Castle Roland

The Oberlin Five

by Sequoyah


Chapter 17

Posted: N/A

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Chapter Seventeen--Kent

When Matt and Luke got back from their drive, they told us about their visit with the van Hooks. Matt was clearly more relaxed and definitely excited. I had long ago noticed that Matt's emotions were obvious to anyone who looked. He just couldn't hide his feelings. It was refreshing, especially when he was excited. He was like a little boy on Christmas morning. He was all excited about the moon-lit snow-covered landscape, but more so over the visit they had with the van Hooks.

"I suggested we drop in and Luke objected, saying people here didn't just drop in the way they do at home. But I convinced him they would just dismiss us as southerners who didn't know better. We had a grand visit. If we were going to be here, we'd definitely have to have them for Thanksgiving dinner, but we will be in Concord."

"Are you hinting?" Paula asked.

"Not really," Matt answered. "I had forgotten you might be here with Kent."

"It's a good idea, Matt," I said. "I'll talk to Mom about it."

"We also need to keep an eye on the snowfall," Luke said. "Their walk hadn't been cleared from the first snowfall and they hadn't been able to get their mail. We need to be sure that doesn't happen again." Everyone agreed with Luke that we needed to make clearing the van Hooks' walk a priority.

Paula asked if we would like dessert and coffee. "When have we ever turned down dessert?" Larry asked. I went with Paula to prepare a tray. As we were serving everyone, the phone rang. Matt jumped on the first ring and picked it up before there was a second. "Oberlin Five, Case one, Matt here," he said as though it was one word. He didn't have to tell us the news. By the time he had finished the conversation, which seemed awfully long, he was practically levitating. "Thank you, Professor Moler," Matt said, and hung up the phone.

"I'm a finalist!" Matt fairly shouted. He danced about the room, finally grabbing Luke, pulling him to his feet and kissing him passionately. When he had finally settled down--using the term loosely-- he told us that Professor Moler said he was a solid choice as soon as his tape had been played. "He said before my tape was finished--the committee didn't know who was playing--there was an immediate decision to include me as a finalist, in spite of the fact that only two other tapes had been played. And you know what?"

"No, what, Matt?" I laughed.

"There were fifty entries. Professor Moler said some were eliminated as soon as the committee heard 'Sheep'. I don't know whether this is a great honor or not, if people who couldn't play 'Sheep' were contestants."

"We told you, Matt, you were a natural," Larry said. "But no-one selected you to apply, really, did they? I mean, you were asked to apply, but I suppose anyone could who wanted to."

"I hadn't thought about that. I guess I thought all who applied had been selected. I mean Professor Moler said he had others who were good, but he didn't ask them to apply."

"Do you ever think that someone could be a member of the society who is tone deaf? I mean all you got to do is pay your dues, I suspect, and any member of the society could urge someone to apply. There were bound to be people who held too high an opinion of their abilities," Luke said.

"What's next? Why don't they just admit that you are going to play one of the series?" Eugene asked.

"I wish it was that easy," Matt said. "The next step is a live audition and a looking at to make sure we aren't social rejects. Unfortunately it's going to put a lot of time pressure on me as well as the pressure which goes with being in a competition. I fly to DC for the final step Friday afternoon.* Professor Moler has already taken care of reservations. We leave Cleveland at 5:00 and the interviews and auditions take place Saturday and Sunday."

"Our first official meeting is at breakfast. We'll find out the order in which we will play and be given a new short piece then. I also have to pick a short piece as well. One long and three short pieces, one of which I will not know about until breakfast the day I play, that's what I am up against. Starting at nine we will, one at a time, be given fifteen minutes practice time and then play the three pieces. The auditions will be held at the Kennedy Center. We will not be allowed to listen to other contestants until after we have played.

"Sunday the contestants will play again in some venue. Those of us who don't object will play in local churches. I have been assigned to about as difficult a situation as possible since I will play at Ascension and St. Agnes, higher than which there is not. Fr. Tom mentioned it once when a group of us from Concord was making a trip to DC. He laughed and said, 'The rector thinks the Pope is a Protestant'. I will meet with the organist Saturday afternoon, after I have played the audition. He--or she--will help me with the organ at the church and then we will have dinner with the committee and contestants. Sunday, I will play the service. There are twelve people on the selection committee and two will accompany each contestant--or if a contestant is eliminated, more than two may show up. Also, committee members who can make another service before or after their official one will also show up here and there."

"So you'll know whether or not you have been selected Sunday, right?" Eugene asked.

"No, the two who get the series will be advised of their selection December 16th--the original date--and those who are not chosen will be advised by letter--at least that's the original plan. But then, again, this committee keeps changing things so I don't really know when I will know definitely but, one way or another, I should know not later than December 19th or 20th, after my recital December 17th. And then--home!"

"And you are going to Washington. Isn't that kinda strange? I mean it's not close to anything since it is on the east coast," Kent said.

"Professor Moler said originally the live auditions were to be in St. Louis, but the chapter there couldn't get its act together and the DC chapter got all the arrangements made and asked that it be held there. Since nothing was happening in St. Louis, the switch was made."

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Chapter Seventeen--Matt

It was hard keeping my mind on my classes Friday. Finally I met Luke at two--he cut PE again. I had packed the night before and put my luggage in the truck so we drove straight to the airport. I checked in and Luke went with me to the gate where Professor Moler was waiting for me. We didn't have a lot of time to spare, but we weren't pushed either. I was so nervous I didn't think I could have handled worrying about being late. When our plane was announced, Luke gave me a hug, but no kiss. I knew he would kiss me unless I told him not to. When we got to the airport I asked if he would be upset if I didn't kiss him at the gate. He said he wouldn't be so long as I made it up to him when I got back. I promised I would and he laughed. We were still in the truck when he kissed me, then kissed me again.

When we got on the plane, Professor Moler asked how confident I felt. "Not very," I said.

"I don't want you becoming arrogant and egotistical," he said, "but I do want you to feel confident. I have heard the audition tapes of the finalists and they are all--well, almost all--good, as you would expect. The other finalists are all older--some by only a few years--and more experienced than you, so you don't want to be over-confident. At the same time, you are the only one picked to be a finalist before all the tapes had been heard. Matt, you are an excellent organist and are still developing and improving. Additionally, you are a well-mannered, considerate young man. Believe me, this weekend, those are the qualities that will finally separate equally excellent organists. Just relax, be yourself and play as well as you can and you'll have your summer planned. Oh, by the way, if you are selected for one of the series, you will earn performance credit as well as gaining experience, earning some money and getting to travel and meet people who love the organ and Bach."

"Professor Moler, I hadn't thought about all of that. I guess I really wanted one of the series to prove to myself that I am good. People keep telling me I am, but I'm not convinced."

"You should be. I know that you know a good organist or a bad organist when you hear one, so listen to yourself and you will hear an exceptional organist. Also, you should be convinced this weekend that you are good, even if you are not selected, because you will see you are in competition with some very, very good organists. But enough of that. How are the housemates working out? Still speaking?" Professor Moler laughed.

"As a matter of fact, we are," I laughed in return. "We've had a few things come up, but we decided we'd have a weekly house meeting to keep the air clear."

"Couples hanging together?"

"Yes, all three." I then told Professor Moler about Kent and Paula. "Don't know where that is headed, but they are taking it one step at a time. Professor Moler, can I ask you a question?"

"Sure, Matt, what's on your mind?"

"I really don't know how to say this, but I keep wondering how Luke's partnership with me will, well... I guess, affect my career. I mean it doesn't really matter because our partnership takes precedence over career and almost all else, but I do wonder."

"Matt, I'm surprised the thought has even occurred to you. Usually, I would have thought you would have been so wrapped up in your relationship that you never would have thought seriously about the world outside it. How will your relationship affect your career? There's another parallel to that: how will your career affect your relationship? I can't answer either fully. I can speculate and that is all it is, speculation."

"Ok, I can accept that, but may I hear some of your speculation?"

"Well, let's start with our departure today. Luke came to the gate with you. Now I have seen enough of you two to expect you to give a new meaning to a kiss. But I didn't see that. What I saw was two young men hugging each other. Had it not obviously been otherwise, you could have been two brothers saying goodbye. Since you are very definitely not brothers--at least blood brothers--then you were just two friends saying goodbye. I'll admit the hug was more than it would have been for most friends, but it did not call attention to itself. I know when I leave my wife, that goodbye kiss is very important. I'm sure we never think of it consciously but, unconsciously, I wonder if we don't think it may be our last. How long do you think you and Luke can go to an airport for a concert or exhibition and part with just a hug? What's going to happen when one or the other of you decides 'to hell with it'? Whether it is you or Luke, how will the other handle that?"

"Just as a side note, Luke and I ARE blood brothers. Our Lakota mentor made us his blood relatives--actually, I guess, blood grandsons--so Luke and I are blood relatives if not blood brothers. But I can see your point." I smiled a bit and said, "This is not something one would say to his professor, I suspect, but I have always been Matt, hot to trot, but then lately Luke seems to have become very open with his displays of affection. When I question it, he says he doesn't care who knows. I can see where what you suggest could be a problem."

"No doubt you will be doing a lot of traveling as a concert organist even if you have a regular position. How will your relationship stand up under frequent separations? Have you been separated for any length of time?"

I knew where Professor Moler was headed before he asked the question and I got a sick feeling in my gut. I didn't know how to respond to Professor Moler's question. I did know he had hit a real sore spot--still. I didn't realize I had been silent as long as I had when Professor Moler said, "Sorry, Matt, I didn't mean to pry."

"Oh, I was just thinking..."


I didn't answer right away. I couldn't decide how to answer. Finally I looked at Professor Moler and said, "Professor Moler, it's not easy to talk about, but Luke and I were separated for six weeks last summer." I hesitated for a few minutes and then told Professor Moler about the previous summer, omitting all the details. "So I think we can learn to deal with separation--not to like it, but to live with it. I can't imagine doubting each other will ever be a problem again."

"Matt, how your career will impact your relationship will always be a larger problem than how your relationship will impact your career. Sure, there will always--and I mean always--be those who see you as a gay man and nothing else. You know already there are places you won't be accepted regardless of how good you are at your art, but that's no problem because there will always be more offers than you can accept. Since you are openly gay, no-one will be surprised when you show up with Luke. Luke will face fewer problems than you because his work is in private and only exhibitions will require his presence. Both of you have to maintain open communication, but that's as important for me and Mrs. Moler as it is for you and Luke. And, Matt, what you have told me will stay with me."

"Thanks, Professor."

"Matt, I hope you will always consider me more than just one of your professors, more than just a mentor. I hope I will be a friend, maybe an older brother or uncle. I meant it when I said you are the best student I have seen in my career, but you are more than that. Your manners and social skills are excellent and will serve you well. You are an excellent organist, who is still growing, and a nice young man I would welcome as a friend."

Professor Moler looked at me like I had gone nuts when I suddenly burst out laughing. When I finally got control of myself and told him that Millie referred to gay men as nice young men he, too, had a laugh.

We chatted about the audition a bit, but not a great deal. He asked about the Halloween party which apparently had been a topic of campus gossip after the members of the combo had talked about it. He kept asking questions about Wounded Hawk and Taequo. I finally told him about Michael's healing and then told him the whole story of Luke's and my problem over the summer, our experience in the sweat lodge and our vision quest.

When I finished he said, "Matt, you never fail to amaze me. All of this is fascinating." He then made what I thought was a very abrupt change in the flow of the conversation. "How are your classes going? How's composition."

"Very well, I think. Everyone in the house is having a struggle with our math classes. Luke and I both took AP calculus, but the jump from it to the math I am taking now is a big one. Still it is easier than composition. If I hadn't done some before I came here and taken composition at Sewanee last summer, I think I would have to back up. I love it, but it is not easy. Well I guess that's not exactly right. It just takes a great deal of time and effort, but I am doing well so far as my grades are concerned."

"How about what you are learning and your level of personal satisfaction?"

"I learn something new every class so I am pleased so far as that is concerned. Personal satisfaction? I hadn't really thought about that but, yes, I find tremendous personal satisfaction when I get something done to my standards."

"And how would you rate your personal standards? And don't go modest with me!"

"Professor, sometimes I think they are impossibly high. I know that I often feel a piece is not up to my standards when members of the class and the professor think it is very good."

"Matt, there is a razor-sharp line between high standards, even very high standards, and unrealistic standards which lead to putting yourself down."

"Fortunately I have five housemates who call my hand when I start, as they call it, nit-picking."

"Good. I asked you about composition because I think you might do well to transform some of your story into a composition. Think about writing a piece about the quest, or about the sweat lodge experience. You say some chants are involved?"

"Yes, although I haven't learned some of them. Michael is much further along in that part of our training."


"Yes, Luke, Michael and I are being trained as medicine men. Seems, somehow or other, I am from a long line of Korean shamen and, apparently, there are Lakota medicine men in Dad's lineage. Red Hawk and Mom both said I had been able to give power to Luke and Michael, I guess because we are so close. I must confess I don't understand all I know about the whole thing. I don't talk about it often because people will think I'm nuts."

"Fascinating. As I said, Matt, you never fail to amaze me. So give some thought to a composition based on some of your experience. Maybe even try to get a short one done for your recital. That would really be a treat and impress some people who need to be impressed, not that your playing won't do that, but really bowl them over. I remember what you did for your high school recital and it was impressive, so I'll expect something equally as good."

Professor Moler then asked about what I was learning a Holtkamp. We got into a long discussion about metal pipes. He was very interested in the fact that Luke and I were talking metallurgy. In light of some of the diasters organ builders have had with metal pipes, knowing metals and alloys would would be a definite plus. "Seems like you two are partners in many ways. I can see how your relationship is built on a very solid foundation. That's not true with many gay relationships, especially those involving young men--men the age of you and Luke."

We landed at National Airport and took the Metro to our hotel. When we checked in, I was surprised that we had separate rooms. "My wife says I snore like a freight train," Professor Moler laughed, "and you need to get a good night's sleep. I left a wake-up call for 7:00. Breakfast is at 7:30 and the auditions start at 9:00. There is an audition every hour on the hour. If you are among the first, you can get to hear the others. Lunch is at noon and auditions start again at 1:00. If you are one of the afternoon ones, you may as well enjoy some of the sights of Washington. Ever been here before?

"Only a couple of times. Mom and Dad brought all four of us here when I was a freshman and I came to a program at the National Cathedral with Fr. Tom year before last. I always wanted to get back, but never did."

"Well, there is plenty to keep you busy for days but now, even though it's early, I am turning in."

"So am I." When we reached our rooms, we said goodnight and went inside.

I got undressed and crawled in bed, hoping I'd drop off to sleep immediately, but I didn't. The bed felt wrong because I was alone in it. I started thinking about my discussion with Professor Moler about my relationship with Luke. Then I started worrying about what the new music would be. Finally I started thinking about how good life had been to me and about all the wonderful people in my world. Half-asleep, I started speaking to them, telling them how much I appreciated them. The next thing I knew, the phone rang and a very pleasant voice said, "Good morning, Mr. Greywolf. This is your wake-up call. You are to meet a Professor Moler in the lobby in half an hour." I thanked the woman, got up, showered and got dressed.

I had asked Professor Moler how I should dress. He had said any way I pleased, but I got the definite impression that wasn't what he had wanted to say. When I had brought it up at dinner a couple nights before, my housemates told me what I had about decided on my own. I was not to be casual because this was not a casual occasion. That having been decided, I had chosen soft gray slacks, white button-down shirt, red and blue striped tie and my navy blazer. I knew I looked sharp in that outfit and I felt sharp when I put it on. Of course I carried my organist's shoes and wore a pair of black slip-ons. When I was dressed, I had to decide what to do with my hair. Paula had once said, when I was fussing with my hair, "Just like a vain woman, can't do a thing with your hair," and laughed. Luke suggested I leave it loose, but it could get in my way. All the house thought I shouldn't braid it, so I just used navy bands to hold it. I took a last look at myself in a full-length mirror and I thought I really looked good. "Conceited ass," I smiled to myself, then said, "Luke loves you, so you got to be something special!"

When I met Professor Moler in the lobby he said, "You look sharp, Matt. It's picky, I suppose, but I would have told contestants to dress well. Members of the committee decided not to offer suggestions about dress, assuming any contestant would know how to dress. Can you play in a blazer?"

"Prefer an organist's surplice or just a shirt, but a blazer is not a problem."

"I doubt that anyone would care if you removed your coat. Feel free to do whatever you feel best with."

"Thanks. I really hoped it would be like that, but I think I'll keep it on. Dignity, you know."

Professor Moler laughed and then asked, "You sleep well?".

"Like a baby once I went to sleep. I'm just not used to sleeping in a bed alone," I said then, darn it, I blushed.

"Know the feeling," Professor Moler said and laughed. "Hungry?"

"Always, I think," I replied.

"Well, breakfast is in ten minutes and we have a short walk, just across the street, to the Hyatt." We crossed the street and down about a half block to the Hyatt and a private dining room. There were perhaps a dozen people present when we arrived and others came in directly behind us.

Professor Moler introduced me to several people, all members of the selection committee. Three of them, as he, were with organists they were mentoring. All were older than I, but mostly they were not very old--late twenties to early thirties, I'd guess. The one closest to my age--I might have thought he was my age or younger--was Oliver Singleton. When I was introduced he said, "Nice not to be the baby organist. I usually am. I guess at twenty-three I'm getting old, but I'll never admit it."

As I shook hands with him I thought to myself, "I guess that's why you are dressed like a "kewl skater dude" because he was--baseball cap on backwards, fatigues almost falling off his flat ass and enough things pierced to make Douglas look like a preppy. Guessed what you were wearing had nothing to do with the selection--which was as it should be.

The chairman of the committee, a Mr. Lawrence, announced breakfast was a buffet and we should serve ourselves. Professor Moler laughed when he saw my plate and commented that I must have been right when I said I was always hungry. We found our place--we were seated with an older white-headed man who dominated the conversation telling of his success as a concert organist, an organ teacher from Vermont with his student, a thirtyish woman who looked as if a good scrubbing and a decent outfit would help her confidence and definitely would help her looks. There were two more candidates with a teacher, Mr. Norway, from New York--a young man and woman, both well-dressed. When we could get a word in edgewise, we introduced ourselves. They were Lester Row and Alice Makin. The woman and older man didn't bother to introduce themselves and paid no attention to us introducing ourselves. Alice, Lester and I talked about what we did and how we got connected with the series. Finally I guess we were impolite, but we just ignored the older man as he went on and on.

Alice and Lester were working on MFAs in organ and I was very interested in what that involved because I suspected I'd be doing the same thing. They had high praise for Oberlin and both knew Professor Moler from summer music programs. The young man, Lester, laughed when I said Professor Moler had asked me to try for one of the series. "Alice," Lester said to the young woman, "we may as well pack and go home." He gave Professor Moler a nudge with his elbow and continued, "If old Moler here thinks Matt is good enough to try out, we are skunked before we start," and laughed. Both were absolutely fascinated with my internship with Holtkamp and asked tons of questions.

I was ready to go back for seconds when I looked across the table at the mousey woman. She was chewing with her mouth open and kept stuffing food in so fast some fell out. I may not have the best table manners in the world, but I really lost my appetite when I saw her. I wouldn't have had time for more anyway because Mr. Lawrence tapped his glass for our attention.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," he said, "I'd like to begin by introducing members of the selection committee," which he did. "The committee was not prepared for the number of entries from students or proteges of committee members. We have discussed this at great length and concluded that in the selection process, those of us who teach or mentor a candidate will excuse himself or herself from any discussion or voting on that candidate. From fifty audition tapes, six finalists were selected. In alphabetical order, they are..." Mr. Lawrence then introduced us. When that was finished, he said, "I have asked a young lady from the hotel staff to pass among the candidates with a box containing slips of paper with numbers on them. The number you draw will be the order in which you will play today. While she is moving among you, I have the stop list for the Kennedy Center organ and sheet music for the additional selection you will be playing. I know you are all anxious to learn what the surprise piece will be. It will come, I trust, as no surprise that it is a little piece by Bach. From the Leipzig Manuscript, BWV 667, 'Komm, Gott Schopfer, heiliger Geist'."

As soon as the announcement was made, it was pretty obvious who knew the piece and those who, like myself, were searching their brain for a hint. The old fellow, his name was Reginald Watkins, got a very smug look on his face and said, "I almost always include the piece in my concerts. Some of us are very lucky to get something we know so well."

I wondered to myself if he might not be as I had been with "Sheep", playing with years of built-in mistakes. Maybe not, maybe that was just a bad habit I had to break.

When the lady came with the box of numbers, I drew mine and was hesitant to open it. I didn't know whether I wanted to be in the afternoon and enjoy Washington before I played or be early and get to hear everyone else as they played. "Well, Matt," I said to myself, "it doesn't matter since it has already been determined. I unfolded my slip of paper and saw a large 2 on it. Mr. Lawrence tapped his glass and said, "When I call out your number, will you please stand and state your name so we can get a list." The first name he called was Lester. Alice had the last one.

When Lester sat back down, I said, "I had hoped to hear you play".

"Listen to Alice, take away two or three points and you'll hear me. We have had the same teachers since we switched to organ from piano when we were in high school, so we really do sound a great deal alike. I just regret having to listen to the same pieces over and over and over."

"Lester, I have been thinking about that," Professor Moler said. "I'm dreading the same thing--hearing the same pieces over and over--myself. In theory all of you are good organists, but there are bound to be those having an off day. But even with good ones, I am going to become very tired of the same pieces. What I am thinking is that, since you will be finished very early, you and Matt should enjoy the city. I think that would mean more than hearing the same Bach bashed over and over."

"You are sure that's ok, that no-one expects me to be in the audition hall all day?"

"I'm sure."

"Lester, you will have finished before I do and, Alice, you won't play until afternoon. How would you like for the three of us to take on the town?"

"I, for one, am definitely for it," Lester said.

"I really am," Alice said, "since the other choice is to spend the day in the hotel room."

"As soon as Matt finishes, you three are free to explore. If you want to come back to lunch, it will be here or you can grab something and stay until time for Alice to get back. Don't you think that is a good plan, Mr. Norway?"

"I only wish I could go with you," he laughed. "I am already aching at the thought of listening to "Sheep May Safely Graze" again. I love the piece, or I guess I should say it was one of my favorites. I think I can go a long time without hearing it after listening to it fifty times in one day and now having to listen to it again six times."

"Actually, you only have to hear it four more times today since you don't have to hear Lester's and Alice's."

"True, but that's more than enough. And, of course, I will hear hear them even though I can't vote."

Professor Moler and I were waiting for the bus to take us to the Kennedy Center when I finally got a chance to ask him a question I had been dying to ask. "I don't want to nasty or catty, but I have a question."

"And I bet I can guess what it is. Shoot."

"Well, I mean I really don't want to be picky, but is Mr. Watkins as good as he says he is and, if he is, why is he trying for this series? I would think his concerts would pay more."

"Matt, I'm not surprised that you have a question about his playing. He is very second-rate in my book and I argued against making him a finalist, but there are some sentimental people on the committee who have known him for years and wanted to give him a chance. His concerts, if he played regularly, would pay well but he seldom gets a concert because he is all show. That works some places where people don't know the instrument or the music, but want to see a show. He can do that. He plays after you. Why don't you stick around? I think you will wonder what the committee was thinking of when they included him."

When we got to the Kennedy Center, we were all shown a large room where we were to be when our time came. "Someone will come and get you," Mr. Lawrence said. "Just be here when your time comes. After you have played, you may remain in the hall to listen to the others if you wish. Mr. Lester Row, you are first. If you will come with me you can get your practice time in and then play for the record."

Alice and I wished Lester luck and he left. I found a quiet corner and studied the sheet music for "Komm, Gott Schopfer, heiliger Geist". I also studied the stop list. Of course all I could do was get a general idea of how the organ would sound because each organ has a unique sound and the same stop on two different organs may sound very little like each other. I had listened to several recordings of the Kennedy Center organ and had some sense of its color, but that was nothing like hearing the real thing.

I made several notes on the new piece. I had marked up the two pieces I had played for the tape, some at Professor Larkin's suggestion and some at Professor Moler's. I was so absorbed in what I was doing that I hadn't realized an hour had passed until someone came for me.

I decided what I needed to do during my fifteen minutes at the organ was to work at selecting stops. If I couldn't play the two familiar pieces, I didn't deserve to get one of the series. After I was satisfied with my registration for the two pieces I knew, I played through the new piece. I found registration for it was easy and so I concentrated on playing it. I had a few minutes left when I thought I had done all I could to get ready except play through the new piece. I didn't have time to back up and start over several times, so I just played the piece through and then made notations on the music.

"Mr. Greywolf, if you would like a short break before you start, you may take it. The three pieces will not take all the time remaining," Mr. Lawrence said.

"I am ready to play when the committee is ready," I said.

"Then play. You may choose the order."

"Thank you. I will play 'Sheep May Safely Graze' followed by 'Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, 'Komm, Gott Schopfer, heiliger Geist' and ending with my selection, 'Fantasia in G major'." I took a deep breath, offered a short prayer of thanksgiving for Millie, Professors Larkin and Moler, and started. I thought I would be nervous, but I had gotten into the music when I was practicing and was ready to go with it.

When I finished, several people in the hall applauded. I stood, bowed and walked toward the back of the hall. As I did, several people thanked me and as I passed Professor Moler he said, "Excellent, Matt, excellent."

I went to the back of the hall where Lester was sitting. As I sat down beside him, he leaned over and whispered, "Matt, I was half-kidding when I said we should just pack and go home, but I was pretty much on target. Man, you are awesome at that console, just awesome."

"Thanks and I wish I was as sure as you are. Holy shit, will you look at that?" I asked, as I caught a glimpse of Reginald entering the hall. He had done something with his hair so he had a fly-away white mane and he was dressed, so help me, in tie and tails.

Lester saw him and said, "Well, I guess we have both extremes--kewl skater boy and tie and tails".

Reginald made a great show of getting his tails fixed, exercising his hands and placing his music. He pulled a few stops and launched into "Sheep". I got my question answered quickly. He had well-practiced mistakes throughout the piece. I didn't like his registration but that, after all, is finally a personal call. He didn't improve when he started "Komm, Gott Schopfer", in spite of the fact that he said he played it often. When he started torturing the "Passacaglia", I leaned over to Lester and said, "I have to go before I get sick".

He followed me out and, as soon as we were out of the hall, he said, "Can you believe that? I think it is an insult to all of us to allow him to touch the same instrument we played. He is worse than bad. What is really sad is that if someone had told him he was bad, he might have worked at becoming good. As it is, he has gone along in a dream world."

"Yea. As it is, he thinks he's good and the committee is reinforcing that. Well, here comes Alice. Let's roll."

Alice and Lester had been in Washington several times and knew their way around, so they were my pathfinders. I guess as anyone coming to DC does, we spent our time in the Smithsonian. We debated going back to the hotel for lunch and decided just to grab something from one of the street vendors.

I was full of questions about the MFA program Alice and Lester were in. They both said there were advantages and disadvantages in going somewhere other than Oberlin for further education. "On balance, I think I would stay at Oberlin if you work well with your teachers there. Of course there is the question of living arrangements. Maybe in three more years you will have had all of Oberlin life you can take," Lester said, and Alice agreed.

"Actually, my living arrangements would be one reason I might choose to stay. Except for living in the north and having to endure Ohio winters, my living arrangements are just about perfect," I said.

All three of us had walked ourselves out when we needed to get back for Alice's audition. As we waited for the Metro, Lester asked, "Just what are these great living arrangements you have in Oberlin?".

"Actually, not in Oberlin. I live with five other students--one at Case Western Reserve and two others who are taking some courses there as well as Oberlin. Five of us own a house on the lake." I then told then how we had lucked into the house and about my housemates.

"I'm surprised a mother would allow her daughter to live in the house with five men," Alice said. "I'm long gone from home, but mom would pitch a fit at such an arrangement."

Without thinking I said, "Paula's mom had no worry in the beginning since we are two couples..." I stopped short and thought, "Matt, you and your big mouth". Having gone that far, I saw no reason to hold back and told the two about the Oberlin Five. "Of course, now that Kent's in the picture, I think Sandra might have some concern for her daughter, but she knows Paula is a responsible young woman and will make her own decisions anyway." Alice and Lester were still plying me with questions, but none about me being gay and having a lover. We got back to the Center shortly before Alice was to play.

As soon as Alice had played, she came back to the room where we were all gathered. Mr. Lawrence came in and announced that Reginald Watkins had withdrawn from the competition, as had Miss Monica Spiegel. Alice leaned over to Lester and me and said, "She was that slob at breakfast this morning. I wonder if she dropped out or was asked to drop out. Mr. Norway told us social skills and organ skills were not equal, but social skills definitely did count. But 'kewl skater dude' is still among us, I guess."

We did not get to talk long since we had appointments with the organists at the places we would be playing Sunday. My name was called before Alice's or Lester's and I said, "Wish me luck," and we gave each other high fives. I walked over to Mr. Lawrence who was standing with a stunning woman. I guess she was in her late forties or early fifties, with beautiful gray hair and dark eyes which caught mine as I walked toward her.

"Matt, this is Ms. Hudson, organist at Ascension and St. Agnes. Ms. Hudson, Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf."

Ms. Hudson laughed and said, "Matt, call me Sara. That is some name you have. Are you sure that's all?"

"Actually it is all of my legal name, but not all my name. I also have a Lakota name, Silver Wolf, but I'm just Matt most of the time."

"Matt, I have talked with Professor Moler and he tells me you have played in your parish church and are playing in a church now. I doubt that the Ohio church is even close to Ascension and St. Agnes liturgically and don't know about your home parish."

"St. Anne's in Ohio is very low compared to St. Mary's in North Carolina, but I am sure St. Mary's is much lower than Ascension and St. Agnes if what I have been told is true."

"I suspect you have been given good information. Ascension and St. Agnes is definitely a member of the smells and bells club. Well, if you are ready, we will be off. I'd like for you to have all the time you want at the organ at Ascension and St. Agnes."

"I'm ready."

Ten minutes later we were driving through the city and Ms. Hudson was pointing out the sights. "We'll go by the church and give you some time there now. We can come back after dinner if you like. Dinner with the committee, candidates and organists from the various venues is at 7:30. We should be finished by 8:30 or 9:00 and if you really need more time at the organ, I will go by with you. We'll need to let the sexton know because Ascension and St. Agnes is not in the best part of the city and is pretty tightly locked when everyone leaves. Also, you can get some practice in between Masses tomorrow if you need to. I want you to be as comfortable as possible under the circumstances and I am sure you will be. Professor Moler tells me you could play the service blindfolded. I haven't met him before but know his reputation, and when he told me you were superb in today's audition, I was thrilled that you would be playing at Ascension and St. Agnes."

When we entered the church, I found it comforting. St. Mary's didn't use incense often, but often enough until there was always a lingering smell of it in the church, and I missed that comforting smell at St. Anne's. As soon as I was seated at the organ, I felt at home in that strange church and at a strange organ. Ms. Hudson showed me the service music and I had played it all, most of it every Sunday at St. Mary's. We worked getting the tempo right for the way the service moved at Ascension and St. Agnes, which didn't take long. I'd just have to remember to take it a bit slower than I would have played it at St. Mary's. The stops Ms. Hudson suggested were perfect, so I didn't have to worry about that.

"Generally the choir has an offertory anthem, but in light of you being here tomorrow, you will play an organ offertory. I suppose we could have had you work with the choir in the morning, but it would be rushed and I didn't think that would be good for the choir or you. Professor Moler said you would be playing selections from the pieces you did for your audition today."

"Yes, ma'am. I planned to use the fugue from "Passacaglia and Fugue" for the prelude. I don't know about the length of the offertory."

"Under ten minutes or so, but there is a lot of ceremony connected with the reception of the people's offering and preparing the table. Why don't you use the piece you chose for today, the 'Fantasia'? Everyone would be perfectly willing for you to take the time you need so long as it is reasonable. Then use 'Komm, Gott Schopfer, heiliger Geist' and 'Sheep May Safely Graze' for the postlude. Does that suit?"


"So why don't you work on getting the registration correct for those, while I do a couple things I need to do, and then we'll go by your hotel so you can freshen up before dinner. I'm meeting Professor Moler there. I think he wants to make sure you are being treated right," she laughed. "Then after dinner, as I said, if you think you need to come back, I'll bring you back. Otherwise, you can just relax as I know today has been stressful."

Ms. Hudson left me with the organ and disappeared. I wasn't aware when she returned. I played through the four pieces, working on registration, and was surprised how quickly I was satisfied. I guess playing different organs makes it easier and easier to get the stops you want on any particular instrument. When I had decided on the registration for the pieces, I played them through, one after another. When I finished, I relaxed a few minutes and then played the pieces and the service music as it would came in the service, pausing briefly between pieces. As the last notes of the postlude died away, Ms. Hudson called from the nave. "Young man, I hope you know you are good. That was magnificent. I can't believe you just sat down and played as you did. Don't think there is any reason for you to come back tonight."

"I will defer to your judgement. I would probably be here all night if I listened to myself," I smiled.

"You need to learn to be more objective," Ms. Hudson said. "I know you don't want to become overly confident, but there is a point beyond which you are actually doing the music and yourself harm. You can be too self-critical as well as too lax in your self-criticism."

"Both Professors Larkin and Moler tell me that and I guess, as I play more for people I don't know, I will learn, but I am always afraid I will do a poor job."

"From what I have just heard, Matt, I don't think you have it in you to do poorly. But let's get ready for dinner."

When we reached the hotel I went up, showered and put on fresh briefs, socks and shirt. I surely felt refreshed as I dialed the house. When Paula answered, she asked, "How did it go? Wait! Let me get the others."

She was back in a few minutes with the whole crew and we talked about the day. I told them about Reginald and Monica. "He was terrible, so I can understand why he was eliminated--although we were told he dropped out, but I don't believe it was his idea. Monica? I don't know. It could have been her table manners. She ate like a pig." I then told them about Ms. Hudson and the organ at Ascension and St. Agnes. When we finished, Luke turned off the speaker and we talked. We had little to say, really, but we did have to tell each other of our love.

When we finished it was quarter of seven and I went downstairs where I met Professor Moler and Ms. Hudson.

Dinner was uneventful. Alice and Lester were at the table with us, along with Mr. Norway and the organists from the two churches where Alice and Lester would play. There were a lot of questions about how we had spent the day, how we thought we had done at the audition and where and what we would be playing Sunday. Mr. Norway and Professor Moler both assured the three of us we had been among the very best. "I am going to be very surprised if one of you doesn't get a series and not surprised if two of you don't get one," Mr. Norway said.

"I agree completely," Professor Moler said, nodding.

"If he did half as well in his audition as he did this afternoon at the church, I would be very surprised if Matt didn't get one," Ms. Hudson said. "You have trained him well, Professor," she added.

Professor Moler laughed and said, "I love to hear those words but I'll have to be honest. Matt has not, yet, studied with me. He is a student of Professor Larkin who is dragging him, kicking and screaming sometimes, into the modern age. But even she cannot take a lot of credit, since Matt came to us an excellent organist. And he blushes easily." Professor Moler laughed and I, who was blushing, turned even redder.

When we finished dinner, Mr. Lawrence called for our attention and said, "Since we only have four candidates remaining, each of you will be observed by three committee members tomorrow. In fact, all twelve may show up at your venue, Mr. Row, since you are playing at 8:30. Most will, I suspect show up at Ascension and St. Agnes, Mr. Greywolf, because you are playing for the 11:30 Mass. Miss Makin and Mr. Singleton, you are both playing at 10:30, so you can be sure you will have only six of the committee members observing. I assume all four of you have had an opportunity to spend some time at the organ you will be playing?" All four of us nodded our heads.

As soon Mr. Lawrence finished, Ms. Hudson said, "Matt, I have enjoyed the short time I have had with you. I'll send my husband around to pick you and Professor Moler up at 10:30 in the morning so you will have plenty of time before the 11:30 Mass. I am assuming, of course, that you feel no need to practice between Masses."

"I think I'll accept your advise and not."

"Good," she said, and took her leave of us.

"Matt, Alice, Lester, Mr. Norway and I would like to treat you three to a movie if you like or you can just go to the hotel and relax," Professor Moler said.

"I'm game for a movie," I said. "Otherwise, I'd probably just sit in the room and worry."

"Same here," Lester said, and Alice nodded.

"You have a choice. We can either go for excitement and see 'Braveheart', or real drama and see 'The English Patient'. The choice is up to you," Mr. Norway said.

"Frankly, I just as soon not get something too emotional tonight," Alice said, "and from what I have heard, 'The English Patient' can get pretty tense."

"I have also heard 'The English Patient' is very tense and I'm with Alice," Lester said.

I laughed, "Well, I have a problem with Mel Gibson's stance on gays, but then I have to remind myself that I'm going for his art, not his political stance, and hope others return the favor."

"Well put, Matt," Lester said. "So let's go defend Scotland!"

We all three enjoyed the movie and it made few demands on us as audience. I just relaxed and enjoyed it.

I had a problem getting to sleep. I worried about the following day and missed having Luke to hold me. That beautiful hunk of manhood played an important part in all aspects of my life, and I needed to remember that. I started thinking about the falls and making love to Luke there, and slipped into sleep without knowing it.

I had left a wake-up call for 9:00 Sunday morning since I didn't have to rush. Of course Professor Moler had to be up to hear Lester play at 8:30. I took my time showering and getting dressed. I went down for breakfast at 9:30. When I finished, I went back to the room and brushed my teeth and glanced through the morning paper. At 10:15, the phone rang. It was Professor Moler. I told him I would be right down. When I got to the lobby, he was there with Lester. "Mind if I tag along?" Lester asked.

"Certainly not. Glad to have you." Promptly at 10:30 we were paged, and met Mr. Hudson.

After we had introduced ourselves to Mr. Hudson, we went out to his car and started to Ascension and St. Agnes. Mr. Hudson told us he worked for the Defense Department, but that his real love was photography. "I hope that by the time our daughter, Rebecca, is out of college, I can retire and devote my full time to nature photography."

We were traveling easily through the Sunday streets, when we turned a corner and suddenly came to a halt. Apparently a water main had burst and the street was blocked off. "I'll have to turn around and try another route," Mr. Hudson said. Of course, with the street being blocked, the traffic on the other route was fairly heavy. "We'll get you to Ascension in plenty of time, Matt, but I had hoped you would have more time with the choir than you will."

We finally arrived at the church and Mr. Hudson let us out and told me where to go. "I'll have to park the car and it will take a few minutes you'd probably like with the choir."

When I reached the choir room, I introduced myself and apologized for being later than I planned. The choir director started to get up from the piano, and I asked that he play through the hymn the choir had been working on so I could get some idea of the tempo. When the choir had sung two verses, the choir director got up and indicated I should take his place. I did, and played through the hymns. I just had to remember to take it slower than I would have at St. Mary's. The director was good and I would use his direction to the choir as mine as well.

The service went extremely well, I thought, and the choir director was highly complementary. Ms. Hudson rushed up as soon as I finished my postlude and told me I had done an outstanding job. Several choir members told me I had done well, so I was happy. I knew that, given more practice, I could have done better but I was satisfied with the job I had done.

The Hudsons took the three of us back to the hotel, arriving at 1:15. Professor Moler had invited the Hudsons, Lester, Alice and Mr. Norway to his room for a bit of a celebration. He had champagne on ice and the Hudsons, Mr. Norway and Professor Moler toasted the three of us organists. "You have made Moler and me very proud. Pity all three of you can't get the series, because all of you would do a good job," Mr. Norway said. "So here's to three winners." We enjoyed the champagne while we told tales about our morning experience. We were really enjoying ourselves and talking about the boo-boos we had made--which I'll admit, were few and not serious. But it was a good way to come down from the tension of the morning.

It was 2:00 when we went down for lunch. It was also an enjoyable experience since, by the time we got to lunch, we had gotten to know each other and the champagne had relaxed us all. We were almost finished lunch when Professor Moler and Mr. Norway got a page.

When they went to answer the phone, I remembered Mr. Hudson saying he hoped to be able to support himself with his photography. "Mr. Hudson, I am sorry I didn't get to see some of your photographic work. Have you ever exhibited any of it?"

"Just in a couple of arts and crafts shows. I have thought about putting together an exhibition, but I really don't know where to start. I don't have an agent. I guess I need to get one if I plan to do anything with my work in the future."

"My partner is an artist and my uncle--well he's not really an uncle, but we'd be here all day if I go into that--is an art dealer. He has a gallery in Charleston which is operated by the co-owner and he has a small gallery in my home town. I know he is good and is honest. If you get a portfolio together, I'm sure he'd give you an honest evaluation and would be your agent if he thought he could sell your photos. If you are interested, I could give you his name and address."

"I'm definitely interested. Maybe it would get me moving toward doing something with my work." I wrote Uncle Michael's name and address on the back of one of my cards and gave it to Mr. Hudson.

As I handed Mr. Hudson the card, Mr. Norway and Professor Moler came back to the table. "Well, Matt, as I told you ages ago, never get yourself on a committee. Mr. Lawrence has called a committee meeting for 3:30. I'm not sure what is going on now. We have to run. The closing meeting has been shifted to 4:30. Ms. Hudson, Mr. Hudson, sorry we have to run."

"We need to go as well," Ms. Hudson said, "thanks for loaning us Matt today. Matt, Lester, Alice, good luck. We'll look forward to hearing one of you again this summer."

I said goodbye to the Hudsons, thanking them for making my time in Washington pleasant. I also took my leave of Lester and Alice, went to my room and packed. I was ready to leave as soon as the final meeting was over. I kinda crashed as soon as I was ready to go. The high from my morning was carried through lunch, but now I relaxed. Our plane left at 8:30 and we'd need to get to the airport not later than 7:30. I guessed we wouldn't be too rushed, even with this change in schedule. I saw no reason I couldn't take a short nap while the committee was meeting. I knew that I might sleep right through the closing meeting unless someone called me, so I set the bedside clock but didn't trust it, so I called the front desk and asked to be called at 4:00.

The alarm went off and the front desk called at he same time. I sat straight up in bed, completely confused about where I was and what was going on. In a few seconds I oriented myself, got up, went to the bathroom and then got dressed again and re-did my hair. When I had myself back together, I went downstairs and across the street to the Hyatt where the closing meeting was being held.

I found Professor Moler with Mr. Norway, and both had a kind of cat-that-ate-the canary look. "Packed ready to go, Matt?" Professor Moler asked.

"Yes. I have it all together waiting for this meeting to get over."

Alice and Lester had walked up while Professor Moler was speaking, and Lester said, "This is kind of anti-climatic. We've jumped through the hoops and now we wait for a few weeks to see how well we did."

He had just finished speaking when Mr. Lawrence called the meeting to order. "Ladies and Gentlemen, as you know, we started with six finalists. Two withdrew from the competition yesterday. I will be very honest with you. The committee had a very difficult task before it but, given we have four finalists for the two series, we met this afternoon and asked why we should not go ahead and select the two who would play the two series. No-one could come up with a reason for waiting until December before announcing our decision. We have seen and heard all of the organists in the competition and can expect nothing to be added in terms of information we might use to make our decision."

"The decision of the committee was unanimous. Mr. Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf was the committee's first pick and will have the first choice of the two series. The organist for the second series is Miss Alice Makin. In case either Miss Makin or Mr. Greywolf cannot play their series, Mr. Lester Row will play it. And should he not be able to do so, Mr. Oliver Singleton will take the series. Top notch organists all. Congratulations."

I wasn't sure I had heard correctly. I mean we weren't supposed to hear the results until December. Maybe I was dreaming. I mean I had flopped on the bed. Suddenly I realized Alice was pounding me on the arm and saying, "Matt, Matt, we won." I realized it was real.

Mr. Lawrence adjourned the meeting and asked the four of us to see him before we left the room. When we reached his table, he shook our hands and congratulated us again, then said, "All four of you will receive a contract from the Board of Directors sometime next week. Please have it checked before you sign it. If you have any questions about the contract, contact me at once and we will try to reach an agreement. If you have a preference as to the month you play, we can make those assignments now. Mr. Greywolf, do you have a choice?"

"I do. I would like the July series."

"Then it is yours. Miss Makin, do you have a problem with August?"

"Not at all."

"Then that's settled. I am very glad we could make the decision now and not have to wait, and I am sure the Society will be honored by your work this summer."

Lester, Alice, Oliver and I exchanged addresses and I went to the room and got my things. I met Professor Moler in the lobby and we took the Metro to National Airport where we checked our baggage. "Matt, we have two hours before we need to be back to check in ourselves. How would you like to go back into town, have dinner and look around a bit?"

"Professor, ok, but I'm not sure I will be able to eat for a week. This afternoon has been something else! I hoped I would have a chance at the concert series. I was pretty sure I was good enough to be considered, but I'm still finding it hard to believe I was selected and, of course, I didn't expect to find out one way or the other today."

"Matt, the deliberations of the committee are not supposed to be talked about just anywhere, but we agreed that we would talk to the four of you if you were interested and asked. I won't go into why the others were or were not chosen. I don't think that would be proper. What I can tell you is that the decision was almost instantaneous. There was no debate about you being selected as first choice. Nor was there much discussion about Lester and Alice beyond saying they were almost equally as good. I thought for a while there would have to be a coin toss to decide between the two. Anyway, you were the unanimous choice. You have a right to be proud, but no big-head, ok?" Professor Moler laughed. "Now all you have to do is create your program. I will be happy to help and so will Professor Larkin. One bit of advise I would give you: select a number of pieces from which you can build each concert. Otherwise, you will get very bored playing the same thing over and over as though you were a recording."

We were downtown and found a nice restaurant and had a leisurely dinner. I guessed we were both pretty tired of talking about the concert series, organs and organists because our conversation at dinner was about the crew and what they were doing. We talked about the trial and its outcome. I mentioned the van Hooks, and Professor Moler asked me about them. He found it interesting that we had elders as friends but then added, "I guess a group that invites its parents to a party knows the value of friends of all ages. I have noticed when I am with... what do you call yourselves?"

"Well it was the Oberlin Five and then Kent came along. He pointed out that he was not at Oberlin, so we are still the Oberlin Five to our family but, generally we refer to ourselves as the crew or the gang."

"Well when I am with the gang, and when other faculty members are with them, you all seem to be at ease. I don't mean you seem cavalier, just at ease and, at the same time, very respectful."

"I guess there's a couple things playing into that," I responded. "We have had manners pounded into our heads from the day we were born. Even more than that, I suspect, is the adults have been our friends and even saviors. Luke and I have always looked upon the three sets of parents we have as our friends and protectors. They have allowed us to be ourselves and respect ourselves, so we can respect others. Larry and Paula are from single-parent homes, but with loving mothers. Eugene, well, Eugene lived in hell but was rescued by Millie, and you can't be around Millie without learning to love, respect and stand in fear of her if you are wrong. With Mom and Dad being teachers, we never feared teachers. They, too, were friends until they proved otherwise. I used to think we were the norm, but I have been proven wrong often enough to realize we are just lucky."

Professor Moler asked more questions about the Family, but then it had to come to an end. Finally he said, "This is great, but we have a plane to catch," as he asked for the check. When we got outside, I realized I had been in such a cloud that I hadn't called home. "I forgot to call home, but I think I'll wait and tell the crew the news firsthand."

The flight was certainly uneventful and we landed right on time. The whole crew was waiting for us at the gate and we all exchanged hugs. Once again, Luke did not kiss me and I didn't try to kiss him. Mrs. Moler wasn't shy and really laid a kiss on the professor. As soon as we got our baggage, Professor Moler said, "Oberlin Four plus one, I will leave it to your fifth member to tell you about the weekend, but I did want to tell you I am very proud of him. Matt is a perfect gentlemen and I was honored to be associated with him as I am sure you are. Matt, when you get a minute, drop by so we can talk about next semester. I looked over your courses before we left and meant to tell you: you are a sophomore next semester. Well goodnight all, I have a good-looking woman I want to spend time with."

"Matt, tell us all about it," Eugene said as we walked to his car.

"I don't want to keep you waiting, but I think I'd like to have a cup of real coffee and sit around the kitchen table to tell you all about it, but I will say I have a summer job. The committee made its decision and announced it this afternoon and I have the July concert series." My announcement was met with a lot of high fives and shouts.

When we got home, I called Mom and Dad and told them the news while Luke made coffee. When I finished my call home, we all sat around the kitchen table and I told them about my weekend. They were almost as excited as I had been.

Later, when Luke and I were snuggling in bed, I said, "Yonghon Tongmu, I can tell you one thing about the summer: the weeks we are not together, I'll not sleep too well. I don't like sleeping alone."

"Neither do I, Sarang Hanun Pomul, neither do I. But now we can make real plans since we know you will be playing concerts in July. We have the last half of May and half of June before the exhibitions start, and July we'll be together most of the time and then August you'll travel with me. It's not going to be like last summer."

"Luke, it wouldn't be like last summer even if we were separated, right?"

"Right. Damn right, Matt."

I didn't realize how tired I was until I woke up and it was morning. I didn't know when I slipped into dreamland.

At breakfast Monday morning, Paula told us she had talked to her mom and they would be spending the Thanksgiving break in Ohio. "Mom was reluctant at first, thinking that this had some deep meaning about my relationship with Kent. I finally convinced her that Kent and I were good friends and I thought she would enjoy being with his family Thanksgiving."

"Mom asked if this meant we were engaged or something," Kent laughed, "and Paula told her it meant something, but neither or us were sure what. I think she was ready to start planning a wedding."

"We'll miss you two in Concord," Eugene said. "There's bound to be a lot going on, especially since the Indians are planning on showing up."

Tuesday night, Kent and Paula went to the airport to pick up Marc, Keith and Sandra. They got back to the house about 8:00. While Paula was getting her mom settled, Marc said he had planned to fly right back to Concord. "I'd just squeak by the regulations about how long I could fly without a rest, so if I can sleep with my man, I'll stay over and we'll leave tomorrow."

"Some of us really need go to class in the morning and the guest room belongs to you two tonight," Larry said. "I think everyone will be ready to leave by 10:00."

"I'll see that we have a lunch packed so we can leave as soon as everyone gets here," Eugene said. "Paula, Kent, can you drive us to the airport?"

"Sure, no problem," Kent answered as Paula nodded.

I'm sure none of us got anything out of our Wednesday classes, we were so excited. My last class had hardly been dismissed before I was in the Jeep and Luke and I were headed for the house. We had put our luggage in Eugene's car before we left for class and when we got home, everyone was ready to go. We left later than we would have liked but, as we took off, Marc said we'd be in Concord about the time school was out.

Keith was excited about the Thanksgiving Eve game and told us all about it. "Michael has been a real hero," he said. "Not only because he took his punishment like a man..."

"His punishment? What punishment?" Luke asked.

"He didn't tell you? Well, he cold-cocked Phillip Curran." Keith then told us the whole story and how Michael had taken a good beating at the hands of three football players. "As a result, Independence has lost four players and the coaches. Everyone thinks Jackson will mop up tomorrow night, but I'm not placing money on them winning."

We had a good tail wind, so we made up some of the time we lost by getting a late start. We landed in Concord just about the time school was getting out and I called Michael. The whole gang came to meet us.

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