Monday, July 12, 2010

Harter Union: Part Five; Chapters 6 & 7

During the summer when there were no college students to serve, we usually had a variety of guests that kept us employed. Early in the summer was usually an alumni week followed by a gaggle of young cheerleaders ranging from age 13 to 18. After that was kind of slow and some years we would have some one-timers come. One year was a group of Boy Scouts and another was a huge family reunion which I enjoyed watching. In July was our biggest summer group: The Institute.

The Institute was another group of highly religious people but they were actually able to make it all fun somehow. Although they required a lot of things, the food basically had to be prepared exclusively by Kathryn and for an hour and a half during each meal, they wanted complete silence from the kitchen to pray and read scripture and just tell stories, like a church service, so the staff would go downstairs at that time to the game room and watch TV, or play pool, or just sit and talk. This was also our first year where they required us to wear uniforms. Bright yellow shirts with the Institute logo on the right breast. They were ugly but it was a mandatory requirement for which we had to oblige. It was also the one two week period where everybody had to work, everyday.

I enjoyed talking with a couple of the reverends and I even sat in on a couple of church services with Melissa, who actually used to be very religious. Amazingly, I got on the good side of one of the reverends and he chose me to read a Bible verse to the group which I naturally declined but somehow was able to finagle me into doing it anyway.

It was the day before my big speech and I was a nervous wreck about it but somehow I still managed to play a mean game of pool. “Next victim,” I said as Jason tossed the pool cue to Nathan.

“I think a man who plays a good game of pool is incredibly sexy,” Stephanie said, eyeing me with half closed eyes. Everyone looked at her confused. “What? I do?”

“I think a man with a horn growing out of his head would be considered sexy to you,” I laughed. “And you can stop hitting on me. You’re not my type.”

“Can you blame me for trying?” Stephanie smiled.

“I can,” said Melissa, coming up and hugging me from behind.

“So are you ready for your big Bible verse reading?” asked Wendy.

“Of course not. I don’t know why they chose me for this. I’ve never read the Bible and I don’t know if I even believe in God so I’m one of the last people they should’ve chose for this,” I explained, finishing racking the pool balls.

“You should be treating this as an honor, Jefferson,” said Heather. “What passage have you decided to read?”

“I Corinthians Chapter 13,” I revealed. “It’s the only part of the Bible I know by heart.”

Nathan sank in a couple of balls as I looked at my left wrist that did not have a watch on it. Emily came down and poked her head into the room. “We need to get back upstairs. They’ve finished.” We all put away the pool stuff, turned off the TV and went back upstairs.

Melissa was always soft. I had never felt any girl as soft as her. Being with her—inside her—felt new, yet familiar and making love to her in the darkness of her bedroom, lit only by a nightlight in the bathroom, made it seem like the very first time.

Her sharp exhale of breath rang into my ear and echoed in my brain as she met her rhythm with mine. Her hands ran through my hair, down my back and her nails cut into my skin. “Ah! Where’d you learn that?” I asked hoarsely.

“It just feels so wonderful being with you. Am I hurting you?”

“No-no. I kind of like it,” I said, and began thrusting harder.

In Overland Park, Chrissy and Jesse had just gotten done and were lying down, talking. “So how is work going?” asked Jesse.

“It’s going fine. Right now we have the Institute which are a bunch of really religious people so…”

“You won’t have to confess anything like what we just did will you?” Jesse asked, joking a little.

“No, of course not. Only Jeff has gotten close to any of the reverends and he actually has to read a Bible verse tomorrow. We’re all making fun of him.”

“I want you to leave that place,” Jesse said abruptly.


“Leave and move in with me. I can take care of both of us,” Jesse offered as he sat up in the bed.

“I don’t know. Moving in together is a big step and…” Chrissy caught Jesse’s eyes looking down on her and smiled. “All right. I’ll put in my two weeks and move in with you.”

“Wonderful,” Jesse said, leaning down to kiss Chrissy. Chrissy pulled Jesse on top of her and the two began making love again.

Back in Baldwin, Alyson was bent over her bed with Nathan standing behind her, grabbing her butt and slamming his hips against her. Her screams and moans were starting to get louder so Nathan slowed his movements and spoke, “Are you okay? Want me to stop?”

“God, no. This feels good. Wendy is probably wondering what we’re doing,” Alyson said, gasping between words. “I love you, Nathan.”

“I love you, too,” said Nathan resuming his hip motions.

And at Wanda’s trailer, both Wanda and Heather were in a separate bedroom with guys they met in Lawrence. Wanda was on top of hers while Heather was underneath and twisting the bed sheet off. It was a quiet night in Baldwin City and for once it seemed everything was right with the world.

Chapter Seven
Melissa, Wendy, Aaron, Nathan, Heather, Kepler, and I were standing off to the side listening to Reverend Ira DeSpain conclude his reading. “Are you ready?” asked Wendy.

“Of course not! I hate public speaking, I have to follow Reverend DeSpain and I have mustard on my tie,” I vented.

“Uh, we didn’t have mustard tonight,” noted Wendy.

“I know!” I sighed and regained my composure. “What if I bomb?”

“Then they’ll all stone and crucify you,” Nathan said.

“You are going to do fine, Jefferson,” Heather said.

“We’re all standing behind you and you’re gonna do great,” Melissa hugged me and kissed my cheek.

“Thank you,” announced one of the Institute’s preachers, “that was Baker Reverend Ira DeSpain. Our next speaker has been head supervisor of Baker Food Service for three years. Please welcome Jefferson Franklin, reading I Corinthians Chapter 13.” A spattering of applause echoed through the dining room as I walked up on stage and behind the podium.

I cleared my throat and began, “’If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

“’Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

“’Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophecy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

“’And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’”

The applause was louder as I walked off stage, crumpled up the piece of paper the verse was written on and threw it away. I walked through the kitchen, past my office and out the back door.

Melissa, Heather, Nathan, Alyson, Wendy, Kepler and Aaron were all standing at the wall outside the back door. It was almost ten at night. “Why do you think Jeff ran out?” asked Wendy.

“Because he wants attention. He’ll be in the kitchen tomorrow cooking eggs or something,” Alyson said, holding onto Nathan’s arm.

“Oh, shut up, Alyson!” shouted both Melissa and Heather.

“But honestly,” began Melissa. “I’m sure he’s okay. The Bible verse just got him a little upset. Heather, if he’s not back in the morning, call me and we’ll go look for him before work. All right?”

“Sure. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Heather answered.

They all dispersed and headed home. When Melissa got home she found Mike waiting for her. “What are you doing here?” she asked.

“I’m waiting for you. Where have you been?” Mike asked.

“I was at work. We’ve been busy lately and my boyfriend gave a speech at work tonight so I had to stay after and brag about it,” Melissa said, unlocking her front door. She walked in and turned on a light.

“Boyfriend, huh? You sure wasted no time in moving on. Can I come in? I want to talk to you,” Mike said with a kind of pathetically.

“I guess but make it quick. Don’t you have a wife to cheat on?” Melissa said, closing the door after Mike.

“I don’t have a wife. She filed for divorce because of you,” Mike admitted.

“Because of me? You asked me out. You didn’t have to sleep with me or lie to your wife. You did it all yourself.”

Mike chuckled a little. “I figured you’d say that but now nothing can come between us. It can be just you and me…” Mike said as he brushed Melissa’s hair behind her ear.

“Stop,” she ordered, messing up the hair. “We can’t be together. You lied to me and cheated on your wife. I don’t even want to see you anymore!”

“I understand. Then how about one last time for old time’s sake?”

“I have a boyfriend, Mike. A good one and I am not going to mess this up again. Now please, leave!” Melissa started to head to the door but Mike grabbed her arm and threw her toward a chair.

“Listen, bitch! I came here for one thing and because of you, my marriage is ruined. Now, give me what I want and I’m out of your life. If you don’t then I’ll make your life a nightmare,” Mike let go of Melissa and they exchanged looks. Melissa sank to her knees, began undoing Mike’s pants and started crying

Jeff and Melissa hit a rough spot in their relationship and the gang begins playing a role-playing game. Also, someone passes away.