©01 The Media Desk
Back to the Desk
Ralph stood up, he looked at her, but he didn't see a beautiful naked woman in a position that could only be considered compromising, willingly so. "I need a pen, and paper, no, I need to get to the classroom, I got to get this on that blackboard. All the variables Blumn brought up, everything from anti-proton's and Hawking radiation, and that nonsense about the non-charged quarks, and Dale's angels, all play out to the same result. It IS the end, and not the means, all the variables in the universe don't matter, they nullify themselves by their own existence, it's so simple, the quantum factor is they produce the light, and the process IS the production itself!" He was into full rant mode.
"Ralph, hey, you're babbling." She shook him gently as he was standing there. She felt the feelings he had ignited fade. He was really into this idea, she could tell. "OK we'll go. Get dressed first."
"Yeah, Don't you see it. LIGHT! It's not the product, it's the by-product, not the intent, the variables go about their business, and the waste is what we see. Light, radiation, radio waves, heat, all of it."
Colleen started to get dressed. She didn't see the light.
Ralph focused again. "What are you doing? Come'er. I want to make you see the light girl. FEEL THE FIRE OF THE STARS!!!" He growled to her.
Mary wanted to talk to Jack, but she knew this was going to be her decision, no matter what, for better or worse, whatever, it was her decision.
Her mom just looked from her to her dad, then at the priest.
Mary went to her dad. He looked at her, but he didn't see her. But he did stop talking to the ghosts of the past.
"I want him to be there. Maybe he won't remember the service, but I will. I want him there."
Miss Alice had been in the background, Mary didn't remember her coming in. "Who will give you away dear?"
They talked about having her dad up front in Bonker's wheelchair to give her away. Which left the question of her walking down the aisle.
Mary spoke up, "Dad can be up front in the chair, but I'll walk down the aisle by myself. It's ok."
The bishop nodded. Her dad was muttering again, Miss Alice looked concerned, her mom nodded.
"Then it's settled, Mary you should be getting changed. We have an hour." The bishop said with finality.
Miss Alice and her mom led her back to the room her dress was in.
The bishop guided her dad the other way, the ROTC who would escort him out just before the start, and then to his seat at the right time.
The bishop had planned that from nearly the moment he had seen the man's condition. He wasn't going to let her father miss the wedding.
There was a behind the scenes conspiracy at the Cathedral. Mrs. Caldell and Cammey had brought all their hair and makeup stuff to the church in case anybody needed some. Sandy and her squad showed up with a small beauty shop and set up in the hallway at a desk with a small mirror. Mary's mom had a bag full of stuff, Jack's mom rolled in with her ammunition and they all managed to converge at once.
Miss Alice took charge, and gave assignments to each as to who would do the groom's hair, and the groomsmen, and make sure Bonker didn't look like death warmed over.
Mrs. Caldell and Jack's mom both mentioned his cowlick, so they were assigned his hair.
Mary was the grand assignment, and since Sandy had already started her, she got her. The others drew Maggie and Cindy, and Mary's dad's hair which he kept running his hand's through.
The bishop stood in the background and laughed. Which was a fatal mistake.
"Your Honor," Mrs. Caldell said sharply, "Did you shave this morning?"
He didn't answer immediately.
Sue grabbed him and Mary's mom found a razor. All protests by the holy man went to naught, and he was shaved and his sideburns trimmed, and his thinning hair combed. He found it a little uncomfortable being the object of the attention of so many women.
But he lived.
The women then fanned out, looking for the bridal party. Cindy was first to the hot seat. Bonker was rounded up in an anteroom and his hair forced into place by Cammey and Mary's mom who seemed to be everywhere at once.
Sue and Julie nailed Steve, his hair was no problem, he was always well groomed, but they wanted to trim his mustache, he would rather do a tour with the UN peacekeepers than have his facial hair assaulted.
Jack's mom and Mrs. Caldell found him already dressed in his tux, pacing a small room off the hallway. He had already read the newspaper, and eaten his snack, and was so nervous he couldn't stand it.
"Hi mom, I'm glad to see you guys." He said, he wasn't even surprised to see Kim with his mom, right now he was beyond shock. His mom kissed him on his cheek. Kim asked his mom if she minded, then she kissed him full on the lips.
"To help his nerves." Mrs. Caldell said smiling.
It seemed to work, Jack managed to stand still for a minute.
"Here, I brought you this, I hope you haven't seen this one. Now sit still so we can get your hair to lay down." His mom ordered. Kim smiled at him and pointed a hairbrush at the chair.
Jack looked at the magazine his mom had handed him, 'Mavericks Fan Guide' it said, Jack smiled broadly, he sat in the chair and proceeded to memorize the NBA book even though he didn't really like the Dallas team.
Dale had only been to the mall a couple of times. He had trouble keeping track of where what was, and which entrance they had came in.
Peggy was a mall master, she knew several of the clerks on sight, and was on several of the mailing lists for sales and promotions. She knew exactly where to go to get a small inexpensive gift that didn't look like an inexpensive gift.
They had just an hour before the house van left to go back to the house.
Peggy had her gift in five minutes, then she took Dale shopping for other things. They went into two different 'intimate apparel' shops where he tried not to look at anything or anybody.
"What do you think?" She asked him. He looked at her.
At first he didn't see anything. Then he realized she was holding a frilly piece of nothing in front of her. It was sheer, with small ruffles, and some lace in it.
"It's, ahhh, pretty."
She nodded, then she got a look at the price tag. "A little much."
Dale wanted out of there. "Peggy, how much time do we have left?"
"Half an hour. Plenty of time, how about this one." The teddy had strategic cut outs and just enough material to hold its shape on the hanger.
Dale tried to figure out how she would put it on without it disintegrating. "It's nice."
Peggy looked at the price tag on this one. She felt a heartbeat misfire.
"They're kidding, and that's a sale price?" She was hanging it back up when a saleswoman came by.
"Can I help you miss?" The overly made-up lady asked.
"I was looking for something special that doesn't cost a fortune."
Maggie was paraded out for inspection. She was 'oooo'ed and 'aahh'ed over, and a last minute touch up of her eye shadow, and then Miss Alice pronounced her beautiful, and she was allowed to stand out of the way while the same operation continued with Cindy.
Mary was last, of course. She didn't come into the hall, they all went to her. Mary's mom hadn't seen her in the dress, but she had heard about it and seen it as it was carefully take out of the bags at the church. Jack's mom had only heard that it was an old dress. Nobody was ready for the full effect.
She looked like a princess.
No, she really did. Honest.
From the headpiece that was more crown with veil than anything else, to her feet with just the toes of her white shoes peeking out from under the massive floor length garment.
The assembled females stood speechless. Mesmerized by the image.
Sandy stood back. By the expressions on their faces, she knew her work was done.
Mary, for her part, hadn't seen herself, but she was the dress weighed a ton, the slip wasn't enough to stop the bodice from making her itch, and she had trouble moving her head to look around. Her mother looked her in the eye, she was crying, "Beautiful." She managed to say.
Mary almost believed her.
Peggy found what she was looking for, and she didn't show it to Dale before she bought it. It wasn't overly revealing, and the price didn't look like a ZIP code.
They still had a few minutes before the van left, she asked Dale if there was anyplace he wanted to go. There wasn't, so they went out to see if anybody was on the van.
Everybody else had the same idea. Since they were all there, the van left for the house.
They were told when they got there that they had less than an hour to get ready to go to the wedding.
Dale got into his one and only suit, and tried to get the knot on his tie right. It took him a couple of tries, but he could get it. Then he went downstairs to wait on the others.
He was first.
The butler stood and frowned at him for a minute. Then some of the others came in, and Dale wasn't the object of the frown anymore.
To Dale's never ending amazement Ralph walked in, in a suit and tie.
"If you ever breathe a word of this I'll have you boiled in oil."
Jack was sitting in a room near the front of the sanctuary with Steve and Bonker.
He was calmer, but still fidgety. Bonker was having a wonderful time.
Steve was just wanting to get it over with, he was to meet a certain girl at the reception with a promise of champagne and other niceties.
The vicar looked in on them. "Ten minutes." He said.
Jack froze, the next thing he knew he was being shoved out the door to stand in the front of the church.
Mary was lead down the hall, they were being very careful with the huge train. Her mom had left to be seated on one side, just behind where her dad would sit in Bonker's wheelchair. He could walk, but he was unsteady, and might wander away if the mood took him. He seemed to understand what was happening, but he had trouble keeping it in focus.
Maggie was already standing there, she had peeked around the corner. "The place is packed." She half-whispered.
Sandy and the others blew her a kiss and went up to their seats.
Miss Alice stayed with them, to make last minute adjustments.
Cindy joined them in a minute. She smelled of strong drink.
"I had a nip. That one woman thought I needed a bracer." She looked at a few stragglers coming in the front door. "I did."
Mary saw the ROTC looking at her.
The officer saluted her, she could barely nod in return.
They unfurled the UN flag and then the others and got in order.
The girls were relieved when Miss Alice went to the unit and helped them get themselves put together for the presentation.
"You look like a dream Miss." Mary looked at the speaker. The butler from Miss Alice's house nodded to her, then flashed her a wide toothy smile.
She managed to smile back through the lace flowers of the veil.
He turned on his heel and was gone.
Mary had a minute to herself as the others were watching the flag unit come to attention.
She found herself calm, even without help like what Cindy had. She was aware that this was it, she ran through the service in her mind, when to kneel, what to say, when not to faint...
Ralph had finally let Colleen get up when she screamed that they only had an hour to get ready for the wedding.
Ralph had hoped to get out of it.
But there was no way. His brainstorm was still rattling around in his head and he was afraid he'd lose it. But the idea had taken root, and seemed to be making itself to home in his head.
She dressed in a flurry and ran out the door.
Ralph grabbed his formalwear-in-a-bag and went with her to the Roz house to change.
He had getting ready for a formal occasion, no matter what it was, down to a science. He took his outfit; suit, two shirts, three ties, socks, underwear, shoes, belt, and even cufflinks, to the dry cleaners after he wore it, to be cleaned and polished, then put back in the bag. So the next time he needed it, it was ready. He chose the shirt and tie from the bag to fit the day, the rest was the same, and he was off.
So at the Roz house, he asked Colleen whether he should wear the powder blue shirt or the white one, and bow tie or long one. And he was ready.
Colleen had to jump from clothes to shower to dress to makeup to get ready. But she made it. Peggy helped her get zipped almost as they ran down the stairs to catch the van to the Cathedral.
There was a lot of them going, and the van was full, Dale had been waiting with Ralph at the side door, both hoping the girls wouldn't make it. But they did.
There was two seats left.
Colleen suggested the men set, and let the girls set on their laps.
Ralph was happy to.
Dale felt a little awkward with Peggy sitting on his lap, but he survived.
And he didn't play with her knee like Ralph made a show out of doing with Colleen. But Dale did notice that Colleen seemed to enjoy it.
Peggy was watching with intense interest, she knew from reliable sources that they had been 'intimate', and she could see the public side of their physical relationship. She didn't know what Colleen saw in the man, but now, all cleaned up, even wearing cologne, he wasn't that bad, but it was clear he was infatuated to his gills with her. Maybe the fact that he was taken with her, totally taken with her, completely and absolutely taken with her, was all she needed. Peggy wanted this, she wasn't sure how to get it, but she was getting the idea. She leaned into Dale a little as the van turned a corner, and she didn't straighten back up. She felt him against her, and liked it.
Dale was trying to merge with the back of the seat, Peggy was tight against him, and he wasn't sure what to do.
Dale was saved by a traffic cop that stopped the van at the side of the Cathedral, and they all got out. Dale found out he had a small problem that he had to sort out as he stood up and went down the step to get out. Peggy took his hand to walk into the big church with him. They heard the organ playing romantic songs.
He was still uneasy as they walked in. The tight smile from the tight-lipped Master Neeman Georges made him more nervous.
****** TWO DORMS The Wedding! [Manuscript 365]
Dale sat in the pew and tried to get comfortable. That was a lost cause.
The organist stopped playing.
Jack looked around Bonker and Steve. He knew that was the cue for the flags to come in. There was still a few people coming in. But in a second they were seated, and the honor guard moved into position in the far end of the center aisle.
As the flags walked slowly forward the congregation came to their feet.
When the flags moved up on the stage Mary's dad stood and put his hand over his heart. The bishop closed his eyes and thanked the Creator for yet another miracle.
The flag ceremony went without a hitch. The ROTC was as sharp as the creases in their dress uniform pants. They retreated and another cadet guided Mary's dad into position, then the cadet walked sharply to the middle of the aisle, like Miss Alice had instructed him, he raised both hands out to the crowd, and signaled them to sit. Then he marched out to other side of the sanctuary.
Mary's dad stood in his spot as if he'd been planted there.
Once again, the organist played soft romantic music.
Now it was Bonker's turn, he walked stiffly out across the front pew to the end of the aisle.
Maggie walked down the aisle in her stop and step and stop pattern. She almost forgot to breath, as she felt every eye on her. Then she was up there.
She took Bonk's arm looking for re-assurance.
"You look wonderful." He whispered to her as they took their place.
Steve walked out to stand and do his impersonation of a statue of Washington he had seen once, ignoring the congregation.
Cindy started down the aisle. She walked a little faster, her nerves wanting to run, but her shoes wouldn't have let her if she had tried. Cindy did hear the organ playing. She concentrated on the music.
When she could see Steve, she slowed down a little, she knew he really didn't like her, but she still thought he was a great looking guy anyway.
Steve thought he was a great looking guy too. It was the one thing they had in common.
They took their places and Cindy got a glimpse of Jack, he was seriously nervous.
"Wait until he see's Mary." Cindy whispered to Steve. They all turned to watch her come down the aisle.
There was a brief pause.
Somewhere in the depths of the machinery room of the cathedral the old three phase electric motor that drove the air pump responded to the pushing of the volume control pedal on the organ console all the way to the floor. It more than tripled its RPM's, forcing several times the normal amount of air into the instrument with a powerful hum.
The organist hit the introductory chords to Mendelson's 'Wedding March' with a vengeance.
If anybody had wondered what was going on in this building today, the opening of that classic would have cleared all doubt.
The sudden thunder shook Ralph fully awake. He had been trying to go to sleep since they had set down after the flags came in.
Mary heard the notes through the pounding of her heart in her ears. Her mind had been flying around furiously since Cindy had left her to begin her walk down the aisle.
The chords galvanized her. This was her wedding after all, and she was going to be there! She rounded the corner and faced that long aisle. All those people, standing up, looking at her.
"Let'em look." She said to herself. And she stood there for a long minute.
Then she started the long walk. She didn't remember the aisle being this long. And she had forgotten who was supposed to take her bouquet. And she wasn't at all sure she was going to be able to kneel in this dress. And she wondered how they would get to the reception. And...
About halfway down she saw Jack. Her mind stopped racing.
She had a brief sharp vision of them in bed together, as husband and wife.
Then her worries about the dress faded, and she just wanted to get married. "I guess I've come to the right place." She muttered to herself.
****** TWO DORMS The Wedding II
Jack saw her coming from the minute she turned the corner behind the last pew. But it was hard to miss her in that white dress.
He didn't see the dress, he didn't really hear the music past the first few notes, he didn't appreciate the makeup, or the earrings, or anything else.
He saw her. And his heart almost melted. Jack remembered why they were here, he was going to marry her. And he wanted to.
"Dale, look, she's so beautiful." Peggy whispered as the bride passed the pews with the house people in them.
Dale looked at her, but he had always been told all bride's are beautiful, even the ugly ones, so he had no point of reference to measure this one against.
Miss Alice watched the crowd's reaction as Mary walked down the aisle. The dress she was to have worn many many years ago was serving its purpose again.
The semi-arranged marriage had fallen apart even before the service.
She never got to wear the dress, which had been old even then. It had belonged to the younger Rozbilski's mother.
But now. With so much love involved, the old cloth seemed to glow.
Miss Alice got a good look at Jack. Yes, he loved her. The old lady wiped a tear, it was good to see.
Mary stood between Jack and her dad. She wasn't sure who's hands were trembling more. Her dad was in control of himself, standing not quite straight, as they waited for the soloist to sing, 'the Wedding Song', then the bishop came in, prayed briefly and asked for the congregation to be seated.
The priest asked who gives this woman to be married to this man.
The magic failed.
Her father couldn't say it, her mother spoke up in a strong voice, "Her father and I," her dad nodded, then he had to sit down. The ROTC cadet was right there with the wheelchair.
It went well.
Jack and Mary made their way up to the stage, Cindy tended the train.
Nobody tripped, no flowers hit the floor, and they were there.
They knelt while the bishop asked for blessings on the marriage that was to be performed and a few other things.
Jack thought for sure his knees were going to sleep. Cindy was glad she wasn't kneeling, but she was sure she wouldn't be able to get Mary up if she had trouble standing. But the prayer was over and Mary was able to stand without much of a problem.
Now was the tricky part. It had been Jack's idea, and Mary was all for it.
They would turn to face the congregation for the vows. Bishop Frakes would have his back to the people.
Mary made her turn more or less glamorously.
"She is stunning." Colleen observed.
In spite of himself, Ralph agreed.
There were a few instructions from the bishop on what to do with their hands, then he started the actual formal marriage language.
It went quickly.
The Bishop's "Amen" signaled an end to a prayer. Mary blinked, and looked back at Jack. He smiled at her.
Then the choir sung a song they didn't hear. The bishop made the sign of the cross with a blessing and pronounced them married, and Jack finally got to kiss her.
Bishop Frakes stepped to one side of them.
"My friends, I present Mr. and Mrs. Jack Foster."
He sat and watched the service. Dale was amazed how short the actual marriage stuff was. There wasn't nearly as much praying as he expected, the music was pretty good. And the pew wasn't all that uncomfortable.
Peggy could have sat on broken glass to watch the service. She thought it was the most romantic thing she had ever seen. Everybody was so pretty. The music, the cathedral, everything was perfect. She wished it would last for three hours. The couple walked back down the aisle and Peggy got a good look at them.
She was surprised to see that Mary wasn't crying, the bridesmaids seemed to be, but the bride wasn't. 'Maybe she is too happy to cry,' Peggy thought
Ralph was glad he was on the far end. He was bored, he was uncomfortable, and the only reason he was here was to stay on Colleen's good side, and it showed. He was fortunate she was too taken with the scene, committing it to memory to sketch and watercolor later, to notice he was trying his level best to stay awake. When the preacher turned toward the crowd and announced them, Ralph stood immediately and led an unexpected standing ovation. He was applauding because it meant the service was over and they could get to the reception and see what kind of booze the bar had.
As the couple started down the aisle the clapping continued for a couple of minutes.
Peggy stared at the other two couples as they made their way from the front back down the aisle to the reception line outside. Then they had to wait until the usher dismissed their row before they could get out. Dale sat and brooded. Ralph sat and thought over his idea about the canceling effect of the variables until the workable combination was reached.
They were outside before Mary could say anything to Jack. The only thing she had said to him all day was to simply repeat the vows to him.
He had whispered, "I love you!" As they were climbing the stairs before the prayer. But she couldn't respond, she hadn't expected that, and didn't say anything in return.
But outside, she grabbed him and hugged him and kissed him and blubbered 'I love you' a dozen times.
Then Cindy and Steve were out there to congratulate them and broke it up.
It was almost half an hour before she had him to herself for another minute again.
There was no real plan for the reception. Bud and some of the others had sat it up and got it going on a shoestring. With a lot of favors and some credit card fraud. Billy was of the opinion if they were working on the reception they didn't have to go to the wedding. Ramsey was to call them from the church when the deal was done so they could get the band, such as it was, warmed up.
The band was a pick-up outfit that had played together on and off for a few months, this was there first real big paying gig and they were mostly ready for it.
There was a DJ for backup, and a whole bunch of cheap liquor to fill in the blanks.
Ramsey never made the call. Mrs. Caldell took his hand and lead him out the side before their row was turned loose. The service had made her think about her own dying marriage. She watched everybody up front look so happy and wondered why her husband would check into a monastery for three months.
She sat through it, then grabbed Ramsey's hand and with the excuse of packing up the hairbrushes, she headed for the maze of rooms downstairs. Mrs. Caldell knew what she had in mind, and she knew she could get Ramsey to see things her way. He had told her he was all for gratuitous sex whenever and however it became available.
So Billy and the others at the reception found out when they he the bells ringing. It took them a minute to realize that something had gone wrong and they weren't getting the call. So everything was not exactly ready when the motorcade lead by the limmo was getting ready to wind its way to the old nightclub that was now rented out for special occasions.
The band was rounded up, and an effort was made to sober up the DJ.
Food was brought out, and the bar was manned. Just in time, the guests were beginning to come in. Billy watched a man that appeared uncomfortable in his suit because he was trying to undress on his way to the bar lead a gorgeous woman and what was obviously a couple of underclassmen in and set up at a table.
Soon others were coming in. What could only have been the butler from the house Jack said Mary had gotten her dress from appeared and surveyed the scene.
"Miss Alice should have requested that I assist you with the reception."
Billy stood his ground. Bud walked over sipping a beer, "OK, so what's wrong with our party?"
The butler looked them over now. "This is a wedding reception, not just a party. But maybe it is not now too late."
"Hey mac. They'll be 'chere in a few minutes, wha're you gonna do?" Billy's mannerisms were a little familiar.
"Does your father work for an auto dealer in town?" The butler asked the young man, he nodded. "Very well. May I borrow the Don Ameche?"
The youngsters looked at each other. "The what? Turlet?" Billy said.
"No my good undereducated man, you would call it the teleophone." He said with a smile that showed several perfect teeth.
Dale was shocked that Colleen would let Ralph drive her fancy new car to the reception. He had barreled out of the lot behind the engineering building and drove like a werewolf up alley and down side street to park behind the nightclub.
Ralph looked at his watch. "We beat the motorcade by a good fifteen minutes. I can be drunk before they get here."
A couple of other cars pulled into the lot, a little slower to be sure.
Ralph didn't wait on anybody. He could smell a sealed bottle in a closed liquor store a mile upwind when he was thirsty.
Kim didn't have any guilty feelings about what she was either planning or doing. Sal had deserted her, that was plane and simple, and she planned on filing for a divorce next week.
Ramsey agreed with her and seemed to support her decision, "Any man that would run out on you to join a convent for three months IS nuts."
"Monastery." She corrected.
"Whatever." He said holding her tightly. "No TV, no beer, no.. well, I'll say it, no pussy, no sports, no nothing, I think I'd die."
She eased back a little and looked him in the eye. "No pizza or tacos"
Ramsey played dead and sagged to the floor. He opened one eye a little, "I might need that mouth to mouth breathing to revive me."
She obliged. He enjoyed being the dominate one, and she didn't mind at all. If she kept him, she'd shape him up, one way or the other.
Meanwhile, upstairs. The handshaking was almost over. Jack was tired, Mary was wringing with sweat, even though the day was brisk, the dress was a tent, and did not breath well.
Maggie was enjoying herself, she made an effort to kiss every male through the line.
Bonker had faded and was sitting on the steps behind the wedding party talking to his nurse and the girls that had done their hair.
Mary's dad was asleep in the bishop's office. Jack's parents were mingling with the crowd.
Miss Alice was fretting about the motorcade. She was afraid it would be longer than the homecoming parade.
In a minute the butler told her she had a phone call, she hurried inside.
Peggy pointed out that the butler was there.
Dale panicked and looked around, Ralph had ordered them drinks. He could care less who was what age and the bartender didn't seem to have time to care as fast as he was working on his premixes. Dale was afraid the butler was there to bust him for drinking in public or something.
The butler was thinking fast and hard, he was racking his brain for phone numbers. He tried three caterers before he found one that could rustle up something besides the bar type food the independent house had thrown together, and do it, now, "when?" !!!N!O!W!!!
Then he made a few more calls and had a station wagon of decent drink on its way, and a real barkeep, with Police Retirement Dinner bar experience.
Now for the music.
He didn't fire the band, which was his first instinct.
He had been listening to them warm up, and, surprise, they showed some promise. A few more calls, and promises of cash pay, rounded up a few veteran musicians that could really read music and sing and play at the same time. And be there as soon as they found their car keys.
He did fire the DJ, and called him a cab.
Dale's table watched this action, and they were shocked at the result.
It started transforming the place within five minutes.
Ten minutes after the butler’s phone call, the food was rolling in, the bar was being upgraded, and a couple three new musicians were adding to the strength of the band. And some skinny guy was playing with the decorations to make it almost presentable.
"Goes to prove what I've said all along. If you've got unlimited bucks, and a little bit of pull, you can throw a real nice party." Ralph spouted into the air.
"Thank you Mr. Cook." The butler said from behind them.
Dale almost crawled under the table. "The motorcade has just left the Cathedral. They will arrive in a few minutes. I trust you will welcome them correctly?"
Ralph stared at the man. "Sure Governor, I'll do my leval best."
The butler looked at Dale and nodded, with that flash of teeth from his smile.
A few more musicians showed up, a couple of them were a little seedy, or had long hair and beards wearing leather with holes in it, or cowboy hats and boots with chaps and deerskin vests.
Dale wasn't sure which was worse. It was a truly odd assortment on the stage now. But as they sorted themselves out, it sounded better, fuller, more like real music.
The butler wanted to know where the others came from. He gestured to Shy who was standing center stage. "Well, sir, Buck was at my house when you called, and he came, and Slurrey said he heard from George who can't make it, and Whippey needs some dough and King is on his way..."
The butler had heard enough. "Nevermind! Can they all play?"
Mr. Shy looked at his backup and nodded briskly, "Yeah, sure, Slurrey is the best bass grinder in town, and you've already heard Buckey on drums. And ol' Foot back there is a master..."
The butler didn't hear any more, he muttered something about 'the twilight zone' and walked to the door to wait on the guests. The band launched into a rather smooth medley of blues and country favorites.
The original pick up band was right at home, they knew most of the others and were glad for the help. The music was good enough to get Colleen to tow Ralph to the dance floor, in a minute a few other of the early arriving couples joined in.
Miss Alice told Mary that the others would catch the van to the reception, her and Jack would lead the procession to the reception. They would have the limmo to themselves. Miss Alice smiled, "Dear, you may want to take off the train and the slip, so you can dance."
Mary smiled back, she had forgotten this dress would come apart.
In a few minutes they were alone in the back of the big car. Mary just sagged.
Jack took his shoes off.
"I got a blister on my toe." He said looking at his foot.
Mary had never actually looked at his foot before. OK, she had seen his feet, you know what I mean, she never LOOKED at his feet before. She laughed at them.
"What's so funny about my blister."
"Not your blister. Your feet are funny looking." She cackled.
The room was filling up.
Dale had made a trip to the buffet and liked the spread he saw now. Before it had just been a lot of chicken wings, chips, some little sausages, and a big bunch of popcorn and nuts.
Now there was platters of cold meats, relish trays, a huge bowl full of fruit balls, and a tray of fancy breads.
Ralph was getting pretty well gassed and he hit the buffet like a platoon of starving marines. The girls took turkey slices, carrot sticks and fruit and things like that, Dale felt obligated to try the slices of roast beef and a ham with little peppers all over it, and a bare few veggies.
The bride and groom made the rounds, finally. It seemed the butler had waited until everybody had done their thing, then he escorted them into the room to cheers and tossed flowers.
Peggy and Colleen stood with everybody and cheered and clapped.
Dale was a little late, but he whistled and clapped, his whistle could probably be heard at the next table, but at least he tried.
Ralph clapped where he was sitting, then resumed eating and drinking.
The make-shift band played a slowdance set and everybody watched for a minute, then many couples joined in. Ralph even volunteered to dance with Colleen. Dale fumbled for the words, and Peggy got the idea.
Dale got a look at the newlyweds, they did seem happy enough.
"Now look Mrs. Foster, I will not have you laughing at my feet." Jack told her in a stern voice.
Mary got quiet and looked like she would pout, it didn't hold, she started laughing again.
To be honest, Jack's feet are funny looking, long thin bony things with lumps from basketball and huge pads of callus on the bottom. Yes, they kinda looked like the rest of him.
Jack looked at his foot, and fell over laughing at it as well.
The chauffeur turned the monitor off, they were going to be just fine.
He smiled over at his girlfriend who thought the idea of spying on the newly weds was terrible.
She peeked through the tinted divider, she could just make them out leaning on each other, laughing and kissing.
Sometime during the kiss romantically corny music filtered out from someplace in the back of the car. Jack reached up and tapped on some buttons on the console.
"... and baby baby that's quite a lot, you drive us wild... We'll Drive You CRAZY!!!" The stereo roared at them.
They kissed again.
The chauffeur took the motorcade around the campus, then down and out and around the bypass, through the mall parking lot, and finally back into town the long way, past the tractor supply store.
Miss Alice had told him to take the long way, and he did.
Finally they got to the nightclub, Jack tried to open the door, but it was locked tight. "Just sit still sir," The chauffeur said over the intercom, "I was told not to let you out until Master Georges says so."
The newlyweds looked at the dark glass divider and sat back to listen to the music for awhile.
Kremin didn't go to the wedding. Joleen was there with him. They were the only ones in the room. For a change everybody was leaving them alone. Kremin had even buried his phone under his trash can. She enjoyed his company, he made her feel special.
Kremin had become a fixture on campus, a
sixth year senior, he was the oldest resident in the dorm, bar none. For the last four years, he 'picked' a freshman girl, and became her, well, her everything.
He gave her presents, took her out, in the summer if she stayed on campus, which they usually did, he let them share a house he stayed in. But then when the new school year started, he let them drift away. Then he would find another freshman girl.
The drifting away he let happen, he didn't dump any of them. The separation was always mutual and they stayed friends. Kremin was just charming enough, with just enough money to spend, and had just the right number of male friends who were more than happy to take a lady off his hands, that he got away with it.
Joleen had been showing signs of wanting to leave the nest early. She had been talking about just 'being friends', and she had been talking to some of the regulars in his room with a little too much interest.
Kremin turned up the charm a bit. Today was a good example. He arranged a candle light lunch for them in his room, then they went to a matinee, then back to his place for a sip of some very dark rum she had a fondness for. Then Kremin kept his promise to her he had made on homecoming about kissing her 'here and there.' She seemed to forget her wanderlust.
They had sat in the limmo for what seemed like hours, then the butler came and they were let out. The newlyweds were pelted with flowers and birdseed as they ran into the building, where they were bombarded with more flowers. Finally the well-wishers ran out of ammo, the music started and they started dancing together like they had been told to by the butler, it didn't take much prodding however.
Mary barely noticed that others had joined them on the floor. They danced a long time. The music had even picked up a bit in tempo, but they were still in a tight clutch. Somebody tapped Jack on the shoulder, "Hey Bud, they did a great job on this place." told his friend.
"We had a little help. There's special drinks waiting for you at the bar, and food. Shame you had to get married to throw such a great party." Bud smiled at Mary.
She wondered if he was kidding or not.
Jack took her hand, there was no way they were going to get to the bar without talking to half the room, so they made the best of it, and spoke to most of the people between the dance floor and their goal.
Then drink in hand, somebody pointed them to the cake. Cake? ...
Well, the leaning tower of foam icing and whiteish cake.
The cake wasn't much of a cake. And the butler had completely forgotten about it.
It was a good effort by the school's cafeteria staff. The original idea had been the head baker's, to run an ad now and again in the campus paper promising to bake cakes for special occasions. But when the student helper had taken the order for, "One of them big tall fancy white cakes for a wedding." He had wondered about the wisdom of the ad.
Small birthday cakes, sheet cakes, even a cake shaped like a naked woman for a fraternity party (with icing in strategic locations) was one thing, when the baker called the independent house and confirmed the order, he thought about subcontracting it to a real bakery. But his staff wanted to give it a shot.
And they did. It tasted good, but it wasn't something the great culinary schools would approve of. But Mary thought the cake was fine.
She didn't notice the lean, she had tears in her eyes so she didn't notice it wasn't real angel food, and when she smashed half a piece into Jack's face, it smushed just fine.
The head baker smiled from the back of the room.
"Maybe effort does count for something." He told one of his helpers as they made there way back to the bar.
Ralph was itching to leave. But the others wanted to stay until they had opened the gifts. Peggy was glad to see her gift was on top of the pile. The box was small, but it was the only one wrapped in gold foil with a green ribbon.
Some had been already opened and displayed by expert hands. There was a small jar to one side that said 'cash gifts are welcome Dale had sheepishly put a handful of coins in it, Ralph muttered something and jammed a fiver in it.
They stood by their table and looked at the couple as they wiped cake off their faces and were pushed to the gift table.
Dale noticed the groom eyeing the buffet table. But he couldn't get away.
Rob had been flashing pictures everywhere. Dale wondered how much film he had and how many of the blinding flashes his batteries could generate.
Peggy squealed and cheered when the bride picked up her gift and said something with a big smile to her new husband. She opened it and showed whatever was in the box to him. The groom smiled and showed the box to a guy standing beside him. They seemed to like it.
Peggy's day was made.
They watched them open a few more gifts. The bride opened one that had a very tiny and very revealing white bridal teddy in it. Much to the groom's obvious embarrassment she held it up to herself looking at him. She asked him a question that made him screw his face up and look helplessly around for a refill to his drink. Somebody handed him a mug of beer. The bride stuck the teddy back in its box.
Ralph's glass and plate were empty. He took a quick survey. They all agreed they'd seen enough and threaded their way to the door.
Mary loved the teddy. She had never had anything like it, even her sexiest lingerie was nothing compared to this. She had a couple of short silk gowns with a little lace, but this....
It was going to take her a few minutes to figure out how to put it on.
Jack couldn't look at it.
He had been happy with the small engraved bell in the foil box, it had their names on it with the date, and a set of wedding bands. It was nice and sweet.
The hoots and catcalls that erupted from the guests when Mary held the outfit up to herself made Jack want to crawl under the table. He was handed a beer and drank it in one big gulp.
They opened a few more gifts, then the band started playing again.
"One dance, then can we get something to eat?" Jack asked her.
Mary wanted to open the rest of the gifts. So Jack shrugged and headed for the food.
He sat at the table reserved for the bridal party with Steve and ate.
Bonker was still dancing with Maggie.
Cindy was opening gifts with Mary. Jack had noticed that each gift was being logged in a notebook by one of the makeup girls.
Steve was down in the dumps.
"So eat, drink, be merry." Jack told his friend.
Steve had pointed out that most of the guys from the house seemed to either have showed up with a date or found one on the loose at the party. "The place is crawling with women. Go to it man."
Steve had searched high and low for his date. But she seemed to have stood him up. He looked over at the giggles and noise of the gift table. For what seemed like the first time he noticed that Cindy was a good looking girl.
"Yeah, maybe I'll see if I can get something going for tonight, you seem to already have some soft company lined up." He grinned.
Steve went and got drink for Cindy and himself and made his way to the gift table. He noticed he didn't have any trouble getting through the crowd, he figured out the tux was his passport.
The gifts were all opened and the girls were going through the ones that had been opened and displayed.
Steve handed Cindy the drink.
"Thanks." She said.
Mary was talking to several admirers across the table.
Cindy sipped her drink and cringed. "Did he put any mixer in it?" She asked Steve.
He shrugged, his wasn't quite as strong, but he almost wished it was.
had a great weekend.
That morning he woke up with a hangover that was almost fatal. Friday night he had been in a running fistfight all night at the bar he bounced at part-time. So this morning besides his hangover from the party after close, he had a busted lip and a real good shiner over one eye, and maybe a bruised rib from a low-flying barstool.
Plus there was a chemical burn on his left foot from the floor stripper he had been using, it had eaten a hole in his sneaker and the top of his foot.
He came to in Carl's apartment, Carl had breakfast ready, and there was a full day of sports waiting on the TV.
Jimbo just had a feeling it was going to be a good day.
Mary had looked at every wedding gift twice, she was told a few others had been delivered to their room at the dorm, but hadn't made it here, these gifts and the checks would be waiting for them when they got back from the honeymoon.
"But we have to go to the dorm and get our suitcases." Mary said.
Betty, the dorm super spoke up. "Mary, Jack put your suitcases in your car, and we brought it here." Betty handed her a plate of thin turkey slices and cheese with dark bread, and some fruit. Mary took it, realizing she was hungry.
"Dear, it was a lovely wedding, and this is a wonderful reception," Miss Alice said, she had Mary's mom by the arm, both had evidently been crying.
Mary kissed her mom, "How's dad?"
Ralph drove a little slower and with a lot more control back to his apartment building. He wanted to show Coleen their new apartment, and he invited Dale up to his old apartment to get some refreshments for them. The girls were left in the partially furnished apartment on the second floor.
It was fairly nice. With tan paneling, and an off brown carpet in the three biggest rooms. The kitchen was a little dated but had everything. The baths were small, but complete, and had good lighting. The master bath's tub was even a whirlpool model, but it wasn't heated.
Dale didn't know what to expect as far as Ralph's apartment was concerned.
He had heard tales from some of the others in the class, like: Ralph had had mice, but they moved out, seems mice have some pride. And: A professor wanted to know what a early development stage in the life of a rare fungus that lived only in a dark damp place looked like, he didn't need to go to Mammoth Cave, she just looked under Ralph's bed. Another one: The city housing inspector was going to condemn Ralph's building, as soon as he worked up the nerve to inspect it. After one good look, Dale decided the stories were all true. And this was after it had been cleaned up.
Ralph's roommate was sitting in his underwear, half loaded, watching a game on TV, eating chips out of a bag on the floor. Any chip that got away and landed anywhere but on him, was ignored, possibly forever. The roommate ignored them as well, he had worked all week, and would stay in his present position, more or less until Monday.
Ralph knocked an empty two-liter pop bottle out of the fridge, he didn't pick it up, and handed Dale some cans of beer. Dale noticed a pile of fast food wrappers on the table, a glass coffee maker with a layer of black sludge in the bottom sitting perilously on the edge of the sink, and a collection of clothing that had crawled out of a basket in a failed escape attempt.
"Nice place." Dale said. Dale was surprised to see evidence that the place had been cleaned at recently, like real clean dishes piled on the counter, clean clothes piled on chairs, and the garbage can was empty.
One of the stories had it that's Ralph's trash can was really a time capsule Dale took the beers and followed Ralph out.
The roommate still hadn't said anything.
Mary's mom didn't answer.
Mary felt a chill hit her spine low, it started climbing. "Mom, how's dad? Is something wrong?"
Miss Alice answered the question. "He's resting dear. I had Dr. Solendes look him over. He's at the motel asleep, there's a student nurse with him. Sweetheart, now you just go on your honeymoon. I have the Inn's number so we can reach you if there's any change. When will you be back?"
Mary was stunned. She answered by habit, without inflection or thought.
"Monday morning. Jack has his first scrimmage Tuesday, he has to get to practice that Monday if he's going to start, the coach said being on your honeymoon is enough of an excuse to miss a practice or two, but no more."
Mary's mom took her daughter in her arms. "Mare, you go, he'll be all right. We'll stay in town, that way he'll be closer to the hospital. I'll see if we can keep the nurse for the weekend. That way there'll be somebody with him all the time."
She looked into her eyes, Mary still wasn't convinced she should leave.
"Mary, what would your dad say if he knew you missed you own honeymoon to sit with him?" Her mom asked her slowly.
Miss Alice nodded.
Betty took her hand.
Cindy was listening.
Cindy didn't believe her. "Mary, don't OK us, we all know you too well. Repeat after me, you will go on your honeymoon, you will have a good time, and you will wear your new teddy, at least for a little while."
Mary smiled at that.
"And if you don t swear, I'll take Jack and your new teddy and I'll go on your honeymoon. Understood?" Cindy looked stern.
Mary looked helplessly around, tears in her eyes again.
"Well? Understood?" Her mom said. Then Betty repeated it. Miss Alice stared at her, then she nodded to Mary.
Peggy didn't want any beer, so Ralph took hers, he was showing them the closets, and the room he pronounced as his, then the room that was hers, she got the bigger bedroom and the master bath Ralph didn't think he wanted any of the furniture from upstairs, he wasn't sure he even wanted his bed.
One reason he didn't want the bed was he was afraid of what he'd find under it.
Dale whispered to Peggy, "You should see that apartment. It was... it was..."
"A magnificent hodgepodge of flotsam and jetsam." Colleen said.
"Yeah." Dale agreed. "And so was his roommate."
They left the apartment building. Colleen wasn't sure how to tell the Roz house she was moving out. And she wanted a safety net if this didn't work out.
"I'm hardly ever there anyway, maybe they wouldn't notice if I stayed there on weekends or something."
Dale didn't agree, "The butler notices everything. You couldn't get away with it."
Colleen smiled, "He'll let me get away with anything."
Mary cracked under the pressure. She hugged everybody, "I love you guys. This WAS my perfect wedding." She was openly crying now. "I'm so happy..." "Then stop crying and get out of here." Maggie shouted from near the dance floor.
Jack was forcibly grabbed from his chair and shoved at her by the guys from the married dorm and the independent house.
The assistant high school coach hollered over the laughter and noise, "Mary! You take it easy on him. We have a lot of games to win!"
Mary just laughed, Jack was embarrassed again. They were pushed out the back door. Her car was waiting. Somebody handed Jack the jar of cash, and a bottle of Champagne.
They had a mock argument about who was to drive, then Jack got behind the wheel since he knew where they were going. They barely noticed all the silliness on her car. There was a real ball and chain behind it, a trail of cans, the sides had been painted with sayings like 'REMEMBER THE FINAL FOUR, no nookie before the game!' and other such newlywedded stuff. They heard the honks and whistles all the way to Iowa.
The party didn't slow down at all. Within ten minutes, they all had a new reason to celebrate. Mrs. Caldell got on the stage, commandeered a mike, and announced she was getting a divorce from the man that left her to join a monastery. The crowd cheered.
She joined Ramsey in a rather jerky version of a new fad dance.
Neither of them had the slightest idea how to do the steps, but they had a good time anyway.
That's the idea, right?
They returned to the Roz house. Colleen had decided to move out little by little, Ralph wanted to hit a used furniture store, he needed a bed, and maybe some odds and ends. The apartment had a built in dresser in each bedroom.
Ralph wasn't sure if his dresser was big enough or not. Colleen told them over tea that Ralph's clothes had probably never seen the inside of the small dresser in the bedroom in the old apartment. The dresser was home to a magazine collection, a lamp, two clock radios, innumerable beer cans, an empty box of crackers, and a fishbowl that had become a holder for pencils and change. But when Colleen was sorting Ralph's laundry, there weren't any clothes at all IN the dresser.
Ralph was ready to go to the play, it would start in just about half an hour.
But Dale seemed on edge. Dale went upstairs to the bathroom, Ralph had an idea what was bothering him, so he followed.
"You still stewin' about what I told you?"
Dale was surprised at his voice, "Well, yeah. You know."
"Dale, you two are right for each other." Ralph said splashing water on his face. "You do like girls don't you?"
****** TWO DORMS The Reception Revisited
At the reception it was becoming apparent Mrs. Caldell was almost out of control.
Well, ok, she WAS out of control.
Not so much the drink, she hadn't really drank much of anything. She hadn't had smoked much of anything unusual, although there was some of that floating around the place, and she may have snuck a bit now and again. She had simply misplaced her inhibitions.
Yes, she did have some inhibitions. A few anyway.
"Hey!" The lead singer of the band shouted at one point. "We've got a song for Mister Georges. Is he still here?"
The butler stood up from the table he had been sitting at, it had been the quietest table in the place.
"This ones for you buddy. You mentioned the twilight zone earlier. Here it is..." A steaming guitar rift broke out. "The Twilight Zone, by that super group from over the water, Golden Earring!"
Some of the crowd had heard of it, they cheered as one.
The tight lipped butler nodded like he knew what the man was talking about. It didn't matter, once they started laying down chords, the butler's role in it was forgotten.
"Somewhere in a lonely hotel room there's a guy starting to realize that eternal fate has turned its back on him... Its Two AM." Foote said in a rumbling bass as the music built around him. Mr. Shy began singing the first verse.
The song worked itself into a frenzy.
Kim was all over the dance floor, wheeling and gyrating to the forceful rhythm. Parts of her clothing became looser than they perhaps should. Well… so was she.
"Help! I'm stepping into the Twilight Zone, the place is a madhouse, feels like being cloned! My beacon's been moved under moon and star, where am I to go now that I've gone too far..." Shy roared the chorus.
Kim was going too far. Her skirt was still more or less securely in place, but her blouse was flapping in the breeze.
She had all but forgotten her husband.
Sal had always been an introvert, but when they had first met, he didn't have anything against going out to a dance or something with her. He never suggested it, but if she wanted to go, he went without protest.
That had all changed, slowly true, but it had changed nonetheless.
In the last year, they had been out as a couple exactly once. And that was to a retirement dinner for a professor. Kim had been going stir crazy.
To look at her now, she may have been going crazy period.
The instrumental portion of the song was a grinding bass and drum line with a melody that jumped from keyboard to guitar to sax and back.
Kim was doing a grinding dance with everybody in reach. It bordered on obscene at times as she swayed and moved with obvious passion.
The band was into it as well, the guys watched her to the exclusion of all else as they pounded out the rhythm she was feeling in her bones.
Some ten minutes later Mr. Shy began wailing out the course again and they built it up to the finale.
"... soon you will come to know... when the bullet hits the bone."
They fired off the closing notes. And bowed to the applause.
As the music died, Kim felt a release that was almost physical.
Maybe it was physical. She was exhausted. Sweating. Starving.
The people were clapping for her too. She smiled. The band acknowledged her efforts, and then began another, slightly less robust, number.
Ramsey guided her from the dance floor. She had to hug about half the crowd, but they finally got to an unoccupied table off to one side.
"God that was fun." She said catching her breath.
Ramsey agreed and fetched her a long cold drink.
If Sal had seen her. Well, she realized, Sal would never have been there with her, since she would have insisted on at least putting in an appearance at the reception. He might have willingly gone to the wedding, and if they went to the reception at all over his objections, once the bride and groom left, they would have been history, if not before. If she had pulled a stunt like that, dancing a salsa cum bump dance with anybody, including him, he would have had her into counseling the next day.
Sal had become everything she was not, and in some cases, worse.
Kim smiled at Ramsey as he threaded his way back through the crowd with their drinks. Where the younger man was all for sex for its own sake, Sal had unilaterally decided that physical affection was now something to be avoided as it would make him less of a theologian or something. Sal had thought for some time that the missionary position was mandated by holy writ, maybe she could be on top during the feast of St. Beauvadeen, but that was it. Then as the marriage aged, he started to pull back into himself. Until he left for the monks.
Mrs. Caldell decided she had some lost time to make up for, and Ramsey was where she'd start.
Dale wasn't sure what Ralph was driving for, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to find out. He didn't answer Ralph's question.
"Listen kid. Peggy is going through a very special process in her life. She's finding out she's a woman. And she wants you to help her. She is changing, fast. Maturing. Something you could stand to do a little of yourself." Ralph dried his face and went into a stall.
Dale wasn't insulted, he was aghast. He had never really considered his level of maturity. 'Damn it's complicated growing up.' He said to himself. He had always thought it was something that just happened, like being promoted from the fifth grade to the sixth. You did this and that, you were moved up, but the you that was yourself was basically the same. He looked in the mirror, he realized he had shaved a grand total of five times in his life. And he probably didn't need two of those.
Dale listened to Ralph in the stall, he was noisy there too. Dale knew that his dad, and Ralph, Kremin, and the others were men, and for all practical purposes he was still a boy.
He wondered what the difference was. 'SEX!' came to his mind almost immediately, but he knew there was more to it than that. No, he was sure there was.
Dale didn't realize it, but there and there, looking in the mirror, he had taken a big step toward the maturity Ralph was talking about.
Jack drove straight through to Burlington.
Somebody had filled Mary's car with gas when they moved it to the nightclub.
At a traffic light Jack saw a white foam ice chest in the back seat.
Mary managed to turn around enough to see what was in it. There was a note on top.
She read it aloud. "Supplies so you don't have to leave the room all weekend.
"Have a wonderful time Mr. and Mrs. Foster, from Kim and the crew." She looked at the lunchmeats, fruit, pastries, and drinks. "They're not kidding. What's this?" She looked in a small bag that had Jack's name on it.
"Open it." He said as the light changed. She did.
"Groom's survival guide and supplies." She read from the note on the bag. "Headache powders in case she gets one. Personal lubricating oil in case she doesn't. In three flavors no less. And some W-D 40." She looked in the bag, there was a small can of the famous spray. It had a note taped to it. "In case anything sticks or Squeaks." She laughed and showed him the note.
There was also a roll of breath mints. She opened them and gave him one, she had one herself. They were almost to the motel by the time they were done kidding each other about the kit.
It wasn't a four-star inn, by any stretch, except for maybe the view.
It was on a bluff, overlooking the Mississippi River, and every room had a view of the river. And that was it. No restaurant in the motel, no room service to speak of, fifty cents for ice, basic cable TV, and few other amenities, but does a honeymoon couple need a tennis court or a health spa?
Well, at least not on the first night.
Cont in Two Dorms Part 34
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