This story is fiction. The city of Clifton, and the University of Clifton, exist only in my imagination. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. These stories have as their main character a sexually active gay college student. If this is offensive to you, or if it is illegal in your area, or if you are under age, please leave now.
This story involves a search for personal acceptance, worth, and meaning. There is a religious element in these stories. If you don't like that, maybe now is a good time to leave.
My stories develop slowly. If you're in a hurry, this is probably not for you.
Thanks to Colin for editing.
Constructive criticism is welcome on my e-mail at email@example.com.
Bryce, Chapter 27 - A Not So Ordinary Tuesday
Monday evening with Damon was extremely satisfying. After Bryce's return from his meeting with Father Miller in a most loving mood, the two young men spent the time together. Not all the time was spent having sex, of course, although that did not get neglected. Bryce had come to appreciate taking his lover into his body both orally and anally, and returned the favors to Damon enthusiastically. However, they were, after all, also students and teenagers. As students, they spent several hours studying and working on term papers. As teenagers, they had a generous dinner to feed their growing appetites. Most of all, they simply enjoyed each other's company. Their lovemaking was mutually satisfactory, accompanied by long periods of cuddling and intimate talk. They were growing closer together at an increasingly rapid rate.
Tuesday began much the same as usual, with one major exception. For the second time, Bryce awoke with his lover in his bed. As he had the previous day, he slipped away, heading to the gym, without disturbing Damon. Again, he and Curtis worked out together. Curtis reinforced the idea that the SAT meeting that evening would be a special one. Contrary to what both he and Tom Blankenship expected, Mack Campbell chose to challenge the ruling excluding him from voting on the new pledges. In addition, there was the debacle about the last party to consider, the last soccer game, and an item Bryce had not previously considered, the homecoming parade and SAT's float for that event. Bryce was sorry to miss all that, but he would miss it whether he was on call or not, as the pledges did not actually attend the meetings. Nonetheless, the news that Mack was challenging the fraternity President's decision was disturbing, and something he and Damon discussed at some length over breakfast and on their way to their English classes.
As the Milton class was reaching its conclusion, Dr. Drake announced that the draft term papers which had been turned in at the time of the mid-term examination were not yet ready to be returned, as she had spent the weekend grading exams. Those, however, were ready and might be picked up as the students left the classroom. When Bryce eagerly looked over his exam, he saw a number of red marks, correcting or improving on his written answers, so he was apprehensive about his grade. Dr. Drake had the practice of placing the grade at the bottom of the last page of the exam, rather than at the top of the first, as most teachers did. When he got to the last page, Bryce was relieved and greatly pleased to find that he had again earned the grade of A. A brief exchange with Mike and Maddy revealed that they, too, had done very well.
But Bryce could not dally to discuss the exam with his classmates. He had an appointment with his academic advisor, Dr. Dickinson. Hence, he made his way quickly from the Stuart-Warren Building to Filson Hall nearby, where he found the Professor awaiting him.
"Ah, Mr. Winslow," Professor Dickinson greeted him, "I am pleased that you could spare me the time to discuss your current progress, and your plans for the coming semester."
This was apparently Dr. Dickinson's idea of a joke, based on the fact that Bryce was not available the previous day after class. Bryce thought it best to simply go with the flow. "Yes, sir. Thank you for allowing me this time."
"Have you received all your midterm grades as yet?" Dr. Dickinson asked.
"As a matter of fact, I just received my midterm exam back from Dr. Drake earlier this morning," Bryce replied. "I have no idea what grade I have been assigned in my Psychology class, however, as Dr. Greeley has not yet returned the exams."
"I see. Well, I wish to discuss this one clear problem area I note in the information sent me by your various instructors."
"Problem area? What is that, sir?" Bryce asked apprehensively, thinking he had been given a bad grade in Psychology.
"This afternoon you have a Physical Education class entitled Karate for Beginners, do you not?"
"According to Ms. Cheng, the instructor in that class, you are currently earning the grade of C. This is a clear anomaly in an otherwise admirable record for your first semester. Why is that?" Dr. Dickinson demanded.
"Well, sir, I had some difficulty early in the course getting coordinated. It seemed that I could not remember which moves to do in the sequence Ms. Cheng required," Bryce admitted with some embarrassment.
"And what are you doing about that?"
"Well, Ms. Cheng assigned me a partner. A student named Caroline Koehler. She has been giving me some special instructions to overcome my klutziness," Bryce revealed.
"Very well. I hope you can bring that grade up. It is, as I indicated, the only questionable mark at this point."
"Not Psychology?" Bryce wanted reassurance.
Dr. Dickinson peered at him over his spectacles. "No. Dr. Greeley has informed me that you are currently performing at the A level in his class. Why are you concerned?"
"I have questioned the interpretation Dr. Greeley has given us on several points. I had the impression that he did not appreciate that," Bryce replied.
"Whether he appreciated your questions or not, I cannot tell you. All I know is that the grade he forwarded to me at midterm was an A," Dr. Dickinson assured him.
"Thank you, sir. That takes a load off my mind," Bryce said.
"Good. Now, let us consider your courses for the spring semester. Have you given that matter much thought?"
"Yes, sir, I have. I have here a tentative schedule of classes," Bryce said, handing his advisor a sheet of paper.
Dr. Dickinson perused the document. "Yes. Continue with the next semester of French literature, of course, and with Biology. I see you plan to continue the Psychology sequence, but with a different instructor."
"Yes, sir. I though it better."
"Hmmm. Very well, provided the section you list is available. And I see you are again planning to take my course. Naturally, the Stuarts are followed by the Hanoverians."
"Yes, sir. It seemed like a logical follow up," Bryce confirmed.
"And in English, not more of Dr. Drake, but this course on Samuel Johnson and his circle?" Dr. Dickinson said, with a question in his voice.
"Well, that is a different matter. Unlike the situation in Psychology, there has been no personality clash with Dr. Drake. In fact, I like the class very much. However, just as the Milton course complemented your Stuart class this semester, I thought the Johnson class would do the same next semester," Bryce explained.
"I see. I'm pleased with your reasons for selecting that course, both the positive and the negative. And, finally, another karate class? Really, Mr. Winslow?"
"Well, sir," Bryce said, with a crooked grin, "I do need two courses to complete my requirement. And, well, let's just call it stubbornness."
Dr. Dickinson sat for a moment looking directly into Bryce's face, which caused him to go red with embarrassment, but he continued to say nothing. Finally, the Professor looked down at the paper again, sighed, and said, "Very well. It's your decision."
Dr. Dickinson turned to his computer, and began to feed in the call numbers for the courses and sections Bryce requested. At this point in the registration process, there was no difficulty about getting all he wanted, so his schedule would be very similar to that he was taking the current semester, except that his Psychology class would be at the time he currently had English, and his English class would be from ten to eleven on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. There would be, of course, no Freshman Orientation class spring semester.
"Now that we have you registered for the spring, let me ask you about the meeting this evening," Dr. Dickinson said.
"The meeting?" Bryce queried.
"Yes. You are on the agenda, are you not?"
"Not that I know of," Bryce replied.
Dr. Dickinson searched among the papers on his desk, and finally located what he sought. "Here. Item number 6," he said, handing Bryce a sheet of paper. It was an agenda for the SAT meeting that evening, copies of which were not given the pledges. Item 6 was listed as "Conflict between Brother Mack Campbell and Pledge Bryce Winslow."
"This is the first time I've seen this, Dr. Dickinson. I was told by Curtis Manning earlier this morning that Mack had decided to challenge a ruling made by him and Tom Blankenship last week, but I don't believe I'm scheduled to be at the meeting. At least, no one has told me so as yet."
"Um, I see. And what is this conflict about?"
Bryce hesitated. He had not spoken with Dr. Dickinson about his sexual orientation heretofore, and was not entirely certain how he would react. Taking a deep breath, he decided on complete honesty. "To begin with, Dr. Dickinson, I'm gay. Mack evidently is uncomfortable with that." From this beginning, Bryce explained the entire episode of his conflict with his former mentor the previous Wednesday, with background excursions into the conflict between Bick Lomax and Damon, and the solutions proposed by Curtis and Tom on Wednesday evening. He added that he was quite pleased with his new mentor, Keith Hamilton. Bryce attempted to maintain a balanced presentation throughout, without getting emotional.
When he finished, Dr. Dickinson again sat for several moments in silence, leaving Bryce in the dark as to his take on all this. Finally, he said, "An admirable exposition. I expected no less from what I have seen of your work in class." That was all. The Professor congratulated Bryce on his academic performance thus far, then indicated he had another appointment. Bryce left, not sure how his advisor had taken his declaration concerning his sexual orientation.
Leaving Dr. Dickinson's office, Bryce made his way, not to the Student Center, but to Rebecca Ruth Hall, where he had agreed to meet Damon for lunch. They had decided it was time once again to take in the amenities offered by the Culinary Science Department. As they expected, Caroline Koehler was also there, just having completed one of her classes in her minor subject. The three had lunch together, with Caroline again inviting the two guys to a concert in the School of Music. In this instance, the recital would be by a faculty group, and would take place on Thursday afternoon at five o'clock. It would again feature a work by Mozart, this time the Horn Concerto # 2 in E flat major, Köchel 417. Bryce was definitely interested, while Damon agreed to attend as a favor to his friends, and part of his program of self-improvement. Caroline also presented the guys with her patented Bourbon balls, which Bryce enjoyed immensely, and for which Damon was acquiring a taste. At Bryce's request, Caroline agreed to provide Bourbon balls which Bryce could dispatch to his sister, in gratitude for her helping him achieve acceptance.
He also told Caroline about what Dr. Dickinson said about his grade in karate, at which she promised to work with him even harder than before. Bryce moaned, while Damon grinned. Caroline carried out her promise (threat?) during the following period, as she put Bryce through his paces in karate. Oddly enough, he seemed to do better than usual, which he attributed to the Bourbon balls. Nonetheless, by 3:30 he was dripping with sweat, and thoroughly exhausted. He met Damon, who reported that he was doing very well in his soccer class, thanks in part to the extra instruction he received from Bryce and his friends, and in part to being thrown into the fraternity games.
Together Bryce and Damon walked back to Clay Hall. As they approached, they were surprised to see several pickets in front of the building, with a small crowd of students standing around. As they drew nearer, they discovered that the BSO was the organizing force behind the pickets. Robert Blanton - Mr. Aeropostale to Damon and Bryce - was leading the demonstration. Several of the placards read "Henry Clay Owned Slaves," while others read "Naming a Student Dorm for Slave Owner Henry Clay is an Insult to All Blacks." Bryce looked at Damon, who giggled.
"Your call," Bryce said.
"Back door," Damon suggested.
They entered through the door to the parking lot, and went up to Bryce's room. There, Damon picked up a copy of the University catalogue, while Bryce downloaded a biography of Cassius Marcellus Clay from Wikipedia. Then they went back down, and out the front door, where the dorm proctor and several residents were standing uncomfortably.
Damon went up to Mr. Aeropostale, who had a bull horn, and asked if he could say something about "that Clay fellow." Thinking Damon had finally come to his senses, Blanton handed him the instrument, and showed him how to turn it on.
Damon began, "May I have your attention please. I have some information about this dorm, and about Mr. Clay, which might be of interest to you all." When the crowd grew quiet, he continued, "I have here the current issue of the University catalogue. Here's what it says about this building: Clay Hall, a modern dormitory offering the latest amenities to today's young men, is fully equipped with hook-ups for all electronic devices. Dedicated in 2002, and named for famed diplomat and abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay (1810-1903), Clay Hall is located on the site of a previous structure donated by the Clay family."
"Wait a minute!" one of the protesters called. "That ain't right! This guy is named Henry, not what you said."
"Well," Damon responded, "there is a Henry Clay, but he's a different person. He's more famous than Cassius Marcellus Clay, which is maybe how you guys got mixed up."
"Who's this Cassius whatever?" another member of the crowd asked.
Robert Blanton was attempting to get the bull horn back from Damon at this point, but he kept hold of it by twisting around a bit. "Let me read you just a bit from the article on the Wikipedia site on the internet," Damon said. "Cassius Clay was a paradox - a southern aristocrat who became a prominent anti-slavery crusader. He was a son of Green Clay, one of the wealthiest landowners and slaveholders in Kentucky. Clay worked towards emancipation, both as a Kentucky state representative and as an early member of the Republican Party. The article goes on, but I think you get the drift. You guys have the wrong man here," Damon said, as he handed the bull horn back to Blanton, and, along with Bryce, slipped back inside. They were amused as the demonstrators outside began to yell at each other.
The dorm proctor quietly pulled out his cell phone, and called campus security. "Security? This is Tim Noonan, dorm proctor at Clay Hall. Some students are having a fist fight out in front of the building. I think you'd better check it out."
Five minutes later, before anyone was seriously injured, the campus security force broke up the conflict, and took down names for disciplinary action by the student judicial council.
Tim said to Damon, "I guess I'd better read the catalogue before the next demonstration."
Damon grinned. One up on Mr. Aeropostale.
Later, Bryce and Damon were sitting with another pledge having their dinner, when the table was approached by Jack Datillo, a brother of SAT, and a member of Bryce's history study group. As he already knew Bryce, Jack addressed him.
"Are you on call at the fraternity this evening?"
"No. Damon and I are both scheduled for next week," Bryce replied.
"Look, my pledge, Matt Bostick, just got sent to the campus infirmary. Something he ate, I think. Anyway, he was scheduled this evening. Would you take his place?" Jack asked.
"Sure. I was going over to the house to meet my big brother before the meeting anyway," Bryce agreed.
So it was that, about forty-five minutes prior to the fraternity business meeting time, Bryce showed up at the fraternity house to meet with Keith Hamilton. He immediately shared with Keith both Dr. Dickinson's revelation that his conflict with Mack was on the agenda, and that he would be substituting for Matt Bostick as a pledge on call that evening. Keith commented, "It should be an interesting meeting." They then went over Bryce's pledge book and related measures, including a note made by Keith concerning the soccer match the previous Saturday, praising Bryce's participation under adverse conditions. He also expanded on the terse comment written by Mack about Bryce's role in making the fraternity aware of the soup kitchen.
As the meeting was about to begin, Mack happened to see Bryce among the pledges on call for the evening. "What are you doing here?" he demanded.
"Substituting for Matt Bostick. He was taken to the infirmary," Bryce replied.
"A likely story!" Mack snorted, stomping past and entering the assembly room.
Dr. Dickinson appeared, looking at Mack's disappearing back. "You're on call?" he asked Bryce.
"Yes. I wasn't scheduled, but one of the other pledges got sick," Bryce explained.
"Good. I think you ought to be on hand, just in case your testimony is needed," the fraternity advisor stated.
Tom Blankenship, who was right behind the Professor, said, "I agree." He, Curtis Manning, and an obviously nervous Bob Balducci, followed Dr. Dickinson into the assembly room. Bryce noted that there seemed to be heavier attendance than usual. Shortly after, the doors were closed with the pledges on the outside.
For a short time, nothing was different from previous times Bryce was on call. He sat in the lobby area and talked with the other pledges, explaining why he was there instead of Matt. No one seemed to know exactly what was wrong with Matt, so that took up most of the conversation. Then, about twenty minutes into the meeting, the pledges began to hear raised voices coming from the assembly room. The argument seemed to get hotter and hotter, as the shouts got louder and louder. Before long, the pledges were able to follow at least some of the debate through the closed doors, although what they got was partial and interrupted. Bryce recognized some of the voices, including that of Curtis and that of Mack. Mack seemed to be speaking quite frequently, but there were many voices he did not recognize responding to him.
About 8:30, following a brief lull, the Sergeant-at-arms opened the door from the inside, and asked Bryce to enter. He followed the Sergeant-at-arms to the table at the head of the room, his stomach doing flip-flops, trying to maintain his cool. Tom Blankenship and some of the others looked very tense and red in the face, as though they were attempting to maintain proper decorum in the presence of a pledge. Bryce glanced at Dr. Dickinson, seated off to one side. He looked irritated. Bryce had no idea what to expect.
"Pledge Winslow," President Blankenship addressed him.
"Yes, sir," Bryce responded, standing at attention.
"Take this envelope," Tom said, handing him a sealed envelope, "and deliver it immediately to Mr. James Maguire, President of the Pan-Hellenic Council, personally, in his office in the University Center."
"Yes, sir," Bryce replied, but he hesitated to leave.
"That will be all," Tom said.
Bryce turned and left the room. He had no idea what was in the message he was asked to deliver, or whether he was being sent away so they could vote him out of the pledge class, or just what was going on. Nonetheless, he carried out his orders, taking off for the University Center at a rapid walk. There, he located the offices of the Pan-Hellenic Council on an upper floor, and entered. He had not been there previously, nor did he know James Maguire by sight. He entered the office, where he found several people milling about. No one paid any attention to him as he entered.
"Excuse me, I have a message for Mr. James Maguire," Bryce announced.
A student he did not recognize said, "I'll take that."
"Sorry," Bryce responded, "but I was told to deliver this to Mr. Maguire personally."
"Are you from Sigma Alpha Tau?" the student asked.
"Yes, I am."
"Good. I was expecting this. I'm Jim Maguire," the student revealed.
Bryce noticed several of the other students grinning at him, and suspected that they were pulling something over on him, so, instead of handing over the envelope, he said, "May I see some identification, sir?"
At that, several of the students broke into laughter. Jim (for it really was he) looked surprised, but pulled out his wallet, and showed Bryce his student ID. Then Bryce handed him the envelope.
"Wait. There will be a reply," Maguire said.
"Yes, sir," Bryce responded, standing uncomfortably while Jim went to a desk and opened the envelope. After reading the enclosure, he penned a response, placed that in an envelope, which he sealed, then handed to Bryce.
"Return this to President Blankenship," Maguire said, then, after a pause, he added, "personally." The others broke into laughter.
His face red, Bryce accepted the envelope, responding, "Yes, sir."
Bryce hurried back across campus to the Sigma Alpha Tau house. There, he could again hear raised voices behind the closed doors of the assembly room. He knocked on the door, which was opened a slit by the Sergeant-at-arms.
"I have a response from Mr. Maguire for President Blankenship," Bryce said.
"Give it to me," the Sergeant-at-arms said.
"Sorry," Bryce said, "but I was told to deliver it to Tom personally."
He was given a surprised look, then the door closed. Déjà vu all over again, Bryce thought. A moment later, however, the door opened again, and he was escorted once again to the front of the room. He said, "Mr. Maguire requested that I deliver this to you personally," as he handed the envelope to Tom.
Tom opened the envelope, scanned the contents, broke into a grin, then simply said, "Thank you, Pledge Winslow. That will be all for now."
Bryce withdrew from the room, wondering what that was all about.
Once again, the pledges were treated to raised but indistinct voices for some time. It was after 9:30 when the meeting finally broke up, without any further call on the services of the pledges beyond several calls for drinks. When the doors finally were opened, Mack Campbell and Bick Lomax stormed out, obviously angry, and immediately left the fraternity house. Several others were looking disturbed. Professor Dickinson, however, looked pleased, as he greeted Bryce and calmly walked out of the house. Bryce looked in, to find Curtis and Tom in consultation with Keith Hamilton. Even as he looked, their discussion ended. Keith noticed Bryce, and headed for him.
"I won't normally do this, Bryce, but it's been a difficult meeting. Would you get me a beer? And one for yourself as well," Keith asked. "You'll find me in the library, where we met on Thursday."
Bryce almost ran, he was so on edge to find out what happened. He was back in a trice. At Keith's invitation, he sat in a neighboring chair. Keith was looking at the agenda, the same as that which Dr. Dickinson had shown him earlier that day.
"I have permission to tell you what happened, but you cannot repeat any of what I'm about to tell you to anyone," Keith began.
"In that case, don't tell me anything," Bryce said.
"Damon is my boyfriend, my partner. I don't keep secrets from him," Bryce stated.
Keith thought about that, then asked, "Can we rely on Damon's discretion?"
"As much as on my own," Bryce replied.
"All right, then. I'll assume responsibility for extending the permission. Don't tell anyone except Damon," Keith said smiling. "This was undoubtedly the most contentious meeting I've attended since I was initiated. Thank goodness, we dealt with the matter of homecoming first. All you pledges will be working on the homecoming float every spare moment for the next week and a half, beginning tomorrow. Others are being told even now. By the time you get back to your dorm, Damon will know that part. The trailer is located in a warehouse on Lampton Street, about three blocks from here. We'll log your times, and those of the brothers, too."
"Okay, now for the contentious stuff. Before we even got to the conflict between you and Mack, we had to deal with the soccer game last Saturday. In a way, I guess that was part of the conflict, but we were concerned with Mack's performance. There were times when it got technical, and frankly, I didn't follow all of it, but the heart of the matter is that Mack was accused of purposely losing the game. To tell you the truth, I think that surprised him. If I had to guess, I would say he was so focused on getting at you that he was not thinking about the game. But, Mack was the team captain, and was supposed to think about the game."
"Was?" Bryce queried.
"As in past tense," Keith replied with a grin. "The house voted to deprive Mack of his role as captain, and to censure him for his actions in Saturday's game."
"Wow!" Bryce responded.
"It gets better. But before we got to that, we had to deal with the whole mess about the party last Friday. Bick led the charge there, trying to get the house to censure Tom, but too many others were involved in the decisions, and we had voted on this back before break. Finally, we voted to apologize to the Pan-Hellenic Council, and promise to accept the punishment imposed by the Council. There will be our reception at Homecoming, but no more parties until after Hallowe'en. No Hallowe'en party. That really got the guys irritated. Then the two week alternation will resume. That was the note you were asked to deliver to Jim Maguire - our acceptance of this decision of the Council. Tom decided to have you deliver it because he knew the matter of you and Mack was next on the agenda, and he figured you were doing your best to listen in."
Bryce grinned. "Me and all the other pledges. You guys were pretty loud. But all we got were bits and pieces. At least, that's all I could make out."
"Tom read out the note Jim sent back. It said, 'Good on the cancelled parties. You have a conscientious messenger. He made me show my ID before giving me your message.'"
"Well, Tom told me to deliver it to Maguire personally, and I didn't know him by sight. I got the feeling the kids there were going to pull something over on me, so I wanted to be sure," Bryce defended himself.
"That worked in your favor. Later in the meeting, when we were talking about you, Tom again read out that message as an indication of how you could be trusted to do a good job. Anyway, most of the rest of the meeting was about you and Mack, and Tom's decision about Mack being suspended from voting on pledges. Now every brother in the house knows you're gay. Mack made sure of that. Every brother also knows Mack and Bick are homophobic. Their language left no doubt about that." Keith smiled. "I wonder how Terry is going to handle that for the minutes. Anyway, the debate got pretty hot. Shortly before we were ready for the vote, Dr. Dickinson asked for the floor. He told the brothers that the anti-discrimination policy was University policy, and the policy of the fraternity, and if the brothers voted to rescind or ignore that policy, not only would he resign as advisor, but he would inform the Vice-President for Student Affairs of his reasons for resigning. At that, Bick called Dr. Dickinson a fag."
"Really! I'll bet that went over well!" Bryce expressed surprise.
"Yeah. I think that helped you. The vote on upholding the policy was almost unanimous, with only Bick, Mack, and two others voting no. Then Curtis moved to uphold the decision of the President to deny both Bick and Mack the right to vote on pledges, based on their refusal to accept the policy. Mack pitched such a fit that he lost it entirely, and tried to attack Curtis. At that, the brothers voted to uphold the ruling of the President, and - get this - to expel both Bick and Mack from the fraternity, specifying that Bick was expelled for insulting the fraternity advisor, and Mack for attempting to attack a fraternity officer during a meeting. That way, nothing will be said about rapes or anyone being gay when the report is sent to the VP tomorrow. Bick and Mack were asked to leave their fraternity rings with Tom."
"Wow! That was some meeting!" Bryce said in amazement.
"Like I said, the most contentious since I joined. Don't expect them all to be this exciting," Keith said with a grin.
"You guys are great! Thanks!" Bryce enthused.
"When we accept someone as a pledge, much less a brother, we take some responsibility for that person. We like to think we don't accept trash. Sometimes we make mistakes, though. Bick and Mack were our mistakes, not you or Damon."
Bryce could not resist. He grabbed Keith and hugged him.
Bryce started out almost at a run. "I've got to tell Damon about this."
"Don't forget - work on the float," Keith called after him.