©01 The Media Desk
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A TALE OF TWO DORMS [Manuscript Page- Four Hundred] ©99 LeviteAnd now on with our story
a saga in our time. it continues. in spite of itself.
SYNOPSIS- MARY, got hitched, to Jack. They are on their honeymoon. It’s so romantic, at least as romantic as it gets in Burlington, Iowa, that it'll make your teeth ache. Jack is starting on the basketball team, later.
Sidelines- Maggie and Bonker have hit it off big time. Cindy and Steve didn't. He thinks she's neurotic, she thinks he's a stuck up pig, there is a strong chance they're both right.
Mrs. Caldell fully intends to divorce her husband that left her to move into a monastery, she's currently drowning her sorrows in a most carnal fashion with Ramsey, but she intends to drop him like a hot rock as soon as they get done with their- ahh, flesh circus.
DALE- he's still Dale, his on and off romance with Peggy seems to be moving, mostly in circles, but its moving. She is having hormonal urges that make her want to do things she's not ready to do. Dale's hormones are out on strike wanting to be transferred to another character that knows what hormones are for.
The Greek math class is sort of in transition, they've backed themselves into a corner, and now have to really make some sense out of the nonsense they have been pursuing. Dale is really getting into this, and may even have some idea what he's talking about with it.
Sidelines- Ralph and Colleen are coming to a major change in their relationship. Neither wants to get serious, and neither will allow it, but they are getting serious, and they know it. Jimbo is out of the closet, after his friend Carl beat up, but he seems to be dealing with it ok, Dale doesn't know. Kremin is still being Kremin.
Harrison is in hot water, Valerie took him to a hippie commune where he is being lectured to on what it means to 'make love' instead of 'make out'. Dr. Varscroft fell off the parking lot tram at an amusement park and shattered his arm, but the man with a doctorate in physics is too stupid to stay off his arm, and likes to forget to take his medicine at the right time. Dale is still convinced the butler at the Roz house is watching him.
Harrison looked around the skinny woman at the longhair in the middle of the floor. It occurred to him that he was heavily involved with this woman, and he wasn't sure what her name was. He had heard her called everything from 'Sunshine' to 'Meadow Orchid' and 'Hey, you!thinbitch!' by the residents who seemed to know her. He had not ceased to be amazed by the strength in her, and he had let his hand wander down south a couple of times just to make sure she was really a she.
There was no doubt, she was a she. And she wanted him to leave his hand down there, and she was strong enough to make the point stick.
Dale sat at his desk. Peggy didn't knock at the door and then rush in to consume him with her passion. Dale looked over a book on the fundamental properties of non-fundamental particles which Dr. Varscroft had given him in the hospital. Peggy didn't show up with a rose in her teeth and dance a dance of wild seduction around his bed. Dale finally fell asleep looking at line diagrams of four-dimensional processes that were on the very edge of reality. Peggy didn't wake him up with a bullwhip and handcuffs.
Peggy was on the phone, with her step mom and her real mom. Peggy was fighting disbelief. Not only were they all real good friends. They were all sharing a doublewide trailer. She couldn't believe it. Her parents divorce had been nasty, they fought over everything, including the electric skillet. Even the judge couldn't believe the name-calling and accusations in court. Peggy lived with her best friend during the trial because neither parent trusted the other to allow her to live with either set of grandparents. Now, three years after a war the courtroom, they were all living under the same roof. And if Peggy was reading between the lines right, they were all VERY GOOD FRIENDS.
She did a lot of just sitting and listening, first her real mom talked about shared expenses, and how with no kids at home now they were saving on rent and utilities. Then her step mom talked about how open marriages were accepted in California, and how this allowed them all to still be monogamous since her step dad had dated her step mom before the couples realigned after her parents divorce and the others broke up, then they found out they were all friends.
Peggy didn't know what to think. She had known they were all, well, friends. But this. She didn't know if she was ashamed of them or what. They were all over forty, they all had careers, or at least jobs. Her step-dad was a loading dock foreman, and a Teamster for over twenty years, if he didn't like what was happening, he'd probably say something. And they would all be here for parents weekend in five days. Peggy just sat and listened. Now her two dads were on the phone, hoping she'd understand. Her brother thought it was great, could she accept them?
She wondered what Dale would think of this, his parents were as normal as parents got. Twenty some year marriage, white frame house, and all the rest. Why couldn't she have a normal family like everybody else?
After they hung up she wanted to talk to somebody, anybody, but Dale. Peggy put on her sweat suit and walked through the quiet house. It was nearly dead. Keith was snoring in front of the TV, Peggy went out into the garden. She needed to get away from 'the sun singer' so she walked down the drive and headed towards the strip shopping center down the block.
Peggy felt the footsteps following her before she heard them.
Maggie did her business in the only 'girls' bathroom in the entire house, a small odd shaped room with a shower stall that was no more than a curtain on a straight piece of pipe running from wall to. Making a narrow triangle under a nozzle screwed into a pipe being fed by a plumber's nightmare of pipe tapped in under the sink. It was awful, but it worked. There was water all over the entire floor when she finished, and she left it there. The bathroom was clean after a fashion, and maintained pretty well. The paint wasn't peeling, yet, the toilet wasn't too dirty, the sink had a few stains. On the whole, it was better than she expected.
Maggie walked back down the narrow hall to Bonker's narrow room. But as she was nearing his room she heard his voice behind her. "I thought you had deserted me. Boy, am I glad to see you!" He said.
Maggie smiled at him. On an impulse she opened the towel and flashed him. "Are you sure you're glad to see me?"
Bonker stopped dead in his tracks. "Damn Glad Sister."
Maggie told him about the note. Bonker frowned, "Yeah, they still got me on pills and shots and I gotta pee in a cup once a day, then they stick my finger and make sure I still got blood." He closed and locked his door behind them. "OK, lay down." He pointed to the bed.
"I'm gonna have breakfast so I can go get my shot."
Ralph was sure he was being bored to death.
They were in his old apartment.
Marlene was annoying, Ralph had decided. Her mannerisms that seemed charming and sophisticated early on had become grating and seemed contrived. He noticed she used a lot of big words, usually unnecessarily, when whatever she was saying could probably be said better and easier with just plain old common words. And her favorite words seemed to be 'Ergo' and 'Predicated'.
Ralph had run out of beer, the artists were still discussing which was better, a wide variety of colors, tints, shades, and hues in a given picture, or a few simple colors and contrasts. Ralph muttered something about liking his black and white TV just fine, in spite of it curling up at the bottom.
Marlene seemed offended. "Color is the spice of art. Yes, there is a time and a place for binary color scheme..."
"What?" Ralph knew good and well what she had said, he just wanted her to explain why she chose those words.
"A binary color..." Marlene repeated.
"I know what binary means, but what in the hell has that got to do with black and white?"
"Ralph." Colleen began.
"No. I want to know why she is trying to impress us that she knows a whole dictionary of fancy words. Hell woman, I know words you never hear of, but I don't spout off about the electroweak unification energy in public."
The newlyweds greeted their first morning of their marriage with a growl and a moan.
It was nearly ten, and the cartoons on the TV were the low budget things local stations played when nobody was watching TV on Sunday morning and nobody else would buy the time. But now the sponsor wasn't the car dealer in the rain barrel, it was every toy and sugar cereal on the market, which was worse.
"You awake?" One of them asked
"I think so. Why?" The other answered.
A little later Jack stirred. "Mary. I had a weird dream. That we got married."
Mary rubbed a cramp in her leg. "Yeah, I had the same dream." She looked at her hand. There was an extra ring next to her diamond. She screamed halfheartedly. "Where did that come from?"
Jack held out his hand. "I got one too. Do you think it was real?"
Mary repeated. "Kiss me. Hard and deep." She opened her mouth slightly.
Jack did. It took awhile.
"Did you get turned on?" She asked when it was done.
Jack smiled. "Yeah."
Mary smiled and pushed him backwards onto the pillows. "Then it was just a dream. Married people don't get turned on by their... their spouse."
They acted like newlyweds for awhile. Then Mary got up.
"I'm starving. . . . Mrs. Foster… you take a-lot-of-energy." Jack said as Mary came out of the bathroom.
She opened the cooler, "We're going to need some ice." She started sorting stuff. "We got mini bagels, granola bars, a bag of cherries hey another note." She read it and laughed. "Get this, ‘just in case Mary is missing one.’ Somebody is a real comedian. And we got assorted fruit, and some lunchmeat, and sharp cheese slices, and..."
"Mary just throw me a few pork rinds before I starve death." She threw an apple at him. Then she selected their just married meal from the supplies and set it up on the small table near the window and pulled up a chair, she adjusted her dressing gown and sat down.
Jack sat on the edge of the bed and just reached the table with his long arms and ate from there. "I guess you can cook after all." He said.
"This is about it. Wait till you see what I do for Thanksgiving."
Harrison was watching a movie, he thought, but it was real. The longhair was giving a lesson in love. He was choosing random couples from the group in the room. They had to love each other, with comments and criticism from then the longhair would replace one of them with a new partner. Harrison was praying he would melt into the floor.
Colleen was enjoying watching Ralph get his dander up. He really hated people that put on airs, and Marlene had been acting this way since before she had graduated a couple of years ago. Back when Colleen was an undergrad Marlene had showed her the wonderful world of art, up close and personal. Very personal.
You see, Marlene likes girls.
Under the pretext of doing several sketches Marlene got Colleen to undress and pose, and sip wine, and relax, then... well, seduction is a fine art, and Marlene is a fine artist. Colleen wondered what Ralph would do if he found out. Or worse, if he found out that she had enjoyed it, enjoyed it more than once in fact. But Colleen wanted a man, and try as she might, Marlene just wasn't a man.
And that was that. But right now Ralph was ranting at his best and highest level, about simplicity showing the meaning clearer than unneeded complexity and how reductionism theory applies to communication, and Occam's Razor.... "Occam's what? Who was Occam?. Talk about simplicity."
Ralph stopped, he looked at the artist, "You never heard of Occam's Razor?" Ralph plopped onto the couch next to Colleen. "He was a classical philosopher, in physics his rule is almost like Newton's laws used to be. It goes something like, 'you shouldn't unnecessarily overcomplicate things.' or 'The simplest solution is most likely the right one.' It's been stated several different ways."
"So you're overcomplicating you're own sermon on keeping things simple." Colleen stood up. She waved the argument to a stop. "Ralph, is you're roommate coming back tonight Or, this morning as it is now." He shook his head. "Marlene, you can stay here tonight. I'm going to bed. Ralph, where are you going to sleep?"
He patted the couch. Then he kicked off his shoes. Marlene thanked him for the fine debate, she offered to continue it over breakfast. The women went in the bedroom.
Mary's dad came out of his spell. He woke up in a strange motel room. His wife was sleeping beside him, there was a knock on the door, he knew that was what had awaken him. He went to the door and opened it just a hair, a nurse was standing there. "Yes, can I help you?"
"I'm sorry I must have the wrong. . ." The nurse looked at him. "Mr. Henderson! You're better! Thank God."
He didn't know what to do so he invited her in, she obviously knew him. His wife woke up, "Hello Linda. Max, you're back!" She said to him.
Sometimes it took weeks before his memory came back after a spell like he had, but now he was beginning to remember pieces of the last few days.
"Wait a minute, I remember talking to a priest. What happened?" Mary's mom looked at the nurse, how do you explain some things?
Max sat in a chair while the nurse ordered three coffees up from room service. The plan had been for Mary's mom to go shopping downtown while the nurse babysat for a few hours. But now, with him awake and aware again she decided to stay and see how much he remembered and fill him in, she only wished she had pictures to show him. But the nurse, Linda solved that problem. She had dropped her camera off at the one hour photo mart. She had pictures of the practice, some of Mary in her gown before the service, and a few from the reception. She had picked them up on the way to the motel.
He just remembered bits and pieces of the last week or so. He did remember seeing Mary a couple of times, he remembered talking to a priest, he sort of remembered seeing some soldiers, and very little else. Of his conversations with the ghosts of the past he remembered nothing.
As soon has he found out he had missed the wedding, he almost started to cry. The nurse showed him some pictures, and he did begin to cry.
"Mary was so beautiful, and I barely know Jack, I've missed her whole life." He held his head in his hands.
The coffee came and they got him to calm down some. He had barely recovered himself when Rob knocked on the door. Mary's mom had come to like the enthusiastic photographer the morning of the wedding when he climbed on furniture and under tables to get the best angel to photograph almost everybody. Rob had brought some portraits for her to look at. He was delighted that Mary's dad had come around.
"He's very upset that he missed the wedding." Linda said to Rob.
Rob's brain turned on. He seemed to shiver a minute. "Hey, you all stay here, I've got a fantastic idea. Don't go away." He was out the door like Superman.
Mary's dad sat and looked at his daughter's portrait in the antique gown and tears ran down his cheeks.
Peggy walked faster and faster down the half-dark sidewalk toward the small shopping center. She realized how stupid she was for being out alone, way late on a Saturday night. But it was too late now for wishful thinking. She did not want to get mugged, raped, or anything else even worse. The footsteps sounded faster, but she seemed to be getting ahead of them.
She made it breathless to the all night mart in the shopping center.
"Hi-lo meis. What can I be helping you with?" The exchange student behind the counter asked.
Peggy looked back the way she had come, she saw a shadow near the corner. She shivered. "Now what?" She asked herself.
After their nuptial day after meal, Jack stood and looked out the window on the other end of the room for the first time.
The mighty Mississippi rolled along below him. Three quarters of a mile wide here, the 'Father of Waters' wasn't the liquid mud it became further south, the water was still a blue green, and didn't seem to be flowing as fast as it actually was. Jack knew from growing up in western Illinois that the river was a major commercial link, even now with winter bearing down, the river was busy, huge tows of barges their hulking towboat with the mighty hum of diesels worked upstream. Jack never ceased to be amazed that these massive flotillas even stayed above water. Over a thousand feet long, and drafting less than nine feet, the barges carried everything from booster rockets for space travel to coal and salt.
"Let's walk down there." Mary said as the barge moved toward the bend just upriver. There were a few pleasure boats on the river enjoying the mild weather.
The honeymooners put on some heavier clothes. Jack didn't bring his, but his letter jacket was in the car. Mary had brought every piece of clothing she owned, or at least it looked that way. As they walked down the old stairway to the water they heard old-fashioned music coming from the river. They couldn't figure out what it was.
What it was, was one of the newest versions of an old idea, the new riverboat casino 'Cairo Star' boasted a real calliope, steam operated, fully programmable and computer controlled when the human player was on break. Now the lively sounds of century old music split the morning on both sides of the river as the boat was on its homeward trip of an overnight charter.
Mary and her new husband waved and cheered as the brand new boat chugged by, the paddlewheel getting a little assistance by concealed jet-impellers to stay ahead of the current. It looked authentic, it was state of the art, and put on a fine show of river nostalgia.
The steam horns blasted a salute as it approached the great bridge Jack and Mary had driven over yesterday. Mary wanted to go find pieces of driftwood.
Jack thought they had a better chance of finding a dead body, but he didn't say anything.
Ralph tried to get comfortable on the couch. He switched ends, he shuffled pillows and put his legs on a chair, he turned the TV off, then back on. Finally he sat and began working on the formula that had been in and out of his mind all day. He fell asleep mulling over the sequencing of variables based on their intensities.
Marlene undressed in the bedroom, "Have you thought about us?"
Colleen was already in bed, intending to sleep by herself. "Yeah, once in awhile. I don't have any regrets."
Marlene looked at her, "I do."
Bonker was resting, Maggie sat on the edge of the bed and looked through some of his medical papers. What she read sent chills down her spine.
"Bonk, have you read this stuff?"
He was drawing circles on her back. "Some of it, but they use too many big words and chicken scratches. Why? Is something wrong with it?"
She knew she had to lie. "No Bonk. It's a lot of mumbo jumbo." Maggie felt her heart sink slowly into her feet. "Let's get some breakfast."
Harrison was treated to a sight he had never seen before.
As the longhair explained to the room. Almost everybody had seen fights in person. They had seen arguments, contests, thrill shows, but how many of them had seen people making love in person.
'Good point.' Harrison thought to himself. He had never even been to a peep show. Though he knew Ralph had not only been to them, he had worked in one for awhile as bouncer and lighting installer.
The longhaired man kept up a running commentary. He quoted from the 'Kama Sutra', he called it 'congress' and described things like the lotus-like position, and talked about unequal dimensions of the physical self such as women who are deer and mares and men who are hares or bulls, and how compromise is required on those of unequal types. The man seemed a bottomless well of information. He suggested positions to those in the middle to do different things, he picked people almost at random, at one time he had three women and one man all standing, well, sort of standing, involved. Then he traded them out until he had two new men and one woman.
Again the leader directed traffic, Harrison was intrigued.
The thin woman whispered to him, she had been in the middle a little bit ago, standing on her hands to demonstrate her complete trust in her partner to keep her from falling while he pleasured her. "Watch this, I'm jealous, this is great, it feels..." She fell silent.
In their dark corner Harrison couldn't see her face.
The longhair was talking of sending the woman to Nirvana through maximum stimulation of her G-spot and other sensitive areas.
Harrison was impressed again, the man was equally well versed in anatomy and physiology as he was in classical Indian literature.
He told of how she must relax and surrender herself to her partners, they in turn must control themselves and concentrate on her reaching the never land of ultimate pleasure and release. He spoke briefly to the woman between the men in a quiet voice.
He waved to the heavyset woman who began playing soft improvisational jazz. The longhair instructed the men to begin to massage the woman's body.
Harrison felt the thin woman move closer to him, she was reliving her own experience with this in the middle. Harrison alternated watching the threesome and attending to her needs. He was learning a lot.
Mrs. Caldell wanted to get out of the dorm. Ramsey agreed with her. The first place he had to go was back to the independent house and get changed into some real clothes from his suit. For some reason she wanted to go to church.
"Church?" He said unbelieving putting on his pants. "Isn't that what caused your problem in the first place?"
She shook her head. "No, what caused all this is that Sal's a dipstick. He's not even Catholic, I want to go to that church over on Roosevelt. The one with all the music and singing all day. The Praise Church."
Ramsey had no intention of going anywhere near a church. He couldn't believe that in the last two days she had broken at least three of the commandments that he could remember and now she was going to church.
She wouldn't hear otherwise and they parted company at the back door to the married dorm. She got in he car and drove out onto Paris street and headed to the Praise Chapel. Ramsey shrugged and walked across to the student union.
Kim stayed at the musical service for awhile.
Then she went to the mall.
She felt a little strange not having a male escort.
But she wasn't ready to play the field like that yet. She didn't blame God, any church, the university, or anybody else for Sal's leaving. She piled all the blame she could find right on Sal.
She felt it was his fault she had taken to showering with strange men, and bending the sodomy laws with guys from frat houses in what had been her marital bed. And for forcing her into a divorce. She smiled warmly at the clerk in the drug store where she bought some gum and a pack of cigarettes. Sal disapproved of her smoking, so she lit the first one in his honor. She was feeling freer all the time.
Peggy used her couple of dollars to buy a small drink and a big glass bottle of mineral water.
But just as she was steeling herself for combat, a campus police cruiser pulled in. Peggy stood near the cop as he filled his coffee cup, she made sure she chatted with him about whatever it was.
"You're out a little late. Do you need a lift back to your dorm?" He asked her.
Peggy felt the wave of gratitude and relief start in her toes. "Yes please. I thought somebody was following me when I walked over here."
The last thing she wanted to do was to call the Roz house and have the butler send a posse for her.
"We've had a few reports of stalkers in this area. You should be more careful miss." The cop scanned the area with his spotlight after they got in the car.
Her shadow had vanished.
She felt safe again once inside the mansion.
Rob bounded back into the room in about twenty minutes. He was too excited to explain what was going on but he made it clear to them that they had to come with him. He even told them he had ordered breakfast for three to meet them where they were going, but he didn't explain why they needed food wherever they were going.
Where they were going was the screening room at the media center. The wedding had been taped by a series of small stationary and remote operated cameras usually used tape events in the Cathedral. The cameras were all connected to a small old classroom under the bishop's office. The tape the interns had produced had excellent sound even if some the action looked a little like the long shots of the podium at a political convention. They luckily got some good pictures of Mary from a small hand held unit over behind the flowers.
Marlene sat easily on Ralph's roommates bed. She was right at home, in spite of the strong masculine influences in the room, the smells, the furnishings, the decorations. It was the bachelor's pad of bachelors who didn't care if any female ever saw it. There were a couple of faded centerfolds taped to the wall over what used to be a highboy dresser that was now missing a couple of drawers and just had stuff jammed in it where ever there was space.
Marlene considered the nightstand/dresser a still life that needed removed to the nearest bulk storage for objects de' art that were no longer fashionable, the landfill. Marlene was almost afraid of the toilet, a massive ancient tall unit with a separate leaky tank bolted to the wall two feet above it just behind it and listing slightly to one side. The flush handle was so stiff she needed both hands to get it to move. When it did the tank shifted and water splashed out.
"Your boyfriend has a very interesting place." She said coming out of the room with the peeling tile floor. "But I think it's beyond a woman's touch unless she's a carpenter." Marlene watched the bedroom light flicker a few times after she had turned the switch off. "Or maybe a demolitions expert."
Colleen looked over at her friend in the half-light. "So where are you going from here?"
Marlene settled back on the bed. "After the exhibition of charcoal drawings on campus I've got a deal to write up an exhibit of woodcuts that's coming to St. Louis from Seattle. Then I'm supposed to go to Texas for a Scrimshaw show."
"You cover a broad range of art, scrimshaw, and Chinese charcoal, and you just left a show of experimental photography... versatile aren't you?"
Colleen felt hot breath on her cheek. "You should know." The kiss that followed was soft and tender, Marlene smoothed Colleen's hair gently afterward.
Maggie was relieved that Bonker attacked a pile of frozen waffles out of the house four way toaster like they were an enemy of the state. She knew his appetite probably had more to do with the wrestling they had done last night than it did with the state of his health. Still, doctors had been wrong before.
His nurse walked in, she seemed a little flushed and in need of much coffee.
"So, you're done with your diversion and ready to get back on your schedule. I need to keep track of what you've drank and eaten for the last twenty four hours."
Maggie looked the nurse with the hangover in the eye. ''Everything he ate in the last day?"
The nurse didn't catch it. She just nodded and dumped several spoons of sugar in the coffee, she sipped the now syrupy liquid. It seemed to satisfy her.
"If he has varied too much from his diet I may have to adjust his medication."
Maggie knew what the nurse was talking about. According to the medical records she had looked at, Bonkers liver was only working part time and at partial capacity, plus in the hospital his kidneys had shut down for awhile, they had removed a sizable piece of his duodenum and some of his stomach. Bonker still had the appetite of a college wrestler, but his new and improved stomach filled up faster, as a result, he left some of the waffles uneaten where he would have licked his plate clean and begged for more.
But there was opinions written on a couple of the pages that Maggie couldn't get out of her mind.
The nurse got up to go get Bonkers medicine from the refrigerator on the back porch. Maggie went with her. Bonker stared at his plate, wondering why he couldn't polish off the last of the waffles.
"You seem to care a lot for Bonker." The nurse said, "He's still very sick but he doesn't know. Please don't tell him." She didn't look at Maggie.
"I saw his medical file in his room upstairs."
"He has a copy of his file? Has he looked at it?"
Maggie closed the refrigerator door. "He said he can't read a lot of it. I have had some medical technician classes...."
The nurse looked her in the eye. "He's probably going to live. Now. It was close for awhile. But he will need medication for the rest of his life. Maybe a new liver eventually. But he should live."
Maggie looked through the door. Bonker was rinsing his plate off in the sink. "How long? Will he stay healthy? Or be in a lot of pain.
The nurse shook the bottle of the injection medication. "I don't think anybody knows. .. . He's so alone. He doesn't have any family."
Maggie squared her shoulders. "He does now.
The room was all but empty and stone quiet.
Kremin was sitting up late, his TV was off, and his eyelids were heavy. But he couldn't go to sleep. To Kremin the unthinkable had happened.
His checking account had run dry.
His regular allowance check from his fathers trust fund had been deposited on schedule, according to his books there should still be nearly eight hundred dollars drawing interest in the checking account, plus more in savings.
But the Magic Money Machine had told him this afternoon that he was overdrawn and the overdraft protection on his account had drained his savings down under a hundred dollars.
Total amount missing now with no explanation, over three thousand dollars.
Kremin's girlfriend had told him that it was probably just a stupid mistake by the big computer and he could straighten it out Monday.
He finally admitted it wasn't his fault and he would have to go to the bank to find an answer. Kremin looked over the sleeping girl lying on his spare bed. He was too tired to start anything now.
Kremin flopped on his bed and fell asleep thinking about how to approach the bank with this.
Mary found a piece of driftwood she liked. It had once upon a time been a tree limb far away in northern Wisconsin. It had been mangled by a boat propeller, partially rotted in a backwater, then washed up here to dry and bleach in the sun, then to be found by Mary.
She thought it looked neat, and wanted to wipe the sand off it and lacquer it so it wold keep as a souvenir of the trip.
Jack had the necklace from the tractor supply store in his pocket. He knew this was the right time. Standing in the half mud of the bank of the Mississippi.
They were watching a couple of old men catfishing on a sandspit just upriver. Jack stepped behind Mary and gently put the necklace on her.
"Jack!" It surprised her. "Its pretty."
She turned to face him. "I'm surprised you had enough money left to buy something else."
"It wasn't that expensive." That was the truth.
"But these earrings must've cost a fortune." She pulled her hair back to show him the earrings.
Jack stared. They didn't look that big in the store.
"They're beautiful honey, but you must have sold everything in the house to buy them."
Jack wasn't sure what was going on, but he was smart enough to play dumb, "I worked something out."
She threw her arms around him and pulled him down to her level for that kiss only fine jewelry can bring out of a married woman.
The two old guys sat on their buckets, for a minute they stopped sipping the sweet cheap wine to watch the sideshow. Then they went back to fishing for them big catfish in that big river. Mississippi mud-cats.
Dale woke up with a start. He was fully awake, and he could hear somebody sobbing out in the hall, and a key fumbling in a door.
Dale looked out. Peggy was at her door. She was trying to unlock her door, which she always locked out of habit when she went out, but she was having trouble with the lock, he heard her puff and sputter. Dale walked down the hall and helped her with her door without saying a word.
Peggy turned to him and pulled him into a tight hug.
She had been scared to death, but as soon as the cop had dropped her off and she was in the house her bravery fell apart and she was lucky to have made it up the stairs. Now the facade was gone, she trembled and cried.
Mrs. Caldel ended up back at the married dorm later Sunday.
She was surprised to find a note on her door from Betty that said she had an express letter for her in the super's room.
Kim walked down with a little apprehension, she couldn't imagine anything coming by express on a Sunday that could be good news. She knocked on their door and was still a little on edge when John opened the door and smiled at her. She had caught him a few times in the shower as well back when things like that weren't done, boys used one bathroom, period, and the girls the other. It made some things more of a challenge.
Betty brought her a letter. It was a big flat priority envelope with several postmarks on it, she couldn't make out where it had originated. But one cancellation stamp was very readable, Champaign, Illinois. It was dated Saturday morning. The letter had been mailed Friday. Kim didn't see any reason not to open it here and now as Betty talked about the upcoming holiday.
But as Kim read the sounds in the room grew fainter, there was a pounding in her ears. The letter was from Sal.
He was asking for an uncontested divorce. Immediately. He had signed a letter giving the person of her choice limited power of attorney, if she agreed, to dispose of any business with the marriage and community property. After the divorce, he would petition the church for an annulment.
Since monks don't have any income, he couldn't offer her spousal support, but she could have any and all proceeds from some of the academic papers he had published, and the car, his things, and so on.
"He says he loves me too much to stay married to me." She read out loud.
The supers had become silent as they read the expression on her face.
"Sal is going to be a novice in France, then he'll come back. He has already decided he's staying. He says good-bye to everybody."
Kim didn't know what to think. She had wanted a divorce as revenge, but he had beaten her to the draw. The only thing she could think was he had written this before he left, and mailed it from the monastery as soon as he got there. He must have been planning this and in contact with the monks for a long time.
Kim told Betty and John she was fine and went back upstairs.
Harrison couldn't speak, he couldn't move.
What the threesome in the middle of the room was doing had him in a spell.
Fortunately the thin woman he was partially tangled up with was equally affected.
The woman in the middle of the room was being held up off the floor by the two men who were doing something to her that Harrison was sure illegal in the state. But since there was a serious lack of State Police in the room they kept going and seemed to be having a good time. The woman was approaching orbit, one of the men was having trouble controlling himself. The longhair explained various techniques for endurance and focus. Before long all three climbed the mountain.
They eased apart, and the leader offered his commentary on the performance. Then he went into a monologue about the next series of examples after a break. Harrison was glad to be out of the room for a few minutes as they all paraded down to the lake.
It was afternoon and starting to get a little chilly in the area as a storm was blowing in from Canada. They didn't stay in the water long.
In the house they had some hard cider with enough cinnamon in it to take your breath away.
The longhair was eager to start the session again. This time they were going to use bad examples.
Harrison knew he was in trouble.
He was right...... in spades.
Mary's dad wanted to watch the video again. Even after the student affairs production manager promised them a copy of the film. The second time through it he was dry eyed until the very end when there was a brief shot of him being wheeled out in the wheelchair by ROTC cadet.
The nurse, Linda, got all moist-eyed both times.
It was such a nice wedding, and the lousy camera angles didn't detract from the service at all. There were enough close ups of the wedding party, and long shots of all of them up front skillfully cut together, to make up for any shortcomings in the tape. And all the music was there, including the teeth-rattling signature notes of the 'Wedding March' to tie it all together. The soloist's beautiful rendition of the 'wedding song'. The choir's songs before the service of very traditional romantic favorites. And the organist's switch to music appropriate for a hockey intermission while the congregation filed out.
Mary's mom liked it, she thought it was wonderful.
She was thrilled to learn that it was going to be showed, in its entirety the next weekend with some commentary interspersed throughout, highlighting the merger of modern tastes in a fully religious ceremony with heavy traditional influences bring it together in a very comfortable beautiful wedding in a church. And, for good or ill, it would be the final grade for the film crew in documentary production lab.
The editor of the program was relieved when he found out the bride's mother had given the whole idea her blessing, and she talked them into watching it a third time with some of the commentary added.
Mary's dad couldn't wait. Now he felt like he had really been there.
Colleen didn't fight the kiss. She didn't kick Marlene in the kidney and throw her out the window. She didn't scream for the Secret Service and have her friend gunned down in a rain of automatic weapons fire. Colleen accepted the kiss, then when Marlene withdrew a little to catch her breath Colleen very tenderly said in her best most controlled diplomatic voice.
"Please Marlene, I love you as a dear friend. I don't regret what we shared, but I don't want to have that kind of love any more. Please understand."
Marlene didn't move. She stared in the half-light at her friend's face.
She understood. All too well. Marlene had had a string of luck like this with her lovers lately. Her last live in had left her for not just one man. She had left her for two men, she moved in with a couple of guys whom Marlene thought were bisexual. Before that a bank teller had decided to become celibate, right in the middle of an evening together.
Marlene thought about seeing men again, but then she remembered she had had a male lover leave her, and have a sex change. She didn't want to go through that again. When the operation was done, he, now a she, was better looking than Marlene, or so Marlene thought.
"Colleen, don't tell me your closing off a very special and beautiful side of your life."
Colleen thought that was one of the best bedroom lines she had ever heard, and she had heard some beauties. It was worth a second kiss.
Then Colleen gave her a hug that said volumes and Marlene got up.
"I need to get some sleep. After the charcoals, I'll leave for St. Louis."
"Marlene, stay for a couple of days. I love having you around."
The other artist shook her head. She didn't handle any form of rejection well.
A bad trait for an artist.
"There's a junior collage artist I think you'd find interesting."
Marlene smiled. "She's lez?"
"I'll just say she's very open minded."
The newlyweds walked over to the big grocery store across the road. Nobody there knew they were honeymooners, nobody doing Sunday Morning shopping for chicken legs or diapers and dog food paid much attention to them at all. They picked up a few things. Like a toothbrush for Jack. He had packed his, but now he couldn't find it.
For the official event record; Jack's toothbrush was on his dresser, right next to the deodorant he had also packed, back in the dorm.
They saw some egg rolls in the deli, Mary had to have them for lunch. Jack picked up a quart of raspberry iced tea, and they headed back to the motel. Jack bought a Sunday paper in the lobby. There was another one of the Nobel Prize caliber help behind the desk.
"You wanna buy that paper?" She asked as Jack gave her a dollar.
Peggy clung to Dale and shook. All the horrible things she had ever heard about stalkers doing to women flooded over her. She had a vision of herself lying bleeding and naked under a dumpster behind some bar, she whimpered like a child who had dropped her ice-cream.
"SSSHHH, Peggy, what's wrong?" Dale couldn't think of anything else to say.
Truly though, there wasn't anything else to say.
She was a little calmer. "I went for a walk. Just down to the E-Z Mart somebody followed me." She shivered at the chill that went up her spine.
Dale got a little frightened at the idea as well.
"A policeman brought me home. But I know some man had followed me, I'd never thought about it before. We're actually off campus, and the town really isn't safe at night." She blinked tears out of her eyes.
"You shouldn't have went out so late."
"I know. I just wanted to go for a walk." She now remembered why. "Dale. My folks are living together."
Dale was, guess what, confused. "You're real parents?"
"No, My mom and step-dad, are living with my dad, and step mom. In the same house." She tried to figure out what that made the combined group.
Dale didn't say anything.
"I guess that's what Dr. Stillman means by extended family." She said with a little smile at how ridiculous it was.
"I thought that meant somebody had relatives in another country."
Cindy tried to call Maggie at the old Catholic dorm.
There was no answer.
Then Cindy knew Maggie had spent the night with Bonker. Cindy thought Bonker was a nice guy, and he was kinda nice looking. If you were into muscles. Even though now after being so sick, Bonker had lost some of his muscle tone and a good deal of weight. He was still well built.
Cindy and Steve had found out they had nothing in common past thinking Steve was very handsome.
Steve had been charming, she made him a drink, they talked about a few mutual friends. Cindy told him she had to go rattle doors and check the laundry room. Steve went with her, then after her rounds, she said goodnight to him, and he left.
Steve considered her prudish and wondered if she wore a chastity belt.
Cindy was sure he was one of the best looking jerks she had ever met. But he was Jack's friend, and she never had to see him again.
But now another thought dawned on her. She had a serious lack of male interests in her life. But she was sure she would recover.
Steve was in the same boat. His casualness with the female population of the State of Illinois between the ages of seventeen and forty, an estimated three million or so women, had left him dateless for the foreseeable future. He thought that maybe a change of tactic would be advantageous. Maybe, say, sincerity, or less self-centeredness, or maybe a little more thought for her feelings.
He thought he could fake all three pretty well.
Marlene laid and bed and tried to decide at exactly what point she had lost complete control of her life.
Last year at this time she had been happy, getting paid very well for doing what she loved. The publisher let her pretty much pick what she wanted to cover, and how it would be wrote up.
Her reviews might end up in the pretty-girl-exploiting rag the publisher owned, or in a senior citizen special-interest magazine, or in a left leaning political-nonsense and legislative review, or in any number of trade sheets and specialty magazines that came out on all sorts of schedules.
There was even a quarterly art review that he published in the interest of 'advocating appreciation of the fine arts', and as a tax deduction since it had never actually made a red cent.
Even Marlene found that publication dry and boring. But he paid well, and he had never rejected anything she submitted, and he covered most of her travel expenses. The rest she wrote off on taxes. Marlene was surprised that some of her fellow art critics found her unrestricted latitude and frequent coverage of second flight art exhibits and some questionable works and minor-league artists lacking. They seemed of the opinion that unless she stuck to writing glowing reviews of major exhibits in the grandest of museums and galleries, she was wasting her talent.
Marlene thought 'art' covered a lot of territory, and not everybody could appreciate impressionist still lives. So Marlene covered everything from a show of sub-way graffiti in Chicago to china painting in Tokyo, to nude freeze models in a real still life in San Francisco. She got paid for all of it, and some of the reviews of her work were very favorable.
But still, her private life had gone to Hell in its own hand basket. She didn't even have a private life any more.
Marlene wasn't sure she had a life at all.
Kim sat in what had been 'their' room in the married dorm. She had just lit her third cigarette from the stub of the last one regardless of the smoking ban in the building.
She couldn't stand being in the room for another minute.
His stuff was there. The room smelled faintly of his after-shave. The picture of them together at some school function grinned at her from the bookshelf.
Kim packed her stuff in her small overnight case, some bags, and the laundry basket.
It took her two trips to the car to make sure there was nothing in the room she'd ever want. Then she drove to the Independent House.
She thought she would stay with Ramsey until she could find someplace else to live.
Ramsey wasn't at the house, but Hairy and a guy whose name she couldn't remember fell all over themselves helping her carry her things in and piling them on the floor in the kitchen.
Kim decided to thank them.
She threw her arms around Hairy and gave him the biggest wettest, deepest kiss he had ever had. Hairy almost had a seizure on the spot.
Harrison was finally out of his daze.
He had experienced things he had only heard about, he had done things in public best left to doctor's offices, and he had said things he wasn't sure he had even thought about before.
But now it was over.
He had his clothes back, if not his dignity, and he was eating supper.
The skinny woman was next to him. She was wearing a long robe with South American designs on it, eating a plate of vegetables with the meat mixed in with it. "It wasn't that bad was it?" She had to ask him three times.
Harrison picked pork gristle out of his teeth and finally answered. "Yes it was."
She turned to fully look at him. "You didn't enjoy any of it?"
He ran the question through his mind while he chewed.
"No I didn't. It was not fun. Lady I have had fun. That was public humiliation and degradation, it may be fun to you or him," He jerked his head toward the longhair. "But it wasn't my idea of a good time." He had been speaking louder than he had wished.
The longhair got up and walked over to them, he landed in a lotus position without effort. "You have disconcerting feeling for the past event?"
Harrison looked at the man. The longhair's eyes seemed to be looking through him, deep wells of experience and wisdom Harrison would never know.
"Yeah buddy, you could say that. I still think the act of love as you call it is best left in private, and not turned into a sideshow."
The longhair wasn't even phased by the statement. "You learned nothing?"
"Well, no. I learned a lot about different things. I guess I have a little more appreciation for the other side of things. But..."
"You found out nothing about yourself?"
Harrison thought about that. "Yeah, I guess so..."
"You now know your limits, your own boundaries...
Harrison nodded without speaking.
"You experienced the high and the low and some of the middle of things you otherwise would have never encountered."
Harrison looked at his plate. This guy was good at ruining your appetite.
"My dear wanderer. You may go your own way, and never encounter such things again. But your soul has been touched, and your world broadened. May you find your light." He rose effortlessly from the floor and went his way.
The thin woman leaned close to him. Harrison felt her breath on his ear. "Now you understand don't you?"
He wasn't sure if he did or not. But he had a lot to think about.
Harrison finished his supper. Deep in thought.
Jack was wanting to get back to campus. But they weren't supposed to leave until the next morning. "It doesn't seem like we're really married."
"Then what's this extra ring on my finger for?" Mary asked.
"You know what I mean. I don't feel any different. You don't seem to either." Jack sat in the chair by the window. "I'm not sure what I had expected, but... You know what I mean."
Mary put the tea in the ice chest and sat the egg rolls on the table. "So you want to go back to the married dorm and set up housekeeping?"
"NO!" He said rather loudly. "I'm sorry Mary. I love you more now than I did when I proposed. But." He waved his long arms in the air.
"Do you wanna go shoot some baskets?"
Jack looked at her and smiled broadly.
Peggy almost laughed at Dale's statement. She stepped out of his arms.
"I've really got two dads and two moms." She observed.
Dale smiled at her. "You should really clean up at Christmas."
Peggy's face changed. "I've gotta go, please stay here until I get back." She walked into her bathroom. Dale watched her close the door after her.
He sat at her desk and looked at her stack of books. He hadn't had any homework except for the Greek Math class for so long he wondered if he could still do it. He opened her freshman seminar book and looked through it.
Dale found it almost childish and innane.
OK, a lot of it was.
He had long since passed everything it talked about academic wise.
There was a chapter in it about how to properly conduct research and accumulate data for presentation.
The chapter had been written by Mr. Crowley a couple of years ago as an academic assistant.
Dale thought about the man with his small ice chest full of half-pints of booze and pretzels. How when he got mad at a papier-mache model of a photon, he had sat it on fire. This wasn't how his chapter was written.
There was a chapter about living in a dorm. The Roz house was something the book couldn't have even considered.
But the section on the social life of a college student left Dale in the dark. He wasn't sure he had been on what it would consider a 'date'. He didn't go to 'mixers' or other social functions except for the things the house did, and he felt out of place there.
Peggy was behind him looking at the page. "Kinda dumb huh?"
Dale looked at her, she seemed to be feeling more like herself again. "Yeah, I like the chapter Bill wrote for it about research. Maybe I should mention it to him Monday."
"I don't think he'd like that."
Dale smiled. "Yeah."
Cindy finally caught up with Maggie that afternoon. Maggie was checking her mail and seemed a little distracted.
"You didn't come home last night." Cindy said.
Maggie pouted a little. "I'm allowed a night out once in awhile."
Maggie looked at her friend. There was no use lying about it. "His nurse all but said he's dying."
Cindy took the news like an electric shock.
Her cheerful mood evaporated. She looked at the floor. "I'm so sorry, you really like him don't you?"
Maggie nodded. "He's so genuine, when he's happy you know it. He's almost playful when we're alone. Bonk's not like any guy I've ever met."
"How many guys have you met that're terminally ill?"
Maggie glanced at her sharply. "He's not that bad. I looked at his chart, I know it's bad, but he's young and strong..."
"And very sick."
Maggie bit her lip, "There's an opinion on one page from some specialist that says he'd recommend against any more surgery, and..."
Cindy nodded and raised her eyebrows.
"And he's not supposed to exert himself physically because it could re-injure him inside."
"So?" Cindy asked.
"So. Last night he, we, got a little carried away. You know."
She looked at the floor this time. "He was enjoying himself so much. I couldn't stop him. He picked me up, and we..." She paused. "My God! He could have died from that."
The girls volunteered Ralph to buy breakfast before they went back to campus. Marlene wanted to take some pictures of how the best and brightest of the current college generation lived and write up a nice article about how the future of America's intellectuals was in jeopardy of going down the tubes.
"Just spell my name right, and give credit to the administrations housing allowance policy that research fellows have to live like this." He said without a smile.
Colleen smiled broadly for a couple of photo's, Ralph just stood there in his motorcycle T-shirt with the grimace that he called a smile on his unshaven face.
"What do you want for breakfast?" He asked them.
Marlene shrugged, living on the road, at the mercy of fast food and hotel kitchens, she was easy to please early in the morning. "Anything but the Cafeteria."
"The Roz House." Colleen suggested.
Cont in Two Dorms Part 36
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