Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online



Dawnwalker

Book 1 of the Dawnwalker Cycle


a novel by
Wes Boyd
2002, 2008




Chapter 32

It took them a few minutes to get dressed to head back outside, but as soon as they were out the front door, they discovered that there wasn't a path shoveled to the restaurant next door, after all. "You'd think for the convenience of the customers that they'd shovel out a simple path," Karin said, a little disgusted, when they looked at the six-foot-high pile of snow that stood in their way.

"Oh, hell, I'll get the car," Pete said, stifling some anger though still wincing from his headache. "It seems ridiculous to have to drive a half a mile to cover fifty yards, but this is Marquette, and it doesn't have to make sense."

When they got out to the road, they discovered that they couldn't make a left turn across the four lane; there was a center divider, so Pete had to drive nearly a half mile away from the motel before he found a place where he could turn around. There was no traffic light, and the traffic was heavy with people heading home from work, so it took almost five minutes before a big enough hole opened up for him to risk the left turn on the slippery road. He had to drive nearly up to the Wal-Mart before he could find a place to turn back. The end result was that it took them a good fifteen minutes and close to two miles to go somewhere they could have walked in a minute if there hadn't been six feet of snow. Pete was predictably fuming by the time he found a place in the parking lot, and Karin didn't blame him a bit.

"Crystal is probably here by now," Karin said as casually as she could manage.

"It took long enough," Pete agreed, the steam about blowing out of his ears. "That is the most asinine way to handle traffic I've ever seen."

"Maybe she's not," Karin replied, letting his comment slide. "I don't see her car."

Just then, a huge four-wheel drive pickup truck, jacked up high, with fat tires, a roll bar, and lots of lights scattered about honked at them as it pulled into a parking space. There were flames painted around the fender wells, and a prancing unicorn painted on the door. The doors came open, and they could see Crystal hop out the right side; it was a long way down, but she handled it with ease. She was only wearing a light jacket, in comparison to the heavy coats the rest of the Chladeks had on. Crystal turned and offered her hand to Myleigh, who was wearing a knee-length skirt and a similar light jacket. It was a long way down for her, and Crystal grabbed her by the waist and lifted her down as Randy appeared around the back of the pickup, wearing only a sweatshirt and jeans.

"What'd you do, get new wheels, Randy?" Karin asked.

"My roomie's truck," he said as he motioned for them to follow toward the front door of the restaurant. "He was nice enough to loan it to us. The parking on campus really sucks, and they don't do very good at clearing off the parking lots. Crystal and I agreed we'd get along on my car between us for a while, since we used her car last winter, so we let the Olds get snowed in. Then some bozo parked me in. Sorry we're late. At least the streets weren't bad."

"They wouldn't be, in that thing," Pete grumped.

"It looks like you're just in time," Karin said. "Myleigh, aren't you cold wearing a skirt like that?"

"Oh, this isn't cold," she smiled. "I have a long woolen skirt for when it gets unseasonably cold, but this is rather a nice day."

Karin shivered. It made her cold to even look at her. They walked on inside; the place was half empty, but the noise from the sound system filled it. An oldie song Karin couldn't quite place was just ending, and then some other, familiar strains started -- the Beach Boys, with Surfin' Safari. "Hey, Randy," Crystal laughed, "They're playing our song!"

"Yeah," he said, loud enough to be heard over the music, which meant it was pretty loud, "They were comin' in pretty good out there today."

"Don't tell me you two were out surfing in this weather?" Karin shouted.

"We thought about it," Crystal said, speaking loudly enough to be heard. "Too many ice floes, it'd be hard to get a good ride, and it's kinda stacked up on the shore. Sweet looking waves, though."

"Table for six?" a hostess asked.

"Yes, please, and as quiet as possible," Pete said, cringing at the racket.

Back in the corner, the noise wasn't quite as bad, but they still had to talk loud to make themselves heard; Karin could see Pete was in sheer misery, but was keeping up a game face in front of the kids. "So, how was the trip up?" Crystal asked.

"Terrible," Pete said, the exhaustion evident in his voice. "Slippery as hell, could hardly see the road, and we almost hit a moose."

"You don't want to do that," Randy said, shaking his head. "Well, if you've got to, maybe in something like Matt's truck. It's got crash bars on the front, and a moose might not crush the cab. I sure wouldn't want to hit one with the Dodge, though. That could hurt."

"Yeah," Pete said, "That thing was as big as a horse."

"Actually, they go bigger than most horses, well, maybe not draft horses," Randy grinned. "They're kind of neat to see, though. Not a lot of them around."

"Crystal, I was going to ask how your car is running," Pete said. "But from what Randy says, it's not. I sure wish you'd let us get you a decent car."

"Just as well," Randy told him. "You don't want a decent car up here, especially in the winter. The salt gets into everything and rusts the hell out of it. If you've got to have a car rust up, it might as well be an old beater."

"Yeah, I suppose," Pete agreed unhappily. "I guess I hadn't thought of it that way."

"Yeah, and if it doesn't rust up it'll get dinged up," Crystal added with a grin. "Some of these snowplow drivers aren't all that careful. It's usually not that bad if you stay on campus and can park so you're in a little bit."

"Yeah, but then some jerk will park you in," Randy said. "That's what happened to me this afternoon. If Crystal and I didn't have the snowboarding, I think we'd let both the cars get snowed in and just stay on campus till spring break."

"It'd get awful dull, though," Crystal said. "The same four walls all the time."

A waiter showed up, probably another college student, Karin thought. He passed out menus, and asked, "Do I have any drink orders?"

"Whiskey sour, heavy on the whiskey," Pete said, still flinching to the throb of the music. "Make it a double."

Karin ordered a Margarita; the waiter turned to Randy. "Any beer you got with the word 'Belgium' on the label," Randy said.

"Uh, can I see some ID?"

"Yes, you can," Randy said, reaching for his wallet with a big grin on his face.

The waiter glanced at it. "Hey, congratulations, and happy birthday," he said. "First one's on the house. We got Belgian Blue Moon, is that OK?"

"Yaah, you betcha," Randy said.

"And, miss, what'll you have?"

Crystal had her ID out on the table. "Works for me."

"Whatever light house white wine you have would be excellent," Myleigh said sweetly.

The waiter turned to Nanci. "A Coke, I guess," she said, visibly disappointed at being left out.

"Hey, happy birthday, Randy," Crystal said. "Why didn't you tell us?"

"Oh, no big deal," Randy said with a shrug. "At least I don't have to worry about getting carded anymore. In fact, I almost wish it hadn't happened. Now, I'll have people asking me to buy beer for them all the time, and that's a pain in the butt. Crystal, Myleigh, don't say anything around campus about it, would you?"

"Sure, we get hit on all the time," Crystal agreed. "That's part of the reason I don't drink on campus. If people think you don't drink, they're not as likely to ask as much. They still ask, though."

"Is there a lot of drinking on campus?" Pete wondered.

"It's a college," Randy told him. "What do you expect?"

Crystal nodded and added, "In the winter, a lot of people seem to think that the only things there are to do around here are ski, drink, and have sex."

"And listen to loud but bad music while drinking and having sex," Myleigh grinned. "The parties in the dorms get rather distracting at times. We're in no smoking, no drinking, no drugs study dorms, and it still gets pretty thick at times."

"Doesn't the college object to that?" Karin asked, not particularly happy at hearing the news. "They kept a fairly tight rein on us back when I was in school."

"I guess things have changed, Mom," Crystal told her. "The RAs usually don't do anything unless they get a lot of complaints, and not always then. There usually isn't anything said unless the police get involved, then sometimes the college has to do something."

"Yeah," Randy told them. "You remember me telling you about that hockey player last winter? The one who attacked Myleigh and me in the cafeteria?"

"Yes, you told us about that," Karin said. She remembered Randy mentioning the fight in the cafeteria after the incident down in Tennessee the last summer. She still had nightmares about that incident. If Randy hadn't shown up when he had, she couldn't see how Crystal could have failed to have been hurt, or killed, karate or no karate. For that, and for how he'd helped them put it in perspective afterward, she felt the whole family owed Randy a lot.

"He'd been in several other fights, but they'd either been in parties or off campus," Randy explained. "If it hadn't been in the cafeteria, probably nothing would have happened that time either, but that time it was so public that the college had no choice but to get involved."

"That was different," Crystal said. "He was a hockey player. They get away with murder around here. I know he'd tried to rape a girl at a party once, and I guess that wasn't the only time."

"I guess if you take too many high checks, it goes to your head a little," Randy said sarcastically. "That's something else that people do up here, go to hockey games, then drink afterwards. Of course, they're pretty full of antifreeze when they go in the first place."

"You people make Northern sound like a party school," Pete commented, looking unhappy at the news the conversation was revealing.

"I confess, I had hoped for more of an atmosphere of study and contemplation when I decided to come here," Myleigh said, softly enough that she was a little hard to hear. "On the whole, I think I've accomplished all I hoped to and more, but there are times that getting an education seems to be far from the highest priority for many people."

"People get cabin fever pretty bad sometimes," Randy commented. "Especially if they're not used to the North Country winters. Coming from Spearfish Lake, I'm used to long winters, so it doesn't bother me as bad, but you get people coming up from down below, and they're not ready for snow from October through May. It can get to them."

"Randy, I'm from Spearfish Lake," Karin told him, with a little degree of understanding. "And I never got used to it. That's part of the reason I left."

"Can't blame you," he grinned. "If you can't hack it, it's better that you leave. It worked out for you, anyway. But the bottom line is that if you're prepared for college, and prepared to handle the winter, Northern is not a bad place. If you're not mature enough to handle it, and you can't hack it, then this place will do a number on you. Other places, you can slide through being half-assed, but this place does separate the sheep from the goats."

Just then the waiter showed up with the drinks. By the time they got done ordering, the thread of the conversation had changed. "Well, Randy, here's to your first legal beer," Crystal smiled as she raised hers for a toast. "Where'd you get that business about, any beer with the word 'Belgium' on the label?"

"My dad," Randy grinned as he took a sip. "He really likes Belgian beer. Go figure. I always thought it was to just put down places that seem too proud of all the imported beers they have, but it really is pretty good beer."

"Before you drink too much of it, we need to talk about tomorrow," Crystal said with a grin. "Nanci, what time is your appointment in the admissions office?"

"Nine, the first thing," she replied. "I don't have the schedule, but I think I remember all the important parts."

"OK, good," Crystal said. "I'll meet you there. I want to sit in on that interview, but I won't say anything unless you or the folks ask me to. That should be pretty straightforward. Then, you'll have the financial aid meeting right after that, and that's going to be real important and a load of bullshit at the same time. Financial aid is a crock. They'll promise you the moon to get you to come here, and then give you as little as possible, so make sure you get any promises in writing. They're still pretty good at weaseling out of something on paper."

"I'm afraid Crystal is cynical but correct," Myleigh added. "Financial aid offices at Northern or any college only have so much money to work with, so they have to spread it as thin as possible. Yet, financial aid is important to the decision to attend the college, so they try to put a better light on it than perhaps is the case."

"In other words, they lie like hell," Crystal said. "One of their favorite tricks is based on your high school grade point average. They'll tell you that you'll get a certain amount of aid based on it, but when you're up here, they'll refigure your GPA and throw out stuff to drag their version of your GPA below the cutoff point. When that happens, then it's 'Hey Dad, more money please!' Right, Dad?"

"We've been there," Pete admitted, and Karin knew it all too well, too. "They tried to pull it on Jon down at Georgia Tech, too, but it's a little hard to do when you've pretty much got all A's."

"They'll pull it on Nanci big time," Crystal said. "The system is set up to get as much money out of you as they can. It makes it hell on Myleigh, who has to get through on her own. She's really gotten the short end of the stick on financial aid."

"The only way I've been able to afford college is a lot of work, a lot of student loans, and being quite frugal," Myleigh told them. "Of course, having a straight-A average in high school and carrying it on through college does take the sting out, and fortunately the one major scholarship I got was a direct pay-to-me arrangement, rather than paid to the college, so I actually got to keep the money."

"I don't understand that," Karin said. Somehow, Jon's scholarship money had seemed to disappear, and keeping him in Georgia Tech had become even more expensive than they'd expected. That was one reason they were happy that Nanci was seriously interested in Northern; it might help to keep the family budget under control.

"It's just another way to rip you off," Randy told them. "They figure scholarships to be part of your financial aid package, not part of the parent contribution. I don't know why the government lets them do it."

"That's the way the law is written," Myleigh explained. "I don't think it's right, either, but that's the way it is, and we have little choice but to accept it."

"That's really neither here nor there," Pete said. "Nanci doesn't have the grades to get much in the way of scholarships, anyway."

"Then there's no point in applying for them," Myleigh told them. "They will gain you nothing, and only benefit the college, unless, of course, your scholarships exceed your financial aid package. But, do bear in mind, that's not just Northern, it's everywhere."

"Right. It's a rip-off," Crystal replied, trying to drag the conversation back on track. "But the point I'm trying to make is that they're going to feed you a pretty good line, and after it's over with, Myleigh, Randy, and I will sit down with you and try to give you the real story. Just don't expect to get anything like you're promised. OK, after Financial Aid is the campus tour, right?"

"Right," Nanci said. "I figured we could skip that, since I've been around the campus with you already."

"No, go on it," Crystal told them. "They may bring up something that I wouldn't think of. I'll get back with you for it, but I'll just keep my mouth shut. The guide may be someone I know, or it may not be."

"I have Construction Estimating tomorrow at nine," Randy added. "I should be able to get out of it in time to catch up with you, but if I can't, I'll meet you for lunch."

"Right," Crystal said. "Now, they've got lunch on your schedule before the departmental visit, right?"

"Yes, that's at one," Nanci told her.

"OK, it'll be up campus, over by the bookstore. I'll probably stay with you, just so I can have a decent meal for once. Then, Myleigh and I will go with you on the departmental tour. They all know us there, so it might keep the bullshit level down to only knee deep, but I doubt it. And then you get a second meeting in the admissions office to go over what you've learned and ask any questions. Is that about what your schedule says?"

"Yes, that's set for three," Nanci said. "We're supposed to discuss my chances of being accepted."

"That'll be plenty of time," Crystal continued. "I'll tell you right now, they'll tell you on the spot that you're accepted if your grades are good enough, but don't let that make up your mind."

"You really think so?" Nanci asked. "I was wondering if they're accepting me, since this is a state school and all."

"Just because you're accepted doesn't necessarily mean that you'll want to go here," Randy warned. "It's all part of the sales pitch. Remember, they're after your money, actually, your mom and dad's money."

"That's rather cynical," Karin said with a frown. What Crystal, Myleigh and Randy were saying didn't exactly square with what the brochures and the admission packet said, but after all, they'd been through the process and it obviously was a good idea to listen to them.

"It's also true," Randy said. "This is a small school in a remote area. They have to get a certain number of students or they can't make their budget, and unless you're from around here or have a particular mindset, they don't get the number of applications that you'd see elsewhere. Here, if you walk by the admissions office door with a checkbook hanging out of your pocket, you're admitted."

"I'm afraid that while Randy is rather crude and exaggerates a bit, he's essentially correct in the spirit of his assumption. Many marginal students apply. In the case of myself, they saw my grades and were eager to have me here, and were willing to be liberal with financial aid, which is part of the reason why I came here in the first place. However, students who are barely acceptable elsewhere will often have received no other acceptances when they come here, and will decide to go with the bird in the hand, rather than look somewhere that might be more appropriate for them. It distresses me to say it, Nanci, but with your GPA, you fall in the category of marginal student."

"Well, I didn't exactly get accepted on the spot at the other places we've been," she said, a little disappointed.

"After having Jon turned down at MIT and Caltech, it does seem a little strange to think that Nanci would get admitted without question," Pete said thoughtfully. Karin could see that the aspirin and the whiskey were taking hold a little, he didn't seem to be in quite as much pain, although he clearly wasn't happy at the news he'd been hearing. Well, she wasn't either, but it had the ring of truth to it.

"Much as I hate to admit it," Randy shook his head. "This isn't MIT or Caltech. You can get a good education here, but you do have to work at it, and it isn't going to be one that carries the kind of label those places have."

"I suppose you're right," Pete admitted.

"Anyway," Crystal said, trying to drag the conversation back on track once again. "After that's over with, we'll get in the car, drive you around a bit so you can see stuff around town you won't see on the campus tour, then we'll go back over to Spaulding, sit down, go over everything and tell you what they didn't tell you."

"There will be a lot they don't tell you," Randy added.

"I think I'm beginning to see that," Karin said, starting to be a little distressed.

"That'll take a while," Crystal told them. "We might as well figure on eating in the caf at Spaulding."

"We'd figured on taking you out for dinner," Pete offered lightly.

"No way," Crystal said. "Nanci needs to eat in Spaulding, and you do too. That way you can see what the food here is really like. After that, we have tickets for the campus theatre. There's a student production of The Twelfth Night, and that ought to be pretty good."

"It's a modernized version," Myleigh sighed. "I confess my own interest in it is therefore limited, but so few people appreciate the bard's English anymore, I suppose that it is a cross I must bear. Anyway, we have been planning to see it, and this is a good opportunity."

"It's sort of a dress-up thing," Crystal said sarcastically. "Dress-up for here, that is. No manure on your boots."

"You should wear something better than jeans and a T-shirt, at least," Randy told them. "The girls don't have to break out the formals. I'll wear slacks and a sweater. They do a pretty good job there, and it's kind of fun."

"That'll blow up the rest of the evening," Crystal continued. "Then, what I figured was to have Nanci stay with Myleigh in our room, and I'll go back to the motel with Mom and Dad. That'll give her a chance to spend a night in a dorm."

"That'll be nice," Karin said. "It'll give her a taste of dorm life, but you don't have to be put out of your bed."

"If I stay in the dorm, someone's going to have to stay on the floor in a sleeping bag," Crystal said. "Now who here is used to living in a sleeping bag? I get put out of my bed, anyway. At least that way Myleigh or Nanci don't have to trip over me if they want to go to the bathroom at night. Anyway, we'll get back together in the caf in the morning for breakfast, and then you guys can hit the road. That ought to get you home before dark."

"It's nice of you to go to all the extra trouble," Karin said. "Especially you, Myleigh and Randy."

"It's the least we can do for you," Myleigh said shyly. "After all, you have become my family in a sense, and it's at least a token way to repay you."

~~~~~

The storm had blown itself out by the next day, but it was still windy and had turned very cold, even if it was clear and they could see for miles out over the gray, mostly ice-covered expanse of Lake Superior from the admissions office on the eighth floor of the administration building.

All of them had been through the process before, even Nanci; she'd been along when Crystal did the campus visit four years earlier, so everything seemed familiar. They talked for a while about the college, her grades, and what she wanted to do. When Nanci had announced that she was very interested in getting on the cheerleading team, there was a fast phone call, and a modification to her schedule; she'd meet with the cheerleading coach over in the PEIF right after her departmental visit.

The financial aid officer outlined what seemed to be a pretty liberal financial aid package, considering, but didn't commit to it when Pete pressed him -- "It'll have to wait till we have confirmation on her transcript, and can examine it," he was told. Karin figured that Crystal and Myleigh were right -- it was just a way to weasel out of a commitment, but she could see that it would sound pretty promising to someone who didn't know any better.

Randy joined them for the campus tour. It was really cold and blowing, now, although the two were dressed fairly lightly, as was the guide, but the guide said the tour would be kept shorter than normal. They went across the street to the Superior Dome, through the arena, and the PEIF; then back through the cold outside, through the administration building, and to the campus center building across a cold and windy parking lot. They went through the bookstore and some of the activity centers. The lunch in the campus center cafeteria was all right, although Karin thought that she'd had better institutional food and figured it was at best, adequate. Still, if that was the quality of the food on campus, it couldn't have been as bad as the kids had been saying.

They'd been through the same departmental tour four years before and there wasn't a lot new, but Nanci did ask a few questions, while Crystal and Myleigh were pretty good about letting the department people do the talking.

Nanci was more looking forward to the meeting with the cheerleading coach, over in the PEIF. Randy and Myleigh headed back to Spaulding, leaving the Chladeks to go to the rest of the tour. Again, it was a long, cold walk back to the PEIF across campus, but Crystal told them that walking was easier than finding a parking space, especially at the PEIF at this hour. "Randy and I usually go over there in the evenings, when the parking isn't as bad, and at that we usually walk because it's hell to find a parking space when we get back to Spaulding," she explained. "You can get along pretty well without a car here if you want."

The cheerleading coach was sympathetic and enthusiastic, and Karin liked her in a minute. She and Nanci talked for a while about the cheerleading that she'd done in school, and the fact that she'd done competitive cheer and that her team had made it to the state meet last year.

"It sounds like you'd do fine," the coach said finally. "Here's the thing. You'll have to come up here for tryouts in late April, just before school is out. It's a competitive thing, and the girls who have been on the squad before have priority, but you should have a good chance of making the team. If you do, I can offer you a thousand-dollar scholarship the first year, and fifteen hundred a year if you stay on the team after that."

"Wow!" Nanci said. "A scholarship! That's wonderful! Do you really think I have a chance of making the team?"

"I'd say a pretty good chance," the coach told her. "I don't know how many we'll have trying out, and it's not always a set number, so there are always those who don't make the team. I can't promise you'll make it, but you should. I have to warn you, though, if you do make the team you'll have to be up here in early August for cheerleading camp and training, since football starts before classes. We travel with the team, and that's a lot of fun, but it does cut into your class time, and you have to make up the work. You have to keep your grade point average up to stay eligible. If you don't, you lose the scholarship, too. If you're still interested, I can get you set up for the tryouts."

"I want to," Nanci said. "That's neat! I'm really looking forward to it."

Karin noticed Crystal rolling her eyes at the conversation, but said nothing. It would probably come out later, she thought.

It wasn't quite as bad a walk back to the administration building, where they'd left their car, but it was nice to get out of the wind. "Dad, let me drive," Crystal said. "It'll be easier for me to show you around than tell you where to go."

They drove down the campus, and across some winding, snow-covered and drifting roads. After half a mile, Crystal pointed out the lower campus complex, down the hill from the main classrooms and administration building. "This is where we live. As you see, the parking lot is pretty full." She made a turn, then drove down the street several blocks, and pointed out a snow-covered parking lot with a number of buried cars in it. "This is the closest parking lot to the lower campus that freshmen can use," she said. "A lot of upperclassmen use it, too, so there's not always room for freshmen to park there. In fact, the Olds is out in the middle of it right now, covered with a couple feet of snow. We probably won't bother to dig it out till after spring break. The people who let their cars get snowed in for the worst of the winter usually try to let them get snowed in out here. It makes the parking up at the upper-class lot a little easier."

"What do the freshmen do?" Pete wondered.

Crystal shrugged. "If they can't find a place to park, tough luck."

She continued the tour, taking them down by the lake shore, where they took in the ice-floe-covered expanse of the lake, then downtown, to where the huge iron-ore loading dock towered over Main Street. "It's been abandoned for years," Crystal said. "There's talk they're going to tear it down. The freighters load up at the upper harbor, out north of the beach where I took you."

She continued the tour around the small town, pointing out the strip mall areas out on US-41, where the best shopping was located, although a ways from campus. "If you have to buy something, you want to come out here," Crystal said. "There's stuff within walking distance of campus, but the prices are higher than hell. The bus system in town is pretty good, but you can spend a long time standing out in the cold waiting for one. Anyway, we can stop by the motel now if you want to change, since we may not have time later."

"Yes, I think a stop would be a good idea," Karin told her. They were learning a lot that they hadn't learned on the campus visit before. She was glad Crystal was with them.

Inside the motel, Heikki was on duty behind the desk again. "We don't have a lot of time," Karin said when Nanci stopped to talk with him. "You have to change your clothes."

"Oh, I'll be all right," Nanci protested. "I'll wait here."

"No," Karin said. "You need to get clothes for tomorrow, and we won't be coming back here with you tonight."

"Aw, I guess," she said, disappointed. They went up to their room, where Nanci dug furiously through their clothes, and got a few items to put in a small carryon. "I'm ready to go," she said. "Can I wait for you downstairs?"

Karin wanted to protest, but there wasn't much point. "Oh, all right," she said. "We'll be back in a few minutes."

As soon as she was gone, Karin told Crystal, "The minute we got back from the restaurant last night, she got on her swimsuit, and said she was going to go down to the pool. She was gone for hours, and I came down and found her flirting with him, like she had nothing better to do."

"Sounds like Nanci," Crystal grinned. "We'd better make it pretty quick, before she disappears on us."

It was a quick stop; Karin changed clothes, while Pete took a chance to freshen up his shave. Back downstairs, they found Nanci, flirting with the desk clerk again. "Do we really have to leave so soon?" she asked. "I don't really want to go to that play."

"They're expecting us," Karin said. "You really need to hear what Crystal, Myleigh, and Randy have to tell us."

"Sorry, Heikki," Nanci told the desk clerk. "I guess I gotta go. Maybe I'll see you tomorrow."

"I don' come on 'til tree, yaah?" he said. "Mebbe you be gone by den, eh?"

"Aw, that's right," she said. "Well, maybe I can see you when I come up for tryouts in April."

"If I'm here, mebbe I can show ya 'roun', eh?" he said. "Stop an' see me, yaah?"

Karin had already made up her mind that there was no way that they were staying at this motel again, and Pete had agreed when she voiced it. "Come on, Nanci," she said. "We've got to be going."



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