Two Dorms Part 28

©01 The Media Desk

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****** DALE
      The house was cheering, even the butler clapped and cheered as the Dog quarterback took a dive and started the clock on its countdown. Barring something totally out of the ordinary, this one was done.
      Dale was dancing, Peggy hugged and kissed him, Harrison was gone, and their whole section was singing and cheering. Streamers floated down from the balcony above. Somebody on the sideline had a banner, 'LOOK OUT IRISH! WE'RE #1.' it said optimistically.
      The clock wound down, it was done.
      Dale wanted to stay and watch them tear down the goal posts, which were already well on their way down. Security wasn't even trying to stop the crowd from getting to them.
      Peggy and Dale held hands and joined the river of people out of the stadium.
      High in the boxes, the celebration was going strong.
      A TV man wanted to get words about his final win as President here. But they found him kissing the very attractive woman he had been seen with all day.
      It made a nice TV shot. The commentator said it probably expressed the man's feelings much better than words.
      The teams were long gone from the field, but there were still hangers-on that didn't want the party to end.
      The appearance of mounted police and a bunch of security officers changed their minds.
      Dale and Peggy were back in the Roz house by then.
      The last few out of the stadium were sportswriters that had made sure there wasn't a drop left in the press courtesy bar in their box. They held firmly to the belief that the game wasn't over until they heard a fat lady singing, and they drank until they heard her. The trio weaved out and collapsed into a taxi that took them to their motel. The driver shoveled them into the lobby. They were the last of a dying breed of journalists, being replaced by 'technicians' and 'contributors'. Computer generated reports, and instant news had made them dinosaurs, old before their time, living out of a suitcase, existing on cheap food and cheaper drink, they were on their way out.
      Few mourned their passing.

****** MARY
      Later that evening Jack was almost embarrassed about where they would stay.
      He offered Mary his room, he would sleep on the couch he said. But Jack's mom wouldn't hear of it, his dad smiled. It was never said, but it was implied that Mary and Jack would sleep in Jack's old room, his dad got out the camping cot and stuck it in the room.
      "Just don't giggle all night like a slumber party." His dad said.
      They ate supper as a family. Good home cooked food.
      Jack had gotten used to pizza or campus cafeteria food.
      Mary had as well, this was a feast, and she said so. The talk around the table was where would they live after school. Mary said she wanted to stay for summer school and finish her degree.
      His mom was fascinated by the married dorm idea.

****** DALE
      Ralph and Colleen cheered with the others, they listened to the commentator say that the operation on the Southern player to relieve pressure on his spinal cord had been a success, though he would require more treatment, and would be transferred to another hospital as soon as he could be moved.
      The others that had been injured would be fine, most of the injuries had already been treated, they would be sore, but they'd live. They were FOOTBALL PLAYERS after all... so they complained and whined like everybody else, for the most part.
      Then after Dale and Peggy had joined the party, and they got a look at the butler doing a sort of victory dance with Sandy. Ralph and Colleen walked out together.
      Harrison showed up a little later.
      He had a three-foot section of pipe with him. "Goal post." He said simply. Then he joined the party.
      There was Champaign, toasts and a rousing rendition of the fight song.
      Dale was glad they were here, he got to dance with Peggy, then with a couple of the other females. He wasn't a very good dancer, but it didn't matter, they had won at least a share of the conference title. If Southwest Missouri lost today, they would win the whole ball of wax!
      They might as well have been in the running for an Orange Bowl bid.
      The giddy excitement was contagious. The next time Dale looked up the University President was locked into a tight slow dance with Yyavonne.
      But the music playing wasn't slow dance music.
      Dale figured love does strange things to people.

****** MARY
      They stayed up fairly late, finally Jack noticed Mary was asleep on the couch next to his mom. They all agreed it was late, and they had all had a big day.
      Even the excitement of them winning the conference outright due to SW Missouri's loss couldn't keep them up all night. Jack led the groggy Mary to h
      His room, with the basketball poster and model airplane hanging from the ceiling.
      Jack had a sudden sense of deja vu, he had had a vision of putting a girl to bed in his room when he was in high school. He knew this was a good sign.
      Mary was really still asleep when Jack put her in his old bed. He never even considered putting her on the cot. He went to the bathroom to brush his teeth out of habit. His dad met him coming out.
      They both looked at the sleeping Mary through Jack's open bedroom door.
      "You love her a lot, sure. But do you want to spend the rest of your life with her?" His dad asked him.
      Jack thought about it. "Yeah, I guess so. I've never felt this way before. I can't even play ball without thinking about her. The coach says that's bad for the team."
      "So tell the coach to get his own girl." His dad laughed quietly.

****** DALE
      Colleen had taken Ralph to her private sanctuary.
      In the Art building next to Old Abe.
      Colleen was an assistant instructor, she worked with the freshmen, mainly to find out if any of them had any talent which meant she got to evaluate a lot of bad art. But she rated an office, of sorts.
      High in the building, in an old attic, with a tall window that faced the west over the front lawn of the campus.
      Colleen had lobbied long and hard to get this area. It had a high ceiling, a huge wall, now covered with artwork of students, the other wall was full of her work, there was an old desk, and a filing cabinet that looked like it had seen action in the Civil War.
      Ralph was impressed, his 'office' as a Physics fellow was a desk, in a room with four others, never mind that three of them were his friends, Canney, Harrison, and Crowley. She had a huge room that was all hers. And she was an, ..., ulp, ... ARTIST!

****** MARY
      The man talk lasted into the night.
      Jack's dad did something Jack didn't expect.
      He broke out a bottle he called, "The old soldier."
      They talked about women, and how proud his dad was of him.
      "Jack, I didn't get through college. I never even made the soccer team, I never had a second date except for your mom."
      "Dad I heard all this before. I know the story." They sat silent for a minute. "This is smooth whisky." Jack said slowly, the straight Scotch was working on him already.
      "That is very good, very old, Scotch. Jack, I was lucky with your mother. I got a wonderful woman that can take almost anything in stride, I know she loves me, and I love her, never mind all the other stuff. Do you feel that way about Mary?" His dad poured more Scotch.
      Jack drank before he said anything.
      Considering what they had been through, he hoped so.
      He decided to tell his dad about their adventures, starting with the fire, then Bonker, and the rest.
      They laughed so hard they woke up his mom then Mary.
      Jack was retelling the story about the Prairie Fire when Mary came staggering in, her eyes blurry. They were all laughing about the incident.
      Jack's mom didn't touch the Scotch but she listened with great interest as Jack started the story about how they were interrupted in Ol' Abe, Mary was awake enough to tell them about the reaction of the tour leader. And they cackled.
      Mary told Jack he had things out of order, she knew the interruption by the Marching band was after the Toy died, then Jack had to talk about how his old car finally gave up the ghost, and how it may end up running an off-road four wheeler race.
      His parents had a great time listening to their misadventures.
      Finally his dad let the drink get the best of him. "So have you two managed to get together?"
      "Shush. That's none of your business." Jack's mom put her hand on his arm.
      But he ignored her and grinned at jack first, then at Mary.
      Jack and Mary looked at each other.

****** DALE
      Colleen acted like a child, proud of her latest drawing, a sketch of a football player in action. She had been experimenting with motion in hand-drawn art.
      She explained she wasn't trying to make it look like a cartoon, she wanted motion like a photograph.
      "See, like this, but in a drawing." She pointed to photos cut from magazines, they were pictures of horses on the run, the legs blurry, race cars, the lines not sharp the detail a little fuzzy, the track team, the faces obscured by motion. She wanted to be able to express this on paper, without it looking phony and contrived.
      Ralph felt his brain, which had been in an extended idle, kick in.
      This had to do with the interaction of the perception of light over time.
      She was looking to define things in motion faster than the given observation frame could perceive, so light from a single given surface area was observed in several places at one time. A slow film in a camera with a slow shutter trying to capture something like a dragster popping its chute at 300 miles an hour, a blur of color and motion.
      Ralph was right at home.
      Colleen was awed, Ralph was animated, he was trying to explain the science of something he had always dismissed as a pursuit of the talented but weak minded.
      Ralph amazed himself, this was giving him an angle on the very thing the class had been talking about. The uncertainty principle of high-energy quantum mechanics. The racecar was moving, slowly as related to light certainly but quickly as related to a stationary camera. Ralph had her in a trance as he explained how the details were lost by the overwhelming image of the car at those speeds. The car was moving 300 miles an hour, almost faster than the shutter at the low setting, with the light from each surface was registering at several places on the film as it was exposed, in focus every time, since light was even faster, but the film, and by extension the human eye, could not register each point in space and real time. It was a little complicated. Ralph admitted looking at her.
      "No kidding." Colleen said, bring Ralph out of his lecture and back into Real Time and Space. "I've wondered about that, I knew there was a reason I couldn't draw the actual movement, no matter how hard I tried, I never knew why."
      She smiled at Ralph.
      He had no idea if she was kidding or not.

****** MARY
      It was very late before they all went through the ritual of going to bed again. Jack was dead to the world on the cot, Mary passed into dreamland on the bed after saying goodnight.
      "You did that on purpose to make sure they would fall asleep didn't you?" Jack's mother asked his dad.
      Jack's dad just smiled, the very old, very good Scotch had done its work. No matter how much he loved his son, he didn't want any hanky-panky in his house.

****** MARY
      Cindy met Mike right after the game. They went to the open party at the Delta house, then to a more exclusive party at Mike's roommate's brother's apartment. Then finally to the most exclusive party of all in Cindy's apartment in the dorm. But Mike seemed preoccupied.
      Cindy sensed something was wrong. She felt him stiffen inside her hug. "Mike, what is it?"
      "Nothing." He lied. She knew it. "I'm sorry Cindy, I still like you and all, but."
      "But what? What's going on, tell me."
      "I don't want to hurt you. I still like you a lot." Mike wasn't looking at her. He was fishing for the right words. "I, I've, I..."
      "You got a new girlfriend. I knew something was up." Cindy was almost telepathic at times.
      Mike looked like he had been shot.
      "I didn't mean to. It just kinda happened, we were studying the Supreme Court and it got late and..." He ran out of gas.
      "OUT! GO AWAY. I NEVER WANT TO..." He was out the door before she could throw something at him.
      Cindy was so mad she wanted to beat somebody up.
      Failing that she stormed out of her room.
      Later she saw Maggie in the Union, she had run out of the Homecoming Spirit so she was checking her mail.
      "Hi Cin, I thought you'd be doing something immoral, illegal, or fattening." Maggie kidded her. Cindy's growl changed that. "Now what? You have an out with Mikey the boy wonder lawyer? That's usually the only thing to upset you this much."
      "Mike was two timing me with some female law student." Cindy took Maggie's milkshake and tried to drain it, she wound up sucking air. "Too thick again."
      "I know where there's an illegal party we could raid."
      Cindy's face brightened. "OK, let's go."

****** DALE
      Peggy was credited with saving the house's celebration party. She got the popcorn machine going, everybody followed their nose back to the back porch.
      She was watching the thing pour out popcorn Catching it in a huge plastic salad bowl. "I think I overloaded it." She said.
      Dale helped her put some of the popcorn in smaller bowls and passed them out.
      But the machine kept making more.
      The glass case was full, the bowl was full, and it kept popping more. Rob rescued her and turned off the heating element. They all laughed about how there was all this popcorn to eat, so they'd have to stay down here and eat it.
      "How much popcorn was I supposed to put in it?" She asked Rob.
      "Three-quarters of a cup is what I usually use. Then a little more later if you need it." Rob looked in the popper. "How much did you put in?"
      "Three cups. I'm sorry." Peggy was really embarrassed.
      "Dale. Take care of her. I'll clean this up." Rob said.

****** DALE
      Kremin had never really been one for campus activities, including Homecoming. He had gotten the impression they had won the game, but he didn't go, hadn't watched it, and wasn't going to any victory parties.
      He had 'entertained' a 'friend' that afternoon, and was into a deep discussion of the mating of the soul, with his female friend when the dorm started to refill after the game. Kremin gave into the beating on his door.
      "Hey man that was a great game, did you see that sack, that quarterback is still looking for his teeth." The guys didn't even stop to see if he was occupied, they just piled into the room, talking and cheering, and being themselves. Soon the room was full, and Kremin was the host.
      His girlfriend, Joleen, was relegated to the background, and she played the roll. Talking on the phone, listening to the group, doing this and that.
      Kremin managed to whisper to her a little later. "I wish they would go away so I could kiss you here and there." He said softly. She cooed.
      But they didn't go away, the faces changed, but the room was still the center of the social life of that floor of the dorm.

****** MARY
      Breakfast at Jack's parent's house was an interesting experience for Mary. She wasn't used to rolling out of bed and being ready for a real conversation with real people in twenty minutes.
      But Jack's mom wanted to know all about her parents, then she had to explain that her dad could still do most everything after his stroke, but sometimes he wandered a bit and had to be treated like a child.
      Then she asked her all sorts of questions about what she wanted out of life, and what she wanted to do after school, and when she wanted to start a family.
      "Family." Mary said. She hadn't really thought about that one. Married, she knew, meant, kids. Her having kids. She knew she wanted them, at least two or three. But now the operative question was... .when.
      "We had Jack almost a year to the day after we got married." His mom said.
      Mary wasn't listening any more. She got out the breakfast dishes and sat the table like a robot.
      'Kids.' she kept saying to herself.
      Pregnancy had been something to be avoided, like a flu germ, until now.
      She had always just assumed she would be a mother, someday.
      But now this was no longer an academic exercise, she had to make a decision that would affect a whole new person, and what if it wasn't healthy? Mary couldn't face that before breakfast.
      Jack came in with his dad from the Sunday ritual of getting donuts and the paper.
      The family Sunday breakfast was donuts, boiled eggs, coffee and the paper.
      Mary grabbed Jack and pulled him down the hall to his room. "She wants to know when we'll have kids." She said to him.

****** DALE
      Colleen now understood exactly how the oil men felt when they drilled a well and created a gusher. She had wanted a quiet interlude with Ralph.
      A physical exercise that resulted in a physical release. She had thought that was what he wanted too. At least he had acted like it.
      But now she was the passive victim in a mathematical barrage.
      "Don't you see. Each reflected light photon has it's own life now, separate from it's brothers that were created at the same instant. It has met something moving in its space and been redirected from it's quantumly straight line through curved space/time. So the relativity of its existence has been fundamentally changed."
      He kept on, somehow what he was saying almost made sense to her. Almost.
      He stopped.
      "Can I ask you a question?" He said softly. "Can I make love to you?"
      She wasn't expecting that. Not after the landslide of physics she had just been subjected to.
      She didn't answer.
      He walked away from the chalk board he had been scribbling on and nearly picked her up off the chair she was sitting in.
      He kissed her forcefully and she returned it with equal force.
      The pile of sheets and canvas performed a useful service.

****** MARY
      "Kids." Jack said flatly, he had been thinking donuts.
      "You know, little people that grow up and have diaper rash." "Kids." He said after a deep breath. "I kinda forgot that's what married people do. That means you'll be pregnant for a year and want stuff like tomato ice cream and taco's full of strawberries."
      Mary smiled about that. "My mom said she always craved chewing tobacco while she was pregnant with me, but every time she put some in her mouth she got sick. She just wanted the taste of it, not the real thing."
      "Coach Blarey has a case of it in his office. I'll borrow some for you. I think its Beechnut."
      Mary hugged him tightly. "So what do I tell your mom?"
      "Tell her... tell her we'll talk about it after you graduate."
      They went back and ate donuts and boiled eggs. Just as Jack's father's father had done when he worked in the packing house.
      They read the paper, and drank coffee. And for a brief moment, Jack and Mary both felt like they were already married, and this was their routine.
      Just as Jack's parents had done when they had only been married for a week, his father was getting ready for work, an hour late since it was Sunday, Jack's father was nervous, the old man was content, they made small talk and drank coffee, ate eggs and donuts, talking about baseball.
      Now they talked of football, ate donuts and eggs, and drank coffee.
      Mary looked around, this was a good life. She wondered if it was for ~x her.

****** MARY
      They spent a relaxing day at his parent's house.
      Several dozen people stopped by the wish them well. A few brought gifts, and Mary was given a lot of good advice, including how to get sweat stains out of shirts, how to cook chicken so the grease didn't soak into it, and so on. She got a set of freezer containers and some odds and ends in a sewing box.
      Mary didn't know what to say to these people except thanks.
      They left later that day, Jack muttered something about not wanting to get back after dark. The good-byes were said, and they left.

****** DALE
      Later Peggy and Dale found themselves alone in her room, both were stuffed to the gills with popcorn, and there was still more in the machine. Everybody had kidded Peggy about trying to feed the whole campus popcorn.
      Peggy wanted to change the subject. "You remember that statue in the garden?" She asked him. He was looking at the window in the Cathedral and didn't seem to hear her. "You know, the Sun Singer?"
      "Yeah, he's neat."
      "Remember what I told you in the garden before the game?"
      "About how Jeannie thinks it has power in it? What kind of power is she talking about? I don't think it's plugged in so it'd light up or anything."
      "She thinks there's a trapped soul in it. Somebody that was looking for a lost love. Maybe the guy that made the casting of it." Peggy thought about it.
      Her imagination started to wander again.

****** MARY Meanwhile, back at the independent house....
      Bonker was being made comfortable in his new room. He had watched the game from the sideline, with Doug, '76 at his side. He still hadn't felt like his old self, he was still on a whole pile of pills with regular shots from his nurse. But the house was a lot better than the hospital. His first night there was spent in the living room, he was moved into what was the house's office. Now converted into Bonker's room, Doug, '76 oversaw the visitors and made sure Bonk didn't get too tired.
      Then the nurse came by and checked and gave him a shot.
      "The student nurse will be here in about an hour. If he has any problem call the hospital." Then she was gone.
      Then Bonker was alone with his friends, and the only family he had ever really had.
      "Guys, I'm glad to be home." He said. "I really love you guys. I never had a family, so, you know, you're it."
      They all took turns hugging Bonker, or shaking his hand, or saying something stupid and backing out of the room.
      "God. We're his family. Poor guy." Hairy said.
      Billy looked through the partially open the door. Doug, '76 was sitting with Bonker waiting on the Homecare Student Nurse that would spend the night with him. "I need a drink."

****** DALE
      Peggy decided to try to put the feelings she had at the 'Sun Singer' sundial, and what she had thought when Jeannie had told her about the 'power' in the small statue into words. "I know it sounds silly, but I think Jeannie is right, that that statue has some sort of power in it. It influences you."
      "Peggy it's a little old statue." Dale asked, not knowing he was setting himself up. "I don't think it's even an original. Didn't the sign say the first one is in Europe someplace?"
      "Jeannie says her grandmother said it might be a sculpted copy instead of an exact casting. I'll have to ask Colleen what that is. Jeannie is a little confused too, she had never felt something like that before, even though she has been told for years she has the gift, it's never bothered her before." Peggy looked at the window, it was dark tonight, not brilliantly lit like it usually was, but only about half lit. She wondered what was up.
      "Do you know where the copy of the original copy this copy was copied from." Dale wasn't sure he had said that right and went through it again to himself on his fingers.
      "It says on the plaque, but I don't remember what the name was."
      "Even if it was near here, how would we get there, your car is at home and I don't have one.
      Peggy knew all about that, "I can get us there." She turned and looked at his. "Like you with that Buddha, this is a mystery of this place I want to see through."
      "Colleen never did find out where the statue came from, I mean, who gave it to the house. I wasn't in the record of donations, it just appeared."
      "OK, so hers is unsolved, maybe we can solve mine." She crossed her arms and nodded confidently.

****** MARY
      They got back to the married dorm late. There was a note taped to their door. 'bonk's home, come see him.' The note said in what could only be Hairy's misshapen scrawl.
      Jack wanted a cold beer and a shower but he hesitated about going down the hall. Mary noticed something was wrong.
      "Ahh, nothing. But I heard you can share the shower, you know, with a close friend, to save water." Jack stammered, "Wanna come?"
      Mary smiled broadly.
      They went down the hall, Jack remembered to hang his towel on their shower stall. The other stall wasn't in use.
      It was designed that on busy mornings, one side was for boys, the other for girls, but over the years, this system developed, and Jack wasn't the first victim of a creative use of the tags.
      Of the two big communal bathrooms on the floor, this was the one most used, it had be best water pressure, and was a little larger than the one on the east wing. Officially the west side was the girls room, but that was never enforced. This way was more fun for everybody anyway.

****** DALE
      Peggy sat on her bed and wished Dale good night. Dale had learned that was her way telling to get out. He walked into his room and sat at his desk. He knew he had classes again Monday, but they had been on weird schedule for a week, and he didn't remember even going to a class for the couple of days he had been sick.
      Dale was a little worried, he had forgotten what Varscroft had told him about the research fellow clause, and he would get credit for his classes as long as he took whatever tests he missed and did ok on them.
      The research fellows clause was usually used with upperclassmen on extensive fieldwork or doing sensitive laboratory work But in this case the Physics Department gave the approval without argument, since about half the department was in the Greek math class, it was approved without much hesitation.
      Dale's teachers got the notice in their mail that Wednesday during Homecoming week. A couple thought it was a very funny Homecoming joke.
      They found out otherwise when the Greek Math class was on TV, then later in the Sunday paper where there was an extensive write-up with some very good sketches of the 'Great Breakfast Table Debate' with explanations of what this was about, and how important all this was.
      Dale's picture was featured with a caption that said the original idea for this inquiry was his.
      The rumor persisted for some time that one of his other teachers swore off the bottle for good when he saw that.

****** MARY
      Mary was a little amused by the whole thing, but Jack seemed to know they wouldn't be disturbed and pulled the inner curtain tight. In a few minutes they had all but forgotten they were in a community shower. Then they heard water running and singing in the next shower.
      Mary clung to Jack like she expected to be told they had been caught and should come out peacefully. Then they heard a feminine voice in something of an alto singing a lively rendition of the old 'Wabash Cannonball'.
      They listened to the song and giggled.
      But Mary was self-conscious and before long they were back in their room. She was still happy, but she was a little concerned over what his mother had said.
      "They want grandkids." Mary was looking at her poster, it seemed out of place in here, something from her childhood that wouldn't survive the transition to real adulthood.
      "So?" Jack sat on the bed, "That's down the road, don't worry about it." He held her shoulders and looked up slightly at her face.
      "Do you think we'll be good parents?" Mary asked.
      Jack's eyes widened. He realized that he was going to end up a father. According to Billy who knew these things, that was worse than being a husband.
      Jack let go of her and sagged a little. "Let's talk about this after we are at least married." He brightened a little, "Where are we going to go on our honeymoon?"
      For the life of him, Jack could not fathom her disbelieving look.

****** DALE
      Sunday morning Dale was rousted out by Colleen, Peggy, and Ralph.
      They were beating on his door, all dressed for a trip, Ralph had a camera.
      Dale was still bleary eyed.
      "You wanted to get in on this mystery boy, let's go." Ralph said. He had had no intention of going, but Colleen said she would go when Peggy asked them at breakfast.
      But Dale was sleeping in, Ralph borrowed a camera and Colleen got the limmo for the trip. Peggy said Dale wasn't up yet and it was almost nine. So they all went to get him up and moving.
      He got moving and put on his play clothes.
      He didn't have a clue to where they were going. They had him a breakfast in the limmo, and the chauffeurs girlfriend was gong with them, she rode up front with him, the other four were in the back.
      The loner limmo didn't have all the fancy gadgets of the original they had destroyed, but it was fancy enough.
      They watched the Sunday morning news shows as they waited outside Jeannie's sorority. Peggy and Jeannie came out during a commercial.
      "Where are we going?" Dale asked for about the third time.
      "We're going to see the original of the statue." Peggy said as Jeannie got in, she didn't have an escort, but she didn't seem to mind.
      Colleen knew all about this place, she had been there several times over the last few years. She told them the story about how the Allerton family had made a fortune in farming and other endeavors back in the good old days, then they proceeded to live the good life off their money. He had collected art, being particularly fond of large sculpture from overseas.
      She went on glowingly. The extensive grounds were littered with formal gardens, oriental theme gardens, huge sculptures, 'The Death of the Last Centaur' being several meters tall and one of only five like it in the world, and the one they were going to see, the world famous 'Sun Singer' by Carle Milles. It was supposed to have been much smaller and stand near the house, but because Mr. Allerton spoke no Swedish, the statue arrived over twelve feet tall, other arrangements, and the current spectacular setting, were made.
      Sidebar: Robert Allerton Park is truly a Midwestern Mecca for art fanciers and a fairly little known retreat to recharge the soul. The house is imposing, with a reflecting pool that was a good-sized lake in its own right, miles of scenic paths that wound through the flood plain of the Sangamon River. It is both a National Natural Landmark, and a working conference center and park administered by the University of Illinois.
      Colleen talked and talked, Ralph got bored and looked over the camera, Jeannie watched out the window, Dale flipped TV channels, Peggy got her to stop by asking her where she had been last night.
      "I went to your room a couple of times, I guess I just missed you."
      Colleen looked at Ralph. "We were talking about light. It got late, I guess." Ralph smiled.
      Jeannie felt something from Ralph. She knew what had gone on, without saying anything, she KNEW what had happened. Maybe her Grandmother was right, and her senses had been turned 'on' recently.
      The chauffeur announced they were passing through Springfield, right past the state capitol. All the passangers looked out at the building as the car drove slowly by.
      "Wow." Dale said.
      They got out at a big gas station and stretched their legs, the limmo sucked up fuel. Then after Ralph had his coffee and paper in hand, they rolled east.

****** MARY
      They talked a long time. They were both excited about their impending wedding. Mary talked about being unsure about what wives do, Jack admitted he didn't have much of an idea about what husbands were except what his dad did. Work, kill bugs under the sink, take out the garbage, unclog the toilet... that seemed to be about it.
      Mary knew she didn't want to be a 'housewife'. Her mom was one, and had never worked outside the home that she knew of. She had an aunt Sharon that ran her own business, but she was regarded as slightly eccentric within the family.
      "What's she do?" Jack asked.
      "She was into lighting."
      "A lamp shop?" He smirked.
      "No, she wholesaled industrial and office lighting fixtures for office buildings and stuff, and she was general electrical contractor for some big projects. She even sold some stuff to the state for some new office buildings."
      "That's not a lamp shop." Jack conceded defeat.
      They spent the rest of the afternoon going through their stuff and getting the room organized.

****** DALE
      It seemed they were in the car a long time, maps didn't convey a lot of information to Dale, but the chauffeur explained he knew where they were going, and they'd be there in a few minutes.
      It was more than a few minutes when they got off the interstate highway and traveled through the little town then back and around some half forgotten roads to the park.
      Colleen wanted to go see the Sun Singer first.
      They checked in and everybody got a map, then they rode back to the huge open area with the mighty statue in the center of a circular drive.
      Everybody gawked out the windows as the car circled the figure. The Sun Singer was in the very center of the glade, on his tall perch, facing the rising sun.
      The chauffeur parked the car and everybody walked slowly across the grass to the pedestal on its terraced platform. Ralph took pictures of Colleen, the statue, Colleen and the statue, Colleen, Colleen and the others, Colleen. You get the idea. He had plenty of film.
      Jeannie marveled at the bronze, but she didn't get any sense of a mysterious power from it, not like the miniature.
      They spent a few more minutes looking at it then Colleen decided Peggy's answer wasn't here. They went back to the visitors center in the Conservatory, watched the movie and took a walk of the gardens, then they went to see the Fu Dog garden and some of the other sights.
      All this art and culture was making Ralph and Dale hungry. So did feeding the catfish in the pond in the middle of nowhere.
      The chauffeur was having a great time with his girlfriend, Jeannie had seized the camera and was taking photo after photo of statues, bushes and everything else, she made everybody promise to come back in the spring when the gardens would be in bloom.
      They hiked the trial to the Centaur and the pillars with the pots on top of them across the valley from each other. Colleen told them all about how they were very significant and represented something or other and stood for whatever it was.
      Ralph and Dale nodded and agreed with her. Peggy took her shoes off for the walk back up the hill to the Centaur. Jeannie took a picture.
      Late in the afternoon they left after a stop in the gift shop where Colleen bought every book they had. Or almost.
      Dale and Peggy got matching T-shirts. She picked the Sun Singer in front of a huge orange sun, Dale wanted a Fu Dog on his. The others picked various things.

****** DALE
      They stopped at a restaurant on the interstate that promised, 'warm beer and lousy food', but had neither. The food was good, if not great, and beer was cold.
      Ralph was satisfied. The others ate well, and talked of what they had seen. Dale was a little nervous, he had always felt watched in restaurants. And that feeling was particularly strong with the group he was with now, Colleen was being eyed by most of the men in the place, and Dale was sure the old man in the corner was looking at him.
      He didn't feel better until they were in the car on their way back to campus.
      She read to them that the Sun Singer was a copy from a sculpture in Stockholm, a memorial to a poet, Esaias Tegner. She read some of his poem that related to the statue.
      Dale had never had much of an ear for poetry, but this was better than the poem he had read about the dead carp. Ralph looked through some of the books, but he kept watching Colleen as she talked of angles of perception and the styles of the artwork.
      They got back to campus as the sun was setting. Dale saw the twin McQuin towers in the fading light.
      He was glad he went, and he was glad he was home.

****** MARY
      Monday morning came early, Mary was a person of a tight morning routine when facing class days. She had to get up and do her hair, then worry about books and papers, then breakfast, which she sometimes didn't get to before her eight thirty class. This had been her script since she was a freshman.
      Now she was facing a whole new routine in the married dorm. The morning rush on the bathrooms wasn't as intense as it had been in Cannon, where everybody descended on one bathroom at one time.
      But it was bad enough, she wasn't used to having a man shaving over the next sink while she was doing her hair. But everybody took this in stride, and nobody seemed to mind the mixing of the sexes.
      Jack wandered in in a minute and washed his face. He started shaving.
      Mary watched the two men in the mirror, Jack was the least experienced, she could tell by the way he winced before he made a stroke with his razor, the other man, she thought his name was Al, just ran the razor over his face by the force of habit, and was done. Jack seemed to be fighting the razor.
      Mary smiled at him and headed back to get herself together for class.
      She had to admit the bathroom arrangement was interesting, she was amazed they could get away with it. But then again, maybe everybody here was a model of modesty and self-control.
      But even though Mary noticed Al adjusting his robe when he got out of the shower angry with himself for having forgotten to shave first. Mary blinked hard, 'I'm engaged and I'm not going to wonder about things like that.' She said to herself.

****** DALE
      Dale was wanting to get back to the routine of class after the silliness of Homecoming, but it wasn't going to be that easy. The Greek Math class appeared to have dug in for a siege.
      Crowley had a box lunch with him. Ralph had a pile of photos and books, and a rolled up canvas, Dr. Varscroft wheeled in a portable big screen TV and started wiring it into his computer. Dale was confused.
      "This is it my fine young man!" Mr. Crowley told him, sitting at a lab station. He never carried more than a small notebook. Dale showed his confusion. "This is the final assault, you signed on for the whole trip. Today we survey the terrain, see where we've been, and where we are going. Get ready! It will probably be a long day."
      "I thought we were done, we were on TV, that thing in the paper yesterday, aren't we done?" Dale thought he felt a headache coming on.

****** MARY
      Mary and Jack went down to the kitchenette together, and Mary had the breakfast arrangement explained to her in more detail.
      Mrs. Warner cooked breakfast for everyone. The older lady didn't have any classes before ten, so it was just easier for her to do it, and she enjoyed it.
      Everybody contributed to the breakfast fund if they wanted to eat there instead of in the cafeteria. Jack was convinced this was a good arrangement when he smelled the fried ham and saw piles of real waffles. Mrs. Warner had found a large portable electric grill someplace, and there was two four-timer waffle irons from an old restaurant downtown. Mr. Warner had made some adjustments in the layout of the kitchen so two people could fit in the small space and work without killing each other. Each of the couples with kids in the dorm gave what they could, and all the children were fed first, so the 'little ones' were out of the way when the big people came stumbling in.
      The Independent house had never this well organized, even in the days of Doug, '76, and breakfast there could be a real adventure some days.
      The older lady greeted them like they belonged there, she insisted on showing Mary around the tiny kitchen and how to load the dishwasher.
      As they ate breakfast Mary smiled as a young mother tried to feed eggs to an uncooperative baby.
      "Jack. This place really feels like home." Mary said as she sat behind the girl with the baby. He nodded, chewing. "We should turn in our keys and make sure all our stuff is here after class today."
      "I already did that at the house. I didn't have a room key, I never got around to getting one. I just moved my stuff and told Steve I was gone. They said something about having a bachelor party for me, but I said I'd already had one."
      "When did you have a bachelor party?" Mary looked a little puzzled.
      "They gave me a birthday party in the spring... clothing optional. It got weird. I think that was as much of a bachelor party as I want."
      Jack was embarrassed just thinking about it. He swore to himself he'd never tell her that Bubbles had been there.

****** DALE
      Mr. Blumn was behind him. "Done? Dale Dale Dale... 'We've only just begun to live, white lace and promises...'"
      Yes. He sang it, most of it anyway. And No, he didn't sound like Karen Carpenter. He doesn't have one of the world's great singing voices by any standard.
      "... We start our walking and learn to run..."
      Ralph looked at him. "Dale that was a great trip yesterday, you should see these pictures. I loved that restaurant, for once when I ordered extra gravy, I got EXTRA gravy." He stood up, about half his pile fell off his desk and joined some more that was already on the floor.
      Ralph showed the class pictures of Colleen, well in a few there was a statue in the background. She was very photogenic.
      Dale saw a couple of Peggy, "You can have those, I took some for you, before that girl took the camera." Ralph told him.
      Dale looked at her, she was very pretty, but not too pretty like Colleen. "So did you understand that about that statue, that Singer?"
      "Nah, I think Tim had some idea about it, but I was just there for the ride."
      "Who's Tim?"
      "The chauffeur, I suppose you didn't know he had a name. Did you see the drawings? COLLEEN did them." Ralph lingered over her name. He unrolled the papers.
      She had drawn pictures of small particles coming out of violent fusions against a background of fiery orange yellow and red patterns. But each of the particles was a little different inside.
      Varscroft was fascinated by the drawings. He studied each like it was a blueprint for creation.

****** MARY
      They walked to class together, Mary hadn't spent a lot of time on this side of the campus and enjoyed seeing it. They got to see some of the decorations being taken off the sororities and the other buildings.
      Mary and Jack were ready for Miss Amberjoyce's lecture to be the dull monotone they usually were, but the lady was a little late coming in. And when she finally did, she didn't seem the same.
      "Class." The lady said with an edge of emotion in her voice. "I have been teaching for fifty years. I realized just how long it had been during Homecoming. I started teaching in a country grade school when I was sixteen. I have been teaching more or less constantly ever since. I heard Dr. Myersong's speech at the rally, and I think it is time for me to move on." She sat in the desk and smiled at them.
      "I want to tour the Civil War sites, and see Graceland again. And I want to do it while I'm still able to enjoy it. So for the rest of the semester, I just want to talk with you about history, all about history, what you want to know, maybe we'll spend some days in the library, watching films, or even a field trip. I'd like that."
      The class was silent. Finally one girl in the back raised her hand and asked a question, "What do you like most about history?"
      This made the ladies day. "Ohhh, history itself is wonderful." Her voice was lively, her expressions joyful, she was talking, instead of lecturing.
      "History gives us a sense of continuity, tradition, a sense of who we are, where we been. Where we are going." She smiled at Mary and Jack.

****** MARY
      The news of Miss Amberjoyce's pending retirement spread like wildfire.
      Even the dismissal of Professor Sabre, then his replacement, and the hassle about his credits, didn't match this.
      Everybody had had Miss Amberjoyce.
      EVERYBODY had had Miss Amberjoyce. Her freshman class had been required since, well, since forever. There was a joke that Abraham Lincoln had barely passed her class, which was a tall tale of course. Abe never went to college.
      Everybody knew she knew history from one end to the other. But she was reported to be dull every class, every year, now she was lively and fun.
      Her other classes that day were packed, in one class she demonstrated several of the dances that had been popular years ago in America.
      "She's not such a bad old bird after all." Was the consensus.
      Mary suddenly understood why the old teacher had smiled at her and Jack.
      Miss Amberjoyce saw them as the next generation in history, the continuity. To the old teacher, history was a Homecoming parade that never ended. And all her historic sites were just the markers of the parade's route.
      'Site of one of the Lincoln Douglas Debates' was more than just a sign on the side of an old building, it was a piece of the pie of history.
      Miss Amberjoyce would look up the subject of the debate, the questions, and what the local paper thought of it. She would file it all under 'July '88' when she was there. Never mind when Lincoln was there, when she was there was what counted to her. She wanted to be part of that great continuity, if just in a second hand sort of way, as a documentor and teacher.
      The university administration was shocked, a good history teacher was hard to find, especially one that would work for what they had been paying her.
      Dr. Myersong decided this would be his last campaign, his idea was to talk the lady into staying on at the university. And after her tour of the battlefield sites, and Graceland, she would stay on and conduct a discussion group on history, not as a lecturer, but as a facilitator. Discussing history with history majors and teaching students, not like she had been doing for thirty years at this college, but like she was doing this week. Sitting with them, talking about her favorite subject.

****** DALE
      Dale wasn't ready to spend the day in this room, he wanted to go to his seminar, and he liked biology class. But they all told him how he was needed in this outfit.
      Before long Crowley was trying to outline what they had covered on the board in a formula that incorporated all their ideas into his point, Harrison was making bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches from his supplies while Ralph was chewing and commenting at random on the symbols Crowley was using.
      "Unless they all arrive simultaneously at the exact moment of the release of the photon I don't think that quarks would be in the photon before it closed into un-relativity and left. Besides, can a top and bottom quark exist inside a photon at the same time you take one and two of the other and you get a proton, or a neutron. But inside a photon of light there's no matter as we know it. So how could there be ...."
      "Listen moron, maybe the quarks in light are different again. Or maybe not at all. You got bacon on the brain." Canney shouted.
      They were rolling.

****** MARY
      Mary didn't expect to see Jack until later, but she met him in the Union before lunch, she had just checked her room and decided it was clean enough to turn the key in her key. Cindy wasn't there, so she held on to it until she saw her, then she ran into Jack in the union.
      "I was looking for Cindy." She said after they kissed briefly.
      "I heard something about her and Maggie while ago."
      "What? Tell me you...." She looked at his face. He was being awful serious. Her tone changed. "What now?"
      "They're downstairs." Jack finally said.
      They went downstairs to the snack bar to find her friends.
      Mary couldn't believe it. Maggie had a black eye, her cheeck was all swollen. Cindy had tape on her nose.
      "You two had an interesting homecoming. Tell me about it." Mary said to them.
      Maggie didn't even smile, her teeth were still loose and she didn't want to talk.
      Cindy was hoarse, but she could, and would, talk.
      "We raided a party, Sunday morning I think it was. And we confiscated all the drink, and went back to the Catholic dorm. And later we had a drink or two, we heard screaming."
      "Real screaming." Maggie added weakly.
      Mary looked from one to the other in disbelief.

****** DALE
      Dale had never heard of a 'lepton', something very small that reacted to the cosmic 'strong force', as Blumn explained it quickly to him.
      Dale was just getting used to six flavors of quarks, each quark in three 'colors' when they started arguing with each other about how somebody thought there was twelve quarks flavors and at least five colors.
      Dale was lost and gave up trying to follow the discussion.
      Now they were talking about more strange things, quantum mechanics inside stars dealing with particles that had all sorts of strange names, and funny properties, and various charges, and reacted to different forces in different ways, and how all this came to be relevant to the creation of a light particle or was it a wave now...
      Dale was in a muddle.
      He raised his hand.
      After a minute the roar died down.
      "Which of all those particles and things wouldn't be caught dead inside or anywhere near the light thing?"
      Crowley looked at the confused list on the board. He started crossing out names and symbols, the others added comments about how if one was present this other one wouldn't be within a city block of it. The list got shorter, but there were conditions to a few of them. The mass, or un-mass of the quantum particle, energy levels, and so on.
      But Dale got what he wanted. The 'short list' of his pollutants in the light photons.
      Dale felt another idea coming to shape in his head, he got one of Harrison's sandwiches and half listened.
      The discussion of which particles couldn't exist with anti-particles, and which ones were anti-particles in the normal universe but were normal in the anti-universe of non-relative space and time, and other nonsense, went on.

Cont in Two Dorms Part 29


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