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[Note from Webmaster to Webmaster to help keep track of this thing-- Manuscript page 150 / scan 6]
[Note from Webmaster to YOU the reader-- This section, as well as from about 15 on, have been from scans of the original manuscript. Please, if you see any glaring typos or other mistakes, email the desk with them. Thank you.]
Mary fell asleep, mentally exhausted, physically worn out, and her emotions, well, never mind.
Jack got on the phone and called the house.
"Yeah, ahh, did I call you or you call me. I was trying to order three spaghetti dinners. You do deliver don't you." Somebody answered the phone slightly confused.
"Hi Roger, its Jack. I called you."
"That explains why the phone was ringing. You bringing the spaghetti?"
"No. You have to call Tonio's for spaghetti. Did anybody bring my car back?"
"Yeah, its here. Barry and Steve pulled the, ahh, starter, something about a cell noid, and they said you needed a new ballast. I'm not really sure what they did." Roger was never sure of anything.
"Thanks Roger. That's all I needed to hear. At least it's home."
"Is that it? I want to get pizza." Roger was rather one-dimensional.
"Spaghetti. Yeah that's it." Jack saw no point in telling Roger the news. He'd foul up the message anyway, Roger was always interesting.
Dale was having serious trouble falling asleep. He had been all over his room, had taken two showers, he had even been in the meditation room. He watched several of the house people study for awhile, which was as dry as Death Valley on a good day.
It was after midnight and Dale still couldn't sleep. He remembered Kremin had talked about the library in the basement. He walked downstairs and tried to find it.
The room was long and narrow. Shelves were built into walls, file drawers were scattered around. Dale was amazed that even though the books were very old, there was only a value hint of a smell of mildew and musty paper.
He figured out that the library was actually an archive of old textbooks used by the students of the house for the last several decades. There were several reading areas among the shelves. Dale was alone in the stacks, he sat in a chair and looked through several old books.
He woke up later when he heard activity elsewhere in the library. It was ten O'clock the next morning.
"Good morning sir. I believe there is a light breakfast available upstairs if you are done studying." The butler told him as he stumbled out of the library door.
Dale ate crepes and yogurt, and fruit salad. It wasn't what he thought of as a breakfast. But he was hungry and Yyavonne kept telling him how healthy it all was. She was an actress after all and knew health food.
At least she told Dale she did.
Dale listened and ate. Yyavonne talked and talked. She had only seen Dale around the house a few times because she kept ludicrous hours. She was just coming in from a late audition in Chicago for some way far long way off off-Broadway play. Dale decided that whatever the play was about it had to be almost as bad as the poetry in his lit class. It seemed she was auditioning for a chance to have her clothes removed by an assortment of societal archetypes, whatever they were, to a variety of socially relevant songs written just for this play. Yyavonne had already decided that if she got the part Dale would have to come see this play, this 'very important statement about modern society'. Dale dreaded this. He tried to change the subject, but she kept reciting bits of script and song.
Dale had only seen part of one play in school and barely made it through classroom skits. He had no appreciation of legitimate theater, did not know proscenium from a car wash and really had never even seen a movie of a play made from the stage Dale went upstairs and wondered what there was to do on a Sunday on campus. At home he would be leaving for church with his parents about now. Dale decided to walk back down to the meditation room.
There he witnessed the strangest religious service he had ever even imagined.
Mary was back to normal. She had slept a little, Jack had sneaked to the 'All Nite De Lite' and came back with provisions. She was sipping ginger ale and snacking on crackers.
Jack was the one that brought up the idea of setting a date. Really, he did. He knew getting engaged usually resulted in . . . ulp . . .marriage.
"Jack aren't you forgetting something?"
He racked his brain. "Ahhhh 'A coach, I need to get the Toy fixed, we should probably turn in this room key, ahh hum, I don't know."
"Somebody should tell our parents. Like maybe... US." She leaned towards him. "They might like to know their kids are getting married. Who knows they might even want to come to the wedding."
"I need to get you a ring. What size do you wear? I didn't even think about that."
"Jack. There is a lot to do. But we can take our time. Maybe after school's out. May, or June. Even in the fall."
"Next year?" Jack's face fell. "No, I want to marry you soon. Next week, maybe two weeks. I want to marry you, not plan for six months."
Mary didn't know what to think, she had always imagined her wedding would be a perfect formal affair. High Mass, the choir singing 'The Wedding Song', two weeks was just enough time to find a sober judge.
The service opened with a chanting murmur from the eight people in the room, not counting Dale. A couple of them got up and lit candles at several of the displays. This was what was happening when Dale walked in. A woman he knew was a senior business major motioned him to sit beside her, but she said nothing.
One of the participants interrupted the chant with a nice prayer to the Virgin Mary and Jesus to intercede for us sinners. Throughout the prayer the chant continued, softer, then a little louder, then softer again. Dale didn't understand the chant, but it was almost hypnotic. He stayed silent and just sat with his head slightly bowed looking around.
Some of the participants were sitting upright, looking at one or more of the alcoves, it seemed all of them were in use at once.
Dale was more than a little confused.
Mary objected. She seriously wanted a wedding that would be something the bride magazines would use as an example of what a wedding should be. Her cathedral length gown with veil and tiara would awe the congregation. A bouquet of fresh flowers nearly dragging the floor, she had it down to the color of the pillow the ring bearer would carry. she wondered if Jack had a cousin or nephew the right age.
"Mary I want it to be perfect, for you. A beautiful wedding. With a reception to match. But I don't want to wait for it. I want you to be my wife as soon as possible."
Mary thought about the reception, at a big hall someplace, a band, and a buffet, with a Champaign fountain, and a waltz with her dad, then a spotlight dance, just the two of them while everybody watched.
Jack could tell something was wrong. "How about this, we'll have the biggest wedding ever seen at the chapel here on campus. With the orchestra playing that song you want, and Bishop Frakes saying the service, and whatever else you want, but we do it soon!"
Mary was still silent. "I don't want the reception anywhere near the campus."
She pressed, "I want the best dress I can find in that time."
"Sure no problem. I like the veils, and the, what it is behind you."
"The train. But you're not Catholic, how can we have a Mass?"
"Frakes he's a high priest or something isn't he? But I've seen him in that funny hat, and his office door says he's a Bishop."
"Grandma Drewtone will like that. She is very set on real religious service." Mary was satisfied for now.
"You are right about one thing. We should tell them."
The prayer to the Virgin was over, but the chant continued. A couple more candles were lit. Now incense was burning someplace in the room.
Then there was a chant in what Dale did not recognize as Arabic. The other chant did not stop, but the Arabic was more intense, faster, the murmur was nearly drowned out. The speaker of the Islamic call to worship was toward the other corner of the room, Dale figured out it was Poi Kareem. His recitation ended as suddenly as it had started, and the other chant was still going.
Somebody was placing flowers around the room, but Dale couldn't tell who it was.
Then two people, a man and a woman began singing an old hymn Dale recognized. They were very good and sang several verses over the background chant. Then it was over and the chant remained. Dale had picked up on the murmur and was able to go through a cycle of what he realized was language, repeating something over and over, several sentences worth, to begin again.
In a few minutes somebody began a slow speech, or maybe it was a prayer, it was certainly like no sermon Dale had ever heard. The speaker had a slight accent, but Dale didn't know who it was. He sat and listened, and murmured a little of the chant as it continued.
"Understanding comes from within. Knowing yourself is the key to the understanding from within. Wisdom comes from above. Knowing your own God is key to wisdom from above. Peace comes from acceptance of the understanding and wisdom. There is no peace without acceptance of yourself as you are, with yourself, and with your God."
Dale thought about that as the room grew quiet except the chant.
Her parents were only a two-hour drive away, but Mary knew her car needed a once over before she'd drive it out of town. Her car had been a graduation present from high school. It had been a couple of years old then, but in excellent shape, with low miles, and the lady that had owned it never drove in nasty weather. It wasn't as sporty as she had wanted, but it was, to be exact, MARY'S CAR! Her own car. A mid-sized four door, front wheel drive job that would never win a car show. She hadn't exactly maintained it the way it had become accustomed.
She usually had to park in the huge student lot, it hadn't had a tune up since, whenever, Jack and Steve had told her she needed belts and something else, she knew her back tires were going, and after it sat in the lot for more than a week, the battery would be dead. She was probably the only girl in the dorm with her own set of booster cables, and she knew how to use them.
But Jack had a plan. They walked to the house, Mary's stomach still had butterflies, so they cut the kissing off, to get her car done.
Dale was amazed that there was no real end to the service, some of the people just got up and wandered out, then the chant sort of died away. Somebody said a short prayer of thanks, others stayed and meditated, Dale saw Poi Kareem get up to leave, so he followed the prince out.
Kareem was delighted to see him. "Thank you for coming to our service. I was not aware you were devoted. I am very pleased to see you attend to higher things."
Dale didn't know what to say. He muttered something about enjoying it and was happy to be there. Poi Kareem said "Salam a'lickum", and left Dale to wonder about that.
The house was in a subdued state of uproar, late on a Sunday afternoon, most of the TV's were on some sort of sporting event, there was nothing going on in the main room, just Hairy asleep on the sofa, and a regular girl on the phone. Jack walked over to the house intercom control panel and smiled at Mary.
"Hold your ears." He told her, then he the 'general' key. The last time this had been used for anything other than a fire drill was in late February of '91, dorm president Hunter Williams used it to announce that the U.S. had attacked Iraq and the country was now at war. It would have been used to announce the death of former President Nixon, but, ironically the electronic eavesdropping device didn't work that day. Now Jack cleared his throat.
"Sorry to interrupt guys. This is Jack. I'm going to get married to Mary. I thought this the best way to...." He was cut off by the hooting and hollering from all over the house. Guys piled down the stairs and ran in from the kitchen. Jack was immediately knocked to the floor and physically abused for some time. Mary retreated as soon as it started, she fled upstairs and hid in Ramsey's room in the turret, she figured that would be the last place they'd look for her. She was right.
About ten minutes passed and she looked out, it was clear. She heard normal sounding voices and no violence. She slowly walked down to the kitchen on the back stairs. There was a normal sounding discussion. But it wasn't about her, it was about finding an auto parts store open on Sunday afternoon. Barry knew of one, way downtown. They put a list together of what they knew she needed on her car.
"Oh hi Mary, congratulations." Somebody said as she walked into the dining room. Ah, Ramsey and Steve went to get your car.
Mary still had her keys. She looked puzzled.
Jack smiled broadly. "Steve used to ahh, relocate cars as a hobby."
Barry took off to get the parts. They were alone.
Dale stood in the hallway, he had no idea what to do now, so he went upstairs and finished his homework in one shot.
It included a paper on the latest atrocity of literature called "Corporate America's American Dream". A poem about how the largest companies in the country were out to have a wife, two dogs, a kid, a white picket fence around a house in the suburbs, and a monopoly of their market share. It had been written by a guy that thought a major washing machine manufacturer had used him up, then screwed him into the ground, and left him for dead. Which they had. But he was a sore looser.
The poem had a happy ending, of sorts. The man had come up with an improvement on the existing design, and sold it to a competing company for a big stupid amount of money. Then he retired to a cabin in a swamp to write bad poetry.
Evidently his idea of the American dream.
Dale's paper basically defended this as the proverbial American way, and this was the way the game was played today.
He heard the first call for supper and figured out he was starving, he had missed lunch and didn't even realize it. Dale wasted no time getting dressed and heading downstairs for the meal.
Peggy was there. Dressed as smartly as usual, this time in a simple print dress with a fresh flower in her hair. Jeannie was also with her, dressed nicely as well.
She waited until several of the others had joined them, then Peggy introduced her friend as was the custom, and the meal proceeded.
There was no talking during this part. Also part of the Sunday custom.
After the salad was served, the senior house member would return thanks, a simple, non-denominational expression of gratitude for blessings received.
At the 'A-men', bedlam was free to break loose.
Mary sat on the picnic table and watched Barry, Steve, and Ramsey, barely assisted by Jack, tear into her car.
The consensus was that she needed a tune up, oil change and lube, two tires, new brushes in her alternator, belts, hoses, a battery cable, transmission fluid, and a tail light. And Bud wanted to detail out the inside.
Jack was not the most mechanically inclined of the bunch, and the 'Toy' still sat dead on blocks while the guys decided what WASN'T broken on it. So he helped out and tried to learn something.
"Which is a box end wrench?" He asked Mary.
Dale ate well. The food was always excellent. The conversation was always lively and entertaining, the company was always interesting, and Dale felt like this could very well be a large and varied family that enjoyed each others company.
Peggy chatted with Jeannie was seated next to Dr. Harrison and Yyavonne. Dale had an empty seat on one side of him and Keith on the other side. The others were scattered around the table.
"Ahhh, late as always, but always welcome!" Harrison said as the six transplants from the burned dorm walked in, dressed to the nines.
The girls stood at the end of the table and formed a semi circle.
Miss Alice came in, the butler followed a minute later. "Yes ladies?" The butler asked
Theresa stepped forward. "We had been thinking of a way to thank everyone for all you've done in a way that would last. So we have brought this here, to give to the Rozbilski House for all to enjoy and benefit from."
The other girls went out and carried in something under a sheet.
Teresa stood straight. "My grandmother was a painter of some renown, though she didn't paint a lot of, the ones she did were all considered exceptional. I was supposed to hang this in the dorm, but never did. Now I'm glad. It would have been ashes, there was nothing left of our room."
Barry had the bad habit of building pro stock dragsters in the summer and selling them to pay for expenses at school in the fall. Steve had become an expert in keeping semi-dead cars running forever, had learned from scratch, and need, how to repair, replace, or rebuild almost anything involved with motor transportation. Ramsey was a victim of high school vo-tech auto shop. But he was pretty good under the hood anyway. The other two liked having him help, and he had learned a lot about how things worked in the real world. Building a 16 to 1 compression competition engine was a little over his head, but he also knew where his limits were. Bud was a car-lot gopher from way back. His was the cosmetic work, and he was good.
Jack stayed out of their way, fetched tools, beer and the shop manual when needed. He was in charge of ordering tacos for the crew, and keeping Mary from sticking her pretty little engaged nose where it didn't belong.
Mary realized her car was in good hands. So she went inside and tried to call Cindy.
"Jack." Steve called. "We're going to set her timing up a couple of degrees, and she's been running a bit too rich, I think her valves are getting too much back pressure so we're going to cheat on her exhaust reburn to ease that up, ok?"
"Ok." Jack said. Then thought to himself. 'I thought lawyers talked funny.
Teresa's Grandmother's painting was a striking thing. A fairly large painting of a seacoast with an approaching storm, at the dock was a sailing ship that had seen better days, huddled people on the dock were obviously saying good-byes and preparing to board. The painting was in painstaking detail. You could see expressions on the faces of the people even though each face was no more than a third of an inch long, the nails in the planking of the ship were visible, you could almost make out rain beneath the cloud. The detail was complete down to the rocks in the street and a crack in the window of a shop.
Everyone in the room was speechless.
"Miss O'Balkenney. We cannot accept a family heirloom such as this. We appreciate the thought, and respect your Grandmother's enormous talent, this is her painting 'Fleeing the Storm' if you look close you can see the advancing column of Ottoman's with their flag just there in the turn in the road. I have become familiar with this since you first showed it to me. This is the first version of this painting, the original for a larger work which is now at the Museum of History in Bucharest. It shows how much she hated her family's leaving the old country, and how much she loved America in one stroke. But Miss, this isn't something you give away." Miss Alice had been asked beforehand and had taken a moment to examine the painting. But she didn't know of her intent to give it to the house. Teresa had just said she needed someplace hang it where it would be safer than in campus storage. Teresa hadn't thought what she'd do if it was turned down.
Colleen smiled. Miss Alice had been a quick student on the painting. The original was on a European art Web site with full write up on artist and her works.
"Please Miss Alice. We can call it an extended loan. My family has a few others, this one was given to me by Grandpa Ozmul before he passed on. Each of us got one like this, a rough draft for a larger work, I don't know what its worth, but I don't want to take a chance on it being lost or damaged. Please. This is the perfect place for it, and I think it shows us girls finding this safe place after a storm just like what my family went through.
Miss Alice conceded defeat graciously,
Cindy hadn't been in. Mary hated voice mail so she didn't leave a message.
Now Mary was upstairs, gathering laundry, throwing out dead pizza boxes, and trying to figure out how two guys could live in a room that resembled an illegal landfill more than any sort of human habitation.
Jack's new roommate, Billy, at least wore different size pants, but Mary decided to wash everything in the room, then sort. The pile just inside the door grew by leaps and bounds, she found stuff with his former roommates name on it. There was even an uncashed paycheck made out to Arvin Johnson dated three years ago.
Jack walked into the chaos of cleaning. He had brought Mary a glass of ice cold white wine to toast her car, but he stopped when he realized she was cleaning up his room.
Mary saw the glass and held out her hand for it. He slowly gave it to her, staring at a full trash bag. She took a long drink.
"Don't worry Jack, I didn't throw out anything that wasn't in desperate need of throwing out."
"Billy won't like this. When he gets back he'll expect to see the same filth as when he left."
Mary shook her head. She knew most guys were in their heart of hearts incorrigible slobs, but this place was by any standard, this mess made the 'SWAMP' of "M*A*S*H" fame look like the White House.
"Jack, who was Arvin Johnson?" She asked.
"Oh, he moved out of this room just after I moved in, no, he had moved out the semester before, John was in here alone when I moved in."
"Here's his paycheck from Burger Master. It was in the third or fourth layer down under the desk. About two layers from the floor."
Jack looked at it. "He got paid five and a half an hour. Wow."
Mary gave up cleaning. She sent Jack out with the full trash bag and continued her dig to the floor between the dresser and the wall. She found a newspaper with a picture of president-elect Bush on the front page. This place made feel like an archeologist. She went to the closet and got out somebody's hat, it was sort of a fedora, almost.
She bent the rim up and cocked it to one side. In the streaked up mirror, it wasn't so bad. Then she went back to work.
"Mary Henderson, girl archeologist, and the temple of the Aztec god of Garbage." She said aloud.
"You mean Mary Foster. Married woman archeologist." Maggie said from the door. Cindy stepped over the laundry into the room. "I'm not going in there, I may get attacked by something." Maggie said.
"It's not that bad." Mary stood and hugged Cindy. "You know, I hadn't thought about that. Do I want to change my name, or maybe get hyphenated. Like Geanman-Stone." Maggie said she didn't know her. "That art teacher, the woman with the bright yellow hair." Mary knew everybody on the campus had seen her at least once.
"Oh, yeah she would have to be an art teacher." Maggie nodded.
Jack came back up the stairs to find his room had been invaded.
"Right on time Jack." Cindy said pointing to Mary's glass. "Three more of those."
Jack turned around and went back downstairs.
"Already trained. I like that in a man." Cindy said.
After supper they all got a good look at the painting and tried to decide where it should hang. Everybody agreed that it needed someplace out of the high traffic area, but where it could be seen by visitors and resident alike.
Colleen had a suggestion that met with a good deal of approval. "In the Music Hall most of the portraits are of house alum that are either immigrants or first generation Americans from immigrant parents, why don't we move out that ugly picture of George Washington who never had anything to do with Rozbilski or anything else around here, and dedicate the Hall to those that came to this country for something better with this painting?"
The suggestion was batted around, and accepted by everybody. But somehow Dale ended up with Washington in his room, watching him.
"Now Cin, he's not that well trained, look at this room." Maggie said, "This is one of the worst ones I've seen. And I've got brothers."
"What are you two doing over here? Bored, or lost?" Mary asked.
"A little of both. We were walking back from downtown and saw your car being autopsied. They said you were in the house, so here we are. Cindy offered. "What are they doing to your car?"
"Replacing almost everything I think. It was running bad, and I want to go home to tell my parents the news."
"They didn't know?" Cindy gasped.
"No not yet... What do you mean didn't." Mary asked sternly.
Cindy looked out the window. Maggie couldn't resist, "Somebody really screwed up then. Big time. It was a bright idea. But."
"That would explain why she didn't know about it, I thought she was just playing with me." Cindy couldn't look at Mary.
Mary grabbed Cindy by the shoulders. "Cynthia Rosemary White." That got her attention. "Yes I know your middle name, but I'm going to change it to Mud if you don't tell me what's going on."
"Ahhh, I called your mother to... ask her if she wanted to come up here to your bridal shower." Cindy looked at Mary, She started laughing, "That hat looks really stupid."
Mary grabbed the hat and yanked it off, then she smashed it onto Cindy's head and pulled it down to her eyes. Then Mary laughed too, Maggie had been hoping for a little more from Mary, maybe a cat fight but this would have to do.
Jack arrived with the wine, and Maggie offered a toast.
"The happy couple, long may they do dirty things in the dark." Maggie said with a straight face.
They all laughed and drank.
Cont in Two Dorms Part 21
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