A TEMPERING OF DREAMS is a novel: pure fantasy with imaginary characters, and no effort whatsoever at historical accuracy. It is based on remembered images of a bygone time, and has no particular purpose beyond enjoyment. It will appear serially as each chapter is completed; there is no schedule. MG,Jr.
A Tempering of Dreams, Chapter 1
8 May 2022
A nearly imperceptible breeze of freshness carried the muted cacophony of city sounds past the Ginkgo foliage in the courtyard below, through his open window to caress him awake. Sergio found himself in his own bed. “So I guess I made it out of Joe’s sometime before dawn,” he thought to himself. Then he remembered, “Holy shit! I’ve got Chemistry!” So he briskly rolled himself out of bed, looked at his watch, quickened his pace and dressed, grabbed his books for the day and huffed down to the Burness Building’s big ancient steeply banked auditorium with the Chemistry lecture already underway, and found himself an empty wooden seat in the back row. He took out his notepad and ballpoint pen, and began trying to listen, and figure out where they were in the subject.
“Organic chemistry” said a velvety mezzo soprano voice next to him, “Chapter 8. We started it last time, remember?” Sergio turned, surprised, “Thanks, yeah,” he said nodding. She had a lovely oval face framed by long thick straight black hair that tumbled over her shoulders and down her back, dark eyes set in clear glistening whites and rimmed by long mascara-enhanced lashes, a delicately shaped nose, dark well-defined brows and a lush rosy button of a mouth. “Thanks again,” he said as class was breaking up, and she smiled back. Everyone left Burness and scattered to other classes. He saw her walking up Campus Green ahead of him, her black hair fallen over her purple long-sleeve pullover and down to her waist with the wispy ends waving across the top of the flare to the lower half of her fulsome hourglass figure, which was covered by loose-fitting dark blue jeans.
He climbed the stairs to his Spanish class in College Hall, settled in with notepad and pen ready, and then noticed that she was in this class too. They smiled their amusement at this coincidence, across the room to each other. After class they walked to meet and introduce themselves. She was Angela Celli, a psychology major. Since neither of them had a class for an hour, Sergio suggested they get coffee in The Underground, the snack bar in the basement of College Hall. That would be his lunchtime breakfast, with cream and sugar for added substance.
Angie was from Pittsburgh. As she told him about herself he looked into her beautiful face and down her long-chain brass necklace with its big round gleaming pendant resting on the deep purple stretch knit top covering the swell of her ample bosom, right over where its hidden deep valley would be. Angie offered Sergio a cigarette, and they both lit up, smoked and talked over their coffees.
“What’s that?” Angie noticed that Sergio had a separate journal book, obviously not for school.
“Oh, it my poetry book. I write poems.”
“Yes. I learned to do it watching my father. He wrote many romantic poems to my mother, and he loves to sing arias from zarzuelas.”
“Spanish operettas. Gay ’90s stuff.”
“And you’re studying engineering?” They both laughed at that one.
“Where have you been!” They were startled to see Roger Solely right there booming his greeting. “Sergio! We have missed you, man, since last semester. What happened? You disappeared!”
Sergio introduced Angie to Roger, an upperclass man, telling her that he and Roger’s buddies had often gone to concerts downtown early last fall, before school had gotten too intense for him.
“Oh, we saw D’Oyly Carte’s ‘Penzance,’ ‘2001’ in Cinerama, ‘Madame Butterfly’ with the glorious Beverly…” Roger rattled off happily to answer Angie.
“Sills, for Beverly” Sergio interjected for Angie, then to Roger, “Look, Roger, engineering is hard, man, and I’ve really got to study all — the — time!”
“You’re such a good boy. Look, call me, we get together all the time, and I’m putting up some sketches at an Architecture show that’s coming up and I want everybody to come. And don’t be a stranger!” With that, Roger flipped his dangling silk Paisley scarf back over his shoulder and trotted off.
Angie looked into Sergio’s face with an inquisitive yet amused look. Sergio wondered if an anthropological observation of his psychological profile was now underway.
“You know, last semester when I got here, I met Roger and his pals, and would go out with them to the opera and movies, since I love classical music and they do too, and they knew the town, and always got tickets. Also, they had all kinds of booze in their apartments, and that was good for me. Anyway, just before Thanksgiving vacation, we were all in the room and kind of a fight broke out, and I saw that I was being seen as the prize in a ‘Boys in the Band’ kind of setup. Roger got kind of heated, and claimed I’d be spending Thanksgiving with him, not any of them. I’d already figured out that he wanted my thick lips around… well, you know. He was dreaming. They all have some quick wits, and they know a lot about artsy stuff, but they’re not my scene. I can go see the symphony by myself if I want to. So that’s where Roger’s coming from. I… ah… like people… like… you.”
“Yeah, most definitely.”
“Are you seeing anyone?”
“Ah… no. You?”
“Well, maybe WE can go out sometime.”
“I think that’d be fun.” She gave him the phone number to her shared suite in Hill Hall, and then they each took off to their late classes.
“Have you ever wondered what makes for a beautiful woman?” Joe asked Sergio walking back from College Hall after their Meal Plan dinners.
“Being between eighteen and twenty-one.”
“Miniskirts and tight sweaters help a lot.”
“A lustily physical perspective, but perhaps too limited.”
“Well, they have to have some spirit, know stuff and not be ditzes, and just be nice to talk to. Why do you ask?”
“You seem in a much better mood than yesterday, and I don’t think it is only from hash afterglow.”
“I met a girl in class today, and she’s… interesting.”
“I got a phone number, maybe she’ll answer it someday.” So Sergio told Joe the outlines of that day’s story before they settled into rolling and smoking joints, and listening to ‘The Doors’ and ‘Strange Days’ to kick the ya-yas of the Draft and Colorado out of their minds. Next day Sergio bought Huxley’s ’The Doors of Perception’ at the Book Store. He decided to keep his grades up just in case he could evade the Draft and pursue his engineering dreams. A new image had now been added to that dream complex: Angie.
Angie did answer his phone call. They went out to see a screening of ‘Casablanca’ by the University Film Society in the College Hall theater, and then walked around on Campus Green smoking cigarettes and talking, before Sergio took her down to The Underground to buy them both Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches and coffee milkshakes. It all felt good for both. Angie had to get back to Hill Hall by 11 pm, because she knew the entry monitors didn’t get too upset about having to unlock the gates for latecomers till then. There was a call box on the outside of the fence.
They walked outside from College Hall through Campus Green into the shadows near the big trees far from the pathways, and embraced into a deep kiss. Wordlessly, they lay down on the grass and pressed their bodies into each other within their embrace, kissing deeply, gently, slowly. Her lush black hair brushed against his face as he looked down into her eyes and submerged himself into her gaze.
Time came to go, and he walked her back to Hill Hall. She asked him to call again soon so they could have a Spanish study night in her suite with the girls, who were all in less advanced Spanish classes and some struggling. Then, whistling in his mind, he walked back to his room through a sequence of shadows and street lamps alternately disappearing and then illuminating the granularity of the pathways to sharp relief. The air was cool, he was warm.
Days later he went to the Computer Center in the Electrical Engineering building to work on a Fortran IV programming project. He spent hours typing out his program onto a deck of IBM cards each punched by the typewriter with a hole array encoding one line of his program’s instructions, then feeding the deck into the card reader and waiting for his turn when the printer would clack out his calculated results on big sheets of folding paper connected by perforations. This occurred several times as he corrected errors after each run. Eventually he got it right and was able to carry out a printout with columns of numbers that would satisfy the needs of his assignment. It was getting near dinnertime. He walked across 40th Street to Hill Hall and had Angie called from the reception desk. She appeared, smiling, and led him through carpeted white hallways hung with framed pastel-colored prints of abstracts and landscapes, down to her suite. Five other girls were there. When Angie had invited him, she said he’d get dinner in exchange for his Spanish help. And indeed he did, Veal Parmesan, in Hill Hall’s large cafeteria with all seven of them. The apple pie and ice cream were good, too, and the coffee.
Now that they all knew each other a little bit better, it was back to the suite for study time. After about thirty minutes of pronunciation and grammar corrections, and translations, the talk really started, and the music. And these girls were into the music, they had a huge stack of discs. First it was Janis Joplin’s ‘Cheap Thrills,’ which was without a doubt the gospel music of Hill Hall in 1969. A hash pipe had been produced for that, and gaily passed around to mutual satisfaction. A thick towel had been rolled up and pushed against the bottom of the door, and a vent was blocked with a piece of cardboard, as precautions. After Janis it was Creedence Clearwater for a rollicking stone, and someone mentioned that a Woodstock Music Festival had been announced for August, where Creedence would appear and all kinds of top bands were now signing up for it, and maybe even Dylan and the Beatles would appear. Then Crosby, Stills and Nash was put on the player for the choral part of the service, and after that Judy Collins for the heartfelt poetry of later evening.
It was nearly time for lockdown and the other girls went off to their own rooms. “Do you want to stay?” Angie asked leadingly.
“Sure, but how?”
“Oh, it’s easy, Janet does it all the time. You just stay in here till after the gates open in the morning, we get breakfast, and I’ll take you to the door from there. They’ll never notice.”
“My room mate. You don’t know Janet?”
“Won’t she come back? No, I don’t know who she is.”
“She’s the most popular girl in the Pig Book, a cheerleader. I get calls for her ALL the time. All the guys want to date her. Her boyfriend’s a football player and she’s out all the time, his place or cheerleading practice, and class. She probably won’t came back. But if she does, don’t worry, she does the same plenty of times.”
The suite had a small half-bath with toilet and sink, so that was convenient. Shower rooms were elsewhere down the hall. They kicked off their shoes, Angie turned out the lights, and they embraced on the bed into long kisses. He pressed his warm palms into her back and pushed her close as she melted herself into him. Rays of lamplight from 40th Street shone through the window to give the room a film noir atmosphere. Sergio pulled his head back so he could look into Angie’s shining eyes, and caressed the side of her face for a long moment, then slid his hand slowly down her neck to the rise of her breast. She accepted willingly because she loved the feel of his hands: all warmth and gentle pressure with no hurry, no grab.
“Can we get rid of the belt buckle?” she asked. So they each ditched the belts. When they embraced again, he slipped his hand under her blouse in back, and felt her skin. When next they surfaced for air, she unbuttoned his shirt front enough to slide her palm over his chest, she wanted to feel his skin, too. Wordlessly, he took off his shirt and undershirt, and she pulled off her blouse. Then it was so much better, warmth to warmth. As he moved his hand pressure over the contours of her back, he would pass his fingers over the backstrap of her bra, it had four hook-clamps. Heavy duty. He tested lightly to see if he could unhook it one-handed. “You’ll never do it. Here, let me,” and sitting up she undid it letting it fall away. In the half light he saw that her breasts were luxuriantly rounded masterpieces of femininity with large dark nipple moons. Skin to skin was a plush dual ecstasy. Sergio’s pants were getting much too tight, and both their legs were yearning for each other. So the jeans fell away, he had his cotton boxer shorts, she had her nylon panties, all else was skin.
Sergio slowly stroked her fulsome body along the length of it he could reach from within their tight embrace. He pulled back a bit to cup his hand around her breasts, and across them to then run his palm down the deep valley between, and down over her stomach. She put her hand against her waist in front and said “Not below here.”
“Yes,” the boundary was made clear, and he acknowledged that. Eventually his hand began edging past her waist in back and she made no resistance to that move, so soon he was gliding over the nylon caressing her large firm well rounded butt with his warm pressured touch. And she was pulling in on his with outstretched palms, with only a thin layer of cotton and and a thin layer of nylon separating the pulsating urges of their creative forces to merge. Time no longer existed, only an eternity of passionate immersion.
The door opened, light from the hallway flashed into the room and was then cut off as the door quickly closed. Sergio froze, Angie whispered “Janet” into his ear, and he was glad that at least they were under the covers. Janet scurried into the half-bath for a few minutes before emerging to drop herself into her bed on the opposite side of the room. Soon enough she was breathing slow, asleep. Angie whispered “Don’t worry, Janet is cool, it will be okay in the morning.” And they, too, soon fell asleep, warmed entwined in their embrace.
Sergio opened his eyes to see Angie sitting on Janet’s bed with both of them in full length bathrobes. The two girls looked at him as the new day dawned in his eyes.
“Um ah… good morning” he said.
“I’m sorry I came in so late. Hope I didn’t scare you.” Boy, she was bubbly.
“No, no, it was all part of a nice time.”
“Okay, look,” Janet said, “I’ll go up and bring back some coffees and bagels while you two get ready. Brad’s coming over soon for the two of us to go to the practice field,” and off she went. So they took turns for the water closet while the other got dressed. Janet returned with a cupholder tray for three paper-cupped coffees, and a bag of bagels with packets of sugar, creamer and cream cheese. Hill House treated its girls good. She went into the half-bath to dress and prepare herself for her day, while Angie and Sergio relaxed into their breakfast. Janet emerged in surprisingly short time, dressed in a short skirt cheerleader uniform, with her long blond hair swinging in a ponytail, and her delicate faintly freckled face shining with enthusiasm. She was a spectacularly vivacious petite, with a perfect lithe and lean gymnast’s body, and a completely disarming and engaging personality. And what a smile! But she was also an imp.
“Quarterback of the JV team. Brad Jackson. He’s on a football scholarship.”
“Are you on a cheerleading scholarship?”
“Well, yeah, but I’m majoring in medical technology. Brad wants to be a pro.”
The phone rang, Brad was ready to be escorted in.
“Oh Angie!, can you go get him, please! I’ve gotta finish and pack my bag!”
Angie laughed as this was obviously routine and left to retrieve the Hulk. Janet hurriedly stuffed her big gym bag with extra clothes, schoolbooks, towel, makeup items, extra socks, a sweatshirt, pens, pads, sunglasses and a brimmed cloth hat. Then she got a bright idea.
“Oh my God! That big lunk thinks he’s so cool and’s got it over everybody. I wanna make him jealous! Let’s play a trick!” She tossed her bag by the door, jumped across the room, and threw herself over backwards to plop onto her bed, whose bedsprings bounced up and down a few times from the impact. She held out her arms and said “Jump on me!” This terrified Sergio.
“What’s he gonna think if he comes in and sees that!”
“EXACTLY! Come on! come on! come on! Before he gets here! It’ll be such a gag, he deserves it!”
Sergio did not move.
“Come ON! Jump on me!” with her arms outstretched wiggling her luscious little body, with a devilishly gleeful grin, just as the doorknob was being turned. Sergio thought to make a break for the half-bath, when Angie opened the door and walked in with Brad, who looked, unsmiling, at each of them, and Janet bubbled “Oh Brad! Aren’t you glad to see me?”
Brad was not happy, but the twelve feet between Sergio and Janet was somewhat reassuring, so he didn’t let himself loose his cool about it.
“Come on Jan, we’re gonna be late. Lets go!”
“Brad, this is Sergio, Angie’s boyfriend.”
The two men nodded at each other, then Janet grabbed her bag (Sergio noticed that Brad had not done so) and the football people left.
“You like Janet?” Angie asked with a very serious face.
“Well yes, she’s fun-loving. But hey, look, I’m not interested in Janet, I’m interested in you.”
“Everybody’s interested in Janet” she pouted, and Sergio then first detected the deep ocean of melancholy that Angie carried within her.
“I — am not interested — in Janet. I — am interested in you. In — you.”
“Guys have dated me because they knew I roomed with Janet, and wanted in”
“I did not know about Janet, I am not chasing after cheerleaders, I — like — you. Really.”
“What were you doing?”
“She wanted to make the Hulk jealous, and I wasn’t doing anything. Look, let me have a kiss, and I’ll write you a poem”
“You won’t get out of it that easily.”
“Well, how about two kisses and a poem?”
“Okay,” and she melted into his embrace to absorb his love.
Sergio walked into his Residence Hall thinking “Thank God I don’t have an early class today.” As he walked down the wing of the third floor hallways with his group of rooms, he saw all the doors open and the guys looking at him as he walked by. Joe, smiling broadly, was standing in the doorway of his room adjacent to Sergio’s. “The prodigal son returns” he said.
“What’s up, Joe?”
“Admiration, I believe”
“I must confess that you were observed penetrating Hill Hall last night, and emerging this morning. So we are… curious.”
“Nothing happened, it was a just a Spanish study night.”
“There’s nothing to be jealous about.”
“Yes, admiration is a more pleasant word.”
“Oh, you guys,” Sergio said, shaking his head as he closed the door of his room behind him. “Jealousy” he thought, “amazing!” Then he sat down at his desk to work out some calculus problems. Leaning back, he looked out his window at the beautiful bright day, and suddenly felt very very satisfied.
A Tempering of Dreams, Chapter 3
12 May 2022