Castle Roland

The Oberlin Five

by Sequoyah


Chapter 1

Posted: N/A

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Chapter One--Luke

Matt and I were standing arm-in-arm, as were Larry and Eugene. Without thinking, one couple got on one side of Paula and the other couple on the opposite side, put our arms around her, and the Oberlin Five walked slowly toward the house which suddenly seemed very empty. In the foyer, we stood together, realizing that this was it. Now there were the Concord Five and the Oberlin Five. And all we had known was way, way away. We were all very silent, then Larry said, "And now the new adventure really begins."

We all nodded and continued to stand in silence until Matt said, "Somehow or other I don't feel as grown-up and independent as I did yesterday". Silence. Nods.

"Well, we don't need to just stand here. We need to get some things done. You guys get the beds stripped and remade. Store the twin mattresses again and do the laundry. I'll get started on cleaning up the kitchen," Paula commanded. I guess we knew who was in charge of the house--not that there would have been any doubt if we had thought about it. To tell the truth, Larry and Eugene might have thought they hadn't been pampered--at least until Millie took Eugene in--but, as soon as Paula spoke, I saw that we really had been. Our moms had taken care of us. As we started upstairs to get the bed linen, Paula called out, "And don't get up there and start something. In the first place, you have work to do and, in the second, I'd be jealous!" We laughed for the first time since the parents had gone.

When Matt and I had removed the sheets from our bed and remade it, he pulled me on top of himself and started some really hot kissing. "Yes!" I said, just as Paula shouted up the stairs, "I said no making out!"

Reluctantly, we tossed the sheets into the hall, and I got the towels and wash clothes from the bathrooms while Matt stripped the now-empty fourth bedroom. When he came out, he yelled to Larry and Eugene, "You heard the woman". Larry came out of Paula's room carrying sheets as Eugene poked his head out of theirs.

"I know we are good make-out artists," Eugene laughed, "but I don't think even we could make out in two different rooms."

We tossed the linen downstairs and got the downstairs bedroom and bath linen. It made a huge pile and Matt was trying to force it all into the washer. "I don't think that will work," Larry said. "It's not the way Mom does it."

"Well, how do you do it? What do you do other than put it in and turn on the machine?"

All four of us looked at each other. "We've been spoiled," I said. "What do we do? Paula!"

Paula came from the kitchen, her hands soapy, and asked, "What's the problem?"

"Ok, we may as well admit it now. We've been spoiled. We don't know how to do laundry."

"Well I hope you four don't think you have a Mama Paula. You'll just have to learn. First important step: everything you have is light-colored, so it can always be washed together. NEVER put dark colors, and especially new things, in with light colors. Red is especially bad. Then you put in a load--you don't pack it, just drop it in until it's to here," she said, as she pointed at a spot in the washer. "Add the detergent--there's a measuring spoon in the box--close the lid and push the start button--here. That's it."

"But they won't all go in," Matt said.

"Then you do several loads," she laughed and looked kinda disgusted.

With the washing going, the four of us re-wrapped the twin bed mattresses and box springs and took them to the attic. When we finished, Eugene went to help Paula finish in the kitchen while the other three straightened up the house, which didn't take long.

When we finished, it was lunch time and we found stuff for sandwiches, made them and sat in the kitchen eating. "Paula, I really meant it when I said we were spoiled. I mean we had chores around the house and I guess I thought we pretty much pulled our share of the load--maybe we did--but there are five of us here and we have it all to do. I know laundry is not the last thing I don't know how to do," I said.

"Well, I sure don't know everything either. I'm not much of a cook and, to tell the truth, I don't like it," Paula responded.

"I guess any of us could learn to do anything, and probably should as time goes on but, for the present, maybe we better decide who can do what and make out a duty sheet," Matt suggested.

We sat around the table for about an hour discussing what we could and could not do and what we liked and did not like to do. Seems all of us hated doing laundry and washing dishes, so we decided we would each do our own laundry and rotate the dishwashing. Matt, Larry and I, being farm boys, knew we'd have to dig in the dirt one way or another and said we'd take on the gardens as our major effort. Eugene said he'd do the mowing and trimming--"I did it at home," he added. Paula said she'd help and she'd divide up the routine house cleaning.

"And as soon as we have our schedules, we need to set a day for overall cleaning or the place will be a mess, if I know us," Eugene said. "And it's a huge place." We all agreed.

We had just finished when the phone rang. I reached out and got it and suddenly didn't know what to say! "Larsen residence, Luke," certainly wasn't it, although I started to. Finally I said, "Residence of the Oberlin Five, Luke here".

"Luke, Stinky, Stinky Mason here. Is Matt Greywolf around?".

"Sure, just a minute. Matt, Stinky ... Stinky? ... Stinky Mason on the phone," I said as I passed Matt the phone.

"Later, Luke. Stinky! Great to hear from you," Matt said into the phone. "No kidding? ... Really? ... I can't believe it ... Tomorrow? ... By lunch? ... Great! ... You'll have lunch with us? ... Yea, I guess that's who we are now ... Yea, half the Fellowship ... Great! ... I'm excited, as I'm sure they will be ... Ok, see you then." As Matt hung up the phone, he said, "That was Stinky Mason". It was obvious he was as excited as a five-year-old at Christmas.

"We kinda got that idea,' I laughed. "But who's Stinky Mason?"

"You know, I wrote you about him ... While I was at Sewanee ..." Matt said, a bit impatiently.

"I'm sure you did, but then that was a pretty traumatic time for me--us," I replied.

"And you sure didn't write us about any Stinky Mason," Paula said.

Matt, of course, had to tell us the whole story of Stinky--how he got his name, how he had taught him footwork and all that. Then Eugene asked, "So, what's going on with Stinky?".

"He's coming tomorrow. He'll stop and pick up Woody and they will both be here by lunch tomorrow, and they're having lunch with us, and he is coming to talk about Holtkamp, and meet with me and some people from the organ department at Oberlin, and ..."

"One would hardly know you were excited, Matt," Larry laughed. "What's all this about?"

"I don't know if it's true, although Sticky and Woody say it is, that most organ builders are not really great organists--I mean, a trumpet maker really doesn't have to be able to play concerts--and that even fewer great organists really know organ building--you don't have to know how to build a trumpet to become as good as you are, Eugene. I mean you have to know how it works, but not how to build one," Matt was still talking double time. "But I guess it's different with organs--at least Woody and Stinky think so. An organist who really understands organ building--and might even be capable of building one--would be something else."

"And you think you are a great organist?" I laughed.

"Well, I may not be now, but I damn well will be!" Matt said in all seriousness.

"Of course you will, Matt, Baby," Paula said and patted him on the head.

"You're frigging darn right I will be," Matt said.

"Thought we agreed to leave the hard stuff--language, that is--to the experts," I laughed.

Matt was looking a bit deflated at that moment when Larry said, "Hey, Matt, loosen up! You know we're kidding. You are damn good and we know you'll be better. But we still don't know what you're talking about."

Matt blushed and told the Five that Stinky and Woody were trying to arrange some sort of apprenticeship or internship for him with the Holtkamp Organ Company in Cleveland. "'Course organists disagree over who's the best, but even the doubters put Holtkamp right at the top, if not on top, of American builders. They think I can get study credit for working there and I would learn how my organ works--I mean how a pipe organ works."

"Got out of that one, didn't you?" Eugene laughed and Matt blushed.

"You'll have admit, fellows, it's pretty exciting news," Paula said, "so what do we need to do to prepare?"

"The house is in pretty good shape. Actually, it's in great shape," Eugene said. "We need to get groceries in--after we find out what we have--then maybe work outside some more. Things are really shaping up, but we need to get as much done as we can before school starts."

"Luke, since you and Matt obviously know most about cooking, why don't you two check on the food supply, make out menus for a week, and buy groceries? I don't think at this point the rest of us will be great help. And I've been thinking about the 'I don't like to do' list," Larry said. "For the present, we need to know what we are doing, but I think we all need to take our turn at everything. Right now we have to go with what we know, but we all need to be learning. Sure, Luke and Matt could take care of the cooking--they're both good. But I think we should team up with someone who is learning. One cook and one learner. Then rotate the next week with the fifth person having a week off in the rotation. That way we'll all learn to cook. We need to do most things that way, except maybe the grounds ..."

"Everything," Paula said, "I'm as able as any of you."

"Everything then." There were five heads nodding agreement. "Right now Luke and I will do the survey of what we have and then someone can help me do the menus and make out a grocery list," Matt said.

We continued talking, working out details for another half hour, then Matt and I made an inventory of the food we needed. It was a long list because, essentially, we were setting up housekeeping from the ground up. We also decided we'd pay with a credit card Matt had, so he could earn airline frequent flyer miles and to keep for a record. We'd divide expenses and pay up at the end of the month, that way we'd accrue no interest charges. "I guess I have already learned one thing," Larry said, "keeping house is not easy. Paula, we need to let our moms know we realize that, because they held it together when they had little or nothing at hand."

"Matt, Paula and I are doing the meals this week so you can be free to do what you need to do with Stinky and Woody," I said. I'll go shopping with Eugene this time."

"We three will hit the grounds again," Larry said, and we broke up the meeting. It wasn't long before we were to discover how important that meeting had been, and just how we had dropped the ball but, for the moment, all was well and Paula, Matt and Larry headed outside.

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Chapter One--Matt

There was little left to do in the front, including the front gardens. The back, which went down to the beach, would just be kept neat without too much trimming, to prevent erosion, and a weed-eater did quick work of that. None of us had gone behind the garage to the vegetable garden so, with everything neat at the house, the three of us went to look it over.

I was really surprised when we rounded the garage. There were three huge compost bins, a shed filled with tools and gardening implements, a large garden which, of course, was overgrown with weeds--very fine and vigorous weeds. I could see some trees beyond the garden, but couldn't tell what they were. "Well, we can plan on fresh asparagus next spring," I said, as I looked around. "Also, we could probably have rhubarb now."

"How do you know that?" Paula asked.

"See those ferny looking things over there," Larry said, "that's an asparagus bed."

"Sure doesn't look like asparagus," Paula mused.

"That's because it's grown. You cut what you eat in early spring, before it comes out of the ground. And next to it is some pretty good-looking rhubarb, even grown up with weeds as it is." As we continued to look over the garden, Larry added, "Matt, do you think those trees are fruit trees?".

"Would make sense and that's what they look like from here. Let's go see." The going wasn't easy--when I said the garden was overgrown, I wasn't kidding. Before we reached the trees, we passed beds of raspberries and blueberries. We thought we saw a strawberry patch on our way, but it was so overgrown, we couldn't be sure. As we approached the trees, it was obvious they were part of what had once been a good orchard, let go. "With some pruning and care, we'll have some fresh fruit. I like this place," I fairly shouted. "Maybe we'll just have to call this the Oberlin Five Commune."

"With free love?" Larry laughed.

"Don't think that would be fair," Paula once again used her pouty voice. "Where do we start on this mess?" ever-practical Paula asked.

"The first thing we'll have to do is get rid of the weeds. We can't do much until then. I guess we need to start with the weed eater. We'll pile the weeds for the compost pile after we get what's in them out, including the healthy weeds growing in the bins."

"Matt, we may be farm boys but it occurs to me, my hayseed friend, that we know very little about gardening here. It has to be different," Larry said. Of course he was right.

"Well, until we get the weeds gone, that doesn't matter." We went to the tool shed and garage and got the tools we needed and started to work. It was hard, dirty work and the sun was pretty hot. After an hour, when we decided we had just about had it, I heard Luke's truck horn. We made a pass through the outdoor shower and went into the house.

When we got inside, Luke and Eugene were still hauling in bags and the kitchen counters were already covered. The three of us went with Luke and Eugene and brought the rest of the stuff in. "Man, we better be glad we don't have to start from scratch each week," Eugene said. "The checkout girl asked if we were feeding an army, we had so much stuff."

"Ok, we all need to know where everything is so, as we put it away, let's pay some attention. It'll take longer but otherwise we'll spend a lot of time hunting for stuff," Luke said as he opened a cabinet. "Bet I know who worked in here," he laughed. "New shelf paper and the same design as at home. Mom strikes again."

It took an hour to get everything put away and, when we finished, we all grabbed a glass of soda and the peanut butter and crackers and sat at the kitchen table snacking. "Luke, Eugene, you'll never believe what we discovered," Larry said, and then told them about the garden and orchard. "We're going to need some advise and help with that since this is not North Carolina."

"Extension agent time," Luke said. Larry and I nodded, Eugene and Paula looked puzzled. "Oh, for you city dudes," Luke said, "he's with the Department of Agriculture and helps with growing things. Used to be just for farmers but these days even metropolitan counties have them. We'll just give him a call and set up an appointment."

After the break, we all went back to the garden, first just to explore, then we set to work again. Progress was sure slow. After another couple hours, progress had definitely been made but there was still a long way to go. "Think we should call it a day," Eugene said. "I'm messing up my dainty hands."

"To the beach," Paula shouted, and started running to the tool shed to put away the tools she had been using. We all joined in the exodus and ten minutes later were in the lake.

An hour later, after a dash through the shower, we went inside and all five took a hot shower. Paula opted to take hers downstairs so the two couples could use the upstairs ones. When we were all dressed, we went down and supper was started. While Paula and Luke cooked, Larry and Eugene folded the linens which had been washed and dried, and started another load washing and one drying. I set the table. All the leaves had been removed and it was still large, but not really too large for five people. As I worked, I thought, "We need to make the evening meal special 'most every night, otherwise we'll just start grabbing stuff and calling it supper. Dinner 'most every evening." When I mentioned it at dinner, everyone agreed. 'Course, we had to remind ourselves of that decision later when things started really moving.

After dinner, we all pitched in and got the kitchen and dishes cleaned up and got the next load of dry linen folded in no time, then went into the family room. Matt had the best stereo among us and we started to set it up in the family room when Eugene said, "Look, Matt's going to need to practice in here and I know he doesn't need a stereo blasting even if he does use his headphones. Why don't we put this in the library, which is also very comfortable, and put mine in here. It may not be quite as good as Matt's, but it's close. Then when Matt's not practicing, we can use either room. And I know that when I am studying, I like soft music in the background and the stereo in the library would be good." We all agreed and spent an hour getting both systems set up to everyone's satisfaction.

When we finished, I said, "If you guys don't mind, I really do need to spend some time practicing. I have played so little recently and that begins to show quickly. I'll use the headphones."

"We'll be around when you finish," Luke said as he kissed me on the forehead.

I really had gotten careless about practice and I could tell it immediately. Of course, the work in the garden hadn't made my hands and fingers the most flexible, but I knew the main problem was lack of practice. Soon I was so involved in my music that I forgot everything else and, since I was using headphones, everything except the organ was shut out. I entered a special world where the only thing that existed was me and my music.

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Luke

When Matt went to the family room to practice, the remaining four of us went to the library. We all took a turn at the computers--we had three: Matt's, Eugene's and mine.

After we had all had a chance to check our mail, Paula picked up a book and started reading while the three guys composed letters. Eugene and Larry finished about the same time, and both offered to let Paula use the computer they had been using. Eugene finally said, "Look, I need to practice as well, so take this one. Luke, mind if I use the studio to practice? I know you don't want to hear it and I can't use headphones."

"Hey, great idea--at least until I need to use it. Maybe we need to think about a practice studio. I mean, you're right. I may like a trumpet, but two hours and I'd be bonkers," Luke said. "I'll go with you and we'll see how to go about fixing a practice studio. I think that's a good idea."

The studio was one huge room which looked even larger with its fresh paint job. The skylight was now so clear, stars and the sliver of the moon were visible through it. That also made the room seem larger. One end had a closet running over half-way across it. "If we extend the side of the closet into the room several feet--enough to make it, say, nine feet, and add a wall with a door from it to the other wall, you'd have something like a nine- by twelve-foot room. Would that be large enough?"

"More than enough. And with a well-padded carpet on the floor and acoustical tile on the walls and ceiling, it should be close to soundproof," Eugene replied. "We'll need to measure it to figure out the materials we'll need."

"I brought my tape, just in case," I told him. We quickly measured the room and I took the measurements and left Eugene to practice.

When I got back to the house, I sat down and quickly made some rough sketches and figured the materials list. After that, Paula, Larry and I just talked about nothing important until Eugene came back an hour later. "Hey, it's eleven," I said. "Matt's been at it long enough."

"When's getting-up time?" Paula asked.

"We haven't decided, but these are our last few days of freedom. Let's make it nine," Eugene said. "We still have a lot of work to get done, but I would like a little sleep-in time."

"And nine's sleep-in?" Paula asked. "Gads, I don't look forward to having to get up early. Goodnight, guys," she said, and headed upstairs. Larry and Eugene said their goodnights and followed her.

As they left, I went to the family room. Matt was sitting at his organ, playing in what must have been another universe. He gave no indication at all that I existed. When I tapped him on the shoulder, it startled him.

As he turned, he removed the headphones and said, "Luke, Babe, you startled me. I didn't know you were here."

"What happened to your knowing when I approached?" I laughed.

"Honest? To tell the truth, Luke, there is only one thing that comes between us, and that's my music--well, and I guess your art. When I really get into playing ..."

"I know, you're in another universe. I know the feeling well. I've always heard that one's art is their mistress."

"Or their second lover, if one is not interested in mistresses?" Matt laughed. As he did, I leaned over and kissed him and said, "I'll not be jealous of your other lover if you won't be of mine."


Matt slid off the organ bench and, arm-in-arm, we mounted the stairs. After we had undressed each other, we lay together and made wondrous love. I swear, every time with Matt was the best, every time. As we lay in the afterglow of our passion, Matt said, "Luke, every day I think I can't love you more and, Yonghon Tongmu, the next day proves how wrong I was. In my wildest dreams, I never dreamed I could love you as much as I do, and that loving you would be so far beyond what I could imagine, but it is, Babe, it is."

I kissed Matt softly and said, "I know, Sarang Hanun Pomul, I know, because I feel the same way." After we lay in silence for a few minutes, I asked, "Matt, are you frighted, excited, or what, about the future?"

"Yea, all of the above. I really didn't expect to be, but every day I realize that what I thought being here would be like, just isn't the way it is. So many surprises, so many responsibilities. Yes, all the above. But one thing which I dreamed about is just the way it is: having you beside me. But even that is different--it's a lot better!"

"Yea, you're right. And I love it!" I kissed Matt, and he spooned his body in to mine and we were soon asleep in Ohio.

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Matt

Since Luke and Paula were this week's cooks, I woke up in bed alone. I decided, even before I was fully awake, that I liked it better to wake up with Luke beside me. I could hear Larry or Eugene--probably both--in the shower off my room, so I went across the hall and took a quick shower there, managing to keep my hair fairly dry, dressed and went downstairs.

Paula and Luke were busy in the kitchen and all sorts of good smells greeted me, but couldn't compare with the good morning kiss I got from Luke. I kissed Paula on the cheek, poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down on one of the stools by the kitchen table.

"Since you're here," Luke said, "will you, please, set the table?"

I did--it didn't take long--poured juice and filled glasses with ice and water. "Where did we put the napkins? I don't remember." Luke pointed to a cabinet and I finished with the table. Then, as an afterthought, I dashed outside and came back with a bunch flowers for the table. "Now that's living," I said, standing back and admiring my handiwork.

"Damn, we may stay civilized after all," Luke laughed. "I thought we'd just become a bunch of sex-driven feral teenagers."

"Watch your mouth, you still have a nice young lady in your presence, who might become sex-driven, but her driver is far away. You'd hate to be the object of a female sex attack, wouldn't you?" Paula laughed big time.

When we had finished eating, we put our dishes in the dishwasher and ran a "rinse and hold" cycle, since there was no need to run a full wash cycle as it was not nearly full. Larry and Eugene took care of the pots and pans while we discussed the day's activities. "I'll call the County Extension Office and see about getting the county agent out here," Luke volunteered.

"I guess the rest of us can go ahead and start work on the garden," I said. "We can get in an hour or two's work before it gets hot and we need to get lunch ready."

When we reached the garden, Eugene said, "I see from the pile of weeds, you got a lot done, but when I look at the area they covered, it sure looks small."

"And it doesn't get larger fast," Paula said. "I guess I just don't understand why people want to dig in the dirt."

"It's a little boy thing," I laughed as Luke joined us.

"The county agent, a Mr. Glaze, will be here tomorrow morning. He seemed to be very excited about working with us on this place. Seems he tried to buy it right after the owner died but couldn't, thank goodness," Luke said.

After what seemed like hours, the five of us could see real progress and were dirty and sweating like mad. I looked at my watch. "Hey, it's 11:30 already. We better knock off and get ready for lunch." No-one objected and we all raced for the outdoor shower to get the worst of the dirt off, then went into the house and, once again, all three showers were occupied.

Luke and I had just gotten dressed when the front doorbell rang. I raced downstairs, threw open the door and there stood Woody and Stinky. Stinky grabbed me in a bear hug which I welcomed. "Man, it's good to see you again!" I practically shouted. "Come in, come in to our humble abode."

"If this is humble," Stinky laughed, "I can't imagine what a lavish one would be!"

When we walked in to the living room, the whole gang was there and I introduced them.

"Looks like a promising bunch," Stinky said.

"You just don't know!" Woody said as he hugged each of the four in turn. "See you've been busy since I left," he added.

"Just wait until you see what we really have gotten done, but it seems never-ending."

"Know the feeling," Stinky smiled. "It's the curse of home ownership."

"Lunch will be ready in a few minutes," Paula said. "Woody, you can show Stinky where to wash up."

The two disappeared down the hall toward the bathroom as Larry said, "It doesn't feel right to call Stinky Stinky.'

"Good southern raisin'," Luke laughed. "Don't you just love it when some little old lady says to 'yo' momma, while you're standing there, 'He's such a polite young man?'."

"Well, actually I do," Larry said, "but I guess there's being polite and calling someone you can't stand and for whom you have no respect 'mister' and being polite and calling someone you respect and like by a nickname."

"Yea, like being forced to call McBride 'reverend'," Eugene said as his face clouded. Fortunately, Woody and Stinky returned before anything else could be said on that score.

We sat down to potato salad, fresh tomatoes and boiled corn, and sandwiches made from the delicious roast beef from dinner the night before. Stinky had a lot of questions about what had happened since Sewanee and we all talked, but nothing was said about what had happened to me and Luke or, for that matter, the trip to the Black Hills. I was glad because I wanted that to be a private conversation and I suspect the others knew it.

When lunch was finished, we showed Stinky the place, and Woody what we had done since he left. They were both impressed. When we were in the studio, Eugene and Luke told all of us about their plans for a practice studio. Both men were impressed. "Good to see you are keeping each other in mind," Stinky said. "This would become a hell-hole if suddenly you weren't getting along. You need to remember that."

Back at the house, Luke suggested Paula and the other two might like to take the truck and go into town for materials for the practice studio. "I don't think I have missed anything," he said as he handed then a materials list. "I'm sure Paula would like to get out of here for a while because she hasn't left since heaven only knows when," he concluded.

When the three had gone, Luke and I sat in the family room with Stinky and Woody and told Stinky about what had happened, holding back little.

As we finished there was a long silence, for which I was thankful, then Stinky said, "I hope you do follow up on counseling and anything else that needs to be done for both of you, and especially for you, Luke." We assured him we would. "Ok, now let's see if you have given up your whorish ways, Matt," Stinky said.

I shot a quick look at Luke's face, not sure how he'd take the comment. His face told me he had not taken it at all well. This was no time for joking. "Luke, please, it's an organist joke." I then explained what Stinky meant and Luke, I could see, was relieved--and feeling guilty.

I played for Woody and Stinky for half an hour while both watched my technique. Before the summer I would have gotten very nervous but, after spending so much time with them at Sewanee, it just seemed natural to have them watch. When I finished, Woody said, "Good. You're much better. Very good, in fact."

Just as I finished, Larry burst into the house and yelled, "How about a little help out here. We've got a shi... truckload of stuff."

"I'll help, Matt," Luke said. "I know you three have some talking and planning to do."

"Thanks, Luke. Owe you one," I said, and meant it.

"Don't worry, I'll collect," Luke replied and gave me a melodramatic sneer and went out the door.

"Matt, I have been in contact with Holtkamp. I think at first they were afraid I was looking for a job for you. You, of course, will be of little use to them for maybe a year. In fact, while you're learning, you will actually be a liability," Stinky began. "However, I finally convinced Harry that you just wanted to learn and that I was working with Oberlin to get you credit for any time you spent with Holtkamp. When I showed him the video of the concert, he had a change of heart and said he would be delighted to have you as an intern. He even allowed as how he thought he could see his way to giving you a stipend to help pay for your transportation. I knew you'd go without that, but it gives both of you an obligation which I think is good. The only problem on that end now is getting your classes arranged so you can spend time there, and not just be hopping in and out. Harry would like to have you two full days if possible, but at least one full day and a half day if you can't get two full ones."

"Sounds great to me." I was so excited I could hardly speak.

"You do know that, given the drive to Holtkamp and back, if you get two days they will be full. You'll have to leave early and won't get home until late. How's that going to sit with your housemates?"

"I can't imagine it will cause a problem but, of course, we'll need to discuss it."

"That's something all five of you need to remember," Woody hoisted a warning flag again. "Things are going to come up and it's not like you are living in a dorm where what you do is your business. Here you're a household and that makes a huge difference."

"You'll need to talk with the crew this evening. I've made arrangements to meet Harry at St. William's in Cleveland, where they have a Holtkamp, so he can meet you and see and hear you play. Then we'll go to the studio, where the organs are designed and built, for you to look around and meet some of the people. It'll take most of the day. Then we have a meeting tomorrow evening with the chair of the organ department to see what we can work out at Oberlin. By tomorrow night we should know what's real and what's pipe dreams, so to speak. I think that after tomorrow evening your registration will, for all practical purposes, be taken care of so Thursday should be a snap for you. It won't be for the other four I suspect so, to compensate for hauling you away while they work and register, Woody and I have made reservations for dinner Thursday. We even found a place we like where we can have a more-or-less private area."

"Wow! Every time I turn around things change," I said.

"Welcome to life, young Matt," Woody smiled.

"By the way, Stinky, did Woody tell you about his time with us and the parents?"

"I think so. I mean he talked my head off about it. Did he leave out something?"

"Can't say for sure, but he sure was making out with an older woman before she left."

"I think he forgot about that on purpose. Woody, you sly old dog, what's going on?"

Both Stinky and I started laughing when Woody turned bright red. "You mean you can blush at your age?" I was finally able to say between laughs.

"Guess I must be young again," Woody stammered. "Well, yea, I found Millie a most attractive woman and she didn't push me away."

"Have you heard from her?" I asked. "And don't lie."

"Well, I guess I have. I mean we've talked on the phone."


"Well, actually only once."

"But she only left Monday and won't get back until tonight."

"Well, motels have phones," Woody said sheepishly.

"I think you better take this up with Eugene before you go too far," I laughed.

"Well, let's go get in everyone's way," Stinky said. "Woody and I need to change and we'll be right out."

When the two came back, we went outside where the crew were still unloading the truck. It took a while to get that done, then Luke laid out the job and we all pitched in. "Same old story," Paula said, as Luke tried to puzzle out some construction detail, "Where's Jacob when he's needed?".

With Woody and Stinky both offering advise when asked, the studs for the wall were soon in place and ready for the sheet rock. We hit a glitch when we started installing the door. A standard pre-hung door wouldn't work, since there were two doors--one on the outside and one on the inside for sound insulation. With the help of a diagram a fellow at the home improvement store had made for Larry, we finally got it done. When we started the sheet rock which was being applied double thickness, that is, one sheet put up and another added on top of the first, Luke said, "You don't have to be too careful here inside. The sheet rock will be covered with acoustical tile. Outside, do it right or we'll have a major task of filling and sanding it, since it will be painted and a part of the studio wall."

As soon as the inside sheet rock was in place, insulation was placed between the studs and the outside sheet rock applied. It didn't take nearly as long as I had expected since there were seven of us working on it, and Larry and Luke were very good at keeping everyone working on something. While Luke and Larry applied the acoustical tile to the ceiling and inside walls, the rest of us applied the mud--that's what it was called, mud--to the cracks and dents made by hammers on the outside wall.

By the time we were finished, Luke and Larry had the thick carpet padding down and had rolled out and trimmed the carpet to fit and, using a funny tool, stretched the carpet over the floor. "Well, that's it until the mud dries so we can sand and paint," Larry said. "Time for a break."

We all piled into the kitchen, grabbed a drink and sat down. I told the crew what Stinky hoped he had arranged for me and what it would entail on my part and theirs.

"Seems to me there's no question there," Eugene said. "While I'm sure we will look back at this time together as a very important one, that's not why we're here. Seems this is an excellent opportunity--and an unexpected one--to advance your career and music, and I think that's why you're here and I think we are here to help each other do that. No problem."

"Don't know why you thought it might pose a problem, Matt," Paula said.

"Ok, so it's not a problem," Luke said, "but if he had just assumed it was ok with everyone then that might have been a problem. Paula, not only have we been spoiled, but we have also been mighty self-centered at home. We can't be that way here."

"See your point," Paula answered thoughtfully.

We relaxed and talked about what we had done and what we planned to get done. "But once school starts, we'll have to slow down around here and hit the books. I don't expect anyone to give us an easy ride, or do I want then to," Larry said. "Right now, I suspect we can sand the wall and get it painted. We'll need to take the vacuum cleaner to get up the dust before we paint. I guess the kitchen crew is excused to get dinner ready."

"Yea, let's remember food is the second thought on a teen mind," Eugene laughed. "By the way, Woody, did I see you hitting on my mama?" he asked abruptly. And Woody blushed again and got even redder when we all started laughing.

He was quiet for a while until he was finally able to say, "Well, she is a very attractive woman."

"Well, you just be careful. She has two sons who want to make sure she stays on the straight and narrow."

Woody finally had recovered and said, "Don't think you need to worry about her being straight, but I'm not sure about the narrow."

Laughing, we got up. Larry got the vacuum cleaner and, leaving Paula and Luke behind, we went to the studio and sanded and painted the new wall. Eugene had brought his trumpet and, as soon as the wall was painted, went inside, shutting both doors, and started playing. Because you knew he was playing and listened hard, you could hear some sound. Otherwise, you would never have known he was inside. When he came out his face was a bit red as he asked, "Well, did it work?"

"We could barely hear you and I think that was because we knew you were inside."

"And I was blowing as loudly as I could. Good job!"

Later, we had just finished dinner and the table had been cleared when the phone rang. Luke answered the phone and said, "Eugene, it's for you, Millie."

Eugene talked for a while and then said, "Well, yes, he's here. Ok, bye Mom. Woody, she wants to talk to you. You can take it in the library."

It was twenty or thirty minutes before Woody joined the group. "Millie said she's home and ok, and hello to all of you."

He barely had the words out of his mouth when the phone rang again. This time it was Larry's mom. When he came back from the library, he said, "Paula, your mom wants to talk to you". When Paula left, Larry said, "The two seem to have become friends while they were here. Paula's mom is sleeping over at Mom's place."

The phone rang again just as Paula walked in the door. "It's for us," Luke said, nodding toward me. We went into the library and turned on the speaker phone and talked to Mom and Dad, the Larsens and Andrews, all of whom were at the Larsens'. They had a good trip back, had enjoyed being with us and welcomed the news of what we had done and what was in store for me the following day.

Then Mary Kathryn and Michael got on the phone and we talked with them. They were spending the next day at school, getting ready for the fall term. Bill, Linda and Jacob were joining them. "And, Matt, Luke, I called that asshole Christopher today. He's already hanging out with the-bottom-of-the-scum-pool jerks. Kid's a definite bottom-feeder. Don't know what I can do."

"Think you're going to have to team up on him," Luke said. "You know the bottom-dwellers will take advantage of him as a new student then, when he wises up or runs out of whatever they want, they'll dump him. He will have already shot any possibility of getting in with decent kids and, bingo, he's a mess."

"You gotta try, Lil' Bro," I added. "You can think of ways. What you need to do is find some way to get him to leave that bunch alone. You know what they're into--drugs, alcohol, the whole nine yards. And, of course, they are first class failures so far as school is concerned. If he fucks up in Concord, I suspect he'll have to answer to authorities elsewhere. You gotta try."

"I know, but he's such an asshole."

"Even more reason to try," Mary Kathryn reminded him.

When we finished talking, we went back to the family room and all three organists played for a few minutes each, then we had a snack and headed to bed. When we got to our room, I picked out clothes for the next day. "Tomorrow is going to be one long and exciting day," I said. "We'll get back from Cleveland around six I guess and have a meeting at Oberlin at 8:00. I guess we can grab a bit to eat somewhere."

"If you're here by six, you'll have time to eat with us and we'll want to hear how things went. We'll plan supper for 6:00 and you can eat and make Oberlin by 8:00. This is important, not just to you but to all of us, and we'll want to hear all about it."

I realized Luke was right. We really were all in this together and what I did the next day would mean something to all of us, not just me.

It had been a long hard day for both of us so, after some gentle kisses and whispered I love you-s, we wrapped our arms around each other and were soon asleep, but not before I had reviewed the day and given thanks for all that had been given me. With family, friends and supporters, I was blessed beyond measure.

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