Castle Roland

The Oberlin Five

by Sequoyah


Chapter 9

Published: 8 Apr 14

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Matt

When I got to Oberlin Monday morning, there was a note in my student mailbox asking me to see Professor Moler at my convenience. I had three classes that morning and didn't get to go by his office until lunch. When I got there, his student assistant said he was not in, but would be in all afternoon. I asked her if she knew why he needed to see me and she said she did not.

A couple people from the newly formed combo had started eating lunch with us and the lunch conversation generally revolved around what the combo was doing. Richard, who was more or less the leader, said they had been asked to play for a party a week from Friday. "They requested love songs and I think, from what the lady who called said, that means fifties and sixties. I don't know that many or where we can get them. Any ideas?"

Luke laughed, "Ask Matt. He's got all sorts of tapes he made from his dad's old LPs. We did one of them already, 'More'."

"Sure, I have plenty on tape. You're welcome to use them," I said. I told my housemates I had to see Professor Moler after my 1:00 o'clock class. "I had a note in my box asking that I see him as soon as possible. I have no idea what's up. I'll meet you at the gym," I said to Luke, who had PE at 1:00 and would be at the gym.

After my 1:00 o'clock class, I went again to Professor Moler's office. When I got there, I was told he was in and knocked on his office door. "Come in," he said and as I stepped through the door, he said, "Matt! Very good. Have a seat. I have a bit of serious business to discuss." I sat down, wondering just what "serious business" could be.

"Matt, I have a request which I think is right up your alley. I am a member of the Bach Organ Society. There are chapters across the country. It's a pretty loose federation, but occasionally the chapters do get together and plan something. The federation board has just asked that chapters--maybe two coming together if they are small--sponsor a series of organ concerts this summer. We all realize that most chapters--even if two chapters combine--cannot afford a well-known, professional concert organist. A call has gone out for good organists to play the series. I immediately thought of you. To be honest, I have several good organ students who could do an adequate job, but--now don't start getting a big head or be an ego problem for me--you are an excellent organist. I expect you to made advances in your four years here. Your technique will improve some, but not a great deal. Your time here will best be spent in other areas--composition, arrangement, learning to write for the organ and other instruments. But I'm beating about the bush again. Chapters are urged to send tapes to the planning committee and they will select two organists to play the series. Are you interested?"

"Of course I'm interested. I mean it is an excellent opportunity, but I'd like to know a bit more about the whole setup."

"Good thinking. You can get yourself in some real messes if you don't look hard and close at such offers. You'll need to get a manager soon. That's a step full of pitfalls as well. I'd like to talk with you about that before too long. Since I am on the board of the Society, I know this is on the up and up but, just to make sure, I suggest you find someone to look over the contract should you be selected. I will, of course, but there's a conflict of interest involved, so you need an outsider. For this contract, a good lawyer will be what you need."

"Of course you want to know about the setup. The program, selected by the organist, will be all Bach, of course. I did hold out for the encore, if there is one, to be Bach or not Bach as the organist chooses. I was hoping to find someone who would do a crowd-pleaser using a pop tune or something 'in the manner of Bach', but I lost that battle. Anyway, we envision two concerts of an hour to an hour and a half each week, Sunday and Wednesday evenings. Some chapters will want a Saturday evening concert as well. Whether or not they get it is up to the organist and, Matt, they pay extra for a third concert and, of course, the expenses for two or three concerts will be less than for a single one as they only have to fly you in once. I think if you are asked to do a third concert, the cost should be more than half of what you get for two. I'd suggest about three-fourths of what you get for two. "

"The chapters will be responsible for your transportation--at least business class--and housing. We're insisting on hotels, otherwise fanatic organ lovers will get you in their homes and keep you up all night talking. You will be free to choose where you have your meals."

"Concerts will pay you well--not like you were an established professional, but well. What do you think?"

"My head's spinning so fast I can't think. It sounds like a real opportunity--it is a real opportunity if I should be chosen as one of the two. When would these concerts be taking place?"

"Good question. One series will be in July, the other in August. The first series will start on July 7, the second August 4. Do you have a preference?"

"Assuming I am one of those chosen, I'd like the July concerts if I have a choice."

"Very good." I was suddenly aware that Professor Moler had been busy making notes all the time we were talking. "Anything else you need to ask?"

"Yes, sir. How long do I have before I make a tape and where will that be done?"

"Good thinking, Matt. You'll make the tape here. I'll see about arranging the taping. Unless I tell you otherwise, plan on taping Saturday October 28. That will give us time to re-tape anything necessary since the tapes don't have to be in until November 15. The judges are meeting December 15 and the decision will be made then. If you are selected--and you have a good chance, an excellent chance, Matt--you will be notified by phone the 16th or 17th. Otherwise, you'll be notified by mail. So you will actually know not later than the 17th, one way or the other."

"Professor, I'd like Larry to participate in the taping. He did such an excellent job of the recital/concert and then worked all last summer with the PBS station in Lexington."

"I'll get in touch with the right people and get Larry put in charge if you think he can handle it."

"I'm sure he can and he will not be satisfied with anything less than perfection. Thanks for your interest in me, Professor Moler."

"Matt, I don't think I have ever had a student as advanced as you are and with your potential. It will be a feather in my cap when you make good. You just have to promise never to tell anyone you were damn good when I laid hands on you," he laughed.

"Promise, and thanks again."

I was walking on air as I headed toward the gym through the crisp October afternoon. The campus was ablaze with the colors of maples and the sky was crystal clear and blue beyond imagination. I was feeling on top of the world.

When I got to the gym, Luke's conditioning class was still going on. There were several very hot hunks exercising, their sweaty bodies displaying superb builds. I could have lusted after any of them, except right in the middle of the crowd was one body which made all the others pale in comparison--Yonghon Tongmu, my soulmate, Luke. He finally saw me standing on the edge of the floor, waved and smiled. Shortly afterward, a whistle sounded and a rotund figure who should have been working out big time, shouted, "Showers, Ladies".

Luke rushed down the stairs to the showers and I went outside and sat on a park bench in the sun. Life was good, love was good, sex was good, Luke was good, all was good. I was a peaceful and happy young man. I was so comfortable and the sun was so warm I became very relaxed and, I guess, slipped off into dreamland because the next thing I knew, Luke was shaking me and saying, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, join the land of the living!". When I opened my eyes, Luke was leaning over me with a great Luke smile covering his face. As soon as he saw I was awake, he bent down and gave me a great Luke kiss.

"Don't you think you need to be careful about that?" I asked. "Not that I don't think it's about the greatest way I know of waking up!"

"Matt, sometimes I just don't feel like being careful and this is one of them!" Luke pulled me to my feet, wrapped his arms around me and gave me a real, tongue-tingling kiss.

As we broke our kiss, a couple guys came out of the gym and, seeing us, whistled. One of them shouted, "Way to go, Luke, Babe!" and Luke glanced over to them and waved, his fingers giving the victory sign.

"Well," I thought, "so much for being careful". The damage, if any, having been done, Luke and I walked across campus, arm-in-arm. I didn't know what to think or do when, from time to time, Luke kissed me. Finally I thought it was time for some explanation of Luke's behavior, not that I didn't like it. But, at the same time, we had gotten ourselves in a real bind just making out in a movie and here we were walking across campus like the two love birds we were. "Luke, what's come over you? We've been so careful and now you are practically announcing to all the world that we are a couple."

"Yea! I have always wanted the world to know but, today in showers, one of the guys asked if I wasn't gay. Don't know how he came to ask the question but, when he did, I said, 'Damn right!'. He then asked if I had a lover and I said, 'I'm married to him,' and the rest of the guys started asking questions and I told them I was married to you, Babe. Matt, I know we said we wouldn't tell anyone without the other knowing, but I knew you were waiting for me and was feeling soooo good that I just couldn't not tell. Mad?"

"Noooo, I mean no, but I just hope there's no problems as a result of it."

Luke laughed and said, "You know what one of the guys said? He said, 'Damn, you have to get the best-looking and hottest hunk on campus,' and I said, 'Damn right and you better keep hands off!'. Then I said, 'Holy Shit! I hope this doesn't result in another gay-bashing. I've had enough of that this fall.' One of the guys said, 'Luke, I'm straight, none straighter, but if anyone wants to give you trouble on this campus, I'm there for you'. Several of the other guys agreed. It really felt good to have some of my classmates ready to fight for us."

"Yea, but I sure hope they don't have to. But I've got big news, Babe." I then told Luke about the concert series. "Luke it is a very big break if I can just land one of the two series."

"Another summer separated? Think we can handle it?"

"I think we better get used to it, Luke, because I suspect we are going to spend a lot of time apart for most of our life."

"Maybe so, Matt, but it doesn't mean I have to like it. And I do think it's something we need to talk about."

"Right, Luke. Definitely."

Luke said, "Matt, I am so proud and so excited for you." He suddenly spun around until he was facing me, put his arms around me and bent me backwards as he placed a long, passionate kiss on my lips.

As Luke finally broke our kiss, two girls walking near us looked at us and one said, "Shit! Every time I find a good-looking one, he turns out to like cock better!" Luke and I started laughing and, holding hands, continued laughing as we walked to the Jeep.

As we drove home, we talked about the summer and, I guess, just thinking about it brought bad thoughts to both of us. Finally Luke said, "Matt, last summer is behind us. It's over and done with. There's no reason to be thinking bad thoughts. I said it and I meant it: I am very proud of you and I am very excited about this real opportunity. We'll handle summer this time. We've made our mistakes. So let's be happy and excited."

I agreed with Luke but, still, there was a gnawing something in the back of my mind. "Luke, let's be happy and excited, but we keep our appointments with the psychologist and work on those things we don't want to think about but which keep popping into our minds, such as last summer."

"Right, Matt, but now I'm happy and I'm excited."

I took my eyes off the road for long enough to kiss my love and said, "Right, Babe, I AM happy and I am excited".

When we got home, I went into the kitchen and set out juice and snacks, knowing the others would be home soon, even Kent. Luke had gone into the library and called me from there. "Matt, we have a message on the machine from Margaret. She wants us to call as soon as all the rest of the Concord crew gets here. She says it's not an emergency and we needn't worry if we can't get her right away."

I had hardly gotten things on the table when the Oberlin crew arrived, followed shortly by Kent. Everyone immediately congregated in the kitchen and, as soon as everyone was present, I said, "We have real good news but, first, there is a phone call from Margaret. She wanted us to call her as soon as we all were here. So let's take care of that."

Margaret answered the phone promptly and immediately assured us that there was no real emergency. She just wanted us to know what had happened to Christopher, but told us she thought everything would be ok. I then told her my news. She was very pleased. She told us what was going on with the Fellowship, the changes in the school and that she thought others were beginning to take our place. "Unless there's some significant change in Christopher, we can keep in touch by e-mail, but I did want to talk to you about this development. Michael seems to be on top of it. I hope so." We chatted a few minutes more and the others went back into the kitchen for more juice and snacks. I phoned Mom and Dad to tell them the news and both were very excited and pleased. "I guess that means we'll have you here in June and August. Will be great to have you at home again, you surely are missed," Mom said.

"You may have me all summer," I said. "I don't have the concert series yet."

"Matt, who could possibly be in competition with you?" Dad laughed. "You may as well get measured for tails now!"

"Dad, I think I can draw some lines and tails are way past the line I'll draw," I laughed. We talked about what was going on at school, and community news.

Dad then told me about the allegations against Mr. Stevenson and the cross-burning. I was livid! "Dad, how can that kind of thing go on? You know Mr. Stevenson is innocent! And a cross-burning in Concord? It makes the town look like the hick town the people here think southern towns are!"

I ranted and raved for a few more minutes until Dad finally said, "Matt, Matt, I know, I know. I am sure it will be solved soon. Some of us have some ideas, but we're keeping them very much to ourselves right now. Don't worry!"

I went in to the kitchen and told the others about Mr. Stevenson and the cross-burning. Just as I expected, Kent said, "Now that sounds like the southern towns I know about from the movies".

"Yea, that's just what I was fucking afraid of! Shit!"

When I looked around, all four of my Concord pals were looking at me with their mouths open. Luke started laughing and started singing, "By jove, I think he's got it! He's got it!" I realized what I had said and, I guess, did a good job with the four-letter words. I blushed and then felt a slow grin spreading over my face.

We talked about the situation a few minutes and then Luke said, "Look, John Stevenson is a friend, as is Uncle Michael. I think we should call them just to let them know we are thinking about them and pulling for them." We all trooped into the library, Luke dialed the number and, when Mr. Stevenson answered, turned on the speaker-phone so we could all hear and talk.

He told us how he appreciated our call and support and that he had good support from Ms. Jones and Millie, but really didn't know where the mess would end. I asked if he had any ideas who was behind it and he said he did not. I started to mention what Dad had said, but decided against it. After we had talked to Mr. Stevenson, we all talked to Uncle Michael. He said he had told John they could just move to Charleston and forget the whole mess and Concord, "But John wouldn't hear of it and I am glad. I would take him out of this mess if he wanted to go, but I'm proud of him for wanting to fight--and fight we will." We talked a bit longer, then went back to the kitchen where we sat and talked and worked on supper.

We were all talking about what was going on in Concord, rehashing what we had all heard, when Kent said, "Didn't I hear something about some good news when I first came in?"

"In all the Concord excitement, I forgot it but, yes, I have good news," I said. I then told them about the concerts and that I was going to compete for one of the series. "Of course, it is not a sure thing at all. I suspect there will be tons of organists, all as good or better than I am, competing, but I'll have a crack at it."

"Matt, you know that there are not tons of organists as good or better than you and those who are are already professionals," Eugene said.

"Well I'm not so sure, but I'm glad even to be recommended for the competition. Which reminds me, Larry, I asked that you be in charge of making the audition tape. I suppose there are others as good, but I know you and your work. Think you can handle that?"

"Don't see why not. Besides, I can use it as a class project and get credit for it. The more things we can make double duty, the better. I suppose you'll use your Bach audition pieces for your performance class, won't you? Would make sense."

"Would, but I can't. My teacher is hell-bent on me doing modern stuff this semester. I'll just have to double up my practicing. Of course, I have several Bach pieces I know well."

"Yea, we know, 'Sheep' and 'Jesu', Eugene laughed.

"I know I know zilch about music," Kent said, "so what is with this 'Sheep' and 'Jesu' bit? I keep hearing it."

"Two Bach pieces," Paula said. "Matt once said any church organist could play 'Sheep'--its real name is 'Sheep may Safely Graze'--and 'Jesu'--real name 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring'--in their sleep, and use them when they haven't practiced. They're pieces which have been overplayed, I suspect, but are lovely pieces and people do like them."

"Because they know them," Matt said. "Well, I need to pick several pieces that haven't been overplayed and a couple that are familiar, I suspect, for the audition tape. And, of course, I can use them at St. Anne's."

"So you have your summer planned," Paula said. "Think you and Luke can be separated without fucking up this time?" I hadn't realized just how much our last summer had affected Paula until she said that.

"I sure as hell hope so," Luke said. "Another summer like the last one and we'll both be to bury and I'm not kidding!"

Kent sat looking very puzzled. "You guys have a problem with summers? He asked then said, "Well, I didn't mean to pry."

Luke sorta hung his head and then said, "We had problems last summer". And the two of us told Kent a very condensed version of the story of the last summer.

When we finished, Kent asked, "And the nightmare from hell is a result?". Luke and I nodded.

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Luke

Matt and I discussed his opportunity, and what it might mean for our summer, but nothing was definite since he still had to be accepted as one of the two organists. I was absolutely confident he would be accepted, but he kept maintaining there had to be tons of organists as good as he was. My thinking was if the organ teacher at Oberlin thought he had a good crack at it, he did. Surely Professor Moler had other students, advanced students, he could have recommended, but he had asked Matt and I thought that said a lot.

Sunday he and Paula once again showed how good they were and it was appreciated by many of the parishioners, including those who were in the music department at Oberlin, and that also bode well for Matt being one of the two organists chosen by the Bach Organ Societies.

When we all got home Wednesday, there was a letter waiting for me from Uncle Michael. When I saw it I wondered why he would be writing me, especially since I had talked to him a week before. I opened the letter and was stunned by its contents. Seems Uncle Michael had planned my summer. The letter asked about me doing a series of exhibitions in some of the best and most exclusive private galleries. "You, of course, will travel with the exhibition and be on hand for people to meet and talk with. If you don't have enough works now, will you have by summer?" he had asked. "The exhibition will cover a large number of cities with an opening and reception Sunday afternoon, closing Friday and moving to the next city Saturday. It will be a real trying schedule but will definitely give you exposure."

"Starting when?" Matt asked.

"The first will open in Charleston, at Sanders and Sanders Gallery of course, on June 16th, three weeks after we finish here."

"Will you be ready?" Paula asked. "Can you use some of your earlier works?"

"I think I can be ready and I'm sure I can use some of my earlier works, but I don't think there are many available. I guess I'll need to ask Uncle Michael about that."

"I sure hope you include the painting of Matt," Kent said. "That is a piece of work even I can appreciate."

"Kent, you keep putting yourself down about not knowing music and art. Since you're not an artist or musician, no-one can expect you to know as much as we do, but you know a lot more than you give yourself credit for," Larry said. "I'm not an artist or musician and do not know as much as those who are, but I don't have to apologize for it. None of them could make a decent tape or video just as they couldn't properly care for the orchard. Different folks, different talents. Don't put yourself down so."

"Thanks, Larry, I guess I do. Maybe some of my dad's attitude toward me rubbed off on me."

"Well wash it off," Eugene laughed. "And Kent's right, Luke, that painting of Matt has to be included."

"I don't know. I suspect all the works have to be for sale and in that case it definitely will not be included. It is not for sale!"

"Damn, it seems we have just gotten here and already we're planning the summer," Larry said. "Remember when it was a year between December first and Christmas? Now it's only a week between summers."

"Speaking of planning the summer," Paula said, "has the schedule for the exhibitions been set? I mean other than the opening in Charleston?"

"I don't know," I answered. "Why?"

Matt jumped up, kept thrusting his fist in the air and shouting "YES!".

"Did I miss something?" I asked, wondering just what the hell was going on. As I looked around, Paula was laughing, Kent looked puzzled and then a grin spread across his face, just as Larry and Eugene gave each other a high five. "Would someone please tell me just what the hell is going on here?" I pleaded.

"Luke, I bet that most of the cities on your schedule will be on mine. We may not have to be separated for any length of time this summer," Matt said through his laughter. It took me a while longer to see what they had all seen almost at once. "Call Uncle Michael and find out if the schedule has been set. If not, I'll get a copy of the schedule from Professor Moler and see if Uncle Michael can't schedule the exhibitions at the same time as the concerts."

"But you don't know whether you will be chosen for July or August," I said.

"Luke, Yonghon Tongmu, I don't know that I will be chosen at all. But it doesn't matter! The exhibition can be scheduled for both months and if I get one, that's great. If I get none, your exhibitions' schedule will still be good."

I pounded myself on the forehead. "Damn, I am sooo dense! Of course it won't matter so far as the exhibitions are concerned. I'll call Uncle Michael right away."

"And ask about exhibiting Matt's picture," Kent said.

I phoned Uncle Michael and we talked at length about what was going on in Concord. He told me nothing had developed concerning the cross-burning or the attack on Mr. Stevenson. He assured me they were being very careful and the police were patrolling their street on an irregular schedule, but were by at least once each hour. We finally got around to talking about his proposal for a series of exhibitions. When I asked if the schedule had been set, he said it had not been, but that it would have to be set by January first.

"You're planning on opening in Charleston?"

"Of course, at Sanders and Sanders Gallery. Roger is doing a great job and this exhibition will certainly get people into the gallery. I have one painting here that will definitely be included, 'Death and Transformation'."

"That answers a question I had--at least I think it does. Will 'Death and Transformation' be for sale?"

"Certainly not! How could you even ask?"

"Well Kent, our new housemate, said he thought the picture of Matt should be included, but you know it is not for sale."

"What's done by some galleries which are not quite as ethical as Sanders, is to put an outlandish price on paintings that are not for sale and put a sold tag on them. I just make a note in the catalog saying the painting is the property of the artist and is on loan for the exhibition. Planned to see if I could get Sandra to part with her painting of Paula for the summer. But how is your work coming, Luke?"

"To be honest, Uncle Michael, not very well. I can't seem to get inspired and the time I have is so hacked into pieces that I just get started and have to stop. I need to do some serious looking at that."

"I certainly hope so. But what do you think of the traveling exhibition? I guess we could arrange for you to get home for a day or two now and then to see Matt, but the schedule is really grueling."

"Uncle Michael, that's the reason I called. Matt just got some good news--he says it's not good news until it happens, but I know it will happen." I then told Uncle Michael about the possibility of Matt doing concerts all of July or August. "He told Professor Moler he'd prefer July if he gets one of the concert series and if he has a choice. Matt is sure the concert series dates have been set. Would it be possible for us to schedule the same cities on those dates, provided you have gallery contacts in them?"

"Splendid idea, Luke! we can probably both get some good publicity that way. Send me the schedules and I will get busy."

"Thanks, Uncle Michael. I'll fax the schedules to you as soon as Matt can get them. He's at Holtkamp tomorrow, so it will probably be Friday before I can get them to you."

"Good enough, but the sooner the better. This sounds like it will be a great summer."

"Well, you and Mr. Stev... John take care so you will be around this summer and a lot more summers."

"Believe me, we will."

When I hung up the phone, I told the others nothing had developed in the way of finding out who was behind the attack on Mr. Stevenson and the cross-burning. "John accused of hitting on a student," Matt said. "That is really insane. I don't know anyone who is more of a dedicated teacher and I know he would never do that."

"They are after him and Keith Lewis as well? I wonder how Keith fits into the picture?" Eugene asked.

"Well, there's no use in worrying about it, I know, but we will," Paula said. "But, right now, someone needs to get on supper."

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Matt

After supper, we all hit the books. I was getting ready for Friday so I wouldn't have to be up late Thursday night. After working an hour or so, I was ready and went downstairs to practice. I also spent some time looking over the Bach I had and making a few selections. When I finished, I wrote a note to Professor Moler asking for a copy of the proposed concert schedule and telling him why I wanted it. I started to say that Luke would pick it up, then remembered Luke would be at Case Western Reserve the following day. I walked down the hall, tapped on Paula's door and called, "Paula, need to see you a minute". When Paula came to her door, I asked if she could carry a note to Professor Moler's office and pick up a schedule for the concert series the next day.

"Sure, no problem. I'll drop the note off as soon as I get to school. Ask him to put the schedules in my box. No problem."

"Thanks, Paula." I kissed her on the cheek and said, "Sweet dreams".

She said, "Yea," in a voice that said, "I doubt it".

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Paula

I almost laughed to myself when Matt said, "Sweet dreams". My dreams lately were anything but sweet. I kept having a nightmare in which I was dressed like a fairytale princess, watching two knights do battle. Both were dressed in white armour, one trimmed in gold and red, the other in silver and blue. Handsome knights they were. I did not know how I knew, but I knew the knight who won the combat would be my fairy prince. Seldom did a week pass that I did not have the dream.

I took Matt's letter to Professor Moler's office as soon as I got to Oberlin. His student assistant was sitting out front, half-asleep, drinking a Coke and eating cookies, leaving crumbs all over her desk. I wanted to tell her off but just handed her the note and asked when Professor Moler would be in. "Sometime. He's supposed to be here for the second hour's class."

"Does he miss it often?"

"Are you kidding? He never misses."

"Then one might suppose, might one not, that he will be here at nine or shortly before?"

"Yea, I guess." She went back to drinking her Coke and eating cookies, adding to the crumbs already on the desk.

"Do you think you might give him this note?" I asked, handing her the note.

"Yea, I'll put it in his IN box."

"If you would, and be sure he sees it. It's important."

"Yea, every student thinks his or her note is important."

I left the office and headed for class, very uncomfortable about the fate of Matt's note. I rushed out of my 10:00 o'clock class, raced across campus to Professor Moler's office, hoping to catch him in. He was just closing his office door when I raced up, all out of breath.

"Hold up, young lady, get your breath. Miss Wright, I believe."

"Yeee, yes," I was finally able to get out. "Paula, old gal, you better get in more running if this is the shape you are in," I thought to myself. "Yes, Professor. I wanted to make sure you got Matt Greywolf's note. Did you?"

"I don't remember seeing it. When did he put it in my box?"

"He didn't. I brought it in this morning and gave it to your student assistant. She said she would put it in your IN box."

"Well, let's check. I don't think I had anything in my IN box this morning." He unlocked his office and looked inside and said, "No, nothing in the box".

I looked at his assistant's desk and saw the envelope laying on it, covered with cookie crumbs. "There it is," I said, wanting him to see the mess on the desk.

He walked over, picked up the envelope, shook the crumbs off and said, "Paula, you wouldn't be looking for a job, would you? I have had it with that Coke-swigging, cookie-eating non-assistant!"

"Sorry, but I think you had something to do with my getting a full scholarship. But if you are looking for a hard-working assistant, I think I know where you can find one." I told him about a girl I had befriended in my choral music class who was having a hard time making ends meet. "Don't know how she would be here, but she's a real worker in class and has a great personality."

"Tell her to come by to see me and make that yesterday. I am ready for a change! Now let's see what Matt wants."

"If it will speed things up, I can tell you what he wants and you can read the reasons later. He'd like a copy of the dates for the proposed concert series if you have one."

"Sure do. Just got it yesterday. Actually, it came three days ago, but my non-assistant didn't pick up my college mail for several days. I'll get a copy right now." Professor Moler went into his office and came back with two sheets of paper. "Walk down the hall to the copier with me and you can have them now."

As soon as I got the copies, I thanked Professor Moler and, as I turned to go, he called, "If you really want to thank me, send that young woman around."

I was a bit late slipping into my choral music class, but no-one seemed to notice or care. While the basses were being chewed out for not working on their part of a piece, I leaned over to Lucinda, who was directly in front of me, and said, "May have some good news for you. See me after class." She nodded in response.

"Miss Wright, how would you handle a chorus in which the basses don't seem to want to work?" Miss Ludlum, our teacher for this class, asked.

Since I had been only half-listening, I knew that this was her way of putting me on the spot and making an example of me. She did it to intimidate students and I had fallen for it at first, but now I wasn't going to be intimidated and thought it was time she stopped. I stepped down from the risers, walked to the front of the class, took her baton from her hand, said, "Thank you," turned to the class and said, "Basses on your toes". I nodded to the student accompanist. She started the introduction and when the basses should have come in, they straggled in. "Gentlemen, you may think you are all great, and you may be, but this is not a piece for soloists, so you are going to have to get together. Shall we try again?" The second attempt was a bit better, but not good. "You, you and you, down here with me." The three guys came down. "Now I want you to listen and tell me what's wrong. Again, basses." On the third attempt, it was better. I turned to the three I had called down. "Who was not working this time?"

The three guys stood looking at the floor. "Well?" One of them muttered something. "Who?" He pointed to a guy in the back. "Ok, down here. We'll finally find who is interested and who is taking choral music because they think it's a crip course. "Now," I raised the baton and this time the basses were very much together. "Thank you," I said, then turned to the four standing with me. "Any of you here because you think it's a crip course? If so, you can go. The rest of you get back in place and get with the program." The four went back to their places and I raised the baton again. The basses were fine and I nodded and the accompanist played the piece from the beginning. The group didn't do too badly and the basses were good. When the piece was finished, I turned to Miss Ludlum and said, "That's the way I would do it," as I handed her the baton.

When class was over, I told Lucinda about the job Professor Moler was ready to offer anyone who had half sense. "Probably doesn't pay a lot, but at least it would pay something."

"I'm counting every penny and anything is a plus," she said. "Thanks, Paula. And thanks for what you did in class. Maybe Ludlum will stop trying to embarrass people. See you later. I'm headed for Professor Moler's office right now."

I was finished for the day but had to wait for Larry and Eugene, so I went to the library. I checked out a couple pieces of music which I thought might be good to use at St. Anne's. There is a lot of good music that is simple enough for a small, untrained choir to do well. What they had been using was either just a hymn--nothing wrong with that, but hymns are for the congregation--or music much too ambitious for them and not what I would call good music at that. Having done that, I found a table near a window and sat working on an assignment from my math class. I had finished and took out a book to begin an assignment for another class but, before I started, I glanced out the window and saw two guys tossing a frisbee back and forth. I guess I was in a semi-conscious condition because suddenly they seemed to be two white knights engaged in some kind of match. In the back of my mind, I knew they were seeking to win me. It was really weird. I shook my head and looked out the window and, again, saw two guys tossing a frisbee.

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Luke

I was really excited about the possibility of Matt and me being able to travel over the country the coming summer--together! When Paula got home, we looked at the schedule and saw that the two concert series were each a grand tour. When Matt got home he looked at the schedule and said, "Either series will take me to four grand cities. It's exciting, Luke, especially if we are together."

I scanned the schedule and faxed it to Uncle Michael. "Now we'll see what he can do with scheduling exhibitions. I think setting up and taking down an exhibition every week and being 'the artist' between putting up and taking down will be pretty demanding." "Yea, but it's months before we have to worry about that. Now it's Oberlin's demands we need to be worried about, but I do need to start selecting pieces for the audition tape and get to work on them as well. Anyway, I'm ready for tomorrow." I kissed Luke and said, "I picked up a couple books of works by Bach on my lunch hour today and am going to look them over and start selecting."

"I've got to practice with the combo, I suppose." I gave Matt a quick kiss and was out the door, right behind Eugene, Kent and Paula.

After the combo had its practice--we were working on some sixties and seventies stuff--I stayed in the studio. I just sat down, my head in my hands. I hadn't been inspired in ages. I had done a couple of decent paintings for the house, but definitely nothing I would put in an exhibition. I knew I had to get to work doing some really good stuff, but what? As I sat, I started thinking about a recurrent dream Paula had told me about, in which two knights did battle for her hand. What was that all about? As I sat thinking, suddenly a brainstorm took over. I knew I would be doing acrylics as water color but wasn't really sure of where I was headed. I grabbed a sketch book and started sketching furiously. "Yes!" I said to myself. "This will be worthy of an exhibition, definitely!"

When I got back to the house, Matt was still at the organ even though it was almost midnight. I walked up behind him, put my arms around him and rested my chin on the top of his head. "How's it coming, Dark Angel?"

Matt leaned his head back and I gave him a kiss. When we broke it, he said, "I think it's going ok, Luke. There is so much great music to choose from. Right now I just need to select pieces and work on them. I will ask my performance teacher for suggestions. I think she will be helpful. It's not that she dislikes Bach, she just wants to have me experience playing a wide range of music. How was the combo? Why didn't you come back with the rest?"

"One thing at a time, Dark Angel. The combo practice was ok, I guess. You know I'm not too good at deciding whether something is good or not. I tend to say, 'I like it' or 'I don't like it' and let it go at that. I really do like some of the old songs. I mean you can actually hear the words and they say something--at least most of the time."

"When the others left, I just sat thinking, hoping I would be inspired one way or another. I haven't done a decent work since I finished the exhibition in Concord and here I am supposed to come up with another one. As I sat, I had a sudden inspiration, but it'll have to be a secret for a while. I think it will really be something different and, I hope, good."

"Not even a hint, Bright Angel?"

"Not even a hint. Should you let something slip about it, we would be in real trouble--at least until, well, until it is finished. But, Matt, it's almost midnight. Think it's time we go beddy bye."

Matt slid of off the organ bench and, when he was standing, took me in his arms for a long, passionate kiss. "Think we might be awake a bit longer, Bright Angel," he said, and smiled. I wrapped an arm around him and we went upstairs, did the bathroom bit, made beautiful love and went to sleep happy, wrapped in each other's arms.

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