After making love in the middle of the night at the cabin, Adam and I slept in late on Saturday morning. We woke up in each other's arms in his brother's twin bed.
I asked Adam if I could take a shower before he drove me to the bus station in Brewer. He said that would be fine, so I got ready for my long ride back to Oberlin. Adam was cleaning the cabin and taking out the trash when I finished up in the bathroom.
"I've decided to go back to school," Adam said. "I'm feeling better – not 100%, but good enough. So, let's get some breakfast at Erma's and head back to Oberlin."
That sounded good to me. I had no money for a ticket, and I'd much rather ride with Adam than sit in a cramped bus.
I wasn't sure how Erma would react when I came into her restaurant with Adam. After all, she had told me to leave him alone. "How are you, Boy?" she asked Adam. Then, she looked directly at me. "Nobody's bothering you, are they?"
"I'm doing better," Adam said. "Joel here came to my rescue, and I'm going back to school today."
Erma gave me a dirty look and then turned toward Adam. "I'm glad you're doin' better. You stopping in to say goodbye, or are you gonna' eat?" she asked.
"We're not turning down one of the best breakfasts in Kentucky!" Adam said.
"One of the best?!?" Erma questioned, pretending to be insulted.
Adam and I placed our orders and sat down at a table by the window. Brewer looked almost deserted.
"I cut the picky eater's order in half," Erma told Adam when she brought out our meals. "It's a sin to waste perfectly good food!"
Typically, I would have appreciated Erma adjusting the size of my portions, but not today. I had skipped dinner the day before, and now I was starving! But of course, I thanked her and said nothing more.
"When are you closing down for the season?" Adam asked.
"Tonight," Erma said. "I'm leavin' tomorrow for my sister's house in North Carolina. I'll spend the winter there – unless that no-good husband of hers drives me nuts!"
"Well, I hope you have a great time," Adam said. "I'll be one of your first customers next spring!"
Thankfully, Adam paid our bill, and I didn't have to tell him, in front of Erma, about being robbed while I was hitch-hiking. He left Erma a big tip, and we headed toward Oberlin.
On the car ride back to campus, I told Adam about the break-in on the third floor of Pilgrim Hall. He was disgusted. "I just don't understand how students can do that to each other," he said. "If people don't have integrity, why would they choose a faith-based school like Oberlin? It just doesn't make sense to me."
"Well," I said. "There's some more disturbing news. Tom heard a rumor going around about two guys who were making out behind Pilgrim Hall - the night of the break-in. That was the same night we went back there - after leaving the tennis courts."
"Shit!" Adam said. "That's all we need! Any chance we weren't the ones they saw?"
"I doubt it," I said. "I think we need to be more careful."
Adam laughed. "Do you think the thieves would wonder about us, too?"
"I don't follow," I said.
"Some people might ask why two gay guys would choose Oberlin," Adam said. "After all, our faith condemns homosexuality."
"Well, that is true. So, I guess we should break up and be celibate, so people don't think we're hypocrites," I joked.
"Bite your tongue!" Adam said. "We just need to be more careful, like you said."
"There's just one more thing I should tell you," I said to Adam. "My wallet was stolen by some guys who picked me up when I was hitchhiking."
Adam looked shocked. "Why didn't you tell me? Are you okay? They didn't hurt you, did they?"
"I was waiting for the right time to tell you," I explained. "And, the guys didn't hurt me. I'm fine."
Adam pursed his lips and drove several miles without speaking. Finally, he asked, "Are you going to hitchhike again?"
I answered with a sincere, "No."
"You promise?" he asked.
"I promise," I assured Adam.
"You'd better not ever do anything that stupid again!" Adam said sternly. Then, his voice softened. "Do you need some money?"
"I have money in my room," I said. "But, thanks for the offer - and for breakfast."
When we got back to campus, Adam said he had to spend the rest of the weekend trying to catch up on his school work. He dropped me off at Pilgrim Hall. We couldn't kiss goodbye, but Adam squeezed my hand and smiled at me. "Thanks for coming to rescue me," he said. "I love you."
"I love you too, Adam," I said before reaching for my backpack and getting out of his car.
I spent the rest of the weekend studying and hanging out with my dorm friends. Mitch suggested take-out subs for Sunday dinner, and we all ate in the recreation room behind the front desk.
"Did you hear that Asher moved to a single room in Wesley Hall?" one of the guys asked me. "He's flunking English Composition and Western Civ. He thinks he'll study more if he doesn't have a roommate."
Mitch and I looked at each other, and I knew we were thinking the same thing. Changing rooms might help a little, but Asher needed self-discipline. Tom was more studious and smarter than Asher. Tom could help him with his homework. But, it really wasn't any of our business, so we didn't talk about it anymore. I did remember, however, that Peter wanted out of Scott Hall, and he had asked me to let him know if I heard about any available rooms on campus.
After replacing my Oberlin ID card at the Public Safety Office on Tuesday, I went to my Chemistry class. I sat next to Peter, and I told him about Asher moving to Wesley. "There may be an open spot in my friend Tom's room. You should check it out."
Peter asked about Tom, and I assured him Tom was a good guy. "Most of the guys from the floor eat dinner in the cafeteria across from Pilgrim Hall at about 6 o'clock. Come with us, and I'll introduce you to Tom," I said.
Peter's band practice ran over, and he was a little late for dinner. I saved him a seat across from Tom so they could talk about sharing a room. Peter seemed a bit shy, so I started the conversation.
"Peter's my lab partner in Chemistry," I told my friends. "He's looking to get out of Scott Hall."
Tom looked at Peter. "I've heard it's really rowdy over there. I'm not surprised you want out."
"Yeah," Peter said. "It's noisy, and some of the guys are just out of control! I'm not a prude or anything, but some of it is disgusting."
"What's your major?" Tom asked.
"Chemistry," Peter said. "Yours?"
"Business Administration," Tom answered.
Bill was one of the guys at our table. "Hey, you should move in with Tom on our floor," Bill said to Peter.
Tom seemed surprised that Bill had offered up his room like that. But, he let it go and asked Peter, "You don't snore, do you? Asher drove me crazy; he sounded like a buzz-saw!"
"I don't think I do," Peter said. "At least, no one has ever told me that I snore."
'Well, I'll show you the room after dinner," Tom said. "I'd rather find my own roommate than wait for the college to put some random guy in my room by surprise."
"Yeah," I said. "Oberlin still thinks that we're all just good little Christian boys who should get along with everyone."
After dinner, we all returned to Pilgrim Hall. Peter went to check out the room with Tom. Things must have gone well. About half an hour later, Peter stopped by and said he was moving in with Tom the next day. Mitch and I both welcomed him to the floor and offered to help him move.
"Thanks anyway," Peter said. "I don't have that much stuff, and Tom's going to help me."
I took note of the instant friendship that Peter and Tom seemed to have developed just since meeting at dinner that night.
On Wednesday, I finally got to see Adam again. After classes, he took me into town to buy a new wallet. I would have to wait to get a new driver's license until I was back in Michigan.
Adam and I took a long walk together that evening. He seemed better than he had the past weekend, and he said he was mostly caught up on his classwork.
"Did I tell you I'm playing the carillon in the bell tower this weekend?" Adam asked.
"No!" I said. "I didn't even know you play the carillon."
"Mostly, I play piano and guitar. I did take organ lessons, but just for a year or so. That helped me learn to play the carillon. It's pretty easy," Adam explained. "I'm actually looking forward to it."
"How'd all this come about?" I asked.
"The regular guy is going away for the weekend, so Reverend Stuart asked me," Adam said. "I've attend services almost every Sunday since I came here, so we've gotten to know each other pretty well."
I wondered if the Reverend knew that Adam was gay, but I decided not to ask. I didn't want to bring up any subject that might cause Adam anxiety.
After our walk, Adam and I went to my room. Mitch, Tom, and Peter were there – and they were drinking beer. Mitch asked us to join them, so we sat down on my bed. I introduced Adam to Tom and Peter.
"Have a beer," Mitch offered. I took one and tried to hand it to Adam. He wouldn't take it, and he gave me a slightly impatient look.
Adam turned away from me. "Thanks anyway," he said to the guys. "I take medication, and I'm not supposed to drink."
I felt terrible. I should have known better than to put Adam in an awkward position like that. I got him a bottle of sparkling water from our mini-fridge. I nursed my beer as slowly as I could.
We all shot the breeze for about an hour, and I was glad that Adam seemed comfortable with my friends, and vice-versa. When the conversation turned to what was going on that weekend on campus, Adam mentioned that he was playing the carillon before Sunday services.
Mitch and Tom seemed like they were a little buzzed. "What song you gonna play?" Mitch asked, slurring his words just a bit.
"I can play anything I want," Adam said. "Any requests?"
Everyone laughed as we considered songs that Adam might play on the church carillon. The suggestions started out with some funny ideas like "Mary Had a Little Lamb," "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain," and even "The Itsy, Bitsy Spider."
Things naturally progressed to raunchy and totally inappropriate ideas. Tom's suggestion of "Come on Baby, Light My Fire," by the Doors brought a huge round of laughter.
"Oh, I can just see Reverend Stuart's face when he hears me playing a song about a horny guy trying to get a girl to have sex with him," Adam said. "You guys are just itching to get me into a shit-load of trouble!"
"What about "The Gang Bang" song?" Peter suggested. "You could play it slowly, and nobody would even recognize it."
"Yeah!" Tom said. "We'd be the only ones who knew! Come on Adam. Do it – for real!"
"What's "The Gang Bang" song?" I asked.
Adam looked at me as if I were unbelievably naive. "Are you serious, Joel?" he said. "You really should have gone to summer camp when you were a kid – and not just debate camp."
Everyone else seemed to know the song and to understand the joke. But, I didn't. I felt left out. Adam looked at me and shook his head. He started singing – to me.
"I wanna gang bang. I always will,
Because a gang bang gives me such a thrill.
When I was younger and in my prime,
I used to gang bang all the time!
But now I'm older and turning gray;
I only want it once a day!"
I was embarrassed by the song and mortified that Adam had sung it to me - as if he and I were the only ones in the room.
"Wow," Peter said. "You can really sing! Maybe we can hook you up to the church sound system so you can play and sing at the same time. I bet that would get more people in the pews!"
"No way!" Adam said. "I might play it, but I'm not singing it."
"You mean you'll do it?" Tom asked.
"Yeah," Adam said. "But if I get in trouble, I'm taking all of you down with me."
The next Sunday morning, Mitch, Peter, Tom and I had breakfast in the cafeteria before the late service at the church. I suppose it was silly, but we were all excited about Adam playing "The Gang Bang" song on the carillon. After all, wasn't playing a harmless prank on the entire campus supposed to be part of everybody's college experience?
We heard the first notes from the carillon as we were walking toward the church, and we realized that Adam was keeping his word. He was actually playing "The Gang Bang" song! We all started laughing raucously, and several groups of people stared at us, obviously wondering what we found so funny.
Adam was playing very slowly, and for most people, it would have been hard to identify the tune coming from the church and spreading out across the campus. But we knew, and we were having a blast. Pulling off a prank that we had plotted together, and realizing that we were getting away with it, was more fun than I had imagined. None of us could stop grinning as we sat down in a pew near the back of the sanctuary.
"On this beautiful Sunday that God has given us," Reverend Stuart said as he began his sermon. "I am somehow reminded of my youthful days at summer camp. I remember being overwhelmed by the beauty of being outdoors in the world God himself made. I remember enjoying the companionship of other boys my age as we swam, rode horses, prayed together, and sang camp songs around a bonfire at night.
And yet, there were those at camp – just as I know there are those here at Oberlin – who lost sight of God's purpose for us. There are those who are led down the wicked path leading to sin. Neither youth nor the mindless following of those who would lead us astray can justify the seemingly harmless indiscretions that are, in fact, blasphemy. As scripture tells us in the Book of Timothy, "Have no part at all in the wrong things that young men like to do. Believe. Have love. Follow what is right. Live at peace. Do these things along with others who have a clean heart and talk to God."
My stomach sank. I felt like my sinful participation - in what I thought was just a prank - was being exposed to the entire congregation. I looked at the other guys with me in the pew to see if everyone was similarly embarrassed. Tom and Mitch seemed clueless. Only Peter looked as guilty and disturbed as I was. He and I locked eyes as we both grimaced.
After the service, I waited around until Adam finished with his carillon duties. The other guys left for a Sunday afternoon game of touch football in the campus square.
"Could you hear the sermon from the bell tower?" I asked Adam.
"You mean the part about the wickedness of youthful indiscretions?" he asked. "Yeah, I heard it, but I let it roll off my back. Compared to all the real evil in the world, I'm not going to get down on myself for the silly tune I played on a keyboard! Besides, why should I blame myself? It was all your fault."
"My fault?" I said defensively. "Why is it my fault?"
"Your friends are the ones who suggested that I play a dirty song. I looked to you to see if you guys were serious. You seemed to think it was a good idea. So, I did it for you, and that makes it your fault."
"Okay," I said. "I'll take my share of the blame. But, I think we're all guilty, Mr. Carillon Man."
Adam started laughing. "Joel," he said. "I was only trying to get a rise out of you. No one made me play that tune. If there's any blame, it's on me. Anyway, it's over. I don't think Reverend Stuart will bring it up again, so let's not worry. Let's go to my room and fool around!"
"Oh, that's a good way to make me feel less guilty," I said. "We come out of church, and you blatantly tempt me with sinful acts!"
"I don't accept that our love is a sin, Joel," Adam said, speaking in a more serious tone of voice. "Do you?"
"I'm struggling with that," I admitted.
"Does that mean you're not coming with me?" Adam asked.
"Hell, no!" I said.
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