Castle Roland

The Concord

by Sequoyah


Chapter 2

Published: 8 Apr 14

ASP--The Concord Five--Michael

Friday we worked very hard on the speeches to be given in the opening assembly and another for Jacob and me to give Thursday. All four speeches were devoted mainly to the new role of the student government, but the first two did talk about the peer counseling program. Everyone was pretty much satisfied with them by lunch. After lunch, we went over them again while we relaxed before swimming. After that, we spent the rest of the day swimming and relaxing on the beach. At one point when we were all sitting around resting, after a pretty hard game of water keep-away, we talked about Christopher.

Bill had some contacts with the police department and had talked with Zack Ramsey, a young fellow who had graduated from Independence a couple years earlier and was now a rookie policeman. He told Bill he knew that Kenny and his crowd were smoking herb and getting drunk and that Christopher was right in the middle of it. "The whole department knows, but we are trying to move easy, especially with Christopher. We all respect Demetri and know he got a pretty messed-up kid tossed in his lap. The others are small fish and we are hoping they will lead us to bigger fish," he had said to Bill.

"I knew I'd rather try to save a rain forest," I moaned. "You guys have got to help me with this one. When I phoned Christopher the other night, Demetri said he knew all this and was caught between turning him in and having him go back to juvenile detention, or not turning him in and getting in trouble himself. He said just what Zack told you, Bill. He also said he had come home smelling of sex. What did he mean?"

"Zack told me he had been on patrol and found Kenny and the bunch with Zell Albritten--you remember her, I guess. She was still in high school when you were freshmen, but I think she was eighteen then and in our class. She was the school slut and since she dropped out last year has been the town whore. Zack says some beer and weed and she's your girl."

"Anyway, it was three in the morning and he was at the end of that dirt street down past the old cotton mill and saw Kenny's car. When Zack saw them, one of the guys was pumping away on Zell but, when he drove up, they all ran--staggered was more like it." Bill laughed, "Actually Frank Kitchen was on top of Zell and, when he tried to run, his pants fell down and he tripped and fell on his face. Zack said he just yelled and told them to go home then drove back a ways and waited to make sure they left. After they had gone, he went to where they had been. 'There were two cases of empty beer cans lying all around,' Zack said. 'It was obvious they had been smoking, drinking and taking turns fucking Zell all night,' he added. So, sure, can you imagine what a mess Christopher was after participating in an all-night gang-bang? I'm sure he smelled like a whorehouse on Sunday morning. A real class act is our problem child."

"But he is our problem child, right?" I asked. "Not that I wouldn't like to just beat the shit out of him and forget it."

"If it was easy, we wouldn't be needed," Linda said. "And you do think there's some good underneath all the shit?"

"Yea, I do," I replied.

"Then I guess he's our problem child," she responded.

Needless to say, Christopher didn't call and was not with the Fellowship Saturday.

Saturday was a glorious day and we all had great fun. The speeches were done and when Ms. Jones and Ms. Norman looked them over, they thought they were good and would do the job. The families had a good time together at the picnic, even Millie and Ms. Wright who didn't have their kids there. Millie took in her stride being teased about Woody. It started when Bill asked her what she had heard from Ohio and she answered, "Woody's doing great... oh, you mean from Eugene!".

After the parents left, we all went skinny dipping and afterwards started making out until Mary Kathryn noticed Jacob and said, "This is not being fair to Jacob. We are just rubbing in the fact that Paula's not here." She then motioned for Linda and told her the same thing, and we put a lid on our making out until we all were ready for bed. Jacob moved down the beach a bit and I assumed was asleep as soon as he lay down. Bill and Linda had gone down-river, out of sight, and I'm sure didn't stop before they had made love completely.

Mary Kathryn and I went to the foot of the falls, spread our blanket out of Jacob's sight and made powerful love. Once again, I told Mary Kathryn I didn't know how long I could call a halt after we had spent some pretty hot time, stopping just before having sex. She agreed, but we did manage to stop after we brought each other off. Snuggled in each other's arms, we finally went to sleep.

When we all arrived at St. Mary's Sunday morning, I was surprised to see Demetri and Christopher in church. I don't think I had ever seen Demetri there before, since he went to the early Mass. They were sitting in the pew where my family usually sat, so I slid in next to Christopher and Mom and Dad took the outside. When I spoke to Christopher, he just grunted. Demetri shrugged.

At coffee hour, the Fellowship all made it a point to speak to Demetri and Christopher and Christopher was at least civil. "What are you doing tomorrow for Labor Day?" I asked the two.

"The cafe is closed," Demetri said. "I am planning on a quiet day at home. I told Christopher we would go on a picnic or have a cookout if he wished, but he wasn't interested, right Christopher?"

Christopher nodded and then added, "Would like it except I'd like to be with dudes my age, not just with old folks."

"They probably feel about the same way," Bill said. "How'd you like to join us at the falls?"

"Planned to hook up with my buds, but they have something else going on and I wasn't invited. Don't know what. Guess I may as well. Couldn't be any more boring than hanging around the house with a bunch of old folks."

"If you've got a problem with what you call old folks, you might not want to come," Linda said. "All our parents will be at the falls, at least most of the day, but we have a great time with them. In fact, I think most of us wish we had more time with them." Subtlety wasn't exactly a strong suit with Linda these days. Also, when I thought about it, her air-head, cheerleader role had slipped a lot since last spring.

"Well, if you kids are going to be there, it is still better than hanging around the house and I have no place to go, no-one to go with and no way to go," Christopher replied.

"As a matter of fact," Bill said, "why don't you score some good points with your grandfather and invite him to come. There will be people for him to talk to and it won't put any crimp in your style. 'Bout time you got some good points I understand."

Christopher looked at Bill strangely, shook his head and said, "Well, why not? Still better than hanging around the house all day with him. Who do I need to ask about inviting him?"

"No-one. Just ask him. We'll probably get there about mid-morning, have a picnic lunch about noon and then a real cookout and all in the evening. Bring something to swim in...."

"There a pool?"

"Not exactly," Mart Kathryn laughed, "but a great place to swim."

"If you and your grandad want to bring food, that's great, but if he wants a vacation from cooking, there will be plenty," I said.

"I'll speak to the old man. Be right back." The kid was acting human again. I couldn't figure this out.

"Can you believe it?" I asked. "Damn! Here he is acting like a decent human being. I just can't understand it."

"Maybe if you knew more about his past you'd have a clue," Mary Kathryn suggested.

"Maybe, I just don't know."

Christopher came back and ALMOST seemed a bit excited. "The old man said I could come, but he wasn't sure about himself. Believe he sorta thinks this is a kid's party and he feels awkward about being invited by kids. Don't know why."

"He's from the old school. Plus this is a small southern town where traditions are still alive," Linda said. "I'll take care of that," she added as she grabbed Bill by the hand and walked toward Yong Jin. Soon I saw Yong Jin talking to Demetri and he was nodding.

Sunday dinner, the first since we had been in Ohio, felt very odd without Matt and Luke. I think it was the first time we all really, really missed them. It seemed even stranger when we started talking about the gathering tomorrow.

"Michael, I thought you said Christopher was a real pain in the ass," David said. "I was impressed when he asked Demetri about joining us tomorrow."

"That's it, Dad," I responded. "He's like two people. When he was with me on the farm and at the dairy, he was a great kid, then he calls me in the middle of the night drunk. It's really strange."

It rained late Sunday afternoon and into the evening. Monday morning it was cloudy when Mary Kathryn and I went for a run, but by 9:00 it was a bright, warm, sunny day. I was really glad because I was looking forward to getting together with everyone again.

Greywolf had asked Uncle Michael and John to pick up Demetri and Christopher. When they arrived, Christopher was carrying a huge picnic basket. "Fixed up some really Greek dishes," Demetri said, "not the common Greek restaurant dishes. Hope you like them."

"If it's food, we'll probably like it," Bill laughed.

"Man, this place is beautiful!" Christopher exclaimed as he sat the basket down and stood, looking around. "It looks like it's out of a movie or something."

"If you want to see another beautiful sight, come with me," I said, and started up the trail to Lookout Rock. When we reached it, I wasn't sure whether Christopher was awe-struck or scared. Finally he said, "Dude, this is one beautiful place, but I'm kinda put off by height. Makes me kinda nervous."

"Then let's go back down. No problem."

"You won't tell the others that I'm a wuss?"

"Why would I do that?" I asked. "Everyone's afraid of something. I guess it's normal," I said as we walked down the trail.

The food was great. The Greek dishes Demetri brought were definitely a hit.

After lunch we all just flopped down on blankets and relaxed. The talk among the kids was of school starting tomorrow. Christopher seemed interested in both the new role the student government would play and the peer counseling program. "You mean students will be in charge of discipline? That's wild! I bet it won't last because you know kids won't rat on their friends and certainly will be easier on each other than the authorities will," he said.

"Not sure about that," Mary Kathryn said. "If the system is to be successful, we'll have to take the job seriously. You know if things get out of hand, the authorities will not let it go on. It's up to the students to make it work."

"Well, I don't think it will work. Who's afraid of students?" Christopher asked.

"It's not a question of fear," Bill said. "The question is whether or not we want to have a school that is ours or let someone tell us how to do everything. In a year or two, we'll be responsible for our own life and it would be good to have a little practice."

"I sure like the idea of being responsible for the school rather than it being responsible for me," Jacob added.

"Dudes, it may work, but I don't think so. I don't want anything to do with school. I hate it: being told what to do and being told to learn stuff I don't like and will never use. It's all a waste of time. Just another bunch of bullshit old folks think up to make my life miserable." Clearly this was the asshole side of Christopher speaking, but that's all we heard from that side of him on Labor Day.

After we had sat around talking for a while, Linda called out, "Water calls! Ladies get the lower bushes," as she jumped up, ran to a gym bag she had brought and grabbed her swim suit.

"Come along, Christopher. We'll use the cane brake near the falls. Get your swim trunks." Soon we were all swimming in the water which, even in September, was not exactly dishwater warm.

"Race you, Michael," Mary Kathryn said as she scrambled out of the water and raced up the trail to the top of the falls. She got there first because I had to swim some distance before I could get out of the water. When I reached the top of the falls she said, "I won. What's my prize?"

Grabbing her and pulling her body to mine, I said, "This," and gave her a tongue-in-the-mouth kiss.

When we broke our kiss, she said, "You were runner-up," and pulled my lips to hers. As we broke our second kiss, she said, "Runner-up prize is not so bad, is it?" She laughed, turned and dived off the falls' edge, and I was right behind her. As we came up, I saw Bill and Linda were repeating our performance. Right behind them, Jacob--without Paula--hugged himself and then dived in.

Christopher was standing in the shallow water near the edge of the falls' basin, his mouth gaping open. As I drew near him, he looked at me and said, "Damn! You dudes trying to kill yourselves? That is one fucking high dive."

"We've been doing it, at least Mary Kathryn and I have, almost from the time we could swim. It's great fun. Wish you would try it."

"Dude, I'd shit my pants as soon as I got to the edge up there. Can't think of what all I might do if I dived in. Hell, man, I've always been afraid of the kiddie diving board at a pool."

"If you change your mind, one or all of us guys will go with you."

"No, thanks. I think I'll just stay down here."

After a few more dives, we got involved in a wild game of water keep-away. Just after we started, the parents, one at a time, came into the water. Even Millie got in and swam a bit before getting out to sit on the bank with her feet in the water.

The game was going great when I heard a shout from the top of the falls and looked up in time to see Uncle Michael and John join hands and dive in. When they surfaced, Jacob tossed them the ball and shouted, "Kids against parents". The game was really wild and, in spite of the energy of youth, the parents had the ball most of the time. However, they wore out faster. After a while, Uncle Michael said, "That's enough for this handsome, but older, man," and joined Millie and Margaret. Margaret hadn't bothered to change and sat with Millie, her feet in the water.

When Uncle Michael left the game, John went with him. I guess they forgot that Christopher and Demetri were present because when John sat down beside Uncle Michael, he gave him a quick kiss. I saw it out of the corner of my eye, but was looking straight at Christopher. I could have predicted the look that crossed his face.

It was late afternoon before we all got out of the river and, by that time, Dad, Jens and Greywolf had the grills going. Soon everything was ready and we all ate more than enough a second time. We finished eating just before sundown and, without anyone speaking, people started walking to Lookout Rock. Bill came up to me and said, "I don't think Millie should try the walk up by herself. I'm sure she would try, but a slip and she could break another hip. Think we could help her?"

"We can try," I answered and the two of us walked up to Millie and each wrapped an arm around her.

"Don't you think for a minute you're fooling me," she said, "but maybe we can fool the others. I don't like to think I'm a helpless old woman."

"Older than dirt you are for sure, Millie, older than dirt," Bill laughed. "But helpless? Never. However, as capable as you are, a slip on a pebble and your ass would roll down to the river."

"You're right, of course, but I don't have to admit it out loud," she said in a stage whisper.

I had told Mary Kathryn about Christopher's fear of heights and was pleased that she and Linda had gotten on either side of him and were walking up the trail with him.

When we reached Lookout Rock, we all sat down. I looked over at Jacob and could see how he missed Paula. This was a special place for them and I knew he was feeling pain at her not being here, and joy remembering how this was where they had first acknowledged their love.

Everyone sat in silence watching the sky's display. The day had been beautiful and sunny, but now there was a bank of low clouds to the west and the sun was making them a magnificent display of ever-changing colors.

Christopher sat, silent, but obviously awestruck by the sight.

The sun had sunk below the horizon, but it was still light as the parents started leaving. David was making sure Margaret didn't slip, and Greywolf and Jens were helping Millie. Uncle Michael and John walked down the steep trail holding hands. As the parents left, Bill and Linda walked to the edge of the falls, kissed, held hands and dived. I wanted to do the same thing with Mary Kathryn, but couldn't abandon Christopher.

"If you'll pass on the kiss, I'll dive with you, Christopher," Jacob said.

"I don't know. I'm terrified of heights," Christopher replied.

"In that case, I'll walk down with you. I didn't know that."

"Well, if I could get to the edge without looking down, I might be able to do it," Christopher seemed to be talking to himself.

"Want to try?" Jacob asked. "I'll guide you and you can close your eyes if you like. But if not, I'll walk down with you. You don't have to prove anything to anyone around here."

"I'll try," Christopher said, his voice revealing more than a hint of fear.

"Close your eyes," Jacob said, as he reached out and took Christopher's hand. He led Christopher to the very edge of the falls and said, "We're there. I'll count to three and then open your eyes and dive with me. And don't be afraid. If you can't, I'll stick with you."

They stood on the edge of the falls as Jacob counted when he reached three, Christopher could be heard catching his breath and then the two of them dived. Mary Kathryn and I followed as soon as they were out of the way.

When we surfaced, Christopher was jubilate and kept shouting, "I did it!". He was the center of everyone's attention. Those in the water were patting him on the back and the parents were cheering.

We all got out of the water and got things packed, ready to leave. As we walked away, Linda said, "Wish we could stay for skinny dipping, but tomorrow's a big day."

"Yea, back to fucking school," Christopher lamented. No-one responded.

When I got back home, Mom and Dad were sitting in the kitchen. "Michael, Christopher sure seemed to have a good time," Mom said, "and seemed nice enough."

"That's what I can't understand, Mom," I replied. "He was great, but the other side of him is just as rotten as this side is good."

"Would like to know what's going on with him," Dad said, shaking his head. "Maybe he can get straightened out--with a lot of help."

ASP--The Concord Five--Bill

Linda, Jacob and I took Christopher home. Shortly after we got in the car, he asked, "That Uncle Michael and John, are they cock-sucking faggots?" I glanced in the rearview mirror in time to see Jacob turn red and look as if he could kill.

Before he could say anything, Linda, in a very calm voice said, "If you mean are they gay, the answer is yes, but what they do in their bedroom is none of your damn business. And if you want to stay around this group--IF we decide to let you stay around--you'll never use those words again. Understand?"

Well, I said her voice was calm, not that she was. When I glanced in the rearview mirror again, I could see Jacob depressurizing and Christopher looking as if he had been hit in the face with a sack of fresh dog shit. But he wouldn't let well enough alone. "You mean you think it's ok for someone to be a fag... be gay? You have to be sick."

"Look," Linda responded, again calmly, "You are the sick one for deciding people can't be who they are. John and Uncle Michael have been great friends to all of us when we were having a tough time. They have stood by us when it counted. They love each other very much and, if you had paid attention, you would have seen that and you would have seen as well that they loved and were concerned about us. So they're gay. That's who they are, that's how they were born. But I damn well rather have them around than some straight people who hate."

"Well, you can say that, but I can't stand their kind."

"You can't stand loving, caring people? Is that what you are saying?"

"Hell no, I'm saying I can't stand fag... gay people and don't like people who like them either."

"Well, I guess you'll have to stay away from us then," Jacob said. "Four of our closest friends are gay and we sure as hell missed them today. Mary Kathryn's brother and the Greywolfs' son are gay and were married at the falls where you were today. Millie adopted a son when his father beat him until he was near death and put him on the street. His partner is Larry Watley, Claudia's son. All four are at Oberlin and none of us will tolerate anyone bad-mouthing them."

"How can you stand to be around them when you know they want to fuck you?" Christopher asked.

"They have about as much desire to fuck me as you do," Jacob was talking through clinched teeth. "They are in love and committed to each other. Would be nice if some straight people were that way instead of poking a dick into any warm, moist hole so long as it belonged to some slut."

Knowing what had gone on between Zell and Christopher, I looked in the mirror again and saw Christopher was a bit subdued. After a few minutes' silence, he asked, "What happened to that Michael dude? I had noticed his face before but, man, his chest and belly look like he was in a knife fight sometime."

"He was," Jacob said. "A bunch of assholes who hated gays attacked a painting of Matt Greywolf and, when they turned to Matt, Michael jumped in and took the knifing. No-one expected him to live. And you know something, Christopher, he did it protecting a gay man who he loves as a brother--who he thinks of as a brother--and no-one, but no-one, is straighter than Michael. Maybe that's the reason we don't care if someone is gay or straight. Like Michael, we know on which side of the fence we stand so we don't have to worry about it." I knew exactly where Jacob was headed and tried to keep my eyes on the road as well as on Christopher. "Yea, I guess if you're not sure and are afraid you might be gay, you hate gays and make all sorts and kinds of remarks. But if you aren't worried, you just take them as they are and our friends are top notch."

I expected Christopher to explode, but he didn't. He just sank down in the seat and said nothing until we reached his place. As he got out, all he said was "Thanks," as he turned and walked away.

As we pulled away, Jacob said, "You know, I think I might have hit a nerve there."

"I wouldn't be a bit surprised," Linda said.

Tuesday, Jacob and Michael presented the two new programs to the student body. There were some questions about the peer counseling program including how a student could become a member. Mary Kathryn, as de facto president of that group, suggested that students who were interested give their names to her. "For now, the group is limited to twenty and there are only four openings left, but everyone wishing to become involved will be considered," she said. There were also questions, a few of which named names, asking how the present members had been selected.

Ms. Jones answered by saying a faculty group had looked over the students who had proven helpful to other students the year before and had asked some students to think of others. "We were not interested in just good students or students who had never been in trouble, but students who had already demonstrated their concern for the school and, particularly, for their fellow students." That seemed to satisfy those who had questions.

It was obvious that the new role of the student government would raise tons of questions. Most of those asked, I think, had to do with discipline and how students would discipline students. One student asked, "Can we let the faculty handle our case if we like?". Ms. Jones said a student could choose that, but any who made that choice should be aware that the old punishments would have to apply.

It was clear that the student council had a major job yet to do. We had laid out an organization, but getting bodies who knew what they were doing would be a major task. Classes for the day were over after lunch and the work of getting the student government organized began in earnest. By the time school was out for the day, there was a body for each slot and initial training had been done. After school, our work was presented to the faculty again. One of the new teachers raised a question about trials. She was concerned about when they would take place. Ms. Jones said that, since a common punishment the year before had been after-school detention, trials would be held immediately after school. "But I doubt that we will have many," she said, "since most cases can be handled by a magistrate's court".

As the Concord Five walked out of school, I spotted Christopher at the side of the building with Kenny Haines and his crowd. "Christopher's with that bunch of losers again."

Four pairs of eyes followed my glance and Jacob said, "Shit, that fellow sure does have two faces. Yesterday he was a really nice fellow. I really liked him. Now he is with a bunch of assholes I wouldn't piss on if they were on fire!"

"Pretty strong feelings, eh Jacob?" Linda laughed.

"Damn right!"

By the end of the week, we were all pretty well done-in with school and getting the student council going. The peer counseling program was more or less waiting for the training weekend. We had all noticed that when we saw Christopher in school, if he was alone he greeted us like a friend. When he was with Kenny and that bunch, he pretended he didn't see us. Michael was getting very frustrated. In fact he was ready, as he often told us, to beat the shit out of Christopher. Linda and Mary Kathryn kept Michael under control, reminding him that Christopher had a good side.

As we walked to the parking lot, Michael said, "Look, we've had a week and a half already. Why don't we do something different this weekend?"

"How about going to the club in Lexington?" Linda suggested.

"Think five straight people will be welcome?" I laughed.

"Well, you can date Jacob," she retorted.

Friday night found us at the club where we were having fun, but it wasn't the same without the Oberlin Five. I kept looking for Nelson, but he wasn't to be seen. Just before eleven, Mary Kathryn said, "It's not the same, is it?".

We all talked about how we missed the rest of the Fellowship until Jacob said, "Tell me about it!". I guess we should have been more sensitive to him. I was about to suggest we go home, when Jacob said, "Hey, look! Nelson just walked in with his girl. She is the same one, isn't she?"

Nelson was at the entrance looking around and, when he looked our way, Jacob waved him over. When he reached our table, it was obvious the girl was not the same one. Nelson had a new girlfriend. "Hey, guys, good to see you again!" Nelson greeted us. "This is Alexandra McElroy. Alex, these are some friends from Concord. What's been going on this summer? How's the rest of the crew?"

We three guys stood up when Nelson reached the table, and now got two chairs so Nelson and Alex could join us. As soon as they were seated, we started talking about the summer. Alex seemed interested in hearing about people she did not know. When we had done a summary of the summer's soap opera, Linda said, "Seems you have been busy this summer as well, picking up a new girlfriend along the way".

Alex laughed and said, "I got him on the rebound". As she said that, she gave Nelson a kiss on the cheek.

"Well, I guess there's some truth in that," Nelson laughed, "At least I got bounced. I got a 'Dear John' letter the week before finals. Had you asked, I would have said I would have been devastated, but I was surprised by my reaction. I was relieved. It had been over for weeks, but I just wouldn't admit it. I was too chicken to call it off. I guess I took the coward's way out, but I didn't mind her calling it off. As soon as I realized it was over, I took off after Alex and finally caught her. Best thing I ever did. So, are we going to dance or not?" he asked, as he offered his hand to Alex.

We danced a couple dances, talked with Nelson some more and then it was time to go home. On the way home, I asked, "Why can't we have a teen club in Concord? There's not a lot to do and we could use one."

"Why don't we talk to Fr. Tom about St. Mary's getting one started? Mary Kathryn asked.

"That sounds like a good idea," Michael said. "Let's do that. Let's corner him tomorrow and ask for an appointment."

Fr. Tom was interested and we made an appointment to get together with him before the youth group met Sunday evening. When we presented the idea to him, he said he'd have to take it up with the vestry, but he was all for it.

The second week of school things started settling down, but there was still a lot of work to do with the student government. Everything was in place, but training was going slowly. About when we thought everything was ok, another problem would raise its head. The biggest block was students who had been elected to a do-nothing student government by winning a popularity contest and now found a lot of work was involved. Some were concerned that if they sat on the court or had to enforce rules, they would lose their popularity or friends.

"What kind of friends do you have," Mary Kathryn exploded in one meeting, "if they expect you to duck your responsibility? If you don't want to be a part of the student government, then get the hell out! Resign! Get your lazy asses off the council!"

MIchael leaned over to me and said, "Holy shit, I knew she was a wild woman, but this is more than I expected! But she's right."

"Well, are you in or out? You can't take all day. we've got work to do," Mary Kathryn demanded.

"How did Mary Kathryn get on the student council anyway?" I whispered to Michael.

"Until someone else asks, she just is. If it's questioned, she is Ms. Jones representative. Voice, but no vote. It's in the Constitution and agreement we drew up and got approved by the school board," Michael whispered.

Buffy Leister, captain of the cheerleaders and junior class president, had done most of the complaining. After Mary Kathryn's outburst, she jumped to her feet, stormed over to Mary Kathryn, bent over her--her tits barely missing Mary Kathryn's face--and shouted, "Well, Miss Goody Two Shoes, you may want to work your ass off with this silly school, but I have better things to do. You can take your student government office and shove it up your ass, you fucking ass-kisser. I resign!"

As she started stomping out of the room, Jack Abernathy, vice-president of the junior class, said, "I think that little show of yours, Buffy, shows disrespect to Mary Kathryn and to this council. I am charging you with that. I believe the next session of court is Wednesday after school. I'll see that you are served with the proper papers."

"Fuck you and your god-damned papers," Buffy said, and stormed out of the room.

"Now that she's gone, just exactly how do I--we--go about charging her?" Jack asked. Michael called on me to explain the process again. When I finished, Jack said, "Good. I'll see that it's done. So now we need to have a special election to elect--a vice-president or a president?" he asked.

"Vice-president. You're president if the council accepts Buffy's resignation." There was no need for a vote. The entire council made its position known in almost a single voice.

"Maybe Mary Kathryn can get on the council honestly," I whispered to Michael.

"I was just thinking of something else. We still have a slot or two open on the peer counseling team. I think Jack needs to be invited to join."

"Agreed. I'll go talk to Ms. Jones right now," I said.

"I'll talk to Jack as soon as Ms. Jones gives her ok. Also tell her about the special election. We have a break in fifteen minutes, try to make it back by then."

When I got back I reported that Ms. Jones had approved the addition of Jack to the peer counseling group provided he was interested. She had also scheduled the trial and special election.

During the break, Michael was talking to Jack. When I joined them, Jack was saying, "I'm not sure, Michael. I'm not confident I can handle my own problems, much less someone else's."

"Ms. Jones thinks you can," I butted in. "She has approved your addition to the peer counseling group. Ms. Norman was really pleased as well. She said, 'I could kick myself for not suggesting him before. He's been through a lot and done very well. He'd be a good addition.' Seems the two of them think you're up to the task."

"Well, if you really think I can, I'll give it a try."

"Great! When you get a chance today, tell Ms. Norman and she will make schedule changes. She was going to get it worked out assuming you'd say yes."

Buffy's trial was set for Wednesday after school. When offered a trial before a magistrate, she demanded a jury trial. That made things more complicated but was to be expected. One real problem, evident at once, was the fact that members of the student government had all heard Buffy's outburst, and none felt they should sit as judge of her case. Fortunately, at the last moment, someone remembered that one member had been absent and not in the meeting at which Buffy had exploded. Names were drawn Tuesday afternoon for the jury. Buffy chose her boyfriend to defend her. Roger Davis was prosecutor. The trial didn't last long and the jury found Buffy guilty of showing disrespect to the school, the student government and to Mary Kathryn.

As soon as the jury made its decision known, Bridgette Dunnigan, the judge, pronounced sentence. "Buffy Leister, a jury of your peers has found you guilty of the charges brought against you. In regard to showing disrespect to your school, I find this especially repugnant since you are an official representative of Independence as a cheerleader. Accordingly, I am stripping you of your office in that organization. Additionally, your position as cheerleader is not assured as you are, as of now, on probation. In regard to the charge of showing disrespect for the student government, you have resigned from the organization and you are prohibited from running for an office for one year. Finally, for showing disrespect for Mary Kathryn, you are assigned ten hours of community service. The assignment will be handled by the head custodian." It was obvious Buffy was ready to start another fuss, but her boyfriend put his hand over her mouth and led her out of the room.

The training weekend for the peer counselors was exciting but tiring. We started Friday, after school, and didn't get home until late Sunday night. There were team building exercises, a lot of role playing, discussions about our own anxieties, and lengthy discussions about the kinds of problems we might be called on to help students overcome. A good amount of time was also devoted to mediation. One of the role-plays almost got out of hand when two students started a mock conflict which quickly turned into a real one. We all got to see mediation in action when that erupted.

Of course much of the real learning took place around the edges, especially after the official sessions was over. The bull session in the boys' cabin Saturday night was especially lively when someone mentioned a family friend who had told his wife he was gay. "I hope you don't think that is funny," Jack said. "I just went through that last year."

"Your dad is gay?" someone asked.

"Yea, my dad is gay. He married because everyone thought he should and put a lot of pressure on him. He is an only son and he had to keep up the family name, all that sort of thing and, he says, he thought if he got married, he'd get over being gay. When he told mom, she was hurt, confused and angry. Dad was too. When he told me, he asked if I thought he was different and I couldn't see that he was, except he was no longer living a lie."

"I guess I could see Mom's position as well. She had been used. She, of course, filed for divorce and set out to, in her words, 'even the score'. The process of getting a divorce got dirtier and meaner and I was caught in the middle. Finally I had had it. We were all meeting with a counselor and, when the two of them started at each other, I was really pissed--and hurt because they were both pulling at me--and let it be known. I finally shouted at the top of my lungs, 'You both are being childish and hateful. You don't give a flying fuck for anyone but yourselves. All you want is to hurt each other as much as possible and you don't give a rat's ass how you hurt me. You both say you love me, and I love you both, but right now you don't love anybody. To hell with both of you. I hope they put you in the same room in the hottest spot in hell.' Well, that got their attention."

All the guys in the room were laughing their heads off and, finally, Jacob said, "Jack, I know this is not funny but, damn, you have painted a wild picture. I sure wish I had had guts to lay my parents out like that."

"Well, it worked. They finally started trying to make the process as painless as possible."

"Of course I blame my dad for lying and getting me in the mess but, like I told them, if Dad hadn't lied, I'd never have been born and if they thought I was worth a shit, they'd see that and be thankful for it--regardless of what else had been involved in their marriage. It took a while, but I think they see that there were some good things coming out of what never should have been. They have little or nothing to do with each other, but they don't bad-mouth each other, at least not to me."

"Doesn't sound as if you used non-directive counseling in their case," Michael laughed.

"Sometimes I think you have to be directive, to point out what's right. I'm sure not going to say to some jock who's pushing his girlfriend to have sex when she doesn't want to, 'What I hear you saying is that you want to have sex'. What kind of damn fool response is that? It's bullshit."

There was general agreement that Jack was right, even if we had been told to be non-directive and keep our opinions to ourselves. Sometimes a great theory can get in the way of what is needed practically.

Monday, at homeroom, it was announced there were three candidates for the vice-presidency of the junior class. One was an air-head who was very popular with the guys--and with the girls who wanted to be popular. Another, Susan, had been cheerleader co-captain with Buffy. She was a good student, a good leader and a good representative of the school. The third was Mary Kathryn. By Wednesday, it was pretty clear that the air-head had a lead. Mary Kathryn and Susan had split the remainder of the student body. Several of us had talked among ourselves and thought that the only way we were going to get someone worthwhile to replace Jack was for Susan or Mary Kathryn to drop out in favor of the other. "But they both are so hard-headed, I'm not sure either will," Linda had said.

"Mary Kathryn has a place in the student government," Jacob had said. "That's not going to change, and Susan would be a good addition."

"Are you man enough to ask Mary Kathryn to drop out?" Linda asked. "I'm not."

"I'll talk to Michael," Jacob offered.

"Coward, taking the easy way out," Linda chided.

"Damn right! Paula would kill me if I gave Mary Kathryn reason to kill me first!"

Fortunately, there was no violence. When lunchtime came, the Fellowship started gathering at our usual table. Jack was eating with us now. Mary Kathryn and Michael came in late and had Susan with them. As soon as they were seated, Mary Kathryn said, "That bimbo is definitely ahead in this election. Gang, I need help. Michael, Susan and I have been talking. It's clear to us that the new role of the student government hasn't sunk in and the student body is going to elect an air-head to replace Jack as vice-president of the junior class. The only way that is not going to happen is to narrow the race down to her and one other person. We think one of us should drop out in favor of the other, but we want to know what you think."

Suddenly everyone was looking at Jacob. He finally said, "We have been talking about the same thing. Mary Kathryn, no doubt you'd be great but you have a seat on the council already, even if you don't have a vote. Susan would be a great addition and we'd actually lose nothing. If you were elected, we'd lose Susan and gain nothing because you're on the council already."

"Learned mediation well, didn't you, Jacob?" Mary Kathryn said. "And you're smart, because that is exactly what I said. Ok, it's agreed: I'll drop out in favor of Susan. Susan, welcome to the Fellowship."

"Is membership in the Fellowship automatic?" Michael asked.

"No, you have to be invited and I just invited her."

In spite of Mary Kathryn's dropping out, the election was still close and Susan won by a narrow margin. But she won.

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