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

chapter nineteen

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 - 2131 words - Complete

After dinner, Father brings up yesterday's conversation once again. “Are you truly that unhappy about the thought of going to Dartmouth, Richard?”

How do I phrase this... “I'm not exactly unhappy, Father, but I also would rather go to UC Berkeley,” I answer carefully. “It's hard to explain. I just... I want to do something different. I don't want to go along with your plans for me just because they're your plans for me. They're perfectly good plans, but I don't think I'm entirely suited for them, sir.”

Father nods, pursing his lips. “I did hope... I've watched the Kennedy family rising to prominence over the years through politics. I thought to do the same for the Camerons. But if you don't wish to be a part of that...”

“I don't,” I interrupt. “AJ will be a wonderful political figure. But I'm too private and also too blunt of a person to be comfortable as the focus of the public eye. Look at how long it took me to find one friend I was comfortable inviting to the Island, for example. And I'm afraid that if I go to Dartmouth, following you and AJ, people there will expect me to be more like you and AJ.

Father nods once more. “All right, Richard, you do have a point there. What do you propose to do with yourself, then, since you don't want to get involved with law and politics?”

I breathe a silent sigh of relief. He's being reasonable. “I'd like to become a doctor, I think. Not a general practitioner, but a research doctor. Look at how drastically the incidence of polio has dropped in the last five years, ever since the vaccine became available. Maybe I can help make a vaccine for measles or mumps.”

“That's certainly a worthy ambition, son. But why Berkeley specifically?” Father asks.

“Well... several of us were discussing backup schools,” I explain, trying to find enough persuasive arguments without giving away my real reasons for wanting to go to Berkeley. “Some of the fellows were of the opinion that if we didn't get into the Ivy League school of our choice, we should find a college near to home and apply for a transfer every year. Others... Todd and I included... thought that we'd be better off picking out a top-quality school and sticking with that one for the duration. We did some research and came up with a few schools that looked interesting... Berkeley was one of them. And to be honest, a large part of the appeal is the distance involved. Just getting there would be an adventure and an education... and San Francisco is the cultural center of the West Coast.”

“I'll make a bargain with you, Richard,” Father says after thinking that over for a moment. “I certainly respect your wish to enter medicine instead of law. And I can even sort of understand why you'd want to go out to California. But I want you to apply to Dartmouth anyhow. You may change your mind about California, and Dartmouth has a perfectly good pre-medical program. I won't force you to attend any given school if you'd rather be elsewhere, but I want you to keep your mind open to the possibility of Dartmouth... and the possibility that people there wouldn't just see you as a younger version of AJ.”

I nod. “Yes, sir, I will,” I tell him. I fiddle awkwardly with one of the throw pillows on the sofa, not quite sure how to gracefully end the conversation, but desperately wanting to do so before I say something unfortunate.

As it turns out, I'm saved by the bell. The phone rings, then Mother calls that it's for me. I gratefully make my escape and take the phone. “Hello?”

“It's me, Richard. We got home all right. About an hour ago, actually, but they wouldn't let me call until after we had dinner,” Todd's voice sounds tired.

“Was the trip awful?” I ask sympathetically.

“No worse than usual,” he tells me. “Father went on for a while that he found it hard to believe I've been invited back, while Mother kept saying how grateful she was that they could go settle Jeffrey, since I would be fine with the Camerons. Eventually they changed the subject to some charity event that Mother is on the planning committee for, and seemed to forget that I was in the car with them. I like it better that way, to be honest. It's better than hearing all about how strange it is that someone likes having me around, and definitely better than hearing about Jeffrey.”

God, I want to hug him right now. “I... you know what I'd say if I dared, don't you?” I can't take the chance that his is a party line, or that anyone is within hearing distance on my end.

His voice softens a bit; I can almost hear the smile slipping onto his face. “I know. I'd say the same. I have to go, though, Father told me not to stay on for too long.”

“I understand,” I say. “I'll give a call in a couple of days, all right? Maybe Tuesday, after my father talks to yours.”

“Sounds good to me. Talk to you soon. Bye, Richard.”

“Bye, Todd.” I wait for the click before I hang up. It's far too early to go to bed, but I head to my room anyway, wanting to avoid talking to anyone just yet. Instead, I pull out the telescope that Grandfather gave me a few years ago and set it up by the window. I watch the moon for a while, and I even catch sight of the Echo satellite that we heard about on the news when it was launched a few days ago.

Eventually it gets late enough that I can slip into bed without arousing comment, so I do. Without Todd curled up beside me, it takes me a long time to fall asleep.

Todd's parents end up dropping him off at our place on their way through to Connecticut to see Jeffrey settle into Yale for medical school. I personally don't see why they are bothering, as Jeffrey was already there following his internship, but since it means Todd gets a couple extra days with me, I'm not going to comment. Mother makes a slightly festive dinner to welcome Todd back. I can see he's nearly overwhelmed by the unaccustomed pleasant attention.

After dinner and a round of Scrabble... which Mother wins as usual, although Todd comes in a much closer second than Father and I ever manage... Father offers us a choice. “We can leave for Welton tomorrow and take it easy driving,” he says, “and stop somewhere along the way for the night. Or we can be on the road before dawn on Sunday and push a bit to get there for the opening convocation.”

Todd and I look at each other and shrug. “Whatever is more convenient for you, Mr. Cameron,” Todd replies. “I don't think there was anything in particular that Richard and I planned on doing tomorrow.” I nod agreement.

Mother smiles. “In that case, I'd like to leave tomorrow,” she says. “You might enjoy getting up before the birds, Andrew, but I prefer to pretend that the sun rises about halfway up the sky rather than on the horizon.”

Father laughs. “All right, we'll leave here about noon tomorrow, then. You boys have your trunks ready to load into the car no later than ten, then we'll have a nice brunch and get on the road. Evelyn, remember that little place in White River Junction? I think that would make a good overnight stop, then we'll only be about an hour away from Welton.”

Mother nods. “Yes, Andrew, that sounds lovely.” She stands up after glancing at the clock. “If we're going to have brunch tomorrow, I need to speak with Betty before she leaves for the night. And then I think I'll try to finish my book tonight. I don't like bringing books on short overnight trips, but I also hate leaving one unfinished at home. You boys make sure you're in bed at a decent hour... no later than eleven, you hear?” She gives us a smile, then heads into the kitchen.

Father stands as well. “You two are welcome to the television tonight. I have a couple of briefs I should work on so I won't have to rush on Monday. I'll be in my office if you need me for anything.”

Todd and I head into the kitchen and load up with cokes and potato chips before settling in front of the tv. There doesn't seem to be much of interest on tonight, but at least in here we can talk without worrying about being heard. I close the study door behind us, then pull Todd into my arms.

He relaxes in my embrace, pressing his face against my shoulder. After a while, I lift his chin and kiss him softly. “I'm so glad you're here,” I whisper.

“I'm glad to be here,” he murmurs in reply. “Thinking of this got me through the last two weeks.”

“That bad?” I ask sympathetically as we reluctantly part, not wanting to risk either of my parents popping in to say goodnight and catching us.

“Well... better than it has been,” he says with a sigh. “A couple lectures about needing to raise my grades to get accepted to pre-med at Dartmouth, one about keeping my mind on my studies and not on girls,” he grins faintly at that, “and one about making sure I show my appreciation to your parents for taking me back to school with you. Other than that, they pretty much ignored me. I like it better that way.” He opens a coke and takes a drink.

“I'm just glad you're all right,” I tell him quietly.

He gives me a soft smile. “I have you, Richard, so I'm all right. Oh, and I got my money out with no problems. I'm pretty sure I'll have enough to buy an inexpensive car as well as pay my fees to Berkeley. It won't be anything fancy... more likely, something like a Volkswagen... but it will get us there.”

I grin at that. “I hear they're not the most comfortable of cars, but they're reliable. Father says they're made so simply that there isn't much that can go wrong with them. Which makes them good cars for people who don't know much about cars, I would think. Goodness knows I qualify. I can drive, but I've never been too handy with tools. Changing a tire is about all I'm good for, when it comes to working on cars.”

“Same here,” Todd chuckles. “I actually wanted to learn about cars when I was younger, but Father was horrified at the idea. 'You're an Anderson of Portsmouth, not some lowlife grease monkey!' he told me. But who knows? Maybe I'll have a chance to learn a bit after all.”

“That wouldn't be a bad thought,” I agree. “I've seen those repair manuals for sale. Whatever car we get, it might be a good idea to pick up a repair guide for it as well. And some tools.”

Todd nods, then reaches for the chips. We continue to make vague plans for getting to California as we watch tv, then we head up to bed shortly before the curfew Mother gave us. An hour after that, once I'm sure my parents are in bed, I slip out of my room and into Todd's. We fall asleep cuddled together.

Come morning, we finish our last-minute packing and bring our trunks and overnighters downstairs. We eat, then Father helps us load the car. Mother, being Mother, nags us all to use the bathroom before we leave, then we get on the road. Mother seems especially pleased to have Todd with us, as it gives us even teams for the alphabet game and animal rummy, me and Father against her and Todd.

As planned, we reach White River Junction around four in the afternoon. Father books us two rooms at the motor court, then Mother insists on doing a bit of window shopping before we find a place for dinner. The four of us walk around the village for a while longer after dinner, then turn in for the night.

“It's going to be both easier and harder this year,” Todd murmurs as he slips into the bed beside me. “Easier, because I have you. Harder, because I have so much more to lose now.”

“We're going to make it, Todd,” I tell him quietly. “We have each other, and the Captain is behind us. How can we possibly fail?”
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