Biblical Apples

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Chapter 10: Thessalonians 5:14

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

The centerpiece of the office décor had to be the antique typewriter, its black and gold carriage resting like a crown over ornate mechanical arrangements, silver bars waiting on the striking of ivory-colored glass keys that seemed suspended in the air, poised to deliver the magic of the printed word, chronicling the past and anticipating the future. A sheet of paper rolled into it suggested immediacy even as its equally ornate curio cabinet stood its ground on claw feet and the intricacies of master carpentry. Above this was a telephone, similarly perched with onyx ear and mouth pieces, a mahogany base and brass workings in loops and patterns and swirls, including the dial, all of which attested to the prominent status of those on the other end of the line. On the top tier of the cabinet were the pictures of the same man shaking different men’s hands, including John C. Lodge, the one-time Mayor of Detroit, and Hank Greenberg, the Tigers’ prolific slugger.

Mike felt the irony as he watched Dr. Brown finishing a phone call. Here he was a third year journalism student who had distanced himself from being fully-engaged in his academics to the extent that this was his first time in this office. Yet, he was riveted by the little museum that comprised the right side of the space. Spanning from the curio cabinet in the back corner of the wall, he recognized what had to be a ticker-tape machine, a Victrola, and a crystal ball on a pewter holder, all of which were displayed on pedestals that rested under a huge painting of Briggs Stadium, all of which were introduced by a Persian throw rug.

Like a window dividing, yet looking on to the past and present, Dr. Brown’s desk was a large glass top. Mike watched as he anxiously swirled in a black leather swivel chair and spoke into a Princess phone. He had an electric pencil sharpener next to his Cross pen set, and a Smith-Corona electric poised to strike. Behind him hung the large framed photo of a gargoyled façade from Columbia University, and just underneath it was the diploma conferring his doctoral degree from the prestigious journalism school. The call concluded, and with a deep sigh and a “My goodness, some people like to talk,” the old professor prepared to address his guest.

“Do you believe in the profession of journalism, Mike?” Dr. Brown began the Monday after-class meeting. “I’m asking you this because for two years, I have seen you waste your talent by doing the bare minimum, and this is sad because you have a writer’s gift.” His forehead accordioned upward as if looking for the remnants of hair, and he absently set a pencil in motion between his thumb and index finger.

Mike looked at the quickly teetering pencil and the perfect knot of his loosened tie before taking in the slitted puffy eyes. “Dr. Brown, I admit I haven’t done justice to your position and really put forward the effort, but wanting to make sports writing the basis of my internship is not me seeking the easy way out. I’ve got something to say, an insider’s perspective, and a real handle on the college sports scene.”

“I’m not going to turn you down, but I’m going to hold you to the highest of standards. Walter Williams believed that we are ‘trustees for the public’. What do you have to say in the realm of sports that hasn’t been said? How will you make it your own?”

“Dr. Brown, Walter Williams also said that a journalist should only write ‘what he holds in his heart to be true’. I know athletes on this campus, male and female, and I know the standard to which they’re held and the physical and mental pain that they endure. I want others to know them as I do, not as names in a box score. There are things on the periphery of sports that aren’t so pretty and perfect, but they’re true. I may keep forgetting to buy the Sunday paper, but among the students in your classes, I am best suited to arrive at something of substance here.” He watched Dr. Brown digest his words with a pause worthy of a culinary critic.

Mike knew that Dr. Brown had been more than patient with him for the past two years. His immaturity had been extending itself into his schooling, and there was little for which he showed passion. Now, for the first time, as he sat in front of this journalist icon at Hillview, he didn’t want to disappoint him. Dr. Brown’s wispy white hair landed as it may on his head with no consideration for the comb over. He was a gentleman of the highest standard, beyond reproach, but most of all a seeker of the truth. His eyes could look through people who were dishonest; the strength of his printed words was mightier than the sword. With his rolled up sleeves and unfettered tie, he was only two tugs away from shedding the trappings of the common man and exposing the S on his chest, but Dr. Brown could not stare down, bull through, or fly away from the kryptonite of age.

“Mr. Rosovich, I will inform The Times that you will maintain office hours with them from 8:00 A.M to 12:00 P.M. each Friday for this semester. Please introduce yourself and your ideas to Dan Davis, the Editor-in-Chief and owner of the paper. I’m sure that they will have an itinerary for you in terms of getting you familiar with the internal workings of the newspaper business. Sell your ideas on sports coverage; I suspect that Hillview’s upcoming basketball season can provide you with some fertile ground.” Dr. Brown rose laboriously, grasped Mike's hand firmly, and saw him to the door.

As he walked back to the dorms, Mike felt full of himself. I can write about John Carver and how a life-long dream came to an end with a rolled ankle that ripped ligaments and tendons to shreds so that the only thing they could hold in place was the final entry for his basketball scrapbook. I can write about James Waters, a kid from a poor neighborhood, who goes with teammates to their homes over the holidays, so he can continue to have regular meals. Perhaps Mike’s greatest accomplishment that morning was standing up to Dr. Brown after spending the first two years without a leg to stand on.

As he crossed the bridge, Mike noticed James talking to Little John and a guy that looked like Carol’s patches dude by the ravine behind Wagner House. Not sure what the connection is there, he thought, but as he turned the key to his dorm room, he opened up another mystery.

“Oh, hey,” Fred said as Mike entered his room to find him on his bed reading a comic book, propping himself up with his elbows and stretching his feet so they were on the pillow.

This is a little bizarre, Mike thought. “Hey, Fred, how did you get in here?”

“Your roommate Kurt said it would be okay if I came in, so I’ve been here for a couple of hours already.”

“Well, to what do I owe the pleasure?”


“You know; what brings you here?”

“It’s a little noisy in my room, and I can’t concentrate to read,” Fred revealed.

“You mean noisy in the courtesy room?”


“Why is that?”

“Frankie is in there with Toots, and they’re playing music really loud. I don’t like loud things.”

“So what are you reading there, Fred, Wonder Woman again?” As he asked this, Mike noticed a handful of what appeared to be photographs concealed toward the back of the comic.

“No. It’s Justice League, way better than The Avengers,” he said boastfully.

“Hey, you got some pictures back there? What are they of?” Mike asked.

“They’re mine,” Fred said, and he hurriedly gathered them so they were flush, covered them with his comic book, got up, and said, “I need to go. Little John is...”, and his voice trailed off into indistinguishable words.

“Hey, Fred, hold up. I just asked a question. No need to go,” but Fred brushed by him and headed down the hall.

I’ve got to tell Kurt to not let that guy in here again, Mike thought. He removed his bedding and placed it in his laundry bag. As he bent down to pick up a stray sock that had found its way under the bed, he saw the back of a photograph that must have slipped out of Fred’s clutches during his moment of haste. Holy shit! Mike flipped it over and saw the picture. He went through the bathroom to see if John or Andy was there.

“Word, we’re going to have to call for an emergency meeting, just our suite,” John said as he examined the picture for a third time. “What time does Nose get back?”

“I think we’re all present and accounted for by 5:00, so I’m thinking we have it then right before we go to dinner. Let me see that fucking picture again? Who’s the girl?”

“I’m pretty sure that’s Toots, Word. I’ve seen someone who looks like the girl in this photo coming out of that courtesy room a few times already.”

Mike re-examined the photo which was a black and white. An exotic young female lay naked and face down on a futon couch, propping up her head with an elbow to smile for the camera while her legs, with feet crossed, bent toward her buttocks. Her globular left breast was visible to the rim of her nipple area, and the curves of her body worked in harmony with her skin like woven silk. “This beats the fuck out of my baseball cards, for sure, but what is Fred doing with this?”

Kurt was on the defensive when accosted upon his arrival. “Mike, I didn’t let that guy in the room. Why would I do that?”

“Don’t look at us, Word,” Andy said as Mike tried to piece things together.

“So where do we go with this, guys?” John asked.

“I think we go to Carol with this to start,” Mike suggested. “She’s got to know and probably has the right connections to get this chick off our floor.”

“Then Little John is going to know it was us because sooner or later, Fred is going to realize that the picture is gone,” Kurt said.

“Hold it, everybody,” John weighed in again. “Let’s say this Toots chick is letting Frankie bone her, giving massage table hand jobs, and posing for Fred. We don’t have proof beyond word of mouth. I say we do some more investigating.”

Mike looked at John curiously, brow knitted. “Well, what do you propose, Eggs?”

“You think Water J has some insights?” Andy asked.

“Word, Nose, Y.A., I think we’re going to have to smoke on it. I’m going to have to break out the Maui.” John opened up the strong box. “There’s a fine line between special occasions and emergency situations, and I think we may need Five-O to help us negotiate this predicament.”

“That was beautiful,” Kurt complimented.

“Yeah, been hanging out with Word a little too much, but I’m serious guys. We may be reading more into this, or placing too much importance on this.” John fired up the Monster and handed it to Kurt.

“Breathe deeply, my friends. We have a moral dilemma, and we have no morals. That is the landscape we negotiate,” Mike said as he inherited the pipe from Kurt.

“Yeah, what are we talking about anyway?” Andy said, and he added a huge, “BUT WHY?” that echoed around the room.

The pipe was back with its owner, and John fired it up to keep its embers functioning at maximum efficiency. “Word, I don’t want to sound bogue here, but fuck Carol. Why bring her into this? All she’s ever done is bitch about how we bring down her floor’s rep. Shit, there is no better floor in all of Hillview. The best thing that ever has happened to you, Word, is that Donna is taking your attention away from Carol.”

Eggs probably is right, Mike thought. Nobody is getting hurt. “So what you’re saying is there isn’t a problem.”

“What I’m saying is that the show has a responsibility to its followers. Fred needs to be on it this Sunday.”

Mike began to recognize that his novel was a living and breathing document and it was with a thickening plot that he bounced his ideas off of Dr. Colton.

“So, it would appear that you adopt more of an Oscar Wilde approach that an Aristotelian one with respect to art and life,” Dr. Colton mused as Mike took up some of her before-class office hours to discuss his novel project.

“Dr. Colton, I’m not even going to pretend to know what you mean by that."

“If I’m hearing you correctly, you are preparing to find the art within the college experience. You have discovered the characters, defined the conflicts, woven the plot, at least in your mind, of a novel that will entertain and perhaps inform your readers.”

Mike weighed Dr. Colton’s question. “I’ve been learning about hedonism in my psychology class, and my novel is going to tie its notion to the idea that we’re not in school to further academic pursuits; we are in school extending our adolescence. We will emerge with a piece of paper that says we are ready for the real world which is ironic because the real world has nothing to do with what goes on in a college student’s life. My characters will seem real because they will be based upon real people. There will be a central theme. They will face struggles and learn valuable lessons. All the elements will be there. The life of a dormitory brat plays out even as we speak, and I am going to present it in its rawest form being sure not to sugarcoat where our parents’ money really is going. Going away to school is a surreal experience. The education is invaluable, but the memories won’t be found in the pages of a textbook.”

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