Note from the author:
This chapter may be hard for the reader to understand if you don't have a love for music from the 60's and 70's. The actual music that will be described sets the mood and gives real meaning to this chapter. For me, I consider the concert the most moving part of my story, and when I listen to the music, I get very emotional. We all know that there are places on the Internet (thanks to Al Gore for inventing it) that we can download songs. If you want to get some of the same feelings as I did when I wrote this chapter, go for it!!
"Cherokee Nation" by Paul Revere and the Raiders
"Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen
"We Are the Champions" by Queen
"Candle In the Wind" by Elton John
"Dream A Little Dream Of Me" by the Mommas and The Poppas
"Woodstock" by Crosby Stills & Nash
"Classical Gas" by Mason Williams
"We Will Rock You!" by Queen
"California Dreamin" by the Mommas and The Poppas
"Dedicated To The One I Love" by the Mommas and The Poppas
"Turn, Turn, Turn" by The Byrds
"Bohemian Rhapsody", by Queen
If you get these songs, you can listen to them at the appropriate time in the concert, and get the feelings that I did writing this chapter!!!!!!!
CJ Chapter 29 The Concert and the Crash
Chris left for the outdoor shell where the Orchestra Concert would be held, knowing that he would have to change clothes during the intermission. He had worked hard with Tom Borton to create a unique second half of the concert, where CSU athletes would join the orchestra and choir to entertain the large crowd that was expected. Thanks to a generous donation from Saul Bernstein and Jonathan Carpenter, the sound and light systems had been recently updated. Huge speakers and large screen televisions would broadcast the activities on the large stage to every part of the crowd that would sit in the fixed seats under the canopy and to the people sitting on the grassy slopes surrounding the shell. Two local television stations would broadcast the concert live, along with the campus television and radio stations.
Chris was still bothered by the altercation with Mike Mahley at the fraternity, and looked at the spot on his chest where his pledge pin should be. He ran his fingers over the area, and prayed that he and Mike could work out their differences. He was upset that he hadn't stayed at the fraternity to talk to Mike, but knew that he had made commitments to the concert that he couldn't blow off. He felt empty. When Mike ripped off his pledge pin, it was like he was ripping the heart right out of his body. It was a wake-up call, and he now realized that he loved Mike more than he ever dreamed. He was determined to do his best in the concert and then tell Mike Mahley that he not only loved him, but was IN love with him. Making love to Mike was more important than anything in the world, and desires for casual sex with other guys had vanished. Holding hands and talking with Mike would be better than all of the sex that he had with other guys and girls in the past.
Printed programs had been distributed to the crowd as they gathered in the warm California air. The programs detailed the music to be played in the first half of the concert, but showed that after a brief intermission, the program would continue with several surprises.
Mike had reluctantly joined Jake, Joe and many of the fraternity members and pledges in finding seats on the grass. He looked at the program and didn't see Chris's name anywhere, and wondered why his Little Brother had insisted on coming to the concert. He guessed that Chris was part of the stage crew that set up the risers and sound equipment, and was still upset that Chris hadn't let him have the time to express his love. He was ashamed that he had ripped the pledge pin from Chris's shirt, and prayed that Chris would take it back and stay as his Little Brother.
Mike grumbled to Jake that Chris should have talked to him instead of setting up chairs for the concert. Jake told him to shut up and talk to Chris after the concert was over.
Campus security officers were circulating through the crowd, but ignored the students that were drinking beer or passing around bottles of wine and containers that held mixed drinks. They had been given instructions to only take action if someone got drunk or started any type of altercation. The crowd numbered over 25,000 people as the concert began.
The Orchestra Director led his students through a variety of music that displayed their talents, and the crowd responded appreciatively. The first half of the concert lasted 45 minutes, with a ten-minute intermission.
When Tom Borton walked onto the stage after the intermission, the crowd applauded. He hoped that they would appreciate the work that the musicians had put into the long practices as he addressed the crowd by saying, "My name is Tom Borton, and I welcome you to the second half of our concert. The programs that you received didn't tell you what to expect in this part of the program, and there's a very good reason for that. Because I have the microphone, I have the power to ask my parents, Thomas and Judy Borton, along with my brother, Justin to stand up and be recognized."
The Borton family stood up and were greeted with a round of applause.
"Some people on this campus think that music majors and athletes never mix. They are dead wrong! I'm going to introduce a person that is trying to break down those barriers by showing the talent that he possesses along with other student-athletes. This guy composed the second half of this concert, and spent a lot of time away from studying and football practices to put together an exciting show for you. You already know this guy from his performances on the football field, and after this afternoon, you also know that he can dance! I present to you, the Master of Ceremonies for the second half of this concert, CJ HAMMER!!!!"
The crowd cheered wildly as Chris ran out onto the stage dressed in the Cherokee clothing that his grandmother had made for him. He was wearing a long sleeve buckskin shirt that had rawhide laces across the front and long buckskin fringes on each arm. He was wearing moccasins and buckskin pants, along with a rawhide headband and string of colorful beads around his neck, with war paint on his face.
Chris grabbed the microphone and greeted the crowd by saying, "My name is CJ Hammer, and I'm honored to be part of this excellent concert tonight!"
The crowd applauded and immediately began their cheer of "CJ HAMMER, CLAP...CLAP...CLAP,CLAP, CLAP. They all loved the famous athlete that had brought national recognition to their campus.
"I'm here tonight wearing a Cherokee Warrior's outfit made by my grandmother, as I am 1/4 Cherokee. I want my grandparents, Ellen and Harvey Porter, who came all the way from Wisconsin, to stand and be recognized."
The crowd cheered as Ellen and Harvey Porter stood to be recognized.
"My grandmother's Cherokee name is White Dove, and she is a full-blooded member of the Anitsisqua Clan of the Cherokee Nation. Her daughter, Angela Porter is my deceased mother, and I dedicate the first song of this half of the concert to my great-grandfather, White Cloud and the rest of my Cherokee family!"
The first notes of the song blasted from the orchestra, through the powerful speakers, and into the California night. It was the song, "Cherokee Nation" originally recorded by Paul Revere and the Raiders, and Chris moved across the stage, dramatically adding his body motions to the intensity of the lyrics he began singing.
"They took the whole Cherokee Nation,
Put us on this reservation.
Took away our ways of life,
The tomahawk and the Bowie knife.
They took away our native tongue,
And taught their English to our young.
And all the beads we made by hand,
Are now worth days made in Japan.
SO PROUD TO LIVE!
SO PROUD TO DIE!!
They took the whole Indian Nation,
Locked us on this reservation.
Though I wear a shirt and tie,
I'm still part red man deep inside.
SO PROUD TO LIVE!
SO PROUD TO DIE!!
But maybe someday when we learn,
The Cherokee Nation will return.
Ellen Porter had tears running down her face as she watched her grandson pay tribute to his Cherokee heritage. Chris moved across the stage in a dramatic fashion as he belted out the lyrics of the song that told the tragic events of the Cherokee Nation when the white settlers drove them off their land and forced them into reservations.
Mike Mahley was awestruck as he listened to Chris emotionally sing the song and captivate the audience. He now knew why Chris had to leave the fraternity to be at the concert. He never knew that Chris could sing so beautifully, and had tears running down his cheeks at the intensity of the song.
"You fucking jerk!" Jake said to his brother. "Now you know why he had to be here!"
The crowd went wild. People were standing and cheering at the power of the song and the way the orchestra had played. Everyone now realized that this was going to be an event that every student should have attended.
Saul Bernstein was close to crying at seeing his son display his musical and theatrical talents. He was thrilled that so many family members had come to the campus to see Chris play football and perform in the concert. Jon Carpenter was choking back tears as he clapped and cheered for his son. He never knew that Chris had any musical talent, and wished that he had brought a tape recorder to the concert. He looked at the large screens that projected the activity on the stage, and hoped that a video was being made that he could buy.
"I'd like to introduce Brendan O'Brien, a future basketball player for Marcus Knight and the CSU Falcons!" Chris said to the boisterous crowd.
Brendan took the microphone and asked his parents, younger sister and brother to stand up. The crowd gave the O'Brien family a warm reception.
"This next song is dedicated to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the University of Michigan Wolverines, the Oklahoma Sooners, the Miami Hurricanes, and the UCLA Bruins!" Brendan announced.
The air was filled with "boo's" and gross comments about the first five opponents of the CSU football team. Their boo's turned to cheers as Brendan sang the words to "Another One Bites The Dust" originally recorded by Queen. When the song was finished, the crowd went wild! Brendan had moved across the stage like a rock star as he belted out the lyrics of the song that celebrated the first five victories of the CSU football team. Any reservations that the crowd had for staying for the second half of the concert had vanished, as they stood and screamed their approval of the music and performance.
"The next person I'd like to introduce is a small guy with a weak voice, so the CSU choir will help him," Chris teased. "Here is the guy with the most sacks and solo tackles of anyone in the Pac 10 Conference, Jarvis Williams!"
The crowd cheered at seeing the huge defensive lineman take the microphone from CJ Hammer.
"I want my Momma, brother and sisters to stand up!" Jarvis yelled into the microphone.
A very large black woman, beautifully dressed stood along with her four children to the applause of the crowd. It was obvious that Momma Williams was an excellent cook, as she and her young son looked like they could be linemen for the CSU football team, with the three girls looking like they should be swimsuit models.
"Some of you may know that we have a dormitory here on campus that has gained national recognition," Jarvis explained. "I have the privilege of living in the Jacobs Dorm here on campus, and College Life Magazine has just recognized the Jacobs Dorm as the most beautiful dormitory on any campus in the United States! This next song is in recognition of that honor! My pledge buddy, Brendan O'Brien will play lead electric guitar, with my other pledge buddy, CJ Hammer playing the piano."
The crowd was thrilled to hear the orchestra, Jarvis, and the choir fill the air with the sounds of "We Are The Champions" originally recorded by Queen.
Isaac was sitting with his parents and brother during the concert. His mother grabbed him and said, "You never told me that Chris could play the piano!"
"I knew he could play the guitar," Isaac admitted, "But I never heard him play the piano!"
Mary Mendez was impressed with the way Chris played the piano, knowing from her years of playing and teaching piano, that it wasn't easy to learn. She concentrated on the piano portion of the music, using her trained hearing to evaluate Chris's playing, just like she did her piano students. Chris was flawless!
The crowd erupted again with loud cheers and applause for the stage performance. If the concert had ended now, they would all leave with an appreciation of the talents of the orchestra, choir, and athletes on the stage.
"I have some special people to introduce to you now," Chris began. "Two special people have come all the way from Tel Aviv, Israel to be with us tonight. They are the parents of Eloise Marie Jacobs, the lady that the Jacobs Dormitory is named after. I'd like my grandparents, Benjamin and Mary Jacobs to stand and be recognized!"
The crowd cheered as the two elderly people stood and waved at the crowd. Many people quickly made the connection that the Jacobs' were related to CJ Hammer and that the dorm was more than his campus home.
"How can they be Chris's grandparents?" Mike asked his brother, Jake. Mike was really confused.
"I guess you all realize that Eloise Jacobs is my mother," Chris said softly. "Unfortunately, cancer took her away before I ever got to meet her. In her memory, I'd like to play my mother's favorite song, 'Candle In The Wind', made famous by Elton John."
Chris walked to the piano and played the song that Eloise Jacobs Bernstein loved. He put everything he had into the lyrics and music as he played and sang the song flawlessly. His emotions overflowed as tears ran down his face. The cameras clearly showed his emotions to the entire crowd, as they realized how a big strong athlete could be moved to tears by the special song that he dedicated to his deceased mother.
Saul Bernstein and Ben and Mary Jacobs all cried when they heard Chris play the song perfectly and with intense emotion. They knew that Eloise loved the song, and hearing Chris play the piano and sing the lyrics brought back happy and sad memories of their lost loved one.
The entire crowd was on their feet, screaming and cheering as Chris finished the song. Mike Mahley wanted to run away from the grassy knoll, but was held back by both Jake and Joe.
"You're staying here and listen to your Little Brother!" Jake commanded. "He's pouring out his heart tonight, and I can't believe how talented he is!"
The crowd didn't want to stop clapping and cheering until Chris began to speak again.
"You've already met one of the O'Brien twins," Chris said to quiet the crowd down. "Brendan is the ugly one who can't sing or dance, but I want you all to meet his twin sister, one of the most beautiful women on the CSU campus! Shannon got all of the looks and talent in the womb, and she will be playing for the Women's Basketball Team here on the CSU campus! Please welcome, Shannon O'Brien!"
The crowd enthusiastically cheered for Shannon as she took the microphone from CJ Hammer.
"I'd like to dedicate this song to my family and all of us that chose to follow their dreams to come to California to attend college, but there is one person that is very special to me. Jacob Mahley, this song is for you!" Shannon announced.
With the accompaniment of the orchestra and choir, Shannon belted out the song, "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" originally recorded by the Mommas and The Poppas. Chris played the piano portion of the song perfectly while Brendan played the acoustical guitar, and everyone knew that the athletes on the campus were very talented.
The guys sitting around Jake all playfully punched and teased him about the beautiful girl dedicating the song to him. They realized that Jake and Shannon were more than friends.
Again the crowd went wild, standing and cheering at the crystal clear voice that sang the vintage song to them for their entertainment.
Chris took the microphone and said to the cheering crowd, "I have some special people that I want you all to meet. Up to the time I was 12, I didn't have any family, but now I have a huge one! I want my Boston family to stand and be recognized! My dad and mom, Jonathan and Carol Carpenter are here with my twin brothers, Randall and Charles, along with my sister, Jennifer!"
The entire Carpenter family stood to accept the applause and cheers of the huge crowd as Chris continued, "The two ugly guys are both easy if any of you ladies want to hookup tonight!"
The cameras focused in on the Carpenter family, and everyone realized that Randy and Charlie were very handsome men, and closely resembled CJ Hammer.
The crowd cheered and hollered as Chris continued. "My beautiful sister, Jennifer is off limits! If any guy touches her, I'll break every bone in your body, and you know where I'll start!"
Boo's echoed across the crowd, as the guys in the crowd saw on the monitors how beautiful Jennifer Carpenter was.
"My dad and mom are really old," Chris teased, "And they both love songs by Crosby Stills & Nash. I'm gonna ask Brendan O'Brien to join me on electric guitars as we play one of their favorite songs. Before we do that, I want you to welcome the next vocalist, the leading rusher in the nation, Delano Genovesi!"
The crowd was screaming as the watched their star running back come up on the stage. Delano took the microphone and thanked the crowd for his warm reception. When the crowd settled down, Delano introduced his parents and brother to the audience. The Genovesi family was warmly recognized as the song began.
Chris and Brendan expertly played the electric guitar portions of the song, "Woodstock" with Delano singing the song with the orchestra and choir backing him up.
Again the crowd was standing, as they cheered and screamed for more from the huge group on the stage. Jonathan Crawford, the University President was in the crowd cheering for the fantastic performance of the CSU students. He had dreamed of something like this to unify the student body, and his dreams had become reality. He hugged John Stevens, the Athletic Director for CSU and his wife, Judy, as the crowd showed their appreciation for the performances.
Chris took the microphone and addressed the crowd. "Have you had enough, or do you want to hear more?"
The crowd was on their feet, screaming for "MORE, MORE, MORE!!!"
When the cheering calmed down, Chris continued, by saying, "Now I want everyone to meet the man that saved my life when I was 12 years old. At that time in my life, I was living in an orphanage in Dallas, Texas when he became my friend. He adopted me, even though I had a vocabulary that would shock a sailor! I was 14 before I learned that you wash dishes with Dawn Liquid, as I drank gallons of it before I stopped cussing. I want my dad to stand and be recognized! Saul Bernstein, please stand up!"
Saul stood up and waved as he turned around to accept the cheers of the CSU students and faculty.
"I want my dad's special friend, Helen Waterson to stand up and be recognized for being a special person in my dad's life and mine!"
Helen Waterson stood up to accept the cheers and applause of the crowd, never dreaming that Chris would give her recognition in front of the large crowd.
"If you've been paying attention instead of sleeping like you do during lectures," Chris teased, "You might have put two and two together and realized that my dad, Saul Bernstein was married to Eloise Jacobs. My dad donated the money to build the best dorm in the United States in the name of his wife, and my mother, Eloise Marie Jacobs Bernstein! After this concert, there will be a special dedication of a bronze memorial for Eloise Jacobs Bernstein at the Jacobs Dorm. We would have had the dedication months ago, but some LSA (Language and Social Arts) graduate spelled her name wrong on the original plaque!"
The crowd was mixed with boo's for the put-down of LSA students and cheers for knowing that Saul Bernstein had donated the money to build the beautiful dormitory, until Chris continued, "The LSA grad that spelled my mom's name wrong was from UCLA!"
The crowd cheered, with the put-down now aimed at their archrival in California. Chris had the entire crowd in the palm of his hand, as he continued.
"My dad has a favorite song," Chris began. "I was playing the guitar part of his favorite song when Tom Borton heard it and asked me to be part of this concert. Dad, this is for you, and I want you to know that I love you!"
Chris put the microphone into a stand and grabbed his acoustical guitar. He sat down and began playing the most exciting song ever recorded, "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams. The orchestra joined in after the solo guitar lead-in, and the audience was spellbound by the perfection of the music.
When the song ended, the audience was on their feet, screaming their appreciation of the fantastic guitar playing of their star football player. Saul was sobbing with joy as he hugged Helen and everyone around him. He had never heard his son play his favorite song, and couldn't believe how expertly Chris had played the difficult guitar portion. The crowd wouldn't calm down and began the cheer, "CJ HAMMER, CLAP...CLAP...CLAP, CLAP, CLAP! The cheer continued over and over, until Chris took the microphone and tried to get the crowd to calm down.
"I want you to welcome Walker James," Chris announced to the huge crowd. "Walker is going to help the CSU Falcon baseball team win the Pac 10 Championship next spring when he shows the country how great a pitcher he is."
Walker James came onto the stage and introduced his parents, brother and sister to the crowd.
"This next song is dedicated to all of the other teams in the Pac 10 Conference," Walker announced.
The crowd booed loudly, until the song started. "We Will Rock You!" originally recorded by Queen filled the California air, with Walker singing the lead vocals. The choir and orchestra performed flawlessly, and the crowd went wild.
Chris waited for the crowd to settle down after showing their appreciation for Walker's performance. He then said, "Earlier, you heard Shannon O'Brien sing a song recorded by the Mommas and The Poppas. Do you want to hear more?"
The crowd screamed their approval, and Chris continued by saying, "We have our own version of The Mommas and The Poppas! Kelly Nyquist, a member of this fantastic orchestra, and Julius Fischer, the best middle linebacker in the nation, will join Brendan and Shannon O'Brien.
Kelly took the microphone and introduced her parents to the crowd. Julius Fischer did the same, and both sets of parents got a warm reception from the happy crowd.
Chris took the microphone and said, "Shannon will have to put on at least 100 pounds to look like Mama Cass!"
The crowd laughed, knowing that Shannon had a beautiful voice just like Mama Cass had proven in the original recordings of the group, but Shannon was a babe with a swimsuit model's body.
"Be careful eating sandwiches!" Chris teased Shannon, knowing that Mama Cass had died when she choked while eating a sandwich.
The CSU version of the Mommas and The Poppas sang the song, "California Dreamin" and the choir added their voices as backup. The crowd loved the song and begged for more from the talented group.
The last song for the quartet was "Dedicated To The One I Love" with Brendan playing the guitar and Chris on the piano. The crowd showed their appreciation by giving the group a standing ovation.
When the crowd finally quieted down, Chris began by saying, "I want to dedicate this next song to my best friend in the entire world. My buddy and I have a special place where we go to talk when we have problems in our lives, and I hope he is here tonight to listen to me. Mike, this is our song, and I hope we can both listen to it now and patch up our differences and move on with our lives. Our song lyrics are from Ecclesiates in the Bible, and I dedicate this song to Mike Mahley and the men of the Delta Delta Delta Fraternity!"
As soon as Chris and the orchestra began the song, "Turn, Turn, Turn" recorded by The Byrds, Mike jumped up and tried to leave the concert area. He was restrained by Joe and Jake, who told him to "Sit the fuck down and listen to his Little Brother!" Chris played the electric guitar and sang the lead vocal for the moving song.
"To every thing, Turn, Turn, Turn,
There is a season, Turn, Turn, Turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
A time to plant, a time to reap;
A time to kill, a time to heal;
A time to laugh, a time to weep;
To every thing, Turn, Turn, Turn,
There is a season, Turn, Turn, Turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to build up, a time to break down,
A time to jest, a time to mourn,
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together;
To every thing, Turn, Turn, Turn,
There is a season, Turn, Turn, Turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven:
a time of love, a time of hate,
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing;
To every thing, Turn, Turn, Turn,
There is a season, Turn, Turn, Turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to gain, a time to lose,
A time to rend, a time to sew,
A time for love, a time for hate, a time for peace, I swear it's not too late..."
When the song finished, the crowd stood and screamed their approval of the song that Chris had sung for his special friend. Everyone was going wild, as they saw the orchestra and choir leaving the stage. It was obvious that the concert was over, but the crowd wasn't ready to let the entertainers leave. Screams of "ENCORE, ENCORE, ENCORE!" echoed across the campus. The applause and cheering continued until Tom Borton walked back onto the stage to hear the screams and applause of the crowd. He finally got the huge crowd to calm down when he announced that they had only one other song that they had practiced, and they would perform the song for the crowd with the understanding that it would be the last song of the concert.
The crowd cheered their approval, as the orchestra and choir returned to the stage.
"This is our last song this evening," Tom Borton announced. "We want to thank all of you for coming to our concert and hope that you have enjoyed it as much as we have!"
Chris played the piano and sang the lead, as Brendan proved his talent on the electric guitar, with Jarvis playing the drums, as the California air was filled with the sounds of "Bohemian Rhapsody", another Queen classic. It was a perfect song to display the abilities of the orchestra and choir, as the moving rendition had everyone on their feet, applauding and cheering for the collection of musicians, singers, and athletes.
When the song was finished, the appreciative crowd surged toward the stage to congratulate the performers, who had just proven that there was a lot of musical talent on the CSU campus.
Saul Bernstein and Jonathan Carpenter took turns hugging Chris, congratulating him on his part in the fantastic concert.
"I'm so proud of you!" Saul said to his son, with tears flowing down his cheeks. "I knew you played the guitar and piano, but you have never sung for me before! Now, I'll expect to hear you sing for me every time you come home!"
"I hope that someone recorded the concert!" Jon said as he hugged his son. "You were fantastic!"
Chris was embarrassed by all of the compliments. He graciously accepted the congratulations of everyone as he looked around for Mike Mahley.
Jonathan Crawford, the University President, Marlene Parker, Director of Student Affairs, and John Stevens, the Athletic Director, all pushed their way through the huge crowd on the stage to congratulate the performers.
"That was the finest concert we've ever had on this campus!" Jonathan Crawford said as he hugged Chris. "I bet a bunch of talent scouts will be after a lot of our students after this! Is there anything that you can't do?"
"I can't skate, I can't draw, and I can't sort out my personal life!" Chris responded honestly.
John Stevens hugged Chris and thanked him for taking athletes from different sports to be in the concert.
"My sons love you and want you to come over to our home," John Stevens said.
"They just like me cause I taught them how to jerk off!" Chris teased the Athletic Director.
John Stevens was shocked until he realized that Chris was teasing him, and hugged Chris and called him an asshole.
Chris accepted the congratulations of everyone, but was still searching the crowd for Mike. He saw Jake, kissing Shannon, with a bunch of students making catcalls and teasing the couple as they shared a passionate kiss.
"Where's Mike?" Chris asked when Jake finally broke the kiss to come up for air.
"He was with us during the concert," Jake replied. "I think he left for the house. You guys gotta talk and get things worked out. He's kicking his own ass for what he did tonight, and I know things are gonna work out. I'll find him and drag his sorry ass to the Jacobs Dorm for the dedication."
Chris was bothered that Mike didn't stick around after the concert, but knew that it would be better if he and Mike talked in private instead of in front of the mob on the stage.
Mike Mahley had run away from the concert area with tears flowing down his face. He headed for the fraternity, trying to figure out how to apologize to Chris. The house was empty, as everyone had gone to the concert. Mike grabbed his helmet and cranked up his Harley. Several guys saw Mike head across campus on the powerful Harley. They were concerned; knowing that Mike wasn't supposed to ride his bike or drive a car while his body was adjusting to the depression medication.
"FUCK!" Jake screamed when he saw his brother blasting across the campus. He grabbed as many of his fraternity brothers as he could find and begged them to help him find Mike and get him off the motorcycle. Several cars fired up in the Delta Delta Delta Fraternity parking lot, as members and pledges set out to find Mike. Mike and Chris never rode their bikes at night, and everyone knew it was extremely dangerous for one rider to be alone in the dark.
Mike knew he wasn't supposed to ride his bike when he was on the new medication, but he had to get away to think about his relationship with Chris and how to patch things up. He rode the powerful Harley out to the quarry, where he and Chris had gone to talk in private many times. It was their special spot to be alone and be honest with each other. Mike sat on their special boulder and looked into the California sky. It was a full moon, but the stars were shining brightly as Mike reflected on the years that he had known Chris. He thought about the fun times that they had together and smiled. Then he remembered punching Chris in the mouth and paddling him in the fraternity. Those thoughts made him ashamed that he could hurt the guy that he loved with every fiber of his body. He wished that he could turn back the clock and undo the hurt that he had inflicted on his best friend. He sat on the boulder and punished himself for being so jealous of Chris showing affection for other people. He thought about the concert, and how talented Chris was. The special song that Chris had dedicated to him was still ringing in his ears, and he knew that he had to beg Chris to forgive him for being such an asshole. He thought that Chris would hate him after he pulled Chris's pledge pin, but after hearing their favorite song being dedicated to him, he knew that Chris was a better man than he was. He got up and was determined to find Chris and apologize to him, and accept whatever fate would throw at him for being a total asshole. He put on his helmet, fired up his Harley, and headed back to the CSU campus, determined to beg for forgiveness from Chris.
It was almost an hour after the concert had ended before the ceremonies at the Jacobs Dorm began. The University President, Jonathan Crawford, was holding a microphone as he addressed the "standing room only" crowd in the lobby of the beautiful dormitory.
"We're here tonight to dedicate this beautiful facility and honor the woman that it is named after," Jonathan Crawford began. "Almost three years ago, Saul Bernstein came to me and said he wanted to build a lasting monument to his wife, and proposed building a dormitory that our campus could be proud of. He made a very generous offer to pay for the entire cost of constructing this facility, and the university donated the land that was used for the construction. This dormitory holds over 5,000 students, and has facilities that no other dormitory on campus possesses. Behind me is a bronze bust of the lady that we are dedicating this facility to. I'm going to ask Benjamin and Mary Jacobs to unveil the statue and plaque that will remain here in the lobby of this beautiful facility."
Benjamin and Mary Jacobs walked up to the monument and pulled off the white sheets. They revealed a beautiful bronze bust of their daughter that was atop a marble pedestal. The total height was over eight feet, with the bronze bust measuring over four feet high. The outside of the pedestal was rough-hewn out of marble with a flat area on the front where the bronze plaque was attached.
"For those of you that aren't close enough to read the plaque," Jonathan Crawford said, "I'll read it to you. It says, 'Eloise Marie Jacobs. This facility is dedicated to Eloise Marie Jacobs Bernstein, daughter of Benjamin and Mary Jacobs, and beloved wife of Saul Edmonds Bernstein. She loved life and children, and dreamed of a world where peace and love would prevail over war and poverty. May she rest in peace and watch over the students of the California State University campus forever.'"
The crowd applauded as the cameras flashed, capturing the event for both television and newspaper publication. Chris hugged his dad and grandparents, as it was a very emotional event for everyone. The sculpture was beautiful, and would remain in the lobby in front of the huge waterfall and pond for everyone to see when he or she entered.
Chris was standing with his Boston family when Nathan Pease ran up to him.
"MIKE'S HURT!!" Nathan screamed to Chris. "HE WAS IN AN ACCIDENT ON QUARRY ROAD, AND HE'S HURT BAD!!"
Chris screamed as he heard the terrible news. He grabbed Nathan and asked where Mike was, only to find out that Joe McClure had been driving his car, looking for Mike, when he saw a pickup truck overturned on Quarry Road. The driver was dead, and Joe found Mike and his motorcycle in the ditch. Mike had been taken to Mercy General Hospital.
"B!!" Chris screamed. "MIKE'S HURT! I'VE GOTTA GO!!"
Saul Bernstein broke away from the reporters and ran to his son. When he found out that Mike had been taken to Mercy General Hospital, he ran with his son to his Mercedes that was parked in the Jacobs Dorm parking lot. Nathan rode with them and told both Saul and Chris what he knew about the accident.
"He was riding his bike and it looks like some drunk hit him with his truck," Nathan choked out. "When Joe found him, the truck driver was dead and there were a bunch of beer bottles all over the place. Mike was in the ditch, and he's hurt badly with something metal lodged in his belly. His arm and leg are both broken, and Joe splinted them while he waited for the ambulance. Joe said Mike was unconscious, and had lost a lot of blood."
Chris was terrified that his best friend was hurt. He and Mike had never ridden their bikes at night, and wondered why Mike would go out to the quarry. He could only imagine that Mike was upset about their altercation at the fraternity, and that his dedication of their special song had set Mike off. He felt guilty for not being honest with Mike about his part in the concert, and wished that he could tell Mike how much he loved him. He was sobbing as Saul drove him and Nathan to the hospital.
As soon as Saul drove up to the Emergency entrance, both Chris and Nathan bolted out of the car to run inside the hospital. Saul parked his car and ran in to find out how Mike Mahley was. Saul knew that Mike was Chris's best friend, and also knew that they were intimate with each other. The duplex that he shared with his son wasn't soundproof, and he had heard the screams of ecstasy from the two guys when they were together. He knew that his son was bi-sexual, but also knew that his bond with Mike Mahley was very strong, and could result in a gay relationship. His love for his son was unconditional, and if Chris and Mike became life partners, he would love both of them for the rest of his life. Now, he was devastated that the fantastic day was being destroyed by injuries to the man that he knew his son loved.
Chris ran into the hospital and was met by many of the members and pledges of the Tri-Delt Fraternity. Momma Mahley was standing there, and held her arms open for Chris to fall into. He sobbed and begged her to tell him how Mike was.
"They took him to surgery," Mary Mahley said. "Poppa Mike is with them in the operating room right now. He's hurt badly, and they are worried about his internal injuries. If Joe hadn't found him, he would be dead by now!"
Chris screamed in agony at the thought of losing his best friend and lover. He couldn't think about life without Mike, and he collapsed on the floor of the Trauma Unit.
Several fraternity members and pledges grabbed Chris before he fell to the floor. They quickly got the huge athlete to a chair, as Mary Mahley called a nurse to help them attend to Chris. He was unconscious, and the nurse ran for smelling salts to revive him.
As soon as the pungent aroma hit Chris's body, he thrashed around and hit two of the fraternity brothers who were trying to hold him. He struggled to get up, not knowing where he was.
Momma Mahley hugged Chris and tried to calm him down. She knew that Chris and Mike were special friends, as she and her husband had watched how they interacted when they visited their home. Mike Senior and Mary had talked about the possibility that their son and Chris might be gay lovers, and had both voiced their love for both men if that was true.
It was four hours later when Poppa Mike came into the waiting room. The look on his face told everyone that things had not gone well in the surgery.
"Mike's in critical condition," Poppa Mike said to his wife and Chris. "A metal object that we think is a piece of the front bumper of the truck penetrated his abdomen and tore into his intestines and bladder. We repaired what we could, but we're afraid of infection from releasing fluids and waste into his abdominal cavity. We can't do anything more for him right now. His right arm and leg are both broken, and we put air casts on them for the time being. He has broken ribs, but we can't do anymore surgery on him until he gains some strength. The next 24 hours are critical for him, and all we can do is pray."
Chris was sobbing uncontrollably as he hugged Momma and Poppa Mahley. He knew that the Senior Mike would do everything possible to save his son's life, but Chris could tell by the way Mike Senior had talked that Mike was very seriously injured.
Saul Bernstein hugged his son and said that everyone should pray for Mike's recovery. The waiting room was filled with members and pledges of the Delta Delta Delta Fraternity, and they all bowed their heads as Saul led a prayer for Mike. Everyone realized that when a motorcycle is involved in an accident with a truck, the motorcycle rider is going to lose.
The waiting room was overflowing with concerned people, as every member and pledge of the fraternity waited for news about Mike Mahley. Chris's extended family joined the group, praying that Mike would recover. God always answers prayers, but, sometimes the answer is "NO".
Mike had been moved into the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, and his dad was constantly at the side of the bed. Mike Senior was praying that his son would recover, but he had seen this type of injury before, and knew that the chances for Mike to survive were very slim. He tried to remain hopeful for his son's recovery, but knew that infection could course through his son's body and destroy his vital organs and brain. His fears were realized when Mike's body temperature began rising. It was a sign of infection, and Mike's abdomen began swelling as his temperature climbed.
Chris refused to leave the waiting room and begged to see Mike. He was told that Mike was in critical condition, and any contact was out of the question. He begged Mike Senior to see his buddy, afraid that he would lose his best friend and lover.
"Mike arrested," Mike Senior told the concerned group in the waiting room on Sunday morning. "He lapsed into a coma, we had to put him on a respirator when he stopped breathing, and he has developed a serious infection. We're pumping him full of antibiotics, put in an abdominal catheter, and are flushing his body cavity with saline. I won't lie to you. My son's chances of living are very slim. The only thing that can save his life is a miracle."
Mike Senior hugged his wife and Jake and sobbed with them. He pulled Chris into the family hug and everyone sobbed together.
Chris lost control of his emotions as he sobbed and prayed for Mike. He knew that Mike was the guy that he wanted for his life partner, and wished that he had blown off the concert and stayed at the fraternity. Mike was more important than anything else in the world was, and he prayed that a miracle would happen and save the life of his buddy.
"You guys should go back to the fraternity and get some sleep," Mike Senior said. "We'll call you if there is any change in his condition."
The guys refused to leave. They were determined to stay at the hospital and pray for Mike.
"I want to talk to you two," Mike Senior said to Chris and Saul. "I never wanted Mike to buy that Harley, and now I feel guilty that I didn't make him get rid of it. I've treated too many bike riders who have either lost their lives or have been permanently crippled. I don't want to lose you," he said to Chris. "I've never asked you to do anything like this, but I want you to get rid of your Harley. I'm afraid that I'm gonna lose one of my sons, and I don't want to lose you!"
Chris choked at hearing Poppa Mike talk about losing Mike. It hit him like a rock, and he felt his head start spinning. Saul and Mike Senior realized that Chris was lightheaded and might pass out, and they quickly got him into a chair.
Chris finally calmed down and looked at Saul and said softly, "Call Sam and Jason for me please. Ask them to bring the trailer to campus and load up my bike. Tell them to sell it, give it away, or trash it. I promise to never ride a motorcycle again."
Mike Senior and Saul both hugged Chris and thanked him. They had talked about how dangerous riding the motorcycles was for their sons, and both wanted them to get rid of their bikes.
Chris joined his fraternity friends in the waiting room. Tom Jankowski sat next to Chris and put his arm around his shoulder.
"I've got a pledge pin for you," Joe said to Chris. "I talked to Mike, and he was very upset about pulling your pin. He told me that he loved you so much that he was jealous of any time that you spent with anyone but him. He was gonna apologize to you and give you back your pledge pin after the concert, and I know he wants you to have it now."
"Mike isn't the one who should apologize," Chris replied to Tom. "I'm the cause of Mike's depression. If I had listened to him and my own feelings, I would have realized that we are meant for each other. I've been a whore, and all the time I had true love right in front of me! Sex is sex, but with Mike, it is making love! I'll take a pledge pin back when Mike gives it to me, and not before!"
"Chris," Tom began, "What if Mike..."
Chris cut him off with a look of a predator in his eyes. "Don't you fucking say what you're thinking!" Chris demanded. "Mike's gonna make it, and he and I'll be Big and Little Brothers again! I'm gonna beg him to be my life partner!"
Tom Jankowski knew that he had hit a nerve with the big athlete, and decided to apologize and sit with Chris and their fraternity friends. Everyone tried to comfort their friends as they waited for hours for more news about Mike.
It was late in the afternoon when Poppa Mike came into the waiting room with bad news. Mike had developed a serious infection, and his body temperature was climbing. The antibiotics weren't working. They were now packing Mike's body in ice to bring down his temperature, and the next 24 hours were critical for his survival.
"I want you guys to go get something to eat," Poppa Mike said to the huge group of concerned friends of his son. "Mike would be pissed at you for just sitting here and not taking care of yourselves!"
Chris still refused to leave the hospital and begged to see Mike. Momma Mary and Poppa Mike took him aside and tried to reason with him.
"I love Mike," Chris said to them both.
"We know you love Mike, and we know he loves you," Momma Mary said as she hugged Chris.
"I didn't say that right," Chris admitted. "I'm in love with Mike! I don't want you mad at me, but I am in love with your son, and want him to be my life partner! I'm the reason that Mike was depressed. I didn't understand it at first, but now I know that he is in love with me too, and he wanted me to stay at the fraternity last night so he could tell me. I blew him off and went to the concert instead. This is all my fault!!!"
"Mike called me after he ripped your pledge pin off your shirt," Poppa Mike said. "He told me that he loved you, but was afraid to tell you. The meds he was on were wrong for him, and we were going to change them. He told me a lot, and I know that he was jealous that you spent time with other guys. He was ashamed that he pulled your pledge pin, and he asked me to help him sort out his life. You're our third son, and no matter what happens here, Mary and I both love you! Mike is the one responsible for his actions, not you!"
"I need to see him!" Chris said. "He may not hear me, but I need to tell him that I love him and want him to be my life partner!"
Mike Senior knew that his son was unconscious, and wouldn't hear a word that Chris spoke to him, but decided to let Chris go into the Intensive Care Unit and see Mike.
Chris wasn't ready for what he saw when he was taken into the ICU. Mike was lying there lifeless, with a multitude of tubes running into his body. The respirator was the only sound in the room, as air was being pumped in and out of his battered body. Chris could see the recently closed incision where the abdominal surgery had opened his lover's body. He saw the right side of Mike's body was wrapped to protect the broken ribs, and looked at the air casts on Mike's right arm and leg. He saw the drainage tube that had been inserted in Mike's abdomen and clear plastic bag that was nearly filled with a sickening collection of black and green fluid. Chris hated hospitals, but was determined to be with his best friend.
"I'm pissed at you," Chris began as he pulled a chair up to sit next to Mike's bed. "You weren't honest with me about your feelings, and that pisses me off. You and I have been best friends for almost five years, and we promised not to lie to each other. You knew I was having sex with girls and guys, but you never told me that I was hurting you when I did it. You had sex with girls and guys too, and I never busted your balls about it. You told other people that you were in love with me, but you never told me! When we rode to the quarry together, we always were honest with each other. At least that is what I thought. The last time you and I were there, I know that you lied to me and didn't tell me what was bothering you. I pray that you can hear what I say right now. I love you. I want us to put all the shit behind us and realize that we both love each other. I want only you as my life partner. It took something like this to make me realize that sex with other people was just fucking, but sex with you is making love. I want you to fight to live so we can look at each other and be honest about our feelings. I love you, and I don't want to live if anything happens to you! You are the love of my life, and I pledge that when you get out of this fucking hospital, I will prove my love to you!"
Chris knew that Mike was unconscious, but he had to express his love to him. He leaned over and kissed Mike on the forehead, praying that his buddy would hear the words he spoke. Poppa Mike was outside the room, but heard every word that Chris had said to his son. He prayed that Mike would hear the words of love and fight to live.
Poppa Mike came into the room and admitted that he heard what Chris had said to Mike.
"We knew you guys were more than friends," Poppa Mike said. "Mary and I both love you, and we knew that you and Mike were having sex with each other. We've talked, and we'll be there for both of you, no matter what happens. Mike would want you to get something to eat and get some rest. You'll fall apart if you don't. I promise to call you on your cell phone if there is any change in his condition. Please go back to the fraternity and sleep and then come back here."
Chris hugged Poppa Mike and realized that he needed to sleep. He now knew that his relationship with Mike wasn't a secret, and he walked back into the waiting room to see B waiting for him. Chris told B what he had said to Mike, and Saul just smiled and said that he had known that Chris was in love with Mike for a long time.
Saul insisted that Chris go back to the fraternity and get some food and rest. Chris resisted, but knew that his Dad was a lot smarter than he was. The entire Boston family was in the waiting room, along with all of Chris's grandparents, and they supported Saul in his demands that Chris eat and sleep. They all left the hospital to return home, after being assured by Saul that he would call them with news about Mike's condition. Saul drove Chris to the Tri-Delt house, where several guys were waiting to comfort Chris.
"Take care of my son," Saul said to Tom Jankowski. "I want someone with him every minute, as I am really worried about both Mike and him. I have to take my in-laws back to Fremont, but I will be back tomorrow after they fly back to Israel."
"We all love Mike and Chris," Tom said to Saul. "Chris won't take a pledge pin back from me, but I know that Mike was going to beg him to take it back. We'll take good care of Chris, and we'll call you if there are any problems.
Chris refused to eat, and finally agreed to lie down on Mike's bed to rest. Justin was in the room, and hugged Chris and cried along with him as they shared their emotions. Chris could smell the aroma of his lover as he lay on the bed and cried himself to sleep.
It was a rainy California day, and Chris was sitting in a chair under a canopy. Saul was on one side of him, and Jonathan Carpenter was on the other side. Chris sat in the chair, not really hearing the words that were being spoken. His mind was numb, and he looked down at the red rose he was holding in his hand. He felt Saul's arm around his shoulder, and Jon's hand holding his. He was numb until his two fathers helped him rise out of the chair and walk to the shining chrome casket. They placed their roses on top of the casket, and waited for Chris to place his red rose on the casket of his lost lover, Michael Mahley.
Chris looked at the casket that contained his lover, and totally broke down. He collapsed on the casket and screamed, "MIKE I LOVE YOU!!!"
Chris woke up screaming, as Justin Abernathy tried to hug him. It was a nightmare, and Chris was screaming and thrashing around so bad that it took several members of the fraternity to control him. Jarvis Williams had been in the room with his Big Brother, Justin, and grabbed Chris and tried to calm him down. It took all of the strength that Jarvis had to hold Chris down as he continued screaming and sobbing. Several other members of the fraternity ran into the room after hearing the screams, and everyone helped Jarvis try to calm Chris down.
Chris finally realized that he was having a nightmare, and collapsed on Mike's bed, sobbing. Several of the members tried to comfort Chris as he sobbed on Mike's bed. They knew that their favorite pledge was close to an emotional breakdown, and tried to talk to him to calm him down.
Chris finally calmed down when Joe McClure hugged him. He looked at Joe's face, and knew that he was with a special friend. He hugged Joe and continued sobbing, worried that his dream would become reality and he would be seeing Mike Mahley in a casket. He knew that he would kill himself if anything happened to Mike, as they were destined to be life partners.
Joe McClure hugged the man that had saved his life almost five years before. He knew that Chris and Mike had a special bond, and prayed for both of them. He hugged Chris and felt the massive body finally calm down and fall asleep again. Joe refused to leave the room, and continued to hug the huge athlete as Chris fell asleep again.
Chris was dreaming again, and this time he was transported to an open meadow where a medicine man was standing over a prone body. The medicine man was bathing the prone body with water, and then lit a small fire of herbs. The smoke from the herbs didn't rise up in the air, but remained low like they were heavier than air. The medicine man was chanting in a strange language, and fanned the smoke with the wing of a bird. The smoke began to circle around the prone body, and more chants caused the smoke to collect and circle around the body.
Chris woke up screaming again, and was restrained by Jarvis and Brendan. He couldn't deal with the nightmares he was having, and only knew that he had to return to the hospital to be with Mike.
It was Monday morning, and Chris had decided to cut all of his classes that day. Joe McClure drove Chris to the hospital where they joined a large group that was in the waiting room. The only news was that Mike's infection was getting worse, and his body was reacting to the antibiotics. Poppa Mike came out about once an hour with an update for the concerned friends of his son. He had only slept for a few hours, and looked weary and pale.
"You told us to get something to eat and rest," Chris said to Poppa Mike. "It's time for you to take your own advice. Mike would chew your ass out if he saw you like this."
Poppa Mike knew that Chris was right, and finally agreed to get something to eat from the cafeteria and then lay down. Chris walked with him and sat while he watched Mike Senior eat a sandwich.
"Tomorrow we'll run a brain scan," Mike Senior said softly. "Then we'll know if we've lost him."
"Don't say that!" Chris insisted. "Mike's gonna pull through this! We're gonna get our miracle!"
Mike Senior wished that it would happen, but he already knew that his son was gone. The fever had dropped off, but the drainage continued, proving that the infection was eating away the life of his son. He finished his sandwich and looked at the handsome man that his son was in love with. He could feel the pain and anxiety in Chris's body.
"I'm going to lay down for a while now," Poppa Mike said to Chris. "I want you to find something physical to do, like practice your Karate, go for a run, or maybe work on that pledge project I've been hearing about. Physical exercise will help your body get rid of some of the tension. Will you do that for me?"
Chris agreed with the doctor's orders, and gave him a hug before he asked Joe to take him to the Jacobs Dorm. When he walked into the lobby, he looked at the marble and bronze memorial to his mother, and remembered how the dedication ceremony had turned into a disaster when Nathan ran in. Several students said that they were sorry about Mike being hurt, and asked how he was doing.
"He's not doing good at all," Chris replied. His own words hit him like a brick. He didn't want to admit it, but he knew that he was going to lose his best friend. He ran to his room and choked back his tears as he packed his gym bag with his Gi and work clothes for digging.
When Chris left the dorm, he saw Nathan walking across the campus toward the Athletic Complex. He was pleased to find out that Nathan was going to practice his Karate too, and they walked together and talked about Mike's condition.
Poppa Mike was right. The physical exertion gave Chris an outlet for his frustrations and anger, as he pounded and kicked the punching bags. Nathan and Brice Cox, the training coach, watched in awe as Chris continued practicing several new moves and blows that he had learned from the books he got from Yoshi Yamamoto.
"ENOUGH!" Brice screamed at Chris. "You've done enough for one day! If you keep hitting those bags, you'll rip them apart! Hit the shower and get out of here!"
Chris didn't realize that he had been working out for over four hours in the Karate Room. He showered and put on his work clothes before he headed for the Tri-Delt house. Several of the members and pledges greeted Chris and dragged him into the dining room. Jarrett Stevens sat with Chris while Isaac and Helmut headed into the kitchen. His two former pledge buddies returned with a plate that held two huge sandwiches and a tall glass of apple juice. Chris ate the food and listened to his pledge buddies talk about Mike and how the entire fraternity had put their pledgeship on hold.
"I wish you'd take your pledge pin back," Jarrett said honestly. "You know that Mike was gonna to give it back to you, and he'd be pissed at you right now."
Chris knew that Jarrett was right, but he was determined that he wouldn't wear a pledge pin again until Mike put it on his chest. He finished the food and asked Jarrett to show him what work needed to be done on the backyard project.
Chris was surprised to see all of the work that had been completed since the last time he had worked in the backyard of the fraternity. The Bobcat had removed nearly all of the shrubbery and undergrowth, and the garden was starting to take shape. The depressions for the string of pools and ditch down to the creek had to be dug with a shovel. Jarrett and Cameron had put stakes in the ground to mark the outlines, and had put notes on each stake to show how deep to dig.
Jarrett left to attend classes, and Chris was alone. He started digging where a retaining wall of landscape stones would be installed. He threw the dirt in one of the wheelbarrows and moved it down to a washout area that needed to be filled. He worked alone for several hours until some of his pledge buddies joined him. When it was time to get ready for supper, Chris refused to stop working. He wasn't a pledge anymore, and he didn't know how to act in the fraternity. He heard the bell and shouts of his pledge buddies as they announced supper, but he decided to walk down by the creek and take a break.
Tom Jankowski looked out of the window and saw Chris sitting with his back against a tree near the creek. Before the pledges started clearing the backyard, it would have been impossible to see Chris sitting there.
Chris had dozed off, and his dream returned. He was watching a medicine man performing a ritual over a body on the ground. He could hear the medicine man chanting, and suddenly he could understand the words that were being spoken. He watched the swirling smoke and a green haze appear. He walked up to the medicine man and saw that he was performing the ritual over a Cherokee woman who looked dead.
"It's time for you to wake up," a voice said to Chris.
He opened his eyes and saw White Cloud, his great-grandfather standing over him. He tried to speak, but couldn't.
"Come with me to the water," White Cloud stated softly. "We will undress and wash away the worries that trouble you and talk."
"Grandfather," Chris said, "I thought you only spoke Cherokee."
"I am speaking Cherokee," White Cloud replied. "I refused to learn the white man's language. You are speaking Cherokee to me too. When you were 12 and near death, I visited you and healed you. Ever since that day, you have been able to speak and understand our language."
"Did you guys tell Chris it was time for supper?" Tom asked the group of pledges.
"Chris said he isn't a pledge anymore," Isaac choked out. "He said he isn't hungry and wanted to keep working. Maybe if you ask him to come in and eat, he'll do it."
Tom turned and walked out of the fraternity and into the backyard. He looked towards the tree where he had seen Chris, but couldn't find him. He walked down to the creek, but never saw Chris. He returned to the house, confused about how Chris could disappear so fast. When he sat down in the dining room, he told the guys at his table that Chris was gone.
"I saw him sitting by a tree near the creek," Tom said, "But when I went down there, he was gone. I looked all over for him. He must have gone back to his dorm."
White Cloud led Chris into the creek and used his hands to scoop up water and wash Chris's entire body. As White Cloud bathed his great-grandson, he said, "You know that I live in the Upper World now. I have come to the Center World to help you by cleansing you and guiding you to peace. I read your dream. The medicine man was Black Hawk, the Shaman that trained me. He was performing a powerful healing ceremony on the woman he loved. It is called the 'Circle of Smoke' and only a true Cherokee medicine man can perform it. Unetlanv is our name for the Creator, or God, and he only allows medicine men to perform the ritual for someone they truly love. It is a dangerous ritual and could cost the medicine man his life in exchange for the one he loves."
Chris was silent as he listened to his great-grandfather explain his Cherokee heritage to him. He knew White Cloud was dead, but he could see and feel him.
"Numbers play an important role in the ceremonies of the Cherokee, and the numbers four and seven repeatedly occur in our ceremonies. Four represents all the familiar forces, also represented in the four cardinal directions. These cardinal directions are east, west, north and south. The number seven represents the seven clans of the Cherokee, and are also associated with directions. In addition to the four cardinal directions, three others exist. Up (the Upper World), down (the Lower World) and center (where we live, and where `you' always are). There are seven clans in Cherokee Society: Anigilohi (Long Hair), Anisahoni (Blue), Aniwaya (Wolf), Anigotegewi (Wild Potato), Aniawi (Deer), Aniwodi (Paint), and our clan, Anitsisqua (Bird). The number seven also represents the height of purity and sacredness, a difficult level to attain. Only the owl and cougar had attained this level, and since then, they have always had a special meaning to the Cherokee. The pine, cedar, spruce, holly and laurel also attained this level. They play a very important role in Cherokee ceremonies. Cedar is the most sacred of all, and the distinguishing colors of red and white set it off from all others. The wood from the tree is considered very sacred, and in ancient days, was used to carry the honored dead. The rivers, or "Long Man," are sacred, and the practice of going to water for purification and other ceremonies is important to prepare a medicine man for his work."
"Grandfather," Chris asked, "Can you heal Mike?"
"That I cannot do," White Cloud replied. "I am teaching you our ways in case you want to try to heal him yourself. Only one who truly loves a person can heal them and survive. If the love is pure for both of you, it can happen, but it is very dangerous. You will need the help of the Little People, because you are not a pure Cherokee."
"Who are the Little People?" Chris asked.
"The Little People are very mysterious," White Cloud said. "They are invisible unless they want to be seen. When seen, they look very much like any other Cherokee, except they are very small, and have long hair, sometimes to the ground. The Little People live in various places, such as rock shelters, caves in the mountains, or laurel thickets. They help Cherokees but can be quite mischievous at times. The Little People need to be dealt with carefully, and it is necessary to observe the traditional rules regarding them. They don't like to be disturbed, and because of this, traditional Cherokees will not investigate or look when they believe they hear Little People."
"How can I get the Little People to help me if I can't go looking for them?" Chris asked.
"Sometimes a medicine man can summon the Little People and ask their help," White Cloud replied.
He took Chris to the edge of the creek after they were dressed. White Cloud gathered sticks and branches and began building a fire. He explained that the fire had to have seven cedar branches radiating out from the center. The seven branches represented the seven Cherokee Clans. Chris helped find cedar branches as White Cloud used flint to light the dry grass and small twigs. When the fire was ready, White Cloud opened a deerskin pouch and began chanting to summon the Little People. He sprinkled herbs from the deerskin pouch on the fire and continued calling.
"They are here now," White Cloud said to Chris. "They don't want to be seen by us, and they will only talk to me. I will tell them what we need from them, but you won't be able to hear me or them."
Chris waited patiently. The aroma of the burning wood and herbs filled the air, and he fell into a trance. He was awakened by White Cloud, and listened as his great-grandfather explained what the Little People had offered. The fire had burned out and the ashes were cold.
"The Little People say that your love for Mike is pure," White Cloud said to Chris. "They say that his love for you is also pure, so they will help you. There is one you call chipmunk that will help protect you. He cannot perform any part of the 'Circle of Smoke', but he will give you strength. His long hair must be released and you must run your fingers through it to gain strength from him. I must go now. My time in the Center World is finished for now, and I go to join Unetlanv in the Upper World."
"Will I see you again," Chris sobbed, wishing that White Cloud would stay and help him.
"Our paths will cross again," White Cloud replied. "There is great danger in your future, and I have appealed to Unetlanv to let me watch over you. White Dove must know of your plans for the ceremony. She is my daughter, and knows which herbs to use. I have given you everything you need. I must now leave."
Before Chris could hug his great-grandfather, he vanished. Chris looked at the place where the fire had burned, and realized that the ashes were gone, and sitting in the unblemished grass was a bottle filled with water. Somehow, Chris realized that the water was from the creek, and would be needed during the "Circle of Smoke" ceremony. He carried the bottle of water into the fraternity house and went to retrieve his gym bag from the living room.
When Chris passed the dining room, Tom Jankowski jumped up and ran to catch Chris before he could leave the house.
"I thought you left," Tom said. "I looked for you in the backyard, but you weren't there. Come and have supper with us, please."
"I don't belong here," Chris said. "I feel obligated to help on the garden project, but I'm not a pledge anymore, so I'll just go back to the dorm and eat before I go back to the hospital."
"Chris, we've put the pledge program on hold for a while," Tom explained. "Members and pledges are doing the house duties until we know that Mike is gonna be better. You don't have to call the members, Mister, and no one will be harassed or paddled. Please come and have supper with us. We all love you, and want you to spend time here with us. I'll give you a ride to your dorm and to the hospital after supper."
When Chris walked into the dining room with Tom, everyone jumped up to cheer and greet him. The meal was just starting, and Chris was confused. He had heard the bell and supper announcement before he was with White Cloud, and the meal should have been over. It was just starting, and he realized that time had stood still while he was with his great-grandfather.
Chris found the table where Cody was sitting, and told him he needed to talk to him after the meal. Cody was happy to see Chris at the house, as he had feared that Chris would stay away after losing his pledge pin.
After the meal, Chris took Cody into the living room and quietly explained what had happened with White Cloud. At first Cody was afraid that Chris was losing his mind, but listened intently. He agreed to help Chris if he performed the ceremony.
When Chris got back to the Jacobs Dorm, he called his grandmother, Ellen Porter. She listened carefully as Chris described his dreams and the meeting with White Cloud.
"My father had amazing powers," Ellen Porter said to her grandson. "He visited my dreams last night and told me that you would need my help. He only told me about the 'Circle of Smoke' ceremony one time when he was alive. He said it was very dangerous. You're an adult now, but you should consider Saul and the Carpenters before you risk your life."
"I love Mike," Chris said honestly. "I have to do what I can to save his life, even if it means losing mine."
Ellen Porter didn't like to hear that, but she explained the different herbs used in Cherokee medicine and ceremonies to Chris. She reminded Chris that his great-grandfather had left a package for him, and suspected that it contained what he would need for the ceremony. She described the different herbs that could help Mike recover from his infection.
Blackberry for stomach problems.
Pull Out a Sticker (Greenbriar) for use as a blood purifier.
Squirrel Tail, or Saloli gatoga (Yarrow) to stop excess bleeding.
Cedar, used for special healing ceremonies.
Chris thanked his grandmother, and promised to call her if he decided to perform the ceremony. He also called B and found out that his dad was headed for the hospital. When Chris got to the hospital, he found out that there was no improvement in Mike's condition. Momma and Poppa Mahley were both exhausted, and tried to convince the guys to return to their fraternity or dorm for the night.
Chris waited for B to arrive, and sat praying for God to heal his best friend. When Saul arrived, Chris hugged him and told him that there was no improvement in Mike's condition. They sat together as Chris described his meeting with White Cloud and his dreams. Saul was very worried about Chris, but believed everything his son told him. He remembered when White Cloud had saved Chris's life, and had learned that there were powers beyond his understanding.
Jake Mahley talked to his parents and then approached the group of CSU students in the waiting room.
"There's nothing that you can do here," Jake said softly. "My parents are exhausted and they both need to rest. They won't rest if you are here waiting for news, so I'm begging you to leave and get some rest yourselves. Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. they will run a brain scan on Mike, and then we will know his true condition. We appreciate your concern for my brother, but it is time to let God take care of him and for you to get some rest. Please leave now and pray for Mike."
The sincerity of what Jake said convinced the guys and girls to leave the hospital so his parents could get some rest.
B gave Chris a ride back to the Jacobs Dorm. He knew that Chris was exhausted both physically and emotionally and offered to stay with him in his dorm room.
"I want you to do something for me," Chris said to B. "I already know what the brain scan will show. I want you to go home and bring back the package that White Cloud left for me with White Dove. It's time for me to use my Cherokee heritage to try to save Mike's life."
To be continued...
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