Story:The Call(um) of the Wild

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The Call(um) of the Wild
Written by Rourkie

August 5, 2016, New Orleans, LA

SirCallumOfOz: Ahhh, I can’t do this!
QueenLeopatra: Hey, you got this. You are an amazing person. You’re like, the only person I know who could sell ice to an eskimo. Relax.
SirCallumOfOz: This isn’t a mock trial, this isn’t like some cut and dry civil case.
QueenLeopatra: Why not? You’re like, making a case for why you should be on the team, aren’t you?
SirCallumOfOz: Leo, you know that’s not how it works.
QueenLeopatra: And you know what I mean. You’re gonna do great.
SirCallumOfOz: You’re not the one who has just one shot to make a good impression here; in fact, your Uni doesn’t even start for another 3 weeks.
QueenLeopatra: Callie, you’re already accepted, and you got a scholarship. All you gotta do is show up and show them how good you are.
SirCallumOfOz: 9-9 Thanks, kitty…

Callum glanced up from his phone as he tried to navigate his way toward the gymnasium. Claiborne University was a campus purchased in parts, and so while each quad was self-contained and easily navigable, moving between them proved to be a little more difficult. The newest addition was the stadium, at the complete opposite of the campus from the freshman dormitories. Callum wasn't worried about the distance though; he could have taken the shuttle bus, but the long walk gave the wallaby a chance to look around the campus a little bit and get his bearings. His first official basketball practice was still several hours away, but he wanted to get out of his room for some fresh air and to calm his nerves. Leo wasn’t helping at all, of course, even if the pampas cat was trying hard to lighten up the situation.

As he looked around, Callum couldn’t help but to feel a little intimidated - everything within sight was beautiful. The buildings were a hodgepodge blend of gothic and modern architecture that was wholly unique but still somehow came together aesthetically. New signage was being installed to replace their slightly faded twins, and the lines on the parking lots were being sprayed over to be crisp and clear. The groundskeepers kept themselves busy with power-washing the paths and mowing the grass in the yard, as bright red and yellow carnations were wheeled in to add a pop of vibrancy to the freshly shorn hedges. Everywhere there was something new and fresh to glance at; how could anything, or anyone, stand out here with so much going on around them?

Walking onto the main quad, the wallaby paused and glanced up at a vinyl sign hung up over the gate for the new semester.

Class of 2020 to
Claiborne University
Let your true colors show!

As Callum considered the sign, a lithe, tall kangaroo passed him on the path in a tanktop and sport shorts, too busy listening to his music to even notice the 5'10" wallaby. He looked like a member of the track team, or maybe a cheerleader. The wallaby’s heart fluttered; he had a soft spot for other marsupials, especially tall, thin and handsome ones.

SirCallumOfOz: Leo, there are a lot of good looking people here! I feel really out of place.
QueenLeopatra: Callie, you’re adorable too
SirCallumOfOz: OH MY GOD, no shut up, this absolutely gorgeous boomer just passed me, I can’t compete with that
QueenLeopatra: Callie, focus for a moment: you have to chill out. No one there is going to have any preconceived notions about you; you don’t want the first thing people to see you as is a worrier, do you? You can be whoever you want to be, whoever you SHOW them you ARE, and you? You’re naturally adorable, and awfully sweet. Anyone who isn’t interested is just, wrong, you know?
SirCallumOfOz: Yeah, boomer-boy didn’t even look at me, I practically tripped over my own feet when I saw him. And trust me, he’s not the only cute boy here. I’ve been on campus all day and I feel invisible. Unremarkable. Plain-jane.
QueenLeopatra: That’s not possible. You command the room when you walk into it, with a quiet presence and wit and a Grecian Beauty unsurpassed by all rivals. You graduated valedictorian of our academy because you politely debated all of your professors into allowing you to do extra credit projects to raise your grades. There is nothing you can’t convince anyone of, and nothing your stubborn ass can’t do when you put your mind to it.
SirCallumOfOz: Leo, I’m not Alexander the Great, I don’t want to “quietly command the room” - I wanna turn heads. Make people ooh before I even say or do anything.
QueenLeopatra: Mmm, guuuuurl, you gotta cool your jets, mmmkay? Maybe you’re just not his type. You don’t even know his name, you can’t base your whole self-worth on some dude you pass in the quad. Look, I gotta go, but it’s day one. You gonna make a great impression, Callie-Style. You’re amazing, don’t forget it. I love you, let me know how it goes okay?
SirCallumOfOz: You too Leo, miss you already.
QueenLeopatra: Ppppfft. No you don’t. You’ll forget all about me, won’t you? I’ll languish alone, unremembered, you won’t even pretend you knew me once you’re in the FBA, with adoring fans surrounding you as you keep court, Cal-lexander the Great!
SirCallumOfOz: OMG You are such a dork! I hate you! XD
SirCallumOfOz: And thanks
QueenLeopatra: You are too, but really, I g2g. Knock’em dead, kiddo. Love your face

The wallaby put his phone away and sighed. Leo just didn’t understand how important first impressions were. Of course, the cat was going into medical school; a credible degree would do all the speaking for the feline.

Looking around, the only people on campus were athletes preparing for their fall and winter sports seasons, or school administration preparing for the fall semester. Callum thought ahead to what that night might bring. It wasn’t quite tryouts, since he had already been scouted for the team, but it also wasn’t guaranteed that they wouldn’t red-shirt him for the year. Claiborn was in the middle of the bayou, and basketball was the biggest draw to the school. He knew his competition was fierce.

Callum considered the sign again, and what his best friend had told him. Leo was right, this was his chance to really redefine himself; he would have no better opportunity than this. If he was going to really change, now was the time. Cut off the parts he hated, pick up some new traits, and compliment the ones he wanted to keep. He stepped out of the way as a fresh carton of carnations was wheeled past him. The bright red and gold kept drawing his eye. It gave him an idea.

The clock tower rang out to mark the top of the hour, striking twice. He had about 5 hours before practice - that was enough time to explore downtown a little bit, wasn’t it? A quick google search and a call for a Roo-ber, and the wallaby was on his way. In just a few minutes, the wallaby was standing on the curb, staring at his destination and hoping he was making the right choice, as adrenalyn pumped through his veins. He had never done anything like this before, but he knew that if he didn’t do this now, then he would never have another chance to redefine himself so clearly.

Live and Let Dye was a little shop on the corner of the road. Punk rock blared out of the open doors adorned with blinking rope lights, and the windows were pasted over with posters of various local bands playing shows in the area. Across the street was a bar and grill called Juno’s Tavern, a dive bar with the most heavenly scents wafting from it. Callum’s stomach rumbled, but it would have to wait. He had work to do.

If Claiborne wanted him to show his true colors? That’s exactly what he would do.

Featured Characters

Callum Williamson Berty Lavoie-Williams

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