©01 The Media Desk
Back to the Desk
Kim found out that life on weekday afternoons in an athletically oriented house is pretty dull.
Most of the guys were at informal study-table, which officially was not required or endorsed by the University, but went on anyway. Athletes who needed some extra help could get it free of hassle, by just showing up. Many of them used occasionally, a few used it nearly every day.
Kim wandered the house, watched some TV, and found herself cleaning, she turned the house stereo up on some ax-grinding rock and roll, something else Sal had disapproved of, and cleaned.
"HI!" Connie said to her, inches from her ear to be heard above the guitars.
Kim was a little startled, she had been singing, and playing air guitar, and wiping off the tables and shelves in the big room. "HI!' She shouted in return.
"Don't turn it off, let me put this up and I'll help." Connie said loudly enough to be heard.
"Want a drink?" Kim yelled as Connie got to the stairs. The other girl gave her a big nod and a smile.
Kim went to the pantry and thought about what she wanted, she didn't feel like a beer. She had tried the wines and decided she liked the powerful red in the big bottle, but she remembered seeing Connie drinking the light sweet one.
She poured them both a big cup of the white out of the boxed bag. Kim was adaptable, as long as somebody else was buying.
The two girls chatted in the kitchen and sipped the wine, then Connie put in another CD and they went to work getting the big room ready to have its carpet swept. They rocked away, moving furniture, putting dead beer cans in bags, finding strange things under stuff, and laughing about the way these guys lived.
The bank lady was very efficient, and she was starting to give Kremin the answers he needed about his account.
Somebody had carefully and methodically over the course of three days, drained his account of every dime they could get.
After a couple of hours, a few phone calls, and some computer work, the lady had decided on a course of action. "Kremin, I think you should report this as a crime."
He looked at her. His blood went cold. "This isn't a bank error or some sort of computer glitch?"
She shook her head.
"OK." He conceded. "What should I do?" His posture sagged.
The lady felt sorry for the young man. "First, you should let me buy you lunch. Then we'll come back here, I call the investigators, and we'll get this started. But first I need to put a hold on all of your accounts. Is that alright?"
He nodded slowly.
Cindy was starting to get the hang of the rhythm they would have to endure until the plumbing crew dug up the floor downstairs and laid twenty feet of new sewer line.
The power snake had been run into the blockage. What it brought back was anything but good news. The old pipe had collapsed out under the ruins of Westin, damaged from either the fire or the heavy equipment being used to clean up the mess.
Cindy woke up Monday morning and washed up in her sink as best she could.
Then she walked over to the Union to use the women's restroom on the third floor that had been reserved for them, It was a long walk, but it was better than standing in line downstairs or next door.
There was a small assortment of donated cosmetics on the sinks, and little waiting to get into a stall to do other things. Cindy remembered a couple of years ago when the McQuin Towers had a similar problem.
One of the huge towers, she didn't remember which one, had a blockage that the plumbing crew couldn't clear. From about the third floor up had no drainage at all for a couple of days.
The university did the best it could.
The students endured. And sued. But the case died on the vine. There were field sinks and chemical toilets on every floor, and the university refunded the inconvenienced students a month's worth of rent.
Cindy went down to breakfast. The campus paper had their situation on the front page. She hadn't spoke to any reporters but there was a quote from her in the story anyway.
"Heck of a way to run a railroad." She was reported to have said.
The charcoal exhibit came to a standstill when Marlene showed up with the party from the Roz House. They paraded in and took tulips of champagne, and made the rounds 'oooo'ing and 'ahh'ing over the charcoals.
The pictures, for lack of a better word, were a little out of the ordinary.
Sketches on glass, wood, cloth, and paper. There were intricate things of fine lines and detail, and works seemingly done by an artist using earth-moving equipment as his brush. Some of the works were from various royal dynasties from more than a millennia ago, others were done a couple of months ago by school children. The only commonality was: they were all done in charcoal.
Peggy was impressed. It was a unique and spectacular exhibit. Marlene was going to give it a good write up.
The ladies from the Rozbilski house were a big hit as well. Pretty, charming, well-spoken, and led by Colleen and Marlene, both of whom knew their fair share about art, and were willing to share their knowledge with anybody who would listen.
It was starting to get late when they returned to the house.
Mary was awakened by the ringing of their phone. She fell over her husband getting out of bed, he was awake but a little incoherent.
"Hello." Mary said into the phone.
"Hello Mrs. Foster." A familiar voice said but she couldn't place it.
"Sorry, you have the wrong number." Mary said.
"Mary wake up. It's mom."
Mary's brain started working. "Oh, hi mom. Sorry, I'm still getting used to the idea of being married."
"It'll get to be second nature sooner than you think. We're still in town. You're dad is fine. We thought the newlyweds would like to go out to dinner."
"Mary, you should check with your husband before committing to something, it avoids friction."
Mary turned to Jack. "Wanna go out to eat?"
Jack rubbed his eyes and looked around. "Why not?"
They met at the front of the married dorm. Her dad wanted to see it. They were all delighted that Max was his old self. John and Betty took them on a tour from the mechanical room in the basement, to the roof top view of the media center and Gamma house.
"A real nice place you have here John, I was glad to get to see it." Max said. "Would you and Betty like to join us for supper?"
John tried to beg off, but Mary's dad insisted, so Betty accepted and they went downstairs. Before it was done Max had invited the Warner's who accepted as well, and about half the dorm, some said they had other commitments, or a sick baby, but in the end, twenty people were going out to dinner.
Mary pulled her mother off to one side. "Can he afford this?"
Mary's mom nodded. "He had wanted to buy your rehearsal dinner, but..."
Mary's heart was lighter, her dad, one of the good ones.
"Mary." Her dad said to her, "Can you call your bridesmaids, I know its not much notice, but, see if they can come. Jack, call your friends too. Go on. I'm calling the restaurant and letting them know about how many are coming."
The others seemed puzzled. Max continued. "I called them two hours ago and told them a party was coming, but I wasn't sure how many. It'll be all-right, go on. Get moving! We've only got half an hour."
Dale heard a knock on his door. "Come IN!" He shouted.
It was the butler. "Sir. Mister Cook is awake, and wants to see you."
Dale was a little puzzled. But he nodded and went downstairs.
"I need you to do me a couple of favors." Ralph said.
Mary called Cindy's room, she was in. Doing paperwork to move a girl to another room permanently, and another temporarily while the plumbers dug up their room floors to get to the pipe.
The girls had already moved, so the paper wasn't that pressing, she'd be happy to go to dinner.
Maggie wasn't in, but Jack came in and told Mary that Maggie was with Bonker and they'd both love to go.
Steve was out, and nobody knew where he was.
They all agreed to meet in the bar at the restaurant, Mary's dad had heard about the Gourmet Room, but he wasn't sure it was appropriate. So they were going to a buffet restaurant in the mall.
Bonker and Maggie arrived first, they were directed to the waiting area.
The waitress told them that arrangements had been made for them to have a drink before dinner. They ordered and waited.
Cindy came in next. She took the drink, and downed it in two gulps. "I think I needed that," she said and talked the waitress into bringing her another.
Soon the others came in.
It took awhile for everybody to show up. Then they were escorted to the separate dining room.
There was a champagne toast waiting on them.
Mary's dad was at the head table with the newlyweds.
"My good people. Most of you I don't know, but, I'm sure you know my daughter, and her new husband, whom I hear is a basketball player with a decent jump shot." The people clapped. "I wasn't able to attend her rehearsal dinner, so this will have to do." He turned to Mary and Jack. "To your new lives together." He raised glass to them.
The audience did likewise and then they all clapped.
Max patted the air, he had always liked making speeches.
"Now I would like to say something to all of you. Most of you know I have had some serious health problems. And I want to tell you something. My wife of, well, a few years, nearly thirty I think, has been my heart and soul during this time. Even when I'm not quite myself, or in the hospital, barely alive, and I can't talk, or even see, I know she's there, somewhere, and I know she loves me, and I want her to know I love her as well." His eyes were clouding up. "So men, another toast, and say it to them, 'To my wife, and how I love her.'"
It was repeated, to a man they said it, and toasted, and drank. There were kisses exchanged and eyes dabbed with napkins.
But Max was still standing. "Now the speechifying is over." He was interrupted by applause. "Lets eat!"
He directed Mary and Jack to lead and the group descended on the buffet line with enthusiasm.
Ralph asked Dale to go over to his apartment and get him a few things. He had to go for those tests the next day and needed a clean outfit, and his razor, and some odds and ends.
Kim was bored with cleaning. They had swept the carpet, and done every dish in the house, and cleaned out one refrigerator, and mopped floors, and, whatever. Now Kim was tired of cleaning. She wanted something a little stronger than wine, and she was getting that special itch that needed male attention.
Connie seemed too domestic for her, but Kim had enjoyed the work for awhile, within some limits. Kim was not going to spend her life cleaning up this dump, for these guys.
Connie seemed a little confused, Kim was talking about finding a little action.
"What kind of action?" She asked.
"Oh, I don't know. What do you usually do over here?"
Connie seemed to blush. "Well. Sometimes I play a little joke on the guys. You see, they'll start coming in in a few minutes. So what I do is..." She whispered secrets to Kim.
Kim agreed enthusiastically. The girls giggled and ran upstairs to get ready. Kim had found out that Connie had a strange sense of adventure, and Kim was all for it.
Half an hour later Billy and Bud rolled in.
In the big room, lying on the furniture, were two sleeping females, with an empty half-gallon jug of wine on the floor. Connie was wearing a sheer nightshirt, Kim was wrapped in a towel.
Billy stood and stared, Bud seemed not to notice. He walked up to the TV and changed the channel, looking for the news.
Kim opened one eye a little, she saw Bud looking at her legs, so she shifted a little to give him a better view.
"Nice." He said quietly.
Dale walked out of Ralph's room, the butler was standing there. Dale thought the man looked a lit concerned about their guest.
"He wants me to go to his apartment and get him a clean shirt and pants for the tests tomorrow."
"That has already been taken care of."
"He wants his razor so he can shave in the morning."
The butler looked a little surprised, he had gotten used to seeing Ralph with at least a day beard. "I will take care of that as well, what type of razor does he use?"
Dale didn't know. "But I guess could ask him." The butler nodded and Dale went back into the room. He used the pretext of wanting to make sure he didn't get his roommate's razor by mistake. Ralph said he used cheap disposable and it didn't matter, just get a new one out of the medicine cabinet, Dale repeated this to the butler who nodded and walked away. Dale wasn't sure what to do. So he followed the butler.
They ate like people do at all-you-can-eat buffets.
Cindy ended up telling the story of her plumbing to the group. Betty told her she could do her laundry in the married dorm if she needed to.
Everybody wanted to know what there was in Burlington, Iowa for newlyweds to do.
Mary told them about the driftwood, and the riverboat they saw, and Jack's basketball clinic, and the cold in their room.
"We had to stay in bed to keep warm." She said to everybody's amusement. Jack made a face and looked over his plate for something else to eat.
One of the women from the dorm asked Mary if her new teddy had fit.
"Not really, it was almost impossible to get off!" She said. Even her mother laughed at that one.
Jack thought about eating his plate.
They talked for what seemed like hours. Finally it was over. Some of the group stayed to walk around the mall. Mary's parents wanted to head back home.
Their stuff was in the car, and they had paid off the motel.
Mary could tell her dad was tired.
There was hugs and kisses all around, and then they were gone.
"Well, Mrs. Foster. Now what?"
Bonker and Maggie were already gone.
Cindy had gone back to her room to finish her paperwork after thanking Mary's dad for a wonderful dinner.
Jack had a suggestion. "I still have the key to the music building room. Let's go see if it's still ours."
Mary nodded and smiled at him.
They walked back to the house. For some reason the van wasn't there, which annoyed the butler, but he got over it as Marlene talked about the charcoals, and it was a nice night, a little chilly, but nice, so they walked.
There wasn't a whole lot of talk, but just enough to keep the group lively, and Peggy was nominated to make the popcorn for them.
"Popcorn?" Marlene asked.
"You've missed the most important part of the whole house." Sandy told her.
Keith was the only one in the TV room. He jumped up and helped the ladies with their coats.
Yyavvone wouldn't let him touch her real artificial fur, but he wasn't offended.
Peggy started the popper while Marlene watched. Colleen went to check on Ralph. To everyone's surprise he came back with her.
He still looked a little tired and pale. But his spirits were up. And he chatted with them about the art exhibit.
Colleen left Ralph on the couch. She whispered to Marlene, "Remember the art student with the open mind I told you about?" Marlene nodded, Colleen gave her a bowl of popcorn and pointed her at Julie.
Maggie and Bonker snuck in the back door of the house to avoid his nurse. But it didn't work. She was in his room waiting on him. Bonk saw her and raised his hands in surrender. The three of them went downstairs to get his medication.
His nurse asked questions about what he had eaten, and how many drinks he had had, and did he take his two pills at six, and so on. They answered the questions as best they could, and the nurse was satisfied.
She gave him his shot, and left. They were finally alone.
Dale ended up going to the store with the butler. It was one of the strangest shopping experiences of his life.
The limmo dropped them off at the front door a small drugstore, the butler walking in made everybody in the store look at them, but he took no notice. He made the rounds collecting what he thought Ralph would need as far as toiletries went for the next day or two.
He picked out a good reusable razor with extra blades, and an aloe shaving cream. He let Dale choose an after shave for him. Then they went and bought Ralph his own towel and washcloth set. The butler thought it was appropriate that it had a sports team logo on it.
"I think Ralph would like that." Dale said.
"I believe sir, Mister Cook likes anything in poor taste." This was the tight-lipped version of the butler, but Dale caught a hint of a smile from him anyway.
"Is there anything you need sir?" The butler asked him after they picked up a small gift for Ralph to give to Colleen. Dale couldn't believe it, he thought the butler didn't approve of Ralph seeing her.
"Ahhh, I think I need a new toothbrush. Hey! We should get one for Ralph too."
"Very good idea sir.
They found a two for one package of toothbrushes in ugly colors, the butler nodded when Dale picked it up.
At the register he was as formal as he could be, the lady rang them up giving the tuxedoed man sideways looks.
"Yes ma'am?" He finally said to her.
"What you all dressed up for? You a fun'r'l direct'r?"
"Lady this is his work uniform. He's Master of the House."
The butler raised an eyebrow at Dale.
"If you say so. That'll be for’y-seven dollars and fif’y-three cents." The butler handed her a charge card. She rang up the sale and they left.
The limmo was waiting. Dale waved to the woman who was looking at them.
She just shook her head.
Billy sat on the couch next to Connie. She pretended not to wake up.
Bud was still staring at Kim as the towel slipped away little by little.
Billy looked at Kim, then at Bud. "So what do we do with them?"
"I guess we should put them to bed, they're drunk, you know, let them sleep it off."
"They're going to have one hell of a hangover." Billy looked at the empty half gallon of wine.
Connie stirred a little and put her arms around Billy. He looked at Bud with a helpless look on his face.
Bud looked back at Kim, the towel paused a minute, then finished slipping off, leaving her naked, and she had only had to squirm just a little to get it to go. She let her eye drift open just a crack, she saw Bud staring at her, wiping his mouth with his hand.
She heard Connie stir.
"Ohhh, who?" Connie opened her eyes. "Billy. Hi." She didn't move. She could feel pressure building under one of her arms.
Kim raised her head a little, she opened both eyes and focused on Bud. "What're you looking at?" She said, she fished for the towel, intentionally missing it a couple of times. "Where's my towel?" She said trying to see over the arm of the chair.
Bud took the hint. "I'll get it for you." He reached over and picked it up. Getting a good look in the process. She took the towel and covered up.
Just about then the other guys started coming in. Kim didn't scream and run upstairs, neither did Connie. They sat there as if nothing was going on.
Ramsey came in and did a bit of the jealousy routine.
But Kim wasn't buying it. She waited until Ramsey was looking at Billy, then she flipped the towel and flashed the entire room a good peek.
Ralph was falling asleep on the couch.
Most of the house people had had their fill of the popcorn, and scattered. Dale was sitting with Peggy in the music room.
"You really look pretty." He told her.
Peggy knew it, but she liked hearing it from him anyway. "I heard you went and got some things for Ralph."
"I just went with the butler and helped pick out some things."
Peggy took his hand. "It was nice of you."
Dale sat there like a lump. Sandy was practicing the piano at the other end of the room. She was playing some classical love songs. Trying to give Dale a hint.
Dale, in case you didn't know by now, is not a nationally ranked hint-taker.
"Dale. Kiss me." Peggy said as a hint he might understand.
Cindy was considering the possibility that some time in her life she had pissed off the great and powerful ancient gods of indoor plumbing.
The foreman of the plumbing crew was trying to explain to her that what they had thought was the problem, wasn't the problem. That the clean out that they had run the snake down and found blocked, wasn't the sanitary drain after all. They had dug the floor up and found out that the old tile was connected to the building's roof drainage, not the toilets, it seems the old blueprints were wrong. It would now be at least another day, maybe more, while they tried to find the collapsed sewage line under Westin and got it fixed.
"You see miss, sometimes back in the old days, they drew up the blueprints and built the building without looking at them. Or they did the drawings after the building was built drawing up what they wanted it to look like. To tell you the Gods honest truth. I have no idea where your main is. But we'll find it. If we have to dig up the entire basement floor."
Cindy wondered what the penalty was for strangling a plumber. ‘I could always plead extreme duress.’ She whispered to herself.
The Greek Math class descended on the Roz House for the second time in less than a month. They breakfasted like champions, and made fun of Ralph's impending stress tests, blood tests and ‘turn your head and cough' tests. He couldn't eat breakfast, he sipped mild tea and stared at the huge sweet roll with white icing and sprinkles Dr. Canney was eating with gusto. Ralph eyeballed the girls who were all dressed fit to eat as well, and the baked French toast with fresh blueberries that was more than fit to eat.
Ralph groaned when Mr. Crowley asked Martha if she had anymore of that smoky sausage with too much garlic and sage in it.
Ralph almost died when Martha brought out a huge platter of not only the sausage, but bacon and cornbread muffins as well.
"You guys are just doing this to torture me." He said almost whining.
"You ain't seen nothing yet." Peggy said to him. She sprinkled powdered sugar over her French toast that was just running with butter.
In a few minutes Colleen walked in wearing what was easily the sexiest dress in the Midwest.
A strapless black silk mini-dress with a plunging neckline, slit up the side until you wondered why she bothered to were anything at all. On her feet were spike heels, and an ankle bracelet. Her perfume was very musky and a little sweet. She smiled at Ralph with fire-engine red lips, then made a slow turn to give him the full effect.
He did notice the fresh flower in her hair… last.
"Well?" She said to him.
Ralph didn't answer.
Ralph Couldn't answer.
Dr. Canney was drooling. Crowley stopped chewing and stared. Varscroft thought he was going to have the next heart attack. Dale was even affected.
She was something to see.
"Damn." Was Harrison's comment. Ralph still didn't answer.
The music building was dark. Their key still worked to the old book entrance. Then they unlocked the room. It smelled a little musty.
The bed had been made since they left. But the few things they left were still there. And the bottle of wine they hadn't opened was still in the fridge. was fresh towels in the bathroom, a note was on the dresser. "Please call the desk if you need anything." And that was it.
"I guess we don't need anything." Mary said opening the bottle of wine.
"I've got everything I need." Jack said.
It was the right thing to say.
She kissed him back.
In about an hour they were treated to a practice session of the pep band.
There is one thing you should know about pep bands, especially pep bands that play for basketball games and such.
'Good' is a relative term. 'Loud' is the operative one. Most pep bands do loud much better than good. You want good band music, go see the concert band perform in the auditorium, you want loud and rowdy and maybe not bad music, hire the pep band.
Nine enthusiastic members, all with some talent, playing for free, at every home basketball game, and many other functions. Most of these kids did not have music scholarships, only three of them played in the marching band, and two of them were not even in a music class this semester.
This is for fun. And they had fun.
And for a nine-piece band, they could almost be called 'good', maybe.
Oh, yeah, they were also loud. No, I mean they were !L*!O!*U!!D*!!!
Mary and Jack were just down the hall. They ran to the bathroom, closed the door, turned on the shower and thought about stuffing washcloths in their ears to muffle the sound.
They ended up in the shower, ignoring the band.
Newlyweds do that kind of thing.
Peggy looked at Colleen.
Then Peggy Looked AT Colleen.
She wanted to be like that. Full of self-confidence, knowing she looked like something from a magazine, knowing every male in the room couldn't take his eyes off her. And enjoying it. Peggy wanted that confidence, that control of her own sexuality, that style. 'And it wouldn't hurt to have her looks either.' She said to herself.
Peggy was just beginning to get a figure. Her breasts were still ripening, she had envied other girls when they developed ahead of her, then she was glad hers didn't, she didn't want that attention. But now it would be nice to have a bit more than she did in that department.
Last night when she got Dale to kiss her, she felt sexy, she could tell he was insecure, but she felt good. And she liked it.
Kremin was sitting back in his dorm room.
He had a pile of papers. Even a fax from the FBI. The state banking regulators had talked to him on the phone, then the woman went into some detail about what was going to happen and why. It seemed to be electronic theft, and that could be hard to catch.
Kremin had every check checked, he accounted for every Auto-teller transaction. He knew where every dime on his debit card had went. He even showed the lady the automatic receipts he gets when trust fund makes deposits in his account. His running balance in his ledger was to the penny, until Friday. That's when the two balances differed, he had caught it, Saturday night, but couldn't do anything until Monday.
Now they were telling him to wait and see.
"Wait and see." He muttered. He had forty-seven dollars and sixty-three cents to his name.
Kremin started thinking of favors he could call in to get him by. There was a knock on his door. "Yeah?" He said.
"Message for Mr. Ristor." Said a youthful voice back.
The door opened and a skinny kid walked in with an envelope. Kremin took it, but didn't tip the kid. "It's alright, they tipped me already." He said and left.
Kremin looked at the envelope. No return address was on it.
He opened it. There were several papers in it, and a typed note.
"GOTCHA!" Was all the note said.
The papers were account numbers, access codes, his I.D. number, and some transaction records.
Kremin felt a cold chill run down his spine. With trembling hands he picked up his phone and dialed the investigator's pager number.
Ramsey got Kim upstairs. He was annoyed with her. And he started to tell her about it.
She smiled coyly and asked if he was really jealous of her.
"Well hell. Yeah."
"Why? I'm not your girlfriend. I'm still technically Sal's wife. I thought I was just staying here until I could find other ahh, accommodations." She still had the towel wrapped around her.
He didn't say anything.
"How do I know if I stay with you, you won't become a monk, or turn gay, or find some girl with big tits or something?"
Ramsey shrugged. "Well, I guess you don't."
She looked him over. "Good." She let the towel drop. "Well?"
"Well what?" He seemed a little confused.
"You're not naked." She said.
Dr. Solendes walked into the breakfast.
He stood with his mouth open staring at Colleen for a minute, then recovered himself and walked down to his patient, he pointed at the food, "Did you have any of that this morning?"
Ralph looked at the doctor. "No." He said sadly.
The doctor nodded to Colleen standing on the other side of the table. "Did you have any of that?"
"No!" Colleen said rather forcefully.
The doctor looked at Dr. Canney who was stuffing sausage into his face. "Pardon me sir. When was the last time you had a physical?"
"Huh?" Canney said.
"Sorry. Dr. Canney is a physicist." Ralph said.
Canney nodded, Ralph went on, "Dr. Solendes is a Physician, he's having my heart lung tests done today."
Canney bleached a little, he put his last piece of sausage back on his plate.
"Sorry doctor. I'm a, a, healthy. I'm just a little overweight." The fat man said. "I've been trying to loose weight for...."
"Is this weight loss supervised by a medical professional?"
Canney sat there.
"I see. Ralph, when I get done with you, I think I should give your entire group a physical. As research fellows you are entitled to it. You know, just to be safe." He looked at Varscroft's arm. "You I heard about." He grinned.
Crowley growled something about "Damn medicine men." But didn't look toward the doctor.
"Some I would give physicals to for free." Solendes said smiling at Colleen.
"I'm perfectly healthy."
"That my dear, is both a blessing and a shame." He said. "Most of my patients look like our boy here." He put his hand on Ralph's shoulder. "We got to go."
"Can I come with him?" Colleen said.
"No ma'am. If you walked into the cardiac clinic like that I'm afraid we'd loose half the patients." He smiled when he thought about it. "On second thought, it might be good for a few of them."
Maggie and Bonker had a long talk.
She was shocked to learn that he was pretty sure he was going to die in a couple of years. But he didn't want any pity or sympathy.
"Well, maybe just a little sympathy, you know. Comforting by somebody special." He made hound-dog eyes at her.
"You..." She trailed off, but she couldn't be mad at him.
"They never told me, but I could tell. Whenever I asked them they'd be evasive and not talk about it. But I know. Something with my insides ain't right. But I'm all right. At least I think I am."
Maggie was crying.
On the other side of the state, in a small monastery. Sal was deep in meditation.
He had purged himself of regret for not having done this sooner. He was out of the academic rat race. He would never have to worry about losing his scholarship or filling out the right grant form again.
He was at peace with the restrictions of life in the place. He already spoke and read Latin better than most of the fathers. And he had enough skills to do whatever they asked of him, except maybe singing, he wasn't much of a singer.
But in his meditation over some of the Psalms, he kept having a strange feeling. Something wasn't right with the life he had left behind.
It took him awhile to put his finger on it. Something to do with Kim. He was sure she was happier without him. She may even have another man. She had never been shy with her wants or needs, which was what had attracted him to her in the first place. But later it offended him, and finally overwhelmed him. But there was something else.
If she had another man. Now. While they were still technically married. And if the church didn't accept the divorce and grant an annulment...
Sal found he was sweating. He stood up and went to see the head of the order.
Something that serious couldn't be dealt with here, he'd have to go to Chicago, or maybe even, Rome.
Sal knew he wasn't going to give up without a fight, maybe, there was a way. As they discussed the letters he needed to write Sal decided that one should be written in Latin. The classic language would make something so distasteful sound better to the Cardinal. The one to Kim would have to be plainly worded, direct and to the point.
The old monk across the desk nodded gravely. Something he did quite well.
Marlene had been busy, both personally and professionally. Julie had been enchanted by her, they had spent a good deal of the night together. Now she was working on several articles on the University.
She was doing an in-depth article about all the art on a typical university campus. Besides the major gallery, and the public displays, there were collections like the Roz house. Several professors private collections, one of which she was seeing today. Then you had archeological prizes, and historical works that weren't usually considered art. Plus some of the architecture itself, like the Cathedral, and the monstrosity of civil engineering Ol' Abe had become. It was all more or less art.
She had called her publisher, he was intrigued by the idea. And wanted what he called 'a handsome write-up' about it. Plus, the charcoal article.
Marlene had even heard of some displays in the media center of antique prints from Civil War era papers and posters.
And she would stay an open room at the house while she did her work.
The butler was thrilled.
It had been quiet for some time. Mary was in bed, Jack was on the phone with the pizza man trying to find out where their pizza was.
"Give up and come to bed Jack." Mary said.
Jack looked at her. "OK buddy, look. Keep your pizza, I got a better offer." He listened for a minute. "I don't care who said what, I didn't get MY pizza." More listening. "Fine. See ya in the breeze." He hung up.
"What'd he say?"
"He said they delivered a pizza here, and somebody paid for it."
"I bet the band got our pizza." Mary said smiling.
"If it got them to be quiet for awhile, so much the better." He sat down.
Mary wiggled over to him. "One large pizza and nine players?"
"I don't know, maybe they ordered some stuff too and didn't notice an extra pizza." He shut the light off.
They were quiet for awhile. "Mary."
"Are we always going to be this happy?"
She didn't answer.
"Mary, you didn't answer."
"If you don't let me sleep I won't be this happy now."
He took the hint and held her close.
Ralph was scared to death about his tests. With good reason. They were scary tests.
Dr. Solendes turned him over to the staff at the cardio-respiratory center. They took his blood, he had to pee in a cup, they listened to his heart and lungs, took a chest x-ray, then they looked in his nose and pounded on his knees, and other things.
Finally they put him on a bicycle with moving handlebars and told him to ride until he couldn't. He did. Then he got on the treadmill. They told him that since he was already fatigued, the working heart and lung measurements now would be better to find out what was going on.
Ralph felt sure he was going to die right then and there. He had glimpsed Colleen out in the waiting room when they were making him run around in his skivvies and a robe. But they wouldn't let her come back until he was on the treadmill.
"Is he your boyfriend?" A nurse asked her.
"Sort of." She answered.
Ralph looked like hell. He was red and sweating, with wires coming off him, and bandages on his arms.
"Yeah, we're pretty close." The nurse shook her head and walked away.
"OK, Mr. Cook. Now it's for the money, we got enough background recordings of your functions, now we go for the gold." The aid said plugging him in.
The doctor had a scuba divers mouthpice in his hand as was trying to stick it in Ralph's mouth.
"Colleen, notify my next of kin. Some cousin in St. Louis." He said before they gagged him.
The rest of the class sat around the table for some time. Nobody really saying anything. Finally the butler walked in and stood at attention until they all looked his way.
"As soon as Dr. Solendes sends word I will relay it to you." He was silent for a minute. "For your benefit in the mean time, there is a recital in the music hall by a few of the residents who are preparing for a competition next week."
The class members didn't seem impressed, but anything was better than worrying about Ralph's ticker. The butler continued.
"The categories represented are 'original composition- country-western' then, 'original interpretive performance- improvisational jazz', and finally 'modern adaptation of classical theme and melody'." He finally took a breath.
The class and others seemed to be a little more receptive to this. They got up and made motions they would attend.
The butler turned and led them into the music room.
Of course Sandy was at the piano. She was playing some lively music. Some of the others were in there fiddling with various instruments and music sheets.
The class and some of the other house people who were around filed in, took seats, and waited. In a few minutes the program started, and they were treated to some of the best the campus had to offer.
Dale was sitting near the back.
Peggy leaned to him, "What did you think?"
"It seems all right for fancy music." He said.
"I meant the way Colleen looked this morning."
Dale glanced over at her. He thought about it for a minute. "I guess she looked nice."
It was a typical Dale remark. Peggy didn't reply. They listened to the music.
Maggie finally calmed down.
Bonker went and got her a glass of water.
She sat for awhile and stared at the floor. She couldn't look at him. She was sure her heart was breaking. She wanted to say something meaningful, but her mind had locked up and she was lucky she didn't start crying again.
"Maggie, you mean a lot to me, but I'm afraid to love you because I'm afraid of what it would put you through if I..." She put a hand over his mouth.
"Bonk, don't please..." She was ready to cry again. "It." Her voice trailed off into silence. "Oh, hell." She said finally.
"What?" He asked.
"I've got to go back to the dorm and do a final check."
"I'll come with you. ... If you don't mind." He offered.
She smiled. She couldn't stay upset or sad with him, because Bonker refused to be sad or upset with himself. He was Bonker, and that was that.
Ralph was ushered into what he called a holding cell with Colleen while the medical people crunched his numbers.
"Are you OK?" She asked him.
He was sitting with no pants, in one of those stupid gowns that don't fit anybody, with wire connectors glued to him and gunk in his hair. "Yeah."
She looked out the window. Ralph felt bad for her. "Hey, it was nice having you here with me." He said.
"I was a little worried about you."
"I wondered about that." He reached for her arm. She turned toward him. "I know what it is. You want to move into that apartment, and if I go kaputt, you'll have to stay in the house."
"How'd you know that." She smiled a little at him.
Her smile was all it took for Ralph to forget his wires and gunk. "You are so damned beautiful. That's what happened to me. Your too pretty to live with."
She had heard that before. One of her former boyfriends dumped her because he said she was too pretty to go out in public with. "Don't say that Ralph."
"OK. I won't. But you're still the best damned looking woman I have ever seen."
He was holding her to him when Dr. Solendes and another doctor walked into the room. Solendes cleared his throat. Ralph loosened his grip on her a little but didn't let go.
"Well Ralph. I got some good news and some bad news."
"Am I gonna live?" He asked.
Ralph smiled meanly at him, "Then what's the good news?"
Dr. Myersong, the President of the University, and Yyavonne Meade, student-actress, had become the toast of the alumni cocktail and dinner circuit. They had danced in New York, been presented at a gathering of high rollers in Atlantic City, and sipped fine wine with diplomats in Washington D.C.
They made a spectacular couple. Yyavonne was glamorous and photogenic, and Myersong was so distinguished you felt obligated to call him 'Sir'.
The society press loved them. And the well-connected alumni of the university made sure when they came to town on Myersong's farewell tour they had a party to show the couple off.
Nobody mentioned any sort of impropriety about the retiring University President dating one of his students. Yyavonne dispelled that from the word 'go'. She wasn't just a student. She was an ACTRESS, who was studying theater to further her career. She was also thirty-one years old.
It was time for lunch. The morning had passed in a hurry. The only one who had left the house was Varscroft, and he had just went to his office to collect his mail. The limmo was pulling up with him when the others were just getting ready to set down to eat.
"Hey, I got some news." Varscroft said walking in.
"Ralph?" Dale asked excitedly.
The professor shook his head. "No, sorry. About the class. I got a letter from a friend of mine who teaches at Virginia Tech. He says he had a student last year do a paper on whether or not the old theory of the universal ether had been actually disproved. He sent me a copy of the paper. The student said we can use any of the data he had if we want, he doesn't want paid for it, just credit as a reference if we use it."
"Why, is his data garbage?" Harrison said sourly.
"No way. He's working for a chemical company and says he doesn't need the distraction, he's working on super-pure fluids, and has enough to keep him busy. Here." Varscroft handed Harrison the paper.
Harrison handed them to Canney.
Who in turn gave them to the butler.
The butler didn't want them, so he gave them to Dale. Dale started reading it.
In a few minutes Miss Alice came in, "I have news about Mr. Cook." She said to them. Everybody stopped and looked at her. "He is fine. He has a touch of high blood pressure, and some other minor problems, and Dr. Solendes his cholesterol and fatty acids in his blood looked like a phone number. But with some medication and exercise, he should be fine." She chuckled a bit.
They clapped. It would be great to have Ralph back. The old Ralph back.
"Did he say what caused the attack of whatever it was?" Harrison said. He was concerned. He and Ralph were the same age, and in about the same shape.
"The doctor said it was an acute asthma attack." Miss Alice looked around, "Complicated by an untreated hiatal hernia."
They were watching her, some with wide eyes.
"It's all related. Mr. Cook eats like a pig, he smokes stinking cigars and drinks too much, he gets no exercise, and spends all day in a stuffy classroom thinking too much. His body probably got tired of it and that was the only way to get his attention. Now, as for you all." She looked around the room.
Canney hid behind Varscroft's plaster arm.
Crowley looked at the ceiling.
Mr. Blumn frowned.
The only one who didn't try to disappear was Dale. "Miss Alice, what can we do?"
"I'll let the doctor tell you but I think you can figure it out."
Dale thought about it. "Maybe we could take walks between sessions, and eat carrots instead of GooeyPies during class, and get rid of the cigars."
Miss Alice smiled gently at him.
Mr. Warren sat in his room in the Married dorm.
He was sitting, pouting, staring at the typewriter. Trying to will it to type his book report for him.
Mrs. Warren was reading the newspaper, smiling at him behind his back.
"Sometimes I think our going back to school was a bad idea." He said.
"You said you liked the book.... You didn't read it did you?"
He turned in his chair. "Don't start woman." But he was smiling.
She got up and walked to the desk. She picked up the book. "Universally acclaimed as the world's greatest novel..." She read from the back cover. "And you never read it."
"Well...." He said, he was staring at the typewriter.
She thumbed through the book. "It seems longer now than it did when I read it in school."
"You've read it?" He asked her, his face brightening.
"I did." She sat the book down. "And I am not going to write your report for you.
He seemed to sag. Slowly he reached for the book. "Damned small print in it." He said opening it to a random page. "How do you pronounce.. .D, r, u, b, e, t, s, koy?" She was ignoring him, "Drub-ets-koy", he tried to sound out.
He flipped a few more pages, "How about ahhh, Bog-ut-charovo?" he read slowly. Squinting at the page.
Mrs. Warren shook her head. She didn't remember the Russian pronunciations and wasn't sure about the gist of the story any more, high school had been more than forty years ago, but she wasn't going to let him know that.
Mr. Warren was reading the page he had turned to. His eyes were watering. "I can't read this."
"Put your glasses on." She suggested to him.
He scowled at her.
He sat and thought about it. "Professor Willis wants a book report. Comparing WAR AND PEACE to other classics. That's what I'll do."
Mrs. Warren shook her head. "It's you're grade."
Mr. Warren was already digging through their bookshelf. He found a couple other classics and a few other well-known books. "I'm going to do a book comparison."
"Have you actually read any of them?"
He looked at his wife, "I read this one once upon a time." He held up CATCH 22. "And I've seen the movies of most of them." He looked at the titles.
She chuckled and sat back down with her paper.
He started banging on the keys. His introduction began, "This is a comparison of the physical presentation of the text of several of the classics including Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace...."
He typed for quite a while, then he sat back and read it. His first several paragraphs really did give the impression he knew what he was talking about.
Kremin was in the unusual position of having his room full of cops.
He didn't like the idea much.
He had called the banking investigator. Who showed up, and brought an FBI special agent with her. Then two inspectors from the city police showed up to test the papers for fingerprints. A ranking officer from the campus police stopped by to see what was going on. Then a person from the bank itself came by, to represent the bank's interests in the investigation.
In a few minutes they were digging through every piece of paper he owned and asking him all sorts of questions.
Kremin asked if he should have a lawyer for the questioning.
"Why? You hiding something?" The campus officer asked him.
"No! I'm the victim. I'm missing over three thousand dollars. I was just wondering who was going to look out for me. Like can I get my money back, and get my account unfrozen."
The cops all exchanged looks. The bank investigator spoke first. "Do you have legal council?"
Kremin had somebody in mind. "There's cold drinks in the fridge, I'll be right back."
He wasn't 'right back.'
It took a good deal of shouting and begging before he got Sammy to come upstairs to talk to cops.
Sammy was a senior pre-law student who was in pre-law for self-defense.
Sammy was always in some sort of trouble, so, to save money, he had become a licensed para-legal first and was now turning himself into a lawyer. His character was a little questionable, but he knew his law books, and had earned a scholarship academically.
Sammy walked into the room full of cops. "You're his lawyer?" The campus officer asked with a large smirk on his face.
"I'm his legal counsel. An advisor. Professor Kraimler will be his lawyer if needed." Sammy said.
The officer looked at the others. "OK."
"Now." Sammy said getting a beer. "Let's start from the beginning if you don't mind. Exactly how much money is missing?"
Kremin learned a few things about his case. He was amazed that there were several things he hadn't been told.
Sammy asked the right questions and took pages of notes. The cops let the banking investigator and the FBI do the talking.
The campus officer watched the exchange with interest. He seldom got to see the bantering between a lawyer and the police.
Sammy finally seemed satisfied and looked at Kremin standing in the corner.
"Well. Here it is... They won t say it, but I'd bet one of your former girlfriends kept your bank numbers and when she knew your dad's trust sent you a check, she got to it before you did. They are working on it. But. Your money seems to have went south for the winter."
Cindy was sitting reading in her room. She was used to the ringing phone interrupting anything she tried to do. But she didn't expect the voice on the other end.
"Hi Cindy. It's Steve."
She wasn't sure if she was happy to hear from him or not. "How's it going?" she asked.
There was a moment of silence while Steve swallowed about a ton and a half of pride. "I'd like to see you again if you don't mind."
Cindy couldn't think of a reason to say no. Her life was in the toilet and the toilet wouldn't flush. "What did you have in mind?"
"Have you seen this week's movie?"
"No." She lied. It had been on TV not two weeks ago.
"I'll buy." He said.
Note from the Campus Spirit's Guide to Student Activities: The movie is free, the snacks; cheap.
"Sure. What time?"
"There's a show at six thirty. I can meet you in the snack bar. OK?"
Cindy said sure and hung up.
Steve had the jitters. He had searched high and low for a date for four days.
His longest dry spell in years, and he was feeling pressure to do something to change his 'social status'.
Dale skipped lunch for the most part, reading the research paper on the universal ether. It was mainly an overview of everything ever written on the subject from the 1800's on.
Dale learned there was another way to spell it, 'Aether', and it was also called 'Luminiferous Ether'. He was a little surprised that something he hadn't heard of before this class had been around for so long.
The paper was very careful in pointing out what all the old research did say, and did not say about the ether. The main point being that after Michelson-Morely in 1881 the theory was basically given up, then in 1905 Einstein pretty much put it to bed for keeps.
Dale had been in the class when they had discussed the fact that Einstein never said the ether didn't exist, and this paper restated it carefully with lots of numbers and examples to back it up.
Einstein had said that if it did exist, it couldn't be detected, because of its very nature, and whether it did or not didn't matter a bit to relativity.
Dale wondered where that left them.
Peggy looked at him from the doorway, he was sitting in a chair by the window, staring at the piano, idly flipping the papers back and forth. He looked so deep in thought she doubted if he would notice a Mardi Gras parade through the room.
"He's deep in thought isn't he?" The butler said to her.
Peggy looked up at him.
"I do believe he is developing an excellent scientific mind." The man turned sharply and walked down the hall.
Peggy didn't know what to think.
Mary sighed and tried to squirm closer to Jack. She was really still asleep. She felt so good laying here next to him. She loved him, and she was married to him.
She knew in a few hours they would have to get up and go deal with the university, and get back into the routine of classes.
Mary was planning to make a show out of calling herself Mary Foster now, and she knew at least one of her teachers would not approve.
Mary eased back into sleep.
Jack slept like a statue. If statues dream of playing for the Bucks, that is.
Dr. Solendes ignored Ralph's comment.
"The bad news is you are not in shape to run the decathlon in the next Olympics."
"I wasn't planning to."
The doctor looked at Colleen for strength. "You are also not in shape to walk from here back to Campus." He said to Ralph.
"If you don't take care of that hernia, do something about your asthma, start working on getting your cholesterol down, loose weight, and keep your blood pressure down you are likely going to fall over dead in ten years. Or less." Solendes said bluntly.
"Nah." Ralph said. He looked hard at the doctor's face. Finally he accepted the reality. "OK maybe you know what you're talking about. What should I do?"
Later Colleen bought Ralph his first 'heart healthy' meal in the hospital cafeteria.
Baked chicken with fresh herbs, veggies with no salt or butter, unsweetened tea. A fruit salad with just a dab of yogurt for dessert.
Ralph looked at the plate like it held a live scorpion. "This isn't food." He said.
"This is excellent food. Try it." She said sweetly.
Ralph cut a bite from the chicken. He tasted it and made a little face. Then he took a bite.
"Well?" Asked Colleen.
He shrugged, but he ate the rest of it without looking up.
They caught the campus bus back to the house. Ralph wanted to surprise everybody.
The Greek Math class was still there. Some were discussing something Dale was saying over and over again.
Crowly was playing chess with one of the guys from the house.
Sandy was still playing the piano.
Ralph spun Colleen around through the door into the music room and they danced in to the music Sandy was playing. He ended the dance by dipping Colleen very low and kissing her.
The audience applauded.
Cont in Two Dorms Part 38
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