There was a knock at the solid cherry door of the office.
Dr. Folis shifted in his chair and threw the file he held on the desk in front of him. “Come on in,” he shouted as he removed the glasses from his eyes. “Have a seat.”
Mark Pendel closed the heavy door behind him and slowly walked towards Dr. Folis. He looked like a judge sitting behind that thing. He could feel the judgmental stare look him up and down. It’s that stare that he predicted from the start. It’s why he was decided to make this difficult for the professor. The chair was old and creaky but he didn’t mind. He wouldn’t be there long.
“How you doing Mark?” Said Folis with a grin. He expected resistance.
“Hanging in there. Trying to stay busy but I always seem to get stuck in awkward meetings.” Mark pushed his book bag from in front of his legs and reached for a mint on the desk.
“Sure, have two. I insist,” the sarcasm in Folis’ voice fed into Mark’s objective. He didn’t think it would be that easy.
“I’ve really got to run soon Professor. Can we cut to the chase. Last I remember, you told me to show up here if I wanted to get out of jeopardy,” chuckled Mark as he threw the mint in his mouth.
“That’s what I don’t understand about you, Mark. You talk about your future like if you don’t want it. Why is that? You have the grades but you lack the attitude.” The frustration in Folis’ voice wiped the smirk off of Mark’s face. He felt compelled to look down at his already twiddling thumbs.
“What do you want from me? Do they pay you to be here until 10 p.m. Convincing kids to do what they don’t want to do?”
Folis straightened up in his chair and leaned forward. “You think that this is what this is? My attempt at over-time? Mark, this comes down to the same thing that I have been repeating all semester. You are running out of time. I check with Stacy at the front office every day for that application and you know what she says every time? NOPE, NOTHING HERE,” he caught himself. He had shown his frustration and anger. He sighed and sat back in his chair. “None of this is your fault Mark.”
“No, no, no, no!” Exclaimed Mark. “Spare me the lecture. For all I care, you can put that soap box back under your desk where it came from.”
“What do you think your mom would have wanted Mark? Don’t you consider what she would have wanted for you? Don’t just do this for the so-called success that it might bring you. Do this as something that will make her proud. Because it will. She’s passed away but only dead if you let everything she taught you go straight into the trash can. I know it has not been easy but this is part of the peace after the storm. Fine, don’t do this for you. Do it for her too,” Folis looked away for just a second. Just enough time to choke back the emotion that was filling the room. “Just take this home and think it through. Just think it through one more time is all that I ask.”
Mark held a solemn look on his face; of hardness. Of meditation within without the obvious expression of defeat. He didn’t respond; he was worried that this too would be a sign of collapse. The Professor had thrown a bundle of papers on the desk in front of him. An Application.
“Your free to go, I just want to help but I can’t do it for you. I see your dilemma, Mark. This is not the answer to it all but it is the right path. Take the exam and go for what you have wanted in life. If you don’t take the exam then you won’t have a chance at Law school. Look if your plans have changed then that is great. I just want to know that there is a plan so that I can find a way to help you. Everyone wants to help you. So only You can get in the way now.”
Mark grabbed his bag and exited the office swiftly. Dr. Folis peered through the office window and contemplated failure. His hope for that boy was quickly fading. A moment later he heard footsteps in the hall and the door shriek open. Mark walked in and straight over to the desk. He took the application from the desk and turned around.
“Thank you…Uncle.” Mark looked over his shoulder before walking out. The solid cherry door sealed with a thud after him.