“Which I am.”

“Yeah, but this isn’t working, and I don’t want to waste any more of your time.”

“Don’t worry about wasting my—”

“Or mine. Or my coaches’. If you’re determined to get involved in some extracurricular stuff, there’s all kinds of other—”

“Like what?”

Coach Roberts looked at his watch. “Well, what do you like to do?”

“Watch movies.”

“Don’t we all? But is it a passion for you?”

“You have no idea.”

“You want to be an actor someday? study theater?”

Brady hesitated. “Never thought of that, but yeah, that would be too good to be true.”

“Now see, with that attitude, you’ll never get anywhere. If you want to try that, try it! Talk to Nabertowitz, the theater guy. See if there’s a club or a play or something.”

“There’s rumors about him.”

“Do yourself a favor and keep your mouth shut about that. Those artsy people can be a little flamboyant, but the guy’s got a wife and kids, so don’t be jumping to conclusions, and you’ll stay out of trouble.”

Brady shrugged. “I’d be as new there as I was here.”

“Oh, I expect you’d be a sight among that crowd, though there’s all kinds of behind-the-scenes stuff I’ll bet you could do. But I need to tell you, football is not your thing.”

5:30 p.m.

Ravinia Carey, named after a beautiful suburban Chicago park her parents had enjoyed while in Bible college, had sounded none too thrilled that they would be “dropping by” that evening.

“We’re on our way through Atlanta to look into ministry opportunities,” Thomas had told her from a pay phone, as cheerily as he could muster.

“You’re leaving Foley? What happened?”

“We’ll talk about it when we see you.”

“Oh, Dad . . .”

“Listen, hon, is there anywhere we can stay on campus? In a dorm, or—”

“Dad, this isn’t some church camp. No. The Emory Inn is within walking distance, and you’ll find the campus too complicated for parking anyway. Just have someone point you to Gambrell Hall, and I’ll meet you there.”

“All right,” he had said slowly, writing it down. “Any idea how much a room might—?”

“It’s owned by the university; just tell them you’re a parent.”

And so there Thomas stood after slowly pulling a U-Haul trailer more than 150 miles behind the eight-year-old Impala. Gas mileage was abominable with the extra weight, so he had tried to offset an expensive fill-up against a cheap fast-food meal. Grace hadn’t complained. She never did.

Even with the discount, the room rate made him blanch. “Might you know of any place more reasonably priced?”

The young black girl behind the counter leaned close and whispered with a smile, “Nowhere you’d want to stay, sir, really.”

He and Grace carted in a few items, and she stretched out on the bed. “This feels so good after sitting all day.”

“What are we going to tell Rav?” he said.

“That the Lord will provide.”

Thomas sighed. “You know how she hates clichés.”

“That cliché is true, sweetheart.”

Thomas found a hand towel and gave his black oxfords a once-over, tucking away a tiny hole that had appeared in one of his socks.
He ran a comb through his hair and massaged his chin, debating getting rid of his late afternoon shadow.

Soon Grace rose and smoothed her dress. “We’d better go. I can’t wait to see her.”

6:30 p.m.
Touhy Trailer Park