Journey to Love

Chapter Thirty-four


by Sequoyah

Edited by Cole, Peter and Scott




When we finished our story, Auntie said, “So you just finished high school, Wolf. What’s next?”


“I’m enrolled at ESU in Elizabethton and plan to go into mass communications. I have had a radio show for several years and am interested in TV as well. I’m also active in the community theater, especially backstage work -- set design and construction, make-up, costuming, lighting, all of that. I have done some acting, but really enjoy backstage work more.”


“He just pulled off a major acting job,” I said. “Saved a friend of ours. Did you see the mess at the Atlanta airport that resulted in the further downfall of Brother Fitzsimmons and his gay-to-straight clinic?”


“Oh, yes,” Auntie said. “Did my soul good.”


“Well, Wolf’s friends from North Carolina hatched up the scheme which overturned the good reverend’s applecart. Remember the two women involved?”


“The one who called that poor boy?”


“Yeah, that was Wolf.”


“I find that hard to believe,” Jeremy said. “Anyway, you didn’t mention that. What’s the story?”


We had to tell Auntie and Jeremy the whole story and I ran upstairs and brought down photos of the transformation of Wolf and Michael.


“So where is the poor boy now?” Auntie asked.


“Last we saw of him, he and his lover Sandy were on their way to a hunter’s cabin in the Florida wilderness, hiding from Michael’s father and on a honeymoon. His family was still trying to get him into one of those hell-holes to make him straight, but his boyfriend’s adopted father and his law partner are working to make sure that doesn’t happen.”


“Was everyone from Elizabethton gay?” Jeremy laughed.


“Hardly,” Wolf said, “but we were five to their four. It’s kinda complicated, but Marc and Justin, and also Sandy and Michael are definitely out after last year’s prom. They were being shunned as you can imagine and I felt I should support them. In addition to the five of us who are gay, there were two other straight couples.”


Auntie asked more questions and suddenly I realized it was after 8:00 and I had not seen Eloise. “Where’s Eloise?” I asked.


“She had a date after work today. She has been seeing a really nice young man who really cares about her and she him.”


“So how long have you been alone?”


“Actually, the last granddaughter left on a flight just before yours landed, but even if she had not been here, Levi, Telvin and Jeremy have checked on me and remember, their backyards and mine adjoin.”


“Yeah, and Levi had a gate put in the fence between the two and an intercom system connecting the houses,” Jeremy added. “Seems Auntie has acquired some new grandkids. So what’s on your agenda?”


“Wolf is here tomorrow and tomorrow night, and then I will take him home and spend a day there if I can be sure you are being looked after, Auntie.”


“We can take care of that,” Jeremy said. “Levi, Telvin and I all owe you and Auntie and besides, it’s no big deal for us. No worry about that. You sure one day in -- where? Elizabethton? -- is enough?”


“Two days would really be nice,” Wolf said. “Small place, but there’s a lot to show a boyfriend.”


“Two days it is,” Levi said.


“Tomorrow I want to show Wolf around campus here. He’s enrolled in ESU in Elizabethton, but OCU has a superior mass communications program as well as an excellent drama program.”


“Thinking about enrolling here?” Auntie asked.


“Since Derek and I are in this for the long haul, I would love to, but the extra expense may well make that impossible. I will be living at home if I follow the original plan and, of course, pay in-state tuition. The out-of-state tuition at OCU will be three times what I expected to pay.”


“Think you might look into that, Auntie?” I asked.


“Maybe, maybe.”


“Then there’s the extra expense of room and board.”


“I suspect Derek could figure a way around that,” Jeremy laughed. “Well, I’ve got to go. Finals for the first summer session coming up. You still planning on taking courses second session, Derek?”


“I am. Already registered. Second session starts Monday, right?”


“Right. Nice to meet you, Wolf, and know you have a good one in Derek. Hang on to him. He deserves a lot of lovin’.”


“That’s my plan,” Wolf grinned.


After Jeremy left, Wolf and I went upstairs. As we walked through my apartment, Wolf kept saying, “Wow!” When he’d seen it all and we were standing in the library, he said, “Derek, this is magnificent!”


“Some of my friends call it my palace,” I said, laughing.


“I can understand why.”


Toward the end of first semester, I’d had an intercom installed as there had been no other way for Auntie to contact me except by rapping on the banister with her cane -- which she still does. We had just finished our tour of the apartment when the intercom buzzed and Auntie’s voice said, “Drinks ready when you are.”


I let her know we were on our way.


“Wolf, Derek, I think a celebration is called for.” There was a silver tray with strawberries, champagne and flutes sitting on the coffee table in the living room. “Derek, would you please serve the wine?” Auntie asked. I nodded. “So, Wolf, your parents know you are gay, but do they know about my Derek?”


“They only know he’s a friend I met in Florida who is coming for a short visit before starting summer school here.”


“And just when do you plan to make the boyfriend announcement?”


“When I introduce him, I think.”


“Have you even hinted he might be more than a casual friend?”


“Subtly, I have.”


“Think they suspect anything?”


“I would have suspected something had my son suddenly asked to spend a month working on a boat,” Wolf grinned. “I would be especially suspicious when I knew he had always been pampered and never really worked. Also, that he didn’t like to get his hands dirty and especially when I knew, as my Dad knows, about bait and deep-sea fishing and what the crew does. Yeah, I think I would have been suspicious, very suspicious.”


“Well, I hope your announcement is not too much of a blow. Their son is lucky to be getting Derek. Derek, you taking us out for a decent steak?”


I knew what that meant and we were soon seated at an upscale steakhouse. When Wolf insisted on paying, Auntie allowed it.


The next morning, Levi called over and invited the three of us for breakfast, but Auntie begged off. She and Eloise had some things to talk about, she said.


Levi and Telvin were absolutely glowing with happiness and I was pleased. When I introduced Wolf, Levi said, “Wolf, I’ll admit I would never have picked you as Derek’s type, but seeing you together? You are a good match. Much happiness.”


“Yeah,” Telvin agreed, but didn’t seem quite as happy about the situation as Levi, but maybe it was just how Telvin was.


“So how about a house tour?” I asked. “Well, of the public areas, of course.”


“You can see some of the rooms as well,” Levi said.


Jake, as he had done in my place, had done a wonderful job with the house. The rooms were large and the furniture was nice. Peter had selected the draperies and bed coverings and done a great job, individualizing each room as much as possible. “So who’s living here?”


Telvin said, “Before we started the interview process, we told Jeremy he could have first pick and he chose the room downstairs. Philip asked about a room and said Peter would paying half the rent. No need for an interview there. He, of course, would be living alone except when Peter came down. Louis had an application and no way we were going to lose him and his invaluable advice and help. He did bring his girlfriend Caroline over for an interview.”


Levi said, “I underscored the fact that she would be living in a houseful of men and that she should expect a lot of male carrying-on.”


Telvin said, “We made sure she understood the problem of sharing a bathroom with three guys.”


“Telvin told her she may as well get used to the fact that the toilet seat would always be up! She laughed and said she had four brothers, two to six years older. We ended up with only two unfilled rooms. Casey and Alex were, hands down, Levi’s and my pick. When Louis learned they were being considered, he added his recommendation as well. They are a gay couple who had been together two years in high school before coming to OCU. I think they were in one of your classes last year, Derek, but given the size of freshman classes, I’m not surprised the names mean nothing. Two grad students have the last room.”


After the tour, Wolf and I went back to the house and told Auntie we were going to the campus. We had walked around for almost an hour and were sitting in the student center having a coke when my phone rang. It was Auntie’s number and that always frightened me. When I answered, she said, “Derek, you and Wolf need to stop by the Dean’s office at 10:30,” and hung up. She had delivered the message and had nothing else to say.


We had half an hour before we needed to be in the Dean’s office and were close to Professor Simms’ office and on the off-chance he was in, I decided to stop by. Actually I had finished a year with him as my official adviser and had never met him. Today was not to change that since as usual he wasn’t in, but Louis was. “Did my summer school classes reach the required minimum enrollment?” I asked as we walked in. “Oh, Louis, Wolf Lancaster, my boyfriend.”


Louis stood, shook hands with Wolf and said, “You are a lucky man, Wolf, and if looks count, Derek hasn’t done badly either. Welcome to OCU. You a student here?”


“No, I’m entering ESU in Elizabethton in North Carolina this fall. Wish I were here, but that looks impossible right now.”


“Have any idea of your major?”


“Mass communications and/or drama.”


“Looking for an easy ride or serious stuff.”


“Serious stuff.”


“Not a nice question, Louis,” I said.


“But realistic. Too many in those departments are just here to -- no pun intended -- play, but the departments here are strong and you would do well to reconsider, Wolf.”


“Hey, you don’t have to convince me, but my parents are another story.”


“Well, pick up some materials at the admissions office before you go. Would like to see you around this fall, if not before.”


“Oh, I’m sure you’ll see me before,” Wolf laughed.


“Before we go, Louis, my classes?”


“You are duly registered in both.”


The Dean’s office was close by so we had no problem showing up on time after leaving Louis.


“Derek Wilson for the Dean,” I said to his receptionist.


“Of course, Derek. The Dean is expecting you.” She buzzed the Dean and he told her to send us in. “That door,” she said pointing.


As we walked in, the Dean stood, and extended his hand. “Derek Wilson, Dean,” I said, extending my hand, “and Wolf Lancaster.”


“You, I know, Mr. Wilson, even though we have never met formally. I have followed the aquatics team having been a swimmer in college myself, and anyone who knows our team knows Derek Wilson who turned it around. Wolf,” he said, shaking Wolf’s hand. “Gentlemen, have a seat. Derek, Wolf, I had a call a short time ago from Amelia Kingston. I have heard others of the faculty and staff talk about her. She seems to have a lot of influence around here for reasons no-one wants to discuss. The Dean of Student Life knows her well and I understand has seen her in action and been rather directly involved.”


“I’ll confess, I was the instigator of that bit,” I said.


“You were present?”


“I was. I called her when I saw the pigsty Levi Epstein was being forced to live in.”


“Then you can answer a question for me. The rumor among the faculty is that she gave the Dean a whack on his, uh, bottom.”


“She did. She most certainly did.”


The Dean laughed. “Well, she seems to have taken an interest in you, Wolf, and is insisting that a way be found for you to enroll here at OCU without paying out-of-state tuition. I don’t suppose you are a basketball or football star. Play any sports?”


“Afraid not unless you count martial arts. I don’t exactly ‘play’ at martial arts as -- depending on which one you are talking about -- I have a black belt, second degree, or the equivalent.”


“Accomplished, I see. Unfortunately, we don’t award scholarships in the martial arts. What are your plans for a major?”


“Mass communications and/or drama.”




“I have had a Saturday morning radio program for several years which is carried on two stations. I’ve been involved in every community theater production in Elizabethton since I was nine, on stage or backstage. I have been a part of the high school company which made it to the state finals or semi-finals three out of my four years in high school.”


“Quite an impressive record.”


Thinking it couldn’t hurt, but Wolf would never mention it, I said, “Perhaps you saw part of his recent successful appearance on CNN,” I said.


Wolf looked daggers at me and I just grinned.


“Oh, I don’t guess I did.”


“You missed the CNN report on Brother Fitzsimmons and his gay-to-straight clinic in Alabama?” I asked.


“No, no. Of course I saw that.”


“You recall a young woman who got the guards’ attention and called out a man’s name just before the attempted kidnapping of the young man?”


“I do,” the Dean was looking very puzzled.


“That was Wolf. His courage and bravery saved a friend from being sent to that place.”


“You’re not going to leave me hanging like that. I have an appointment coming in shortly, but meet me at the faculty dining room, lunch on me. Noon OK?”


“Sure,” I said.


Wolf gave my arm a pounding as soon as we were out of the Dean’s office. “Derek, why did you bring that up. They’ll put two and two together, know I am queer and likely you are more than just a friend and I will be as welcome as dog shit at a lawn tea party.”


“Wait and see,” I said. “There is free lunch, the Dean said so.”


We had an hour to kill and I suggested we have a look at the theater since it was in easy walking distance of both the Dean’s office, where we were, and the student center, where we would need to be at noon.


Wolf was duly impressed by the theater and even more so when we ran into a drama grad student who offered to show us around after he asked if we were thinking about majoring in drama and Wolf said he was. When we finished the tour, it was 11:45 and we started wandering toward the student center.


When we reached the faculty dining room, I told the hostess we were guests of the Dean and she said, “Of course, Mr. Lancaster and Mr. Wilson,” and showed us to the table where the Dean was sitting with two other men.


“Mr. Wilson, Mr. Lancaster, may I introduce Dr. Cleveland, head of the mass communications department and Dr. Olstein, head of drama. Gentleman, Messrs Wilson and Lancaster.” We all shook hands and sat down. “I have asked the two department heads to join with us in an effort to solve the out-of-state tuition problem but, first, let’s order because I am sure you two are hungry. People your age usually are,” he laughed.


We ordered and a student waiter brought our drinks and salads. As he placed them on the table, Dr. Cleveland said, “I understand you have had a radio program for a few years. How did that come about, what is its format and how did you train for it?”


Wolf laughed. “Well, the owner of the station saw me in a play, liked my voice and felt he needed to raise his teen audience rating which couldn’t have been lower. He asked if I’d do a teen show Saturday morning. I was free to do what I pleased because, as he said, had he known what teens wanted, he’d have had an audience already. I, of course, play music, do interviews with people who impact teens’ lives, have discussions, do commentary, do a bit of just about everything.”


“Obviously the format is working if you are still on the air.”


“It’s good enough that it is also on another, larger, station he owns.”




“Aside from the training I got from participation in the community theater, knobs were labeled until I learned which did what, showed how the mikes and CD players worked and told, ‘Go to it.’ Lot of bungling for a while, but then that’s OK since we teens do a lot of that and are reassured when the world doesn’t end. If you can bungle on the radio and still have a program, there’s hope when you spill your tray in the cafeteria.”


“Interesting. I would never have thought of that,” the Dean said.


“I guess that’s why Mr. Lancaster has a teen show and we don’t,” Dr. Olstein said with a laugh.


Our salad plates were taken away, drinks refilled and our entrees placed before us.


“So, Mr. Lancaster...”


“Dr. Olstein, I’m an eighteen-year-old. You are, I assume a PhD or DFA, so can we drop the mister? I’m Wolf and Mr. Wilson is Derek.”


“As you wish, Wolf. Not short for Steppenwolf by any chance?” Dr. Olstein asked.


“It is,” Wolf said. “My full name is Walter Steppenwolf Lancaster. Both Dad and Mom were great Hesse fans.”


“So, Wolf. I understand you were involved in overturning Brother Fitzsimmons’ milk cow -- his tax-exempt revival business and his gay-to-straight clinic. Just how did this come about?”


I spoke up before Wolf could respond. “Dr. Olstein, I think I can tell the story pretty objectively. Wolf will not. He will downplay his role and, truth be told, the success of the project rested solidly on his shoulders.” Wolf again looked daggers at me and I just grinned and started the story.



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