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ROUND ROBIN

SINS OF THE FATHERS

CHAPTER 5

by Samantha Coleman and Rebecca Gibson

Michael lay awake in bed for a long time. He was confused. He knew he was attracted to women. After all, his continued fantasies involving Catherine were evidence of such attractions. But he also liked Iain. He wondered if it were possible to be attracted to both men and women. Perhaps some time spent in the tunnels would help clear his mind. He decided to go home for the weekend. After quickly packing a bag, he quietly slipped out of the dorm room, unseen by anyone.

Arriving in the tunnels, Michael was spotted by Eli Walker, the newest resident. Eli dutifully sounded the alarm. Michael heard the tapping and froze. “It’s me, Michael,” he announced to the sentry.

“I don’t know a Michael,” Eli replied from his hiding place in the shadows.

Michael did not recognize the voice. But he also knew the man had used Pascal’s warning code on the pipes. Michael took a chance by saying, “Call Vincent. He can verify who I am. Until he arrives, I’ll just sit here.” Michael sat cross-legged on the ground.

Having heard the alarm, Vincent went to check on the situation. Several minutes passed before Vincent reached Eli and Michael. Only after Vincent arrived and confirmed Michael’s identity did Eli show himself. “Good eye, Eli. Thank you for sounding the alarm,” Vincent complimented the man.

“Sorry about that, Michael. You can never be too careful,” Eli said, apologizing to Michael.

“Sentry duty is the one thing I don’t miss,” Michael said as Vincent sounded the all-clear.

“Come,” Vincent instructed. He already knew something was bothering Michael. “Let’s talk,” Vincent added, putting his arm around the young man’s shoulders.

Eli disappeared into the surrounding background.

The hair on Michael’s neck stood at full attention. He didn’t like or trust Eli. Pushing back the disturbing thoughts and feelings, Michael asked if they could go somewhere private and talk.

Not quite knowing where to start, Michael decided the best approach was to be straightforward. “Is it possible to be attracted to both men and women?”

Vincent was taken aback by the question for several seconds. Finally, he commented, “Tell me. What has happened?”

Shyly, Michael gave a brief synopsis of what he was feeling. “You already know I am attracted to women. But recently I have discovered I have the same type of attraction to a close friend.”

“Iain.”

“Yes. We kissed. I liked the way his lips felt against mine. Now I’m confused. How can this be possible?”

Thinking for several minutes, Vincent carefully ventured into the subject. “Well, it is rumored that Eleanor Roosevelt was bisexual. She had a constant female companion all while being married to Franklin.” Concluding, he added, “So yes. I do believe it is possible.”

Michael sighed an inner sigh of relief. There were others like him. Vincent called them bisexual. He thought to himself that since the woman of his dreams was unobtainable, he might as well pursue Iain. With that resolution, Micheal let the exhaustion seep into him. He asked if his old chambers were occupied. He was told that Zack had moved into them. Michael asked where he could sleep, then excused himself and headed in the direction of the guest chambers.

Suddenly, Vincent felt the familiar tugging at his heart and soul. Catherine was coming. Vincent headed to the tunnel entrance to greet her.

Thinking of Johnson’s parting shot, Catherine had decided to use the entrance below her apartment building rather than using the park entrance. The last thing she needed was that nosy Agent Johnson to see her walking in the park at night. After carefully replacing the boxes in front of the entrance and closing the secret door, Catherine descended the ladder. She felt familiar hands gently grasp her waist and pluck her from the ladder.

They embraced for several quiet minutes as each soaked in the other’s presence. While Vincent placed a kiss on the top of her head, Catherine did something she had only dreamed of doing. She gently kissed him at the base of his neck where it met his broad chest.

“Come,” Vincent said as he took her by the hand and led her towards the hub of the community. He could feel her elation. He didn’t know if it was because the investigation had ended or if it had to do with his acceptance of the intimate kiss she had given him. Maybe it was a little of each, he thought to himself. Vincent led her to his chambers before asking, “What brings you such joy tonight?”

“The case against Samuel Alonzo has fallen apart. So has my case against Anthony Miller. Neither of which makes me happy. But it does mean the FBI will get off my back and quit watching my every move. Although I do still have to be extra careful. Agent Johnson knows I’m hiding something. He’s been pulled off the case, but I don’t trust him not to do some snooping around on his own.”

“I take it this is because Thomas passed away.”

Catherine nodded. “I have no witnesses willing to testify against Miller. Without Miller, the case against Alonzo falls apart. There’s also the mysterious disappearance of Agent Owens. Nobody seems to know where he went. For all I know, he could be at the bottom of the Hudson.”

* * *

Peter picked Catherine up from work so they could see the play Michael was in. It was opening night and neither wanted to be late for Michael’s stage debut. So when Joe called out, Catherine just called back, “Sorry, Peter’s here to take me out, bye.”

“But…”

“It’ll wait till tomorrow. And if it can’t, have someone else handle it, or do it yourself.”

“We have a witness willing to testify against Miller and Alonzo.”

Catherine stopped dead in her tracks. Turning slowly around, she asked, “Who? I hit a brick wall with everyone.”

“Lady says she knows where Alonzo has been hiding. And here’s the real kicker: she personally witnessed Alonzo shoot Agent Owens.”

“Look, I have something important to me going on this evening. Is there any possible way to set this up tomorrow?”

“What about after the play?” Peter suggested.

“Play? And that’s your important thing?” Joe asked incredulously.

“I know it doesn’t sound important to you, but a friend of mine is in the play and has no family to be there to support him. So yes, it’s important to me and to him.” Resigning herself to the fact that Joe was not about to let this go tonight, Catherine offered, “After the play I’ll be back to talk to the witness. I’ll give you a call after the play to find out what time to be back. Just don’t let Agent Johnson have a crack at them without me being present.” She added, “I don’t trust the guy not to pull the rug out from under us again.”

“If we’re going, we’d better leave now, Cathy,” Peter interjected.

“OK, you go. I’ll set things up here,” Joe said. “By the way, what’s the show? Maybe I’ll catch it sometime too.”

“The Merchant of Venice,” Catherine replied, knowing full well Joe would not be attending.

* * *

Earlier that day, Eli and Rebecca had strolled into Father’s study hand in hand. While exchanging pleasantries, Eli had picked up a playbill laying on top of a pile of leather-bound Shakespeare plays. Eli remembered hearing something about a play one of the Tunnel kids was in; this was to be the opening night. Someone must have sent Father the playbill so he could see it. He glanced up – Father and Rebecca were deep into conversation, and it seemed best, still, to keep quiet on the edges of things here. So, without much interest, he began reading the playbill. It looked like it had been produced on an ordinary photocopier, though designed with great care. The Merchant of Venice, playing at Brayfield College’s student theater. 

Photos of the main cast members lined the bottom edge of the playbill. Portia was being played by a girl with dark skin and straightened hair. Shylock, a skinny kid who didn’t look more than 16. The Duke of Venice by a woman – someone looking decidedly older than the rest of the cast. Bassanio, by Michael Richmond, an angelically pretty young man.  Antonio –

Eli gave a slightly audible gasp when he saw Iain’s name.

“Are you OK?” Rebecca asked, concerned.

“Yes. I just did not expect to see Iain’s name here.”

“Who’s Iain?”

“My son. His mother took him back to Scotland when he was a young boy.  I’ve not seen him since.”

“Maybe you should go see him,” Rebecca suggested.

Eli hesitated. “I don’t know if I should. He may not even remember me.”

“You never know until you try,” Father added. “Besides, it’s a good way to cleanse the soul, as they say.”

“I’ll think about it,” was all Eli would commit to.

“I’d go with you,” Rebecca offered shyly.

* * *

On the way to the play, Catherine told Peter about Thomas’ death. 

“I’m so sorry, Cathy.  Can you use Thomas’ deposition in the case against Miller?”

“No. The judge will throw out the testimony because they must be available for the defense to cross-examine.”

“Well, if you need to send a message Below, do it through me, since we’ve already established a minor medical treatment plan for you.”

Catherine nodded. “But only in an extreme emergency. I don’t want to give Johnson a reason for poking into my life again.”

* * *

Having discussed attendance further, Eli had been convinced to go to the play that very night. Thus it was that on opening night, Eli and Rebecca were sitting in the auditorium waiting for the show to start.

“Which one is your son?” Rebecca whispered as the play unfolded before them.

Eli pointed to him when he stepped onto the stage.

* * *

As the play went on, Michael was able to see Rebecca from backstage. “Oh, Rebecca’s here tonight.” Michael pointed Rebecca out in the crowd. “I see she has her new beau with her.”

Iain went sheet white looking at the pair.

“Are you OK?” Michael was concerned.

Iain nodded. “I’d never forget that face.”

Just then, both men were needed onstage. Both hid their trepidation well.

* * *

As the play progressed, Catherine had finally allowed herself to get lost in the story.  The chemistry between Michael, who was Bassiano, and the boy playing Antonio, was magnetic.

“’Give welcome to my friend,’” Bassiano greeted Portia.  “’This is the man, this is Antonio, to whom I am so infinitely bound.’”

Michael turned to the young man next to him, and the look that passed between them was so tender and intimate that Catherine wondered… was there something between them, deeper than the parts they were acting?

 The scene concluded happily, to great applause, and soon the little theater filled with the hum and bustle of the audience rising.

“We should try to find Michael,” Peter said, standing and holding a gentlemanly hand out for Catherine as she rose.

“Of course,” she agreed, craning her neck to see if he had come out from backstage yet. “He was really good, wasn’t he? Vincent and Father would be so proud of him.”

“Catherine, look – isn’t that Rebecca?”  Peter pointed out a woman near the front of the theater.

Catherine’s jaw dropped. She knew Rebecca came Above from time to time, but it was strange to see her here in the world. “She must have come to see Michael, too. They’ll find each other soon,” she said. “We’ll join them.”

* * *

The throng of students, both the actors and the audience, thinned rapidly as little groups swirled together in congratulations. Portia waved at someone across the room.  The stage crew began piling props along the edge of the stage, and stacking up the chairs. One genially slapped Michael on the back, with a “Bravo, bravo, Bassiano!” 

“Excuse me,” the Duke of Venice said, retrieving her backpack from a front-row chair behind Rebecca.

Shylock tossed his beard to a stage hand and called, “Hey, Mike, Iain, are you coming with us?” 

Michael waved at him and shook his head. 

Rebecca and Eli made their way to one side of the stage and waited for Iain to come out. When he did, Michael was with him.

Iain stopped dead in his tracks. Samual Alonzo was waiting for him.  Coming face to face with the man who had sired him, Iain only said, “Dad.”

Michael froze. The hair on the back of his neck stood at full attention as Michael and Eli’s eyes locked.

 

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WATER FUN

by AM

“Local temperature is 89 degrees with a heat index of 102. Stay inside if you can. Drink plenty of water and remember, don’t overdo it. It’s a scorcher out there today, folks”.

Catherine cursed the weatherman as she wiped the sweat off her forehead.  “Great. What a perfect time for the air to go out.”

The thought of going outside made her cringe. It was Sunday, so her office would be locked.

“I need to get out of this heat. I’ve got it!” Catherine giggled as she had a wonderful idea.

She went through recycling looking for something she could use.

“Nothing,” she said, frustrated.

She hurriedly changed into a comfortable t-shirt and jeans and hurried to the nearest store. She would’ve run if it hadn’t been so hot.

She sighed with relief when she stepped foot into the cool store.

She picked up some water guns.

No, too violent, and would be frowned upon, she thought as she put the guns down.

She went searching for safer things.

Balloons? No, leaves a mess to clean up.

Her eyes lit up when she saw them. “Spray bottles!!! Perfect!! Hmmm. There’s 50. That should be plenty.”

She grabbed up all the bottles and headed to pay.

It seemed like forever before she headed back to her apartment with her treasures. Instead of going directly to her apartment, she headed to the tunnels. It wasn’t long before she ran into Eric.

“What’s in the bags?” he asked

“It’s a surprise, and I need you to do me a favor. Could you gather all the kids and bring them here?”

“Okay.”

“Oh, and Eric?”

Eric turned to look at her.

“Bring as many buckets of water as you can.” She winked at him.

He returned in record time with all the tunnel kids, each carrying two buckets full of water. Catherine passed out the spray bottles and helped fill them up. Once all the bottles were filled, boundary lines were drawn, and safe places declared, they were ready.

“On your mark, get set, GO!” Catherine yelled.

The fight began in full force. Laughter, shrieks, and happy screams echoed through the tunnels as the children chased and sprayed each other. Catherine found herself in the crossfire several times, but laughed as hard as the children. When bottles emptied they were quickly refilled, and the fun continued. Soon adults came to find out where the happy noises were coming from. Some smiled, shook their heads and went back to their previous activity. Some helped by refilling empty buckets. Others just couldn’t help joining in the fun. Catherine noticed Vincent walking towards them.

“I need to borrow that,” she said to Kipper.

He smiled and handed her his full bottle. She placed the bottle behind her back, walked calmly up to Vincent, and sprayed him in the face.

His look of shock made Catherine laugh. Vincent calmly watched the children play for a few minutes before casually picking up a bucket that was a quarter full. He turned to Catherine.

“Vincent, you wouldn’t dare.”

“Perhaps, but then how would I return the favor?”

With that, he dumped the bucket over her head. The children erupted with laughter to see Catherine soaked.

A tapping on the pipes made them all stop. Dinner.

Groans quickly spread among the children. They reluctantly started handing the bottles to Catherine.

“Vincent, why don’t you keep them for the next time?”

The children’s eyes danced with glee. Vincent put the bottles in the buckets and handed them to the children to carry.

“Would you join us, Catherine?” Vincent asked.

“I would love to.”

Vincent took her hand and they followed the children to dinner.