he finished the biology portion. Once he was finished, he had just enough time to tidy his room and leave for his test. As he descended the three flights of stairs to go from his apartment to the parking lot where he kept Sally. Sally was the name he had given his Mirabeau Hyundai Genesis Coupe when he first got her. If he could describe driving her in one word, he would have had to use the word, ‘sex’, pure and simple. The description was fairly accurate to be honest; driving her in some instances was even better than some of the bitches he has slept with over his university career. He shuddered at remembering some of them.
Opening the door, he threw his bag into the passenger seat and got in himself. Looking at himself in the rearview mirror he swallowed down some of the nausea that bubbled up in the pit of his stomach.
“Come on, do it for gramps,” he told himself as he turned Sally on. While this was his third time going in for his MCAT, this was his first time writing it. His first attempt, he had just sat down when the instructor had received a call, informing him that Jared’s grandfather had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. The second time he didn’t even make it into the examination room when he got a phone call telling him his grandfather had passed away.
“Third times the charm,” he mused as he pulled onto on of the busier streets in the city and headed towards campus. This was the his last chance to sit down and write the test, if not he would have to wait until the next quarter which would delay him from going to med school until the September after next. Once he got onto campus he nearly hit a drunk frat member, Jared rolled his eyes as the man stumbled along. He was about to cuss the guy out but he remembered that today was the day his school was going to be playing in the finals, which hasn’t happened in decades. Perhaps he could hit up a kegger once he was finished with his exam; there were worse ways of blowing off steam.
After he had parked and was situated in front of the room he would be writing in for the next five hours he was hit by another wave of panic and nausea, this one was the largest by far. Forcing it all down he thought back to the times he had spent with his grandfather. His dad was out of the picture by the time he was three and he never knew his grandmother so it was just him, his mom, and his grandfather. Once he had moved out, his mother remarried and has been happily sipping mojitos on the keys in Florida ever since. His grandfather, Niall Gallagher, was a first generation Canadian; his parents were right off the boat from Ireland. His favorite past times involved the consumption of a cold brew and hitting a target with his favorite gun. Oddly enough he had to learn both those skills from his roommates. Pete taught him how to handle his beer and Greg taught him how to shoot.
The reason why Jared learned to shoot from his roommate was because Gregory Thompson had enlisted right out of high school. Greg wanted to get his gun license but didn’t’ want to take the class alone so he wrangled Jared into coming along as well. Now a weekly ritual was for them to go to a nearby gun range every Wednesday night after classes to let off some of the tension the week had worked up. Greg worked every Saturday night from seven to ten. Luckily for him the nights to hit the downtown were usually Mondays and Thursdays. He was in the reserves. Meaning if Canada ever got invaded he would be sent, but for the time being all that meant was he got paid obscene amounts of money for doing little work, or so Jared thought. Greg’s ultimate goal was to become a police officer, but that’s only after he worked as military police for four years or for CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service), if they took him. Just as he was texting Greg to see if he wanted to hit the gun range after he got off from work, the door to the test room opened.
It was a small turn out, only about 20 people had shown up. Once the books had been passed around and the official time had been called did Jared open the package and being writing the test that would determine his future.
* * * * *
The official time given to complete the standard Medical Centre Application Test was five hours. Jared had managed to finish it in four hours twenty-five minutes. During that time there was a little voice in his head telling him that he was going to fail, he was going to disappoint his grandfather, that he was going to go no where in his life. When he finally handed in his test he fell that all too familiar tug at the back of his jaw. He was going to be sick, and violently. If he could just make it back to Sally, he could take a swig of some water and all would be well. He just needed to make it back to his car. He made it as far as the parking lot before the tug became so great and he doubled over, gagging and dry heaving. Half-walking-half-crawling towards the bushes he began to dry heave until tears ran down his face. Painfully laughed, it reminded him of the time he had first gotten hammered at a club downtown. He made it onto the bus with his roommates just fine, but when the bus began moving he felt like he did right now, just to throw up and not care about the judgments of others. The bus had a layover at the campus, so he similarly half-walked-half-crawled to the bushes and tried to get it out of his system. Unfortunately his body planned to retain the eight beers he had drank. Taking his two fingers he jammed them so far down his throat he might have well tickled his stomach. Nothing seemed to work, until he got the idea to rip a twig off the bush and jam that down. He succeeded in making himself sick and he succeeded in landed himself with the nickname ‘sticks’ for the rest of the year. Fortunately on this night he didn’t need any sticks to induce. After he claimed himself decent he continued onto his car, the taunts and jeers of his roommates already ringing in his ears. As he got closer to Sally, his interest was immediately drawn to a broad searching for something in her trunk; his passed incident was already pushed from his mind. He was thinking about his compliment about her choice of braving yoga pants in November when he received a reply from Greg.
Sounds like a plan. You carrying? Or do you need to run back home?
Looks like yoga pants wouldn’t be the only one searching their trunk. Popping open Sally’s trunk, Jared began to search her depths while hearing the woman next to him rattling around with something in her trunk. When his fingers clasped around the case that housed his gun when he heard the all too familiar click of a bullet being slid into the chamber.
“Pass the box behind you and turn around. Slowly.” That fucking broad.