Two Dorms Part 36

©01 The Media Desk

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****** DALE
      Peggy brought Dale up to date on what the seminar was doing, but she was more interested in what he was doing in the Greek Math class.
      Dale closed the seminar book and looked at Peggy who was sitting on her bed cross-legged. "Well, I had been thinking about something. I was going to run it past Ralph first, but, it involves the generation of the non-light radiation of the star, some of the radiation is supra-light, you know, speeds that are higher than light, tachyons and such, and some of it is sub-light, plain old radiation, particles, and things like that, a lot of that makes up the 'solar wind' so we know its really there, but I was wondering how much of that actually escapes and goes away, and how much of it is reclaimed by gravity and is recycled in the star, and how much stuff never gets out, so we don't know its even there, you know, like heavier atomic particles and maybe even chunks of solar matter itself that never get away."
      Peggy had just watched him talk, he didn't even seem to take a breath during all that. "You're right Dale, I think you should tell that to Ralph."
      "It's so exciting Peggy. I'm part of adding to the sum of human knowledge. Dr. Clovendale said we were pushing the frontier. Just imagine, years from now, somebody will see my name on this research."
      "Dale, what if somebody finds out you're wrong about this? If your theory is disproved?"
      "That's how we learn. The world was flat for centuries, the world was the center of the universe, held up by a turtle. The moon is green cheese, and little men on Mars. We move forward, and every time we do somebody's pet theory or years of teaching, goes up in smoke."
      Peggy sat and looked at him. Dale had grown in some ways in the last few months. Just like now, she couldn't believe he had said that, clearly and without stammering around, and it made sense.
      But she knew, Dale was still Dale, at least he was away from high physics and theoretical mathematics.

****** MARY
      Kim was watching sports with the guys and yelling along with them as a ref missed a call. Ramsey was surprised to see her, but he liked the idea that she was 'his girl' and therefore off-limits to the rest of the house by long tradition.
      They ate eaten supper with the house, and moved some of her stuff into his room, and put the surplus in a guestroom downstairs. Kim was even let in on a house secret. Connie, Hairy's cousin, stayed there more than she stayed at the sorority, and while she was Hairy's cousin, she was 'friendly' with several of the guys in the house.
      Kim liked that idea.
      During the commercials she caught several of the guys looking her over.
      The men in the married dorm, other than Jack, never gave her more than a second look. No matter how she had dressed, or undressed.
      Here she seemed be the center of attention.
      Kim liked that too.

****** DALE
      Harrison spent the night with Valerie in one of the campers parked next to the pond at the commune. He hadn't said a whole lot to her, and she didn't try to force anything out of him.
      He couldn't sleep. "Val?" He said softly.
      "I'm here." She whispered to him. He pulled her close.

****** MARY
      Mary had seen a school on the other side of the supermarket. They drove over there. Several kids were playing a pick-up game of basketball. Jack and Mary sat on the hood of the car and watched for a few minutes.
      Finally Jack couldn't stand it anymore, he whistled sharply.
      The players turned and looked. "Three second violation." Jack said as he walked to the court.
      A high school kid looked up at Jack. "So what do you know about basketball?"
      Jack waved for the ball. Another kid bounced it to him, Jack took one step dribbled and shot, nothing but net, from three point land.
      A couple of kids whistled. Jack caught another ball passed his way and did a rather jerky version of a windmill slam.
      The high school kid was impressed. "So you wanna ref or play?"
      Jack looked at the kids. They seemed in need of some instruction.
      "I know a little about the game, how about some free pointers."
      The high school kid looked at his troops. "Sure hot shot. Do you play?"
      Jack smiled toward his wife. "A little."
      In an hour Jack taught them more about basketball than they ever knew before. They worked out half court presses and running a fast break against a tight man to man defense. Jack showed them how to estimate the distance to the net while running and shooting, and how to spin the ball a little on a bounce pass so it would land in front of your receiver.
      Mary even helped out a little with the younger kids with dribbling and catching.
      One of the kid's fathers stopped by and watched. "You look familiar." He said as Jack showed him a wider stance for free throws.
      Jack didn't want a scene. "I play a little for a college near here."
      The father looked at Mary. "She's pretty, your girlfriend'?"
      Jack nodded. "Yeah, we're pretty close."
      Jack's Basketball clinic had drawn a crowd. There was a small group of high school kids watching.
      "Hey, you." One of them shouted to Jack. "How about a game? You and them against us?"
      Jack looked at his new friends. They seemed enthusiastic.
      Mary nodded to him.
      The father agreed to ref.
      Jack smiled to them, "Sure."

****** DALE
      The Rozbilski House was coming to life when Ralph pulled up outside.
      Colleen offered to show Marlene around after the butler met them at the door. The butler greeted Marlene with great dignity, he greeted Ralph with a face of stone.
      Ralph didn't worry about it, he followed his nose and got a cup of coffee. He wondered about the absence of Harrison, but he didn't wonder about it very long.
      Ralph sat at the table with his coffee and read the paper while he waited for the others to show up.
      Dale bounded down the stairs a little later. He didn't seem surprised to see Ralph.
      "Why are you so infernally cheerful today?" Ralph asked.
      "I didn't get a lot of sleep last night." Dale said reaching for a jelly donut.
      Ralph was confused by that, "Why would that make you cheerful?"
      "I spent half the night with Peggy."
      Ralph's eyebrows climbed into his receding hairline. "Oh?"
      "We talked all night."
      Ralph snickered into his coffee. He was interrupted by a sharp slap on his back. "WHAT?" He asked his attacker.
      Colleen, Peggy and Marlene stood behind him.
      "No fair, three against one." He said to the females.
      "All they did was talk. Peggy just told me about it. You sir have a dirty mind." Colleen scolded him.
      Ralph gave up and turned to Martha who was taking orders for the special of the day. Breakfast quiche, either with sausage or without. Ralph wanted a piece of each.

****** MARY
      The basketball game was almost as physical and rough as he remembered Chicago being. But it was fun. He could show off more than he did in practice, and a lot more than he could in a game.
      At times the other players just stood and watched as Jack did shots from half court, and made them! He slam-dunked, he did alley-oops with them, and he didn't hog the ball doing it. Finally Mary quit keeping score.
      The high schoolers that had challenged them didn't give up, but they were outgunned. Jack was even helping them as they played, he showed one opposing player how to push off on a fast turn so he didn't hyperextend his knee.
      After the game, Jack looked around at the players. "That was fun. I'll have to come back. Maybe I'll get you some tickets to one of our games."
      "You play for the Community College?" One of them asked.
      "Nah, the Prairie Dogs."
      "Neat." The father said.

****** DALE
      Harrison heard a rooster crowing nearby, a sound he couldn't remember ever hearing live before in his life. He opened one eye and looked at the inside of the camper. It was in good shape for its age, but it did show signs of a rough life. Harrison finally turned his head and looked at Valerie sleeping soundly beside him.
      Last night had been one of the tenderest, most loving nights of his life. He had never felt so close to another person. Harrison wasn't sure it was 'love', but you never know. He turned toward Valerie.
      She was smiling in her sleep.
      Harrison was struck by a disturbing thought, 'What if she loves me?'
      He moved to get out of the small bed. His back creaked and his knee popped.
      Valerie stirred.
      He moved a little slower and made it outside without waking her.
      It was still before sunrise, the sky was glowing over the trees behind the barn. Harrison watched some birds circle the field and land, he saw a couple of deer drink from the pond.
      The longhair was wearing buckskin and boots, walking out of the house.
      He was carrying a couple of guns. He waved for Harrison to join him.

****** MARY
      Cindy and Maggie walked back to the old Catholic Dorm. Cindy could tell that Maggie was torn between her wanting Bonker to enjoy himself as much as possible, just in case he didn't have a lot of time left. And her wanting to keep him healthy and at home, so she could be with him.
      "Cin, tell me, which is being more selfish. I want Bonk to be happy, but..."
      "You don't want him dropping dead on you while you're doing it."
      Maggie looked at her. "You could have put it a little more tastefully." She threw some junk mail in the garbage. "But that's it. Where do you draw the line?"
      "Ask his nurse." Cindy offered.
      "How? Do I say, 'pardon me, but when your patient and I are fooling around is it too much work for him to be on top?' I don't think so."
      Cindy stared at her. "Why not? She is a nurse, and you want to know."
      Maggie may not have been shy, but discussing the finer points of her sex life with a total stranger was a little much for her.
      Cindy didn't seem to be a lot of help. So they let it drop.
      "I wonder if Jack and Mary are having a good time?" Maggie asked.
      "How good of a time can you have in Burlington, Iowa?"
      "On you're honeymoon I bet the town doesn't matter a whole lot. I say they haven't left the room except to get lunch. Not even that if the hotel has room service."
      Cindy laughed.

****** DALE
      It only took a few minutes for the table to become full of both food and hungry residents and guests to put it away.
      Marlene was intrigued by some of the residents, and by the artworks she had seen around the house. The conversation around the table was a little livelier than usual, and Marlene got a running commentary from Peggy about who was what and how they fit into the house.
      "That's the butler, he's a little formal." Peggy said softly.
      "A Japanese tea ceremony in the Royal Palace is a little formal, he's beyond anything I've ever even heard of." Marlene said looking Master Georges over.
      Martha was bringing out the food, Dale was chowing down in fine style, but Ralph was eating like he had just come in from a cattle drive across the Plains of Texas.
      "That man can eat. Boy, can that man eat." She said to her helper.
      Ralph had consumed two pieces of quiche and several donuts and was working on a slice of peach pie(freshly baked).
      "Ralph, when we finish breakfast I want to tell you about an idea I had over the weekend." Dale said to him. Ralph grunted something. "About the problem in the Greek Math Class."
      "Hurmph." He swallowed. "The what?" He took a drink of juice. "Oh, yeah, Varscroft's class. Sure. Why not? Pass me another roll."

****** MARY
      Her parents had decided to stay in town until they got back from the honeymoon. If Max had another bad spell they'd just leave when possible and call Mary later. Rob had given them two copies of the wedding tape, and a whole set of pictures.
      That needs clarified.
      Rob had given them a WHOLE set of pictures, each picture with an index card explaining who it was, when it was, and who had taken it. Plus a set of shots of the Cathedral. Jack's basketball career at the university, Mary as second runner up at homecoming. The floats in the parade. And photos of the reception, and their school pictures from last year. All with caption cards, of course.
      All this in a set of binders with the school crest on it, and stamped 'media department' on the side. With a cover letter from the department head sending his warmest regards.
      Rob had delivered all this Sunday fairly late at night, he told them to stay here until he brought them a few pictures he was waiting on at the lab.
      The driven photographer and his two underclassmen assistants had worked like demons to get it ready. Well, Rob worked like seven demons, his assistants worked like people will when their boss is a real live nutcase.
      They stayed up all night looking at the pictures. Without Rob.

****** DALE
      The longhair gave Harrison a shotgun. The physicist knew the slide was back and the breech was open, but he didn't know what to do about it.
      "We're going hunting for tonight's supper." The longhair said. "There's rabbits, 'possum, and birds between here and the old railroad tracks."
      "Don't we need a license or tags or ...."
      The man looked at Harrison, "My land, my supper." He handed the novice hunter a handful of shells. "Do you know how to load that thing?"
      Dr. Simmons Harrison knew enough to shake his head 'no'. The longhair gave him a quick but thorough rundown on the care and feeding of a twenty gauge pump shotgun.
      "Now, my fellow traveler. When you want to shoot something, point it in the general direction of your target and pull back on the safety. Then sight in, close will usually do. And slowly squeeze the trigger." The longhair knew just from looking at him that Harrison had never fired a shot in anger at anything in his life. "The gun will kick, and it's incredibly loud. If the critter is moving, let me take the shot."
      "Yes sir." Harrison said. "I. I'll. Never mind."
      "Look." The old hippie said, Harrison turned to him. "We need meat, I tan the skins, the bones are used for different things, and the rest is boiled down into ingredients for food for our dogs. Do you see anything wrong with this?"
      Harrison had learned never underestimate this man, "No."

****** MARY
      Ramsey found out there was a drawback to sharing his room with Kim. Yes, she was an attractive soon-to-be-single sexual dynamo. Yes, she enjoyed a taste of strong drink now and again. Yes, she enjoyed the fact that Ramsey's room looked like a tribute to every perversion and kink known to Western civilization.
      The one thing Ramsey didn't like was the fact that the smell of his room changed.
      Ramsey's room had had an odor about it. Something beyond old socks and petrified pizza. More than stale beer and yellowing newspapers. It didn't exactly reek of undone laundry and questionable things forgotten in a corner. Its smell had personality. Character. Maybe an essence.
      All of that, and it stank too.
      As soon as Kim moved in she changed that.
      Now it smelled of lilac sachet's and her sweet perfume.
      Ramsey almost didn't recognize his room. She didn't clean anything. In fact she added to the clutter. But the smell changed and the colors softened with her addition of pinks and yellows. Kim reoriented his room toward the female side of the spectrum.
      Ramsey almost couldn't handle it. But Kim could be very persuasive.

****** DALE
      Dale tried to explain his idea about the self-recycling nature of the radiation in a star and its reaction on the formation of the light. This reminded Ralph of his idea from the other day about how the process was an end in itself, with light being waste instead of a goal. They wandered off in this discussion at the table.
      Everybody else was forgotten and left in the dust.
      Dale and Ralph tossed around quantum terms and high energy versus non-high energy processes within the active radiation generating layers of a star. Peggy sat back, Dale was lost to her now. Colleen felt about the same about Ralph.
      "Have you seen the sculpture in the garden?" Peggy asked.
      Marlene shook her head. The women left without being noticed. Martha and her helper carefully cleared the dishes. Dale was drawing a model of a circulation pattern on the newspaper, Ralph was talking about billions of particles and photons a second and percentages of visible light escaping versus other stuff. The butler mentioned that the van was leaving shortly for the campus if they wished to leave for class.
      Ralph was on a roll, but Martha came out of the kitchen with a large box full of donuts and bagels and things.
      He thought maybe they should move to the classroom before they had gone to far.
      Dale looked around, Peggy and the others were gone.
      Ralph didn't think this was odd. "Women. Probably gone shopping." He said.
      Dale gathered up their papers and Ralph picked up the donut box.
      "Ma'am." Ralph said to the cook. "You make a breakfast I have dreams about."
      Martha smiled at the man in the faded T-shirt and nasty jeans.

****** MARY
      Back in the motel room they took turns in the bathroom and ended up in bed shivering. It had been a little chilly at the court, but nobody had noticed because they had been having so much fun. It didn't take long in the room for them to realize there was no heat.
      Jack called the desk.
      "Did you turn your heater on?" The desk clerk asked.
      "Yeah, its on, its blowing, but there is no heat."
      "You mean its blowing cold air?"
      "Yeah, it's blowing cold air." Jack answered.
      "You don't have the air conditioner on do you?"
      "Red means hot, blue's cold right?"
      The clerk thought about it. "Yes sir that's right."
      "It's on the red as far as it'll go, and no heat. My wife is getting cold."
      "I'll call our maintenance man for you."
      "Thank you." Jack said and hung up.
      "Jack come here and keep me warm." Mary asked him.

****** DALE
      Ralph and Dale were the first ones in the classroom Monday morning. Ralph sat the donuts down and Dale fired up the coffeepot. It wasn't long before Canney waddled in.
      Canney only had one book with him today. Considering he usually carried enough books to start a library, this was unusual, and Ralph commented on it.
      "I found everything I needed for today in this one volume, so I left the rest at home." Dr. Canney said. He would say no more.
      Mr. Crowley was the next in. He looked a bit rough around the edges and hadn't shaved. He sat and drank coffee and chewed on bagels for some time.
      Dr. Varscroft came in next, with his plaster arm sticking out to one side. He sat behind the desk and looked around. He seemed a lot more alert and more like his old self. He could even hold a donut in his fingers. "Well, I guess we should get at it." He said.

****** MARY
      Maggie made her rounds of the old Catholic dorm and tried to call Bonker at the house to tell him she had stuff to do but she'd try to stop by latter to see him. Cindy had gone back to her dorm to check on a rumor that the laundry room was under water.
      Bonker didn't answer his phone so she tried the house's general phone. "Hello?"
      Maggie recognized the voice as one of the house guys, but she wasn't sure who it was. "Is Bonker around?"
      "No this is the downstairs room, Bonker's room is upstairs."
      "I know, this is Maggie, I was trying to get ahold of Bonker."
      "Hang on." She heard him lay the phone down and shout, "Maggie! Phone!"
      Maggie waited until he came back. It had to be Roger, he was permanently confused about almost everything, including his major, 'Non-religious Themes in Non-Western literature.' Roger picked up the phone. "Maggie's not here."
      "Is Bonker there?" She knew there was no point in trying to explain what was going on to Roger, and she had only met him twice.
      "Yeah, hang on." Maggie heard more yelling and some confusion. Finally somebody picked up the phone and started dialing, Maggie heard tones as the buttons were pushed, she finally got the other person's attention.
      "Hello? Who's this?" A feminine voice asked.
      "Maggie, I was calling for Bonker."
      "That's what Roger was babbling about. This is Kim, I just ahh, stopped by to see Ramsey. I'll get Bonker."
      Maggie smiled at the phone, the house should pass a rule to not let Roger answer the phone.

****** DALE
      Peggy led Marlene and Colleen to the garden.
      Peggy had decided she was going to skip some of her classes that day. They walked around the garden, and even in the November gloom, it was still something to see. The cabbages and heartier flowers were still going strong, the evergreens were still rich, and the beds were covered with various colors of straw, alfalfa and organic mulch.
      Marlene stood in front of the Sun Singer and stared at it. "I've seen the other one of this."
      "The original?" Colleen asked.
      "No, no, the original is in Europe. I'm talking about the one in that National Park in Virginia. This one seems a little different." She looked closely at the small statue. "The face." She stepped to one side.
      Peggy fought the memory down. The image she saw when she kissed Dale by the statue almost overwhelmed her for a second.
      Colleen had a few memories of romantic encounters that involved the statue. But she was more practiced at dealing with such images and feelings and she seemed to enjoy them. She was smiling at the small bronze man.
      "I want to go get my camera, I want to study this further." Marlene said. They walked back to the house.
      Peggy looked back over her shoulder at the statue, she imagined it was smiling, but when she blinked, it was just lifting it's face to the horizon in mute song.

****** MARY
      Kim laid the phone down and fetched Bonker.
      She had been going to call the married dorm to see if there was any way she could get back some of her room deposit early. Sal had paid for the entire year, and it didn't seem like she was going to be needing the room for much longer.
      She thought about seeing if Jack or some of the other guys wanted any of Sal's personal stuff. She certainly wasn't going to hold a yard sale with it.
      The thought of Jack improved her mood considerably. She thought maybe she'd pay a call on him and see if married life suited him.
      For just a second she thought about taking him away from Mary.
      But the thought tightened her stomach and left a bad taste in her mouth.
      "No, one ruined marriage per semester is enough."
      Kim was a hellbroth of conflicting emotions. It was still early, but she was exhausted.
      Ramsey and the others were still watching sports in the big room.
      She didn't feel like joining that, she went upstairs and sat in Ramsey's room.
      "I've spent my entire adult life belonging to one man after another. I've been either daughter, date, girlfriend, wife, or whatever for as long as I can remember." She said to herself. "Maybe it's time I was my own person."
      She decided her first act as her own person would be to go to sleep.

****** DALE
      Kremin was sitting on the front steps of the bank at Nine A.M.
      He calmly went inside and asked to see a customer service representative.
      He sat and looked through the morning paper and waited with great reserve. At nine fifteen an older lady, impeccably dressed in a very charming business suit asked him to come back to her office.
      Kremin had been hoping some young-pro type punk would be handling his case so he could get all upset and swear and carry on for awhile. But this lady wouldn't do at all for that.
      Kremin turned on his charm and followed her. He admired her firm step in her low heels, and the slightly musky scent of her perfume. It suited her, he nodded to himself.
      Her office was a little small, but it was decorated carefully. He noticed a complete lack of family pictures, but the items on display made it quite clear this was her office. A small jade tree occupied the center of the small round table next to the door. There was a round picture of some lighthouse standing above a fog. A row of small china baskets let him know this lady had taste, every book was facing correctly, the papers were neat, her phone polished, and her wastebasket clean.
      He sat in the indicated chair. "Now, Mister Ristor, what may I do for you today?"
      "Well, I have a little problem." He said slowly.

****** MARY
      It was almost midnight when the maintenance man let himself into their room and turned on the light.
      Jack jumped out of bed. "WHAT! WHO'S THERE?" He shouted as the light blinded him.
      "Sorry buddy. I thought they had found you guys a different room." The man was standing with his palms out, not wanting to fight.
      Jack got his eyes used to the light. Mary was sitting up looking back and forth between the two of them.
      "Sorry folks. I just came by to check the heat. I didn't know you were still in the room. They were supposed to move you out."
      "Nobody ever called back and we just kinda went to sleep and let it go." Mary said to the man.
      "Why would you be fixing the heat at midnight?" Jack asked.
      "I work another job in town. I got off and checked my messages, so I thought I'd stop by and see if I needed any parts for in the morning." He rubbed his hands. "It is pretty chilly in here. Let me see if I can get this to work. If not, we'll find you another room." He took the cover off and gave the unit a once over. Then he stood up slowly.
      "Well?" Jack said sitting on the bed.
      "She's dead. The element is burned up. I'll call the desk for you."
      "Never mind, we were planing on leaving anyway in the morning."

****** DALE
      Mr. Blumn walked into the middle of a discussion of the low energy radiation being a catalyst in the reaction inside the star. He shook his head and picked up a donut then helped himself to some coffee.
      Those involved in the argument didn't even notice his presence.
      It went on more or less as it was until close to noon.
      "Where's Bilbo?" Dale asked out of the blue.
      Everybody looked around, nobody had seen him. Varscroft shook his head, "I wouldn't put it past him to have forgotten to come to class."
      "He hasn't done that lately." Canney said, "He's about due."
      "Maybe he caught a bus to Minneapolis instead of to campus." Ralph said shoving yet another pastry in his mouth.
      "Shall we break for lunch without him?" Varscroft asked the class.
      The vote was unanimous, yes.
      Dr. Canney had heard this was ethnic week in the research fellows dining room, beginning today, with Chinese food. He led the way to it.
      The room was fairly crowded and they had to wait a little.
      "I knew it was too good to last." Mr. Blumn said flatly. The others followed his gaze.
      Harrison was coming toward them down the hall.

****** MARY
      "You guys aren't leaving just because your heat went out are you?" The maintenance man looked at them. "You're that honeymoon couple."
      Jack nodded. The man stuck his hand out and congratulated them.
      "Gosh I'm sorry this happened." He held his hat in his hands.
      "Its alright. We've had a wonderful time, and everybody has been so nice." Mary said to him.
      The man brightened. "You let me talk to Frank before you leave."
      Jack nodded, the chill in the room was getting to him, he just wanted the man to go so he could get back in bed and cuddle with Mary. "I gotta get back, I've already missed two practices and the coach was ready to killl me before this."
      "Practice?" The man said.
      "I play ball for the Prairie Dogs." Jack saw the name become lost on the man.
      "I'm not much into sports. Maybe a little horse racing, but I don't even follow that much any more. I guess I work too much."
      "Really it's ok." Mary said. The man smiled at her. "We'll stop and see Mr. Armstead before we leave. OK?"
      "Sure ma'am. You two stay warm. If you need anything call the desk they can always get ahold of me. Sorry to bother you folks. Good night."
      The man was gone. Jack checked the door to make sure it was locked.
      "Now come to bed." Mary ordered. Jack obeyed.

****** DALE
      Marlene was walking around the house with the butler in tow, Peggy was carrying a notepad writing down almost everything anybody said about anything in the house.
      Colleen had vanished for the time being.
      Marlene photographed almost everything in the Meditation room, she took several shots of the great picture 'Fleeing the Storm' by Theresa's grandmother.
      "This is astonishing. I've heard of her work, the fine detail, the great attention to line and shadow. But I had always thought it was an exaggeration. Her mural in Racine, Wisconsin is a good example. But the work on this scale. In Racine you can even see the heads on some of the screws in the machinery. But this." She was leaning close to the canvas.
      "The artists' grand-daughter gave it to the house on an extended loan." The butler said with reverence. "The music hall has been dedicated to our immigrant ancestors."
      Peggy wrote the notes. Colleen came back into the room. "Marlene, I have something for you to look at. It's been on the shelf in my room since I moved in. It's always fascinated me."
      The 'something' was a very small model of a chair. But on the bottom of it was a signature, 'Frank Lloyd Wright' it said in fine black letters.
      Marlene went nuts over it. She told them about how there were chairs all over the country like this. In his house in South Carolina and Arizona. This is something." She took a couple of photos of it as well.
      Colleen invited Marlene to stay the night in the house and maybe write up the charcoal exhibit while she was here. The butler was delighted with this, he appointed himself her keeper while she was there and offered to escort her to the exhibit if she wouldn't mind.
      Colleen stared at the butler. "I guess there's a fire in ol' Neeman after all."

****** MARY
      Cindy hated this kind of call. "The laundry room is flooded," Could mean anything from a small puddle of water on the floor to a clothes dryer floating out the side door in a river of suds.
      It turned out to be a lot of water, maybe not a flood by Army Corps of Engineer standards, but a mess to be sure. Both washers had overflowed, and when they tried to push the water down the floor drain the drain backed up and now the sink drain was stopped up as well.
      There was a maintenance man on the phone trying to find a plumber on a Sunday evening.
      Cindy listened to several girls tell their stories, then she talked to the maintenance man.
      "Well honey. It looks like the main is clogged. I'll see if anything else is backing up. It could be the whole building's sewer is blocked."
      "Joy." Cindy said with no joy.

****** DALE
      Mr. Blumn walked into the middle of a discussion of the low energy radiation being a catalyst in the reaction inside the star. He shook his head and picked up a donut then helped himself to some coffee.
      Those involved in the argument didn't even notice his presence.
      It went on more or less as it was until close to noon.
      "Where's Bilbo?" Dale asked out of the blue.
      Everybody looked around, nobody had seen him. Varscroft shook his head, "I wouldn't put it past him to have forgotten to come to class."
      "He hasn't done that lately." Canney said, "He's about due."
      "Maybe he caught a bus to Minneapolis instead of to campus." Ralph said shoving yet another pastry in his mouth.
      "Shall we break for lunch without him?" Varscroft asked the class.
      The vote was unanimous, yes.
      Dr. Canney had heard this was ethnic week in the research fellows dining room, beginning today, with Chinese food. He led the way to it.
      The room was fairly crowded and they had to wait a little.
      "I knew it was too good to last." Mr. Blumn said flatly. The others followed his gaze.
      Harrison was coming toward them down the hall.

      Harrison tried to explain his morning to them. He kept talking through the serving line, and at the table. He used words like 'one with nature' and 'overwhelming maleness' and he jabbered about how he now understood why Teddy Roosevelt went on safari.
      "We hunted for their supper. I Killed Animals They Will Eat Tonight!"
      Dale looked at his Chinese food. For some reason it had lost some of its appeal.

****** MARY
      It was still cold when Jack and Mary woke up. They had buried themselves under covers and had slept in their clothes, but it was still cold.
      Jack got up. He wasn't creaking and popping, "Wasn't a very good night." He mumbled. He went into the bathroom. The heat lamp in there worked, it warmed the bathroom up a little. "Mary. Come here for a minute."
      Mary said something about how she promised to love through sickness and adversity, but the Bishop hadn't said anything about cold bathrooms.
      She walked shivering into the bathroom. It was warm in there, and Jack had a hot shower running.
      They shared the hot water for awhile. But they didn't get involved in too much else. The memory of the cold room was still in their joints.
      Mary recovered a little quicker in her willingness to face to cold room again. She kissed Jack and got out. "I'll be right back. " She told him. He leaned back and let the water run down his back.
      Mary dressed quickly and walked down to the lobby.
      "Mister Armstead. She's here!" The desk clerk shouted.
      The owner looked around the corner. "That's not her, that's Mrs. Foster." He walked out a second later. "I'm so sorry about the heat. You can stay an extra night at no charge, in a room with heat, they should have moved you to another room. But I had left instructions that you weren't to be disturbed. I reckon they got a little carried away with that.
      Mary smiled warmly at the man. He was being so sincere he should run for congress. "It's alright, we were warm enough."
      "That's what's so wonderful about honeymoons." He looked at the clerk who immediately found something else to do besides listen to them. "I will give you a coupon for a free weekend, in a heated room, you can come back sometime. Just call ahead."
      "Thank you Mr. Armstead. We would love to come back."
      The man was happy, he went back to his office with a promise to have it ready when they checked out. Mary went and got two coffees and a couple of muffins for their breakfast and went back up to her room.
      Jack was drying off in the bathroom when she came back in. "Jack! I brought hot coffee and a raisin muffin for you."
      He came out. "Wow. You made breakfast. Great!"
      "Funny." She made a face at him. They huddled under blankets and ate.

****** DALE
      Mr. Blumn walked into the middle of a discussion of the low energy radiation being a catalyst in the reaction inside the star. He shook his head and picked up a donut then helped himself to some coffee.
      Those involved in the argument didn't even notice his presence.
      It went on more or less as it was until close to noon.
      "Where's Bilbo?" Dale asked out of the blue.
      Everybody looked around, nobody had seen him. Varscroft shook his head, "I wouldn't put it past him to have forgotten to come to class."
      "He hasn't done that lately." Canney said, "He's about due."
      "Maybe he caught a bus to Minneapolis instead of to campus." Ralph said shoving yet another pastry in his mouth.
      "Shall we break for lunch without him?" Varscroft asked the class.
      The vote was unanimous, yes.
      Dr. Canney had heard this was ethnic week in the research fellows dining room, beginning today, with Chinese food. He led the way to it.
      The room was fairly crowded and they had to wait a little.
      "I knew it was too good to last." Mr. Blumn said flatly. The others followed his gaze.
      Harrison was coming toward them down the hall.

****** MARY
      Kim went to classes Monday morning. She behaved as if nothing was new, or different in her life. But she seemed a little happier to the people that knew her.
      She ate lunch in the Union and noticed a group of fraternity guys eyed her as she came into the dining room with her tray. She ignored them at first out of habit. Then she thought about it and played up to them for awhile.
      One of them had a little more nerve than the others. He got up and walked over to her table. "Hi there. I haven't seen you in here before."
      Kim wished he had a better opening line, but it would do. "I don' t get in here much." She looked at him squarely, "The company is usually pretty dull."
      He leaned forward and returned her look. "It is dull in here. But I know where it gets a lot more exciting."
      Kim sipped her coffee, she had always been surprised that the cafeteria made halfway decent coffee, considering the average quality of the food, which was, average. "I like excitement, tell me about this place."
      "Well." He lowered his voice. "It has a full bar, and a great stereo, and a waterbed, and..."
      "Nah, that's not exciting enough." She licked her lips and narrowed her eyes. "I like trampolines, and cattle prods, and leather straps, and lots of real good toys, and maybe some pharmaceuticals."
      She watched as his face lost some of its intensity. "We can..." He trailed off.
      "I like a lot of real pretty people, and olive oil, and cats-o-nine tails, and I wear my spurs." She let her lower lip quiver at him. "And maybe a branding iron if you really get me excited... Some bungee cords." She took one of his hands. "And Duct Tape, lots of duct tape. And a big four poster bed."
      He took his hand back. "I have to go check my mail, I'm expecting a letter from my mother."
      She watched him go. Her speech had gotten her a little worked up. She didn't know if Ramsey had a class today after lunch. She kinda hoped he was free.

****** DALE
      Harrison had managed to talk all through lunch.
      He didn't eat much, and Ralph had snitched the bowl of Lo Mein from him while he talked.
      Dale listened, he didn't remember his uncle ever talking so much about bagging a couple of what he called 'tree rats'.

      They finished up and headed back to the classroom. Harrison was still jabbering about 'man's supremacy over nature.'
      To be fair with Dr. Harrison's Great Supper Hunt we will drop back a few hours.... and punt.
      Harrison shouldered the gun and aimed at a tree. It seemed simple enough.
      The longhair loaded both weapons and they started across the field. They were a good distance from the trailers and buildings when the man told Harrison it was ok to shoot now if he saw anything.
      "What are we hunting for?"
      "Like I said. Supper. Rabbits, 'possum, coon, quail, pheasant. Almost anything. Except deer, we don't have the right loads for them today."
      Harrison looked at the man. "You don't seem to be the usual ahhh,"
      "Hippie?" The longhair smiled through his beard. "I started out as a farmer in Missouri. But that was several years and many miles ago. Now I live here. And to save money, we hunt, farm, and sell. Nature provides the raw material for a lot of it."
      The man saw a opossum in a tree. "There." He pointed. "That's yours."
      Harrison saw the animal. He aimed and released the safety. The boom shook him more than the kick from the gun. But when he open his eyes the animal was falling out of the tree.
      The longhair ran up to it. He gave it sound kick in its head. It didn't flinch, it was dead. He stuck it in his game bag. Harrison recovered enough to look at his first kill.
      "Its a big one my friend. You did good."
      But the next three shots went to the longhair. He bagged two rabbits back to back, both on the run, one was a difficult shot even by ex-farmer longhair standards. Later the man got a nice pheasant.
      Then they spooked up a covey of quail.
      Harrison got one on the wing. He pointed and fired. The quail dropped. The longhair got two of the fleeing birds. Harrison saw him point, fire, then pump while leading the second bird, and fire again. The whole operation only took a couple of seconds. Then they picked up their game.
      Harrison felt little remorse at the killing. He knew these animals would not go to waste. He had eaten and enjoyed some of the dishes they made with wild game.
      He still thought the slaughter of buffalo on the plain then leaving them to rot was a terrible sin, this was different.
      In another half-hour, Harrison got another shot. This time at a fleeing squirrel. But the fuzzy tail got away.
      "That's all right. They're about the hardest thing to hunt there is. Except maybe wild turkeys."
      A half hour later, Harrison got a rabbit before the longhair even saw it.
      Later they walked back to the house. Harrison was bursting with excitement, but he didn't want to let it show.

****** DALE
      Colleen had an idea for an article Marlene could write about the art treasures in places like the Roz House. Private collections neither well-known or openly publicized. The butler was against the article until Marlene guaranteed the name of the house would be withheld. In the interest of the houses' security.
      Miss Alice thought it was a great idea. The three women spent the entire day talking with the entire staff and digging through files looking for the dates and names of some of the houses' art collection. What they found made the butler call the house's insurance carrier to have the policy updated. The statue of Mary was found to be an original sculpture. A small study model by the artist for a larger work now in a Cathedral in New York. It's estimated value by Marlene was nearly five figures, since it was signed, and the paperwork on the bequest to the house was in order. There were other items, of either historical value or rarity that increased their value beyond the merely artistic. Some of the portraits turned out to be official portraits done as commissioned works by minor artists working for the various agencies and organizations the people had been connected with.
      "Wow." Peggy said, quoting Dale, of course.

****** MARY
      Mary and Jack dressed shivering. He commented about the cold making her nipples hard.
      But a minute later she remarked on the effect the cold had on him.
      Jack put his shorts on without trying to think of a comeback.
      They packed and loaded the car. It seemed to be warmer outside than it was in.
      Mary drove around to the office. Jack walked. He beat her there.
      The manager wasn't there, but he had left an envelope for them. In it was a hand written note for a free three-day weekend on the house. It included a dinner and free Pay-to-See TV movies in their room.
      "That's nice of him." Mary said.
      "If I had gotten frostbite I would've sued them."
      "Jack. I kept you warm."
      The desk clerk didn't seem to hear their conversation. But she did have a speech to make. "We work here from the Eastern Iowa Development Center. Would you like to make a donation?"
      "To you or the Development Center?" Jack asked.
      The question confused the girl a little. "I work here through the..."
      "It's ok, here, put five dollars to your Center." Mary gave her a bill.
      With the check settled they left.
      "Where to Mrs. Foster?"
      "I guess home. I mean, well yeah, it is home. Home Mr. Foster."

****** DALE
      The afternoon session of the class never really got on track.
      Harrison insisted he had a new appreciation of the outdoors life and couldn't wait to buy a shotgun and a hunting license.
      Ralph had enough of that kind of talk. Ralph was a nature lover.
      Really, he was, no, really.
      Nature shows on TV while drinking beer. Natural stuff like good looking naked women playing volleyball on a beach. Nature when well cooked, after having been killed by somebody else. You know, nature.
      Ralph turned the discussion to the abuse of nature and all things natural. He told the story about how he had an old T-shirt that read, 'I love Spotted Owles- in curry sauce.' The first time he wore it he almost had gotten in a fight with some tree hugger types.
      Canney didn't seem to care if nature was there or not. He wouldn't go out of his way to destroy a rain forest, but he wasn't going to pay two dollars for a can of soda-pop to save one either.
      So the afternoon was pretty much wasted.
      Varscroft knew they needed to do that once in awhile and let them go.

****** MARY
      Cindy sighed for about the twentieth time in ten minutes.
      The plumbing was ka-putt in half the building, there was only two operational bathrooms in the whole place, the first floor common bathroom and the mens room just down the hall from her apartment. They had to be shared between three hundred girls. Cindy couldn't even flush the toilet in her apartment, and the sink drained very slowly.
      "Miss, you see there's some sort of blockage before the final 'T' going out of the building to the main. That's why those other hoppers work." The plumbing crew supervisor was saying to her.
      Cindy was just standing there, watching one of the workers stare at a couple of the girls. Cindy always felt protective of her girls.
      "We'll have to get the power snake to run down it. You know, a drain auger. If that don't get it, then we'll have to start digging."
      "Digging." Cindy said idly.
      The plumbing supervisor seemed very enthusiastic about all this, and truly the man enjoyed his work. He called his favorite set of huge pipe wrenches his 'plumbing crushers', and owned his own set of silver plated propane torch heads.
      Cindy was at a loss. She had been through this once before, last year, when the two upper floors were without water for three days. But this was even worse. She called an emergency meeting for the entire dorm to take place in about an hour, at eleven o'clock at night.
      In the meeting, only just over half of the dorm's population showed up, but it was enough. Cindy explained the problem, and that she had made some sort of arrangements for them in the meantime.
      But all of the arrangements involved walking to other buildings.

****** MARY
      Mary wanted to stop in the little town of Monmouth to look around the campus. She thought it was quaint and charming.
      Jack thought it was small and old.
      "Our campus is older than this. Isn't it?"
      "But is anything left of the original campus besides the Catholic dorm and the Cathedral?"
      Mary thought about it. "If it is it's probably been added on to and remodeled to death. This place has a real atmosphere of, you know, almost like Harvard or something. Ivy covered walls, white columns, I bet there's barely a thousand students here." She pointed to a large open space, with two fairly new buildings on the other side. "That's the library, I want to go see it."
      "OK, If we stop and look at the gym when we're done." Jack said.
      Mary agreed.
      There was an exhibit of senior art in the library and Mary made Jack walk through it and look. They had to show their University ID's to get in, but the people were very happy to have them as guests.
      Jack was almost bored to death. But he lived.
      Then they went to the gym. Jack eyed every trophy in the cases, and read aloud a plaque naming the MCAC south division winners. "Hey, Mary. I know this guy." He was pointing to a name on the plaque.
      "What guy?"
      "He graduated a year before I did from high school. Look at this. Midwestern Conference Runner-ups. Southern Division winners. Kenneth Bacon. It had to be him."
      "How many Kenneth Bacons can there be that play basketball."
      Jack missed the sarcasm. He was trying to recognize his friend's face on the tiny picture on the plaque.
      They peeked into the gym. There was a volleyball game going. They watched for a minute. Then walked out.
      "This is a nice place for such a small college."
      They went to the bookstore. Mary had to have a T-shirt or something. Jack followed. Jack ended up buying two shirts. One of them matched Mary's and one with the logo 'Monmouth College, Southern Division Champ's Basketball - Football-Cross Country - Midwestern Conference'. He liked the idea of a triple crown like that. Maybe the Dogs could do it.
      In the car Jack seemed to get a little down. "We could never get a triple crown now, the team is so far behind."
      "Jack, the football team won, so we have a chance."
      "Our cross country team runs like they've had both hips replaced. They couldn't win an open meet against a grade school and a county jail."
      Mary shook her head, but he was right.

****** DALE
      Dale, Harrison, and Ralph argued their way back to the Roz house in time for supper.
      Ralph having invited himself on the pretext of looking for Colleen.
      "Of course I' 11 stay for supper." He announced without exactly being invited.
      Dale sat in the TV room and looked through the newspaper and watched the TV news until they were called for supper. Ralph had gone upstairs with Harrison to find something he could wear to supper without being frowned at by the butler. In a few minutes, they were back and found places at the table.
      When they had all been seated, the women of the house made a grand entrance. They were all dressed to kill.
      Ralph sat at the table with his jaw moving without saying anything.
      Rob stood as they came in, so did the other men, all but Ralph.
      A large group of nice looking women dressed like models wearing clothes made by a designer with good taste had an unexpected affect on Ralph.
      He was having trouble breathing.
      Real trouble breathing.

****** MARY
      It was too late in the day to even consider anything school-wise by the time they got back to campus. So they parked behind the married dorm and walked in with their stuff. Mary half expected a welcome-home party. Or maybe a threat to cut off her phone. Or even a note taped to their door explaining where their mail was.
      But they got all the way into their room without even being spotted by anybody over the age of three.
      Mary collapsed on the bed. Jack was digging through the ice chest, he had wanted a cold beer since they had left Monmouth.
      He found one. Jack piled into the chair and took stock of his life.
      He was married.
      His beer tasted flat after he thought about that for a minute.
      He was M*A*R*R*I*E*D!!!
      "Damn." He said looking around the room. "I guess its for real."
      "What's for real?" Mary said almost in a half sleep.
      "We really are married."
      Mary opened her eyes and looked at him. "When did that happen?"
      Jack looked into his beer can. "I'm not sure, I think somebody spiked our drinks and married us when we weren't looking."
      "Hmmm. OK so since we're really married, find us some lunch."
      Jack rooted through the ice chest again. "Cold meats, cheese, and some, ahhh, soggy crackers."
      "Fine, hold the crackers. I want to sleep the rest of the day in our room. With our HEAT!" Mary was relishing in the warmth in their room.
      They ate and laughed, they had some nice memories of their honeymoon. Mud, cold, and a pick up basketball game. Romantic... No?
      "Ralph? You don't look so good." Dale said.

****** MARY
      Maggie walked over to the independent house after the Catholic dorm was quiet for the night.
      The crew was still around the TV. Maggie just walked in. The guys were happy to see her, they said Bonker was in the kitchen doing something. Maggie smelled burning food. She went to see.
      Bonker was watching smoke roll out of the oven. He smiled and jumped up to greet Maggie. "Hi!"
      Maggie kissed him on his cheek, "What'cha burning?"
      "Frozen pizzas" He said, Maggie nodded waiting for the rest of it. "Oh, the smoke, some of the cheese got away. It does that, it'll quit in awhile. I've done this before."
      'This boy needs a keeper.' She thought to herself. "You're nurse been here tonight?"
      "She's here someplace. Sometimes the guys get a little rowdy, then she goes and hides." Bonker was cheerful, he fanned the rising smoke.
      Finally the timer buzzed. Maggie helped him pull out five pizzas and cut them up.
      "That's part of the reason for the smoke, halfway through the time I have to shuffle them to different shelves or they never get done."

****** DALE
      Dr. Solendes made a house call. To the Rozbilski house, at the request of Miss Alice, who had the guys take Ralph to a guestroom and get him to relax.
      Colleen found herself worrying more about him than she really thought she would.
      Ralph was still panting. But he wasn't sweating any more.
      The doctor gave him good and bad news. No, he probably hadn't had a heart attack. But there would be tests done anyway. Yes, his blood pressure looked like a phone number, and he was suffering dehydration and a few other big words.
      Ralph hated doctors they always said things like, "Quit smoking cigars, quit drinking, lose weight, exercise, and eat better."
      Dr. Solendes didn't say any of that.
      Ralph was relieved.
      But he did tell him to stay at the house until he had been tested for a few other things.
      Ralph was finally calmed down and medicated enough to be allowed to see Colleen. She walked in quietly and shut the door gently.
      "Now why are you sneaking in here woman? I ain't dying. That quack thinks I had some sort of consumption attack or something." Ralph said. He was trying to sound boisterous and a little too concerned about what was going on.
      Actually he was still a little scared, earlier while the doctor was examining him, he was terrified, he was sure it wasn't a heart attack, after all he was only thirty years old.
      Colleen still thought he needed handled with kid gloves. "So how do you feel?"
      The look on her face melted his bravado.
      "Like hell."

****** MARY
      They spent some time sorting wedding gifts, Mary found the others that had been delivered while they were gone. They split the task of opening the gifts. It seemed most of them were directed toward the bride.
      They got another hot pot. The three they had between them before, plus the one they opened at the reception made their hop pot tally now five. There was another toaster, and a clock-radio with a cassette player in it.
      Jack got to open the last present. This one he decided was his as soon as he got the paper off it. A small color TV-radio.
      Mary told him the label had said to the bride and groom. Bride being first, so Mary thought she got dibs.
      Jack pointed out getting married was his idea.
      It didn't turn into much of a fight. Jack told her he had ways of making her give in.
      They ended up wrestling and forgetting about the TV, still sitting on the desk in the box.
      TV tends to be forgotten when newlyweds start wrestling in the afternoon.

****** DALE
      Marlene watched Colleen come out of Ralph's room. She was smoothing her hair down and adjusted her blouse. "Well?"
      Colleen looked at the people standing around in the hall.
      "It took him a while. But he finally said it." She smiled at them. "He wants me to give him a sponge bath."
      Colleen saw Martha standing in the background. "And he's hungry." She added.
      The people cheered the news. It seemed he'd be fine. His two biggest personality traits were back on line, his libido and his appetite.
      Everybody thought he'd be fine now.
      The others went back to the table. Martha fixed Ralph a tray and Colleen took it in to him.
      When she opened the door she could tell that he really didn't have his strength back, it took him a minute to get his bluster up again. But then he ate slowly, and didn't talk much.
      Colleen sat with him.
      The others ate supper and talked about different things.
      Finally the talk came back to why the females were all dressed up.
      Peggy was left to do the explanations, "We were going to see the preview of the Chinese Charcoals. It's a fancy dress party with champagne and fish eggs. So we dressed up."
      Rob smiled. He had already taken two rolls of film, "You all dressed to kill, and you almost killed Ralph."
      It really wasn't funny, but they laughed a little anyway.
      Dale went up to his room after supper, he was glad Peggy hadn't wanted him to get dressed up to go look at charcoal.
      Colleen came out and told them Ralph was sleeping contentedly.
      The ladies left shortly after, with the butler escorting Marlene.

Cont in Two Dorms Part 37


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