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LMS VI: The Halls of St. Julian's
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Mon May 22, 2023 2:40 am
Week Thirty-Seven - Chapter 11.3 - 1082 Words
The stairwell was empty. It was too nice of a day to not take advantage of, and besides, most boys spent the hour before dinner studying. Eduard leaped up the stairs two steps at a time. He was in a self-induced rush to his dorm room.
The door was open. Eduard’s shoulders dropped. If George had visitors over, he would have to find some reason to force them to get out. Maybe he could say he saw smoke coming out of their rooms; after all, it was an open secret among the students that most of them stockpiled cigars under their dressers. The possibility of being caught would only heighten their urgency to leave.
When Eduard arrived at his room, he did not find extra people sitting on his bed or leaning against the wall. George was sitting alone at his desk, working away on his typewriter. Eduard slammed the door behind him and collapsed onto his bed. He rubbed his forehead.
“Oh, could you keep that open, please? I’m trying to get some of the hot air out,” George asked politely. He was not as assertive and commanding as Cameron.
Eduard remained sprawled on his bed. The sheets were cool enough for him.
George saw Eduard’s expression and made no move to re-open the door himself. It was not worth the fight that would ensue.
“How was your day?” the football player asked instead. His essay on The Forsyte Saga could wait a few moments. He had not talked to his friend in several days.
The Czech grunted, “Fine.”
“You seem upset.”
Eduard rolled his eyes and flipped his hand as if to say “Obviously, something is wrong.” He did not say that, though.
“Mr. Thompson stopped me while I was reading a letter from my mother and decided to tell me how to live.”
“Mr. Thompson doesn’t tell you how to live, per say,” George said, gesticulating with a pen in his right hand, “He tries to relate to you. Sometimes he steps outside of his boundaries, but he’s never mean about it.”
“If you love him so much, why don’t you go downstairs and live with him,” Eduard said. He tacked on, “You dunderhead,” at the end.
George smiled awkwardly in a way only someone who just realized their friend would never be the same as when they met could. He turned back to his essay, but suddenly, no words came. He pretended to look for a quote in his book to distract himself from his thoughts.
Why couldn’t he have been given a different roommate?, Eduard asked himself. Even Kip would be better than George. Eduard stared at the murderer at his dormmate’s desk when he was not looking. George had all the elements, all the upbringing, to be someone great. Yet, he never would be. He did not have the integrity that Cameron and Eduard had; he did not see in black and white, proper and improper.
Thank goodness Eduard was going to see Mutiny on the Bounty with Cameron and Ethel later.
Eduard sighed and pulled the letters out from under him. He hastily unfolded his mother’s note; the noise of the paper rustling peeved George. He, again, did not make any move to correct his roommate. He did not want to bother him anymore.
The Czech began to read:
“Do you remember Mr. Dostal, the man who you delivered food to before you left? Well, he asked me to dinner last week. We had a wonderful time and we are going to repeat our little meeting tonight. Did you know his son also plays baseball? Apparently, the boy admires you as if you were his big brother. If you have the time, please write him a small note. He would love it. Eduard, it is not serious yet, but if it becomes serious, I hope you don’t mind me seeing Mr. Dostal. I am ready to try again, and Mr. Dostal treats me better than I deserve.”
Eduard scowled. His mom had been Ms. Klement for almost thirty years. What was the point of being Mrs. Dostal for less than that? He would not write the Dostal boy; he was not his brother.
“I will send you another, longer letter in a couple of days, but, if it does not make it to you by May 8th, I want to wish you a very happy birthday. I could not imagine my life without you. You brighten every day of my life with your kindness, intelligence, and humor, and I could not ask for a better son. I was thinking, on your return trip home, we may meet you in St. Louis and see the Cardinals play Pittsburgh’s team. I know how much you’ve been dying to watch a game in person, and I wanted to celebrate your birthday and congratulate all your hard work at St. Julian’s.
I hope the last weeks of the school year are easy and enjoyable. I love you very much, Eduard, and I can not wait to see your smiling face again,
Eduard flipped the page over to make sure there was no writing on the backside. All she had written was barely five paragraphs. Her letters were typically pages upon pages of details about life at home and other heartfelt writing. Usually, he would feel cheated. Today he felt relieved that he had to read half a page.
He held Hedvika’s envelope up high, in front of his face. Her handwriting had a few loops and curls, but overall, it was simple. She had room to improve. He positioned the envelope in front of the ceiling light to see the pages inside. She had written much more than their mother.
Eduard reached for the letter opener Kip had bought him as an early birthday present. He was going to give him another one on the actual day, too, but he had seen the knife and decided Eduard needed it. It did feel nicer than opening the envelope with his hands.
He shuffled through the numbered pages Hedvika had written him. “Uncle Oskar,” “Grandma,” and “Aunt Vera” were more frequent in this letter than Eduard had ever seen from Hedvika before. She was not one to gossip about her family. She tried to see the best in them, and she knew what Eduard’s opinions were already. She did not need to repeat them like a broken record.
This time she had decided Eduard needed to know what she thought.
"rick roll me daddy" - Rick Astley, 2022
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Mon May 29, 2023 4:38 am
Week Thirty-Eight - Chapter 11.4 - 1107 Words
Warning: quite a few mentions of abuse and alcohol
George seemed to sense that Eduard was done with his first letter, and despite Eduard looking as open as a cage, he decided to test his luck again.
“Learn anything interesting?”
“Pardon?” Eduard retorted.
“Did you learn anything from your last letter?”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” George said as he tapped his fingers on his desk.
“Sorry about what?”
“I’m sorry that you didn’t get any news.I like hearing about my family, so I hate getting a letter that doesnt have anything good in it,” George explained, “It feels like I’ve been cheated, you know?”
“If you say so,” Eduard replied. He positioned Hedvika’s letter higher in front of his face to distance himself from his roommate. George turned back to his typewriter, still unable to find his words and translate them onto paper.
After a moment, Eduard moved the letter lower so he could actually read it. He began:
How are you? I hope you are okay. I know you weren’t very excited to go to St. Julian’s at the beginning of the year, but I think it’s safe to say your opinions have changed. That, along with what has gone on at home, makes me ever more excited to go to St. Jane Frances’.
Not to toot my own horn, but I honestly think the only decent things that have happened here recently is that I placed well in school, and that Mr. Dostal and mom have gone on a few dates. He gets her out of the house and distracts her mind for a little. He’s too kind for her own good, and she seems disappointed to return home to me, Oskar, and Aunt Vera. (I’ve stopped calling Uncle Oskar “Uncle”–I think it is a sign of respect, and I refuse to show the man any.)
Speaking of the man: Oskar’s been fired; rather, ‘in between jobs,’ as mom keeps reassuring me. This means I’ve returned to delivering packages for mom. In all honesty, I don’t know how I do it anymore, Eduard. I already had school and softball and normal things I had to do; now my free time is nonexistent, and my stress is through the roof. Furthermore, I was planning on using your car to transport the food (since no one on the route would snitch on me), but mom is too busy, Aunt Vera doesn’t know how to drive, and Oskar just outright refuses to teach me. So, I attached a basket to my bike and take it around the neighborhood.
I don’t know where the money I’ve earned from this has gone and how you managed to get so much extra money/tips at the end of the day. It’s like my work does nothing. For example: even though he is ‘in between jobs’ with no source of income, there are more beers in the fridge than ever (meaning he is either stealing it from me/Grandma/someone else). The trash can is overflowing with Storz bottles, which is very convenient for him when he is angry at Aunt Vera in the kitchen…”
Eduard squinted at the next two lines of looseleaf paper. They were fully scribbled out; a lone sign of remorse in a rather scathing letter. He turned on his lamp and held the paper up to the light to see the original text. George looked over his shoulder. He would have asked Eduard what he was doing, but he had a premonition that the third try would be even worse than the first two.
The Czech mumbled softly to himself as he deciphered the mystery words: “The man is a bastard. Dad must have been a real angel to be able to put up with him. Then again, things must have been different after the whole school thing. Another reason why I better go to St. Jane Frances’–I don’t want to turn into an alcoholic who leaves a bruise the size of the sun on my spouse’s cheek.”
Eduard could not help but laugh, but he stifled it quickly out of some small tang of regret. It was not truly funny. Yet, he checked his wrist, but not to tell the time. The man who had given the beautiful, meaningful watch to him was the same man that Hedvika was calling evil. He shook his head and returned to his normal spot on his bed to continue.
“Aunt Vera is as beautiful as ever, besides the aforementioned bruises and scrapes that seem to be more commonplace now that Oskar has no place to spend his time. Poor woman. I’ve gone from being extremely annoyed by her to extremely pitiful of her in a few months. Sometimes I wonder if she knew what she was getting into with the Klement family. Dad introduced her to Oskar, so she probably saw his success and assumed his brother had done the same.”
Eduard scoffed at the word “success.” What his father had done was not successful; it was levels below some of the occupations his classmates’ fathers’ had.
“Aunt Vera haunts the kitchen, especially on the rare occasion where Oskar is either at a bar or futilely attempting to get his act together (he’ll never be as good as dad and you). It’s because the phone is there. Don’t worry: it’s the one expense that mom doesn’t have to deal with since Auntie has paid for all the bills out of pocket, from her sewing or parents or whatever. Anyways, she’s constantly near the telephone, and mostly talks on it when Oskar is gone and everyone else is asleep (or so she thinks!). As you know, my bedroom is right above it, and I can hear everything through that vent.”
Eduard chuckled. He used the same tactic when he slept in that room.
“She’s undoubtedly being unfaithful or, at least, trying to be. There were two conversations that really stuck out to me: one to her friend, Patsy, and one to someone else. The first one sounded like Patsy was making a fuss out of Aunt Vera’s situation. She hadn’t been out much because she couldn’t cover the lump on her forehead, so Patsy was reasonably concerned. Aunt Vera was (shockingly) honest, causing Patsy to throw a hissy-fit. Aunt Vera said something along the lines of ‘I would leave him if I had somewhere else to go’ and that she would be like those ‘poor, damned Okies’ if it wasn’t for mom and I. The other one contained some rather lewd content considering the fact that it definitely wasn’t Oskar on the other side. Apparently, he lives in Jefferson City and offered to pay for the phone call. Pretty interesting, huh?”
"rick roll me daddy" - Rick Astley, 2022
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Sun Jun 04, 2023 8:48 pm
Week Thirty-Nine - Chapter 11.5 - 1101 Words
If Mrs. Klement knew of this letter, Hedvika would be grounded for a week, at least. She had made the youngest Klement promise not to bother their sibling while he was in Jamison. Like most mothers, she wanted her son to live life like a normal teenager, if only for a little while.
“I don’t blame her. He’s grown increasingly difficult and abusive with everyone, not just her. I swear to God, Eduard, I thought he was going to hit me yesterday. He has been trying to teach me Czech. It’s not working; not only do I not have any time, but he is such a terrible teacher that nobody would be able to learn from him. Anyways, yesterday I could not wrap my head around some conjugation (again) and asked if he could teach me to drive instead of pointlessly trying to teach me Czech. His eyes went wide and he raised his beer bottle as if to hit me with it. I thought it would come down, I really did. But, I guess he realized that I was his brother’s kid, not his, and that he would not have a place to live if mom found a mark on my face. So he set it down and left after calling me selfish and stupid.
I don’t want him in the same house as mom and I anymore. If Aunt Vera leaves, I hope he’ll try to follow her. Otherwise, he’s stuck with us unless he wins the lottery or something.
I’m sorry to lay everything on you like this, but I think it’s completely unfair for mom to leave you in the dark all these months. I’ve read her letters; she’s never lied to you, per say, but she has omitted much of the truth. I want you to be prepared before you return home.
Eduard put the letter down on his bed and rubbed his eyes. This was too much information to process at once. He would do anything for Hedvika and his mother: lie, jump off a bridge, steal a car… the list was infinite. He needed to do for them what his father had not lived long enough to do. But how?
He decided to shower. When he tried to open the door, it would not budge.
“Occupied!” shouted the voice of the boy from the neighboring room. Eduard had asked his name at least five times over the course of the school year, but it never stuck.
Eduard put his ear to the door. The sink was running.
“Could you hurry up? I’ve got to shower.”
The boy groaned, “You don’t have to shower right now, you want to shower.”
“I’ll give you a dime!”
“Absolutely not, I could get lunch for twenty cents,” Eduard said. His hand was still on the doorknob. The door suddenly swung outward, pushing him back. Behind it, a redhead stared at Eduard through thick strands of wet hair.
Eduard sighed and retrieved the dime and nickel from the small jar on his desk. He had amassed quite the collection of coins since September. His excuse was that it looked cool. The reality was that he claimed any loose change he found on the floor because he needed it, because he would not be able to make his way in his friend group without it. George was the only one who knew the truth. And now he was looking at his roommate with a quizzical expression, wondering how he of all people could throw away fifteen cents.
“After you,” the ginger said, clasping the coins in his right hand as he held the door open for Eduard with his left. Eduard grabbed his toiletries and entered. He turned the water to hot and stood like a statue until his face resembled his mother’s strawberry jam. He did not shampoo his hair or use a washcloth; he just stood. Eventually, he got out and examined himself in the mirror. He could not read the boy staring back at him.
He returned to the dorm room. George was sprawled on his bed, Boston Globe in hand.
“Did you hear that Branch Rickey was elected to the Episcopal Church of Columbus’s board of temperance? Says so right here,” he pointed to a small article on one of the first pages.
“St. Louis Cardinals beat Philidelphia 3-2 on Wednesday.”
“St. Louis also lost to Boston, though.”
“What?” Eduard asked, exasperated already even though they had only exchanged a few sentences.
“The Browns lost to Boston. I thought you were a fan of both teams,” George said, and Eduard couldn’t tell if the last sentence was a statement or a question. He responded anyways.
“I’m only a Cardinals fan. The Browns are a worthless team for people who can not afford Cardinals tickets. They have not even won a pennant, yet, and they are practically ancient.”
“Whatever you believe,” George grumbled. He held the newspaper closer to his face and changed the page. He did not want to read about baseball anymore; he was not that fond of the sport, anyways.
Eduard sat back down on his bed with a groan. The letter sat on the folded part of his sheet, beckoning him to pick it up and finish it. He could not bare to read any more about someone else’s problems. He did not want to know what was happening to grandma, and how he could help them if only he was with them, instead of more than a thousand miles away.
Then again, he could not bare to disappoint Hedvika. He was all she had.
He continued reading the letter:
“Onto grandma Schovajsa, she is not well at all.” (“Why else would you be writing this?” Eduard mumbled to himself, causing George to look over his shoulder for a brief moment. The consternation on his roommate’s face scared him out of speaking.) “To be quite frank, Eduard, and I know this is a horrible, terrible, serious thing to say–she reminds me of dad, although she has a much different ailment. We originally thought it was a urinary infection, but apparently it is cancer. I forget what kind, but whatever it is that you find down there; needless to say, it’s very serious and requires attention we simply can’t afford, no matter what mom tells grandma. She keeps saying that we’ll keep her healthy and that she need not worry, but I can not stand to see grandma be told these lies. She’s going to die, Eduard. We don’t have any extra money.”
"rick roll me daddy" - Rick Astley, 2022
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Thu Sep 14, 2023 5:04 pm
I also posted this on my wall, but I'll put it here, too. I really want to get back to writing The Halls of St. Julian's after a four month hiatus, so to get myself interested again I wrote one of the main characters' obituaries. I was planning to have it at the beginning of the book as a bit of a foreshadowing thing.
I used a picture of
SSgt Willis Willard Cole
, who's buried in Ardennes American Cemetery, for Eduard's photo.
"rick roll me daddy" - Rick Astley, 2022
A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.
— Oscar Wilde
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