Castle Roland

The Concord

by Sequoyah


Chapter 1

Posted: N/A

ASP--The Concord Five--Chapter One--Jacob

As I got in the car, I could hardly hold back the tears. Sure, we were all sad--as friends always are when a time of separation comes--but it hit me harder. I was leaving the woman I had come to see as my best friend and now the love of my life. Michael and Mary Kathryn and Bill and Linda had only left friends; I had left the light of my life.

Paula and I had talked a lot about that the nights we slept together in the tent. We talked about a lot of things. We talked about having sex--making love with no boundaries--and decided it was best to put it off, as difficult as that proved to be. We talked about how little time we really had together after we discovered we were in love. And, I guess most importantly, we talked about what would happen if we found someone else. I didn't want to even think about that, much less talk about it, but Paula is a very practical woman.

"Jacob, I can't imagine it happening, but let's be honest. How many high school romances have you known which lasted when the couple split up--going to different colleges or, as we are, where one is in college and one is in high school? I can't think of a single one. Even couples who were officially engaged didn't make it."

I had to admit she was right, and then protested we were different.

"Maybe we are. I think we are, but what if we're not? There are high school events you'll want to attend with a date and I'm sure the same will be true for me. Is that going to be ok? I mean, is it ok for us to date casually for special occasions or not? If we do, what happens if we fall in love with someone else?"

"I honestly hadn't thought about that, Paula. I really hadn't. But if we are in love and if we are committed to each other, I don't see why we can't date occasionally so long as the person we're dating knows where they stand. Do you?" I looked at Paula closely because I knew her eyes would tell me the truth.

"See no reason at all. If we trust each other and make sure the date knows it's just a friendly kind of thing. No, I see no reason not to." Her eyes told me she was telling the truth.

"And if we fall in love with someone else?"

"Jacob, all I ask of you is that you be honest. When you see it happening, don't lie to me. Be a man and be up-front. If that is the way it is, we might still be friends after the hurt is over, but that's not likely."

"Glad we talked, Babe," I said. "So long as we're honest with each other, it'll be ok." I leaned over and kissed Paula and, as I did, I said to myself, "It's going to take some woman to turn my head because I think I've found the only one for me".

Thoughts, memories, were all racing through my mind as the miles rolled by. I don't know when I fell asleep, but I did and only woke up when Bill stopped for gas and a pit stop.

ASP--The Concord Five--Chapter One--Michael

All of us, except Mom and Dad, spent only one night on the road going home, stopping in a motel somewhere in Kentucky. Because of Mom's condition, she and Dad took an extra day to get back, stopping and resting frequently, and calling it a day early on Monday and Tuesday. The rest of us got home late Tuesday and all were very tired. We had stopped for supper in Concord, so when we got to Mary Kathryn's, I kissed her goodnight, went home, took a quick shower and fell into bed.

The Larsens expected me for breakfast Wednesday morning so I was up early, ran with Mary Kathryn, showered and drove to her place. I told her she should shower with me, but she wisely decided a fresh woman after a run would be hard to explain.

We were all reluctant to do anything after the two weeks in Ohio and getting back tired the night before, but the summer was over. Gabrielle and Jens were off to work and Mary Kathryn and I were meeting the Fellowship--what was left of it--and Ms. Jones at 9:30 at the school. She had asked that we come in to make some plans for the opening of school.

Mary Kathryn and I arrived a bit early and went to Ms. Jones' office. She asked about our summer, how Matt and Luke were doing, and we told her that we had been with them as well as Eugene, Larry and Paula and our families and friends in Ohio for two weeks, getting back the night before. She wanted to know all about it and we were in the midst of telling her when Bill, Linda and Jacob came in. They joined in the conversation and we just talked about the summer until it was well after 10:30.

"Glad you had a good summer, even with all the bad things. Jacob, I'm sorry about you and your parents, but know that Bill and his family will make you welcome."

"They have already," Jacob said. "I think they're trying to spoil me," he laughed.

"Well, you have earned a spoiling from me," Bill said. He then told Ms. Jones how Jacob had made his dad realize he hadn't been paying attention to him.

"That's great," Ms. Jones said. "Maybe we can hire him out to wake up parents this year. And, Jacob, I guess you are a bit lonesome with Paula in Ohio."

"Lonesome doesn't begin to cover it," Jacob said. "This is going to be a rough year for the two of us."

"Think we may help by keeping all of you busy," she said, seriously. "But, first, we have some things to work on such as the calendar, the usual, and then I have some special things I want to talk to you about, so let's get busy."

We worked on the calendar of events and what students would be expecting and when, everything from homecoming to SAT and AP exams. By the time we had finished, it was lunchtime. "How about taking a break?" Ms. Jones asked. "It's time for lunch and I have taken the liberty of ordering pizza for us and have prepared a salad to go with it. Let's go to the courtyard and wait for the pizza, which should be here in five or ten minutes."

While we were waiting, sipping on soft drinks, Ms. Jones asked, "I heard something about a trip to the Black Hills, Michael. Was that a vacation trip?"

"Hardly. Matt and Luke went there to do a vision quest. Mary Kathryn and I were there for different reasons." Between Mary Kathryn and I, we told her of our experience there, I mean as far as you tell anyone about medicine man training and preparing for womanhood. Ms. Jones was fascinated and kept asking questions, some of which Mary Kathryn and I answered with, "I'm sorry, Ms. Jones, that's something you don't talk about to others". She was really fascinated when we told her how Red Hawk had died.

"I guess that means your training is complete then, doesn't it?"

"I don't think so," I replied, "but I don't know what happens next, since Red Hawk is dead. We'll just have to wait and see."

"Maybe what you have learned can be used in one of the things I want to happen this year. In one of the workshops I attended this summer, I learned about high school peer counseling programs. Students counsel and help other students after a pretty intensive training program. It works where it is being used. Peer counselors also serve as mediators when students get into conflicts. One of the things it does is to change discipline. Too often students are suspended, or even expelled, when they get in trouble. When that happens, they are put on the street where they often get into deeper trouble. Maybe we can find an alternative to that."

"I want each of you five to come up with at least three others you know--sophomores, juniors and seniors--so we can pick a team of twenty. And don't, by the way, look at just grades or even people who have never caused trouble. Look at people you are sure could be trained to help other students--those who, you recall, helped students last year. I was told students often just go on instinct. Think you can do that? All of you have had experience without training, so I immediately thought of you as the core group."

"How long do we have?" Bill asked.

"I have scheduled a camp for a training retreat two weeks after school starts. You will have a 'for credit' class which will continue training and provide support. That, of course, will start as soon as school starts. And you'll need to think of a teacher who can work with you. I have some ideas, but I'd rather that come from you. In addition, I was thinking of Ms. Norman as a co-advisor."

"She was the first one I thought of," Eugene said.

"Well, think of another. It probably should be a male so you have the male-female dynamic in the advisor team."

"Ok, we'll be thinking about that," Bill said. "It sounds like a very good idea to me."

"Here's another very radical idea," Ms. Jones continued. "I have talked with Millie about it and she has taken it to the board. They are reluctant to give permission for it, but Millie has a couple members as enthusiastic about it as she is. They have given approval for us to move ahead, subject to the final plan being approved by them."

"The student council has, for all practical purposes, been an organization without purpose. This summer I did a lot of reading about the way this country was set up. Why couldn't a school, which has elected student officials, be set up to operate in much the same way? Of course there are some decisions I would have to make and some things I might over-rule, but why shouldn't the student government be responsible for the rules--like laws--by which we operate? Why shouldn't students form a court to try students for infractions of the rules? Why shouldn't students decide how discretionary funds be spent? I think it would work. Then students would really take seriously what we as administrators and faculty say, but know is wrong, 'This is your school'. What do you think about that?"

"Well, as you said, it's a pretty radical idea. Members of the student government are generally elected in a popularity contest and probably would not be the best choices," Mary Kathryn observed.

"And just what makes you think that's not true of political leaders?" Linda asked.

"Now that you mention it..." I mused. "Why not try it? It couldn't be worse than it is now. 'Course it's gonna take a lot of explaining to get that across to students."

"Yea, and there will have to be a rough period in which you keep hands off, at least up front, before students believe it and take the idea seriously," Jacob said. "But, you know, I think students will be harder on students than faculty and administrators are."

"Probably," Ms. Jones said. "I guess I would have to have final say, since I have to answer to the board and parents. But I'm willing to stay out of it as much as I can, even if the place starts going to hell in a hand basket at first."

"As I am sure it will," Mary Kathryn said.

"Well, you have your work laid out for you. Think you can have a final plan by Monday?"

"We have already called a meeting of the Fellowship--what's left of us--at the falls Saturday. Why don't you come by late Saturday afternoon and see what we've come up with? Even have supper with us. We'll be having a picnic about 4:30 or 5:00," I said.

"Sounds good to me. I've set aside the conference room for you to use. A copy of the school board's rules and regulations is there for reference. You don't need to look at them all--I'm sure you don't need to know the procedure for purchasing toilet paper!" she laughed, "but matters of discipline, behavior, dress codes are there. If you find something you think needs changing, write it up with the changes and reasons and I'll present it to the board or explain why I can't. Any questions?" There were none and we adjourned to the conference room.

We discussed the peer counseling program and thought it was an excellent idea, but really weren't ready to recommend others for it without some thought, so we turned to looking at the new role of the student government.

The first thing we looked at was the student handbook. All of us were astonished at the pages upon pages of rules. We certainly had never read them and doubted that many other students had either. All of us could remember when a teacher had busted a student for disobeying a rule we had never heard of, but realized they were so many and so nit-picky that could happen. Actually, because of that, they had no real meaning. After an hour, we had reduced the rules to very few: "Students are to be academically honest. Students are to respect the authority of administrators, teachers, student government members and any other designated authorities. Students are to respect each other. Students are to respect the property of the school board and of each other. Students are to respect rules of classroom behavior as established by each teacher." That was it. Of course, there would have to be a lot of discussion of the implications of the rules, but there was no need to have five pages on academic honesty as the old handbook had. Every student knew the difference between honest work and cheating.

We were asked to attend the general faculty meeting at the end of the day and make our presentation. Most teachers were very much for having fewer rules and all agreed that they would have to take responsibility for spelling out how they would be applied in their classrooms.

As we were leaving the school, Mary Kathryn and I asked Greywolf and Yong Jin if we could come by and talk with them about what Ms. Jones had proposed and they agreed. Both were very supportive of the idea of student government taking a larger role and of the peer counseling program but, as the Fellowship did, they needed time to think of people for the counseling program and how to present the student government's new role to students.

When I got home, I called Christopher and asked if he'd like to go for a ride in the country. I hadn't seen him since I talked with him earlier. He didn't seem too interested, but said he'd do anything to get out of jail. I didn't bother to ask him what he meant, just told him I would pick him up in half an hour. He said he was at his grandfather's restaurant, so I drove straight there.

When I went inside, Demetri greeted me heartily and asked what I had been up to. I told him about all of us going to Ohio and helping the crew there get set up, then asked where Christopher was. Demetri rolled his eyes and motioned with his head to the back room as he called out, "Christopher, someone here to see you".

Christopher came, almost running from the back room, a huge smile on his face. When he saw me, he came to a sudden halt and the smile disappeared. "Oh, it's you," he said in a voice he might have used to greet an executioner.

"Yea, it's me. If you don't want to go with me, fine. I have other things to do so I don't need to waste your time or mine." I saw no reason to ignore his expression and obvious feelings.

"Oh, I'll go. It's just that I thought you were someone else."

We went outside and climbed into the Tracker. As we did, I noticed that Christopher had a few more things pierced which I wouldn't have believed had someone told me, because I didn't think he had anything unpierced when I first met him. As we started out of town, I asked, "What've you been up to this summer?".

"Mostly being worked and bored to death. The old man insists that I work in his rundown place and I'm there six or eight hours some days. Other than that, I've mostly been bored except when one of the guys comes by."

"Who've you been hanging out with? Anyone I know?"

"I guess. They sure know you. I've made friends with the real kewl crowd, Dude, you know Kenny Haines, Frank Kitchen and Spike Ellis and that bunch of kewl dudes."

"Kewl dudes, my ass," I thought. "That bunch are the bottom-feeders deluxe. They have been in and out of juvenile detention so often they think it's home because they are still young enough not to get sent to jail for dealing drugs, alcohol violations, vandalism and theft. Yep, they are kewl dudes all right." I decided not to say anything about them and just see what Christopher would tell me.

"What have you and they been up to? Having fun?"

"Sure have, man, when I can get some money out of the old man. I mean he pays me for working, but it's not enough. We got a-hold of some great grass last week, but it's gone and I'd sure like some more. Kenny's picking up some today, I hope. Yea, and we found a guy who will buy beer for us. He takes half, but I've been able to sneak a bit from the till occasionally so we can party. But you're not into fun are you, boy?"

I was ready to demonstrate just how much a boy I was NOT by busting the son of a bitch one, but held my temper. "Sure I'm into fun. It's just that I don't need weed or beer to have fun."

"Don't know what you're missing. Still haven't found a chick to screw. I was used to getting a lot of pussy when I was hanging out at my old lady's, but can't seem to connect here. I mean other than what the dudes come up with. But I will." He cupped his cock and balls in his hand and jiggled them. "Sure need some pussy. You getting any ass these days? Hear you got a regular girlfriend."

Ok, he had stepped over the line this time but I still kept my cool--mostly. "First of all, Christopher, if I am or am not having sex with my woman, it's none of your damn business and would not be something I'd talk about to someone I barely know. Second, I don't like the way you refer to Mary Kathryn, my woman. You make her sound like some kind of tramp or whore and I don't like it."

He laughed and said, "You answered my question. You're not getting any ass."

I was really steaming. I pulled to the side of the road, looked him in the eye and said, "Christopher, who you run with and what you do is your business. You're being a damn fool and you'll learn that soon enough, but that's your affair. BUT my relationship with Mary Kathryn is not your business and if you make another remark suggesting she is trash, I will beat the shit out of you. You better understand that. Now do you want to go back or shall we start over?"

"Hey, be kewl, dude. Just be kewl."

I calmed down some and we drove out to the farm. Christopher said he had never seen a real farm, so we just walked around the place where I answered questions. I couldn't believe he was so fascinated by things like vegetables growing in the garden, cows feeding and so on. "Look, I would really like to see how you get milk out of them cows," he said.

"Sorry, can't show you that since most of 'them cows' are bulls and are just about as capable of giving milk as you are."

"That's the reason they have only one teat, they don't give milk."

"Not a teat, dude. They have only one of those just as you have only one."

"Oh," he said.

"We raise beef cattle, not milch cows. So we don't milk cows, but maybe I can show you how to get milk out of a cow. It's almost 5:00. There's a dairy farm not too far from here and they should be ready to start milking. Let's go."

When we arrived at the Heidelberg farm, several men were preparing cows for milking while other cows were already in the milking stalls being milked. Mr. Heidelberg was at the end of the long milking parlor and I told Christopher to walk quietly as we started toward him.

"Hi, Michael, haven't see you in a coon's age," Mr. Heidelberg said as he extended his hand. As I shook it I said, "Mr. Heidelberg, this is Christopher. He's Demetri's grandson."

"Demetri that runs the Greek place?"

"Yea, that's my granddaddy."

"Got a great man for a grandfather, son," Mr. Heidelberg said. "He's got a good heart. Well, what can I do for you, Michael?"

I laughed. "Christopher wants to see how you get milk out of a cow."

"Well, Christopher, if you look at the cows in here, they have a milking machine attached to their teats. It uses a vacuum to milk them. But I guess you'd like to see how it was done by hand. I've got a kind of pet cow who is willing to be milked by hand. I'll bring her in shortly. Meanwhile, make yourself at home." We walked around and again I answered questions. A few minutes later, Mr. Heidelberg came in leading a cow. "This is Daisy," he said, as he placed a bucket of feed in front of her, and walked back, sat on a low stool and started milking, both hands producing powerful streams of milk which foamed as it hit the bucket. After a while he asked, "Michael, can you milk?".

"Not with both hands, and I'm not very good, but I can do it." Mr. Heidelberg got up and I took his place on the stool and produced a pretty weak stream of milk. After I had struggled bravely for a while, Mr. Heidelberg asked, "Want to try, Christopher?". Christopher nodded and took my place.

Try as he would, he couldn't get any milk. Mr. Heidelberg placed his hand over Christopher's to show him the movement needed. After he tried for a few minutes, Christopher had finally produced a tiny stream once or twice. Finally, Daisy looked around at him and gave him a swat with her tail, tumbling him backwards off the stool. Mr. Heidelberg laughed as he reached out and pulled Christopher to his feet. "I know it looks easy, but you have to learn a technique, just like doing anything. Daisy knows you are new at this and gets a bit annoyed. Guess you're not hurt."

"No, just embarrassed," Christopher replied.

"Don't be. She can still do that to me if I don't watch it," Mr. Heidelberg said. "Well, I guess we all had enough hand milking today," he added as he led Daisy to a milking stall.

"Thanks, Mr. Heidelberg," I said, shaking hands with him.

"Yea, thanks," Christopher said, sticking his hand out.

As we were walking back to the Tracker, Christopher said, "Dude, that milking machine thing could give you one hell of a blow job," and laughed. I decided not to tell him it would probably give him one that he would regret, as some dairy boys I know had found out!

Once we started back to town, he started talking shit about weed and beer and pussy again. I was pretty pissed when I let him off. I was sure that most of what he was saying was pure smoke and bullshit, but I wondered why he thought he had to talk such shit to me.

I took him back to the restaurant and when I let him out said, "Laters". As I drove off I thought to myself, "This is not a project I want!".

I talked to Mary Kathryn about my time with Christopher, and how he seemed to be ok when we were on the farm and at the dairy, but I got pissed all over again when I told her how he talked about women and her. "Michael, he wasn't talking about me," she said, "but about the women he has known or probably thought about. Maybe that's the only kind he has known."

"Mary Kathryn, I have never had such mixed feelings about a person as I have about Christopher. On the one hand, he's an asshole, a user, and a no-good jerk. On the other, when I look at his granddad, I know there has to be something worthwhile in him if he hasn't killed it already. I think I saw that coming out while we were at the farm and dairy. Still, on the one hand, I'd like to just beat the living shit out of him and on the other I'd like to try to help him make something of himself."

"Well, I know where you stand," Mary Kathryn laughed, "...confused. I guess we'll just have to keep working until he chooses one way or another."

"I guess so, but it's not going to be easy," I replied.

I decided I'd ask Christopher to join the Fellowship at the school Thursday, and when I called him late Wednesday night, Demetri said he hadn't come in yet. "He's out and gone all hours and I don't know what to do about it," he said.

"Doesn't he have a curfew from the trouble he got in before he came here?" I had no idea whether he did or not, but thought there must be one.

"I don't know. I guess I should look over the agreement he signed to get to come," he said.

"Have him call when he gets in," I said.

It was 1:00 when he called and the phone irritated Dad big time, but he didn't say much. He didn't have to, he just called from his bedroom, "Michael, it's for you".

"Michael here," I said into the phone.

"It's Christopher," the voice on the other end said. "You wanted me to call you?" Christopher's voice was definitely slurred.

"Yea, I wanted to invite you to go to the school tomorrow with a group of us."

"Why the fuck would I want to go to the fucking school before I have to?" he asked.

I explained what we were doing and when I finished said, "I thought you might be interested in getting to know some people."

"Fucking damn teachers' fucking pets? No, thank you."

I was pissed at him again but, knowing his condition, I said, "Just a thought. Sorry," and hung up. This guy was definitely a problem, but I had promised Demetri I would keep an eye on him and, by damn, I would!

When the Fellowship got to school the next morning, we compared notes on who we thought might be good as peer counselors. Among us, we came up with eleven. That meant we could add four more if all of them accepted. It was a pretty mixed bag. Of course there were good students who had never been in trouble, but there were also a couple who had been in real trouble but seemed to be straight now. There were a couple of girls, a guy we thought might be gay, a football player and a cheerleader, and one additional basketball player Bill said had really changed during basketball camp. When we showed the list to Ms. Jones, she thought we had done a good job but took one off the list because she had moved during the summer. She added one we did not know who had been sent away to boarding school last year while her mother and father were going through a nasty divorce, but who was coming back to live with her father.

The rest of the day we spent setting up the student government and its committees and so forth for its new role in school. When we finished, we presented our findings to the faculty again. Ms. Moore, who had seemed very opposed to the idea the day before, said we had done a good job and maybe she had been wrong in her statements that day. "I'll definitely take a 'wait and see' attitude," she said. "You certainly deserve a chance to prove this will work, and I'll support it until I see it's not working."

"You know, Janice, it's going to be rough at first. This is, after all, something very new for all of us, and very radical."

"I'm willing to hold judgement until the rough time should be over," she said.

"That's all I ask," Ms. Jones said.

Ms. Jones had asked that we meet with her in her office after the faculty meeting. When we got there, Ms. Norman was already present and greeted us all warmly. "I'm really excited about the peer counseling program," she said. "I have heard how well it is working in other places and am really glad we're going to have a shot at it. Who have you decided on as a co-advisor?"

"We haven't," I answered.

"Well, who would you suggest?"

I wanted to suggest Greywolf, but didn't think I should. It would be almost like Matt suggesting his father. Besides, I wasn't sure I wanted Greywolf to hear what I might say.

"To my mind, the best person for the job is Mr. Allen or Greywolf," Jacob said.

"I'm afraid Mr. Allen is out," Ms. Jones said. "He's being given many more responsibilities this year. If he wasn't, I would agree he is an excellent choice. What about Greywolf? Why not Greywolf?"

"I think he is the most obvious choice. The number one reason is that we all know him so well and know what he stands for. He sure seems to have a grasp of what teenagers need and want. I don't know any other faculty member nearly as well and we would start out with a high level of trust in him," Jacob replied.

"How about the rest of you?" Ms. Norman asked, looking around at all of us.

"I certainly think Jacob has spoken for all of us," Bill said.

"Same here," Linda said. "We have been through a lot with him, both here and outside school, and he's perfect."

"Michael, Mary Kathryn, you haven't said anything and I didn't notice you nodding agreement," Ms. Jones said. "What's your position?"

"I can't speak for Mary Kathryn," I said, "and I think Greywolf is perfect except, well, I'm not sure I want to be telling secrets with Greywolf in the room. I mean suppose, just suppose, Mary Kathryn and I were, maybe, kinda, having sex and that caused some problem or something and... well, you know." Damn it, I blushed.

"Mary Kathryn?"

"Ms. Jones, I was thinking about the same thing--not about having sex, but suppose Michael and I had a problem. Could Greywolf leave it here at school?"

"As you said, all of you know him very well; better, I am sure, than I do. What do you think?"

"I could see where that might be a problem for Michael and Mary Kathryn," Bill said. "Yea, I can see where it might be a problem for them but, knowing Greywolf--not as well as they do, of course, but pretty well--I don't think it would be a problem for him. I think he could and would honor confidentiality for them as well as for someone else. But I can see where it could be a problem for them."

"No-one said you had to talk about your own problems before the whole group or before Greywolf," Ms. Norman said. "And I'm sure he would have no problem with keeping general discussions and others' problems to himself. Actually, I don't think he would have a problem keeping your own secrets unless he thought you might be in danger."

"And you need to make clear that is the one reason, and the only reason, confidentiality will be broken--to protect the safety of the person you are working with or someone else. If a person is talking about suicide, for example, you have to seek help whether the person gives you permission or not."

"To tell the truth, I can't think of anyone I trust more than Greywolf," Mary Kathryn said. "It's just that the idea of discussing certain things with him present might be difficult, and I guess if I needed to talk with someone, I could see one of you."

"Sure you could and I hope you would," Ms. Norman said. "So are we agreed Greywolf will be asked to become co-advisor?" We all agreed.

"Let's see now. Jacob, you are student government vice-president and Michael is president. Bill, do you have an office?" Ms. Jones asked.

"He's secretary of state or whatever my closest advisor is," I answered.

"How about you two?" she asked, looking at Linda and Mary Kathryn.

"Guess I'm first lady," Mary Kathryn laughed. "Actually, I had thought about running for junior class president last year, but decided I really didn't want the job."

"I'm senior class president," Linda said.

"Then, Mary Kathryn, I guess you are head of the peer counselors by default. Talk to Greywolf and see if he's willing to take on another job," Ms. Jones said. "We need to get the student government organized as soon as possible. So, Michael, you and Jacob need to be ready to present the new plan Tuesday at opening assembly, and you can say more about it Thursday when you introduce the officers and committees of the new order. Students need to realize that student government is a great deal more important than in previous years. Tuesday will be a madhouse regardless of what we do, but I think we'll start with assembly, have short classes-thirty-minute classes will count--and then spend the rest of the day working on organizing the student council. Teachers not involved in the student government will take the rest of the students to get the final touches done so school can get down to business Wednesday."

"What about freshmen representatives?" Jacob asked. "They will not have been elected. Usually the election is held at the end of the third week of school."

"Since they are coming from two different schools, they won't know each other," Linda said.

"The election is always a runaway for Constitution since it is twice the size of Liberty," Mary Kathryn reminded us.

"Ms. Jones, that is always a problem. Why can't we have two elections, one for former Liberty students and one for Constitution? Their representatives could have half a vote instead of a full vote. Then, before Christmas break, we could have another election to choose new representatives. That way students would have plenty of time to get to know each other," I suggested.

"Don't you think that would keep the Liberty-Constitution split?" Ms. Jones asked.

"Don't think it will be any worse than before," I offered. "After all, the representatives will have to get together or they will cancel each other's vote."

"Ok, we'll do it that way. You've done good work today. See you tomorrow?"

"I think not," I said. "We have done about all we can do. Jacob and I need to get speeches ready, but we can do that without coming here."

"I think I hear the falls calling," she laughed.

"You're right. And we'll be there Saturday as well. You're coming by for supper, aren't you? And you too, Ms. Norman."

"About 4:30 or 5:00 you said?"

"Right. Ms. Norman?"

"Would love to come."

We left the office and, as we headed to the parking lot, we decided we'd meet at the falls about noon and Jacob and I would have a draft of our speeches. "By the way, if you don't mind, I'd like to ask Christopher to join us. He probably won't, but I'm going to need all the help I can get with that asshole." Everyone saw no reason not to invite him, but we were all pretty sure he wouldn't come.

After we left the others, Mary Kathryn and I drove home and then walked to the falls. We crossed the canes and were hardly to the beach before we had shed all our clothes. We swam for almost an hour, horsing around and having a good time, then lay on the beach making out. Both of us had to call a halt a couple times before things get out of hand. Well, things actually got IN hand and both of us were under considerably less sexual tension when we got dressed and left the falls.

I got home before Mom and Dad, looked at the supper menu Mom had posted and saw that there was nothing I couldn't do to get it ready so Mom wouldn't have to do it. As I busied myself in the kitchen, I realized I really hadn't had a chance to talk to them since they got back from Ohio.

They had got back in the early evening the day before, and Mom had been very tired so I didn't do more than ask how their trip had been. Mom said it was good, but she was exhausted. Since I had eaten at the Larsens' and Mom and Dad had eaten before they came home, they had gone to bed very early. Mom was six-and-a-half months pregnant and probably shouldn't have made the trip, but she had insisted and her doctor had okayed it provided she and Dad took it easy--and they had.

When they came in, I said, "Supper in half an hour". Mom grabbed and kissed me then said, "Michael, you are an absolute dream! I am dead on my feet. I had a really busy day and wasn't really rested from the trip. I think I want a shower before supper and just relax with my feet up." She left and I heard the shower start shortly afterward.

Dad set the table while I finished supper, and he put the food on the table as Mom came out of their bedroom in her robe. As Dad held her chair for her, she sat down and said, "Michael, I really do appreciate your doing supper. If I knew then what I know now, I think I might not have made the trip. I'm glad I did, but I really paid for it today. I told LaShandra, my new receptionist, I would be in the office only six hours a day, beginning Monday. I've also been told I will no longer be on-call at the hospital until I go back full-time after the babies are born."

"I think you should start half-days next week," Dad said.

"I will, David, if I find I am getting too tired. Michael, will you say grace?"

I did and we started eating. "Son, you are a good cook!" Dad said after a couple bites. "Tell me, what's going on at school before it starts?"

I told Dad and Mom about the peer counseling program and the new role for the student government. "I'm really excited about it, but also a bit frightened," I concluded.

"Anything as different from what has been, as these two programs are, is bound to have problems. I think the new role of the student government will be such a radical change that even the best students will have to have some time to adjust to it. Those who want to cause trouble will test the limits in every way they can. And, of course, there are those who don't want freedom because they don't want to accept the responsibility for their actions. You know, if you are told exactly what to do, it's 'they' doing to you, so you can be completely irresponsible," Mom said.

"Well, Jacob and I have the responsibility of explaining it to the student body. The Fellowship is meeting at the falls tomorrow at noon. Jacob and I are supposed to have draft speeches then. We're planning on spending Saturday there as well. Ms. Jones and Ms. Norman are joining us for a picnic around 4:30 or 5:00. We want all the families there too."

"Sounds good--the picnic and your new roles at school," Mom said.

"I fixed dessert," I said, "fresh fruit cups and oatmeal cookies. Want them with coffee on the patio and watch the sunset?"

"Sounds like a winner," Dad said, and Mom nodded.

We didn't have much to say as we sat watching the sunset on an evening that was cool for late August. It was actually dark before we took our dishes inside. Mom went on to bed and Dad and I cleaned up the kitchen.

When we finished, I went upstairs and phoned Christopher. He wasn't at home again and his grandfather said, "Michael, he's out and gone very night. I don't know where he is or what he is doing--well, that's not quite true. I know some nights he comes home drunk and on others I can smell he has been smoking--not cigarettes either. One night he came in smelling of weed and sex. You know, he had been having sex and I could smell it. I don't know what to do. If I turn him in as I am supposed to do, he'll have to go back to the detention center where he was before I got him out. Yet if I don't turn him in and he gets picked up, I would be in a lot of trouble. I'm just about at my wits' end. I'm too old for this."

"Demetri, I don't know whether I am too young or too old, but he's a mess and I really don't know what to say. Yesterday we drove out here and he really seemed like a different person. I do know that the bunch he's running with are bottom-feeding scumbags and real trouble. Well, tell him I called, but I don't want him calling here at some unholy hour again. I was going to invite him to join us at the falls tomorrow, but he refused before and we would be doing some pretty important work. Just tell him we're spending the day at the falls Saturday and would like for him to come. If he's interested, I'll pick him up."

"Sure wish he'd take up with you and your friends, but I don't know."

Christopher didn't call and I didn't call him again about Saturday. I had his answer.

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