Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
Book 1 of the Dawnwalker Cycle
The two weeks in Florida with the girls provided many warm memories to carry Randy through the two cold months that followed.
After being warm and wet and halfhearted up through December, winter made up for it with a vengeance in January and February. It was cold, cold even for Marquette, and it only warmed up to dump more snow. Classes were cancelled several days; the maintenance crews ran out of places to pile snow, so the paths between the buildings were piled with snow as high as a loader bucket could reach. When Randy walked to class, he saw nothing but the dirty white of the snow, and the cold, ugly gray sky overhead.
Matt had never quite gotten over his amazement about the things his roommate could get into with his two girlfriends, but the pictures Randy brought back of his trip with his three girlfriends opened the amazement tap wide. Maybe it was the casual attitude Randy had about the whole thing that amazed him the most. Talk about playing with fire . . . hell, he had enough trouble with his one girlfriend.
Of course, Randy was amused by Matt's reaction. He and Matt were good enough friends after four years that there weren't a lot of secrets between them, either. He told Matt about the surfing, and the visit the four of them made to Disney World on a day the surf turned flat, and a visit to Cape Kennedy on another flat day. He also told him about lying on the beach with the three bikinied girls baking in the sun around him, and told of lying on that same beach and watching a space shuttle claw its way into the night sky fifty miles away, and of songs around the campfire and the good times. It was all the truth, and he could tell Matt didn't know how much to believe. It was fine with Randy. It was something to add a little interest to help the cold and dreary and dull days pass.
He missed Crystal, missed Myleigh, and missed Nicole, too. It was lonely up there that winter without any of them; Matt was a good guy and a long-time friend, but it just wasn't the same. So, what with one thing and another, it was as long a winter as it had been a fall, and Randy counted the days till he'd be seeing Crystal in early March, and Nicole for a week or so in May. The talk of Crystal and Nicole hiking together for a while on the AT -- they were talking three weeks toward the end, if Nicole could clear away the time -- was absolutely flabbergasting to him, and he didn't even tell Matt about it. After a year of trying to keep those two parts of his life separate, it had all been for nothing. Nicole and Crystal -- and Nicole and Myleigh -- had become such good friends that by the end of the two weeks in Florida, Randy had started to feel like he was the outsider. There were girl things going on there that he knew he'd never understand.
As soon as he was back, Randy told Matt about the blowup Crystal had with her parents, what he knew of it, that is -- Crystal hadn't added much to her initial announcement of it back in December. Matt had become a friend of Crystal's too, and he was concerned for her, even though there wasn't much that could be done.
Nanci had come back to Northern, but Randy had as little to do with her as possible, to the point of going the other way if he saw her coming. After the way she'd acted all fall, and the way she'd treated Crystal, he knew he wouldn't have a friendly word for her. That didn't keep Nanci from strutting around campus, usually with a different hockey player, seeming to Randy to be wearing Crystal's scalp on her belt. Needless to say, it pissed him off.
From what he could tell, Nanci was running true to form, not that he cared or went out of his way to find out anything. The word around campus was that she'd worked her way through the whole hockey team, and was now trying to set a lap record. Apparently, studying didn't interest her too much. At the end of the last semester, Crystal had been pretty sure that Nanci was going to be on academic probation, but it didn't seem to affect her much if that was the case.
Once or twice he thought about calling Karin about Nanci, but the thought never lasted long. If Nanci's parents were going to let her run wild and run Crystal off in the process, that was their business, and maybe it was better if Crystal was out of it. He knew Crystal hadn't been planning on spending much more time in Glen Ellyn in any case, though it would have been nice to have friendly relations. But it wasn't his business, and he'd firmly made up his mind to keep his nose out of it.
One Saturday morning as February was winding down, Randy was sitting with Matt and Gary in the cafeteria, drinking an extra cup of coffee. Gary had agreed to help with the chore of digging the Dodge out from under a mountain of snow. It wasn't a job they were looking forward to, but it wouldn't be long before Randy would be needing it for spring break, and he figured he'd better at least pull even with the snow while he had a chance. Still, an extra cup of coffee was more appealing than snow shoveling. They were talking about nothing in particular when Randy saw two girls come up. "Randy, can I talk with you?" one of them asked. She was a large, heavy-set friendly girl he'd known slightly all the time he'd been at Northern -- her name was Brenda, and she was the Resident Advisor for the second floor on Spaulding, sort of the housemother and confidant who tried to keep things from getting out of hand.
"Sure," he replied, glancing at the other girl, a small, frail-looking girl he didn't know, but he could see that her eyes were puffy from a lot of crying. "Got a problem?"
"Uh, yes," Brenda said, looking at the other two guys, not sure she wanted to talk about it in front of them. "Look, this is Ruth. She's Nanci's roommate. I know you knew Crystal and her family pretty good."
"Did know her family," he said sullenly. "At least I thought I did, before they showed what they really are."
"Thought it must be something like that," Brenda nodded. "Nanci's been saying she got Crystal thrown out of the house, and that doesn't sound like Crystal."
"In essence, she's right. Consider that a first, for what it's worth."
"Hey, look, I was friends with Crystal, too," Brenda said. "I don't like what Nanci's doing any more than you do. After this stunt she pulled last night, my only other choice is to take it to the dean. I thought you might be able to talk to her. I can't get through to her."
"Sorry, I don't talk to the little bitch," Randy said angrily. "What'd she do this time?"
"She's up there with her boyfriend," Ruth said. "They've been there all night. Her boyfriend threw me out of the room, and told me not to come back."
Randy felt his blood pressure rise like a valve was just about to burst. It was the final straw. All the trouble that Nanci had brewed in him over six months, over a year, all the anger came to a boil. "Yeah, I'll talk with her," Randy said quietly, restraining his rage as he got up. "You got your key?"
"Yes," Ruth nodded.
"Come on, all of you," he said, motioning them to follow.
"Randy, maybe you should talk with her alone," Brenda said.
"No way," he told her flatly. "She lies too much. I want witnesses. You can stand out in the hall, and I'll leave the door open."
"She's got her boyfriend with her," Ruth warned. "Some hockey player named Kip."
"Yeah, I know the dickhead," Randy said, so calmly he amazed himself, as he and Ruth led the troupe up the familiar flight of stairs that now seemed so foreign.
The first glance as Ruth quietly opened the familiar door was foreign, too. He'd spent a lot of happy hours in this room, but that was in some past life, and there was no time for regrets now. He walked quickly into the room, and discovered Nanci and Kip humping on the bed. "I thought I told you to stay out, you little bitch," Kip said, not breaking stride.
"Get the fuck out of here, dickhead," Randy said angrily. "I want to have a word with your mattress."
Kip looked up, yelled, "Who you calling a dickhead?" and exploded off the mattress, stark naked.
With all the practice Randy had gone through up above Spearfish Lake Appliance, he found himself a little detached, almost as if he was watching as the moves went off almost automatically. In less than a second, Kip was standing up against the wall, his arm twisted painfully behind his back, his hand almost touching his head. "I'm calling you a dickhead," Randy said. "And if I hear one more word, I'll break your goddamn arm off. Understood?"
"Y-y-y-eah," Kip groaned in agony.
"Now, I said I want to have a word with this little bitch," Randy told him, tightening up on the hold, just a little, to make his point. "I'm gonna turn you loose, and you head straight for the door. You try to do anything, you even turn around, and you'll spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair. Understood?"
"M-my cl-clothes," he pleaded.
"I oughta just let you hike back to the jock dorm naked so you can show everyone how tiny a dick you got," Randy said, his rage showing, now. "But I'll be nice and toss something out to you. You ready?" He tightened the hold again to make sure he had Kip's attention.
"OK, go," Randy said, releasing him.
The hockey player ran for the door, in spite of the crowd that stood outside, and Randy watched out of the corner of his eye. Most of his clothes were piled on a chair, and he grabbed a handful and tossed them more or less at the door as he turned to look at Nanci, who was lying naked on her back on the bed, her legs spread wide.
"What do you want?" she said sullenly. "Do you want to fuck me too?"
"Sweet Jesus, no," Randy said. "I wouldn't touch you with a ten-foot pole. You aren't fit to wipe the asses of the women I've had."
"What do you want?" Nanci said again, all the sullenness replaced with fear. She knew what Randy was capable of doing -- if there'd been any doubt, the last minute had erased it -- and she could see he was in a rage.
"I want to tell you that you have two choices," Randy said calmly, but in enough of a rage that she knew it. "The first choice is that you clean up your act. Right now. All the way. And that includes telling your parents the truth, especially about Crystal. Understood? The second choice is that your ass gets thrown off campus. This shit you pulled on Ruth is the last straw. You're just a self-centered, spoiled little bitch who has to have her own way, no matter who you hurt. You had no reason to treat her like that, no matter what kind of shit you pulled on your sister. Understood?"
"Y-y-yes," she said, tears rolling, her body shaking as she pulled a sheet over her haphazardly.
"Ruth, come in here," Randy yelled.
In an instant, she was beside Randy, the tears replaced with a huge grin at the satisfying turn of events. "Yes, Randy?" she asked quietly.
"You get any more shit out of this little bitch, even one word, you get hold of me, and I'll come over here and reason with her, OK? You understand that, too, Nanci?"
"Yes," she sobbed.
"Then I think I've said what I came to say," Randy told her sharply. "Come on, Ruth; let's give her a few minutes to make up her mind. He turned and headed for the door, with Ruth following close behind; she didn't bother to close the door on the way out.
"My God," Gary said as soon as they were back out in the hall. "The legend lives on."
"From the Chippewa on down, yaah, you betcha," Randy said with a satisfied grin. He felt totally different than he had with Baughman, with the guys down on the Ocoee. He wasn't sure he liked the feeling, but he could deal with that later. "Come on," he said, glancing at his watch. "We've got twenty minutes before act two begins. I'll buy everyone a cup of coffee."
"Twenty minutes?" Brenda frowned.
"Yeah," Randy said. "Give her ten minutes to pull herself together enough to think up some cock-and-bull story, then ten minutes to call her folks, then I'll be getting a phone call. I think I want all of you up in our room for it."
The group had only been up in Matt and Randy's room over in Gant Hall for a couple minutes when the phone went off. Randy glanced at his watch. "Nineteen minutes and forty seconds," he said casually as he reached for the phone. "I'd say that was hitting it pretty close."
"Randy, what in hell got into you?" Pete's voice exploded from the phone. "What makes you think you can threaten Nanci's life?"
"I didn't threaten anything," Randy said calmly. "And I have several witnesses. I will admit that I had to threaten a naked wet-dicked hockey player when I threw him out of her room, but I made no threats to her."
"What in hell business is it of yours?" he yelled. "You arrogant bastard, you're no better than Crystal."
"Look," Randy said, trying to keep his temper under control. "Nanci is about ten minutes from getting thrown off campus unless I tell them to hold off. I was being nice enough to give her one last chance. It looks like she didn't take it. Now, you'd better calm the hell down if you think you can talk me out of it."
"I don't have to take that shit from you," Pete exploded. "You and Crystal think you can fuck over Nanci any time you like, and ruin her life. What in the hell . . ."
"Pete . . . Pete . . ." Randy tried to break into the tirade. "I don't have to talk to you about this. Like I said, there are plenty of witnesses. If Karin's on the line, I'll talk to her about it, but I'm not going to talk to you anymore."
"You little son of a bitch . . ." came from the receiver as Randy hung up the phone.
"Well, that went about like I expected," Randy said casually, shaking his head. "God, I don't know how Crystal put up with it that long."
"I guess I'd better call the Dean," Brenda said. "I hoped it wouldn't come to this."
Randy shook his head. "Give it another few minutes and see if we get an act three. I figure the odds are about fifty-fifty. It's not like Nanci wasn't going to be off campus at the end of the semester anyway, and she'd have blamed that on Crystal and me, too. But, there's no point in Ruth having to put up with it that long."
"What happened with Crystal, anyway?" Brenda asked.
"I don't know the details, but there was that kind of exchange when she got home at Christmas," Randy said. "I guess there was a mutual exchange of 'Fuck yous,' and she hit the road. I'm just surprised Crystal didn't break his neck. She's down in Florida, now."
Brenda shook her head. "God, what a shame. She and Myleigh were two of the good ones. You hear anything about Myleigh?"
"Yeah, she'll be through with her master's work this spring," Randy said. "She's going to be doing some kind of special research project at Cornell this summer, I guess. It wasn't real clear to me whether it was a job, or for credit, or what, the last time I talked to her."
"Good, glad to hear she's doing fine," Brenda smiled.
The phone rang again. "Time for act three. Figured it would take a couple more minutes," Randy said casually as he picked up the phone.
"Randy, this is Karin," she said. "Pete's on the line, but he promised not to say anything."
"Good. One word out of him and I hang up."
"Now, what's this about Nanci?"
"She decided she wanted to spend the night with the current hockey player she's screwing, so she had him throw her roomie out for the night. He said he'd beat her up if she tried to get back in. So, the roomie went to the RA. They were heading to the Dean to have Nanci thrown out, but asked me if maybe I could talk to her. I went up, threw his naked ass out, and told Nanci she had to clean up her act and tell how she lied about Crystal, or I'd turn the RA loose. That still stands."
"That's pretty bad," Karin said. "You said there were witnesses that you didn't threaten Nanci?"
"Yeah, a bunch, and the RA and her roomie were among them. You can call them if you don't believe me. You don't have to take my word for it."
"That's not anything like what Nanci said."
"I expect it wasn't," Randy agreed. "She's still running true to form. Look, Crystal had a good reputation around this campus, honest and fair. She busted her ass trying to keep things under control all last fall, and all you did was shit on her for it. I'm a little tired of Nanci pissing all over Crystal's good reputation."
"I knew it couldn't be as bad as Nanci said," Karin said. "I'm sorry, Randy."
"You should be a hell of a lot sorrier for Crystal," he said. "She warned you this was going to happen, and she tried to keep it from happening. And, just like she expected, she got the blame. Frankly, I don't blame her for telling you to go to hell."
"You've talked to her, haven't you?"
"Yeah," Randy said. "It's been a while. She's OK, but she's pretty hurt by all this. I delivered your message, Karin. I don't know if she did anything about it."
"Where is she?"
"I know, but she wouldn't want me to tell."
"I understand," Karin said quietly. "I guess I can't blame her. Look, when you see her again, give her the same message, OK?"
"Randy, what are we going to do about Nanci?"
"You really don't have many choices. You can tell her to clean up her act and come clean with you, and it better be pretty quick, like today. If you get back to me with a version that's even halfway close to the truth, I'll ask the RA and her roomie to hold off on going to the Dean for a few days. If she doesn't, a couple security guards will help her pack and escort her off campus. I suppose you could just tell her to come home and avoid that. Understand that I'm not forcing this, I'm trying to keep it from happening, and I'm not going to be able to hold it off for long. I'm just telling it like it is. In any case, you're going to have to be the ones to accept the responsibility, you and her."
"I'm almost afraid it's too late now," Karin said sadly.
"I wouldn't be surprised. You should have done it a long time ago. Now, it's in your laps, and you're going to have to live with it. I'm sorry, but that's the way it is."
"Probably," Karin said sadly. "Look, would you tell me if you hear about Crystal?"
"No," Randy told her. "Not unless she tells me it's all right."
"You love her, don't you?"
"Of course," Randy said. "I love her too much to want to see her hurt like this. Karin, I'll be honest; I'd ask her in a minute to marry me if I thought she'd say yes. But she's not ready to now, and she got a lot further from it last Christmas."
"I'm sorry, Randy, I really am. Maybe someday."
"Yeah," Randy admitted. "Maybe someday. Goodbye, Karin."
"Goodbye, Randy, and take care."
He hung up the phone. "Well, that's that. Brenda, you might want to head over to your room in case they call, but I doubt they will."
"Are you expecting them to call you back?"
Randy shook his head. "Not a chance in a hundred. Karin might, but Pete's such an asshole that he won't admit he's wrong, even if Nanci admits everything. I'm just sorry for Crystal. It's going to be a long time before she can go home again. Maybe never."
"Maybe it's just as well," Brenda said. "Thanks, Randy."
"Yeah, thanks, Randy," Ruth added, eyes aglow. "That was brave of you."
"No bravery involved, Ruth," he said. "Just something that needed to be done. Sorry you had to get the short end of the stick, but it should be over with pretty quick. If you have any problems, or just want to talk, feel free to come and see me."
"Well, I feel like I ought to do something," she said.
"OK," he grinned. "You any good with a snow shovel?"
Randy hung around the room that afternoon, after the Dodge had been dug out, just on the odd chance there would be a phone call, but it never rang. Ruth wasn't real anxious to head back to her room, so she hung around with Matt, Randy, and Gary, just talking, mostly about Randy and Crystal and, yes, the legend. Eventually Gary offered to take Ruth off campus for dinner. They came back to Matt and Randy's room afterwards and reported, "She's gone. Packed up and left."
"Guess dey decided ta believe da lies," Matt commented after they left. "Poor Crystal."
"Yeah," Randy said sadly, mentally sending his sorrow and wishes of good luck to her, wherever she might be.
"Did you mean what you said dat you'd ask Crystal to marry you if you thought she'd say yes?"
"Of course, I meant it," he said, still sad. "Not much chance of it happening, though."
"How about Myleigh?"
"Same thing," Randy said, perking up a little, beginning to see the drift of Matt's questions. "There's even less chance of it with her."
"Den how about dis Nicole?"
"That's different," Randy grinned. "I'm not even going to think about asking her till she's out of school a while, because there's a pretty good chance she'd say yes."
"What if all tree said yes?"
"Then I'd be in a world of shit, wouldn't I?"