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Jack was a little taken aback by the turn of events.
He found out that almost everybody arrested had pled guilty to lesser charges and were already either appealing or serving time walking beans with a hoe at some minimum security work farm. Jack left the coach's office with a lot to think about. He stopped and got a 'Bag O'Breakfast' at the Student Union cafeteria. He called the house to see if Ramsey's truck could go out and bring the Toy home. Whoever answered the phone said he'd get the keys and they'd have it home in an hour.
Jack ran back to the music annex, Mary had been up and showered and washed her hair. She was on the phone to somebody, she said goodbye as soon as Jack closed the door. Mary didn't even have to ask what happened with the coach.
Jack waved the bag of food and talked a mile a minute for awhile, "They voted to play me with the team captain but he took a plea to move the Toy with the NCAA reinstatement ..." Mary put her finger over his mouth, then took the bag to see what was breakfast. She sorted out omelet sandwiches and fried potato things and put them on the table. She got Jack calmed down and tried to pry the lids off the coffee cups.
This was a challenge in and of itself, the cups, not Jack. The cafeteria's coffee cup lids were famous as being spill proof, leak proof, and nearly unremovable without power tools.
Dale was trapped in the car. Ellen had power locks, and knew how to use them. She turned the music up a little, then inched closer to him making small talk, she realized the frontal assault didn't work last time so she would softly conquer him this time.
Dale had edged over until his kidney was part of the doors' armrest, he banged his head on the window trying to get away from her kisses.
"Ouch!" He said after he banged his knee on the dash in response to her wandering hand.
Ellen pulled back, a little. "Dale," She said softly, "I want to make you feel good, and you can make me feel good too. You like girls don't you? Let's enjoy each other." She whispered the well used line.
Dale sat there and looked at the water, some guys he knew would kill to be here with her like this. But he somehow knew that this was not the way he wanted to do it. But he didn't want to hurt her feelings again. But he did like girls, or thought he did. She liked him, he thought.
Dale, if he was nothing else, was indecisive.
He thought he saw a light in the car's rear window. He turned his head a little from her kiss and saw a flashlight near the car.
Ellen sat up at the knocking on the window. She looked around and rolled down the driver's window. Dale saw the uniform and had some of his life pass in front of his eyes.
Dale realized Ellen knew the police officer, and while they chatted about the basketball team, Dale figured out the lock on his door. He said something about wanting to look at the lake and got out. Ellen told him not to get lost in the dark and hurry back. He squinted as the officer shined his flashlight in Dale's face, then the cop leaned down to talk to Ellen again.
Dale followed the road back the way they had come. But everything looked the same, and Ellen had drove in so fast he couldn't remember the way. It wasn't long before he was hopelessly lost. He wandered down a paved path toward the boat ramp. He called the Rozbilski house, but got a wrong number. Then he couldn't remember the number at all. Then he called Kremin's room, the phone shuffled between hands in the room for a minute.
"Hi Dale, where in the world are you, calling me collect?"
"I'm lost Krem. I'm not even sure where I am, it's some park lake near the campus, I'm by a boat rental office."
"Ok, I know where you're at. Stay there. Ahh," Kremin yelled at somebody in the room. Dale heard a round of yelling and cursing. "Jimbo is on his way. You owe us beers. Stay put." Kremin hung up on him.
Dale wandered around the building. A couple of older men were pulling out a fishing boat. Dale watched them, they worked in silence. They got the boat to shore, backed up the Jeep with the trailer, loaded the stuff into the Jeep, and then pulled the boat out, all in silence.
Dale marveled at the precision and the way the tasks were divided without a word. As they were getting in the Jeep Dale asked them how the fishing was. The passenger shrugged and muttered something.
Then they were gone. And Dale was alone.
Mary took her nail file tool out of her purse and unfolded the small but very sharp blade, and cut a hole in the top of the cups, then she slit the top and worked the tops off the still almost hot coffee.
Jack went through the events of that morning a little slower this time, And then he told me I'm the new team captain. Isn't that a nice of news?"
"He doesn't know about your going to the police?"
Jack looked hurt, but it passed. "Well, he said the cops had been investigating the team, and almost every other sport for months, evidently my statement just gave them the leverage they needed to move. My name seems to have been forgotten through all this." He took a bite of the greasy little omelet sandwich. "Damn, they are worse cold, but I'm hungry." They ate, playing footsies under the table.
After breakfast they had every intention of trying the romantic act again.
They were in the music hall, and homecoming week was coming up. So the Marching Prairie Dogs were in for an early practice. The band boasted the largest drum and rhythm section in the conference. Nicknamed the 'Prairie Fire' they had a combined decibel level somewhere just below the naval shelling of the Normandy coast on D-Day, barely just below that is.
Mary put her lips close to Jacks ear. "Let's get out of here!"
"Yeah" He shouted back. They ran out the back door. They were halfway down the block on their way to her dorm before they could talk in a normal voice.
Mary started laughing. Jack asked her what was so funny.
"Don't you see it? It's like in Romeo and Juliet. The star crossed lovers. It just isn't meant to be. Everybody is against us, from the fire department to your car, to the marching band."
Jack thought about it. "Yeah, you're right. Kinda exciting isn't it." Jack grabbed both of her hands tightly and spun her around. "You know, I had a crazy idea. But you really started it."
Mary caught her breath. "Now what?" She said to herself.
Dale stood around and watched a searchlight across the lake. Then he heard the rattling and screeching of Jim Boboeinstien's car.
"Well, get in you turnip suckin' lowlife rotten...." Jimbo never cussed, much, though he could stop a Swiss Clock with curses and name-calling and never say a word that was banned on TV. "It's a danged shame when first cousins marry and we end up with a fertilizer smellin' dog faced sorry runt..." Jimbo continued his tirade on the various aspects of Dale's character and breeding until the car was well on its way back to the dorm.
Jimbo was a strange one in anybody's book. Dale had always been a little scared of the heavily built young man that insisted on being called 'Jimbo'. His car was a noisy smoking pile of mismatched parts sitting on bald tires with a stereo some nightclubs would like to have. He mostly kept to himself. His family was an assortment of bikers, coal miners, and ex-cons by all accounts, and Dale had met what Kremin called, "The best of the lot," at family weekend just after school started. Jimbo bragged about having gotten away with murder while he was in junior high, and was never satisfied with a weekend unless he had been in a fight, a car wreck, arrested, or hopefully, all three.
Jimbo barely avoided a wreck on the way back to campus, the oncoming semi-truck swerved at the last second and left Dale breathing fast with the sound of airbrakes fresh in his ears. Jimbo swore and raved and bounced his car to a stop in the lot. Jimbo bounded out of the car without a word to Dale and raced upstairs. Dale followed, slowly.
Dale walked out of the stairway and into the confusion he almost missed at the mansion. The competing stereos, the constant phone ringing, hollering down the hall, Dale walked past a room where someone was throwing laundry out into the hall with gusto.
"Hi Damir. Laundry day again? What's that, the second time?"
Damir looked up. "Dale, what you doin' here? Slummin'??"
Dale ducked under a pair of jeans flung his way and slipped into Kremin's open door. The room was busy as usual. Some ballgame on TV, radio blaring, a trivia game all over the floor with the players coming and going as the mood took them, three computers on in the room, one of them with an almost obscene screen saver on it. Kremin was leaning out the window yelling to somebody in the parking lot.
Dale fished a soda-pop out of a trashcan full of ice. Kremin finished his yelling and turned around.
"Hey Dale! How's life in the roach palace? How's your girlfriend ahh, the skinny girl. . . .Peggy? How did you get to the park? What happened to Jimbo his car's out there..." Kremin stopped talking and answered his cel phone.
Dale missed this, even though he hadn't been down here that much when he lived here. Dale joined the trivia game when the green token's turn came up and nobody could remember who the green player was.
"What was the number of the Apollo that landed the first men on the moon?" Jon read the question to Dale.
Dale thought it over. He had seen the movie, and he remembered that guy's words about a small step.
"Hey Dale!" Kremin interrupted, "The police are looking for you!"
Jack was giggling uncontrollably as they race-walked back to her dorm.
Cannon Hall was quiet, Mary realized they had a dorm meeting that in the assembly room. The old elevator co-operated one more time and they made it to her room in the silent building. Jack grabbed her once the door shut behind them.
Mary looked at him, he wasn't smiling any more. He looked like he was a little sick to his stomach.
"Mary, I want to marry you."
She couldn't believe those words had come from his mouth. She just stood silently, not even breathing.
"Mary, you who? Answer please." Now Jack was smiling.
She never did answer. She grabbed him and pushed him into the closet door kissing him. Mary had always wondered what getting the questioned popped felt like. Later she could only say it was like accidentally grabbing a live electric wire.
They had forgotten the rest of the world. African revolutions and famines, Asian volcanoes, classes, dead cars, Grandmother's birthday, and all the rest, forgotten like yesterday's breakfast. But there was one piece of modern technology that managed to infiltrate the beginnings of what they were sure would be very remarkable occasion.
"I thought you unplugged the phone." Mary said slowly as the phone rang and rang.
"I forgot. I was thinking about you." He reached for it and picked up the receiver, not intending to talk, he was going to drop it and kick it under the bed. But as he held it he heard an urgent message.
"MARY! Tell Jack the coach needs him NOW! It's life and death. MAARRYY!!!" Said the voice of one of the student assistant coaches.
Jack couldn't resist. "Hey, its me. What's so important"
Mary got up and opened the refrigerator. There was one cold drink left. She opened it and watched Jack listen to the phone.
"But its Saturday morning, and... I'm..." Jack looked at her with a longing that made her sweat. "Alright dammit."
He hung up, she offered him a drink. They kissed.
"I'll be waiting." Mary said softly.
He left. Reluctantly.
Dale apparently had forgotten how to understand spoken English.
Kremin repeated the sentence after the cheering and catcalls had stopped from the gathered crowd. "Dale, the police and campus security are looking for you. They were here just after you called, of course we had no idea where you were, I would suggest you hightail your little self back to the Roach Palace and hide in the library in the basement for awhile."
"There's a library in the basement over there?" Dale said.
"DALE! Wake up. Unless you want the police to find you. By the way, what exactly did you do?" Kremin asked.
Somebody Dale didn't know was sitting on Kremin's spare bed, "It's that girl, he got some and she's under age."
"No we didn't." He blurted out then realized what he said. He started to say something else but it was too late. He was being hosed down with beer foam from shaken cans.
Kremin handed him a towel and pulled him into the hall. "Tell us later, right now you've to decide if you want them to pick you up, or if you want to turn yourself in, but first lets get the beer smell off you."
"But I ain't done nothing."
"That's what Mr. and Mrs. Rosenberg said." Kremin smiled at him.
"What happened to them?"
"They were executed for high treason."
Dale's face blanched. "Oh."
After Jack had been gone a few minutes Mary decided she didn't want to be alone and walked down to the assembly room for the meeting. Since the meeting wasn't mandatory the room was almost full, they were in a deep discussion about homecoming decorations for the dorm, somebody noticed Mary was positively glowing, she said it was nothing and tried to listen to the discussion.
"We had vertical streamers last year, they looked stupid." Commented one of the cheerleaders.
"I liked them. If we could get some lights..." The chair said.
"We got Christmas lights." A different girl added.
"And get some green and gold lights, they could flash..."
"The streamers would still look dumb." But her point was lost.
The committee chair looked at her paperwork. The chitchat died a little.
Mary couldn't stand the silence.
"JACK ASKED ME TO MARRY HIM!!!" She shouted into the room.
Silence. Then... "Really?"
"Yes!" Mary said emphatically.
"What did you say?" Somebody asked.
"My God!" Mary's face flushed deep red. "I didn't answered him."
The room broke into wild commotion. About half demanded that she rush over to the gym and say yes, several thought she should rush over and say no, a few thought she should rush out and drink heavily.
Dale washed the foam off his face and listened as Kremin explained his basic rights and what he should say to the police and when to scream for his lawyer and how to throw himself on the mercy of the court. Dale kept insisting that he hadn't done anything. Kremin told him he'd walk down to the head resident's office and they'd turn wait there for campus security.
Jones had forgotten who Dale was. But he agreed to call the campus regular police, and wait with them so the kid didn't get roughed up by some overeager part time stud macho rent-a-cop. Dale was scarred and got more scarred as Kremin and Ralph traded horror stories about run ins with the police.
"Mr. Jones, I ain't done nothing." He said about six times.
The tension broke when security showed up. Ellen was with the campus cop and a city officer. "That's him." She said.
Dale had a vision of being charged with rape, kidnapping, accessory after the fact, and conspiracy to be late to class.
Everybody in the room laughed loudly when Dale stood up and put his hands behind his back for handcuffs.
Mary was physically grabbed and hauled down the hall and out of the building. A shouting mob of college girls streamed out of the building and across the campus. Of the few left in the room a vote was taken. The streamers were declared dumb, and the lights even dumber, they approved a giant poster of old sheets that would cover the front of the building, then another vote was taken and a pizza was ordered on the funds of the homecoming committee.
The shouting and cheering grew louder and the mob bigger as the group approached the gym complex. A guy from the weight room knocked on the soccer coach's door.
"Coach Mackey, there's a bunch of girls out here having a screaming fit for Jack."
They all walked out to see what was going on.
Jack didn't know what to think when they got outside and he saw Mary standing in front of all the girls from her dorm and a bunch of people from all over the campus.
"Well?" Coach Mackey said to them, then focused on Mary at the front of the mob.
Mary smiled at Jack. Then Jack realized that Mary couldn't keep a secret.
"Well?" Jack said to Mary. Hoping she'd answer guietly. "Yes." Mary almost whispered. "Yes, I'll marry you."
Ellen jolted him from behind. She had him in a bear hug. "Easy. Miss. Is this the date you lost?" The police officer asked her.
"DATE!?!" Kremin blurted. He was laughing harder than he ever had before, there were tears welling up in his eyes. The campus officer was trying to look important, but he started laughing too. Jones was grinning at Ellen lost in some memory of his own.
Dale didn't know what to do or think. The city cop gently pulled Ellen back from Dale. "Miss, you reported a missing person, under mysterious circumstances. The fire department is searching the lake, we've got dogs in the woods. I think we need to have a long talk."
Ellen turned Dale loose and went with the cop. The campus officer explained what had happened.
When Dale didn't return Ellen called the police. She had thought he had gotten lost in the park. When they didn't seem too concerned she said she was worried about his 'condition' and was afraid something might happen to him.
The others laughed. Dale felt bad that he had gotten her into trouble.
"Dale, don't worry about that. Ellen can handle almost anything."
Jones told him he had been a freshman too, a few years ago. "She is... ahhh. . . most resourceful."
Kremin roared with laughter.
Coach Mackey pounded Jack on the back, the weight room guy ran into the gym to spread the news. The crowd erupted in celebration, Mary was swept away by and Cindy. Jack was soon in the middle of back pounding and hand-shaking.
Mary was trying to get back to Jack but people she didn't know were introducing her to people she had never seen before who would then hug her like they were related. She was being kissed by men she hadn't even been introduced to. Some professor gave her a fifty-dollar bill, a nun blessed her, and a football player tried to cop a feel when he picked her up and kissed her.
Jack was tired of hearing the word "Congratulations." He was looking for Mary, but somebody handed him a bottle something of and demanded a toast.
"Coach Mackey, can you see my girlfriend, Mary, in all that mess?"
"You mean your fiance? Get used to it Jack, this is a very special time in your life. You are now betrothed. No more big man on campus..." Coach Mackey made a long speech about the wonders of marriage and the special relationship between a man and his loving wife.
Jack got away, somebody took the bottle and gave him a warm beer. He had a lit cigar stuck in his mouth, then he saw Mary working his way.
The crowd was singing the school's 'Alma Matre' before they got together.
A cheer went up as they met in the mob and kissed.
The dorm super walked back upstairs with Kremin and Dale. Dale wasn't in any trouble and Kremin had convinced him that Ellen would be fine.
Dale sat and waited for a ride back to the Mansion.
The others in Kremin's room cut up and carried on. Kremin took the phone from a girl sitting on his desk and started talking into it while playing with the girl's hair. Dale looked around and wished he felt more comfortable in this atmosphere. But he didn't and knew he couldn't.
He knew he didn't really belong here.
Dale thought about Colleen and wondered if she was going to do more research on the miniature Buddha.
Dale walked away from the room, unnoticed. And waited on the van to the house.
Dr. Harrison was already in the van, sitting in the back, tearing pages out of a magazine. Dale was glad to see somebody he knew and liked and wasn't threatened by, he asked the man what he was doing.
"This high school dropout says a photon of light will not decay in real time in a vacuum unless subjected to an outside influence."
Dale considered that and asked Dr. Harrison why.
Jack looked at her and wished he could trade his kingdom for just ten minutes alone with her. A voice in the back of his head said, "you have." Jack kissed her again. Much to the amusement of the crowd. The whistles and catcalls were becoming more numerous, they ignored them.
"Mary," He whispered into her ear. "I just found out you're my fiance. I never had one of those before."
Mary laughed, "Neither have I. Now we both have one, Neat huh?"
"HEY JACK! JACK! MARY! OVER HERE!" Some loud masculine voice shouted. Jack and Mary looked. "The Gamma's are throwing an engagement party for you two. RIGHT NOW! EVERYBODY is invited'"
A new cheer rose from the crowd. The people parted and let Mary and Jack follow the Gamma's to their house. Before they got to it they heard the song 'White Wedding' blasting from the windows.
"Not exactly the most romantic love ballad going." Mary said. The Gamma looked at her and ran inside. The song stopped in mid growl from Billy Idol Then a classic slow dance rolled out of the speakers just as they got to the front porch, romantic strings eased into the air.
They danced. The crowd sifted into the house. The party got rolling. It rolled without Mary and Jack. After the dance, they disappeared.
Dr Harrison went through advanced high-energy physics, quantum theory, and described deep space in terms of an aisle in a grocery store, then asked if Dale understood.
"Sort of sir. But I still don't see why the light couldn't decay on its own if it wanted to."
One of the most involved deep thinkers in the history of the physics department at one of the country's major university research centers looked at this kid fresh out of high school. Dr. Harrison sat there and tried to formulate an answer without slapping the kid upside his head.
"Dale, its like this... You... you..." He coasted to a stop looking far into space. "You know... You're right. If the photon was in some way incomplete. If during its ascent from the photosphere it failed to completely become self sufficient then without any interference from outside, sometime down the line the equation could break down and the unit become unstable in and of itself, even though that may be, in real time ages down the road. Inside the photon, time would stand still until that moment. DALE! You're a genius, you should have told me you were well versed in quantum physics."
Dale wasn't well versed in much of anything. Let alone physics.
The van pulled into the driveway. Peggy and Colleen were in the glider on the patio. Dr Harrison ran into the house to get on the phone and the computer to discuss this new development. Peggy said she had been worried. Colleen asked if he was all right.
"It was a misunderstanding." He said.
"I know about Ellen." Peggy said.
Dale almost fainted. He worked his jaw and looked at Colleen. He didn't know what to say.
Peggy rescued him. "Colleen told me all about Ellen. All about her, Dale. You couldn't have helped it. She's a barracuda."
Colleen took them both in the house.
The big oak door closed on the outside world. The reception had been over for a long time. The police looking for Dale hadn't even been mentioned inside. The butler had understood the situation immediately when Ellen's name was mentioned. He called Kremin, and the unofficial search was on.
Martha had saved him dinner. Peggy sipped herb tea while Dale ate like a werewolf. Some of the house people came by to tell their story of Ellen, it seemed most of them knew her in one way or another
The butler told the best one. "Now she is a professional student, she has been here over six years. She likes young men, very young men, and does not have any concept of what 'no' means. She has even been up on rape charges though they were dropped. I would say she is very indiscreet with her affections to the extreme."
They still had the key to the room in the Music Annex. They had snuck away from their engagement party and headed back there. It seemed forever before they got there, and locked the door behind them.
Mary ran to the bathroom. "Nerves." She said. It was a little more than nerves. She was sick for quite a while. Jack felt helpless. He got her a washcloth, patted her back, and told her everything would be all right. There wasn't a whole lot more to do until the spasm passed.
She was finally done. He helped her get cleaned up, and then guided her into the bedroom and got her to lay down with her head up.
Mary started to cry softly. "God I'm sorry Jack, I really feel lousy but I really am happy."
Jack thought of the right thing to say for a change. "Hey, they'll ask us about the for better or worse and sickness stuff when we get married. We can tell the preacher we've already done half of it, so no sweat."
Mary tried not to laugh, her stomach hurt. She had a sudden vision of bending over in a wedding gown puking on a priest.
"Romantic." She said softly.
Cont in Two Dorms Part 20
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