Richard's Redemption

Chapter 15

The next three weeks pass quickly, as all the teachers begin reviewing the year's work for our coming final exams. It isn't a pass weekend, but Chris told Knox that she'd gotten a letter packet from the Captain when he called her yesterday, and that she'd come up for a little while today to bring them. Knox told us to wait in various places around the grounds, so that he and Chris could take a stroll and deliver our letters as they walked.

So Todd and I head to the lake, to go rowing again. Mr. McAllister, on duty in the boathouse once more, comments to Todd, “You should be rowing instead of playing soccer, lad, I've watched you do both and your heart is on the water.”

Todd shrugs. “I want to, sir,” he says. “But my parents made me do soccer when I started at Balincrest, because my brother played soccer in school. Dean Nolan assigned me to soccer this year based on my records there. And, well, I wasn't very good at speaking up, when I first started here.”

McAllister frowns a bit. “That... hmm,” he looks thoughtful for a moment. “Tell you what, lad, I'll not likely be able to get you out of soccer if that's what your parents want for you. But I will talk to Dean Nolan about letting you do both next year, if you'd like.”

“I would, sir, and thank you,” Todd says.

McAllister gives him a remarkably friendly grin. “You've taken your punishment quite well, if you ask me,” he says, dropping his voice a bit. “I thought the Dean was a bit harsh on you, lad, but saying so didn't do any good. Still, you've bucked up and made no complaint. I'm glad to see you've found a good friend in Mr. Cameron here.” His grin widens to include me. Then he drops his voice almost to a whisper. “I've been in contact with another friend of yours,” he tells Todd. “An older friend. He's still teaching, and he'll be getting married come summer. I don't dare tell you more, lad, but I thought you might like to know.”

Todd almost chokes at that. Fortunately, McAllister interprets it as surprise, as opposed to the smothered laughter I think it is. “I... I'm glad to hear that,” Todd manages after a moment.

“Aye, I thought you might be,” McAllister nods. “And you lads will not be telling anyone this, right?”

“No, sir,” we both promise as he shoves the scull away from the dock. We pull as hard as we can to the far side of the lake before breaking into laughter.

Knox and Chris are waiting for us in the dockside gazebo on the “pretty” end of the lake... as opposed to the “working” end where the boathouse is... and they grin to see us laughing as we pull up by the dock. “What's so funny?” Knox wants to know as they step out to meet us.

“McAllister,” Todd replies with a grin. “He's not so bad, when he's not declining nouns at us.” He leaves it at that.

Knox nods. “I know what you mean. He shows signs of being human once in a while.”

Chris extracts a pair of letters from her purse and hands them to us. “Enjoy the reading, you two,” she tells us. “We still have to meet up with Stephen and Gerard at the chapel. I'll probably see you once more before school ends, since Knox wants me here on the last day to meet his parents before summer, but in case we miss each other, have a good vacation, and I'll see you when you come back next fall. I'm sure you'll have letters waiting.” She smiles, then she and Knox join hands and amble off towards the chapel.

Tempting as it is to start reading immediately, Todd and I pocket the letters and row a couple more circuits of the lake, then return the scull and oars to McAllister before finding a place to sit and read. We end up on the bleachers overlooking the track and football field. There are a few other groups of people there, studying or just hanging out since the weather is so nice, but no one is bothering anyone else. We climb to the top and lean back against the railing as we pull out our letters and begin reading.

Dear Richard,

Be on time and sober, eh? I hate to break it to you, but there is a little bit more than that involved in planning a wedding, even if the bride does handle most of the work. After all, I have a honeymoon to plan. Jessica is a great nature-lover, so I'm thinking of renting a cabin at Yellowstone National Park, or perhaps somewhere to the north of here, among the giant redwoods. I'm leaning towards Yellowstone, though, as we can simply drive up the coast to see the redwoods at any time.

Your planned vacation on Martha's Vineyard sounds wonderful as well. If I was still on the east coast, I would consider either there or Nantucket for the honeymoon. But as I'm not... I think geysers make an acceptable substitute for sea spray, don't you? I'm glad to hear that you and Todd will get to spend so much time together over the summer. I hope your vacation works out exactly as I'm sure you've planned it.

And I'm glad to know that you found my information on UC useful. Because if there's one thing definite in this world, it's that you can make much, much more of yourselves with an education than without one. I'm glad you're thinking far enough ahead to understand the difficulties you will face because of your relationship, and that you're already making plans to deal with the potential problems that we all know are likely to result.

On that note, if the worst should happen at some point next year, I want you to wire me immediately. I'm telling Todd the same thing. I don't want to hear that either of you... tried to resolve a problem the way Neil did. I wish I had known just how bad it was for him. I would have tried to do something... anything... to have kept him alive. Yes, including helping him to run away from home. If you two are found out and expelled, contact me. At the very least, I'll wire you enough money for a train ticket out here, and help you find work of some sort.

Your Captain,
John Keating

Todd and I put our letters down at the same time and exchange a wide-eyed glance. All either of us can think of to say is, “Damn!”

By the time the shock of the Captain's parting words in our letters wears off, it's close to supper time. Todd and I drift back up to the dining hall with a few others who didn't want to go back inside until the last possible moment. We join the crowd headed in to eat, accept our trays of mystery meat, then make our way to where Meeks, Pitts, and Knox are sitting. From the conversational topic, the Captain spoke of his wedding and honeymoon plans to all five of us.

“...love to see the geysers myself some day,” Pitts is saying as we approach the table and sit down.

“Who wouldn't?” chimes in Meeks. “Maybe I'll ask Pop for a trip out there for a graduation present. Oh, did I tell you yet? He's agreed to let me go to MIT if I can get in there.”

Pittsie's face brightens. “No, you didn't. But that's great! Between that, and meeting with Amy's parents over the summer, my dad will probably let me go there as well. Amy's father went there, you know.”

“I wish you both the luck of it,” Knox says. “Be glad you're not only sons. I'm just glad that I really am interested in law, since that's what's expected of me.” He smiles then. “Besides, I can handle anything, if Chris is with me.”

Todd rolls his eyes a bit at that. “All well and good for next year, but what about after graduation? You know there's no way your parents will let you get married before college.”

I nod in agreement, as do Pitts and Meeks.

Knox grins. “Chris is applying to Albertus Magnus,” he replies. “And also to the University of New Haven, and Southern Connecticut State College. She's bound to get into one of those three, so she'll still be nearby. Close enough to get together on weekends.”

We all chuckle. “You've got everything figured out, don't you?” I smile. “Are she and Ginny definitely coming to Fire Island to visit you and Nuwanda this summer?”

“They are,” he beams. “And I know Todd is visiting with you this summer since his parents will be away at that conference he mentioned. Meeks, Pittsie, what are your plans for the summer?”

“Pop is letting me spend a couple of weeks with Pittsie and his family in Lynn... that'll be early July, and we'll be meeting Tina and Amy in Boston for the Fourth of July fireworks and concert on the Esplanade. Then he'll be joining me and my family for a couple of weeks on the Cape in early August. We have a place out in Chatham.”

“Sounds like good summers all around, then. Including for our friend who's going to Yellowstone,” I say with a smile. “Meeks, Pitts, will you two get to see Tina and Amy at all besides on the Fourth?”

“We're still fine-tuning that,” Pitts replies seriously. “But we're pretty sure we've got something worked out. Fortunately, they're both in the Boston area, so we figure we can manage at least once every couple of weeks. Kind of like here, actually.”

“Yes, but without demerits if we're two minutes late,” Meeks adds, making all of us grin.

“Oh, were you late last pass day?” Todd teases. We all knew Meeks had been late... and that Meeks being late was an unusual enough occurrence that Dr. Hager had actually commented on it, rather than simply giving him the demerits.

“Anyone for study group tonight?” Meeks attempts to change the subject.

“Not me,” Knox answers promptly. “With all the reviews we've had this week? My brain is going to explode if I look at a book before tomorrow.”

The rest of us nod our agreement with Knox's words. I smile to myself when Meeks doesn't protest that he really should be studying. He doesn't want to study any more than we do, but it was the only thing he could think of to get the subject away from curfew and demerits.

We finish our meal and take our trays over to the dish bins, then separate to head for our rooms. Todd wraps his arms around me once we close the door. I can feel him shaking slightly.

“What's wrong, Todd?” I ask quietly. I keep my voice low, knowing that with all the open windows at this time of year, we're far more likely to be overheard than back in February. I hold him close, resting my cheek against his hair.

“I... relief, I guess,” he says, his voice muffled against my shoulder. “Having to be cheerful at supper. I feel so bad for the Captain... I never realized just how personally he took it when... when Neil...”

I nod, knowing exactly what he means. It came as a surprise to me as well. I figured that as an adult, Mr. Keating would have been more logical about it all. And yet it made sense as well, because adult or not, he cared for us, genuinely cared. I drop a soft kiss on Todd's head. “Let's get the writing paper out,” I suggest. “If he wouldn't let me take the blame for him getting fired from here, I won't let him take the blame for not knowing Mr. Perry well enough to prevent what happened with Neil.”

Todd nods, although it's another couple of minutes before he moves. Not that I object to his arms around me for any reason. When he does, it's with a smile on his lips. “You know, there is one good thing about it. Guilt offering or not, we have a bona fide safety net now. A place to turn if the worst should happen.”

I steal a quick kiss before turning towards my desk. “And that is a wonderful thing indeed.”

We settle down to write, Todd swiftly filling his page while I deliberate over what to say.

Oh Captain, my Captain!

Yellowstone National Park sounds like a wonderful place to have a honeymoon. I'm sure your Jessica will adore it. I hope to see it myself someday... perhaps with Todd, on our way to California, if everything goes well for us.

And if things don't go well... my Captain, thank you so very much for your generous offer to us. I hope we'll never have to take you up on it, but just knowing that we can, that there is someone we can turn to... I don't have the words to express how wonderful that feels, knowing that someone cares enough about us to want to help us in spite of what we are to each other.

That said, my Captain, I need to tell you this. Don't blame yourself for Neil. You didn't know... how could you?... the sort of person Mr. Perry is, what he would do to try to force Neil into doing what he wanted rather than what Neil wanted. Everything is always more obvious in retrospect. You're looking back now and saying that you should have seen, you should have done more. But how could you have seen? You had only just started here in September, so you had no prior experience with Mr. Perry. And without that experience, you couldn't have known that Mr. Perry was going to essentially make Neil a prisoner, you couldn't have done anything to prevent it. And how could anyone have guessed that Neil would react the way he did?

Captain, you gave Neil... and all of us... the best gift of all, when you taught us to truly live life, and not just go through the motions. You showed us how to find happiness. And now you've given Todd and I an even bigger gift, that of acceptance and of hope. Thanks to you, we know we have a chance at a future, no matter what happens. Thanks to you, we can dream freely. And how do we repay that?

Your friend,
Richard Cameron

I address the envelope and glance over at Todd. He's folding his letter into the envelope. As usual, he's written three pages to my page and a half. He's definitely a writer at heart.

Afterward we perform the usual evening ablutions and undress for bed, taking comfort and pleasure in the closeness we share.


Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.