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They were interrupted by the contingent from the house. Miss Alice, Peggy, Dr. Harrison, and Colleen were inside the door. Luckily Dale was alone in a semi-private room, that way Harrison could flop on the other bed and demand breakfast, Dale handed him Kremin's tray and the man set to, the nurse looked in and Harrison said, "Coffee." She nodded and left with a stern look at Dale.
Peggy was standing under the TV looking shy. Miss Alice took control of the situation asking Kremin to do the introductions. Dale almost died when Kremin introduced Peggy to his parents as his 'almost girlfriend'.
"Dale, she's cute, you should have told us." His dad said.
Dale couldn't say anything. He looked from face to face in the now-crowded room, they were all talking at once. Miss Alice was explaining to his mom what was wrong with him, even though nobody had told him. His dad, Kremin, and Dr. Harrison were plotting to hold a welcome back/homecoming party in the fishpond yard without the butler's permission, or Dale's knowledge.
Peggy stood next to the window and looked at Dale. He caught her eye and smiled at her. He felt weak but just looking at her made him feel better. Then he suddenly felt worse when the entire Greek math class including the older woman showed up at his door, there was now over a dozen people crowding into his room, talking and shaking hands, Dr. Varscroft was explaining to Dale's Dad the theoretical new ground the class had charted yesterday. Colleen and Miss Alice were trying to convince his mom to stay at the house through parent's weekend, and Harrison and Kremin were flipping the TV looking for sports.
Dale was relieved when a couple of doctors walked in and asked the room be cleared except for Miss Alice, whom they called "Nurse Alice."
Everybody ended up in the hall, where they were directed to the waiting room for coffee and donuts by none other than Master Neeman Georges, the butler. Dale's mom and dad and the math class were greeted by the man with his famous reserve, broad smile, and photographic memory, they knew he would be able to call them by name ten years from now.
The Class was silent, Miss Amberjoyce had a slight flair for the dramatic, she described the game, won by a dropkick field goal, 3-0, she told of the nearly aborted plans by two seniors who pulled support from every quarter to get the idea past the college administration, the unbelievable support by 5000 alumni at the game. She had photos on the overhead of the hobo parade and other activities at the game.
Finally, after everybody in the class took at least one guess ranging from Brown to UCLA she told them who the teams were. "The first homecoming was in 1910 at The University of Illinois, in Urbana-Champaign. They beat Chicago University 3-0." She said dramatically and almost non-monotone.
The doctors and Miss Alice RN poked Dale with Needles, and looked at him the way only doctors do. Finally they were done with him.
"We should know in a couple of hours if you'll be released today." Dr. Hedges told him while looking at Miss Alice.
"Thank you doctor." She looked at the second doctor, "Thank you very much Calvin. I mean Doctor Solendes."
Miss Alice stayed with Dale as the two doctors went to talk to his parents, and the assorted people from the house and the Greek Math class. "Dale you'll be fine." She said, he was relieved. "You caught a virus someplace that reacted badly with you. Your blood pressure dropped, and you had a temperature well over a hundred, you were anemic, and dehydrated, you had probably not felt 100% for some time, but we didn't realize you were sick until Mister Ristor and Dr. Harrison found you last night."
Dale agreed that that was pretty much the way he felt the last couple of days, but that he thought he was just not sleeping enough.
Mary left the class full of the homecoming spirit, Jack grabbed her in the hallway and kissed her until she worried the fire alarm would go off. It didn't.
Jack was uncomfortable. This made Mary nervous, the first thing through her mind was that he had decided not to marry her.
"I want to give you this, but I don't know how." He said quietly, almost a whisper. He gave her a small box. "Here." He said simply.
She knew it was a box from a jeweler. She opened it, it was an engagement ring, the price tag was still in it the box. She tried it on without a great deal of show. It fit. "Jack." Was all she could say.
"I measured your finger in the music hall the night you were sick." He said.
Mary knew he had very precious little money, she couldn't think of how he managed it, unless he had.... "Jack, did you...?"
"I love you." He looked away. "Yes, I sold the Toy. Barry bought it, he wants to make it into a Baja Buggy. Don't ask me how. He gave me cash."
Mary was suffering from mixed feelings, she was glad the car was gone, she was scared to ride in the thing, it shuddered, it was noisy, and one time when they had went shopping uptown she would have sworn it had caught fire when he shut it off. But she was sorry Jack had given up HIS car, even though he had given her a ring.
Mary hugged and kissed him, wondering about this new turn in their relationship. She knew this meant he was serious, but she was worried that maybe she wasn't this serious. Then she realized she was getting a case of 'cold feet'.
They walked out of the building together. Mary still had a dazed and confused look on her face as they walked slowly back to the Music Annex.
She told him that even if the doctors released him today he would stay in bed for another day, having lots of soup and juice, then he would be on a light schedule for a week after that.
"The house is at your disposal until you are back on your feet, Dr. Varscroft has agreed to hold his research sessions in the music hall until you are back on your feet. A computer and, what is that fancy thing, a facts machine, yes, we'll, will be made available for that. They really think highly of you. Dr. Harrison is a very well thought of scientist even though he is less than an ideal role model of etiquette ..." She talked and talked, Dale about half listened, he fell asleep somewhere around how nice she thought his parents were. Miss Alice talked until he was asleep, then she walked down the hall and stopped his parents from going to see him. They sat in the waiting room and visited while he slept. Later she sent Peggy to see if he was awake. Peggy came back to say he was still asleep.
The butler brought in sandwiches. The Greek Math class couldn't resist arguing out the fine point of the tolerance of light photons to outside influence. Dr. Canney kept asking Dale's dad's opinion even though the man had no idea what they were talking about. Ralph asked Dale's mom if she was wearing a bra and demanded to know if anti-energy would warp the shell of the photon in formation thereby weakening it, thus dictating its infinity.
Dale's parents were getting a taste of college life in its frozen concentrated form. Without dilution or stirring. Peggy asked his mother to walk downstairs with her using excuse she might get lost. Colleen came with them.
The music annex was empty. They walked around a little, looking at the harp, playing with the tippany drums, and peeking through the windows of a couple of professors offices.
Later they found themselves alone in the room they had rented many days ago. Mary looked at the smallish diamond in her ring.
"Jack, its beautiful. I love it. ... I love you.... But I wish you didn't have to sell the Toy."
"Barry offered. He told me it would cost more than the car was worth to put it back on the road. The transmission was shot, he had junked it then spent a day trying to find me another one. He wants to drop a V-6 in it and put four wheel drive under it. The body isn't that bad. He said the Toy could end up in Vegas running that desert four wheeler race next year."
shut up and kiss me." She said.
This time. Nofire alarms went off.
No bands practiced.
No phones rang..........
The three women ended up in the hospital's gift shop.
Colleen brushed off the attention she received from every male in the building. She stayed with the mother and the young girl, Colleen was an expert on when to turn her charm on, which was like lighting up a lighthouse, and when to leave it off, like her putting on a nun's habit. They were trying to find something Dale would like, and that was her mission today.
"I have an idea." Colleen said after they had fondled an entire shelf of Teddy bears.
They walked down the hall, out of the hospital, and across the street to a small shopping center built in and around an old farmhouse. Colleen guided them past fascinating one-room shops full of odd items to a small shop with a door that creaked when opened.
"Well bless my eyes, I knew you'd be back sooner than later." The old man could have been from almost any race, his skin color hard to tell, he was at least two hundred years old, judging from his face, he grabbed Dale's mom's hand as soon as he was done hugging Colleen, then he worked over Peggy. "My Shop is your Shop." He said to all them, gesturing to a collection of odd bits of forgotten artwork and decorative items.
They separated, the old man following the beautiful Colleen like an eager puppy. Peggy saw something she knew Dale would like.
"You have a keen eye miss, that is from the thirties, it is an attempt to mesh the idea of the continuity of the creation to the creation itself:" The old man took the object from Peggy. He handled it reverently. It was a half globe of bronze, one side, the flat side, had the oriental symbol of continuity, the other side a representation of the zodiac in stars on a slightly darker background.
"Colleen, do you think Dale will like that?" His mom asked.
The beautiful young woman smiled warmly.
... ... No fan club cheered.
No roommates got stupid.
They were alone. Mary had things in her purse. Jack didn't have practice.
In about twenty minutes they heard a few violins practicing the theme from a movie, 'Romeo and Juliet', was barely heard from the next floor practice room.
The sophomore class string quintet was practicing for the talent show Friday night. They never knew how much their talent was appreciated by two star-crossed lovers one floor below them.
Yes, magic is alive and well on planet Earth.
Colleen was sure Dale would like the half sphere with the cast symbols of the eternity of the universe. Dale's mom wouldn't hear of letting either young woman help pay for it. The old man gave her back part of her money and asked her to come again. He kissed Colleen's hand and hugged the other two goodbye. They left out the same creaking door they came in.
"He's a strange old bird." Dale's mother said.
Colleen smiled at her. "Yes he is."
Peggy carried the bag like it contained a gold nugget.
Colleen put her arm around the young girl with the bag "It is probably worth ten times what Mrs. Hinerick paid for it."
Peggy almost dropped the bag, Dale's mother stopped walking and looked back at the shop. "He knew."
Colleen took their hands and lead them back to the hospital, "Yes, he knows quiet a bit."
They held each other for a long time, then Jack needed to go to the bathroom to dispose of something that was becoming uncomfortable. Mary heard the shower runnning, she joined him.
They didn't speak for a few minutes. Jack held Mary very close and watched the water run off her arm.
"I love you." One of them said and the other repeated it.
The water ran and ran. Mary reached for the soap and started to wash his back. Jack kissed top of her head.
"You left the light on." Mary said to him.
"So did you." He muttered with water in his eyes.
"I didn't mind." She felt at home in his arms, rubbing him with the soap. She felt the ring on her finger, she got worried about it coming off in the shower.
Jack couldn't believe how he felt with Mary. She was
his. Usually right about now he would be planning a swift exit. But this time he was wondering about how to make it last. He never wanted to get out of the shower with her, let alone be without her. He grabbed her hard and pulled her close. He lost his footing on the bottom of the bathtub and fell backwards, sliding down the rear of the tub with her on top of him. He held on to her until his feet were braced against the spout and knobs of the tub. He kissed her and let his hands wander while the water rained down on them.
This time they didn't stop for things from Mary's purse, interrupting the proceedings before it went too far. The pep had arrived and warmed up, but the couple in the shower down the ha1l didn't even notice. The school fight song was music in their ears.
Dale's parents faded out of the room, his mom had wanted to show her husband the gift they had picked out, but she was afraid if Peggy took it out of the bag the Greek Math class would start discussing the finite eternity of the symbols on the thing. Colleen was standing outside Dale's room, she motioned that he was awake. Kremin was sitting with him, his parents and Peggy walked into the room, Colleen stayed in the hall.
"Has the doctor released me?" Dale asked. Nobody knew. "What kind of virus did I have?" He asked. Nobody knew. "Did Dr. Canney ever decide if the value of the variable polluting energy was a negative relative to the normal constant of the photon?"
They stood there, yes, that had come out of Dale's mouth.
"You're learning a lot in college son, we're proud of you, but how would I know if they had decided anything like that? I just spent ten minutes listening to two of them argue in Latin" His dad said.
"We bought you something." His mom said to him softly. Peggy gave him the bag.
"It's neat." He said, proving all the heady theories hadn't really changed him.
Neither Jack nor Mary could remember how they got out of the shower and back to the bed. They woke up in each other's arms the bed soaked, they were naked, it was the middle of the night. There was no doubt, they had, 'gone all the way' twice.
Jack didn't even want to get out of the bed, he was afraid to let go of her, afraid that the magic might end. But they were faced with a terrible fact. Love, marriage, two AM or not, nature's call cannot be ignored indefinitely.
Jack gave in. Mary got out of bed while he was busy and stripped the bed. As he came out of the bathroom she went in. He kicked the wet covers up against the wall and looked out the window at the dark parking lot.
She grabbed him from behind and slammed him on the bed face down, she pinned him that way and had her way with him for awhile before he could even touch her. They wrestled for awhile, exploring each other. Laughing, and complaining about not being able to touch the other one here or there because the others leg was in the way, or an arm was in the wrong place.
They ended up on the floor. Jack reached the small refrigerator, the bottle of wine was still there. He took the cap off with his teeth and toasted her.
Mary did something to him and they got a brief but cold shower of white wine. Then they drank to their love. Then they had to take another shower.
Jack knew it. This was for real. This was for keeps. Mary realized it. She did love him, she would marry him. The phone was in the linen closet, wrapped in a towel. Ringing.
Later that afternoon the two doctors reappeared with a third doctor in formation, Dale's mom was there, the rest had attacked the cafeteria. The Greek math class had decided to eat and run, but they had assembled a pretty sizeable collection of notes and one large model made out of torn up paper as a basis for discussing if incoming polluting energy gained or lost energy as it approached the star's corona at light relative speeds. So their moving out was no simple task.
Dale and his mom stayed quiet as the three chattered amongst themselves, and basically ignored the patient. Miss Alice came in and, as usual, brought the discussion to a halt as she took over. "Good afternoon Dr. Hedges, doctors." She said to them. "I hope you are here to release Mister Hinerick."
"Yes ma' am. We are awaiting the results of a couple of other tests which will determine if he needs any continuing treatment other than the antibiotics and over the counter vitamins, and some of Martha's chicken and corn soup. But barring any further complications I believe he can go home this evening."
Miss Alice had heard all she wanted to hear. "Mrs. Hinerick, please help Dale get dressed. Doctor, I will remove his IV when it has run its course." She nodded to them, they didn't argue. "I will have Mister Georges attend to the paperwork, thank you for your kindness." She left in her stately breathless rush.
The doctors looked at Dale's mother. "I guess he's been released." One of them said.
Dr. Hedges smiled, "She is formidable when she gets up a full head of steam."
They had silently held each other for what seemed like a long time. Jack looked out the window. It was getting light outside, Wednesday morning, and the middle of homecoming week. Today would be the judging sometime during the day. After supper, the full-blown no holds barred wackiness was free to cut loose until the spirit judging Friday afternoon, the school wanted some sanity to return before the game Saturday. Many classes were cancelled Thursday and Friday because the professors didn't feel safe on campus. At any moment you might be mobbed, painted green and gold, have your picture taken with a real live prairie dog, and some nut in a seven foot rodent costume might kiss you on the mouth.
Jack kissed Mary awake. She moaned with memories of pleasure and slowly joined the waking world. Jack reluctantly turned her loose and tried to find their clothes. The room looked like it was the inside of a mobile home that had been rolled over a couple of times by a gale wind.
"Hi lover." He said when he saw her eyes open and try to focus.
"I guess we kinda trashed the place, it was fun though." She commented as she sat up and looked around. "Let's do it again."
Dale was bundled up and delivered to the house with the rest of the bunch coming along behind as best they could. By the time he was comfortable in his room and the butler invited his parents down to supper, it was almost 7 PM.
Kremin closed the door behind him, Dale was in bed watching the IV drip through the meter, Peggy was there, she was standing by the window. She glanced over and saw the Coney Island framed poster where Washington had been.
"Dale, the butler switched your picture." She took it off the wall so he could see it better. It showed a new attraction for the summer, but didn't say which year it was. Peggy guessed maybe around 1900 by the clothes, but she wasn't sure. "He was worried about you." She said.
Jack smiled at her.
Mary frowned and withdrew her offer. "Maybe later."
"It is later, Mary." Jack paused, he looked down at her. He had forgotten how pretty she really was. "I want to call you sweetheart or something, but I don't want to sound silly." (Deep breath.) "I've got to work at this."
Mary was a master at pet names and sweet nothings. "I'll help you sweetheart lover, babycakes. Ok, honey, what should we do?" She stood very close to him. "My wonderful strong husband to be." She was very close now, "I love you so very much. We are going to be the happiest couple ever my dear." She whispered. "Sweetest love, I want to be with you every minute of every day."
Jack held her, Jack had no idea what to say, so he said nothing, he just clung to her. He was so happy he felt like he was going to have a heart attack.
They didn't want to, but they had to, they pulled away from each other slowly. Jack dug the phone out and called the house to check on her car. Mary washed her face and planned to walk back to her dorm to change for the queen contest meeting. Like everything else associated with the homecoming, the queen contest was a thing of mystery, weirdness, and a tradition of being untraditional, to the point that nobody was sure any longer how the committee that choose the queen from among the nominated young women was itself chosen.
The candidates got a notice where to appear before the committee, dressed as the girls saw fit, to make a statement they thought was appropriate, maybe answer a few questions, and that was that.
Jack kissed her and promised to meet her at the snack bar in the union later. They separated across the street from the music annex, touching fingers as they walked away from each other. Mary looked over her shoulder, Jack was standing still watching her walk, she tried swinging her caboose, she wasn't sure she did it right, but the next time she looked he was still standing there Watching her.
Dale looked carefully at the poster. "I really like that, I've never been to Coney Island. Isn't that in New York?"
Peggy said she thought it was since the address given at the bottom of the poster said Brooklyn.
"Dale, tell me something." She hung the poster back up. "Do you actually understand all that stuff you talk about with Dr. Harrison and the others?"
Dale seemed to deflate a little. He looked around his room, everything seemed the same. He guessed he had to answer her question. "Well, I understand some of what they are talking about. But I really don't know exactly how to explain things like Mr. Blumn, or even Ralph or Bilbo."
Peggy thought about what Dr. Varscroft had said. The professor had said that Dale had an instinct for the behavior of the quantum particles. "Maybe you just have a knack for these things." Peggy said encouragingly.
The butler appeared in the doorway with a tray with two plates on it.
Peggy smiled at him and got the toothy smile for a second. One time at the hospital when she had smiled at the butler all she got in return was a very tight-lipped smile/grimace. Peggy knew she had a way to tell them apart.
After he had set up Dale's lap table in the bed the butler left. "Dale, I've got something I'm dying to tell you. But you have to swear by everything in the world not to tell a soul.
She found the dorm almost deserted, everybody was out watching for the judging committee for the dorm decorations to come by. Mary changed into what she thought was her best 'All American Girl' outfit and tried to think of something to say. She knew sexy would probably do better to the judges, but she wanted to save that for Jack. She had never heard any kind of statement from a pageant contestant except the banal nonsense about working for world peace. She decided that as homecoming queen she would try to show the best face of the university to the visiting alumni and guests. If the judges didn't like that, oh well.
Mary looked at herself in the mirror, ok, she undid one more button on her blouse and adjusted it to show just a little more, maybe a sexy 'all American Girl' she said to herself. She thought she looked nice enough.
Until she got to the Union conference center. The three girls in front of her were sponsored by the frats, all legs, tits, and blonde hair with a big smile stuck on to let you know it was human. The one signing in was from a sorority, Marilyn Monroe's younger twin. A couple had skinny supermodel figures. Mary consoled herself that she probably had the highest grade point average. She rebuttoned the button on her blouse and waited her turn to sign in.
Dale took an oath by everything he ever planned to own, and his own personal hand held video game.
Peggy got up and checked outside the door, everybody was still downstairs.
"Dale." She said dramatically, "The butler is really twins. There are two of him. The only way I can tell the difference is the way they smile." She told him about the incident in the kitchen.
"Wow." Dale said. "I wonder how they ended up here?"
"Do you think everybody else knows and they just don't say anything?" Dale looked at her.
"Do you think Bilbo can keep a secret?" Peggy smiled.
They were silent for a minute, she sipped her fruit punch, Dale looked at his plate, he ate a little.
"I can't wait to get rid of this IV. Do you know if they put me on any pills or anything."
Peggy nodded. "Miss Alice is supposed to give you a shot before you go to sleep tonight, and they got some medicine too."
The line moved pretty fast. The took the girls by groups of four or five, they went in, and never came back out, then the next group was called in about ten minutes. Mary was called with the blond bombshell, a supermodel with the figure of a fencepost, and one of the frat 'little sister' types with a non-stop giggle.
The giggler was called in front of the seven-member committee first. The older man in the center stood up. "I will address this to all of you, this is judged not solely on appearance, but on overall impression as a representative of this university, to serve as Campus Queen through the New Years Day parade." He sat down. "Good luck to all of you. Miss Courtney please begin your address, then we may ask you some questions."
"As queen I would strive to make this university a leader in world peace and understanding between all nations." She giggled after she finished.
There was silence from the panel. "No questions miss, thank you, She was gestured out the door on the far side. "Miss Nailen."
There was a large neon sign floating over her head that said 'BIMBO'.
Or at least Mary thought there should be.
Her walk was greasy and her makeup was glow in the dark. "I feel the duty of the Campus Queen is to see to it that the Alumni at the homecoming weekend have a good time." The sugar in her voice may have given the panel cavities, her body language spoke volumes about her idea of a 'good time' was.
One of the panel members had a question. "What behavior do you consider appropriate for the queen in her duties as a representative of the school."
Miss Nailen moved a little inside her skintight higher than mid-thigh dress.
She was visibly uncomfortable. "That, I suppose, would depend on the situation." She finally said. The panel looked her over, and she was showed the door.
Cont in Two Dorms Part 25
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