Reaching up to take that one off, too, he said, “You’re right. You don’t look good in hats.”
Clearing his throat, he introduced us, and Dixie’s smile vanished. “Nice to meet you,” she lied with daggers in her eyes, looking me over from head to toe, no doubt sizing up the competition. She sniffed, obviously deciding this plain looking woman in a baseball cap with a red nose posed no threat to her, then turned quickly back to Colin.
“I am! Just a broken arm and some cuts and bruises. You saved my life! Murphy, this is the angel I told you about. I thought I’d dreamed her, that she wasn’t real, but she called dad and gave me a blanket ... and kept me awake ... Oh, I still have your blanket ... or mom has it. She wanted me to find you so she can return it personally. I’m so glad I found you!” He took a breath and just stood there grinning.
“I was, but it was easier to find a job here. Too many high school kids taking the summer work back home. I’m still waiting tables at McAllister’s on 19th and University. Stop in some time, Murphy, and leave a big tip?” he said hopefully. Colin told him he’d be in the next week.
Uh-oh, I thought. I’d completely forgotten to ask about him, although I have been keeping him in my prayers.
“That’s tough for Jamie. Thanks, man. Yeah, I’m next on the list, and I might be interested in moving in early. I’ll give you a call tomorrow. I’ve got to go to work in a few minutes, but listen, Ma’am,” Josh said, turning to me, “will you give Murphy here your full name and phone number so I can give it to my parents? They really wanted me to find you.”
“Um, happy to get that for you, Josh,” Colin said with a slight smirk. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow about the room.”
“Yep, it is. It’s just Jamie and his mom. Don’t think he ever knew his dad. Died when he was a baby, if I remember right.”
I accepted the fare and then persisted, giving him “the look.” “Talk, Professor Murphy,” I commanded.
About six years ago, one of his promising students was having a hard time financially, and Colin tried to help him out by letting him sleep on his couch. This student was a Tramp, and about the same time that group asked Colin to be one of their faculty sponsors.
“Yeah, Saddle Tramp, the men’s service organization at Tech.”
“I know about Saddle Tramps. Dated one in college. Hmpf...” I said as I looked off smiling wistfully. “Loved those red corduroy shirts.” Then I focused back on Colin, “You were a sponsor?”
“They do, but they don’t, but you did. It was the carillon bells in the west tower today. Played by keyboard, I think, but not by us. Music department takes care of it if I’m not mistaken. At one o’clock every Fourth of July. Supposed to coincide with the ceremonial Liberty Bell ringing in Philadelphia, or something like that. Tramps ring the victory bells after games — in the east tower.” He took hold of my hand saying, “Come on. It’s almost time for the bluegrass fiddlers, and I’d like to grab a good seat.”