Categories > Movies > Dead Poets Society > Richard's Redemption

chapter fourteen

by catstaff 0 reviews

How do you go on after betraying your friends? Especially when they only think they know why you did it... and you're petrified of what will happen if they discover the real reasons. Cameron's POV,...

Category: Dead Poets Society - Rating: R - Genres: Angst,Romance - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2016-06-16 - 3627 words - Complete

The following weekend, I get ready to go into town with Knox to meet Chris at the diner again. He said she'd gotten a packet of letters for us. Todd watches wistfully as he gets ready to go do his work detail... another part of his semester-long punishment for standing up for the Captain.

“I still can't believe Nolan isn't letting you off,” Knox grumbles. “What good does he think he's doing?” Todd shrugs. “Rule of law and all that,” he says. “He said I was campused for the semester, he's not going to change his mind now. It might make him look bad, you know. At least he's letting me off the work detail a lot earlier than he was back in January and February.”

I nod. “Thank goodness for small favors, then, right? What do you want for lunch and dinner today, then?” I stow the empty Coke bottles in my newly-rigged side baskets to return for my deposit.

“Cheeseburgers and onion rings,” Todd replies promptly. “And reubens for later on. They'll keep better for dinner.”

“More Cokes?” I ask.

“Yes, please. Unless... I don't suppose you could get a frappe back here somehow?” Todd looks hopeful.

I look at the baskets thoughtfully. It might work, if I'm careful. “I can try. But I'll get the Cokes anyway, in case I can't. What flavor, assuming I can do it?”

Todd grins. “Chocolate, please.”

I grin and salute. “Aye, aye, sir!”

Todd laughs, waving as he heads off to Nolan's office to report in. Knox and I head into town. Since we're early for meeting Chris, he comes into the general store with me. I return the empties and buy four more Cokes, several Hershey bars, and a pound of ice.

“What's that for?” Knox asks curiously.

"It'll keep the Cokes cold until I get back,” I say. “Plus, it'll give me something to help wedge the frappes into place in the basket, so hopefully they won't spill.”

Knox nods. “Good thinking, Cameron. I was wondering how you planned on getting those back to the dorm.”

I load my purchases into the baskets, then we walk our bikes over to the diner. Going inside, we sit at the counter, ordering iced teas today rather than coffee. Typically for Vermont, the weather had made a rather abrupt transition from early spring chill to hinting at summer heat since our last pass day. I also place my to-go order of four cheeseburgers, four reubens, two onion rings, and two chocolate frappes. The waitress behind the counter warns me that my order is going to take a while, being so big. I nod and take a sip of my iced tea. Knox is staring at the door.

“You don't think anything's delaying her, do you?” he asks nervously.

I try not to laugh. “We're early. She's got ten minutes yet, maybe more. Don't worry until my food is ready, at the very least.”

Knox grins sheepishly just as Chris walks in carrying a large manila envelope. “Mr. Keating apparently decided it would cost him less to mail everything together,” she smiles, handing Knox a single letter and giving me the large envelope. “There's letters for you, Todd, Stephen Meeks, and Gerard Pitts in there, Richard. You don't mind delivering them, do you?”

“Of course not, Chris, and thanks once again,” I say.

She smiles and gives me a peck on the cheek. “It's my pleasure.” She and Knox head out the door, bound for whatever plans they have for the day. A little while later, my order is ready. I take a few minutes settling everything into the baskets... mail and food on one side, drinks, ice, and candy on the other... and set out for Welton once more.

Todd is sweeping up the front walk, apparently after trimming the shrubbery, when I pull in the gates. He gives me a wave and I give him the thumbs-up to let him know that I managed to get the frappe he wanted. A few dribbles have escaped the paper cups, but for the most part they are intact.

“I'll be done in a minute,” Todd calls as he sweeps the last of the cuttings into a pile, which he then tosses into a wheelbarrow. “I just need to toss this on the compost heap and put the tools away, then I'm finished for the day. Wait and I'll help you carry everything.”

I nod. “Sure thing,” I call back

Todd returns a few minutes later and we lug everything... even the ice... up to our room. The ice and the Cokes go into the wastebasket to keep cool for later. After setting the reubens aside, we dig into the onion rings and cheeseburgers. Todd wears an expression of bliss as he slurps at his frappe.

Once we've eaten, I take out the letters and set aside the ones meant for Meeks and Pitts. I hand Todd his and open mine with suddenly shaky fingers.

Dear Richard,

I have to say, you and Todd took me very much by surprise with the revelations in your last letters to me. No, I am not disgusted by the fact that you two are a couple. I would be lying if I said it didn't make me uncomfortable at all, but as far as I am concerned, love is a good thing, even in more... uncommon forms. You're both of an age to start making your own choices in life, so far be it from me to tell you otherwise.

I hope for your sake that your family will react better to finding out than you think they will. You must love Todd very much to be prepared to be rejected by your family for him. But in case they don't, I've enclosed a packet of scholarship information from the University of California in with Todd's letter. You're right in thinking that the San Francisco area is somewhat less hostile to men of your persuasion than most places. It's entirely possible that the two of you could find yourselves a home here.

Speaking of UC, I definitely have the post there. So if you should end up out here for your higher education, you'll end up with the pleasure of having me as a teacher once again. Oh, and now that I have some prospects in my field, I've taken the plunge and asked Jessica to marry me. She'll come out as soon as I'm done for this school year and we'll be married in one of the little mission churches that dot this area. I'm already nervous.

Yours in friendship,
your Captain

I look up from my letter with a smile, to see Todd beaming at me over the pile of paperwork in his lap. “The scholarship information?” I ask.

“It certainly is,” Todd chuckles, scooting closer so we can look at it together. There's quite a bit of it to go through... full general scholarships as well as some major-specific ones, plus some additional information about the health program and the English department.

“The Captain's a careful reader,” I grin, leafing through the health booklet. “He certainly paid attention to my whole letter.”

Todd slips his arm around me while perusing the general scholarship requirements. “I'm just glad he's not put off by us. That we're together, I mean. For all he was our teacher, he... he always felt like a friend to me. The first adult I felt like I could trust at all. So I'm glad he's all right with us.”

I lean over and give him a kiss. “So am I.”

We read in silence for a while, savoring the last of our frappes. “This isn't going to be easy,” Todd says at last.

“What do you mean?”

“Think about it for a minute, Richard. We're both expected to go to Dartmouth. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are acceptable alternative schools. But the University of California? They'll need official transcripts and probably letters of recommendation from teachers here... Nolan or someone is bound to tell our parents, even if we raised the application fees ourselves. You know they'll ask why were applying to... to some upstart school all the way across the country,” Todd reasons.

Hmm. I hadn't thought about that. “Well... we can always say we wanted to apply to a... a good quality public school as a backup? And that we chose this one so that if we did end up having to fall back on it, we would get the experience of the travel and the unique surroundings on the West Coast?”

Todd chuckles. “All right, I guess that will do. It should satisfy the teachers here, anyway. Although we'll still have to deal with our parents, once the time comes for... oh. No we won't, will we? If we're going on scholarship, we won't have to pay more than a nominal fee to hold our places, right? I've got almost a thousand dollars in the bank, and it's my own account. My father won't have to sign for me to take the money out, I mean. It's from all the savings bonds my grandmother gave me, every birthday and Christmas, before she died two years ago.”

I frown. “Well, I don't have nearly that much saved. Grandad tends to give things for my birthday... like, a new bike every couple of years, and stuff like my microscope in between bike years.”

Todd laughs at that. “Not bad stuff, though. Better than that damned desk set of mine that my parents sent me two years running. Eh, we'll figure out the money as we need to, right?”

“Right. Although, we are going to have to find out the application deadlines and such soon. We might want to work on our essays over the summer, don't you think? Or at least figure out what we'll want to write about. Senior year isn't going to be any easier than this year, and they aren't going to reduce the homework any just because we'll be filling out college applications.” I grab the general scholarship booklet and look it over.

“Look, Todd, we have to apply by November 30th. Applications may be requested as early as September 15th. Ick... well, I guess we could still start our essays. I remember when AJ was doing college applications... he said practically all of them just wanted a little bit of a biography and why you wanted to attend that particular school.”

Todd gives an evil grin at that. “Heh. We could always write some drabble over the summer, and use that on all the Ivy League applications, to make sure we don't get into any of them.”

I nod. “Maybe. It sort of seems like cheating to me.”

“Yeah, I guess it is, kind of,” Todd agrees. “But if it takes some of the pressure off... My father expects me to fail anyway. I'll just be living down to his expectations if I don't get into Dartmouth. I don't know. Maybe it's not such a great idea after all.”

I can't help but agree. “Probably not. I'd almost suggest going for a scholarship to Dartmouth... in English... to prove to him that you are worth way more than he gives you credit for. But if you do that, we'll have to hide for another four years at least.”

Todd snorts. “If the scholarship is in English, and not a pre-med program, he wouldn't give me the credit anyway. Either I'm exactly what he wants, or I'm worthless.”

I shake my head once more. “How does your mother stand being married to him?”

He shrugs. “She likes the prestige of being a doctor's wife. And she never really wanted kids anyway. She was prepared to give my father an heir... Jeffrey... but even he was left mostly to a nanny when he was young. So she wouldn't have to give up her clubs and all that.”

“Not exactly the maternal type, I see.” I look at Todd for a long moment.

He blushes. “What?”

“Nothing. I'm just trying to figure out how you got so nice with your parents,” I tell him.

“Ah, I'm not that nice,” he protests. “Am I?”

I nod and give him a hug. “Absolutely. After all, you gave me a chance.”

He smiles and kisses me gently. “I'm glad I did. I'm glad we talked that night. And glad you had changed enough to make it all possible.”

Now I'm the one blushing. “Oh, Todd... come on, now...”

He chuckles and messes up my hair. “It's too nice to stay in all day,” he says. “How about we go to the lake and sign out a scull? I still want to try to do rowing next year, and I know you do rowing.”

“Sounds like a plan,” I agree.

We head out to the lake and the boathouse. Mr. McAllister is on duty and looks a little surprised to see me at first, since it's a pass day. But then he spots Todd and gets an understanding gleam in his eye. “Nice of you to consider your roommate, Cameron,” he says in an undertone as he opens the storage chest and pulls out a couple of oars. “It's not every lad who would even remember that his friend couldn't go to town, much less would stay on campus with that friend.” He cheerfully holds the little craft steady as we climb aboard, then he gives us a shove away from the dock.

We spend the better part of the afternoon rowing all over the lake. Then we head inside and have our reubens and our still-cold Cokes for dinner. We consider rigging a booby trap with the icy water in the wastebasket from the melted ice, but decide against it when we realize we'd be the obvious culprits, just for having been on campus when nearly everyone else was gone. So instead, we shower early and settle in to go over the UC-Berkeley information in depth.

In the morning, I give Pitts and Meeks their letters at breakfast. They hurry off to read before chapel services, then afterward they ask if we'll be writing back soon. Knox suggests that we can write during study group after dinner, unless anyone has something more pressing to finish for tomorrow's classes. Pitts mumbles something about the Latin homework, but Meeks tells him not to worry about it, he'll help him finish before dinner.

We all go our separate ways for the afternoon... Meeks and Pitts find a quiet spot to work on the Latin, Knox heads off to a Sons of Alumni club meeting, and Todd and I decide to catch up on our laundry. As we wait for the washers to finish, Todd peppers me with questions about Martha's Vineyard and what we'll likely be doing there.

“Fishing, mostly,” I tell him with a grin. “And swimming, of course, and there'll be at least one clambake, probably a few of them. A Fourth of July dance and fireworks. Mother will likely ask us to go berry picking for her once or twice... she makes a wonderful blackberry cobbler, but she hates getting all hot and scratched up getting the berries.”

Todd grins widely at that last. “For blackberry cobbler, I don't mind a few scratches,” he says. “Do you fish off a pier or from your boat?”

“Both,” I say. “Snapper blues are small fish that run near the shore. They're pretty good fried, and not too much of a pain to clean. On the boat, we usually go for bluefish and striped bass, and sometimes we get a cod or a shark. Have you fished much?”

“Never, for all we live in Portsmouth,” Todd chuckles. “Mother hates the smell of fish with a passion. During Lent, we always go out to dinner on Fridays, just so she doesn't have to smell it in the house.”

I laugh as well. “You must live on the far inland side of Portsmouth, then, don't you? Otherwise your poor mother would be smelling fish all the time, with all the commercial fishing that happens there.”

He nods. “Very true. She keeps trying to talk my father into trying for a position at some other hospital... somewhere inland. But he keeps pointing out that he's chief of staff where he is, and if they go elsewhere, she won't have the same prestige. That tends to shut her up for a while.”

“I can imagine. Oh, do you play tennis?” I ask.

“No, why?”

“Mother plays... she took it up after she recovered from that illness. And she's always looking for a game partner, either someone to play against or someone to play with her in a mixed-doubles set against some of the neighbors. AJ plays, but Father and I don't. I think she was hoping for a new victim.”

Todd laughs. “Sorry to disappoint her,” he grins. “I guess we'll just have to make it up to her by being very cooperative about the berry picking. What will the sleeping arrangements be like, both on the Island and at your place?”

I start moving clean and wet clothing to the dryers as I answer. “On the Island, we have a cottage. There's a big living room in front, a combined kitchen and dining room in back, and bedrooms on both sides. Only three, so I expect you and I will be sharing a room,” I smile. “AJ will be next to us, although he'll likely enough spend a lot of his nights elsewhere. And my parents will be across the house from us.”

Todd smiles at that. “So, if we're quiet, we probably won't get caught, is that what you're saying?”

I glance around the laundry room. It's in the basement, windowless, and deserted except for us. I lean in and risk a quick hug and kiss. “That's exactly what I'm saying, Todd. And I'm sure we can find other places to be alone sometimes as well.”

He smiles as he returns the kiss. “I'm very glad to hear that, Richard. What about at your home?”

“We won't be so lucky there, “ I tell him as I drop my coins into the dryer. “It's a big old showplace from the 1800s, with six bedrooms. You'll be given a room to yourself there. On the other hand, there are usually no less than six dinner parties that my parents attend in the first couple of weeks after we get back from the Island, so we'll still manage to steal some time alone.”

“Six more weeks of school, then two weeks with my family. Those two weeks are going to be awful,” Todd muses. “But then six weeks with you and your family. Another two weeks with mine, then back to school for senior year.”

“We'll make it, Todd, I know we will. And then... well, we'll work that out as well.”

He nods soberly. “We've made it this long. I think you're right.”

When the laundry is done, we take it back up to our room and put it away. Then we have dinner and join Knox, Meeks, and Pitts in the dorm lobby for our “study” session. In a rare display of concurrent thinking, we all turn up with our English books as a cover for our letter writing.

Oh Captain, my Captain,

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. According to my father, the groom is to show up on time and sober, and otherwise is to just stay out of the bride's way as she plans the wedding. So try not to be too nervous. Your Jessica is getting a good man, and don't you forget that.

Thank you so much for the information package from UC. Todd and I have looked it over already, and picked out the parts we both wish to study a little more n-depth. It looks like an excellent school, even if it isn't Ivy League. I'm sure you'll fit in well as a teacher there. I'm looking forward to learning from you once again. Maybe this time the lessons will sink in a little more thoroughly.

I'm actually looking forward to summer this year. Todd will be spending six weeks with my family... I invited him to Martha's Vineyard with us for July, plus his parents will be away so my father said he could remain with us for a couple more weeks, until they return home. It should be fun. I'm planning on teaching him to fish, as he never has and wants to learn.

I expect I'll only be hearing from you once more before the school year ends, as that's only six weeks away. But I'll write at least once more before that happens. Will you be remaining at your current address after your marriage? And if not, do you know where you'll be moving to? If you'll be moving but you don't yet know to where, please write to Chris Noel with your new address so we can continue to correspond next year. She'll give it to us when we return for senior year.

Your friend,
Richard Cameron

I fold my letter and stuff it into an envelope, then address and stamp it. Todd and Pitts are both done writing already. Knox finishes shortly after me, then finally Meeks wraps up. “How soon can we get these mailed?” Meeks asks quietly. “There won't be a pass for another couple of weeks.”

Pitts, surprisingly, comes up with a solution. “I have a dentist appointment on Tuesday,” he says. “I can mail them out when I go into town for that.”

We all hand him our letters, which he stuffs into his Pritchard book. Then we all head upstairs to shower and turn in for the night.
Sign up to rate and review this story