This is the final Part IV of a four part story. (See Part I for Index). It is a story about relationships between and among teenagers. This includes intimate relationships between young males. If you don't approve or are offended, then how come you're reading this? Find a different story. Or perhaps read on; you may be persuaded to think differently.
If, for some legal reason, you are not allowed to read this in your area of the world because of illogical laws, again I will not condone (publicly) anyone breaking the law, so either move or read sentence six. I definitely don't want the thought police after either of our butts.
Please, this story is sort of my property, so if you ever want to quote some of it, please e-mail me and also give proper attribution.
Note that an author welcomes any feedback. Constructive criticism is appreciated, and all e-mails will be answered.
Chapter 87b -- Crises (Stolen Ideas)
The camping trip to Tobyhanna State Park was fantastic for a whole lot of reasons. There was that fantastic display of the Aurora Borealis that covered most the sky. I'd never seen it before. The air was so clear away from the city. I watched `til the moon came up and overpowered the lights. Something had woken me up soon after I'd gone to sleep. The travel clock on the clothes trunk said it was 10 p.m. I was about to snuggle back into my sleeping bag when I decided to get up and see what was happening outside. I wasn't sure why but I felt it important to find out. I tried to be quiet so not to wake anybody else. Fortunately our new tent was quite large. I put on my coat, and I got to the front zipper without disturbing anyone. Of course the exclamation I made after I got out and looked up at the sky undid all the previous care I took to be quiet. My Mom soon joined me when I told her what I was looking at. Soon everyone except my brother was outside and looking up. I couldn't understand why everyone went back to bed after watching only ten minutes or so. It was so spectacular. All these white streaks across the sky sort of shooting and even vibrating a bit. And toward the end some red and green started pulsing in the sky toward the north. It wasn't until I went back into the tent that I realized just how cold it had gotten.
But it was earlier that night when I discovered something even more amazing. Again I couldn't understand how come my brother and sisters couldn't get that interested. But I discovered an extraordinary thing about a small salamander, or something more properly called a red eft. I had seen them on occasion during our camping trips in the Pocono's and they were really cute. But that evening there was what I thought of as the march of the efts. I even fantasized about there being music and a marching band and everything. All throughout the forest here were these little red efts going toward the lake, there must have been thousands of them. And their rapid transformation was remarkable. And the subsequent demonstrations for Jade, Tim, and Billy made me feel like a famous magician. As the cute things hit the water they turned from fire-engine red to pale green except for the line of dots down their backs. And also their tails widened vertically
I was pretty thrilled when Mr. Richards, one of the Biology teachers, showed so much enthusiasm over the demonstration with the red efts. He was one of the lay teachers hired by the school, and everyone really liked him. We even had a big demonstration last Friday after school. After the demonstration, he asked me to describe in detail about how I discovered all this about the efts in the first place. And I repeated the whole story for him. Szamborski said he was going to write up something about it for the school newspaper, and he took some pictures. And so did Mr. Richards who had color film in his camera. And he kept asking me questions all about how I discovered this thing I felt very proud to have apparently discovered something new. For a few days, Jade and I were the talk of the school for bringing in the whole thing to school. (Well in some circles).
Another thing that wound up giving me a lot of satisfaction was our plan to help tutor in Calculus class was implemented. Mr. Wilson thought it a good idea and besides Jade, myself, Jerry Price, and Twain, he also picked a student named Mike Kenny that neither Jade nor I knew much about. He was pretty quiet in class and didn't mix with a lot of the other kids. But apparently he was pretty good in Calculus. Mr. Wilson also used our idea of not requiring us to do the daily homework assignments. So far the few days it has been in place worked out well. And I found out that teaching the stuff really made us understand the material very well. It seemed the best way to actually learn it. It went so well that I eventually mentioned the plan to teachers possibly using student tutors in other classes like Physics or Chemistry. Our Chemistry teacher wasn't that interested, but our Physics teacher from last year liked the idea and said he'd look into doing the same.
Going home from school that day I felt like I was on top of the world. Jade and I were pretty proud of everything we had accomplished.
"Well, White-boy, that was quite a demonstration in Biology lab. You're famous."
We talked in detail about the entire affair. It was quite an unusual event for the school and we were relishing the excitement and celebrity it brought. (Even if only among a small portion of the student body).
Jade asked me: "How come it's Szamborski writing the article for the school paper instead of you?"
"Well, since I was a main part of the story, Fr. Schields thought it more appropriate for someone else to write it. I wanted him to have you do it, but he picked Szamborski instead."
I didn't think it mattered too much except I thought we finally had an interesting story to do and I wish it had been Jade who had gotten to do it. We also talked a bit about our tutoring scheme. It was turning out to be a good success.
It was about a week later, when I read Szamborski's story that I got enraged. I found out that Mr. Richards had gone to Tobyhanna State Park that very weekend and investigated the area and the newts. He could find no efts but there were still some of the green newts swimming in the warmer waters of the lake near its edge. That didn't bother me, but what did was when I read that Mr. Richards had submitted an article about the entire thing to a Biology Journal.
I found Szamborski and asked him about it. Ted said in his usual flowery way: "Well, Mr. Richards just said he wrote this article. I read it. It was only a few pages, and had several photos. Your name wasn't even mentioned, only that a student had brought the thing to his attention and he had subsequently investigated and then, and I quote: `I set up this experiment to substantiate the phenomenon,' unquote." That was from the introduction.
I was roaring mad: "How come he didn't mention it was me who first did the experiment, and found the whole thing to begin with?" I hoped no one could here me downstairs in the school office; I was getting a bit loud.
Jade tried to get me calmed down but I wasn't in the calming down state of mind. I hurried to the Biology Lab to confront Mr. Richards, but he wasn't there. I'd have to get him the next day. I had an entire day to stew about it.
That evening Jade did eventually convince me to try to be more tactful when I talked with Mr. Richards. And I did see him the next day.
"Mr. Richards, I heard you wrote an article about the red efts for some journal. I was wondering if I could read it."
"Sorry, but I don't have a copy right now."
I didn't believe him. "Ted Szamborski said that he read it and my name isn't even mentioned. Also that you take all the credit for doing the experiments. Is that true?"
"I don't like your insinuations. I will not discuss it." And he didn't.
I got nowhere with Mr. Richards, and I was angrier than even yesterday. But I didn't know what to do. I finally took some of Jade's advice (for a change) and didn't start yelling. I'd only get into trouble. But what I did do was try to see the Principal about what I thought of as stealing. Mr. Richards stole my find and my original experimentation. Principal McNeil said that it wasn't his concern. I was so frustrated but didn't know what I could do.
I went back up to the newspaper office and started venting -- loudly. Finally Szamborski came into the office and asked me what was the matter. Jade was unable to calm me down. Ted even agreed that it wasn't fair. It was then that I got the idea that Ted should rewrite part of his article so that it would point out just what Mr. Richards had so unfairly done.
"Look Rocco, the proofs for that article, and even the entire page have already been finished. The only way Fr. Shields will even start to approve any change is to make sure that the finished article exactly fits the old slot."
So Jade, Ted and I began rewriting. It took a good hour, but we eventually got it done. But ever since the incident of the article about homosexuality, the final proof pages were locked up and we needed permission of Fr. Schields to make any changes. We actually only added a couple sentences while leaving out a few.
While Ted went out to find Fr. Schields, I was looking at a few other stories some other students had written for the paper when I saw one about an interview with Mr. Wilson the new student tutoring program that was now being `tested' in both Calculus Class, and a few Physics classes. I was happy to see an article about my idea. Except that by the end of the article, I discovered that Mr. Wilson had taken complete credit for it.
It was a good thing Jade was there. I would have been arrested for murder if he weren't. After being already so upset with the red eft thing, this just stoked the flame of anger hotter. It took Jade forever to get me calmed down enough to start functioning rationally. We talked it over and by this time Ted Szamborski had returned with Father Schields.
Father Schields, though very conservative about what went into the paper, was actually considered to be one of the nicer and more truly concerned teachers in the school. And he also taught Biology. So he completely understood the significance of what Mr. Richards had done. I was thinking I should have gone to him instead of Mr. Richards to begin with.
"OK Rocco what's this all about?"
Jade and I told the entire story and I was very gratified that Fr. Schields listened, and not only listened, eventually agreed that what Mr. Richards had done was not fair.
Then we showed the article written by Charles Peppler about the tutoring program and again explained what happened. Fr. Scheilds didn't say much right away. "Let me see the article Charles wrote. It hasn't been inserted yet?"
We answered no. He read it. Finally Fr. Schields said: "Technically, neither Mr. Richard, nor Mr. Wilson lied. Unless you include in lying, deliberately leaving out some facts and thereby distorting the perceived truth. Mr. Richards is a lay teacher, and I don't know him well enough to understand what his exact intentions are but I believe I will look into this. But as for Mr. Wilson, he and I will need to talk."
We all started talking and Fr. Scheilds halted all the comments. "Look, Rocco, I want you to calm down. I know very well how you feel by now. But nothing is gained by anger. Let me say two things. Mr. Peppler will be re-interviewing Mr. Wilson and rewriting that story about the new tutoring program. Second, I will have a talk with Mr. Richards." He looked over at Ted and said: "Mr. Szamborski, I need the reworked article that you wrote." Ted handed it over.
"And Rocco, nothing can be gained by venting your resentment. Calm down, and I will see you tomorrow. Can you do that?"
I agreed. Well, I said to myself I'd try real hard. I did feel somewhat better, and I saw Fr. Schields in a different light. "OK, and thanks for looking into this. It's very frustrating to have someone else take credit for your ideas."
I was over at Jade's house so often I wondered what my parents thought about it. I just wanted to let sleeping dogs lie so I never asked. And Jade did wonders this evening in calming me down. (Actually parts of me got even more stirred up. But for a while I totally ignored what had happened earlier.) I hoped that Tim was downstairs watching TV. He rarely missed The Lucy Show. I couldn't stand it. The comedy I liked to watch most was The Dick Van Dyke Show.
The next Monday after school we saw Fr. Schields again in the newspaper office. He said that Charles Peppler would be rewriting his article with a more complete reporting of the facts, and he said that Mr. Richards had "magnanimously" decided to revise his Journal article. I was now going to be at least mentioned as bringing the transformation of the red efts to Mr. Richard's attention. I was excited. And surprised. I wondered just what Fr. Schields had said to him, but he made no move to volunteer the information and I didn't ask.
But I definitely had a topic for the next article by The Preacher (if approved). It involved a few quotes from the Gospels about `theft.' And after I wrote the article I was wondering about my own reactions and thought I wasn't any better than they were. I decided to talk to Jade about my thoughts when we were alone next.