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Kim flatly refused to be in charge of anything for those remaining at the Independent house. She told them the only thing she liked about Thanksgiving was the sale ads in the newspapers even though she went nowhere near a shopping center on Friday.
"You want to watch the Parade?" Hairy asked her.
She gave him a dirty look.
Steve shrugged to Ramsey, "I guess we'll fend for ourselves and watch football."
"There's only us and Larkin still here anyway."
"I think Larkin went to his aunt's or something." Hairy said.
"Billy was around." Ramsey said." I don't know if he'll be here tomorrow or not."
The guys decided they had to go on a beer run to make sure they had supplies for the next day. Kim said she'd hold down the fort there.
Kim had privately planned to cook a dinner for them, but she wanted it to be a total surprise. She was still debating on whether or not to serve it naked.
She checked the turkey thawing in an ice chest in a basement room, and the frozen bag of dressing behind a box of wine.
She also had the fixings for a big cheese and meat tray for the games, and her ticket showing she would win fifty dollars if Detroit won by more than eleven.
After the tour Peggy's folks wanted to go out to lunch, but Martha would not hear of it.
Peggy's real mom said something about wanting to go out to eat where they had some music.
Martha told the butler to call somebody. She went on to tell them that this year the house was almost empty for the holiday and she had prepared lunch for too many. They had to stay and eat it.
The butler took the family on a special tour of the lower recesses of the house. He walked them through the library, and pointed out the tunnel that led to the garage. "It was used in a particularly colorful phase of the house, before some of the now standing house was built."
"Was this a stop on the Underground Railroad?" Peggy's real mom asked.
"No ma'am. It seems one of the older Rosbilski brothers was very friendly with some of the shadier citizens of both Chicago and St. Louis. Sometimes they came to spend the night, and occasionally left by way of the alley."
The group chuckled and leered down the narrow dank passage.
Peggy had a good idea the passage was used now by the Georges brothers in their work as the butler.
In a few minutes they returned upstairs to music from the piano and luncheon on the table.
Kremin was wondering why he came home for the holiday.
Family dinner Wednesday night turned into a running argument that he tried hard to stay out of. His step-dad and his real son were arguing about buying a new car. Kremin's mom didn't want to take sides but she really felt the son was old enough to buy whatever he wanted. The rest of the family took sides and joined in. Kremin ate quickly and went into the family room to check the sauna and turn the home theater on.
They had some classic rock concerts on laser disk. Kremin loved to sit in the sauna and sweat and sip a drink while the music thundered through the room.
After while he heard a knock on the sauna door. He grabbed a towel and wiped his face. "Yeah." he shouted.
It was his step-father's foster daughter from Korea, Lin.
Kermin smiled at her warmly. The concert was booming in the background.
"The others have gone to car lot." She said in her tight English. "I would like to join you in sauna."
Kremin invited her in.
She smiled and said she would like to get a drink first and closed the door. Kremin had no idea how old she was, you couldn't tell and he never had asked, but he did know she had just gotten a divorce from a guy that had turned out to be a real creep.
She came back with two drinks. "I brought you that drink I made for you two years ago. Do you remember when we..." She smiled at him.
OK, now here's the picture. She tilted her head down slightly and looked at him, like she would if she had been wearing glasses and wanted to look over the top of them. But she didn't wear glasses. Her smile never showed her teeth, but it was did display two very tiny, very cute, dimples on her cheeks.
"Oh yes." He took the drink and kissed her hand. "Please get comfortable."
"I want to ask you something without the others." She sat next to him. She was wearing a swimsuit to Kremin's great disappointment.
At his nod she continued, "I want to get away from home and I need to go back to school. If I enroll at your University would you help me live?"
Mary and Jack made slow quiet love in her old bed. Then they fell asleep in each other's arms.
She was so content and satisfied she slept like a baby.
But she forgot to tell Jack something.
He got up late at night to make a trip down the hall. The room was pitch black. He tried to feel and guess his way to the door.
Jack ran into the dresser and over a chair. His racket woke up Mary.
"Are you ok?" She asked.
She clapped her hands, the corner light came on.
"You're kidding." Jack said untangling himself from her desk chair.
"Dad installed them in the bedrooms for just that reason."
Jack giggled all the way to the bathroom.
Thanksgiving day dawned cold and cloudy.
Maggie hated the cold drafty old dorm. Even with extra blankets she wished Bonker had stayed the night with her. But he was worried about how it looked to the girls that stayed in the dorm that their Super had company all night. She argued that there was only a handful of girls in the whole building.
Bonker just kissed her and patted her tummy. He mumbled half a dozen things about how much he loved her having his baby and walked, well, skipped, back to the independent house.
Maggie lay in bed and listened to the clanging of the heating system. She waited until her room heater hissed and the fan growled into life before she ventured out of her bed.
She knew the main floor bathroom would be warmer than her private bath so she went down there. One other girl was in the room. They chatted and exchanged holiday greetings.
Maggie picked a shower stall and turned the water on. Then she went to the toilet, by the time she finished that operation the water in the shower was leaning toward warm.
Later she got dressed in her room and wondered what to do now.
She knew Bonker was calling before the phone rang. "Something great is going on in the house today, but it's a secret. You wanna come over here?"
Maggie laughed. "Nah, I'd rather sit here and listen to the pipes."
"Suit yourself." Bonker laughed. "I'll see you when you get here. Don't bring anything just come on over."
Maggie never knew what to expect when she went over there. Now she wasn't even sure she WANTED to go.
Ralph was elbow deep in his lesson plans for the freshmen class.
Colleen promised him they would have Thanksgiving dinner at the Roz house.
He had gone to the office late Tuesday and picked up the books and papers from the class. He spent that night re-reading the text, arguing with the way the synopsis said things should be presented, and making phone calls to the voice mail of the current teacher. A resident assistant professor named Samuel Cramer.
Finally Thursday morning while the parades marched across the big TV Ralph got caught up to his place in the class material.
"I don't know if they grasp the concept of the transference of energy through materials being heated." He muttered.
Colleen loved it. She could sympathize, having to teach her art class. She was pretty sure Ralph didn't have the patience or will to teach an introductory class in anything.
"Have you taught a class before?"
"Oh, yeah. Several times. Got fired twice and arrested once!"
DALE Wed Night
Kremin was a little shocked. "You want to go to college?"
"For Teaching Certificate. Yes." Lin said.
He sipped his drink. "Is that all you wanted?"
She smiled at him.
"You could have asked me that over the ice milk."
She was still smiling.
Kremin sat his drink down on the wet wooden bench and leaned over to her. He kissed her gently.
She didn't resist.
He didn't feel the heat of the sauna any more.
She molded into him as he helped her off with her swimsuit.
In the room outside the concert was working to a blasting climax, the crowd screaming wildly. In the sauna, the couple was working and screaming about the same way.
She was putting her swimsuit back on as he reclined on the seat and finished his now warming drink.
"Can I ask you something?" He said to her softly.
She leaned over and kissed him. "Yes."
"How old are you?"
"Thirty five. Why do you ask?" She stroked his hair.
"I just wanted to know."
"We are not really sister and brother." She looked at his face. "Ahhh, you did not think I was so old."
"No! It's not that." He tried to sit up. "You're wonderful looking."
She ran her hand along his body. "You are a fine man. Very fine."
He pulled her swimsuit strap back down.
Cindy heard a knock on her door. "Yeah?" She called.
She heard Betty's soft voice in the hall. "You still want to help make dinner?"
She woke up for keeps and rolled out of bed. "Give me a minute." She called back. There was some sort of response she didn't make out.
Cindy went down the hall and washed her face. It had been two years since she had taken a shower in a common bathroom. But she was sure she could handle it.
In the kitchen she walked into a madhouse.
Mrs. Warren was gone for the holiday, no further explanation needed.
Betty and a young woman that introduced herself as Pat were basically locked in mortal combat for use of the sink. Two good-sized turkeys were parked on the small counter, Cindy stood with a cup of coffee and watched.
In a few minutes another girl showed up with a box of donuts.
"Hi!" She said and offered the box to Cindy. "I'm Toni. They were going like that when I left."
"You who!?!?! If we're going to have those birds for dinner they have to be in the cooker by nine." Toni called into the kitchen.
Betty held up her hands. "Ok. So we need to get them in. What do we do first for that?"
The farm was up and at'em very early Thursday.
Harrison heard somebody outside working when he went out to relieve himself just before dawn. Fascinated, he put on his coat and walked up to the small garden by the house.
Two of the farm's residents were putting the finishing touches on a hole in the ground.
"Morning Doctor." One of them said to him.
Harrison could count on one hand the number of times he had been addressed by his academic title instead of being called something like, 'fellow traveler' out here.
"Happy Thanksgiving." Harrison said to them. "Need a hand?"
"Sure." The one with the shovel stood up. "Can you drive Greenie up here from the tool barn? It's loaded with the charcoal and stuff we'll need."
"Sure." Harrison went down to the tool barn and found the new all terrain vehicle, Greenie. It was loaded with stuff, front and back and in the small trailer. He climbed on and got it running. Then drove slowly up the hill.
They let him in on the plan.
Today they were going to roast half a white tailed deer and a turkey in the hole.
Harrison dumped the trailer full of rocks into their pit, then they started piling in the charcoal. They were done in a few minutes. All three men poured can after can of starter into the hole.
Then one of them threw in a burning newspaper.
It took a minute, but soon there was a very satisfying fire several feet high.
Mary cooked breakfast for everybody.
Her older sister called and said they'd be by. Her younger sister walked into the kitchen bleary eyed but laughing.
"Your husband makes funny noises when he walks in the morning." She said.
Mary smiled, "That means he got a good night's sleep."
Jack stood there and flexed his shoulders. Mary could hear the crackling and popping over the coffee maker. "I don't need to stay here to be made fun of. I could go back to the House and get that from those guys."
Mary's mom came in. Her face was nearly blank. Mary knew immediately something was wrong with her dad. "He's awake, but he's kind of in and out." Her mom said.
Mary almost cried.
Elizabeth hugged her, "A lot of times he'll come out of it. Sometimes before lunch."
Mary looked at her sister with tears in her eyes.
Jack felt himself sag. After seeing Max at his bubbling, almost impossibly cheerful self, then to have him reduced back to the helpless man in the wheelchair.
Jack went down the hall. The master bedroom door was open. He heard Max in the room mumbling.
Jack went in, sat on the bed, and just started talking to him.
Colleen and Ralph walked the four blocks to the Roz house from the apartment building. The town was quiet, only a few cars passed them as they crossed in front of the Cathedral and walked down Paris to the Rozbilski Mansion.
Inside they were greeted by the butler in his usual starched persona.
Colleen wanted to visit with Peggy's parents.
Ralph wandered off, to his great discomfort, she had made him put on his suit and 'dress' for the holiday. She, of course, looked gorgeous.
Ralph loosened his tie when he got to the back porch. One of the residents whose name he couldn't remember was settling in for the early football game on TV, with a beer, chips, and a cheese ball.
"No score yet. Relax, sit down. You're Colleen's friend aren't you?"
Ralph stuck out his hand. "Ralph Cook."
"Martin." Was all the guy said. But he took his feet off the ottoman and flipped its top up. He reached inside and pulled out a pony bottle of a good old beer and handing to Ralph grinned, "You didn't see nothin' you don't know nothin'."
"Buddy. I'm dumber than hell... ask anybody." He grinned and decided this was the best place on earth for him to be at that moment.
Kim was delighted when Maggie showed up.
Bonker had caught her in the kitchen starting the meal. She swore him to secrecy and he said he'd call Maggie.
The turkey had been in since five a.m. She was working on a green bean casserole and some other things.
"I was worried I'd be the only female in the place today. The testosterone would be overpowering."
"I'm not much of a cook," Maggie said.
"Then sit and watch and tell me about Bonker." Kim said as she stirred.
Maggie got a soft drink and sat at the table. Kim put her to work in a few minutes cutting up some vegetables.
Kim kept running every male that came near the kitchen off.
Hairy came in search of coffee. Kim gave him a cup and pushed him into the living room.
Soon the kitchen smelled fantastic as things began to come together.
Maggie giggled when Kim told her how she had planned on serving the meal and showed her the apron she was going to wear over nothing but a pair of sneakers.
"Do it." Maggie said.
"I've been thinking about it. It'd drive Ramsey nuts."
"It'd drive them all nuts."
The girls giggled until the timer on stove went off for her to check a pie that was in a big toaster oven.
Around noon Kim checked the turkey. The popper had popped.
Maggie helped her get things ready in the kitchen, then Kim took the apron and went to change.
Thanksgiving dinner at the married dorm was scheduled to be served around six that evening.
Cindy was worried they might have it for breakfast the next day.
At noon Cindy checked the Turkey in the oven in the kitchen to find it ice cold. The microwave turned the sweet potatoes and marshmallows into boiling soup. The brown and serve rolls had a greenish tint to them.
Betty surrendered and ate the last doughnut.
Pat was reduced to incoherent swearing and throwing moldy rolls at the garbage can across the room.
"We've got two turkeys, stuffing, green beans and pumpkin cake. We'll make due." Betty said finally.
Toni had an idea. She rummaged through the cabinet. "I'll cook the other turkey." She got out a huge pressure cooker.
"There is still more sweet potatoes. I'll peel them." Cindy said.
Betty looked from one to the other. "Maybe we'll have something to be thankful for."
Toni grinned. "Yeah. Like maybe some of this will be eatable after all."
The 'Underrealm' game went on
all day. Dale was on line when a group known as 'The Arizona Adventurers' passed their next two turns due to the holiday.
Dale entered the command Ron had given him that turned a zombie into a block of ice.
The others were discussing their next move for this turn.
"Wait a minute." Dale said as they watched yet another group pass a turn.
A character from Nebraska took their turn automatically when queried by the referee, but when asked for the next move there was no response.
Keith and Ron looked up from the map.
"I think I remember something about a master wizard being able to teleport." Dale grinned.
Keith flipped through the character descriptions. "We need to download and print a full profile."
"Got it." Dale said and began typing and clicking.
"If we can use it, I got the spell command right here." Ron said. In a minute the printer began spitting out sheets of paper. "Roz Wizards. You have two minutes before it is your move again." Dale read off the screen.
Dale typed in 'ok' to the ref.
He was surprised when he got a response from a person.
'You're new on the team aren't you?'
'Yeah. But I love it. The regulars are right here.' Dale replied, he was kind of worried he was in trouble.
'So what'cha all doing for the Holiday. The cook making a feast?'
Dale looked over at Keith. "The referee knows about the house?"
Keith looked at the screen. "Oh yeah, ask if he's Bobby."
"Good. Bobby is cool. He knows all about us. Tell him 'hi from Tango.'"
The ref answered Keith in a minute and said something about Des Moines.
"This is so cool." Dale said. "Wow."
He typed some more.
DALE WED PM
When the rest of the family returned Kremin and Lin were sitting in the kitchen eating pie and ice cream.
The argument about the car was over. But now they were arguing about financing.
It wasn't long before Kremin said goodnight and went out to the guest house.
He hoped Lin would come visit him, but then he hoped that she wouldn't. He wanted to be alone and do a little thinking and get some serious sleep for what he knew was going to be one of the longest Thanksgiving days on record.
Jack had been talking about the basketball team and the coach, and even about how he just loved playing at Indiana State because they always stopped to eat at the MCL Cafeteria and the food was fantastic.
"I've never heard of it." Max said.
"Oh, its great. Home style food and lots of it." Jack talked about how bad Indiana State had beaten them last year, but they made up for it at the restaurant when he realized Max had said something to him.
"Why'd ya stop? I love hearing about you and the team." Max said.
Jack looked at him. The man looked tired, but his eyes were back in the present. "You're feeling better. Great I..."
Max nodded. "Sometimes I get like that. I don't remember any of it, but... I guess that's the way it goes. I do remember you talking about that trip to Wisconsin when you got snowed in for three days. I almost couldn't keep from laughing, but I wanted to hear it all."
"Yeah." Jack smiled. "Green Bay in January. I was never so sick of canned hams. It's like that's all they had to feed us.
They laughed together. Mary's mom peeked in the door. "So, you were goldbricking after all."
Max pulled the cover over his head.
"You missed the parade. But we are having lunch. Just a sandwich, Dinner will be about four thirty when the rest of them get here."
Jack glanced at his watch. He had been talking for over two hours. "You listened to all that?" Jack asked Max.
"Just the last hour or so. I think the first thing I really heard was how you guys caught an assistant coach and a cheerleader from Bradley University. "They could have at least closed the bus door." Jack laughed.
Max patted him on the back. "Thanks for the laughs. But I want to get dressed."
Jack smiled at him and closed the door on the way out. He heard Max chuckling about canned hams behind him.
Maggie went into the living room and told the guys to get the table ready to use.
"What's wrong with it?" Hairy asked.
Maggie picked a sneaker up off the table and threw it at him. "I am not eating Thanksgiving Dinner at a table with sneakers and old newspapers and beer cans, and ... whatever THAT! is, all over it." She pointed to a dirty pile of something or other on the table.
Billy and Ramsey shrugged and made motions like they would clean it off.
Bonker went in search of a couple of the chairs that used to be around the table.
It took a few minutes of concentrated work and a lot of hot soapy water, but finally the table was clean.
Maggie decided she was going to sit at the head of the table.
Ramsey started to object but Maggie silenced him with one glare from her Dorm Super persona. In a few minutes Maggie saw Kim in her apron peak around the corner from the kitchen.
The first thing she did was bring everybody a drink.
The guys were stunned and delighted.
Ramsey was furious.
Kim giggled and enjoyed herself every minute of the meal.
Thanksgiving at the Roz house was fairly simple.
At exactly two, the eldest of the residents would lead a group prayer in the dining room around the table. They would return thanks for everything from a good grade on a paper to world peace and good health as the prayer worked its way around the room. Then after a moment of silence, the leader would say 'Amen' and the meal would begin.
The food was laid out along the three walls of the dining room in warming pans and chilled bowls. Buffet style, those gathered would go along and chose what they wished. They could sit in the dining room, the music room where the sound system was playing traditional music, or as in Ralph and Martin's case, back to the porch for more sports.
Ralph had two plates. One piled high with meat and stuffing. The other covered with veggies and rolls, and a large piece of pie balanced on the edge.
"Now THIS is a Thanksgiving dinner.
Colleen decided she was going to pig out. She took more food than she would usually eat in a day or so. She sat at the table with Peggy and her folks.
Dale and the roll players came through on an energetic raid on the buffet.
Dale talked excitedly about the game to Peggy.
Her step dad, Ron, was just as happy as he could be.
Keith didn't talk much, he was too busy eating and taking more food.
But Martha had been right. There was more food than people.
A little bit later Ralph made a return trip to see if he missed anything, but he had to admit, "I'm stuffed to the gills."
Harrison was amazed at one of the traditions at the farm.
On Thanksgiving Day the women folk sat around and knitted, painted greeting cards, sipped herbal tea and talked, or just slept in the cozy warmth of a wool blanket and a fire.
The men did all the work.
They cooked, milked the goats and cows, cleaned up their own messes, and did all the singing and entertaining of everybody that was done.
Harrison wasn't allowed to milk any of the cows, they told him 'the ladies' were very temperamental, but he got to try his hand at goat milking. The short fat animal stood patently while he learned.
Later he was drafted to help in the kitchen.
The men basically had breakfast on the run.
Harrison chewed a cornmeal and meat cake and washed it down with coffee while he stirred a huge pot of some sort of stuffing. He heard the first music of the day.
Some baritone was singing 'Desperado' in the living room. He took a break from stirring, refilled his coffee mug and went to see who was singing.
Jack wasn't uncomfortable at all with Mary's family. The women sat in the kitchen and visited and then moved to the living room to talk. The men sat in the den and listened to Max talk while they watched the football games.
Mary was the subject of close questioning by her aunt and cousin.
They had been at the wedding, but couldn't stay for the reception. Mary's mom showed them the movie, and then Mary had to answer all sorts of questions about how the ROTC came to be the opening act of the service. And for the first time, Mary heard about how the audience saw the ceremony.
Jean told her how the flags had caught everybody by surprise, "Then when then organist played that introduction, I thought my fillings would come loose."
Mary laughed at her aunt.
"But that choir, they were so beautiful it upstaged the marriage ceremony." Her mom added.
Mary smiled. "I didn't even hear them."
They talked for awhile then started going through the photo books Rob had given them. Mary's mom told the story about how the irrepressible photographer had buried them under pictures that weekend.
"Your dad has shown the scrapbook Rob made of Jack to everybody in town."
Mary smiled. "I'm glad he approves of Jack."
Her aunt had an evil grin on her face. "But if Jack turns pro they'll have run Max out of town in a week."
They laughed and nodded.
Kim brought the food to the table and smiled at the guys.
She was wearing the apron, and a smile. But the way she had tied the apron around her you really couldn't see anything from the front. But the overall effect was very titillating. When she walked away you got a glimpse of ... well, you got a look at the harvest moon. When she turned or reached for something you thought you saw more of her breast than you actually did.
Ramsey was fit to be tied. But Kim was loving every minute of it. The other guys couldn't take their eyes off her. Almost forgetting to eat. Maggie thought she looked sexier than any woman she had ever seen.
Bonker tried not to stare at Kim for Maggie's sake. But it was almost impossible.
The food was good. The turkey was a little on the dry side, but the canned gravy took care of that.
After everybody had everything Kim sat next to Ramsey and the meal began.
Ramsey started to calm down.
Dale finally found out about his teleportation spell. They could do it, but they really didn't have enough energy to do it with any to spare.
So the Roz Wizard went off to explore some of the castle to find energy points.
Dale did the typing while Keith read off the commands.
Ron had discovered that with the right spell their wizard could see through wooden doors.
They found gold, weapons, food, and a captive Elvin Prince, but no energy.
"Ask the Elf if he knows where there is some power."
Dale entered the question. He read off the screen, "I am Prince Ewelle of the Green Sea Elves. In my land I could give you all the energy you would ever need. But here. I have nothing."
Ron asked Dale to read it again, then he asked them if they were willing to try something. They nodded. "We'll try a double teleport. When we get into his land we'll only have enough energy for a couple of moves. But...."
"He might set us up for good. I'm willing." Keith said.
They looked at Dale for the deciding vote.
"Sure. It's only a game." He said.
Dale told the prince to trust them. He hugged the Elf closely and recited the teleportation spell.
It worked. They were in the Elvin land and had enough energy left for maybe three moves.
The Elf immediately gave them back all the energy they had used for the transport. Then he told them there was a gem that would give them an unlimited supply if they could find it and solve a riddle.
"Journey to the North. In the Swamp of the Doomed. The riddle will be asked by the Demon of Slime. Answer it and receive the Gem. Fail and Die." Dale read off the screen.
"Wow." He added.
Harrison was helping pull the covering off the pit outside early in the afternoon when he realized he hadn't even thought about the football games. He mentioned it.
"We'll catch the second half in a few minutes." The bald guy said with a grin. "Maybe we'll even sample some of the new batch of grog."
Harrison pulled off another layer of the covering. A heavy canvas that they had sprinkled with water several times in the cooking process. "Grog?" He said standing up wiping sweat.
"That's what I call it. It's not really beer, or wine. It's kinda in between." The smoke rolled out from under the maple leaves down in the pit. "Whew. Let's let this air out and go try some now."
The motion was quickly approved by the other two men.
They walked down to an old camper sitting on blocks. The bald guy told the other man to turn on the TV. Harrison was in charge of getting some plastic cups out of a bag. In a few minutes they were sitting on well-worn furniture watching a small black and white TV sipping homemade 'grog' out of plastic cups.
"My friend Ralph would consider this the height of civilization."
"I think it is Doctor." The bald guy said with a smile.
"You're right. It is." Harrison lifted his cup, "It don't get much better than this."
The married dorm finally got to eat supper.
Everything was done and ready to go by five in the afternoon. They fed the kids and got ready for the adults.
Cindy was tired. They were all for the most part as done as the turkey.
But their efforts were appreciated. Everybody thanked them several times.
The meal was a flying success, in spite of the difficulties. The dressing was complimented until the cooks finally believed it was good. Somebody said they just loved the sweet potatoes. And the turkeys went fast.
even got to see about fifteen minutes of a parade from someplace, and part of one quarter of a game. Not that she wanted too, but it was sort of part of Thanksgiving tradition.
She fell into bed after John and some of the other men had run the women out of the kitchen promising to do the dishes.
She was satisfied. She fell asleep remembering a small child with a huge turkey leg and a mile wide grin.
Peggy had a wonderful visit with her real mom and her step mom. They talked for hours in Peggy's room. The butler brought them a very nice tea. The three women all giggled at him after the door closed.
"If he was any stiffer he'd have to be a robot." Her step-mom said.
Peggy was tempted to share the secret, but she resisted and put sugar cubes in tea cups.
They talked about her brother and his trials with jobs. She told them the latest with Dale. Then they talked more about the relationship between the two couples. Peggy ended up laughing with them.
Her real mom told about how an insurance man stopped by and did a review for them. Both couples, all their policies. He was there for hours. But he didn't get overly confused, every time he asked a question, he accepted the answer, no matter how far fetched it was.
Peggy's real dad was watching football with Ralph and some of the others.
They yelled at the players, passed popcorn, and made a castle of beer bottles around a paper turkey on the sideboard.
The little kids were in the kitchen around a small table. Mary and Jack were in the dining room with the rest of the family.
Jack had been introduced to everybody at least twice. The only name he was really sure of was Cousin Shelly.
Mary had warned him about Cousin Shelly when they saw them pull into the driveway.
"She's a cheerleader." Was all she had said, "In high school."
Jack saw her profile and understood immediately what his wife meant.
Shelly was, to put it diplomatically, 'stacked'
The girl hugged Jack until he felt uncomfortable. Besides her most outstanding features, she was fairly cute. And she was able to talk almost nonstop to anybody within reach.
Jack got away from her saying he wanted to go see at somebody who was somebody's in-law's motorcycle.
Shelly wasn't upset. She hugged Mary and chattered to her.
Mary listened for a few minutes, then handed her off to her mom.
Later, Shelly was drafted to baby-sit the little kids, and the adults found the room somehow quieter with her in the other room. Max offered the prayer.
Jack was right at home around the Henderson family table. Stuff was passed in both directions with out rhyme or reason. Jack was across the table from Uncle Earl and they took to passing stuff across the table to bypass a bottleneck around Grandma Stewart.
Thanksgiving day at Kremin's folks was the Cold War Revisited.
His step-dad had apparently agreed to a cease-fire with his real son and his wife about auto financing.
Kremin found out another group of the siblings were up in arms over the family's vacation home in Wisconsin. One brother had changed weeks with another and a third had claimed that week was theirs.
Kremin was glad he was the baby of the family. For right now most of this went over his head.
Lin got into a shouting match in the hall with another sister who felt she was ducking out going to school.
Once again Kremin retreated to the den with his music.
The lunch at the Independent dorm was a huge hit.
Although it could be that Kim's costume may have had more to do with that than the food.
Maggie said she'd do the dishes, and Bonker helped her.
Kim stayed in the apron and brought out the meat tray with its fixings. The group settled in with basketball on one TV and football on the other one.
Ramsey tried three times to get her to change. Finally she had enough.
"You want me to take this off?" She said standing with the string in one hand.
"Yeah." He said then realized he had been set up. Before he could say anything else she had the apron off. Revealing the fact she was not totally naked under it. She was wearing very sexy panties.
Everybody was laughing as Ramsey threw a jacket over Kim, she finally agreed to put the apron back on.
In the kitchen Maggie and Bonker heard the commotion and looked out in time to see Kim being wrapped up in a jacket.
She was stomping their way trying to decide if she was mad or not.
The dishwashers retreated.
"He still thinks he owns me." Kim said dropping the jacket on a chair and putting the apron on the table. "I'll show him, he's not married to me!" She pulled off the panties and threw them at the chair with the jacket on it. Then she put the apron back on.
Bonker said nothing. He stood and watched.
Maggie watched Kim, then Bonker.
Then she helped Kim tie the apron string.
When she went out to the porch to get some beers Maggie tapped Bonker on the shoulder.
"Well. Which of us is better looking to you?" She asked him with a grin.
If he said Kim she'd slug him, if he said her, she'd take him to a head doctor.
Bonker figured if he was honest, he was safer than otherwise, "She's cute. And nice to look at. But I like girls with a little more meat on their bones."
It was the best thing he could have ever said to her. Maggie kissed him. "Let's get this done then go upstairs."
Bonker had a better idea. "Let's go upstairs and do these later."
Peggy tapped Dale on the shoulder. "We're going shopping."
Ron looked over at them and said, "Have a good time."
The screen was showing the moves of a Rogue Knight that was moving to stop them from reaching their goal.
The women stood in the door and finally gave up.
Peggy had one more shot. "The store is giving away door prizes every half hour."
"Good luck." Keith said. "Dale, see if we can tell what kind of spells he's resistant too."
Peggy sighed and left.
Several of the women and a couple of the guys from the house were taking the van out to a big department store's unadvertised holiday promotion.
"Who is that girl, she looks like a movie star." Peggy's step-mom whispered to her nodding at Colleen as she got in the van.
Peggy smiled and waved at Colleen, "You met her yesterday. Colleen you remember my mom and step mom."
Colleen smiled her patented smile and chatted with them until they had to get out of the van at the store.
They all entered the drawings, and took a cup of juice and a few cookies and walked through the store listening to just a little too loud Christmas music.
Peggy's mom asked Colleen if Dale was really her boyfriend.
She laughed brightly, "I don't think he thinks he is. But he is."
Mary and Jack made ready to leave for the campus early Friday morning.
Max was more eager for them to go than anybody else. He was bound and determined that Jack was going to be everything from Team MVP to a first team All American.
As soon as it was announced The Newlyweds would be leaving for campus in the morning, Mary was swarmed over by aunts and cousins and what not.
Jack and Max and the other males sat in the den talking and watching sports. Jack wanted to see a tournament game of a team they would play later in the season.
With Jack's obvious knowledge of the intricacies of the round ball game even those not fans of the game were drawn into the discussion.
"See that full court? If you could set up a steal they wouldn't have any defense deep. Blackthrawn could be at the hoop and in the shower before they knew we had the ball."
They stayed up late, talking and laughing with each other. First Shelly's family had to leave, then others. At last it was only Mary and Jack and her parents.
"I have really enjoyed this." Max said. He was still smiling, but he looked tired. "Get some sleep. We'll go out to breakfast before you leave."
Cindy got up early Friday and after a brief tour of the nearly silent Married dorm she walked over to Cannon.
She expected the plumbing to have been untouched since Wednesday. But it was obvious they had been there on Thanksgiving Day to work on it. To her untrained eye it looked like they had found the offending pipe after all and dug it up. The hole and partially removed tile ran out the side of Cannon into the parking lot then under what used to be Westin. She remembered clearly that the blueprint she had looked at before showed no pipes going that way.
The plumbers had torn up floors and walls and part of a staircase getting to it. She went up to her room and turned up her room heat. She missed her room.
But it was kind of exciting staying in the other dorm. She put an outfit she wanted to wear the next day in a bag and was picking up one of her textbooks when she heard noise downstairs.
The plumbers were hard at work. Capping the old drain where it went out of the building.
"Hello miss." The head plumber said to her. "There's no way I'm going to connect a new main to the existing one. We have no idea where that goes or what kind of shape it's in. I've got equipment coming in today to run a brand new sanitary main straight out from the junction under the laundry room out to the street."
"How's the pipes in the building?" She looked at a hole in the wall.
"They're fine. The problem was the outgoing main. It was too small, it seems to have become partially clogged before and then it partially collapsed out under the drive, and under Westin, it was gone."
"You're going to put in a whole new pipe?"
"You want a piece of good news?" He asked her.
"It can all be in and flowing by Monday. Tuesday at the latest. We'll still have finishing work to do. But the water will be on."
She hugged him.
He told her about the new machine he was borrowing to basically ram the new sewer
Ralph was asleep on the couch.
The games long over.
Supper had been eaten and praised, he had even had popcorn, and now he was content.
The role playing game team had switched rest breaks.
Dale sacked out in his room for a couple of hours. He dreamed of a wizard creating blobs of light.
Colleen seemed to try on nearly every outfit the store had to offer.
Peggy was coerced to try on something until she did. Her mom and step-mom pronounced it cute and bought it for her.
Kalley won a door prize. She decided she wanted a fifty-dollar gift certificate instead of a floor lamp.
Peggy's folks, except for Ron who was snoozing in the computer room, had to argue loud and long with the Butler to go back to their motel.
Finally he gave in and told them they were welcome at breakfast.
Max's idea of going out to breakfast was interesting. He wasn't a big fan of breakfast. But when he did eat it he wanted all the fixings.
He had them drive out to the old pancake house, where he sat about ordering for everybody.
Jack ended up with enough food for three ball players (as long as none of them were Leon.)
Mary had the special she had loved as a little girl.
They talked about nothing important for an hour.
When the waitress brought the bill Max cheered, "That's my lucky number!"
They drove back to the house and Jack finished packing a few odds and ends.
Mary was taking an end table that had been out in the garage.
Jack stuck it in the back seat. Then she came out with a lamp for it.
"We're not leaving yet." Mary said to him.
"Now what?" He asked.
"I was telling them how you don't have any dress clothes." Jack moaned loudly. "Aunt Sharon is going to meet us in town at the tailor that alters clothes for her son."
"Is he tall too?"
Mary smiled. "No. He weighs threee hundred pounds and he's only my height." Jack laughed at the image.
Dale was woke up by frantic knocking on his door. He jumped out of bed and opened it.
"You got to come downstairs." Kalley was telling him. She pushed him back into his room. "Get dressed. I'll wait for you." She closed the door.
Dale looked at his clock. It was before two in the morning. He dressed in a hurry. From the hall Kalley started telling him all about what had happened in the game. They had vaporized the Rouge Knight, then found the place in the swamp where the gem was. The riddle was tough, but they figured it out with the help of the library in the basement. Now they were back at the castle.
Dale opened his door, she was still talking.
They had teleported the treasure chest to the village, and sold it for a wheelbarrow of gold, the monsters never even got a good look at them.
"So what do you need me for?" Dale asked as he washed his face.
Kalley smiled. "We got promoted again. And none of us even understand what we are now."
In the study room Martin and Keith were reading a long printout. Ron was sitting in the lounge chair with a plate of chips in his lap reading the game manual.
Their Wizard was now a 'invisible non-linear time dependent warp speed capable demi-god' with a whole laundry list of special powers and abilities.
"...wow..." Dale said looking at the screen.
Friday morning Harrison slept until he heard the banging gong that summoned all late arrivals to breakfast. He was rather surprised that Valerie had come in last night and was just coming to next to him.
They dressed and walked up to the house and found the breakfast consolidated in the kitchen. One of the women was beginning the process of cleaning it up.
"Good morning Lumin." She said to him.
Harrison filled his plate, "Good morning Dewleaf." He had also gotten used to the nickname somebody had given him, Lumin. A word for light.
He liked it better than what the longhair had called him a few times, 'Mathom' another word for 'Useless'. Harrison had hoped he had outworked that over the last few days.
Sitting on the steps eating breakfast Harrison realized out here he didn't have the feeling of being in a daze and needing hours and strong coffee to get up and moving.
He finished and went back in to see if there was just one more biscuit left.
Valerie came into the kitchen with a big basket full of turnips. The smell of the vegetables was almost overpowering.
"We're canning some of these. Moonflower is going to pickle some, they're drying some....
"How many turnips do they have?" He asked her.
A voice spoke from behind her. "Two acres."
The thin woman sat another basket down.
Kremin sat with the family for a late snack. Then he went out to the guestroom again. It was quieter.
He sat on the small balcony and watched the reflection of the clouds drift across the pool.
Lin was sitting chatting with one of the brother's wives. She got up in a few minutes and said she needed to run to the drugstore to get her sinus pills before they closed.
She got her coat and went out the front door to her car. She backed out and drove down the street. Then she cut through the alley and parked next to the boat beside the guesthouse.
Kremin was truly shocked when she knocked on the door.
"Do you know how much I have grown to hate our family?" She said bluntly after he turned down the music.
"I don't hate them. But I really don't like them as a group."
She looked through the cabinet over the sink. "Do you mind if I make us a drink? Today I checked the drink in here."
"I was just having some wine." Kremin said showing her his glass.
She stood with her hands on her hips. "They are comparing how hard their jobs are. None of them work! The only one that has had to really work is John, and he quit it to go to law school."
"But he did work at the factory for two years." Kremin defended his older brother. But the family history was all white collar back several generations. "I'm not sure I want to be like them."
She smiled and walked over to him. "Good." She said kissing him.
Kim and Ramsey were up fairly late. He was still so angry he didn't even look at her.
Which was fine with her. She flirted with everybody, she flashed most of them, and she carried on like mad when Ramsey went out to the kitchen for a beer.
Kim may have gone a little overboard, but she was having so much fun.
She got Hairy so worked up he left.
Whenever Billy even thought about looking her way she made sure he had something to look at.
Finally after the late movie Kim went up to bed. Ramsey was already in the room.
"Are you done?" He asked her sitting up in bed watching TV.
"Nope." She said.
She sat at his desk and picked up a notepad like she was going to write a note. She crossed her legs. Then in a few minutes she got up and reached for the phone. She looked at him past the phone, she had his undivided attention.
Finally she was done.
She was sitting in the chair with her legs pulled up, chin on knees.
He was flushed, watching her.
She smiled at him.
"Where did you learn to be so sexy?"
Kim slinked over to him. She handed him one of the apron strings and backed up. She kept backing until he was holding the apron and she was standing by the desk.
"Still mad?" She asked.
He didn't answer.
Harrison was one of the last ones around the fire in the big room to turn in.
He sat and listened as some of the residents told the story of how they came to be there, and why they stayed.
"Believe it or not. I got tired of being successful." The bald guy said.
Several of the residents nodded knowingly.
"I was killing myself working like seventy hours a week, and making over two hundred thousand dollars a year."
"What did you do?" The heavy woman asked.
"I was an executive trading overseer in Chicago. I spent half my life on the floor of the Mercantile Exchange. I would fall asleep working out deals in my head trading millions of dollars worth of stuff back and forth in a few minutes and clearing big profits in the process." He took a drink. "I never saw my wife or kid. He was in high school before I was sure what his middle name was. My wife had been fooling around with the exterminator and I never had a clue."
Some murmuring went around the room.
He continued. "She finally left me. I went on working. A friend of mine had been telling me about this place for ages, you called him 'Lowlander'."
The longhair nodded.
"So on my vacation I came down. It was OK. I went back. A month later I put everything in a trust. And here I am. Been almost a year now."
They chattered and clapped.
"And I haven't had an antacid in months."
A loud round of approvals followed that comment.
Betty and John were happy for Cindy when she told them the news.
"It's been nice having extra people here over the Holiday, but I know you want to get back to your own rooms." Betty told her.
John shook his head. "I wouldn't pack to go back yet. It wouldn't suprise me if you're here for our gift exchange the week before Christmas."
Betty laughed. "If they are under pressure from the Board and the President, I bet they get it done."
John shook his head again and turned his attention back to the TV.
Cindy and Betty went into the kitchen of the apartment to talk some more.
The tour took the holiday off. But the President made it clear they would put in at least part of the day Friday.
Yyavonne had spent the day with him at the President's residence. The dinner was very simple. They sat together and watched a tape of last year's Concert Choir Christmas Concert. Later in front of a roaring fire Yyavonne told him how great it was to spend the day with him.
The mood had gotten a little tense.
He toyed with the idea of telling her how much he was falling in love with her. But then he decided against it. With the idea of setting up an even more perfect romantic moment soon.
They were silent a long time, one of them looked at the clock.
"We have to meet the tour group in the morning... We should get some sleep."
She took his hand with a look in her eyes that made him feel twenty years younger.
They ended up falling asleep in each other's arms.
Academic buildings were on the list today. The chief of the physical plant had a box of work orders that had not been completed, some dating back three or four years.
Yyavonne found out they were starting in the Art building, she called Colleen to meet them there.
The group was shone leaking sinks, light switches that would not turn off, or sparked, then they looked at a broken window with plastic and newspaper taped into it. The newspaper dated March 15, 1987.
The mood of the President went from cheerful to sour to worse.
Colleen charmingly showed them a men's bathroom with a rubber hose draining a urinal into a floor drain Then they went into another office that was colder than the outside.
"This is our 'Fair Weather Office'. It gets too cold in here in the winter to use for anything but a meat locker." Colleen told them.
Yyavonne found the work order on it. "It was resubmitted in '96." She showed the paper to the Maintenance Chief.
"First submitted in '89 by Mrs. O'Malley." The chief read the hand written note on the yellowing paper.
"She retired in '94." Myersong said dourly.
The tailor was funny, in a Jewish kind of way.
Or at least he thought he was in a Jewish kind of way.
He kept up a steady barrage of jokes and wisecracks as he measured Jack and listened as Mary and her mom and Aunt Sharon told the woman taking the notes what they were looking for for him. Jack stood straight, with one arm out to his side and suffered in silence.
Finally it was done. The man said he would have Jack four new shirts, three pair of trousers and a sport coat altered and ready to go in a week.
"And I will guarantee your sleeves will come down to here." He pointed midway up his forearm. "I'm kidding.... Kidding." He said at the look.
It was past lunchtime. Jack kept saying they had a practice that evening that he HAD to be at. But he agreed to lunch.
Later in the car heading back to campus Jack was silent.
"You hated the tailor." Mary said flatly.
"You got tired of Aunt Sharon's voice."
They listened to the radio for awhile.
"Well, what is it?" She asked him.
"I just got the impression everybody was trying to keep us from leaving."
She looked at him. "They were. My family hates good-byes."
It seemed to the players of the 'Underrealm' that their newly promoted wizard had nearly unlimited powers.
But something dawned on Dale. "Have you noticed that as we have progressed further toward the Fortress of Doom that every time we get promoted or another power the bad guys get more powerful too?"
The others nodded.
"Imagine what we'll be facing now." Dale said slowly.
Martin's eyes got wider. "I'd rather not."
"What can hurt us?" Ron asked.
He had declined a parents weekend' concert in the theater by a mixed brass quintet to play the game.
He had turned down the free tickets to a volleyball tourney to play the game.
Ron hadn't moved except for neccesities since he had discovered the game.
And he was having a blast.
Keith looked down the list. "We can loose strength to stone arrow heads. A combination monster of Earth and Water elemental, mud, can get through our shield. A stronger Great Dragon can eat us."
Kalley smiled. "I wonder which one we'll meet first."
Dale looked at the screen. "What is a Terror Worm?"
Dale typed moves to stay away from the new threat until they knew what they were dealing with, Martin found it in the sheets of bad guys. He circled it and passed it to Keith. He read it and gave it to Ron.
"All the description says is....'unstoppable'."
"Which means what?" Kalley asked.
"RUN!" Dale typed in.
Maggie couldn't put it off any more. She had a major term paper due this coming week. All she had done so far was pick a topic and write about half an outline.
Friday morning she and Bonker went to breakfast in the union, then she told him she was going to spend the day in the library. Bonker thought that was a good idea.
"I can read up on wrestling techniques and refing styles."
Maggie smiled, "You are too much."
She took over a corner table next to the windows and got her notebook out of her huge purse. "First we need to go get my books, then I need to get up to the computer lab and get some stuff off the web."
"What's your topic?"
"Fashion Trends and Changes in Women's Outergarments from 1800 to 1900 in the British Empire." Maggie read off her notebook.
"I picked the dullest thing I could think of." She smiled.
"You did good."
"That way there is little chance the prof will read it word for word."
Bonker nodded. Made sense to him. They went in search of old books and magazines that might have pictures of old coats and capes from the last century.
Kim was in an awkward position at the independent house.
Billy's date, a high school girl named Janet had decided she didn't want to have sex with him. In the middle of doing it.
Kim had heard crying from the kitchen and walked down towards the girls bathroom to check on it. She found the girl, half dressed, sitting on the closed toilet, crying.
Kim got the story out of her, comforted her, and told her she had the right to decide if and when sex took place.
Billy was banging on the door, wanting to see Janet. Kim told him to go away.
"No!" Billy shouted. "I want to see her.
He got louder, "What are you gonna do? Call Security?"
Kim yanked the door open. She got right in his chest and stared him in the eye. "You sorry excuse for an asshole. If you don't leave this girl alone I won't call the cops. I'll call you an ambulance."
Billy took an involuntary step back.
Kim didn't blink, she didn't even breath.
He turned and left.
Kim went back into the bathroom.
"Thank you." Janet sobbed. "Could you take me home?"
When Colleen went to meet the President's Building Inspection Committee, Ralph went to hide in his office in Ol' Abe. He did some more paperwork and worked on his stuff for class Monday.
He had figured out the best thing to do would be to discuss what they had covered in the last two and a half months and go from there.
"If they've learned everything there is to know I won't have to do a whole lot." He said to himself.
He looked down the list. The class itself was a mess. It had freshmen in it, it had athletes in it. It had a guy Ralph knew had flunked or dropped every science class the university had. And the list went downhill from there. He saw a name marked in highlighter with a note.
"Dale should be glad he got out of this class. He would have been the brightest one in it."
"Ralph, can you come with us?" He heard Colleen's sing-song voice.
He turned to look. "Damn."
"How are you doing Mr. Cook?"
"Doctor Myersong. Good to see you." Ralph said with all the sincerity he could muster.
"We're doing an inspection of the building. Do you know of any major problems that need addressed?" A man with a clipboard asked him.
"Yeah. Like the sink in here has never worked." He jerked his thumb toward the corner. The sink had a three foot tall palm tree growing in it. "But I got a better one. Follow me." He led them through the maze of corridors into a small classroom.
"Check this out." He turned on the lights and pointed to a corner of the room. They could see another room upstairs through a long narrow hole. "They took out a ventilator ages ago and did such a lousy job patching it that it fell in a last year."
Cindy was busy giving far too much information to a reporter from the school paper.
She told him all about the melted sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving, went into microscopic detail about which toilets had been backing up in her dorm.
The reporter ran out of tape in his machine. He began taking notes.
Cindy was now talking about which dorms and rooms girls had been moved into and how much trouble there was going to be starting Sunday when at least a two hundred and fifty girls would be returning to campus from the holiday at home.
The reporter tried to get away.
She began bombarding him with every number she had heard from anybody. How much pipe they were replacing, man-hours used. The voltage needed to operate the plasma cutter they had been using to cut up the old pipe.
The reporter fled to preserve his sanity.
Peggy and her mom, and her step mom, and several others from the Roz house were at what had been loosely termed a concert but was actually just a running open mike format free for all. There was music by various groups, most of which were not at full strength due to the holiday. A high school choir was doing some seasonal numbers, and so on.
The Letter Club served refreshments and had a display of memorabilia from years past.
Afterwards they went to see a special in the library of costumes used over the years in various plays and exhibitions.
Finally after what even the butler would admit was a fairly dull day, the group ended up back at the house.
The butler disappeared for a few minutes. Then he reappeared and suggested they might wish to come to the music room.
The entire group moaned over their coffee cups.
The butler put in a CD of some lively music and suggested a dance contest.
The prize being a set of custom Rozbilski House jackets for the winning couple.
Peggy and her real mom went to drag Dale and her step dad away from the game for the contest.
Kim dropped the girl off at her house.
"Nobody is home." Janet said sadly. "Could you come in with me for a few minutes?"
Kim shrugged and parked the car.
Inside the girl hugged Kim tightly and thanked her for bringing her home.
She told her about how bad she felt leaving Billy like that but she didn't feel right with him.
"It's OK. He'll be fine." Kim said.
Janet told Kim about how her mom wouldn't be home until late. She was at work at a store. "Today is like the greatest shopping day in the world." Janet invited her into the kitchen for some hot cocoa.
Before long they were talking like old friends.
Janet told her about what happened between her and Billy.
He had been kissing her, and trying to get her warmed up with his mouth.
Then he suggested she do the same for him. She didn't want to. At first he went along with her, but then he became more insistent and began pressuring her.
"That's when you went to the bathroom?" Kim asked.
They talked on and on.
Through three cups of the hot chocolate.
Kim was starting to feel the combined effect of the warm liquid and what had become rather graphic and warm talk about oral sex, but she was enjoying it immensely.
They told stories about what gave them the most pleasure, and how they had done it.
Kim found out that Janet was not a sweet innocent young girl. They moved into the family room and relaxed on the couch, they talked about what made them feel the sexiest.
Maggie was doing good on the computer. She had gone out on the Internet to look for data on clothing styles from the last century.
She found more than she could possibly use. Including a dealer in antique clothes and reproductions of them. According to their Web site, they could make you an exact copy of Mrs. Millard Filmore's greatcoat.
She printed out some examples from their catalog. In another spot she found a listing for a fashion museum that promised an 'extensive offering of Victorian styles in America'. In another spot she found copies of sales fliers for a store in New York that offered a wool monstrosity that said it would keep out the 'night vapors' for two dollars. She printed it out too.
Bonker was absorbed in a magazine about Greco-Roman wrestling.
He had already read a magazine about coaching college wrestling, and found several sites on the Web about it. But he liked the old fashioned paper better.
Maggie had plenty of material now. All she had to do was actually write the paper.
"How many words does he want?" Bonker asked her.
"He didn't specify. All he said is it has to be a complete treatment of the subject. I was gonna shoot for about thirty pages or so."
Dale protested, as did Ron. Kalley wanted to come watch.
Keith told the ref they were taking a break. Then they all went to the music room.
Ralph had been torn away from the TV, nobody but Colleen could have accomplished that feat.
The dance contest started.
There was no theme or organization. The couples danced around, anybody that didn't seem to be having a good time was encouraged, the few that could dance, like Peggy's real mom and Ron. Nobody was tapped on the shoulder. They danced and danced.
"Oh, folks. Sorry about this. But I forgot to tell you this was a Marathon Dance Contest." The butler finally announced between songs.
"What's that mean?" Dale asked Peggy.
"We've got to dance all night." She said with a grin.
Well. Peggy danced. Dale kinda walked around and moved his arms a little.
Ralph moved a little more, mainly to keep his eyes on Colleen, who danced like a whirling dervish.
After awhile Dr. Myersong and Yyavonne showed up expecting the late supper. They joined the dance marathon instead.
Jack made several trips up to their room in the married dorm.
Mary made one trip. But she stopped to chat three times to different ones.
And by the time she got back down to the car all that was left was her lamp and a bag of snacks.
Jack was in the chair in their room when she came in. "I've got time to change and get to the gym, I guess I'll get something to eat later."
She nodded, "I want to rearrange the room a little."
Jack liked things where they were. "Suit yourself." He said and took his workout suit and jersey down to the bathroom.
He took a quick shower to loosen up a little. Then while drying off he realized he missed Kim. "I'll just have to get Mary in here more." He grinned and dressed for the practice.
Mary wanted to divide their room into a living and sleeping area and a study area. She didn't know why, but she did.
Some of the others in the dorm had gone as far as to get a screen or partition to make a room within a room. The rooms in this dorm were by and large bigger than rooms in other dorms, but it still was not a huge area to work with.
She moved their dressers and desk and put Jacks refrigerator on top of the bookcase, and didn't like it.
"Getting a little domestic aren't we?"
"Smart aleck." Mary said without turning to the voice.
"Yeah yeah yeah."
"So. Cin. How's the plumbing business?"
Cindy shook her head and flopped on the bed Mary was trying to move. "Its actually coming along better than you'd expect."
"So you'll be in there by what? Easter?"
Cindy laughed and bounced on the bed.
Kermin had proved to Lin that he had been learning a lot in school.
The last time they had been together she had been honest with him that his technique was enjoyable, but he was still a little too much worried about his own pleasure.
He had been working on this. And now he was confident he could satisfy her. And he did.
But now. She was sleeping peacefully in the bedroom of the guest house and he was sipping sherry watching classic comedy bits on the 'All Nite Comedy Feast'. He wasn't sure if this was incest or not.
They were in no way blood relation. She was not his step-dads real or adopted daughter. She was older than him too...
Kremin then had another thought. 'His conscious was bothering him!'
That was something he wasn't aware he had.
Kim had never thought of herself as lesbian, or even bi-sexual.
But here, talking to this girl about sex, she was feeling very curious and strangely attracted to her. She was aware that Janet was looking at her with more than a little heat in her eyes.
The room had grown quiet except for the TV.
Janet touched her arm lightly. The touch sent electricity up her spine.
Kim returned the touch, tracing Janet's kneecap in circles, finally brushing the hem of her skirt at mid thigh.
"It's a little warm in here." Janet said.
Kim nodded. She only had one thought that kept her there and not heading for the door.
Sal would have nineteen kinds of fits if he knew she was even thinking about it!
"I am curious." Kim said, "Especially since my husband turned out to be a jerk."
Janet smiled. "I can show you." She kissed Kim's cheek gently.
She felt feelings in her she had only felt twinges of before.
Janet was so gentle, so loving and tender.
Kim DID NOT have a screaming and thrashing orgasm. She climbed a slow mountain and when she got to the top, she kept going right through the clouds.
The feeling was different with Janet, she decided.
Kim took a deep breath and returned the favor. She wasn't as gentle or practiced, but she did OK.
"Why were you with Billy." Kim asked her later.
"I date boys to keep my mom happy." She said holding Kim snuggly.
Harrison worked fence duty Friday for awhile. They had planned on tasking Friday off. Kicking back and enjoying life for awhile.
But some guy with a four-wheel drive and no sense of direction changed that.
A man Harrison only knew as 'BuggyWhip' or just 'Bug' made the rounds of the property nearly every day. Today he came in just before lunch and reported that a large section of fence along a dormant field had been torn up by a truck.
Harrison and several of the men and a young woman with a saxophone volunteered to go fix it. They loaded up the ATV and an ancient pick-up with poles and wire and tools and they sat off to get busy.
It was three hours of hard work in nearly frozen ground. But when it was done they all felt very satisfied with the work.
They rode back through a light snowfall singing and laughing.
Harrison didn't even mind taking a shower in the oddball contraption that passed for a shower in the barn. A kerosene fired water heater and gravity fed shower head. Later he relaxed with the others around the fire.
MARY Fri PM
The coach yelled for awhile about how loose their last practice had been.
Then he told them all about next weeks exhibition game against the Canadian team. Finally he went over what they'd be doing today.
The coach used his new team captain, Jack, as a Guinea Pig for two exercises he wanted them to go through. Leon asked a question and he made Jack go through one of them again. By the time he was done with it, Jack was almost too tired to do it for real. But since he was captain, he was up front. Leading the exercise.
He used an old trick, he kept counting and walked back and forth for a minute and watched, shouting encouragement to a couple of the players. Then, with fresh breath, he'd join back in.
"Two three ... Come on James. ... three four. Do it like you mean it Josh."
Later they did some ball drills and Jack got to play the role of team leader to a greater extent.
Leon had not suddenly been given the gift of grace and finesse. He was still jerky and almost comical in his position as forward.
But during a scrimmage, his extra long arms seemed to come out of nowhere to give ball handlers nightmares.
It was no secret that Jack was going to be the starting center. The left forwards spot was Leon's and no mistake. Most of the team had come to expect Blackthrawn to be one of the starting guards. But the other two positions in the starting rotation were up in the air.
The coach was not tipping his hand any either. He had them run short scrimmages against all sorts of formations.
Even having Leon play center against their defense. Leon promptly showed why he was not a center and never handled the ball on a fast break.
Jimbo had a great holiday.
One cousin stabbed another cousin with a carving fork in an argument over some leftovers. Then a slightly tipsy aunt cussed for twenty minutes when she ran out of cigarettes.
Jimbo himself got slapped up side the head by one of his female in-laws when he hung mistletoe on his belt buckle and told her she should kiss him under it.
They reminisced about when Uncle Roscoe shot Aunt Emma one Thanksgiving.
She got out of the hospital and bailed him out. But he refused to leave the jail, telling the sheriff she was going to kill him. She admitted that's why she wanted him out. And they locked her up too.
Jimbo stole his uncles CD player out of his car. Replaced it with the cheaper, also hot, one out of Jimbo's own car. And left for the campus early Saturday morning before the switch was noticed.
Maggie was typing on her word processor far into the night. Bonker stayed with her.
He made her hot tea, read her quotes and looked up words she couldn't spell and her spell checker couldn't figure out, and just generally assisted with her academic productivity.
She made her late rounds with him too.
Later back in her room she printed out her paper to proofread it.
Bonker fell asleep listening her read about the changing roll of buttons on woman's coats from simply functional to decorative.
She knew her report was going to be a success.
The gamers finally got back to the computer after they took a meal break.
Martin had taken a couple of their turns. They had to go way out of their way to get to an area where they could teleport again.
"I tried to go through the Green pass. But it was full of Flame-Trolls. They can't hurt us. But we can't get past them."
Keith looked at their map. "We could teleport from the Village of the Clones. It's just over these ridges." He pointed to the map.
Dale was sitting half looking at the screen. He was tired of dancing. "I'm just glad Peggy said her feet hurt." He said slowly. "I'm not sure I ever want to dance again."
Ron was still dancing.
Kalley was watching the ongoing contest.
The rest were back into the game and apparently ready to go the rest of Friday night too.
Dale was reading about Flame Trolls. "Hey, look at this. We may not be able to get past them, but we might be able to make them go past us."
Ralph and the others finally ran out of sports to watch.
In the last couple of days they had seen six football games, with more to be on on Sunday. They had seen two or three full basketball games. A complete bracket of drag racing. A soccer game. And a rodeo.
Oh, yeah, there was that boxing show too.
Ralph stretched. "I need to get back to the apartment and change."
Ben looked up at him. "You'll miss the Jai-Alai special."
"I wanna be back in time for the NASCAR season retrospective rebroadcast."
Martin came in from checking on the 'Underraelm' game, "We need to restock the beer and munchies before then too."
Soon the group broke up on their respective errands. Ralph gave some cash to Martin for the beer run.
"Racing, Then the update. We crash, in the morning the Bowl preview then the pro football roundup, then two more games. And the late game." Benjamin had a printout of the schedule.
Ralph grinned. "A lineup like that is going to require pizza."
They laughed. Martha would shoot them if they ordered a pizza.
That made it a challenge.
The coach called an emergency team meeting.
"All right. Shut up and listen." He said loudly.
The players and others shut up.
"This is gonna be super important." Jack whispered to Mary.
Sunday meetings were unheard of. For the coaching staff to chase everybody down and make some sort of announcement meant it had to be a matter of national security caliber.
"You all know we're playing the Canadian National Team Wednesday."
They muttered the affirmative.
"There has been a slight change of plans." The coach had expected grumbling he got it. "The Canadians called the conference and said they want to play in a bigger arena with better TV facilities. The game is going to be televised nationwide up there."
The coach continued, "So with the blessings of the conference we will play the game at the Capitol Center in Springfield. In front of a national TV audience, and a tape delay national cable show in this country."
They cheered some more. But the coach wasn't done.
"Now... They expect to beat the living snot out of us. But I got other plans." He stuck his whistle in his mouth and blew it sharply. "Go get dressed. Full practice and scrimmage in ten minutes."
The players booed. Mary went to call her dad.
Jack stopped one of the assistants asking, "I thought we were told we couldn't be on TV."
The coach grinned. "It always amazes me how cooperative the conference can be when something like this comes up. Of course they'll get paid too."
Jack laughed with him.
By Sunday Harrison was almost ready to leave for the campus.
Valerie had told him she was mad a guy she had been seeing and wanted to go as soon as he was ready.
But he wasn't exactly ready. He wanted to talk to the longhair about coming back on break around Christmas.
"I really like this place. This is so refreshing and invigorating. I feel as ready to get back into the academic routine as I ever have."
The longhair looked him over. My dear friend. Few have I seen grow so much in such a short time. You are most welcome to come here when you feel the need."
"I thought you didn't like me at first."
The old hippie smiled. "I didn't like Doctor Harrison. Lumin, I like."
"But I'm the same guy."
"No.... Not yet."
Cont in Two Dorms Part 42
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