ASP--The Oberlin Five--Chapter Thirteen--Matt
There was a kind of unofficial party, celebrating Woody's and Millie's engagement, which went on until after 2:00 in the morning. Finally, before we broke up, Eugene said, "I'm glad the parents are here to hear this. None of us have missed a single class since we started school. I'm willing to bet we are among a very small percentage who haven't. I vote we all cut class Tuesday. Matt has already gotten off from Holtkamp. We need time to get ready for the party."
"Second the motion," Luke said. "All in favor say 'Aye'. The 'Ayes' have it. Motion carried."
"One of these days that Luke kid is going to learn how to railroad a motion," Woody laughed.
"I know it's not going to be easy getting up in the morning," Larry said, "so I'm headed for bed. Mrs. Woods-to-be's son, are you going with me?"
"Anytime you're headed for bed, I'm with you, Boy Toy," Eugene answered.
"Those of us who are off to school in the morning will try to keep it down so the rest of you can sleep in," Paula said. "Right, guys?"
"Right, Mama Paula," we all said together, and headed for the studio.
It had been a long, busy and exciting day, and Luke and I were asleep almost by the time our heads hit the pillow.
Monday morning, we all got up, went to the house to shower and--for those unlucky enough to have to--to shave. When we were ready, we went to the kitchen and discovered Dad and Jens preparing breakfast again. Since we didn't have to fix breakfast, we had a few extra minutes to visit with them. Both told us again how pleased they were with the place. "I understand most students live in a pigsty and I was half-afraid that, when the pressure got heavy, you all might slide into letting things go. Glad you haven't," dad said.
"It hasn't been easy at times," Paula said, "but I think we all realize that when things start to get too messy, emotions get messy as well. We're actually getting along very well. There have been some minor irritations, but we've handled them."
"It's great that you have," Jens said. "And school's going well?"
"Very well," Kent said. "We are diverse enough that we can help each other out and do. I'm taking a general humanities course and have the class fooled into thinking I am an expert on music. How could I not look good living in a house with three musicians? Luke is great helping me with art and I am the resident tutor in math. Aside from enjoying each other's company, we are good at helping each other academically. The house was a great idea." Kent took a sip of coffee, looked at his watch and said, "Wow, I've got to rush. Have an early class today."
"We have to go too," Paula said. We grabbed our books and rushed out the door.
ASP--The Oberlin Five--Chapter Thirteen--Marc
I'd told Keith I had a few lovers, but they were just in it for what they could get out of me. That was true, but I hadn't told him the really painful part and I guessed I should have. I had actually been with three lovers--I didn't count the playing around I had done with buddies--and the break-ups had all been painful to me. Since the last one, I'd had my guard up all the time--I thought.
When I was sixteen, I met a college junior at a party and was swept off my feet. Ike took me places and showed me off. He was a big man on campus which meant that I was invited to all the right parties and events. He had an apartment in town where we would go to have sex. He introduced me to gay sex and I guessed I should appreciate that. He had many and expensive tastes and I loved giving him gifts.
We had been together six months when I saw him downtown, with a woman, and they were acting like more than friends. When I asked him about it, he said she was a family friend who just happened to be in town. A couple weeks later, I saw him with her in a pawn shop. After they left, I went in to see what he had been doing there. I didn't have to ask. The pawn broker was putting a very expensive watch I had given Ike in the show case. I wondered why he had pawned the watch since he was supposed to have all kinds of money. I started out of the shop and spotted a gold chain with a medallion I had given him. When I asked him about it, he tried to pretend I didn't know what I was talking about. I got angry and when I did he said, "You little fucker! Why did you think I fucked your ass? Not because I wanted to. Hell, I don't even like it, but I sure as hell like what I got in exchange." I left in tears and was depressed for weeks. I had been deceived and used and it hurt, it really hurt.
I swore it would never happen again, and it didn't. Not exactly, but close enough. My second lover was several years older than I was. The age difference was greater than that between Ike and me. Kevin was good looking, a sharp dresser, fun to be with. He showed me a good time and admitted from the beginning that he had no money. I did and didn't mind spending it. He got me a fake ID and we did clubs, bars, all the right night spots. I wasn't fool enough to think I was in love, but the times were good, as was the sex. We had been dating for three months when, one Saturday night, we were in a gay club and a fellow older than Kevin came up to our table and said, "Kevin, I see you're robbing the cradle". That started an angry exchange and suddenly Kevin said, "Sug, the only reason I am with this good-looking kid is because I wanted to make you jealous. You are the only man I ever cared for and you were neglecting me."
"Why the hell didn't you say you felt neglected? You know I adore you."
"You mean that, Sug?"
"Sure I do, Baby. Let's get out of here and I'll show you." Kevin didn't even bother to say goodbye. I wasn't devastated, because Kevin was just a fuck buddy, but I was angry at being used--again.
I became a loner until I met Joe at summer camp. He was a counselor and I fell for him almost on sight. He seemed to fall for me as well. We found places to have sex all over the camp. At first it was infatuation and great sex. I was cautious after my two other experiences, but Joe convinced me he loved me and soon I fell in love with him. It was very different from anything I had felt before.
I was broken up when camp ended and I had to go back home. I phoned Joe almost every night and arranged to spend weekends with him in some very expensive resorts. I gave Joe a credit card so he could make reservations for us--since I was underage and that, occasionally, was a problem. Dad didn't care about the bills so long as I didn't interfere with him and his latest woman. I noticed a couple times, when I checked us out of a hotel, there were things on the bill I didn't remember having, but I didn't care. I had Joe and that was all that mattered. Because I was underage, he insisted we have separate rooms. "I love you, Marc," he said, "but I don't want to do time for having sex with a minor." I was so ignorant that I didn't realize having sex with another man--regardless of age--could get you time. Anyway, we'd spend mornings or afternoons together, but never whole days. He always had a good reason why that was the way it had to be.
I begged him to move to Sarasota and live with me, but he said he couldn't, because of obligations about which he was very vague.
I had a long weekend in mid-winter, called Joe and suggested we go to Cancun. He thought it was an excellent idea. He had the credit card I had given him, but asked for mine to make the reservations at a resort and get the plane tickets. I asked why he needed mine and he gave me some excuse, but I didn't pay any attention to it. I never saw the bills for the credit card I had given him. It, as mine, was sent to Dad's accountants. I had a practically unlimited line of credit on my card, so I guess our relationship would have gone on for ages except Joe got careless.
In Cancun, his room was across a courtyard from mine and one afternoon I stepped out on my balcony and saw Joe with someone in his room. They had not pulled the draperies and the two of them were going at it hot and heavy. I went back into the room and called his. I looked across the courtyard as the phone rang and rang and they never missed a beat. When he called later about dinner, I told him I wasn't feeling well and to go on without me. I saw the two leave the room and followed them downstairs. They were very lovey-dovey throughout dinner--I had chosen a table where I could see them, but they probably wouldn't see me. For the next two days, any time Joe had an excuse for not doing something with me, I found him with his boyfriend.
When we got on the plane to go home, Joe and I were in first class, but I saw the boyfriend walk past on his way back to the coach area. As he passed, I asked Joe who he was. His response was, "How would I know?".
"You fuck people you don't know?" I asked.
Joe turned red then tried to recover. "I don't know what you are talking about, Marc. You know I love only you."
"We're not talking about who you love," I said." We're talking about who you fuck, or more accurately, who else you fuck."
"You little shit," he whispered through clinched teeth, "you don't know what the fuck you are talking about." He was really angry, so angry he had lost it.
"I want the credit card, Joe," I said.
He laughed and said, "Lot of good it will do you. It is maxed out. That's why this trip was on your card."
"I want it anyway and I want it now." He gave me the card, tilted his seat back and closed his eyes, refusing to talk with me. This time I really was cut deep because it might not have been mature love, but I really was in love with Joe. After that experience I was determined never to fall for a guy again. But that was before I knew Keith existed. In just a couple days he had come to occupy most of my waking thoughts and I thought, from his experience, I could trust the guy with my life--and my heart, which he had completely.
The day before, after we'd got back from a walk on the beach, Keith had said he wanted his camera from the studio and I went with him. He got the camera and, before we left, he put him arms around me and gave me a hot, passionate kiss. "You keep that up and you'll have me forever," I'd laughed. Keith had promptly given me an even more passionate kiss. "Think you better stop that before you start something we can't stop, and this is not the most private bedroom I've ever been in. It's practically wall-to-wall sleeping bags."
"Maybe we can help the space situation," Keith smiled at me. "Seems to me Larry and Eugene, Matt and Luke, Dan and Chris are taking up less room than the two of us."
"Is that an invitation?"
"It sure sounded like one to me," Keith laughed.
"I accept! Damn right, I accept!" I exclaimed, grabbed Keith, kissed him quickly then proceeded to zip our sleeping bags together.
"You know that we are limited to just sleeping together," he said.
"Keith, Dude, I'll take what I can get."
So when I went to bed late Sunday night--actually early Monday morning--I held Keith in my arms and kissed him goodnight. Was this a whirlwind romance or what? So far as I was concerned, I was in love, a feeling very different and much deeper than the feeling I'd had with Joe and, to be honest, I really had been in love with him. I had now fallen in love with Keith in the midst of the most loving, caring group of people I had ever known, a group of which he was a part. The man sleeping in my arms was special in a thousand ways, and I knew a lot of those because I was coming to know his friends. I kissed him ever so softly on the forehead and went to sleep happy, at peace as I had never been--and all it had cost was asking Dad for the plane. "Man, what a bargain," I smiled.
ASP--The Oberlin Five--Chapter Thirteen--Chris
I had been at a complete loss most of the time since we had arrived in Ohio--well, actually before we arrived. You need to remember I had seldom been in a situation where anyone gave a shit about me, or anybody except themselves, and here I was in the middle of a group of people who obviously cared a great deal about each other. I had never known a really loving family except for the short times I had spent with Granddad, not a major part of my seventeen years. This bunch of people seemed to look at each other as members of a large, caring family and I found it new, exciting, interesting and hopeful. Dan and I talked often about that and how healing for us just being with them was. It was kinda amazing that we were accepted, both as individuals and as a couple.
Keith and Marc seemed headed for a relationship and spent a lot of time together at the beach. Dan and I didn't want to interfere, and headed along the beach in the opposite direction when we took walks--which was often. We had found a boulder which sheltered us somewhat from any wind and where, sitting behind it, we could watch the sun reflecting off the lake in quicksilver flashes. At first we talked about our sordid past, but finally Dan said, "Chris, we both know what we have been through and it seems to me the more we talk about it, the deeper it cuts. I know it will trouble us as long as we live, but I think we are giving it life every time we march it out. Unless there is a real good reason to do so, let's let the past be in the past." It sounded like a valuable insight to me and from then we both worked hard at letting the past stay in the past.
Once we had made that decision, we spent our time talking about the present--which usually involved more action than words. We may have been hesitant about having sex--we were--but not about kissing and caressing each other's body. We also did a lot of talking about our future. It didn't take Dan to convince me I had to really work in school. My previous education was so lacking that I had a hard time keeping up and moving ahead. I told Dan, "But you know how close the people here are, and they are determined that I do well. Jack and Bill are tutoring me and I am in better shape than I have ever been in school. And, while it's not the same thing, the whole crowd is making sure I work out to get in shape physically as well as academically."
"I'd be a liar if I denied I appreciated what they are helping you do physically as well as academically. I notice you are shaping up well and I like the shape I can see coming!" Dan said. "Don't get me wrong, I loved you when you were little more than skin and bones, but a beautiful body sure won't hurt."
I told Dan I thought he needed to find a way to spend less time working. With the hospice and hospital, he was working sixty hours a week and taking a full load at school. "If you keep up that pace, sooner or later it's going to catch up with you. As much as I love being with you, I feel guilty much of the time because you could be sleeping or at least resting."
"I agree I am burning the candle at both ends, Chris, and I would like to have more time for us but, try as I may--and I have really tried--I can't see any other way. I have to have a place to live and food to eat, and both cost money."
"Dan, I haven't told Granddad about us so I don't know what his reaction will be. He knows about Luke and Matt and has nothing but praise for the two of them, although he has never mentioned their relationship. I know I'm going to tell him sometime about us. I have been thinking that if I tell him, and he is accepting, you could come live with us. That would give us more time together and cut your expenses to practically nothing."
"Chris, think long and hard before you tell your granddad. He loves you, we know that. He has gone the extra mile for you, but how he will react to you being gay, and especially to our relationship, is a real question and we don't know the answer. If he accepts us, we are way ahead of the game. BUT if he doesn't, not only would I not be better off, you might well be on the street. So be careful. Don't make things worse by trying to make them better."
"I can't believe Granddad would reject me. Look what he has put up with already. I mean, he probably should have tossed me out on my ear, but he didn't."
"Chris, believe me I hope you are right, but some people would say you were just being a rebellious teenager--smoking a little weed, getting a little drunk, screwing a whore--but being gay? That's different. It's unnatural. You are a pervert. You know the speech since you have given it more than once."
I felt as though Dan had given me a fist in the ribs. He had reminded me of how big an asshole I had been, and it hurt. "Yea," was all I could say.
"Chris, you were running away, hiding from yourself, but most who make those kinds of speeches are just plain bigots. Is your granddad one? I don't know. I don't think so but I don't know, and I'll bet you don't know either. Until you have some feel for how he will react, I suggest you keep your own counsel."
"Dan, you sure know how to hurt a guy," I said, weakly.
"Chris, I am not out to hurt you, just make you realize what you--we--face, that's all."
"Yea, I know, and I needed to be shocked into reality. I was busy romanticizing our relationship and Granddad's reaction to it without having any good handle on what it will be. But I want to find out as soon as I think it's ok, and I hope we can be together."
"That would be great, Chris," Dan said, and gave me a passionate kiss which went on and on and I got harder and harder but, suddenly, I saw my "uncle's" face and his cock ready to rape me. Instant softie.
A breeze from off the lake sprang up and I was suddenly cold. I think it was the conversation as much as the breeze, but I suggested we walk back to the house. When we got there, Mrs. Wright and Mrs. Watley were busy fixing sandwiches for lunch. Dan and I pitched in helping them, and when Marc and Keith came in they set the table.
ASP-The Oberlin Five--Chapter Thirteen--Matt
Monday Luke has a 2:00 p.m. PE class, the last class any of us have on that day. I usually went to the library after my 1:00 p.m. class and worked until time to meet him. That Monday, however, I had a note in my box asking me to drop by Professor Moler's office. At lunch I told the gang I had to see Professor Moler and I would come home with Luke as usual after I saw him.
When I arrived at Professor Moler's office I spoke to Lucinda, the young woman Paula had recommended to him. Since she had started working for him, the office was neat, clean and had new, attractive decor. "Professor Moler wanted to see me," I said after greeting her. "Is he in?"
"He just finished a class and hasn't come to the office yet, but should be here any minute."
"How's the job?"
"I love it. Professor Moler is great, and very caring. I am so thankful Paula told me about it. The money means I don't have to pinch pennies quite as tightly. Not only that, but Professor Moler found out where I was living and told me of a nicer and cheaper place. It's in the home of an older woman who lives alone and likes to have students in an apartment she had added upstairs. She says it keeps her young. She's also a big help when I have to be out in the evening, or am late getting home from class, since she is delighted to keep my daughter."
"You have a daughter?"
"Yea, she's three now. The result of some bad decisions in high school, but the delight of my life."
"I hope her father is helping support her."
"It was a very sometime kind of thing. That's why I was so hard up for money when Paula mentioned this job. I finally told him to pay up or I would go the authorities and get a court order, so he's been fairly regular with support the last month or so. He didn't want me to go to court, because he denies she is his but won't take a paternity test. He knows she's his and he might even have something to do with her except, by denying she's his, his parents can stick to their 'our pure son' nonsense. I manage, but Paula did me one good deed when she sent me to see Professor Moler... Here he is now."
"Matt, glad you got by. Come on in the office." When we were inside, Professor Moler said, "Matt, whatever you do, don't ever get stuck on a committee. The man who said a camel was designed by a committee has never been on one or he would know that nothing as successful and good-looking as a camel could come out of a committee. Had a committee been in charge, there would be no camel... How are you coming with the pieces you planned on submitting to the Society?"
"Pretty well, I think. Professor Larkin is helping me a bit."
"She's off her 'all modern music' kick I take it?"
"I'm supposed to keep at it, but let the pieces for the tape take precedence."
"I needed to see you because the committee wisely, but belatedly, has decided each person interested in the series will submit a tape of two specific pieces. I thought that was a good idea and said so in the beginning, but there were objections that it would restrict the creative spirit. Now, to my mind, saying it must be an all-Bach program was a bit restrictive, but I got outvoted. Now they have changed their minds and are asking each person to submit a tape of two pieces. As I recall, one of the pieces was on your list anyway, 'Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor'. Care to take a guess as to what the second piece is?"
"I'll bet it's 'Sheep' or 'Jesu' and if I had to select one it would be 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring'. Yes, definitely 'Jesu'."
"Before I tell you what it is, give me your reasons for selecting 'Jesu'. I'd be very interested in how you arrived at your decision."
"'Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor' is a long piece, so it probably would not be something an organist could just sit down and play. It poses a challenge so the judges can get a real feel for how well the performer could be expected to do. More than likely, anyone submitting a tape will have had to put extensive practice in learning the piece. So it's just a good piece for the judges to use. 'Jesu', on the other hand, is so familiar and played so often, organists get careless with it. I found that true of 'Come Sweet Death'. I haven't played it too often--not like 'Sheep' and 'Jesu'--but I have played it often enough to have allowed mistakes to creep in and become habit. I have had the devil of a time unlearning as a result. I shudder to think how many mistakes I have woven into 'Jesu'.
"Matt, your reasoning's flawless and you are almost correct. I guess the committee didn't want to listen to a day of 'Jesu' complete with mistakes, so they selected 'Sheep May Safely Graze' for exactly the reasons you pointed out. How mistake-free is your playing of it?"
"There are fewer than would be in 'Jesu', but it will take some work."
"Concentrate on these two pieces. You want them to be perfect, but not mechanical. I have the taping set up for November 4. I think Larry knows that, but check if you would. I'll want Professor Larkin to hear you sometime next week, and I will speak with her about the changes."
"Matt, that's not the only change. The audition tapes have to be in by November 15 for a meeting of the selection committee. They will select four to six finalists at that time. Then, at a time and place to be announced, there will be live auditions--and I haven't the foggiest what those will be like since the when, where and how are 'To be announced'. This committee is a firm believer in 'To be announced', which is just an excuse for trying to make up its mind. Anyway, you needn't worry about that until you are officially a finalist."
"You mean IF I am a finalist, don't you, Professor?"
'No, I mean when you are a finalist. So, Matt, just get your sheep properly pastured and we'll get this concert series yet."
I was relieved in one way--knowing that I could concentrate on only two pieces--but, man, getting rid of the mistakes in 'Sheep' was going to be difficult, and I knew it.
It was 2:30 when I finished talking to Professor Moler, and I walked to the gym to wait for Luke. When he saw me, he went to the coach, spoke to him, then came to where I was standing. "As soon as I've showered, I'll be ready to go."
"I'll wait in the truck," I said, "it's a bit chilly to wait outside."
Monday evening we had an early dinner, after which Luke suggested we get the living room ready for the party. We had decided to roll up the rug and take most of the furniture out so we would have a dance floor. As soon as that was done, he insisted we all go into the family room while he, Eugene and Paula prepared a surprise.
Fifteen minutes later, Luke came into the family room and announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, if you will retire to the dance hall," and waved us toward the living room with a great gesture. When we got to the living room, Richard, Sheila, Marshall and Hank--the non-resident members of the combo--and our in-house members had set up. Luke took the mike and announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the 'Stranded in Time' combo is happy to present a pre-Halloween concert. Our theme song..." The combo started playing "More" and it was sounding good. I think you could have bowled over any one of the Concord crowd, who knew him, when Luke started singing. Not only had the combo gotten good, so had Luke. After "More", the group did a group of Beatles' songs and, after that, a number of other Golden Oldies.
After they had played for about half an hour, Paula said, "Time for a break and refreshments". She, Luke and Kent went to the kitchen and came out with hot chocolate and cookies. While everyone was eating, the band members got a thousand questions tossed at them. Rachel asked one which had everyone listening, "Why do you only play old stuff? Seems you only play songs by people who are dead." She realized what she had said and blushed, but I think everyone wanted to know the answer to her question.
Richard answered, "Rachel, there are two reasons. One is that's what we were asked to play at our first gig and every gig we have had since. People who hear us ask us to play for parties and things, and we are asked to play what they have heard us play before--Golden Oldies. The other reason is we happened to like them and enjoy playing them, once the group living here introduced us to them--from tapes of your records, Mr. Greywolf. Since so few groups do them, we have all the gigs we can handle and could do more if we had time. So, in one sense, we play them because they sell and are in short supply. And, again, we like them."
After a good long break, the group started playing again. When they did, Luke said, "Hey, there's no law against dancing," and came and took my hand. When he did, I whispered, "Luke, do they know about us?"
"Matt, the whole damn campus knows about us. We are the gay poster children after my display the other week."
Mom and Dad, and Jens and Gabrielle, joined us on the dance floor and were followed by Woody and Millie. Woody was a pretty fair dancer even if he did claim to have a gimpy leg. Michael and Mary Kathryn were urging others to dance and finally Chris and Dan, Jacob and Susan were on the floor.
Paula was singing and I knew Luke was supposed to join in. When it came time for his part, he looked me in the eyes and started singing, "It Had to be You". Now that was an oldie! Eugene put down his trumpet and waltzed Larry on to the floor as Keith and Marc finally got moving.
Before the next song, Kent said, "Guys, I'll get you started, but you've got to go this one without a drummer". As soon as the song was well on its way, he put down his drumsticks and led Paula onto the floor. Only Rachel and Jack had held back, but the music finally got to them. Larry let Eugene go back to his trumpet and went to dance with his mom. Luke was needed again and I asked Sandra to dance with me. After another half hour, the combo stopped and Richard said, "I understand the 'always in class bunch' is cutting tomorrow to get ready for a big party. Don't start without us!"
There were promises to hold the party until they arrived, and many thanks for the evening. As soon as they left, we all started talking about the combo and Gabrielle finally said what, I'm sure, others were thinking, "Luke, you sound great. You have a great voice. Shame we never heard it before."
Luke blushed and started to downplay his singing, but Paula told him it was false modesty. "We all know you can sing, so just say thank you."
"Yes, Mama Paula," Luke said. "Thank you all."
"What's with this 'Mama Paula' bit?" Dad asked.
We laughed and Luke said, "Being the only woman in the house, Paula has to remind us of things now and again. And we all know her 'Mama Paula' voice and hasten to do as she bids."
"Sometimes," Paula added.
We all went to the family room, where we just sat around and talked. Rachel and Marc were interested in how we had all gotten together. You would have thought they had heard enough by now, but even Jack and Chris had questions. They were even interested in how the Family came to be. I guess all were astonished that the three families had been so close, and that Luke and me being gay--and in love--had rocked the boat, but hadn't capsized it.
After a while Chris, who had been very quiet, asked, "How do you think Granddad would react if I told him I was gay?"
"Are you?" Dad asked.
Chris turned bright red and Millie said, "From the color of your face, that's a yes, I take it."
"Yes, I am. I tried to hide it, pretend it wasn't true." He laughed and said, "Michael was onto me before I was onto myself, I think. He told me I protested too much. The rest of the gang really got on my case when I said some rotten things about gays. I guess I didn't want to be gay and I sure hated what had been done to me by a couple of my mom's boyfriends. I'm seeing a counselor and it's helping a whole lot, but I have a long way to go yet."
"Maybe not coming to grips with our sexuality, but we all have a long way to go and will never get there in this life," Mom said. "It's great when you realize that and rejoice in the journey and not worry because you're never going to see it end. Don't know anyone who has as his epitaph 'I've finished everything I started'."
"Chris, I have known Demetri as long as I have lived in Concord. He's a good and just man. I don't know how he will react, at first, to you being gay. I doubt that he will react as badly as I did, but even I, hard-headed and opinionated me, eventually came to see that Luke's and Matt's love for each other is love--and there's too little of that in the world. Having said that, I really don't know how Demetri will react but rest assured, if he reacts poorly, you have a home. Gabrielle and I will be delighted to have you share ours," Jens said, and meant it.
Mom and Dad added that they would also have a place for him if he needed it.
There was a bit more talk about that, and then Marc asked a strange question--at least it seemed strange to me. "I have only been around this bunch a few days. Douglas told me what you all were like, but I didn't believe him. I thought he was nuts for inviting you parents to a party. I sure wouldn't want my dad at one of my parties--well I really wouldn't, because he'd be busy trying to pick up all the young women. I thought adults would ruin a party, but this weekend wouldn't have been half as good without you parents here. What I want to know is how did such a great group of parents end up with such a great group of kids?"
"I suspect the parents would have an answer to that but, so far as I am concerned, you have answered your own question," Jacob said. They are a great group of parents and great parents produce great kids."
"Not so fast, Jacob," Bill said. "I don't think you would say you have great parents. I certainly didn't until you shocked some sense into my dad, and I think we are great kids, all false modesty aside."
"Look," Luke said, "Marc, Douglas, Janet, Jacob, Eugene, Chris, Dan all have rotten parents in one way or another. Most of their parents don't give--if you'll pardon the expression--a flying fuck about their kids, and the kids are all great. The rest of us are lucky to have great parents, and turning out ok should be easy for us and I guess it has been. Maybe we can't take much credit for being who we are, but those seven have almost done it on their own."
"Not so fast," Chris said. "I had a rotten mother and look how I would have turned out had Michael and others of the Fellowship not gotten me on the right track. Same, I suspect, with all the others. Someone, somehow, intervened when it was needed. Maybe not everyone needed to be baptized in cow shit to get his head screwed on straight, but something happened."
"Hear! Hear!" Dan said. "Had someone not intervened on my behalf, I would have been successful in hanging myself or would be serving a life sentence in prison. Eugene was well on his way to being as screwed up as I was, but Millie intervened. Jacob had Bill and his family waiting to take him in and show him what a family looks like. "Don't know about Marc, Douglas and Janet."
"In spite of his own problems, Luke has to take some credit for me and Janet. He didn't do a whole lot, but he let us know that we could have a loving household even if we had to create it ourselves, and we have. Besides, I had an old family friend, Mr. Blalock, and he and his wife made it possible for Janet and me to get married. He also guided me throughout my growing-up years. I guess it all boils down to being lucky enough to have someone love you--great parents or someone else--who just happens along when you are at a turning point."
"And I like to think it is more than luck," Jens said.
After everyone talked for a while longer, we all started drifting off to bed. After Luke and I said our goodnights to each other, I spent several minutes thinking about how lucky we were to have great parents, and I was very thankful for them. I also offered thanks for those who had helped all the others gathered in Ohio to become great people, often having to overcome great handicaps. Then, snuggled against my beloved Luke, I fell into peaceful sleep.
Suddenly I was awakened by a pounding on the door. "What the hell?" Luke yelled as he jumped out of the sleeping bag. Michael's "Holy shit" was also heard. Luke grabbed his pants and pulled them on as he rushed to the studio door.
When he opened it, a huge, muscular man was standing outside. "No time for questions. Get some clothes on and get outside. At once!" Everyone was awake and there as a mad rush to get clothes on. "Hurry! Hurry! Move! Move!" the stranger kept urging us. It probably took only two or three minutes for us to get outside. As we poured down the studio stairs, I saw everyone else standing several hundred feet from the house. As soon as we joined them, Luke asked, "What's going on?".
"You know as much as I do, Luke," Jens said. "Millie was awakened by a pounding on the door and a man told us to get out at once and move at least 500 feet from the house."
There were half a dozen men moving around the house and studio, but it was too dark to see what they were doing. Two of them, dressed in some kind of protective gear, came from inside the garage. They were carrying two propane tanks, like the ones used on a gas grill, and something else. They put the tanks and whatever else they were carrying in a van and walked over to where we were standing, shivering from the cold. None of us had on enough clothes to be outside. "I know you are wondering what is going on," one of them said. "Sorry if we appeared abrupt and rude--well we were at least abrupt--but we wanted you out of danger. Which ones of you were involved in the mess at Waterside?" he asked. Like kids in a classroom, the five of us held up our hands.
"I know Agent Haines told you we'd keep an eye on you, at least until the trial is over. Well, we got a tip that some of the people you fingered were planning to do something this week. When we checked on you a couple times this past weekend we learned you had guests and were planning a party. It seemed too good a chance to pass up I suspect. Agents were told to keep a sharp lookout. Two were assigned to cover the approach, so they parked under a huge tree where they were not likely to be seen. About half an hour later a van, with license plates covered in mud and its headlights off, passed them. The agents reported what they had seen and were told to get ready to move, but to wait for backup. When the backup arrived, they moved in and captured six guys and, shortly after, the bomb squad got a rush call to get out here on the double and we did."
"The van held what appeared to be bomb-making materials, so we were called in. Agent Haines--you have met her, right?" we nodded, "suggested we just keep the six near the house to see what would happen. All of them started getting antsy and finally one tried to make a run for it. He, of course, was brought back and started talking very fast, telling us where they had planted six bombs. We knew we had very little time so, while the bomb squad did its work, others got you all out of the house. You're lucky we got the scum. Had those six bombs gone off with the propane tanks attached, no-one would have gotten out alive, I'm afraid. Sorry we appeared to be so rude."
"You can be as rude as you like saving my life," Larry said. "We are just thankful you were here and found out what was going on."
"We're doing our job," the agent said. "It's safe to go back inside now. I don't think we'll need anything from you, since we had agents who can write a report and you only know what I have told you. Try to get some sleep. You can trust you are safe now. I think you will be without us soon, because I think we got all functioning parts of the boil on the butt of Waterside." As he spoke, his shoulder speaker squawked and he pushed the button and said, "Yea? Right. Six bombs--dynamite, timers and propane tanks... Ok. Let's wrap it up." When he re-attached his speaker-mike he said, "You weren't the only ones on tonight's list. Do you know the Metcalfs?" We nodded and he continued, "There were two bombs at their place. I think there's no-one left who has little enough sense to start anything else." We thanked him again and he said, "Just doing my job. Goodnight, sleep well." The agent walked over to the bomb squad vehicle and left, followed by the other agents, one of whom was driving the van.
ASP--The Oberlin Five--Chapter Thirteen--Luke
Needless to say, no-one was ready to go back to bed after all the excitement. Paula said, "I'm making hot chocolate to warm us up and maybe calm us down." It was good to get inside where it was warm. It was freezing outside and none of us had on warm clothing, so we were ready to get warm again.
"When I heard about the burning cross and verbal attacks on John and Uncle Michael, I said it sounded like the south I had heard about," Kent said. "Well, I guess I have had my nose rubbed in it good. Waterside is a hot-bed of bigots and I, for one, would be glad to have all of them behind bars. And I apologize for any remark I have ever made about the south."
"Guess we all need to remember that prejudice knows no boundaries," Greywolf said. "But, I must say, a few molotov cocktails and a burning cross can hardly compare with propane bombs. Sure glad the agents were on their toes. Just wish I felt safe now."
"I think you can, Dad," Matt said. "I'm sure that anyone who would do us harm is safely in jail right now. Those who are out on bond may well have their bond revoked if it can be proven that they even knew about the night's little program, and I suspect that will be easy."
While Matt was talking, the phone rang and I got it. "Oberlin five Case one, Luke here."
The person on the other end started laughing and said, "Luke, Agent Sharon Haines. As much as I admire Oberlin, I can't imagine a contest in which the score would be 5 to 1 in Oberlin's favor."
"Have you thought about bull fiddle riding?" I asked and laughed.
"You've got me on that one. Look, I have just gotten reports from tonight's little drama. We have known something was in the wind for a couple weeks now, but really held back hoping, given enough rope, the group would hang itself. We didn't want to warn you for fear you might let something slip. I won't say you weren't in danger tonight. One of those bozos may have screwed up something in putting the bombs together, but we had you pretty well covered. We had taps on the phones of everyone arrested earlier, and I think we have rounded up the whole bunch this time--little fish, big fish and beached whales. Just wanted you to know we will still be looking out for you, but I don't think you have anything to worry about. I can't believe there is anyone in Waterside who has the stomach for any more shenanigans. So who's the crowd?" I told Agent Haines, briefly, who was here and why. "Go ahead and have fun. You're safe, safer than most people. Goodnight, Luke." I told her goodnight and hung up.
I told the crew what I had learned and Paula said, "Well, I guess we are safer than most with our FBI protectors, but I'm still kinda nervous. I mean, those things they had were real bombs, and enough to have blasted us all to kingdom come."
"What gets me is that they were stupid enough to believe they could get away with it," Matt said.
"I don't know, maybe they thought propane tanks would look like an accident," Eugene said.
"But six propane tanks when we have natural gas? I guess they were as dumb as they seemed," Larry said.
We took a while to wind down, but about 3:00 in the morning we all went back to bed with the understanding that no-one, but no-one, had to get up before noon.
As Matt and I settled in each other's arms, he said, "A near plane crash Friday night and bombs tonight. Luke, a soap opera would seem tame compared to our life."
"Yea, but this is real Babe, and you are real," I said, and kissed him goodnight again.