Two Dorms Part 30 & Synopsis

©01 The Media Desk

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A TALE OF TWO DORMS (c)95-01 Levite [Manuscript Page Three Hundred]
[Synposis- Maggie and Cindy were drafted into the role of student heroes once again. This time though, it was not by choice, but by duty as Dorm Supers. Maggie has the evidence all over her face.
Mary's wedding plans were highjacked by the formidable Miss Alice and Mary has gone along for the ride.
As for Dale, he feels like he has been highjacked by the Greek math class. They are far-gone into the theoretical almost to the absurd.
As for the sideline on this storyline… well, there is only one that counts. Ralph and Colleen are IT.]

****** DALE
      Ralph's morning was spent sitting in on Colleen's art classes, she was a student in one, and the teacher in the other two. She handed off her afternoon class to another graduate assistant and spent the rest of the day with Ralph. They cleaned his apartment!
      Ralph really did have a roommate. Colleen got to meet him, he came up to the room for lunch. He wasn't exactly a student, he only had one class this year, he worked for the university as a painter and light carpenter. He was very pro union, and very much the confirmed bachelor. But he was impressed with Colleen.
      "This is her?" Jeff, the roommate, asked. Ralph nodded. "DAMN! She IS pretty. Damn, Ralph, I thought you were lying again. Damn." He said several times looking her over slowly. But after Jeff talked a little, and ate his lunch, he left.
      Colleen seemed amused. "You told him about us?"
      Ralph looked at the bottom of his sink, he hadn't seen it for awhile. "Yeah, He'd noticed I had shaved a couple of times, and he said I had been acting a little strange." He stopped and looked at her. "Why are you here?"
      She never ceased to be amazed by his thinking. "I don't know, I guess I like you. You're different, kinda like you need me. I mean more than just needing a role in the hay." She dropped an empty cereal box in the trash bag. "Although you seemed to have needed that too." She smiled wickedly at him.
      Ralph swallowed dryly and didn't say anything for a minute.
      "Harrison said you were seeing some guy from the fire department."
      "Just a couple of times. I didn't like him, he was shallow...
      Ralph interrupted. "I'm shallow."
      "Well," She was thinking. "He was very insecure.... I know, so are you. But he was..." She couldn't think of anything that Kim-Sung had been that Ralph wasn't, in spades. She had it. "He had all his clothes dry-cleaned, and would never eat beans out of the can with me."
      Ralph looked over at the can that had been their lunch, with toaster-tarts from the microwave and cheap beer. "It was your idea." He pulled her toward him, she didn't resist, too much, the cleaning was delayed.

****** MARY
      Maggie and Cindy showed up on schedule at the married dorm. They were to go with Mary to try on their dresses. But Mary and Jack weren't there. Cindy noticed they were still a little early, so they went and sat in the TV lounge. They chatted with a couple of women from the dorm and then they heard Mary arguing with Jack in the parking lot through the lounges open window. Cindy smiled at Maggie, "This sounds like their first lover's quarrel. How nice." They all looked out the window.
      Jack was standing with the car door open, he had driven back to the dorm and wanted the car to go see Bonker and Steve. Mary objected, she wanted to take Maggie and Cindy out after they tried on her dresses.
      "It's my car." Mary said. Jack slammed the door.

****** DALE
      Dale walked through the media center, there were displays of ongoing projects, monitors where one could sample what was currently being broadcast or produced. Free offerings of the papers, a copy of the literary magazine, schedules of everything from the women's soccer club to the debate panel discussions. For the first time Dale was face to face with just how complex a community a major university is. He had thought the place was just a bigger version of his high school, where a handful of people did almost everything.
      Well, it sort of was. Except there was lots more to do, and there was a small army of very talented, very energetic of people to do it.
      Three people that looked like they had escaped from a 'Rocky Horror' revival pushed past him in a big hurry. The male had a mane of unruly hair and pants that might glow in the dark. One of the females may have actually been pretty under the half-inch thick light blue makeup that covered her cheeks and eyes.
      "You're cute." The other female turned around and said to Dale. She at least looked more or less normal. Except her pants were way too tight for her to even walk comfortably in.
      They were the 'after morning morning show' crew leaving the rock station for the day.
      Dale shook his head and wandered down another hallway.
      Around the corner he happened upon the day's events, it was a huge cork bulletin board, a map for the next thirty six hours actually, of every event, regularly scheduled or special occasion, of any note whatsoever, that was happening on campus. The who, what, when, where, why, and if necessary, how much.
      Dale marveled at this, and at the people that would come by, write down a few notes, and go on their way. This board was where all the events on campus came together.

****** MARY
      Jack was furious, he had known this was going to happen. "I thought you said this was our car now! I want to see if Bonker can go out for a drink or something, and I don't want to have to borrow Ramsey's truck to do it. That house is right here. Why can't you walk?" Jack pointed at the hulking Rozbilski Mansion through the bushes over the fence.
      Mary was upset to bursting, this had started when they were at the mall, she had wanted to take the girls out, but she also thought Jack should treat Bonker to a night out if he could go. But the more she thought about it, the madder she got at him for selling the Toy, never mind it was junk, she felt like he was marrying her for her car. "I don't want to have to ask them to walk out to Hunter's, or anywhere else."
      "I need the car. But fine. OK, I'll stay here. Fine." He was walking toward the dorm. Mary was left standing there. She had no idea how to resolve the problem.
      Maggie and Cindy decided the show was over and ran down the hall to catch Jack before he could get away. Cindy grabbed him from behind. He was too shook up to talk to them. Maggie saw his eyes were red, she knew his blood pressure would read like his Social Security Number.
      Mary came in in a minute.
      Cindy and Maggie took them upstairs. "Now you two have had your first argument, you'll have to make up, but first you guys are going to kiss, then we've got to go try on those dresses for that lady." Cindy consoled. "Later, if Bonker can go, we'll all go out. OK?"
      Mary looked at Jack, she had been too angry to see the obvious.
      The girls walked to the mansion to try on the dresses, Jack went to see if Bonker could go out.

****** DALE
      Harrison wasn't told what was going on in the barn, Valerie just said there was something out there they could help with.
      The barn was huge, the floor was recessed down far below the outside level. The walls were laced with shelves, nooks, walkways, and far above, high narrow windows. They found a few people inside, they were winterizing the barn, hanging plastic over the windows inside, and putting a false ceiling over the shop areas so they could be heated during the winter. Most of the wood was precut and numbered, the plastic was stapled and taped into frames that lined up with existing holes in the huge old beams.
      Harrison was charmed. Although there must have been a dozen people hard at work, and a man and a woman playing a flute and a guitar for the workers, there was no 'uniform of the day' except a few carpenter's belts.
      Everybody wore something on their feet to guard against splinters from the floor and the beams, but for the most part, everybody was at least partially naked.
      The work was accomplished with little talk, except for instructions on aligning the frames, or some poetry now and then.
      These people had work to do, and they did it.
      In a few minutes, Harrison was hard at it too, minus only his jacket and shirt, taping around the edges of the plastic. Valerie, almost totally disrobed, climbed up on the beams above the shop area like a monkey and assisted in hanging the plywood and foam panels of insulation. They had only been at it a couple of hours when without a word the group broke up.
      "What's going on?" Harrison asked a thin wiry woman who was very strong looking with slightly masculine features.
      "We are going for a swim. Come. It will refresh your soul and brace your body." She said a little gravely.
      He wasn't sure he wanted his body braced, but he knew his soul needed a little work, so he followed.

****** MARY
      Miss Alice welcomed them in the main hall. She was delighted that Maggie's face had gotten better, and relished in the telling of the trouble she had had getting the hats she had wanted to match the pattern of Mary's headpiece.
      Martha came out of the kitchen and Miss Alice sent the butler upstairs to fetch Sandy.
      Downstairs they found the dresses, but they were in fresh dry cleaner bags, even the great white wedding gown. Miss Alice took Maggie in hand and started getting her into her bridesmaid's gown. Mary helped Cindy, they heard Rob's anxious jabbering outside the small storage rooms they were using as changing area's.
      Cindy was the first one ready, she was familiar with her dress, and it went on like she had worn it a dozen times.
      Rob started his camera clicking, he caught the transformation Sandy gave her face with just a touch of color and line.
      Cindy was startled by the mirror, She hadn't realized she could be pretty.
      Really pretty.

****** DALE
      Ralph was sorry the day was coming to an end. But he was running out of things to talk to Colleen about, the apartment was cleaner than it had been when he had moved in.
      They had distracted each other quite a bit. Colleen insisted on climbing on the counter and emptying his shelves wearing only one of his roommate's shirts. An act that made Ralph wonder if he was suffering from an irregular heartbeat, then, while certain things were at eye level with him, he did what came naturally.
      Afterwards, she found things that were three years past their expiration date, and some dishes Ralph had never seen before.
      Ralph tried to be constructive about all this. He was, after all, spending a day alone with the most beautiful woman he had ever met in person bar none.
      And he was getting about four years worth of cleaning done.
      It wasn't all that much work to remove the debris of their effort. Ralph had a system for taking out the garbage; open the window, and drop it down three floors into the open dumpster below.

****** MARY
      Maggie was uncomfortable in the dress. She made no bones about it when she came out of the dressing room with Miss Alice still tugging at her zipper and sleeves. Her dress was the right style, it matched the others very closely, slightly less elegant than Cindy's, but Cindy's was several steps below Mary's, so they looked to be the continuation of a theme of greater and greater elegance and just a hint of pomposity.
      Maggie looked in the mirror, Rob's camera was still working. She kinda liked what she saw. The dress had a slimming effect on her, and the long line made her look a little taller. She stood very still as Sandy decided what she could do with her still discolored eye.
      Through a clever work of base, mascara, false eyelashes, lights and camera, you had to know she had a black eye to be able to tell. The lipstick and liner just made her look like she had a little fuller lips than she really did.
      Maggie was turned to face the mirror again.
      She wouldn't have called herself pretty, but she had to admit to herself that she wasn't hard to look at in this getup.
      Rob clicked away, then Miss Alice pronounced them ready for the formal portrait upstairs. Rob gleefully charged upstairs to get ready.
      Mary was enjoying her role now as the critiquer and commentator on the other two.
      Maggie demanded to go first. She walked down the length of the music room like John Wayne in drag going to war.
      The gathered people had expected another show like Mary had put on a couple of days earlier. They got Maggie. She did not enjoy posing, or for that matter being looked at, or having her picture taken, and she was vocal about it.
      Rob tried to sooth her ruffled feathers and did a good job anyway.
      Cindy, however, enjoyed being the center of attention, and reveled in her turn, even wanting to know if her left profile was better than her right. She tried different angles on her own accord and asked for Rob's comments.
      Mary had fun with both of them, first she abused Maggie almost without mercy, then she asked Cindy during one of her changes of pose if she liked being stapled in the navel.

****** DALE
      Harrison was a little shy about jumping into the cold lake wearing naught but his best smile.
      But the others went in, Valerie was having a great time.
      Simmons Harrison PhD. had made up his mind, he was going to jump in as well, then he heard a war-hoop from the house, he looked back and saw a disturbing vision.
      The naked longhair that had been reloading shotgun shells was leading a charge of all the people that had been in the house. He was just as naked as he had been, his long hair and beard flying wild behind him as his long legs ran in a strange gait down the hill.
      Harrison decided he was better off in the water than meeting this lunatic on dry land, and unceremoniously shed his pants in a big hurry and dove in.
      The longhair didn't dive in, he just kept his gangly run going until he was waist deep in the cold water. The rest of them plowed in behind him.
      The party had begun.
      There were plastic two liter bottles of something passed around. Harrison wasn't sure if it was a rough beer, or a rougher wine, but it was rather tasty in its own chewy way, and he felt a little alcohol in it. Somebody started singing some fairly good folk songs, and they splashed around in the water like they thought it was a sunny day in the tropics.
      After awhile Harrison felt the cold getting to him, but again, without a word, they started getting out and racing back to the house, where they all dried off in front of the big fireplace. Then it was back to work.
      "A rather sensible way to take a break." He told Valerie.
      He did feel his body had been braced and his soul refreshed.

****** MARY
      The photo session was over, the girls were changing, the house was hoping for another reception with those terribly sweet brownies. But Miss Alice announced the bridal party had other plans, but they would receive the entire party after the rehearsal Friday.
      Miss Alice also told Mary that she would be there for the rehearsal to make sure everything was ready. She hoped that the flowers she had picked out would be all right.
      Something that had escaped Mary until that moment came up, the colors of her wedding.
      "Well of course there was a color scheme. A very soft red, like roses, and navy for the men. I love traditional colors. The flowers we picked were so wonderful in the book. I know the Cathedral will be spectacular." The lady was so infectious with her enthusiasm Mary wondered if she did this all the time. "No dear, this is our first real wedding in, actually quite some time." She smiled a gentle smile.
      "Miss Alice, I really want to help pay for the flowers and things, I really am so grateful for all your help, I'm just..." She stopped, there was tears of a dozen emotions in her eyes. The older lady held her tightly, that was all the reward Miss Alice wanted, all the payment.

****** MARY
      Jack was happy to a degree.
      Bonker was going to go, the night nurse objected. But he was not going to stay without restraints. Jack and Steve promised to limit him to one mild drink, and no dancing. The nurse relented a little, and they got him changed. But as Bonker was standing talking to Billy, his legs got wobbly. Billy grabbed him and held him up while the nurse guided them to the bed.
      "Alright Olbonkial." The nurse called him by his real name, "I will allow you to go, if you go in the chair." She pointed to the wheelchair.
      Bonker heard Jack and Steve coming. "Sure, thanks." He said gratefully.
      The team doctor was the only one on campus that really knew how close it had been for Bonker.
      He had told nurse that he was back in the house for one reason: He'd either live, or he wouldn't. And so far, it looked like putting him back with his friends was the boost he needed to get him back on his feet. But his athletic days were over.
      The nurse knew he really shouldn't go out, but the feeling that he was getting away with something may give him a little more spirit. All this week the only thing he could talk about was the wedding. And this chance to get out of the house for the first time since the Homecoming game as well, she thought it was for the best.
      Jack and Steve didn't say a word, they took Bonker, chair and all, and loaded him in Mary's car and headed back to the married dorm where they would meet the girls. They set up camp in the TV lounge and chatted with whoever came by. They were watching the news when the girls came back. They wanted supper, and they didn't mean a hamburger.
      The only discussion was who was going to be who's date. Bonker settled it by saying he wanted to dance a little, and that was all Maggie ever did, dance a little.
      But they wouldn't let Bonker out of the chair for more than getting in the car.
      The Quinsbury Inn was a real sit down restaurant, with a modest salad bar, and if you overlooked its rather shadowy history, it was really good. The girls were all tastefully dressed, as were the boys, they were all on their best behavior and nobody at the table asked for a straw for their wine with dinner.
      It was almost more than they could take.
      Bonker's insistence on dancing left the Hunter's Lounge out of the picture, nobody danced there. Cindy suggested a club she had been to with Mike before she found out Mike was a jerk, the 'Feenix' (that's the way they spelled it on the sign) they had a lot of oldies and some newer music, and there was always dancing and excitement. Bonker liked the sound of that, so that was where they went.

****** MARY
      The Feenix was not so much of a dance club as it was an old bar in search of an identity. They played a lot of music, and had the occasional live band. But there was no theme, they played old classic country, right behind a bubble-gum pop record just before they played some techno-bop. They took requests and played a hit list compiled by the bartender and the owner's wife. It made the decor seem right, a mix of everything from antique farm implements hanging from the ceiling, to a pair of torn leather pants supposedly worn by Sting in a concert on campus.
      The others had never been there. They loved it as soon as they walk in.
      It was a big place, but there was only about twenty other people in there. A few couples, one group of older men talking politics, and several people at the bar. Bonker wheeled himself to the bar and stood up a little shakily. He whispered something to the bartender who seemed amused by the idea.
      Then Bonker joined the rest of them at a table away from the other patrons. The DJ, actually the owner, got the message from the bartender, and in about twenty minutes started playing slowdance sets within other regular dance music.
      By about eight-thirty, the place was filling up with the regulars, and Bonker was tired of dancing, but he didn't want to go. Mary and Jack owned the dance floor, and Cindy and Steve seemed to be getting along just fine.
      The next time Jack looked at his watch it was nearly eleven.

****** DALE
      Dale's tour of the campus never got out of the media building. He ate lunch, of sorts, at the canteen in the building, then he saw a note about an open trial screening of the video retrospective of the football season, so he took his drink and went.
      An hour later he got to watch the taping of the news program for the campus station, and finally he listened to a rousing speech by the FM station manager about the upcoming contribution drive.
      Late in the afternoon he went back to the Roz house.
      Telling some of the others what he had seen that day he said, "Wow." about sixteen times. Peggy couldn't believe he hadn't known all that the campus media was housed in the building down the street from the house.
      Dale sat and read his papers and ate the late supper, Colleen had brought Ralph, he was dressed and shaved and seemed to have been recently civilized.
      Ralph demanded a section of Dale's paper while they were waiting for the rest to come in and be seated. Peggy flipped through the schedules and things he had brought back.
      "Dale, there's a play this weekend, it says students are free." Peggy told him.
      Dale is not a real quick take on hints.
      "I like Shakespeare," Colleen was a very quick uptake on hints. "Dale, you and Peggy and me and Ralph are going to double date to the play."
      Stunned silence from the whole room. Dale finally said, "...ok.... wow."

****** MARY
      They left the nightclubish place and dropped Bonker off at the house, his nurse was waiting up for him, Cindy wanted to walk back to her dorm and Steve gallantly went with her. Maggie thanked Bonker for a nice time and said she was looking forward to seeing him at the practice Friday.
      Jack and Mary had forgotten about their fight, they lay in bed together and replayed the evening and laughed about Bonker's attempt to wheelchair dance.
      He had wanted to take a spin on the floor with Maggie again, but his legs and stomach didn't. So he wheeled himself out there and made a great attempt to chair dance. Maggie loved his effort and the rest of the crowd was sympathetic, but he finally gave up. He was a little disheartened, but then the DJ asked Bonker what his favorite song was, and then played it. Bonker was raring to go again. He had been drinking a special lo alcohol version of whisky sours all night, and he was just starting to get just a mild buzz from it which loosened him up. If he needed loosened up that is.
      On the whole, everybody had a wonderful time.
      "Two more days." Jack whispered to her tenderly.
      "I want to wait until we're married." She meant it.

****** DALE
      Harrison wasn't sorry he had missed supper at the Roz house.
      Earlier one of the women asked Valerie if they would stay for supper, she said yes without hesitation. Supper was not so much a meal, as an idea. There was no central meal table, no centralized serving area to speak of. But there was plenty of supper.
      Along about sundown Harrison smelled bread freshly baked, then a man came by chewing a piece of meat with a handful of greens and bottle of something that smelled strongly of apples.
      A little later Valerie pulled him away from the work, which was winding down, and they walked into the big house. In the kitchen they found large wooden plates, which you wandered around with and filled from a dozen different dishes apparently set out at random around the kitchen and the big room with the fireplace and very little furniture. People soon filled the place, some of them he had seen earlier that day, others had just seemed to materialize for food.
      They stood around and ate, or filled containers and left, or just took a hand full and wandered and ate. Harrison noticed there was always music of some sort. Now a very young girl in a simple robe was playing a very nice melody on a recorder. It was a nice supper.
      He wasn't sure what some of the dishes were, it was all very heavy on veggies, but there was meat, very gamy tasting meat, like venison or something and there was a huge container of the apple stuff to drink, he thought it was some sort of warm cider, but he liked it.
      They sat on the side porch, near a huge loom and a still used old spinning wheel. Harrison saw these people were serious about their way of life. But so far nobody had went out of their way to talk to him, although anytime he had asked a question, it was answered simply and fully.

****** MARY
      Jack awoke with a start.
      It was some ludicrous hour of the morning. The dorm was silent.
      Jack couldn't go back to sleep.
      He got up and looked out the window for a second. He realized he was sweating. Jack took his washcloth and towel and headed for the bathroom. He had been sleeping the sleep of the happily exhausted with just a touch of the sedation of good drink. But now he was wide-awake and he didn't know why.
      He went back their room. Mary was sound asleep. Jack wasn't ready to lie down again. He put on his pants and took his basketball, the same one he had had since early high school, now worn nearly smooth, with a slow leak if you bounced it too much. His ball.
      In the cool night, in the half-light, he shot baskets. During one lay up he figured out what was bothering him, he missed the shot and automatically went after the ball bouncing toward the alley.
      "I'm getting married Saturday." He said flatly. His first urge was to run across campus screaming 'NO!' until the entire place was awake. He didn't do it.
      The sense of panic faded, then he was aware that he had put his finger precisely on what had been bothering him for the entire week. He wanted to marry Mary more than he wanted anything else in his life. He couldn't remember what his life was besides basketball, before he had met her. And he knew that he wanted to go through with the wedding, calling it off wasn't even part of the question. But it had dawned on him that this was the first really permanent thing he was ever going to do that involved somebody beside himself.
      And then there was ... kids. "Ulp"
      Jack was standing in the middle of the alley, holding his old basketball. It was cold out and he was starting to shiver.
      He had known people that got divorced, and some of the reasons they gave made him wonder why they married in the first place. Jack had no delusions that they might not work out forever and end up separated. But he believed that, like his parents, if you stuck it out it was worth it. "Until death do us part." He repeated.
      That was the line Father Frakes was going to use. Jack shivered some more.

****** DALE
      Dale was of the impression he had been railroaded in to going on a date to the theater. He didn't know what play they were going to go see. He wouldn't have known "The Tempest" from a sing-a-long, but he had heard of William Shakespeare.
      The discussion at the table was whether this production was in the original old English or in a contemporary style. There were a variety of opinions, most felt the old language was almost unintelligible on stage, but once you had read it, it was all right.
      Sandy offered this, "I like the filmed plays, with subtitles in our English."

****** MARY
      Jack ended up falling asleep with his shoes still on.
      Mary woke up before the alarm clock went off and tried to figure out what he had been up too. But she let him sleep while she got ready for the day. She was experiencing a boundless sense of hope and optimism on top of feeling physically well and full of life.
      Well. She was at least happy about the way things were going.
      She finally woke Jack up, he, as always, came back to the real world in fits and starts. But when he finally opened his eyes, she was leaning over him to kiss him good-morning. Jack grabbed her and pulled her down on top of him. "I love you." He said.

****** DALE
      Harrison had finished eating, they were sitting on the steps in the big house, listening to what could be called a concert. Several of the residents were playing various instruments, the longhaired man had an ancient autoharp and was playing with some obvious expertise. The others seemed to have more enthusiasm than talent, but it was musical enough. Then the strong looking woman Harrison had met in the barn came forward and sang a medley of old sixties folksy tunes, her voice was as strong as her features, and she sang the old songs with a lot of feeling.
      They would go on long into the night, but Harrison was beat.
      The tall thin woman offered him one of the campers so he wouldn't have to drive back that night. Harrison was about to decline, but something in her eyes made him accept.
      Later, he was glad he had.
      Valerie stayed in the house listening to the music all night. They even got her to sing a couple of numbers.
      Harrison heard music of his own in the small formerly a pickup truck camper now sitting on a wooden frame. The thin woman proved without a shadow of a doubt that she was every bit as strong as he was.
      In the morning he was treated to a hearty breakfast and a serenade by a large woman with a powerful voice.
      As they began to break up for the day's chores, Harrison asked them if he could purchase a lunch to go. One thing lead to another and now he had a buffet in a wooden crate. They had all the cash he had on him. He thought it was a fair deal.
      He tried to thank them for the good time and better food, but they all just smiled and asked him to come back and seek the center again.
      Harrison drove the old car down the narrow path and shut the makeshift gate behind it. Valerie fell asleep in the car on the way back to town. Harrison remembered how that was something like the ultimate in trust, sleeping while somebody else drove.
      He didn't push the noisy engine too hard, he reflected on the world of the farm, it was nearly isolated from the rest of the world, and they didn't care. He found this attractive, casual nudity, everybody working for the good of the whole, no personal possessions that he saw, other than an occasional watch, or necklace. He had found out that most of the vehicles and campers had been left to the farm as an entity by bequest, or as settlement in a divorce, or purchased by the group for the group. It was less than communism, almost a Kibbutz, but it seemed lacking in a spirit of the communes of the early seventies. Though the group acted like a tribe, it wasn't tribalism.
      Harrison became frustrated, sociology had never been one of his strong suits. Now he found himself lacking. A position he was never in with the so-called 'hard' sciences. He wondered how long it would take him to become a sociologist, he had become knowledgeable in physics and high energy theory in about six years. He looked at Valerie sleeping contentedly on the seat next to him, "To White Man's Hell with Sociology."
      He parked in the big lot and woke Valerie up. Then he took his boxed lunch up to the classroom.

****** MARY
      Mary pulled gently away from him. "You went traveling last night?" Jack didn't understand, she looked down at his shoes sticking out from under the cover.
      "I needed to do some thinking." He admitted.
      Mary knew him well enough that his thinking process required the presence of a certain round air-filled ball. "You went dribbling in the middle of the night?"
      He smiled.
      She stood up and straightened her clothes. "I realized that we are about to be married. I mean, you remember what Frakes said when he read the vows he uses, 'to death do you part', this is like, ... like, joining the Army."
      "Thanks a lot." Mary said sarcastically.
      "You know what I mean." Jack got out of the chair. He felt greasy.
      "You mean you figured out that our families all still believe that marriage is like a diamond, forever. And you wonder if you're ready for that commitment and whether you'll be able to see it through."
      Jack tightened his lips and nodded, he hadn't been able to express it quite that neatly, but that was how he felt.
      "I'll wait downstairs for you, clean up and walk me to class." She ordered.
      Jack walked to the bathroom with his robe and stuff. The big bathroom was crowded, so he went to the smaller one on the other wing. It had four rather small shower stalls in it, and altogether was about half the size of the larger bathroom.
      There was only one other man in it. Jack knew him slightly as Ken he was on another team, Jack thought he was a track and field athlete, but he wasn't sure. The man greeted him and continued to trim his mustache. Jack got in the shower and started to scrub his hair, he didn't understand why he had sand in his hair.
      Then he heard that all too familiar voice. "Hi, the other bathroom is very crowded today isn't it."
      "Kim, I mean, Mrs. Caldell." Jack said with very little emotion.

****** DALE
      Peggy invited Dale up to her room for a treat. He went along happily. Dale knew Peggy had been getting her mail at the house regularly now, but his mail had gotten screwed up.
      It was his fault, he messed up the change of address form, and sent it to the US Post Office, instead of the campus one, and by the time they got it sorted out, his mail was being returned to sender as undeliverable. But That's Another Story.
      Peggy had gotten a box from home full of all sorts of things.
      Pictures of her and her friends at camp, homemade fudge, not as good as Martha's, but better because it was from home.
      Dale loved the pictures.
      There were ribbons from the 4-H, and a plaque that named her as a 'best girl citizen' from her grade school. And an article in her hometown paper about her moving into the Roz mansion.

****** MARY
      Jack panicked, the voice wasn't in the shower with him. He realized she was in the stall next to his. Jack didn't know what to do, he did not want to encourage her, but he also didn't want to hurt her feelings.
      "Jack, You're awful quiet this morning." Kim trilled from her shower.
      "I've just been thinking." He wasn't lying.
      Jack made record time getting washed and out, he didn't shave at all. But he wasn't fast enough. She was standing with her towel loosely around her as he was coming out of his stall. "You'll be taken in two days."
      Jack had one thought, 'get it over with.'
      He grabbed her and pulled her up to him. He kissed her long and hard and deep, he reached around behind her and felt her rear end through her towel. He counted her fillings with his tongue and felt her nipples become rigid and poke him in his chest.
      She leaned into him and started kissing him back.
      After a minute Jack let go her and stepped back.
      He had the old fire under control. He smiled calmly.
      But she was breathless. "Whew." Kim said, "You're good."
      "Thanks for the memory. See ya." Still smiling, he walked out.

****** DALE
      Dale thought it was great, she had been in a real paper. The article described the house as a learning group experience for outstanding students.
      "My step-mom says my real dad had a dozen copies laminated and he gave them to everybody. Some of the people where he works were always bragging about there kids doing this and that, but she said he never mentions it to anybody. When one of them would stop by his work station and talk about their kid, he just hands them a copy of this and smiles."
      "Wow." Dale said. He didn't realize the house was so exclusive, the article in the paper made it sound like the house was full of PhD's and Rhodes Scholars and people like that.
      Then he realized, It was. The were a couple of those key scholar people, and two Phd's, and graduate students, in everything, and a doctor that was a Veterinarian post-doctoral student that stayed there part time.
      Dale wondered if all this had rubbed off on him, with the Greek math class and all.
      "You hadn't seen this. You're mom said you were in your paper."
      "My mail just found me again. I filled out the wrong form, at the wrong post office, and put the wrong address on it." Dale looked at the floor.
      Peggy smiled, he was still her Dale. She tenderly kissed his cheek.
      "Sometimes I think about... you know.... us." She didn't know how to put it.
      Dale looked at her. She saw open wonder in his eyes, she realized he was still the innocent over-protected young man she had always liked. He wasn't sure what it was about Peggy, but he liked her a lot, her smile made him happy.

****** MARY
      Jack was dressed in just a minute. Kim was waiting for him, dressed very nicely too, at the top of the stairs. He took a sharp breath.
      "You are full of surprises aren't you?" She said.
      "Sorry I left in a rush, but..."
      "You didn't want something to get out of hand. I understand. I just love teasing a little, and maybe a little fooling around. Nothing serious. You know. I like to enjoy life a little." She kissed his cheek.
      Jack could only smile. "A little."
      He walked downstairs with her. Then he felt panic as he saw Mary standing outside the small dining room talking to Betty.
      "Hi Mary!" Kim said. She hugged her. "Two days."
      Mary giggled with Kim, Jack didn't know they knew each other, 'I should've guessed.' He went in and got himself a plate of breakfast.
      Jack watched the females in the hallway talk. He knew they were talking about him, and he wondered if he would ever tell Mary about Kim and the shower.
      "I see you've met my wife." Sal said to him.
      Jack's blood froze and his eyes refused to focus on his breakfast. He had no idea what to say or do.

****** DALE
      Ralph and Colleen were down in the basement library.
      She had wanted to look up a picture of Catherine the Great, she had an idea that that was what Miss Alice had looked like in her younger days, and Colleen wanted to prove it.
      Ralph had been having other ideas. He loved showing her off, but he also loved keeping her to himself. And he wasn't sure how to resolve this problem.
      She liberally returned any affection he sent her way. She seemed to enjoy physical encounters, and was actually very willing to say exactly what and how she wanted him to act in bed, or wherever.
      They dug through the old textbooks, and finally found an old history book a portrait of the Czarina that wasn't a photograph of a very unflattering statue.
      Colleen wanted to do a sketch of what she thought Miss Alice would look like in her early thirties. Ralph could care less, but he found her concentration hypnotic, irresistible. As she drew and thought, and erased, and redrew, and thought some more, then started over. He was kissing her neck, touching her, whispering naughty things softly to her to make her giggle.
      Ralph locked the library door, and really started to make her loose track of her rendition of the old maid as the mighty Czarina.
      "You're crazy Ralph, we can't do it in here." She protested.
      He didn't listen. He picked her up and took her back to an ugly old leather couch that was up against the end wall, far behind the open area where the reading tables were. She was making it difficult for him to navigate the narrow aisle between stacks, But they got where they were going.

****** MARY
      Jack almost choked on his French Toast. Sal's comment about Jack meeting his wife made lights flash in front of his eyes. He wondered if the theology major owned a gun.
      "She knows Mary from somewhere." Jack said as a neutral comment, trying to give himself room to think or run.
      "Yeah," Sal said, "She seems to know almost everybody."
      Jack couldn't look at Sal.
      "She's a real people person. I don't do that well with people." Sal frowned at the women chatting just inside the door.
      Mary wanted breakfast, but the others were talking about what she should do before the wedding. They wanted to know if she had a bridal registry anywhere, what theme she was decorating her room to, and so on.
      Mary hadn't thought about silver patterns, or a decorating theme, or even what she would do with any wedding gifts they didn't have room for. She chatted idly and got some breakfast.
      Jack thought of something to say to Sal to see what he knew, "You're wife seems genuinely friendly."
      "Sometimes I think she's a little to friendly." Sal said, Jack winced.

****** DALE
      Dale was uneasy.
      Even he could tell that Peggy was feeling a little more than friendship.
      He mentioned Colleen and Ralph and how good they were getting along.
      "She says he's one of the nicest guys she's ever met." Peggy said.
      Sudden laughter erupted from Dale. He held his sides, he wiped at tears, his nose ran. Finally he managed to chuckle to a stop.
      "Ralph? Nice?" Dale had trouble putting the two words together.
      "Yes Dale, Ralph isn't Ralph when he's around her, she takes the edge off him.." Peggy was smiling at the thought that her friend had found that right man, maybe this would work out for her, she deserved it Peggy thought, even if Ralph was a little more than just rough around the edges. "Still, Ralph hates to dress up, he shaves once a month, he thinks all women should be required to be naked in public, he's Ralph." She added as he tried to keep from laughing again.
      Peggy had been watching Colleen, she had noticed that there was a difference in her behavior since she had been seeing Ralph. Colleen had always been cheerful, but now she laughed more, she was wearing a little less makeup, and sweeter perfume. Peggy liked those changes.
      But there was one thing Peggy knew she wasn't ready for, she had no intention of dating an upperclassman, and experiencing life' as some of her friends had done. As near as she could tell, the seniors they had gone out with had done all the experiencing.
      Dale had been more deeply affected by Ellen than he realized. He didn't have a sexual identity, much less a way to express it. Ellen had shaken him to his roots. He was now basically afraid of girls. Including Peggy.
      It showed.
      "I think Ralph makes Colleen feel good." Peggy said to him, she was wondering how good.

****** MARY
      They went to class with mixed emotions. Mary was excited about Miss Amberjoyce's class. The lady had promised a class to remember, they were to meet in the large theater in the basement of Ol' Abe.
      She had her own private collection of Newsreels from as far back as the thirties. Miss Amberjoyce had found them in a closed studio warehouse and had tried to buy them. The studio never answered her, so a friend of hers had stolen them when the warehouse had been scheduled for demolition.
      She loved them. She had watched each one at least a dozen times, she memorized every detail on the tapes, the faces, and mannerisms of the people and events depicted, and how the filmmakers put a good spin on some of the worse news in history. Amelia Earhart, F.D.R., Capone, and coal strikes all paraded across the screen for the students. The teacher made very few comments, letting them judge for themselves what they were seeing. They saw W.W.II as their parents and grandparents saw it, through the eye of the War Department Newsreel, and see it they did, a couple of minutes of history alt a time.
      After the class Jack and Mary had to go separate ways. They didn't see each other again until lunch. But they made up for the absence in a big way, the kiss was deep and long. Jack had really missed her, and she had missed him, and they didn't care who saw them let each other know it. And it felt good.
      Later Jack met Mary outside her last class of the afternoon, he had practice, but he wanted to see her first. Jack had been determined not to be depressed, the basketball season for everybody else was now a couple of weeks old, while they hadn't even begun to practice in earnest. It was a hot battle already, Missouri had their leading scorer hurt and out for the season, he had shattered his ankle while dancing at their homecoming.
      Jack knew the Dogs could have been a contender. But the terms imposed on them had them forfeiting the first ten games. They had three more to go before anything they did counted. They hadn't even done anything but scrimmage they would be starting cold, literally beginning their conference season when everybody else was running at full speed.
      Jack wondered why the conference and the powers that be would punish everybody on their team for the deeds of a few on another team.
      The coach had called it justice, and they were the example for everybody else. "Zero Tolerance." He had called the policy.
      The players had called the policy a few other things, 'Stupid' being the mildest.
      Mary walked with Jack to the gym, they kissed outside, to the amusement of several students hanging out on a group of benches and a piece of modern sculpture nearby.
      Mary didn't feel like going back to the dorm, so she went into the gym to watch the practice. Jack didn't see her until halfway through their paces.

****** DALE
      Dale laid in bed, he had a lot to think about.
      He woke up Thursday morning, he didn't remember falling asleep.
      He ate a hearty breakfast, there was no sign of Harrison. But Colleen was there, with Ralph. Dale and the rest of the house wondered about this. Peggy smiled all through breakfast.
      As Dale was getting his supplies together for the hard day of High Science in the Greek Math class, Ralph banged on his door. "Tell ol' sauerkraut breath I'll be a little late. I've got to go back to my apartment and get some stuff. But I'll be there."
      Dale nodded, he thought of something, "I've got to get something too, but I'll probably be on time." He told Ralph. The big man looked around Dale's room. He pursed his lips and went out, but he went up the stairs instead of down, then Dale remembered Colleen's room was on the third floor.
      Dale told Peggy he had to run an errand before class, she said she'd take the van to campus instead of walk if he wasn't going, then he was out the door, headed for the small shopping center a block away.
      His plan was to buy a huge bag of cookies for the class.

****** MARY
      Mary watched Jack and the others run up and down the court warming up. She was joined by some of the others girlfriends, relatives, and others that had some sort of interest in the team. Mary knew a few of them, and they spent the time talking about all sorts of things, and clapping for the players when they finished an exercise. Mary watched Jack run wind sprints, from the baseline to the free-throw line, then back to the baseline, up to the time line, back, to the half court, back, to the other timeline, back, and so on, until she was out of breath watching them run.
      When they were finished with the run the coach let them pant for a minute, then he started ball-handling drills.
      One of Coach Mackey's favorite drills was a three circle figure eight type thing with everybody running through all three circles, with four balls bouncing and tossing through the circles, never being dropped. His theory was if you could keep track of where all the balls were, where you were, and everything that was going on, without stepping on each other, you could handle the fastest game.
      It was something to see, and the coach wanted them to keep going without a ball getting away or a collision between players for a solid two minutes. Every miscue meant they had to start over.
      Mary watched as they got the circles moving. It looked like something the 'Globetrotters' would do, when it worked. When it didn't, anything might happen. Leon stepped on Sam, a ball ended up in the stands, then there was a pileup where two of the running circles crossed, then the coach blew his whistle and explained what they had done wrong.
      There was laughter from the stands.

****** DALE
      Dale found what he was looking for in the twenty-four hours health and fitness food store. He bought a five pound bag of all natural chocolate chip cookies, with low fat, low sugar, low calorie, high fiber and so on written all over the label. But the lady gave him a sample, and they weren't bad. He took the bag, gave her almost all his spare money, and headed for class.
      She hollered at him as he was leaving, "Hey, weren't you on TV awhile back? With that science outfit? The starlight research."
      Dale nodded, he didn't know what to say.
      "You made us all real proud, nice to see something about the college that is real positive for a change. Say, what're you going to do with the cookies?"
      Dale looked at the bag, "They're for the class, we're meeting all day today." He wasn't sure how much he should tell the lady, he thought it might be classified or something.
      "So you're still chasing the falling star. Here, take some natural coffee with you. Complimentary, our way of supporting your research." The lady was really thrilled, she would tell this story until it seemed she supplied cookies to the International Space Station.
      Dale got to class more or less on time. "Dr. Varscroft. What Happened?" He said as he walked in the door.
      Varscroft had his whole right arm in a cast from shoulder to hand.
      "I took my own advice, and late Tuesday I went down to St. Louis to the amusement park."
      Mr. Blumn walked in behind Dale and heard the Professors statement. "You bungee jumped?" Blumn asked.
      "No. I..." He looked down, "I fell off the tram from the parking lot."

****** MARY
      Jack looked up at the laughter, he spotted Mary. She waved and blew him a kiss. The coach was shouting about keeping a fluid step while you changed direction.
      It was a waste of time trying to explain to Leon how to do this. Leon didn't have a fluid move in his body. The coach was now telling James he was putting too much on the ball for a running bounce pass. James Blackthrawn was sure the coach received his wisdom directly from the great mysterious ancient and powerful god of basketball, he listened intently to everything the man said.
      They started the circles again, the players got running and the coaches tossed the balls in, the object was to keep the balls moving, to not travel with the ball, or miss an pass. Not to mention running into somebody elsewhere the circles overlapped. Jack thought he'd show off a little, later he was sorry he did.
      The first circle went fairly close to the basket on one end.
      Jack caught the ball on one trip around, he made a good running layup.

****** DALE
      "You fell off the tram?" Blumn couldn't believe it.
      Dale wanted to laugh, but he wasn't sure he dared.
      "Well, it hit a chuckhole, and I was sitting sideways...."
      "Canney, Varscroft fell off a merry-go-round!" Blumn told the overweight scientist when the fat man walked in.
      Canney looked at Varscroft's plaster wing and busted out laughing.
      That was all Dale needed. He broke up, falling into his seat laughing.
      Varscroft knew how ridiculous the story was, he had spent all day Wednesday in a hospital trying to keep from laughing about it himself. When the pain medication started wearing off, he didn't really feel like chuckling, his arm hurt like hell, but it was still funny.

****** MARY
      The circles kept moving.
      Then Josh made a running jump shot. Kiel missed his shot, but the circles kept moving.
      Leon snagged the loose ball on something like a rebound, the beanpole slammed it.
      The coach was upset with Jack at first for showing off. But then as the circles kept going, and others were making the shots without breaking the rhythm of the circles, the coach smiled knowingly.
      He felt it, his team had turned the corner.
      There was now six balls bouncing around the circles, shots were going in regularly, even a miss, as long as it didn't go wide, was rebounded and fed up to the basket where it was usually sunk.
      Coach Mackey smiled at his assistant, "By God I think we've got ourselves a team. Look at that, they're still going, three minutes and counting. Let'em go."
      The coach sat down in his director's chair, he looked over his clipboard, the coming exhibition games would be a good test now, instead of a blowout.
      He wasn't worried about the Canadians. He could accept defeat against the national team that was favored for a medal in the Pan-American games, but the other two worried him, they were technically inferior teams, and if his squad got sloppy, it would break their confidence to lose to a team of and ex-cons.
      Mary watched as a transformation took over the team, the group in the stands got quiet. They were watching something that didn't happen too often. A girl that took pictures for the yearbook had a camera, she took a few shots, everybody else just sat and watched.
      The circles kept moving, the balls were a blur, the only thing that changed from the beginning of the practice to now was just a feeling one got watching them.
      The fifteen men on the floor, running in circles, shooting the ball, had been fifteen men on the floor running and shooting. Somewhere in the last few minutes, the fifteen had become a Team. Twelve and three, the road team and three backups.
      They were now the Prairie Dogs, what they had lost with the drug raid, they had gotten back.
      The team had a little less personality, but what they had was theirs and not chemistry.

****** DALE
      Varscroft was sitting with his plaster arm stuck out to one side.
      "Its broke in three places." He kinda chuckled. "I think the back wheels of the tram ran over it. I was in shock when they picked me up and took me to the hospital."
      Crowley heard the last part. "Did you call a lawyer?"
      "You wouldn't believe it, they called a lawyer for me, he works for me though. He said he's handled several cases with the park, and he has already got my medical paid, and a two thousand dollar advance on the settlement to cover my expenses. He says he'll take his settlement later."
      "That sounds fishy. They gave you a settlement advance, and paid your medical?"
      "Yeah, I'm not even supposed to be here today, but they let me out of the hospital yesterday afternoon, and this morning I felt all right, my arm hurts like hell, but I decided I didn't want to set around the house. So I'm here. The park wants to avoid court almost at any cost. The lawyer told me that they'll wait until I'm healed up, then they'll approach me with a final settlement. I asked him what about medical bills before then, he said they'll have the hospital there send my records up here and a doctor at the university hospital will do the follow up on their tab."
      "How much do you think they'll settle for? Five million dollars?" Blumn rubbed his hands together.
      "That lawyer, ahhh, Cohn Doggett Esquire says the park will usually settle something like this for about the victim's yearly wage, he'll get one third direct from the park for services rendered, he is not on the park payroll, but he is 'on call', he said that about four times. But he did tell me while I was waiting to be let out of the hospital, that I shouldn't take their first offer, but not try to get a huge settlement, then they might just take it to court and tie it up for a year or two."
      "And they gave you a two thousand dollar advance?" Crowley mused.
      "To cover medicine and stuff." Varscroft nodded then looked around, his swollen fingers hanging limply at the end of his plaster, "Where's Harrison and that damned Ralph Cook?"
      "Ralph said he'd be late, I don't know what happened to Dr. Harrison." Dale answered.

****** MARY
      The practice wrapped up a little bit later. Mary waited with the other spectators while the team got the speech from the coach in the locker room and showered and changed back into civilian clothes.
      Mary clapped for Jack when he came out of the locker room. "That was a great practice. I loved the circles you guys ran." She took his hand and they walked outside. It was dark, they walked across the street to the married dorm.
      "I didn't know you were there. I felt funny going through the practice with you watching." Jack admitted.

****** DALE
      Supper had been long over at the married dorm, but Mary found a big plate with their name on it in the fridge. Mary was arguing with the microwave when Mrs. Warren came in and showed her how to program it.
      "I knew Jack had practice tonight so I saved him some supper, but when you didn't come in I thought you were in the library, so I saved yours too." The lady was too much, Mary remembered she was a grandmother, it showed.
      Mary watched her push buttons on the microwave, it beeped and chirped. Then it came on and zapped the food. Mary thought it was wonderful, the lady completely understood this complicated piece of modern convenience, and Mary, she the child of the technological age, had no idea of how to make it go.
      Jack was sitting in the dining area with Mr. Warren, they were doing homework of all things. Mr. Warren was having problems with an English Composition workbook, his idea of verb forms had more to do with the tongue of the Scottish Highlands than what the textbook considered English.
      "I don't understand Mr. Warren, you talk English very goodly Jack said with a straight face, "Why can't you write it like you say it?"
      The man sat and looked at the book like it was a poisonous snake,
      "I was drilled in writing for years in Aberdeen, Scotland schools, and when I write it comes out that way. I had to speak with Americans all through my years, so I started talking like them, but I still write like I did in school."
      Jack thought about it, it made sense.
      The Warren's sipped coffee and kept Jack and Mary company while they ate their supper. They were a fascinating couple, she was the daughter of an American diplomat, he was from a laboring family in Scotland, they met when he was stationed in Japan during the Korean War representing Her Majesty's Army with the U.N. the end of the war. He was a minor officer in the signal corps and spent a lot of time on duty at the American Embassy, later he spent a lot of time off duty there too. They were married in Japan.
      Mary thought that was the most romantic thing she had ever heard.
      Jack wondered how they ended up here.

****** DALE
      They started reviewing the work from and put together a plan, Varscroft didn't think he would be up to an all day session. But he would get them going and take a nap in his office.
      Dale's cookies were going fast, washed down with the fancy coffee from the store.
      Ralph rolled in about two hours late.
      "I would say you're fashionably late, but you're never in fashion. You look like you went through an industrial accident." Varscroft said flatly. Ralph hadn't even noticed his cast.
      "I got sidetracked." He looked at the prof after he shoved a handful of cookies in his mouth. "Whfat heaponngto uoph?"

Cont in Two Dorms Part 31


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