©01 The Media Desk
Back to the Desk
At this point in the story it is Thanksgiving week. The campus is basically closed, many of the students having gone home for the holiday.
What follows is a short summary of where our main characters are...
Mary is adjusting quite well to married life. She is doing well in her classes as well.
Jack is wondering what is so terrible about being married. Even though it has been barley a week, he thinks its gonna be smooth sailing...
Cindy, her life is so confused she is thinking about moving out of the country. Her dorm is a mess, and she had a good time with Steve.
Maggie- Mags just found out she is 'with child'. Her and Bonker are a real item, and his health is improving since he has been seeing her.
Dale- he is in over his head in every aspect of his life. The Greek math class has left all concept of reality far behind. He has a girlfriend in Peggy and doesn't even know it, and he has forgotten he will eventually have to go back to his regular classes sooner or later.
Peggy, She is having a wonderful time. She loves being in the house, dressing for 'occasions', and her classes are going great.
Colleen and Ralph. The most unlikely couple since Cleo and Mark A. are still 'hot' and have moved in together. But they claim to be 'friends' only.
Kremin, he is no longer broke. But he won't be buying pizza for the whole dorm for awhile.
The Greek Math Class. A few of the class are serious about their inquiry. But seeds of doubt about the very sanity of their position are creeping in. Varscroft wonders if his arm will be encased in plaster forever.
The Roz House: Exactly why is the Founder's Grandson in town?
Campus life... Nobody knows if the football team will be going to a post season game or not. Basketball is getting ready to fire up. With Jack on board. Professor Saber. The matter has been buried. So it seems has he.
Dr Myersong and Yyavonne ... They are both adults, but they don't act it.
The fire paperwork is shuffling slowly, but it is shuffling....
When Maggie got back to her room she found a message from the Chair of the board of trusties requesting that she call him as soon as possible. "Yes, Miss Carmicheal. I would like to see you as soon as its convenient." The chairman said when they had exchanged greetings.
"I could meet you in the Union in a few minutes."
"Excellent. See you here."
Colleen was cooking supper for her and Ralph. He was sipping a light beer and watching an exercise tape. It was as close as he had gotten yet to actually committing exercise.
Colleen put the food on to simmer, then she disappeared into her room for a minute. She came back out in tights and a tube top. Colleen started doing the routines the people on the tape were doing. Ralph divided his attention unevenly between her and the screen.
Actually he all but forgot the tape was on.
In a few minutes he was standing up, waving his arms in circles, twisting ever so slightly side to side.
It was exercise, and it wasn't painful.
However watching Colleen bend and twist was painful.
They did the low impact low excertion stretches and moves from the rest of the tape. It was made for near hopeless beginners, which he was and she was not.
The next tape was a little more advanced.
Ralph tried to keep up, but before long he was puffing and sweating.
He flopped into the chair, in a second she was in his lap, kissing him powerfully. He was too beat to respond immediately.
She pulled back, "You really tried. I am so proud of you."
Ralph smiled weakly at her, "Just you wait until I get my second wind."
Cindy had left the party early with Steve. She didn't plan on going home with him, but it worked out that way. But she made sure she left for her dorm before anything romantic happened.
Back in her room Cindy made herself a nightcap and curled up in front of her TV. Her phone rang twice. Once it was a girl living in McQuin now because of the plumbing problems wanting to know if she had had a package delivered for her. The second time it was wanting to know the new phone number of a girl that had moved into a sorority Cindy didn't like.
"I don't have my phone book handy."
The caller was persistent. "You don't know Connie's number?"
"I don't even know Connie." Cindy said sharply.
She was in that dorm last year."
"So was about three hundred other girls."
"Can you go get your phone book, I'll wait."
Cindy sat the receiver on the floor and dropped a sweater on it. "You're right. You will." She sipped her drink and watched the movie.
After the stirring goodbye scene and the boat sailing away, she picked up the receiver and sat it on the base.
It was late when Cindy finally went to bed.
Carl, Jimbo and Aljawon were sitting around Carl's kitchen table.
All three had taken HIV tests. And all three had come back negative.
Jimbo felt like he had just been granted parole, again.
The three agreed they wanted to stay healthy.
"I've been around some of the guys with the Monster. I do not want to go out that way." Aljawon smashed his cigarette out in his palm, wincing slightly at the pain. "I'll borrow one of Jimbo's guns and do myself before I died like that."
"I couldn't do that." Carl said looking at his friend's hand. "I just couldn't do it."
Jimbo had a coffee mug full of whisky. "Carl, if you got it, and got sick like you was going to die. I'd kill you in your sleep before I'd watch you suffer like that."
Carl laughed, then was silent for a second. "But you'd go to jail forever, if not the gas chamber. I wouldn't want that."
Aljawon laughed. "Hell, he's happier in jail than he is out. He can fight all day and chase punks all night."
"Then I'll be chas'n you!" Jimbo said loudly back to him.
Carl giggled and enjoyed the change in the discussion.
Jack's wardrobe was sorely lacking in many ways.
He had jeans, and he had shorts, and he had some old dress pants that had faded out. But as for regular dress up clothes, he had maybe three outfits that would pass muster.
"We'll get through this weekend. But we have got to go shopping soon." Mary told him.
Jack made a face.
One of the reasons he didn't have any clothes was he hated shopping, the other reason was he had trouble finding stuff to fit him. For his shoulders to fit in a shirt he had to get sizes that hung on him everywhere else. The long sleeved shirts and jackets never had sleeves long enough. And as for pants. They were another story all together, he would just buy the longest pants he could find and live with the waist being too low. Away from sports from April to October, he basically lived in shorts and T-shirts when he could get away with it.
Finally they were ready to go to her parents house.
Jack wasn't sure what to expect, Mary's mom had assured both of them on the phone that Max was fine, for right now, and he was looking forward to spending time with them.
Mary made one last check of the room while Jack took her last bag down to the car. In a few minutes she joined him.
"ROAD TRIP!!!!" Jack shouted out the window to Guy as he walked by. Guy waved as Mary got in the car.
"I think we got everything." She said.
Jack looked in the back seat. It was full of her stuff in bags, boxes, and a milk crate. The trunk had laundry, and her suitcases, in it. Jack's old suitcase and gym bag was jammed on top of everything in the trunk.
"I hope so." He said.
They drove out of town and got on the highway. Mary's folks lived just a couple hours drive away, Jack was eager to get there, but he was slightly dreading it as well.
The heir to the Rozbilski name was taken on an extensive tour of the house.
He was very sharp mentally. He seemed to know the history of each room they went through. He mentioned alumni that had stayed in the room when they were in school, he told about how he had stayed in the General Collins room when it was just called the 'Corner Room'. Collins had moved in some time after Emory had moved out. Later Collins went on to a military career and was much decorated during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
"I think the General did more to distinguish himself than I have." The old man smiled at them.
Later they sat and listened to Sandy on the piano. She played and played.
Hayes nodded in time to the music, then he would applaud as each song ended.
Finally at the end of one number he stood and waved Sandy to a stop.
"I could listen to you play all day my dear. Such beautiful music. Such talent." He beamed to her. "But I am afraid I have other appointments to keep. So I will come to the point of my visit."
He turned to the butler and Ms Alice. "My old friends. I am afraid I have bad news, some of those doctors over at Saint Luke's say my heart is going on me."
When the residents and staff started with the concern and denials he raised his hands to them.
"Its alright. I have had eighty-three of the most wonderful years a man could ask for, and I'm not giving up just yet, but I am realistic. My wife is still spry and a delight, in fact, she is over to the campus gift store right now wearing out a credit card or two buying gifts for our grandkids, and a few great grandkids, and a couple great great Grand kids." He smiled, his dentures fitting perfectly.
"I could not dream of better. I have come here today to announce that my family is turning over part of our interest in the house to a long time friend and aid in this endeavor. Mister Neeman Georges." The old man grinned wickedly. "And of course, his brother."
Dale felt a shiver run down his back.
The old man knew about the butler.
The butler didn't miss a beat. He smiled broadly for a brief second. Then he recovered himself bowed stiffly. "I thank you sir. And I am sure that could my brother be here, he would be most appreciative as well."
"The Misters Georges will assume a stake in the estate of approximately four percent share in its total worth."
Dale didn't think that sounded like much.
Mr. Rozbilski Hayes continued.
"If any of your are curious, that would be just under two hundred thousand dollars current market value of the house and grounds and associated furnishings, stocks, and the art collection."
Dale tried to do the math. He got tangled up in the zeros.
Harrison rescued him from a headache, "That means this place and what's in it is worth in the neighborhood of six million dollars."
Dale looked around, "Wow." He said under his breath.
Maggie walked into the Student Union. She was met at the door by a student working for the board of Trusties. They walked up to the conference room in silence.
"Ms Carmicheal." The board Chairman greeted her as she came in, she was a little surprised to see the secretary she had yelled at in the cafeteria sitting off to one side.
He didn't look at her.
"We are wrapping up this series of meeting and we desire to dispose of this matter as expediently as possible.
Maggie took a deep breath. "You mean the fire business." She glanced over at the secretary.
"Yes miss." The chairman glanced over a list in front of him. "I have here a list of claims from the residents of your dorm. Do you believe it to be complete?"
Maggie knew the list. "For the most part yes. It seems that every day I hear from another girl that has realized she lost her favorite purse or a suitcase or something."
"But all major items are on it? I see several computers, TV's, a Cashmere coat. Things like that."
"Yeah I guess so. But if anybody brings up anything major I will let you know. I mean they have to have a receipt or an letter from a store or something like that to claim a computer, I imagine there will be fewer claims as time passes."
The chairman seemed satisfied. "A motion has been made that the list be approved as it is, and a fund set up for any future minor claims from the residents. The motion has been seconded and we have heard Ms Carmicheal's statement about the list. Is there any further discussion or objections?" He waited a minute, then called for a voice vote.
The list was approved unanimously with one abstention. The board secretary glared at her, but said nothing.
Maggie felt like kissing the chairman. She didn't." Thank you sir.
"We will begin processing checks to the girls immediately. They will all be delivered by certified mail. You will be authorized to pay out any claims of under say, two hundred dollars for a period of sixty days, that should take care of anything that comes up, if it is more than that contact my office authorization. I will have the papers drawn up and we can discuss details tomorrow over lunch. Is that alright with you?"
Maggie felt warm. "Thank you sir." She said again, "That's fine. May I bring my boyfriend? We usually have lunch together."
"That'll be nice. I will leave your pass at the desk. I'll see you tomorrow noon in the President's Room." He shook her hand and bid her a good evening.
Colleen had to go check an art project for a student. She said it was 'curing' and she had to make sure it was OK.
Ralph grumbled but he got dressed and went with her to the campus.
The plumbers were giving Cindy even more bad news about her dorm. Now everybody was going to have to move out because they were going to have to tear the entire floor out of the basement out to fix the sewer, which meant shutting off the water for the duration, and the electric from time to time.
She figured somewhere, sometime, she had upset the plumbers union and now their vengeance was come down upon her for keeps.
Cindy dialed Mary's number. Maybe she could move into the married dorm for awhile. Mary had told her about all the empty rooms. There was no answer. She looked up the dorm supers number and called it to leave a message for Mary.
Betty answered the phone and Cindy told her what was up and asked about a room.
"Oh, Sure. We had talked about allowing some of your girls in here anyway, but it didn't go any further. We can take you, and maybe a hundred or more of your residents."
Ralph never knew what to expect in the art building.
One time he had walked in looking for her and ended up in a painting class that was painting large wooden panels of a naked woman holding a bowl of fruit. The title on the door said 'Still life, nude with fruit' he was curious so he walked in. The first thing he saw was the middle aged woman standing in the middle of the room with the bowl of fruit.
Then when he had looked at her until his eyes hurt, he looked at the painting the students were working on. Some were very good, one he would almost buy. Some of the others were, imaginative.
Ralph had taken another long look at the model, and went on his way.
Today there was nobody at all in the building.
Colleen unlocked the side door and they walked in. She locked it behind them. "It's in the kiln downstairs."
She led him down the stairs into the lower reaches of the building. Ralph had never been down here before.
The halls were crowded with everything from a sculpture that was a welded mass of metal around an old bicycle to a coffin.
"Who's the dead guy?" Ralph asked patting the wooden box as they passed it.
"It's empty, it was for a performance piece dealing with the immortality of art." She said turning a light on in a side room. "I want to show you something in here. I think you'll like this."
She didn't say anything else, she just gestured to a large free standing bulletin board covered with photos.
He looked at them. They were some of the most erotic photos he had ever seen. They were all of the same couple, supposedly in the act of love. But they were not pornographic, they didn't really show anything, a glimpse of breast here, a sliver of butt there.
The poses were carefully done, the lighting perfect, the backgrounds were magnificent. Ralph carefully studied each one. Colleen joined him.
"A graduate project. She spent months taking these pictures to get them just right."
"She?" Ralph said without looking up.
"The photographer is the girl in the pictures, these are all self portraits of her and her boyfriend. Don't you just love it?"
Ralph had to admit he did.
****** DR. MYERSONG
Doctor Venson Grey Myersong, the University President, was well into a raging fit.
He had just found out about the condition of Cannon dorm, that and now the University was having to find housing for even more displaced girls.
"First we had to absorb the population of Westin after the fire. Well that is something unusual. I can accept that. The old Catholic dorm is still standing for just such a contingency. Now we have to close Cannon?" He stared at the director of the physical plant until the man looked down.
"These are old buildings. Things like this happen." The director said slowly.
"I want a detailed report on what caused this, why it was not detected when something could be done. And what to do to prevent this in the future. And I want an inspection and report on the condition of every dorm and house on the campus."
"Make that an inspection of EVERY campus building. Everything, from the Alpha Tau Omega Frat to Old Abe. I want the plumbing, the electrical, and everything else checked and double-checked. BEFORE anything else happens."
"Sir. You will have retired before this could be completed."
"I just withdrew my resignation from the Board. They are with me on this one. Until this campus is back to normal. Or at least on its way. I ain't going anywhere." The President's face was red. "But maybe a few others will be." He glowered at the director. "I will be expecting a day by day progress report, as each building is done I want the report on my desk, with a copy sent to the Chair of the Board of Trusties, and a copy to the Governors committee on Higher Education. So make the reports as accurate as possible. PULL NO PUNCHES! If the electrical system of the Independent House is a fire hazard... SAY SO!"
The director was warning to the idea. "Dr Myersong. What if, beginning immediately, I do a walk through inspection of every building, noting any problems that need corrected immediately, then do a more detailed one in the coming weeks?"
The President thought it over. "That an excellent idea. In fact. We will start right now. And I will join you. I want to see the inside of every building on this campus."
"Sir. Please take this the right way, but do you know how many buildings we are talking about?"
"I know of seventy-eight just off the top of my head." Myersong said.
The director nodded. "The total is over one hundred that are property of the University. It may take months to give a total inspection of each on."
"Then while we are at it, I will get a real estate appraiser on board and we will check our insurance coverage against real property values. I have somebody in mind as we speak. Let me call her now."
"Let me make a few calls myself. Shall we meet back here in say an hour sir?"
Myersong nodded and picked up the phone.
His first call was to Yyavonne. He had to explain to her that their cruise was going to be postponed. Then he called a woman he knew that had experience appraising industrial and residential property.
In an hour the group was ready to begin their daunting task.
Maggie was sitting on Bonker's bed. She had come to the house to tell him the news. But now she wasn't sure she should. He was all happy and cheerful about having passed his credential test to be a ref at wrestling matches.
"Now I can tell guys they didn't get a point for a take down, or score somebody higher for doing something illegal they didn't get caught at." He danced around.
"You shouldn't do that." Maggie scolded him.
Bonker nodded, "I know. I should be the best ref I can be. But it is tempting. Especially since my first match will be this coming weekend, and it's at Southeast." He grinned.
"You're going away this weekend?" Bonker nodded. Maggie broke out in tears. "Hey. Come on, its only for Friday and Saturday."
"But I'm pregnant." Maggie sniffled.
The word hit Bonker like an electric shock. But it wasn't the reaction Maggie expected.
The Rozbilski heir had had his say and prepared to leave. He said something about having to buy the school to pay off his wife's credit card bill from the gift shops.
The others laughed and said good-bye.
Dale looked around for the butler. He was nowhere to be found. He went up to his room and did nothing, then down to the TV room, there was nothing on.
Not knowing what else to do. Dale went down to the library to find something to read.
Instead of finding a book. Dale discovered one of college's other great pastimes. A role-playing game.
Three students from the house, Keith, Martin, and Kalley were debating what a character should do next. They had complicated diagrams on the table, long lists of other characters, monsters, aliens, time travelers, and all sorts of others on the wall, and sketches and drawings of weapons, secret runes, and powers scattered around.
Dale stood and took it all in while they discussed in incredible detail what their character should do next and what the responses from others was likely to be.
Dale didn't understand. "Who are you playing?"
Keith smiled. "About fifty other groups all over the country."
Kalley was exuberant, "This is the largest 'Underrealm' game in the world. Its HUGE. Its world is enormous, and growing all the time..."
"It's a universe unto itself." Martin said while looking at a picture and description of another character.
"We play on the Net. The house's character has been in the game for three years. We're now a Turbo Super Wizard who's invisible when naked."
"Oh. Wow." Dale answered.
Max nearly ran into the driveway as Jack pulled in.
He was delighted to see them. He hugged Mary and shook hands with Jack, then he shook hands with Mary and hugged Jack.
"Dad." Mary tried to get a word in sideways. "We're gonna be here for three days."
"I know I know. It's not nearly long enough. I love that movie of your wedding. Have you seen it? And Jack you have to tell me about some of these pictures of the games. There's a card for you from Aunt Thelma." He talked them into the house.
There was no putting it off. They sat and watched the movie of the wedding. With and without commentary, when it was over they sat and talked some, then something else came on the video. Outtakes of newscasts and bloopers from stage productions at the university. One series was of sports goofs, Jack was in one from a basketball game last season where a player jumped up for a rebound and came down on a referee.
They laughed and laughed. There was no commentary, just audio from the shots. All cut together in an endless parade of silliness. It must have been cut together for something else and never erased. But it was hilarious, well over an hour of it at the end of the wedding tape.
"Rob is gonna die when he finds out this was on there." Mary said.
"This is better than the wedding." Jack said.
"Almost. Mary's dad said while laughing at a few shots of last year's homecoming parade with the backward float.
The Letter Society's float had been built on its trailer backwards. Nobody had noticed until the man showed up to tow it to the parade start line. It had been a hit.
Kremin was home for the holiday.
His step-father was very concerned about his financial situation, offered much good advice, and a fair sized wad of cash to show his sadness at Kremin having been taken. Kremin was appreciative.
His mother shed a tear and hoped that the perpetrator was caught and sent to prison for a long time. She offered him a fine leather briefcase to keep his legal records and papers in. "I just wish you would move out of that old nasty dormitory and into an apartment for grad school."
Kremin thanked them both again. For his family this emotional outburst was nearly overwhelming. But it was about money.
His siblings and stepsiblings and half siblings and so on were all in town. Kremin found the couple of them he liked and they holed up in an upstairs room drinking expensive beer and playing video games.
Kremin didn't dislike his family.
He just didn't like them. Much.
But he did have one trump card on his side. One of his stepbrothers was a banker. This kind of thing wasn't supposed to happen.
Cindy had her suitcase in a room on the top floor of the Married dorm. This side of the fourth floor had not been used in ages. Some of the rooms smelled musty, and needed aired out. But a lot of the girls from Cannon Dorm asked only one question.
"Does the plumbing work?"
Betty smiled and answered. "So far, yes it does. And we have lots of hot water."
The plumbers were working all week while many of the girls were home for the holiday. In all only about sixty girls moved into the married dorm for the time being. Maybe Monday the Dorm would be open again.
Cindy was given the old Floor Assistant room at the end of one leg of the floor.
"When is your next Staff meeting" she asked John.
"Hmmm. I don't know. I know we're supposed to have one every month."
"What are you doing for dinner tonight?" Betty asked her.
"Nothing." Cindy answered honestly.
"Come down about five. We'll have supper and our first staff meeting."
"You guys been the super's here for two years and never had a meeting?"
"Well... There is no other floor staff. We're it."
"I like this system." Cindy grinned at them and opened her suitcase.
Ralph had Colleen backed into a corner by the kiln. She was only putting up token resistance.
"Its too hot in here." She said with both arms wrapped around his neck and one leg hooked around his waste.
"You got that right." He kissed down her neck.
They had checked the stuff in the kiln, Colleen rotated them and reset the timer for another ten hours. Then Ralph had noticed some figures based on the famous 'The Kiss' statue that were a little more intimate.
"Those are 'The Lovers'" Colleen said.
"Nope." Ralph was looking at them appreciatively.
"What do you mean no. It's a series of sculptures of lovers."
"I meant No, as in, they're not the Lovers. We are."
And he fully intended to prove his point. In spite of the hot bricks of the huge kiln next to them.
Colleen pointed to a sculpture on the shelf. "I like that one."
Ralph looked at it. He was a little bulkier than the man in the pose, but he could manage.
"No problem, hang on." He said lifting her from the floor and bracing himself on the wall.
She made animal noises, but the couple on the shelf didn't mind.
Dale had heard about several role playing games on campus. But they were all more or less local. Vampires, spacemen, all sorts of wonderful adventures were going on all over the place. But this one was different.
"Sometimes we'll have a get together, and a bunch of the groups will come from all over to play in person for a day or so. There's one over Christmas in Kansas City."
Dale looked at Keith. He was really into this.
"We play about one night a week on the net. Of course the game never really stops. But you have to schedule when you can take your turn." Keith kept talking.
Martin found the card he was looking for with a picture of a nasty creature with too many teeth on it. "This is what is in the next room. If we open the door this MorphOrc will see us. What we do next could either get us killed or a bunch of points."
Kalley was trying to convince the others that their wizard should get naked and go into the room without even a weapon to see if the key they needed was even in there. "He can't see us invisible."
"We'll need to kill the Orc to get the key. That will give us a dozen battle points." Martin told Dale.
"How many of them are there in the room?" Dale asked.
"We hope one." Keith said.
****** DR MYERSONG
The President, his friend the real estate agent, the director of the physical plant Joe Klein, Yyavonne, and a few others gathered in the lobby of the administration building.
Dr Myersong introduced Yyavonne as someone interested in representing the voice of the students to the group. Then they were off to begin their tour. They started in the current source of problems, Cannon Dorm and its plumbing.
The chief of the plumbing crew was 'iffing and but-ting' a mile a minute to his guests.
The director was breathing fire. Finally it was agreed that the crews would work overtime and around the clock if necessary to get the dorm livable again.
The plumber was so relieved when the inspection team left he forgot his coffee break to run the trenching machine.
Next on the tour was Wilson, the semi round boys dorm.
The group walked around the hole where Westin used to be. The cleanup work on the site was nearly done, and excavation for the new foundation was set to begin shortly.
The Dorm Super got a real surprise when he looked down the hall and saw the President's party walking toward him.
They had to reassure were not there to pronounce doom and gloom on them for some freshman having a beer in a downstairs bathroom.
"We're here to check out the building itself. Are there any problems?"
Mary's dad had called everybody he ever knew to come meet his daughter's new husband. And a lot of them did.
Jack was introduced to several of the guys he used to work with, several people from one of the local civic clubs shook his hand. Then a very short very rotund woman that called herself "Aunt Marge" hugged him.
Finally the family was alone after what seemed to be a random carry-in dinner in the family room.
"I didn't know you had so much family." Jack said to Mary.
"We don't. Even Aunt Marge isn't family. Mom has one sister and that's about it. Dad's family is all in Florida. We've gone there to visit a few times. They live in a really neat town on the Gulf coast."
"We should have gone there on our honeymoon. Where is it?"
"Bayport." Mary said like she expected Jack to know exactly where it was. "Its north of Tampa. They live real close to the water on a dirt road."
"So it's not Palm Beach."
Mary smiled. "But in the morning you can walk down the beach for miles and not see anybody."
"And make love in the sand." Jack grinned. She punched him.
"Jack! Mary! Red is here. And he has something for you." Max shouted.
Peggy's parents were in town early Tuesday morning. Her mom and step mom went shopping. Her dad and step dad went to a movie.
She had no idea they were there. She was reading a novel that was required in the freshman seminar. The teacher had told the class they could read it over the break with no problem. But it was getting so dull so fast she was fast loosing interest. She did not understand the motivations of the characters, and she really didn't care what happened to them.
She knew the house had one of the most extensive collections of notes and summaries ever put together. She took her notebook and the novel and walked down to the basement. She met the butler on the stairs.
He greeted her with a broad smile. "Good day miss High. Off to do a bit of studying?"
"I'm supposed to read this for seminar." She showed him the book.
"Oh that dreadful thing. I do not know why they assign such dreary books. That author has written such wonderful things. Why pick his worst work to assign?"
She shook her head. "I tried to read it. I really did. I got through about five chapters."
"I believe that is further than most students get in it."
"Does it ever get any better?"
"I do not believe so miss. It is a Gothic in the truest sense."
She sighed and went on down the stairs.
Maggie had expected Bonker to react to her news.
But she expect negative reaction. Maybe starting with "Are you sure?"
She had seen other guys have the news broke to them, once a guy did not react at all, he simply smiled and chatted, then he said he had to go to the bathroom.
They never saw him again. He evidently went to Sumatra to use the bathroom.
But Bonker smiled and cheered and pulled her into his arms and danced around the narrow room with her.
"I thought you were." He finally said. "I kinda hoped you were."
"You want a baby?" Maggie thought all men were allergic to babies.
"Sure." He said with a smile.
Maggie didn't know what to do.
She had been making plans what she'd do if he rejected her and the baby.
Now it seemed she was stuck with him, and his baby.
"Do we get married?" He asked.
Maggie wasn't sure about that. "I don't know. It'd probably be for the best ... but..."
"We don't have to right away. Besides. It wouldn't be fair to you if I get sick again."
Maggie started crying. Here he was thinking more about her than himself again.
He was holding her close babbling on about how much he loved her and would love her baby.
She had to kiss him to get him to shut up.
They spent the rest of the day and all night in his room.
Harrison woke up in the camper with Valerie.
They had left Monday afternoon as soon as they could get away from the Roz House. They had been volunteered to put a background coat of black paint on wooden cubes that a couple of women were painting designs on.
After a supper that was again a communal type deal with one huge pot of something related to shepherd's pie and several other bowls of vegetables and side dishes Harrison and Valerie listened to a concert by a bald man on a barstool.
"He used to be with a folk group. They sang at Woodstock when he was only like nineteen." Somebody whispered to Harrison.
The man was ok. He had no accompaniment. He just sat, and sang.
Which was why it was barely eight-thirty and they were in the camper. The unit had a small electric heater and one light. They sipped some of the farm special wine and talked for awhile.
Finally the potent home brew took its tool and they basically passed out on the makeshift bed.
Tuesday was another day of the everyday chore of living on the farm.
Harrison saw the longhair and another guy coming from the window. He pulled on his pants and coat and went outside just as the longhair was beating on the camper window.
"Merry meet fellow breather." The other man said. "We are going to check the traps along the stream."
Harrison looked at the longhair, he nodded. Harrison shrugged, stuck his feet in his shoes, and followed.
Mary was in her old room. Crying. Jack walked in to ask her something.
Jack still didn't know where he was going to sleep. Mary's bed was a frilly full size, but the room was so feminine it almost made him ill.
Finally she told him what was bothering her. "I got to thinking about Carol." She said after sitting and crying on him for awhile.
Jack's mind raced. He had no idea who Carol was.
As Mary talked some more Jack figured out Carol was the girl that had committed suicide early in the year.
"I had almost forgotten about her." Mary said still crying. "I'm so upset with myself. I didn't think about her at all since the wedding until just now."
"We had talked about her coming home with me for Thanksgiving if she couldn't get home."
He didn't know what to say and just sat there holding her.
Mary basically cried herself to sleep. He laid her down and went down to the den. Jack stretched out in Max's huge old leather recliner and snored to the all night TV news channel.
Dale was reading the roll playing rules, and character descriptions, and suggested strategies, and other trivia. He found it fascinating, as the others talked he began to get to know their wizard and his enemies and allies in the game.
Dale noticed something in their character description from the game's operators.
"Do you have a 'ChronoWarp' spell?"
Keith nodded. "And you said he's invisible when naked."
They were all looking at Dale now.
He continued. "If the Orcs in the room were slowed by the time spell, the wizard, operating invisibly until he finds the key, but then when he picks up the key he becomes visible, right. But at turbo speed, he could be out of the room before the time altered orcs could react to him."
The three gamers thought about it.
"Neat." Kalley said.
"Then we retrieve our other stuff and make a turbo get away before the time spell wears off." Martin said pursing his lips.
Keith was delighted. "Maybe you could join us. There is no limit to the number of players we can have."
Martin wanted to go upstairs and make their move on the computer. "We'll find out what happens almost immediately. Then we can make another move in response." He gathered the papers. "Let's go get on the net."
"Wow." Dale said and followed them up the stairs.
The day before Thanksgiving had Max and Jack out doing some last minute shopping for the big meal. Jack had to drive because, as Max put it, "The McQuack Doctor done grounded me."
Jack had found out that Max was normally cheerful and fun. Over lunch Jack watched as Max became a little distant and sullen. He seemed tired and Jack was afraid he would have a bad spell while they were out and Jack would have to call an ambulance or something.
Mary's dad agreed that maybe it was best if they went home and rested for a little while.
At the house Mary was helping her mom with some preparations for the holiday.
"He'll be ok, sometimes he forgets to take it easy." Her mom said.
Colleen and Ralph shared the one lone cold drink they found in her office fridge.
She brushed her hair and washed her face. "I've never seen your office." She said.
Ralph wasn't sure he wanted her to see the office he shared with a bunch of others from the physics and science departments. "It's nothing. Crowded, full of junk and papers. And my desk is an old typing table."
Colleen said it sounded charming.
Finally he surrendered. With a condition.
"After you've had your grand tour of the office we'll mess up Varscroft's desk."
She smiled wickedly.
Since it was Tuesday afternoon of a holiday week Ol' Abe was deserted.
Ralph's key let them in the building, then he lead Colleen through the maze of hallways into the newest section of the building. Down yet another narrow hallway they came to a set of offices.
Ralph opened the side door to the associate professor's offices.
He looked around half expecting to see Canney or somebody snoozing at his desk.
"Thats Dr. Varscrofts cave." He gestured to the other door.
Their office had been a lounge, office, study, whatever you want to call it.
She hung her coat on a chair and walked around.
"Don't tell me, let me guess which desks are whose."
She walked around. "Since this has Bill's name on a NASA plaque I'd say this is his. The snack wrappers give this away as Canney's. This guy doesn't belong in the class. Hmmmm. I'd bet this one is Harrison's but he seems to share it with somebody else." She looked at a couple others.
"Blumn doesn't have a desk. He just sort of borrows a shelf." Ralph offered.
Colleen nodded at the small neat desk in the corner. "That has to belong to Mrs. St. Nicholas."
Colleen made Ralph's heart skip a beat when she took of her blouse and hung it on an empty hanger on Mrs St. Nicholas's coat rack.
"Unlock his office." She said jerking a thumb at Varscroft's door.
Ralph's grin was a mile wide.
****** DR MYERSONG
The tour went through several residence halls and both music buildings before they went to dinner in the student union. Yyavonne was her usual charming self. She impressed the entire group without really trying.
They discussed what they had seen and heard.
Wilson dorm kept running out of hot water. A couple of girls in the small Kennedy dorm next to the music complex told about how breakers would trip if more than two hairdryers were used at once in the bathrooms.
After the dinner Yyavonne and Dr Myersong ended up at a secluded booth at the Hunter's Lounge.
"We're going to see every building the University owns?" She asked him.
"Yes." He said sipping his drink. "After the problems we've had this year. I don't feel right leaving and letting somebody else pick up the pieces."
"But neither Westin's fire or Cannon's plumbing could have been foreseen."
He wasn't so sure. "With the budget cuts, and the choices we've had to make." He looked at her. "You and most other students haven't heard of some of the other problems we've had."
She listened as he went through attempts the university had made to save electric by lowering line voltage to non-critical areas. The number of times the grass was cut during a month was halved, the painting of some buildings had been postponed. The list went on for a long time.
Finally he quit talking. He was looking at his drink.
"Maybe this will make the difference. And keep anything else bad from happening." She took one of his hands in hers. "Hey. Let's get out of here."
"And go where?" He said quietly.
Later Harrison tried to explain to Valerie how it felt cleaning pelts, cutting up meat, putting bones in a drying machine. By lunch he was almost as fast at the work as the longhair and the other guy.
She thought the whole thing rather disgusting, but apparently necessary. That afternoon they went through the farm's vehicles changing oil and plugs, and flushing radiators, and doing other things to ready them for the coming winter.
Harrison wasn't a complete dunce with a wrench. But he would never work for a factory sponsored NASCAR team either.
By the end of the day he was exhausted. He went to the camper early.
He was just settling in with the radio on low to read an old book he had found in the overloaded and sagging bookcase when he heard a tapping on the camper door.
He muttered to it. The thin woman opened it and stepped in. She was holding a liter bottle of the local edition of wine. "Busy?" She asked.
He dropped the book on the counter. "I am now." He grinned.
Ralph was snoozing contentedly in his apartment.
He woke up suddenly in the dead middle of the wee small hours of the morning. And he had no idea why. He got up and went to the bathroom, then he peaked out the window after sneaking a small snack from the fridge. Finally he went back to bed. He couldn't remember what brought him out of his usual sound sleep.
He woke up again. Very early for him, but it was getting light out.
Ralph listened for a few minutes. He didn't hear Colleen up and moving around. So he got up and went into the kitchen to start breakfast. As he was stirring some milk into boxed pancake batter he came to a standstill.
"Damn." He said quietly. Then he repeated it louder. Three or four more times he said it.
Colleen came out of her bedroom dressed.
"What's that all about?"
"I just remembered something." He finished stirring the batter.
"You're taking over the Intro to Physics class Monday." Colleen whispered to him.
"Yeah. How'd you know?"
"It's on the calendar in your office. Circled with Orange marker."
Ralph made a face. "I never look at the calendar."
She kissed his cheek. "I'll finish breakfast. I think you got some work to do."
"Who prepares for teaching a freshman class? I'll just go into a bunch of stuff they'll never understand about the expanding universe for four weeks and be done with it."
Colleen laughed and handed him the class schedule she had stuck in her purse.
"I've got to show them the calculations for energy transfer through solids?" Ralph groaned.
The people left in the married dorm welcomed the girls that would be spending the holiday weekend with them like old friends for the most part.
Arrangements were made to bring in two more turkeys and some more fixings.
Cindy kept telling everybody it was only for the weekend.
"They are supposed to have the plumbing fixed by Monday."
Betty and John rolled their eyes and smile knowingly.
Cindy had the sinking feeling they were right.
She loved the dorm though. It was quiet. She didn't have her phone ringing constantly or somebody pounding on her door wanting something all hours of the day or night.
By Wednesday afternoon she wished it was a little more exciting though.
She spent some time in the playroom entertaining some kids, then she sat in the TV lounge and watched two of the men argue about which was more important on Thanksgiving. The Dallas game or a family movie on another station.
Cindy declined the offer to decide it with her vote.
Wednesday morning Peggy was awaken by a gentle tapping on her door.
She recognized the butler's 'so sorry to disturb you' knock.
She said, "Just a minute." And wrapped her robe around herself.
"Good Morning Miss. It is my pleasure to inform you your parents have arrived in town. They are downstairs at breakfast." He said when she opened her door.
From the look on Peggy's face the butler decided this may not have been the best news in the world to the girl. The butler didn't know what to say.
In a minute Peggy recovered enough to tell him she'd be dressed and come down in a few minutes.
"Very good miss." The butler nodded to her. Then added, "Take your time."
He bowed slightly and was gone.
Peggy tried to take her time. But she had to admit she was excited about seeing them.
In less than fifteen minutes she was hugging and smiling.
Once all the supplies were laid in Mary's mom ran Jack and Max off. The women talked of all sorts of things. They plotted against the men, and cooked pies and cut up stuff for stuffing.
Max had Jack back in the car. The older man talked as Jack drove.
Max's directions to where they were going were a little scrambled. He would be talking and say something like, "You should have turned left back there."
Finally they arrived. A health club.
"You have got to come in with me and see this guy." Max seid. He was already out of the car and halfway to the door before Jack could answer, so he had no choice but to follow.
Max waved and talked as he walked past the desk. Jack shrugged and smiled as the clerk waved him through when Jack said he was with Max.
Max finally found who he was looking for.
"Jack! Jack!" Max was waving and shouting at him down a side hall. "Pepper. This is Jack. The one Mary married. You should see his tapes of games for the University." Jack shook hands with a man every bit as tall as he was.
Max kept talking about the video's he had of last season's games.
"Pepper used to play basketball for the Lakers." Max was telling him.
"When they were in Minneapolis, I played one season. Then I got cut, then I played for the Washington Generals."
Jack smiled, "The Globetrotters Team?"
Pepper smiled. "It was steady. I got to see the world. I played until '74." The man seemed in the habit of apologizing for his old team.
"I think that's great. You played pro ball for fifteen years." Before long they were showing each other showboat moves and firing off fancy shots. Max giggled and talked and made sure anybody that was anywhere near the gym came in and watched for a few minutes, while Max told the life stories of both men.
Wednesday was not kind to Dr. Varscroft.
His orthopedic doctor wanted to put a new cast on his arm. While they had it out of the cast they took bunch of X-rays. Then they wanted to check his stitches where it had been cut by the tram.
By the time he was sent home he was almost sick to his stomach from the pain in his arm. But the good news was that everything was coming along just fine.
It was straight up two o'clock in the afternoon. His answering machine was flashing.
"What is this about me teaching a bunch of kids heat conduction when I should be doing research?" He heard the machine say in Ralph's voice when he hit the button.
Varscroft made a sandwich and dialed Ralph's new number.
Colleen answered the phone on the third ring. She talked cheerfully to the professor for a few minutes before putting Ralph on.
"You had a question about your Sci-105 class?"
Ralph muttered something like 'yeah'.
"You'll do your job under your fellowship contract."
Varscroft hung up feeling very satisfied with himself.
Maggie had paperwork to take care of Wednesday.
The secretary of the board of trusties met them in an office in the Administration building.
Bonker sat and fidgeted while Maggie agreed to terms for paying claims from the fire. She was given a proposed floor plan for the new dorm and asked for her input.
"This building was actually scheduled to be built next year next to McQuin towers." The secretary told her. "Instead it will replace Westin."
The plan was for a classical styled building instead of a steel and glass megalith like Wilson and the towers. It was laid out like a square donut with an interior light court and common area. Maggie liked it a little.
"To meet zoning requirements for clearance between buildings, it will sit like a diamond instead of square relative to the existing buildings." He told her as they looked at the plans.
"Where will the Super's room be?" Bonker asked.
"Right her." Maggie pointed to a largish apartment with windows looking into the courtyard. "How long will this take to build? A year?"
"Closer to two." The man said.
Maggie realized she would be living in the Catholic Dorm a long time.
Meanwhile Cindy was inspecting the holes in the floor in Cannon.
The plumbers kept saying they'd be done by Monday.
But when she asked if that meant that the girls could all move back in he avoided a direct answer.
"We should have the water back on. But there may still be some work to do."
She knew that was a plumbing type phrase for, 'you should live so long.'
Cindy walked down to the Student Union. The place was deserted. The vast majority of the student body had fled for the week by now. Cindy had told her parents she had wanted to stay on to make sure her building was actually being worked on, but now she wondered about that.
"Hey Cin." She heard Maggie call to her. "How's the sewer?"
"Funny. I need to call that talk show guy with the ears for you."
"So it won't be done by Monday." Maggie grinned.
Cindy closed her mailbox, "It may not be done by next school year." Bonker chuckled and suggested they all go buy each other a milkshake in the snack bar.
The Union's snack bar was a basket case of mistaken identity and well thought out plans running amuck.
Called the Prairie Court, its sole purpose in life and only reason for being is the fact college students have an insatiable appetite for French Fries, Milkshakes (made without milk or shaking), and gossip. The snack bar served up all the above in great quantity and reasonable prices.
They bought the flavor of the month, something called 'Moha Mint Lite' and picked a booth the furthest from the other five customers they could.
Late Tuesday night well into Wednesday morning Dale and the others sat around a computer terminal plotting moves and strategy. The games referee asked them if they were prepared to take another turn series or two since the character following them had passed on their turns due to the holiday.
Their Wizard got to get out of the room. Go down the hall, set a whole platoon of orcs on fire...
"Wow!" Dale said watching the message on the screen that they had gained points in several categories.
The wizard continued to explore further and deeper into the interior of the enemy castle. And found fantastic treasure.
"If we take the casket of gems back to town we'll get a fortune!" Martin cried.
"I bet there is a whole bunch of monsters under it." Dale said.
Keith typed in the command to look at the base of the casket. It took the system a minute to bring up the answer.
"Hot air and strange noises emanate from beneath the jeweled casket." He read off the screen.
Martin pouted he had wanted to see what was there. But it was more likely to be a portal to Hades as anything good.
They had the character memorize the runes on the casket then leave. As soon as they left the treasure room a message flashed on the screen about the character being promoted to 'Turbo Master Wizard'
"What does that mean?" Kalley asked.
"We're now immortal. We can't be killed, but we can loose all our points." Dale said re-reading the screen and comparing it with his sheets.
Thanksgiving eve, as Max called it, found Jack faced with the same dilemma he had the night before, where to sleep.
He was dying to sleep with Mary, but it hadn't been brought up. He really didn't want to sleep in the chair again.
Mary solved his problem by telling him she didn't want him sleeping in the den again. Jack felt awkward when Max announced tomorrow was going to be an early morning and they should all turn in around nine. But Mary towed him to her room over his weak protests.
The room was so feminine it gave him a headache. But he decided if he was asleep he wouldn't have to look at the lace and pink curtains and the soft flower print wallpaper and the border around the ceiling of pink tap shoes and teddy bears and stuff.
In bed, with Mary laying gently on his chest, he had to ask her, "When did you put that border up?"
"My senior year in high school. Why?" She raised up on one elbow, "Why are your feet over the foot board?"
"Your bed's too short." He smiled.
"You're too tall." She put one hand on his head and tried to measure down with the other.
"If you keep that up we'll end up knocking your covers on the floor." He told her as her hand reached down by his knees.
"Yeah. So?" She whispered.
Peggy was taking her parents on a tour of the house.
They walked into a study room to find Dale and Kalley writing cryptic notes and talking at a computer screen. Keith was asleep in another chair.
"Oh, hi Peggy." Kalley said.
Dale was typing in a complicated series of spells.
"I'm making our wizard create a double of himself to confuse the Necromancer." Dale said from the terminal.
Peggy's stepdad was immediately fascinated. "What game is this?"
The others in Peggy's tour knew he was now lost to them for the rest of the day.
"See ya Ron." They said as Peggy lead them on.
Dale and Kalley were overjoyed to have somebody else interested in their game.
Ron had played this same game years ago when it was a live action game. He had Dale check the spell library to see if some of the more devious elemental spells were still there.
"Cool. As a Master, we have access to them." Kalley said.
In a little bit Keith woke up. "What happened to Martin?" He asked.
The butler was at the door. "He turned in a few hours ago. Would the House RPG Team be interested in some breakfast? You missed the meal."
The vote was unanimous. The others ate as Ron monitored the screen.
"The Necromancer is chasing us. The double got the door open." He said.
Cont in Two Dorms Part 41
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