"You broke into Sean's room?!?" I said. "Adam, that's illegal. You could go to jail for that!"
"I know," he said. "But I'm not going to let him get away with framing you for something you didn't do. Besides, I don't plan on getting caught."
"Did anyone see you?" I asked.
"No," Adam assured me. "I waited until lunchtime this afternoon - when everyone was off the floor."
"But, how'd you get in?" I asked.
"I picked the lock," he explained. "I learned how to do that at boarding school. A bunch of the guys and I would break into the kitchen when we got hungry at night."
I looked at Adam skeptically.
"Don't worry, Joel," Adam said. "I didn't take anything out of Sean's room. I just looked around until I found the stuff. And, I wore a pair of rubber gloves that I used in my pottery class last year – so that I wouldn't leave any fingerprints."
After I was over my initial shock that Adam had broken into Sean's dorm room, I realized that Adam had taken a huge risk – just to protect me. I was touched by how much he cared. I went over to Adam, and he stood up. I put my arms around him, giving him a tight hug. "I love you, Adam," I said. "You're so good to me."
Adam returned my hug. "I'd do anything for you, Joel," he said. "You're the best thing that has ever happened to me."
I pulled back a little from our hug, and I kissed him. His lips felt so good against mine, and I wanted to give in to the sexual urges that were starting to build within me. But, Adam stopped me from going further. "We need to talk about Sean," he said.
"I'm not sure what to do," Adam said as we both sat down on his bed. "I mean, how can I turn Sean in without admitting that I broke into his room?"
I didn't have any bright ideas, so Adam and I just sat in silence as we tried to come up with a plan.
"How about we make an anonymous phone call to campus security?" I finally suggested.
"Maybe," Adam said. "But, I'm not sure they'd search his room based on one anonymous accusation."
"Maybe we could call in a bomb threat," I said - only half seriously. "Then, security would have to check all the rooms."
Adam gave me a reproachful look. "Let's keep thinking," he said.
"What we need is a reason for someone to investigate Sean as a suspect – hopefully a reason that doesn't lead back to us," I thought out loud. "Maybe we need a private detective."
"Oh, my God!" Adam said. "That's a great idea! And I know someone who can help us!"
Adam explained that one of his father's friends lived just outside the City of Oberlin. "The guy's a retired police officer who does some private detective work. When I first came to school here, my father asked him to check in on me once in a while. You know, just to make sure I was okay. The guy's name is Dennis Sharon, and he told my father that he'd be glad to help if I ever needed it. What do you think? Should I call him?"
"I suppose it couldn't hurt," I said. "Yeah, give him a call."
"I'm going to see if I can reach him right now," Adam said. "We need to move quickly – before Sean gets rid of the paint and the audio-visual equipment he stole." He wrote down Mr. Sharon's number from the phone directory at the back of his planner. He picked up some coins from the top of his dresser for the pay phone at the end of the hall. "I'll be right back."
Although I had agreed that Adam should call his father's friend, I became extremely nervous as I realized that the situation was so serious that Adam and I were actually considering hiring a private investigator. Anxiously, I waited for Adam to get back to his room.
"Let's go," Adam said when he returned about twenty minutes later. "Mr. Sharon wants us to come to his house – tonight. I'll tell you more on the way."
In the car, Adam told me that Mr. Sharon needed to know as much about Sean as possible. "That's why he wants to meet with both of us tonight. He thinks he can help us – if we don't waste any time. And, he's not charging us. He said he owes my father a big favor for saving his butt in a lawsuit."
Adam found Mr. Sharon's house. When we rang the doorbell, a tall, burly man answered the door. He had graying blond hair and weathered skin. He appeared to be in his early 60's. He greeted us gruffly and shook our hands - a little too firmly for my comfort. I was surprised when Adam introduced me as his boyfriend. But, Mr. Sharon didn't react as if anything was out of the ordinary. Apparently, he knew that Adam was gay, and he had no problem with it.
Mr. Sharon invited us in and had us sit at his kitchen table. When a lady came into the room, Mr. Sharon said, "This is my wife, Elizabeth."
We introduced ourselves to Mrs. Sharon. "I heard you boys are in college," she said. "But are you too old for milk and cookies? I made Snickerdoodles today."
I had never had a Snickerdoodle before, but then again, I have never met a cookie that I didn't like. And, I had barely eaten that day. "That sound's great!" I said. "Thanks."
"Yeah, me too," Adam said. "My grandmother made me Snickerdoodles when I was a kid. They've always been one of my favorites."
"I'll have a few while you're at it, Lizzy," Mr. Sharon said.
"Sweetie, you and I have had enough cookies for today," Mrs. Sharon told her husband. "I can slice you up some celery and carrot sticks if you feel like having a snack."
Mr. Sharon looked slightly annoyed. "No thanks," he said. "I'll just have some coffee."
"At this time of night?" Mrs. Sharon said. "You won't get a wink of sleep! I'll get you some ice water."
I sympathized with Mr. Sharon. I hated it when other people tried to micro-manage what I ate or drank.
Shortly after Adam and I started to discuss our situation involving Sean, Mrs. Sharon brought in a plate of cookies and set it down between Adam and me. Then, she brought each of us a glass of milk, and she placed a glass of water in front of her husband. "I'll leave you men to your business," she said as she left the room. "No more cookies, Denny!"
"Tell me more about this Sean guy," Mr. Sharon said.
Adam nodded at me, so I started. I explained how I had met Sean in high school and that he was still holding a grudge against me because of a debate tournament. "When we recognized each other at Oberlin, Sean told me that he was going to get even with me. And, he calls me names in front of other people."
"Names like what?" Mr. Sharon asked.
"Thief, mostly," I said. "He thinks I stole the championship from him because I proved he was making up evidence - which he considers to be 'just a technicality.' And then, he called me a …"
I stopped. I wasn't sure I wanted to tell Mr. Sharon more. But, Adam finished my sentence for me.
"Sean calls Joel 'a sticky-fingered faggot.' He even yelled that out in the dorm once when Joel came to see me," Adam said.
"So, he's a cheater and a bully – and probably a homophobe," Mr. Sharon said. "Anything else?"
"Well, he tries to pretend that he's something he's not," I said. "He gave a speech at the campus church that made him sound like he's the perfect Christian boy."
"Okay, we'll add two-faced to the list," Mr. Sharon said. "Do you have any ideas about what he doesn't like – maybe something that scares him?"
"Yeah," Adam said. "He talks about how rich he's going to be someday – like he's embarrassed that his family doesn't have much money. He's on a full-tuition scholarship, and he never has pocket money. He tries to free-load a lot."
"Wow! What a charmer!" Mr. Sharon said sarcastically. "But, don't worry. Sometimes, a snake is easier to catch than you might expect."
"Do you think you can help us?" Adam asked.
"Well," Mr. Sharon said. "When I was on the force, I arrested burglars, drunk drivers, and even one murder. As a P.I., I've caught guys cheating on their wives and embezzling from their employers. I can never be sure, of course, but I think I can take care of one college bully with a can of paint."
"That sounds great," I said. "Is there anything we should do?"
"No," Mr. Sharon said. "But there are a lot of things you shouldn't do. Don't engage with Sean; just ignore him. And, don't tell your friends anything about what's going on – especially that I'm helping you look into this. People gossip, even if they promise to keep a secret. You know what they say; a secret is just something you tell one person at a time. And, whatever you do, don't try to find out more about what Sean has done. Leave that to me. If I need help, I'll let you know."
Then, Mr. Sharon looked directly at Adam. "And, don't you ever break into anyone's room again, young Man!" he said sternly. "I don't want to use up my last favor with the Oberlin Police Department getting you out of jail!"
"You've got my word. I'll stay out of it unless you need me," Adam said.
"I can't tell you how much we appreciate this," I added. "I might even be able to sleep tonight."
"I'm not going to be back in touch with you right away," Mr. Sharon explained. "I work as independently as I can. But just remember; no news is good news."
Adam and I thanked Mr. Sharon again. As we were getting ready to leave, he put the cookies we hadn't eaten into a plastic sandwich bag and said we should take them with us. "If you leave those here," he said. "I'll finish them off and get in trouble with the boss."
"I like Mr. Sharon," I said to Adam on the drive back to campus. "I have a feeling that he's going to help us."
"Me, too," Adam said. "My father always spoke highly of him. I was annoyed when Dad asked him to check up on me at Oberlin. I mean, it sounded like Dad didn't believe I could take care of myself. But now, I'm glad I had his phone number."
Adam drove me back to Pilgrim Hall. It was after 11:00 p.m., and it had been a long day. I was tired and should have gone straight to bed. But, I was feeling much better about things, and I wanted to be with Adam.
"I think we should celebrate," I said. "Can I sleep in your room tonight?"
Adam looked at me with a devilish grin. "Are you sure you're up for that?" he asked.
"It's your choice," I replied. "Before I fall asleep, it's either going to be my right hand or yours."
"Maybe; maybe not," Adam said as he turned the car around and headed toward his dorm.
The third floor of Wesley Hall was quiet. We walked down the corridor, and the sexual tension between us was growing by the second. Once we were inside Adam's room, we couldn't even wait to take off our coats before we were locked in an embrace and kissing passionately!
Finally, we separated and began getting undressed. We both threw our clothes on the floor and almost jumped onto the bed together. The feeling of having Adam pressed up against me – naked – was amazing! I could feel myself growing hard. Adam rolled over on top of me, and our cocks found each other. Overwhelming tingles lit up my entire body, and I pulled Adam closer, seeking full body contact with the guy I loved and desperately wanted.
"I can't believe I'm saying this," Adam whispered into my ear. "But, I'm sort of glad we haven't made love in a while. I'm so turned on right now; it's almost like this is our first time together." Adam lifted his torso up and looked into my eyes. I nodded in agreement. It felt like our first time for me, too. Adam slowly lowered his face toward mine, and we shared a long and loving kiss. We were merging our bodies and our souls, and I loved feeling as if I were part of him.
Adam moved his head to the side and began kissing my neck. At the same time, he changed positions so that he could caress my erection and fondle my testicles. I was in heaven! This was the very essence of what I craved most – a handsome, sincere and sensitive guy whom I loved, driving me crazy with sexual pleasure and intimacy. I didn't think it could get any better – until it did.
I lay on the bed next to Adam, mesmerized by the growing passion between us. I could feel his breath on my neck. He continued to fondle me, and it felt incredible! Then, Adam kissed his way down to my nipples, circling his lips around each one in turn – licking and sucking on them as if he couldn't get enough. I became absorbed by the sensations, and I was delirious with excitement.
It seemed perfectly natural when Adam kissed his way down my torso, his hands still lightly massaging my genitals. I closed my eyes, basking in the physical pleasure of Adam's touch. He took his lips off of my abdomen and repositioned himself lower on the bed. He took hold of my rigid cock and started stoking. Then, I felt his lips against the head of my shaft. Moments later, he took me into his mouth, sucking on the top few inches and running his tongue along the sensitive underside. It felt so wonderful that I couldn't help but gasp.
Then, it hit me. Adam was sucking my cock! He had never done that before. He had always enjoyed the oral pleasure that I willing gave to him, but he had been reluctant to return the favor – most likely because of the sexual abuse he had suffered at boarding school. I almost told him that he didn't have to please me in that way, but I decided against saying that. If Adam was ready to move our physical relationship to a new level, I wanted to show appreciation and enjoyment – not hesitation.
"Oh my God, Adam!" I said. "That feels so good! I love it!"
Gradually, Adam went further and further down on my cock, ultimately taking my full length in his mouth as he went up and down on me. After a glorious ten minutes or so, I couldn't take it anymore. "Adam," I said. "I'm gonna' cum!"
He took his mouth off of me and began stroking my cock with his hand. He knew exactly how to bring me to orgasm. I shot a week's worth of cum onto my chest as Adam continued to milk me dry. My eyes were closed, and I was breathing heavily as I let go of all the tension that had been building up over the last few days.
When my heart rate finally returned to a normal level, I opened my eyes and looked at Adam. He hadn't moved, and he was staring up at me with a big grin on his face.
"Wow! That was absolutely amazing!" I said. "It did feel like our first time."
"Well," Adam said. "I did throw in something new."
"Oh, yeah?" I teased. "I didn't notice."
Adam continued to smile as he scooted himself up and put his face next to mine. "Yes you did," he said. "And, I should have done that months ago."
"The best things are worth waiting for," I said.
Adam's facial expression changed, and he looked serious. "Joel, I'm sorry that I haven't been as …"
I reached out and put a finger to his lips. "Don't apologize," I said. "I love how our relationship has grown closer and closer over the last few months. I never want you to feel pressured or …"
Adam put a finger against my lips. "Let's not talk," he said.
We made love, and I had a second orgasm as Adam slid in and out of me. When he came, I looked up at his face and saw his wonderful smile of satisfaction.
Adam and I cuddled in each other's arms. I was exhausted but blissfully comfortable as we fell asleep in Adam's small, twin bed.
The following Monday, I checked my mailbox after returning to the dorm from lunch. Ms. Sanborn had sent me a note. She wanted me to come to her office at 4:00 that afternoon. I really didn't want to go. After all, what was there left to say? I wasn't going to compete in the oratory contest, and Reverend Stuart wasn't going to change his mind about altering my grade. I had given up hope for a different outcome. I was just waiting for the inevitable drama to play out.
I did go to the appointment, of course. Ignoring an authority figure's request to talk with me just wasn't part of my nature. My parents had always insisted that I show respect for my elders. I always tried to do that. Sometimes, I fell short.
When I got to Ms. Sanborn's office, Sandy looked at me sternly. Without speaking, she pointed down the hall toward the conference room. "Uh-oh," I thought to myself. "I must be in real trouble." And, I was. Ms. Sanborn was highly upset with me, and she let me know it in no uncertain terms.
"Joel," she said to me after I took a seat. "You asked me to go with you to see Reverend Stuart, and I canceled my evening plans so we could meet with him before he went out of town. I was glad to do that for you – until you embarrassed me with your rude behavior!"
At first, I didn't know how to react. I realized that walking out on Reverend Stuart was not exactly the polite thing to do. But at the time, I thought it was better than losing my temper and telling him off - as I wanted to do.
"I apologize for embarrassing you," I said "You were trying to help me, and I should have controlled my anger at Reverend Stuart. Walking out of the meeting was an immature thing for me to do."
"Yes, Joel. It was!" Ms. Sanborn said. "Not only did you embarrass me, but you have jeopardized my relationship with Reverend Stuart. I count on his support in helping me do my job. He wasn't happy with your behavior, and he blames me for encouraging you."
"I don't understand," I said. "You made it very clear at the beginning of the meeting that your role was not to advocate for either side, but to see if we could find common ground. Blaming you for encouraging me isn't fair - just like threatening to change my grade isn't fair."
"Look, Joel," Ms. Sanborn said. "It would be easy for both of us to sit here and blame Reverend Stuart for this entire situation. But that would help no one. I called you here to talk about your behavior toward Reverend Stuart – which I found to be rude and disrespectful."
"It's hard to show respect for a faculty member who insists on controlling his students' personal beliefs, and then threatens their grades unless they do as they're told," I said. "And, I think that you agree with me that Reverend Stuart is being unfair."
I could tell that my last comment had struck a nerve with Ms. Sanborn. Unfortunately, it was not a sympathetic nerve.
"The world isn't fair, Joel!" she said in an angry and defensive tone. "What a person says or does may not be to your liking. But, going around telling yourself that the world isn't being fair to you - well, that is just self-indulgent and stupid! It accomplishes nothing!"
I found Ms. Sanborn's anger toward me to be quite disturbing. I truly didn't want to be disrespectful to her, but I also thought I had done nothing wrong. In fact, from my perspective, the adults around me were the ones who were acting inappropriately. But, I certainly wasn't going to make that accusation – at least out loud. I decided to end the conversation as quickly as possible.
"I appreciate the support you have given me this semester," I said. "And if you think that I am stupid and self-indulgent, that is something I will need to consider seriously. I apologize again for walking out of the meeting with you and Reverend Stuart. From here on out, I will handle my issues with Reverend Stuart on my own."
"Joel," Ms. Sanborn said. "I didn't say that you were stupid. I'm just saying your behavior at that meeting was …"
"Stupid and self-indulgent," I said. "I get it."
I wanted to walk out on Ms. Sanborn, but then again, I didn't want to prove her point. So, I remained seated and silent, hoping she would end the meeting. But, she had more to say.
"I want you to apologize to Reverend Stuart," she said.
"No way!" I thought to myself. But, I couldn't say that using those words.
"With all due respect, Ms. Sanborn, I'm not going to do that," I said. "Offering an insincere apology wouldn't make things better. I think it would make things worse."
"Okay then," she said impatiently. "If that's how you want to be, then I'm not going to waste any more of my time."
I still wanted to make sure I didn't walk out inappropriately. "Should I leave now?" I asked.
She stood up. "Yes, please."
Apparently, we were both bending over backward to end the meeting without seeming impolite.
I got up to leave. "I am sorry that I disappointed you, Ms. Sanborn. I won't bother you again," I said as I left her office.
I walked toward Pilgrim Hall, and I felt as if I had been stabbed in the back. But, I decided not to discuss the meeting with Adam or any of my friends. They would all tell me how I had been mistreated. And although that might make me feel better temporarily, I wanted to forget that the meeting ever happened.
The next two weeks before Spring Break were pretty quiet, at least for the most part. Adam and I didn't go to church because we didn't want to see Reverend Stuart. We didn't hear anything from the Oberlin police or campus security. And, we heard nothing from Dennis Sharon. In some ways, I was glad to have a break from all the drama. In other ways, it seemed like it was just the calm before the storm. I felt like 'the other shoe' was about to drop any minute. Fortunately, there was plenty of school work to distract me from focusing solely on my problems.
Adam was going back to Paris to spend spring break with his family. I was going home to Detroit to be with my mom and dad – and to get my car! I was looking forward to a little time away from school, but I was missing Adam – even before he left. We went to dinner by ourselves the night before school closed for a full week.
"I'll bring you back a souvenir from France," Adam said.
"That's sweet," I told him. "And as soon as we get back, I'm taking you off campus for a date. And, I'll drive!"
"I'm really going to miss you, Joel," Adam said. "I wish you could come to Paris with me. Can you imagine how great it would be if we could explore 'the city of love' together!"
"That would be incredible!" I said. "Maybe someday – hopefully."
Adam had a flight out of Louisville later that night, so he had to get on the road right after dinner. Saying goodbye was torture!
My father picked me up the next morning, and he helped carry my things out of the dorm. I was surprised when I saw my car in the Pilgrim Hall parking lot. "I thought you might like to drive on the way home," Dad said. "You know – just to be sure you know the way."
That was my dad – always joking around while doing nice things for other people. I was so lucky to have him for a father!
Mom was still at work when Dad and I got home. I took off my coat, and Dad gave me a strange look. "You've lost a lot of weight, Joel," he said. "Have you been sick?"
I didn't plan to answer so honestly, but it just came out of my mouth. "No," I said. "Mom thought I had gained too much weight when I came home for Thanksgiving. I've been trying to cut down on my calories. I don't want her to be ashamed of me."
Dad looked surprised – and concerned. "The three of us will need to talk about this before you go back to school," he said.
I took my things upstairs. When I came down, Dad had made me a tuna sandwich. The look on his face let me know that I had no choice but to eat, so I sat down and took a bite. Dad had mixed a little pickle relish in with the tuna and mayonnaise, and he toasted the bread. The snack was delicious! Dad poured me a glass of milk and set it on the kitchen island.
I had heard that many college students spend their spring breaks with friends in warm places like Florida. And of course, I knew that kind of trip meant partying, drinking and lots of wild sex. I thought that maybe I'd try that before I graduated – if Adam would go with me. Right now, however, I just wanted to relax and enjoy being at home. And, I wanted to sleep in – every day!
As it turned out, I was tired of the quiet within two days. Mom and Dad had to work, and Jim and Sara had their spring break the week after mine.
Komiko was spending her time off in Toronto with family. That was a good thing. I didn't even want to think about cheating on Adam. Not that I would ever do that, but it was best that I had no opportunity to be tempted.
I know it was pathetic, but I spent most of my spring break studying. I had a term paper due in a few weeks, and there was always lots of reading to do. So, I used my free time to get ahead on my school work. To get out of the house, I did some research at the public library.
That turned out to be a mistake.
I was sitting at a small table in the General Reference Department, reading about the Napoleonic wars. I felt someone standing behind me. I ignored it - until I felt a hand on my shoulder. A male voice said, "Hey, cutie!"
My stomach sank! I thought I recognized the voice, but I prayed that I was wrong. I turned around and saw that it was indeed Ben, the director of my high school play. He was the director with whom I had a brief romantic relationship in my junior year; the director who had a boyfriend I didn't know about; the director who screwed me at our cast party. Ben had lied to me, used me, broke my heart, and left me without even saying goodbye.
He sat down at the table, but neither one of us spoke. Finally, I said, "I thought you went to Minneapolis for your internship. What brings you back to Detroit?"
"Terry's family is here," Ben answered. Terry was his boyfriend – the one I didn't know about when Ben and I had sex on the concrete basement floor of my parents' country club.
"We're leaving for Florida tomorrow; you know, to spend some time with friends," Ben continued. "And what about you, Joel? You must be in college now, right?"
"Oberlin University," I told him. "It's in southern Ohio, near the Kentucky border. We're on spring break."
"I thought you wanted to go to Princeton," Ben said.
"I did. But Princeton didn't want me," I told him.
"I'm sorry, Joel. That's a shame. Are you doing any theater at Oberlin?" Ben asked.
"No," I answered. "My acting days are over."
"I'm sorry to hear that," he said. "You were actually quite good. What are you majoring in?"
"Probably math or finance," I said. "I think I want to be an actuary – or a business consultant."
Ben rolled his eyes. I remembered that he told me how his parents had wanted him to be a businessman – but that would have 'bored him out of his skull.'
"Well, good luck with that," Ben said. "So, other than academics, are you doing okay? Are you happy?"
"Happier than I was at Joliet," I said pointedly.
Ben looked away from me. I knew he understood that I was thinking about how he had hurt me back then - when I was only sixteen.
"Look, Joel. I'm very sorry about all of that," Ben said. "I did care about you, but things were complicated."
"Too complicated to keep a simple promise?" I asked. "Too complicated to even say goodbye?"
"Yeah," he said. "And, I'm sorry that you wound up getting hurt. I never wanted to do that to you." He gave me a sad, puppy dog look. "Can you forgive me?"
Ben's question caught me off guard. I knew I would never truly forgive him. I knew I would always remember the pain of watching him chase after his boyfriend instead of thanking me for doing him a huge favor. But, did I want to refuse to forgive him? To his face? I didn't know what I would say – until the words came out of my mouth.
"Sure. Why not?" I said as if I really didn't care. But, of course, I did.
Ben picked up on my insincerity. "Well," he said as he stood up. "I should probably get going. Terry is upstairs in the drama department looking for some costuming ideas. I promised to help. It was good to see you, Joel."
I hate how my emotions sometimes take control of my behavior. I looked up at Ben, and I felt tears in my eyes.
Ben took hold of my shoulder again. "I am sorry," he said. "And, I know it's too late, but I do want you to know that I wish you all the best. You deserve it. Bye Joel. I'll never forget you."
"Bye, Ben. Take care," I said.
I watched Ben walk away from me once again. At least this time, we had said goodbye.
After running into Ben, I couldn't study anymore. I packed up my books and left the library.
The rest of my spring break was fairly unremarkable. I managed to finish my term paper – well in advance of its due date. My parents and I saw a production of My Fair Lady at the Fisher Theater, and Dad and I went swimming at the YMCA. Their pool was indoors; the one at the country club was outside and too cold to use in the early spring.
During dinner on my last day at home, my father brought up the subject of my weight. Based on my mother's reaction, I knew Dad had already talked to her in private.
"Joel," Mom said. "Your father is right. I agree with him that you've lost enough weight."
"Maybe too much weight," Dad said sternly as he looked directly at my mother.
"Watching your weight is important," she said defensively. "Joel, I'm just trying to make sure you're as healthy as you can be. And, I have never been ashamed of you!"
I was torn about how I should react. Was this the time to tell Mom that I resented her attempts to control what I ate? Should I let her know how embarrassed I felt when she told me what to order in a restaurant? Should I admit that I was deliberately trying to get too skinny - so that she would get off my back?
Surprisingly, I found that I couldn't deliberately hurt my mother's feelings. "I think I was overly sensitive," I said. "I know you have my best interests at heart. I just need to find a better balance between eating whatever tastes good and avoiding unhealthy habits."
Mom smiled. She seemed relieved that I had let her off the hook. "That's exactly right," she said. "There's nothing wrong with a little treat once in a while. But eating too much in a college cafeteria is easy to do."
Then, she threw the inevitable sucker punch. "You're looking good right now. I just don't want you to ignore my advice and get … flabby again."
"I think I'm done eating," I said. "May I be excused?" Dad nodded, permitting me to leave.
I had swallowed my pride to be nice to Mom. I had tried to overlook her controlling and judgmental comments. Why couldn't she just say that I looked good and then leave it alone? Why did she have to remind me that she thought I had looked 'flabby' when I came home for Thanksgiving? Why did she have to imply that without her telling me what to do, I would overeat and get fat? Don't parents ever listen to themselves?
When I was upstairs, I heard my parents arguing in hushed voices. I couldn't distinguish their words, but I knew what they were saying. Dad was pointing out what Mom had said to upset me, and she was defending herself.
"She hasn't learned her lesson," I thought to myself. "I guess I'm not done showing her how much her words can hurt."
I drove back to Oberlin the Sunday before classes resumed. I couldn't wait to see Adam again! After I unpacked my things, I started the trek over to Wesley Hall. Halfway there, I saw Adam walking toward me.
We both had huge smiles as we drew closer to each other. Of course, we wanted to hug, but we were in public. There were students all around us. Somehow, we managed to greet each other without touching.
"I'll tell you all about Paris, and I want to hear about your spring break. But, I just heard something!" Adam said. "Sean was arrested! The cops walked him out of the dorm in handcuffs right before break!"
I was shocked – and elated! "Oh, my God! Mr. Sharon must have found a way to expose him! Have you heard from him - Mr. Sharon I mean?"
"No," Adam said. "I just got back to campus less than an hour ago. I heard about Sean from the guys on the floor."
I almost wanted to cheer. "Does that mean we're off the hook?" I asked. "Can we stop worrying now?"
"I think so," Adam said. "Let's go to my dorm. I'll call Mr. Sharon."
I waited in Adam's room while he was on the phone. I was really nervous. I thought maybe I had allowed myself to get my hopes up prematurely.
Adam opened the door, smiling. "It's over," he said. "Mr. Sharon fixed it!"
"Aghhhhhh!" I shouted. "That's wonderful!"
I ran to Adam and threw my arms around him. He hugged me tightly.
"I'm so relieved!" I said.
"Yeah, me too," Adam said. "So, which do you want first? Shall we celebrate and fool around, or should I tell you what Mr. Sharon said?"
"I'm not sure," I answered. "Are we really in the clear with campus security – and the police?"
"Yup," Adam assured me. "It's a done deal!"
"Then, tell me the story later," I said. "And, take off your clothes!"
Making love with Adam that afternoon was glorious! I felt closer to him than ever, and there was a special sense of joy that we shared. A huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders, and we felt free to unleash our pent-up desires for pure sexual indulgence.
"So, tell me what Mr. Sharon said. I want to know everything!" I told Adam as we came down from our orgasmic bliss and cuddled in his bed.
"You're going to love this!" Adam said. "Do you want to guess what happened?"
"No!" I protested. "Just tell me."
"Well," Adam said. "Mr. Sharon got the police department to let him look at the notes from their investigation. He made a copy of the list of stolen items. Then, he wrote Sean an anonymous letter saying he knew he had committed the thefts. He slipped the letter under Sean's door."
"Oh, wow! This is exciting!" I said. "Go on!"
"Well," Adam continued. "The letter described in detail what was taken from the art building. Then, it demanded that Sean sell the stolen items and split the money – or risk being turned in to the police. Mr. Sharon set up a place and time for Sean to sell the stuff."
"That does make sense," I said. "I doubt Sean wanted the equipment he stole. He probably did it just to get me in trouble. Getting rid of the stuff and making some money at the same time would have been very tempting for him. Wow! Mr. Sharon is good. I would never have thought to set something up like that!"
"That's because you don't think like a crook," Adam said. "Anyway, Mr. Sharon had one of his police buddies waiting for Sean. When Shaw showed up, Mr. Sharon got the whole thing on videotape!"
"That is so cool!" I said. "I wish I could have been there when the police walked Sean out of the dorm in handcuffs!"
"I'm glad we weren't there," Adam said. "I don't want Sean thinking we had anything to do with this! Oh, and I forgot to tell you. The police found the red paint in Sean's room when they arrested him."
"I wonder what's going to happen now," I said.
"Mr. Sharon said that Sean confessed to everything. He even gave the police the name of the guy who helped him. You know, the one Sean pushed into the fire alarm that night. I didn't recognize the name."
"Do you think Sean will go to jail?" I asked.
"I don't know," Adam said. "But he should!"
Adam and I went back to classes on Monday feeling great! We were together again after a long week away from each other. Our problems with campus security and the Oberlin police were over. And, our physical relationship had progressed to a new and almost magical level.
I was thrilled that I didn't have to think about Sean anymore! Of course, there was lots of gossip on campus about Sean's arrest. I didn't say a word during most of those conversations. I did gossip a little bit, but only with Mitch, Peter and Tom. I must admit; it was kind of fun listening to everyone talk about what a jerk Sean was.
On Tuesday of that first week back from spring break, I found a note from Ms. Sanborn in my mailbox. "Holy shit," I said under my breath. "What does she want now?!?" I opened the envelope. "Crap!" I complained to myself when I read that she wanted another meeting – as soon as possible.
Before classes the next morning, I went to the Ombudsman's office. Ms. Sanborn was just walking in the door. "Thanks for coming in, Joel," she said. "Give me a minute. I'll be right with you." I took a seat in the waiting area.
Sandy, Ms. Sanborn's Administrative Assistant, smiled at me. It wasn't a friendly smile, however. It seemed more like an expression of discomfort.
"Do you know what this is about, Joel?" she asked me.
"No. I don't," I answered. "Do you?"
Sandy didn't answer my question directly. "All I can say is that, well – life is full of surprises."
Ms. Sanborn came out to the waiting area and motioned for me to follow her. "Have a seat," she said as we sat down in her office. She offered me a cookie from a box on her desk, and I took one.
"I'm sorry that I was so short with you the last time we met," Ms. Sanborn said. "You were rude to Reverend Stuart, perhaps with cause. But, you've never been rude to me."
"That's okay," I said. "I understand."
"Well, I want to tell you that I know I was wrong to use - well – some of the words I chose."
I smiled at Ms. Sanborn. "Which words?" I asked. "Stupid and self-indulgent?"
"Yeah," she said. "Those are the ones."
"Your apology isn't necessary," I said. "But, it is appreciated. And, I am sorry that I put you in an awkward situation with Reverend Stuart. So, we're good?"
"We're good?" Ms. Sanborn said looking puzzled. "What do you mean?"
I realized that our age groups probably use different phrases to describe the same things. "It means cool," I said. "As in 'are we cool with each other again?' You know, not mad anymore."
Ms. Sanborn chuckled at my explanation of today's college lingo. "For sure," she said. "We're swell!"
We laughed and relaxed a bit as we both had another cookie. "I was really nervous about coming back to your office," I said. "I was afraid Reverend Stuart might be here, and you were going to make me apologize."
"That would have been a waste of my time!" Ms. Sanborn said. "You're a pretty stubborn young man, Joel. You don't back down easily."
"Just so you know," I said. "I've come to terms with failing my religion class. If that's the worst thing that ever happens to me, I'll consider myself lucky."
"Joel," Ms. Sanborn said. "Some things have changed about the contest. I don't want to bring up a sore subject, but you might want to know what's going on."
I didn't want to revisit all of the issues surrounding the oratory competition, but my curiosity got the better of me. "Okay," I said. "You've got my attention."
"Have you heard that Sean Owens won't be competing?" she asked.
"No," I said. "But I'm not surprised. I heard he's in jail."
"Well, I'm not allowed to talk about things like that," Ms. Sanborn said. "But, Sean won't be – available – to compete. And, all the other students who said they were interested have dropped out. Oberlin has no one in the competition."
"I'm sorry that happened," I said.
"Joel," Ms. Sanborn said hesitantly. "Reverend Stuart wants you back in the competition. He's willing to compromise."
I was shocked, and I stared at Ms. Sanborn in disbelief. Then, I said the only thing that was going through my mind.
"You gotta be friggin kidding me!"
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