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
“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
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
“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.
“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
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
“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
“Have you even hinted he
might be more than a casual friend?”
“Subtly, I have.”
“Think they suspect
“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
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
“Mass communications and/or
“Looking for an easy ride or
“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
“You are duly registered in
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
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
“Accomplished, I see.
Unfortunately, we don’t award scholarships in the martial arts. What are
your plans for a major?”
“Mass communications and/or
“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
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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
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.