©01 The Media Desk
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Breakfast was a bomb, especially at two in the afternoon.
They sat in Cindy's apartment and tried to not think. Cindy stared at her coffee until it was too cold to drink. The second followed the first down the drain, she did drink some of the third with some toast. Mary played with her toast, and ate a little of it. Both girls were fighting the nausea from acute alcohol poisoning.
They knew they had only an hour before the memorial service, and they still had to dress. Mary was sitting staring out the window. Cindy went to her bathroom, she took a cool shower, it made her feel better, not a lot better, but better. She could focus her eyes for more than a couple of seconds at a time without pain.
Mary heard the shower running and knew she had to get moving in some constructive direction. She stood. Slowly she turned, step by step...(No, no melodrama here. Not even bad melodrama. Not yet. .well.)
Mary told Cindy she was going upstairs to shower and get a blood transfusion. Cindy tried not to laugh, it would hurt too much. She waved and Mary left.
Up in her room she had one really good dress. It hadn't been out of its storage bag since, since, whenever. She couldn't remember having worn it for a long time. It made her look older, the color and styling were a little sedate for a pretty young woman. Mary knew it was what she had to wear to the service. She was sorry Carol never saw her in this dress.
Mary felt the tears start again.
"Hiii." Came Ellen's voice from in the room.
Dale stepped foreword. "Ouhh, Hi. Ellen? I can't see."
"OK, I'll turn on a light." She said softly.
Dale expected a light light. But what blinked on in the room was a series of black lights strung around the ceiling. He looked at the glowing sheets, and the weird effects of the posters, but he couldn't see Ellen. His eyes watered from incense. He felt a little lightheaded.
Something solid pushed him from behind. Dale fell on the bed, bewildered.
Before he had the remotest idea what was going on, Ellen was on top of him, pulling him over, and smashing his lips into his teeth with her mouth.
For some reason this wasn't quite what he had expected.
But he kind of liked it.
Ellen was all over the freshman.
He seemed to be watching what was happening from the other side of the room. But then again, he was in it, and starting to respond, slowly, but he was getting involved. A small portion of his mind protested this.
Dale noticed parts of his clothing were missing. At the same time he realized Ellen had nothing on from the word 'go'.
His ears registered some music from a stereo he hadn't noticed before. That small section of dissident nerves began to spread. Ellen noticed and upgraded her efforts to make him submit.
"Let go, let it happen." She muttered into his ear.
Dale struggled with himself, neither of them knew what he'd do.
They were showered, fed, and partially recovered, so they headed toward the cathedral slowly. They met the queue half a block from the huge old building. Unlike most college lines, this one had little chatter and noise. The line shuffled around the side of the building, then in, down a side hall, then out into the sanctuary.
The girls had expected a memorial service, but instead, it was a viewing. Carol's body was there, in a white casket, looking like she was peacefully sleeping. There was no hint of the torture her mind had been going through.
Mary broke when she saw the casket, she hadn't read the mornings paper that announced the family wanted her to lie in state on campus, to bring the grief many had felt within the university to a head and allow them to get on with life as best they could. The line was moving past the young woman's body, several left the line to sit in a pew and stare up at the great stained glass window high in the nave. Cindy lead Mary to a pew just behind the family, they sat, Cindy found her eyes fixed on the white coffin, she looked up at the windows.
The huge center round stained glass window was the sacred heart of Jesus, with a dove descending from it. Cindy knew one of the other figures in the tall thin side windows was Saint Luke. But she wasn't sure who the other was. Mary didn't look at anything, she was sitting with her head bowed, wondering why Carol had done it.
The sanctuary was heavy with sadness.
The organist had been playing softly the whole time. But now the music had stopped. For no reason. The atmosphere in the room became even heavier.
From way in the back of the huge building, a deep, rumbling voice started an old chanting campfire song that everybody knew. Slowly, softly.
"Kum bye ah, my Lord. Kum bye ah,
Kum bye ah, my Lord, Kum bye ah.
Kum bye ah, my Lord, Kum bye ah,
Oh, Lord, Kum bye ah..."
It was picked up by the mourners in the pews, and the people in the line. The organist started playing along softly.
The song ran through at least twenty verses.
In the song, people were crying, dying, living, praying, sleeping, singing, loving and doing all the things people do. As the line moved, the song continued. As the line wound down, the song wound down.
The last verse was softly sung by the family in the pew, and that deep voice way in the back.
The university president, Dr. Venson Grey Myersong, ended the song he had started. He stood and turned to leave.
A small child ran up the aisle and took his hand. "Hey mister, Mommy wants you."
Dr. Myersong smiled and followed the child back down the aisle.
There was very little to be said, nothing in fact. The president shook hands with the family and the campus chaplain, he bowed slightly, and walked out.
Finally Dale's brain sifted through the feelings it was experiencing, and arrived at a course of action.
Ellen noticed that he had lost some interest in the proceedings. She did her best to regain his attention.
Dale felt a new rush of pleasure run over him, and his resolve to try to leave faded a little.
The freshman wasn't one for 'much willpower', he usually went with the flow, and now the flow was pretty strong to stay where he was and enjoy.
He relaxed a little and started to think about staying.
Ellen saw him smile, she smiled as well. She knew she had him now.
Suddenly Dale sat up. He tried to push Ellen off him, reluctantly she gave way. He sat on the edge of the bed and started putting on his pants.
"I got to go to the bathroom."
Ellen's shoulders fell in disbelief.
What Dale lacked in willpower, he made up for in kidneys.
"Come right back." She cooed.
"Ah, I, well, oh..." He left the room.
Dale walked out of the john, and started dutifully back to Ellen's room. Something seemed to grab Dale from behind.
He turned around, his conscious stood there and looked back at him.
Dale knew he had no business going back into a situation he really didn't want, and couldn't control.
Dale couldn't come up with any easy answer to what he should do with Ellen. He stood in the hall. He realized that not only didn't he have an answer, he didn't even know what question he was trying to answer. He sort of enjoyed what he had been doing with Ellen, or what she had been doing to him, and he knew what he was supposed to do. The only problem was she wouldn't let him do it.
He came up with the idea that being with Ellen was like being on the roller coaster at the state fair, you got on, and no matter what you did, it wouldn't stop until it was done.
Dale frowned mightily, nearly tearing his face off, and pushed the door to the stairway open. He walked back to his dorm.
They had walked out with the end of the line, but they didn't get far. They sat on the steps just outside the doors. Mary had finally stopped crying. Cindy swore she was done as well. But it seemed there was still a few tears left.
They sat in silence. A few of the others were leaving, they silently walked around the girls sitting on the steps. Mary felt someone sit behind her, but she didn't pay a lot of attention. She felt like talking. "Why? Why her, all those problems..."
"And so young. Yes, I know." The deep voice said from behind them.
"Doctor Myersong." Cindy exclaimed.
The man put a hand on each girl's shoulders. "Nobody knows why."
The girls sat with him for awhile. They saw his tears, but they never mentioned it.
Cindy stared at the trees, it was starting to get late. Mary had her hand on Myersong's hand. He was looking at the sidewalk.
After awhile, he regrouped himself and stood. Dignified once again. "Thank you girls. I needed to be with someone. I appreciate it."
He nodded to each of them and walked towards the president's house. A stately old mansion once owned by Spencer Tracy, built long ago for a US President's mother-in-law.
Thinking about the old house, the tailored grounds, the air of solidity, Mary came back to the present.
Carol was dead. Tomorrow her body would be taken home for burial next to her Grandmother. There was nothing to do now, except pray, and remember.
They started back to the dorm. Cindy saw Robin, a DJ for the FM radio station. She called to her, and they all walked toward the media complex together.
Dale was deep in 'Space Attack Force'. The video game in his Greek math class. It had been designed by some of the students in the class, it was supposed to react to the player's ability, and increasing capability, and increase in difficulty in proportion to them. It was supposed to be used as a training tool for the Air Force. Eventually the player would be playing against the full capacity of the computer, and, as the fat man with the shopping cart full of books put it, Dr. Canney, "The computer will kick the hell out of him."
Dale, little underclassman Dale, was in the process of breaking the high score, and was a hundred thousand points above where the computer was supposed to fully engage and defeat the player, the Allied Fleet Commander.
"YEEAHH!" Dale shouted as he blew up half the alien fleet.
"He isn't supposed to get that far. Now he can attack the home world. Nothing can stop him." Ralph Cook said.
"Oh well." Dale told him as the next sequence came up on the screen.
He proceeded to blow up three solar systems, the rest of the enemy fleet, the home planet, and had a general good time.
"There's nothing left to shoot. I still have three ships left, four reserve ships, plenty of fuel, and there's nothing left worth shooting."
"Dale, you have two billion, four hundred thousand points, plus. That is supposed to be impossible." Dr. Harrison said with no tone in his voice. "Dr. Varscroft, how'd he do that?"
The professor watched the screen as Dale's ships zoomed around unopposed blowing up asteroids and shooting the junk left from the enemy fleet's destruction. "Must be an error in the program."
"Of course." Harrison agreed.
"Of course." Smirked Dale.
The three girls walked to the radio station, Robin was to be on the air in a few minutes.
The station was KURK-FM 'University Rock', or 'the Captain' as most of the DJ's called it. Whatever Mary thought a radio station was, 'the captain' didn't quite live up to it. A mis-matched collection of antiques and state of the art equipment, it wasn't pretty, but it worked. The production studio looked like somebody's tribute to the patron saint of patch cords, the air studio wasn't much better. But it could crank out enough boosted signal to threaten to melt FM receivers fifty miles away. The AM station carried football games, talk shows about the grain surplus, news, and other non-music programs. The FM side dealt with album rock (from the sixties on), interviews with rockers, and shows about the responsibilities of groupies to make airports unsafe for rock stars.
At night the two stations hooked up, and the FM night-jocks did pretty much what they pleased until the AM station went to the morning farm reports. There was also another low-power FM station in the building that played every kind of music ever recorded, as long as it was classical, or on Tuesday night, Jazz.
Robin was part of the FM rock crew, and on the air from ten at night until two in the morning. "Is there anybody out there?" from the Pink Floyd was her theme. Every late night DJ feels like that sometimes.
She was the resident expert on 'Alabama', and played at least one of their songs an hour. But tonight, Mary and Cindy took turns making catcalls while the mike was open, and played ridiculous music. They 'booed' when Robin read the weather, and they played some dance music, and danced in the studio.
At midnight they left Robin to salvage what was left of her show.
In Mary's room they talked about everything, and nothing.
Everything being guys, cars, clothes, guys, profs, the price of decent California wine, and guys.
Nothing being long silences and deep looks into each other and themselves.
Cindy finally said goodnight and began her check. She had a lot to think about as she made her security rounds. She rattled doors and turned out lights. As she lay in bed the memory of childhood nightmares came to her.
Finally body over-ruled mind, and she fell asleep. Tonight she dreamed of cold duck, good music, candles, and sandalwood incense. But she couldn't see the guy's face.
Dale was into an even worse poem in the class that could be called, 'The Introduction to the Worst Known Poetry in the Modern World'.
It was called, "Engine Block Blues." A tale about some guy with a '57 Chevy that didn't run. The textbook had the thing complete, eight and a half pages worth, followed by commentary explaining why this was some form of Great American Poetry. It didn't read like a poem, it seemed to be a discourse on how to not fix a fuel pump. But the prof enjoyed it.
It took three class periods to read it out-loud, and two more to discuss it. A week, five full days, devoted to some nut raving about his old car. Which was only half as bad as two weeks of a dead carp.
Dale stood, and put as much feeling as he could into a verse about the care and feeding of an intake manifold, and the next day he lamented the love life of an oil pump.
That Friday the silliness was done, they did the quiz, and got the assignment for next week. A short story, "My life as an accounts payable clerk." Dale led the collective sigh.
Mary hadn't set her alarm clock, but she came back to reality anyway. She wandered to the shower and did her hair. Saturday's were fairly calm in the dorm, nobody did anything much, at least in the morning. She was flossing her teeth when the last few days came into sharp focus. She felt the heaviness, and didn't want to deal with it.
She had to talk to somebody, but she didn't want to burden Cindy with any more. Besides, they had laid enough on each other to sink a good-sized battleship.
She was drying her hair when she got an idea. She called Jack. They hadn't seen each other for a couple of days. He answered on the fifth ring.
"Hi, Jack. It's Mary."
"Who? She ain't here."
"No." She laughed, he was incoherent. "This is Mary."
"So?" There was some banging around on his end. "I can't go today. Ray's rat died." Jack wasn't talking into the phone now.
"What? Jack. Wake up!"
"OK, bye." He hung up.
Mary laughed. She put on a nice dress, and heels. Used just enough makeup to highlight her face, then walked over to the house.
The movie of the week in the Student Union was "DINGO: Coyote of Destiny"
Dale thought it couldn't be any worse than the story about the accountant, or today's freshman lecture; Governmental systems of information diffusion.
He was wrong.
"Dingo" turned out to be nothing but a bad movie about a spoiled kid, and a dog of unknown parentage that barked too much. Dale and a few students munched junk food and cheered the bandits that for some reason had their hearts set on kidnapping the kid. The movie was so corny it didn't take itself seriously.
The dog outran twenty horses and gunfire, through a blizzard, across two states, and got there just in time. Of Course.
Dale couldn't take a second showing of the dog of a dog movie.
He left and went to the coffee shop. A girl he had met in the freshman seminar was there, she was drinking a milkshake, made without milk or shaking.
They talked about the movie. She hadn't seen it, and after his description of it, she was glad she got there too late for the first showing. Dale bought a plate of brownies and they pigged out.
The two freshmen found out they had some things in common, besides names in sequence on the Registrars list.
Peggy High and Dale Hinerick closed the coffee shop. They wandered the campus. She kissed him good-night on his cheek at her dorm and thanked him for a wonderful time. Dale floated back to his room.
Mary found Jack downstairs in the house, they were watching a rebroadcast of a local high-school football game from last night. Some of the guys had gone to the schools involved, and the cheering and booing were intense. Jack's school wasn't involved, but he said he had to stay to make sure Central lost because he hated them.
She left the room, the guys all turned to watch her walk out, she felt their eyes staring at her, she didn't mind. Much.
In her travels she discovered a large container of wine in a refrigerator on the back porch of the house. She rummaged around the kitchen until she found a clean glass, then she helped herself to some wine.
It tasted good, even though she had never had wine that came in a big plastic bag in a cardboard box before. She took a back seat in the big room and watched the football game. There was almost a fistfight over a bad call. It seemed the ref didn't see a late hit. But there was a holding call against the other team. A couple of the guys got real upset. Mary watched them shout and argue about it, the game had been over for many hours, and the outcome was meaningless to the state championships, both teams being nearly out of the race with losing records. But they were playing for pride. And pride was worth more to some teams than championships.
Finally it was over. Jack took her out to his car and asked where she wanted to go.
"I don't know, I just want to talk." She looked at the house, "Just away from here."
Dale's roommate prodded him until he had all the details of Dale's date with Ellen. He couldn't believe he had turned her down. Dale was the first guy in the history of the university to turn down Ellen.
Just then there was a solid bang on the door. Then another. Dale opened it. Six guys with clubs, wearing bathrobes and Viking helmets pushed past him. Dale looked at his roommate, "It's for you."
The 'Vikings' grabbed the other freshman off the bed and carried him out. Dale followed them. A couple of other groups were toting freshmen away. Dale ran to Kremin's room and looked out the window.
"What'd they do?" Dale asked.
"Delta Sigma pledges. They were accepted." Kremin said as they watched the now tied up pledges being loaded into a van.
"They'll be back in the morning." Rick said. "Maybe." He held out his hand. "Beer."
Dale went to the fridge. He hadn't been accepted. Even though he hadn't really went all out to get into one, he was a little disappointed. He got beer for everybody and kept one for himself. He really didn't like it, but it seemed to be required. If anybody had kept track, in the last month, Dale had wasted eighteen half full cans of beer.
Somebody found sports on the TV. Dale got into the dice game. He didn't understand the game, and he always lost, but it was fun.
They ended up at the truck stop on the bypass of the state route that went through town. Jack loved this place because he could get breakfast at any hour of the day or night, and breakfast was his favorite meal. No matter what time he ate it, and regardless of whether he had even been to sleep or not, he always enjoyed breakfast.
He didn't order breakfast now.
They had a piece of pie and some ice cream and soft drinks. Mary didn't say a whole lot, she just looked around and watched the people.
Mary had never been to a real truck stop before. And this place wasn't even considered a 'real' truck stop. It didn't have a motel on the grounds, only a small service center, and no full-service truck wash. But the restaurant and travel store were fairly well done, and the fuel islands seem to stretch for miles. She marveled at the collection of people in the restaurant. She would have sworn two of the women customers were 'working girls'. And the men, she couldn't have even begun to describe the men. A few of them were massive, men with huge arms and even huger girths, others were wiry and gaunt, knotty muscles in their arms and sharp lines around their jaws. Others looked like movie cowboys, or account managers for a downtown bank. And every type in between.
Jack didn't pay that much attention. He was out here enough he knew the waitress and spoke to a couple of the drivers.
"Hey! Jack! I hear the Bucks need a good physical guard with a decent jumpshot. You interested?" A muscular blond man called from the pinball machine. "Yo! She's a looker, your tastes are improving." He leered at Mary. She ignored him.
"Just play your game Marty, see if you can keep from tilting." Jack returned the greeting.
Jack paid the bill and they left. He drove aimlessly toward the campus, "You didn't do much talking."
"I couldn't talk in there. That place was, different. How much do you think those two guys weighed?"
"Which two guys?"
She moved her hands in circles. "One of them had a beard, I think their shirts said 'Morvonis Transportation'. They were 'big'."
Jack laughed. "Yeah, the Lankski brothers. They are big, you should see the other one, he's even bigger."
Mary couldn't imagine. "No way."
"Yeah. They come to a lot of basketball games. The whole family is huge. I think each of them weighs over three hundred fifty pounds. They're mechanics and drivers. And they'll do anything for anybody, if they like you."
"And if they don't like you?"
"I've never been curious enough to ask." Jack smiled.
"I don't blame you. I think their necks are bigger than you're waist." Mary looked him over.
Jack turned toward her. "I could eat enough to gain that much weight. Just think, ice cream for breakfast, cake for lunch, three pizzas for supper...." He thought about it. His stomach tightened in protest.
"Let's go see your bulldozer again." She said suddenly.
Jack looked at her. He nodded.
It was starting to get dark. They sat in the cab of the machine and looked at the river. Mary started talking about nothing in particular. Jack half listened. He played with a loose rivet, watched an airplane go over. Then he heard her talking about Carol, she seemed to be just relating unconnected thoughts and events.
Mary glanced over at Jack. She felt better now that she had finished unloading her emotional baggage. Jack was staring off into the gathering gloom of the forest on the other side of the river.
Mary leaned over and kissed him.
The last thing he remembered was her talking about Cindy and a cold vegetarian pizza. He wasn't expecting a kiss. But it was a welcome change. On the second kiss he responded and kissed her back.
He let her lead, he wasn't sure if this had been her intention when she called him wanting to talk.
She sat back. "Well, are you going to hold your own with me or what?"
He seemed a little shocked. "Aahh, I wasn't sure if you wanted that. Not after last time." Mary didn't say anything.
Jack continued, "Well, you said we were friends, and you were so upset about Carol, and all that... I, I just wasn't sure."
"Is that why you took out Bonnie Bubbles?"
"Bonnie Bailes." Jack said quietly.
"Whatever her name is. Her and her 58 triple E chest."
"They aren't that big."
"Her bra could slipcover this bulldozer."
"Can we change the subject." He fiddled with the controls. "Let's drive over to the new landing." The dozer coughed to life.
They rumbled over to where the new riverfront was being built. The dozer quieted, and the night sounds returned. They sat with their arms around each other.
Neither saw the amused looks of two fishermen drifting past in an old boat, watching the young couple neck in a bulldozer.
They cheered the ballgame, Dale was having the finer points of craps explained to him, both phones were busy, and somebody was doing homework. Well, somebody was typing, cursing and backspacing, then typing some more.
Dale looked up after passing the dice, he counted fifteen people in a room built for three. Of the fifteen, four were girls, one man was a professor, stroking his beard and talking about the upcoming hockey season. He thought two of the people weren't even campus types, but it didn't seem to matter.
The dorm super walked in, Dale tried to hide his beer. But it was a false alarm, Jones was guiding a new pizza delivery driver to Kremin's room. Now three extra large grease dripping extra cheese and stuff garbage pizzas were added to the mix. The prof chipped in on the collection, and they set to. Somebody handed Jones a beer and he joined the hockey discussion.
They seemed to be rating the university's team just one step up from 'God-awful', and they were arguing about whom on the schedule they could beat. Dale relaxed.
Jack realized it had been some time since they had heard the carillon chime out midnight. He extracted himself from Mary's lip lock, winced at a cramp in his back, pulled his arm from under the back of her sweater, and looked at his watch, trying to read the faintly glowing numbers. "My God!" he exclaimed.
"What?" Mary asked putting her hair and sweater back in order.
"You ain't gonna believe the time."
"What, One? One-thirty?"
"Try quarter to three..." He said showing her his watch.
"No," She squinted at the numbers and nodded slowly. "Yes, we'd better get back. I got classes in the morning."
Jack was stretching his leg muscles. "I gotta make the bus at nine for a soccer game in... Ah, someplace in Kentucky." He fired up the dozer and made a wide turn, half in the river, and headed back to his car.
He let her out in front of her dorm and drove to the house.
The phone was ringing in his room.
"WHERE IN THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?"
"Nowhere coach." Jack said meekly.
"NOWHERE!!!" The coach thundered through the phone. "Yeah. Well you tell that bimbo you can meet her again tomorrow night. Forget about the Middle Tennessee game. You're grounded for this one."
"But coach..... the 'toy' broke down..."
"I know all about it, the river flooded, a tree fell on it, the fire, I've heard them all. Tell Bubbles 'hi' for me."
"It wasn't Bonnie. Mary...."
"No." Jack said quietly.
"You owe me twenty bucks man." The coach hung up.
"Shit." He said stiffly and walked into the hall.
"Jack?" Somebody said from nearby. Jack was on his way to the bathroom. "Jack, did the soccer coach get ahold of you?"
"Yeah, I'm down for this game. Man I like Kentucky."
"Tennessee. In Murfeesboro."
"Yeah, whatever." Jack was looking in the mirror. He had lipstick on his face.
"You ain't even going?"
"Nope, not even a ride. Cold."
"That's a bummer."
Jack looked at his friend. "Hairy, you got some way with words."
The dice game was over, half the crowd was out of the room. Bob had some girl lying on the bed with him, he was twirling her hair. Others were heckling the news, or cheating at a card game.
Dale was very surprised and embarrassed when Peggy came into the room and asked for him.
"Alright Dale Boy." From the card game.
Dale charged out of the room with Peggy in tow.
"That looked like fun, whatever it was." She said.
"Just the floor gang goofing off." He said when safely in his room.
Dale looked at her. "What are you doing here? Won't you get in trouble this is a boys dorm."
Peggy laughed. "It's visiting hours. Besides there were girls in that room."
Dale was a little flustered. "But they're girls."
"I'm a girl." Peggy said to him.
Dale looked at her like he hadn't noticed this before.
"I just wanted to see what you were up too."
"Nothing. Just doing nothing." Dale fell into the desk chair.
She was looking around the room. "This is cleaner that most guys rooms."
"Have you seen a lot of guys rooms?" Then he realized that wasn't the way to phrase that question. But he wasn't sure how to ask it.
She didn't notice. "No, just my brother's, and Gleason's."
"He's my father's friend Father Sammon Hurst."
"Father?" Dale was starting to get confused.
"They grew up together, he was widowed, so he joined the priesthood, his son was already a priest, so now they're a Father and Father team."
Dale was sorting that out, Peggy sat down. The phone rang.
"Yeah, what?" he said into it, answering it the way Kremin did.
An Obnoxious howling shriek pierced the whole building.
"Fire Drill!" He screamed into the phone, dropped it, and followed Peggy out the door.
Mary was talking to Jack on the phone. "I thought you were in Kentucky. What happened?"
"The coach grounded me." He paused, "What's that noise?"
Mary felt bad, but not too bad. "Fire drill next door. Anyway, why did you call?"
"How about lunch?"
"Jack. It's almost four thirty."
"Oh, sorry. How about supper?"
Mary smiled to herself. "You're on. Where?"
"You ever been to the Gourmete Room. Or however you say that in French."
"No. What is it?"
"Dress up, you've got to see it to believe it."
Two Dorms Part 4
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