As the three re-entered the tunnels via Catherine’s apartment’s basement, Catherine was not surprised to find Vincent there, waiting for them.
Happily she ran up to him smiling, and threw her arms around his waist. She hugged him mightily, which pleased Vincent so much he threw his head back, and silently laughed in that manner he so sweetly owns.
Catherine looked up and said, “I missed you.”
In reply, he softly said, “And I missed you.”
He looked at Ronald gratefully, for returning his Catherine safely to him and he then looked to Jennifer, and greeted her by saying, “Jennifer, I am pleased you were able to arrive earlier then originally planned.” Adding, “Father will be pleased as well!”
Jennifer smiled at Vincent, and said, “Well thank you for the invite Vinny."
Inquisitively, Vincent asked, “Were you surprised by Catherine and Ronald’s visit?”
As Jennifer widened her eyes, and shook her head in embarrassment as she said, “Oh boy was I!”
Catherine and Ronald started laughing, as Jennifer continued, “But let me tell you Vinny, I think I surprised them more! I was doing a beauty treatment when they came, and it was not a pretty sight!”
Ronald sweetly said, “Ah…but the results Jenny are well worth it!”
With astonishment, Jennifer blushed as she said, “What a nice thing to say!”
As the four prepared for their walk through the tunnels, Vincent offered to take one of Jennifer’s bags Ronald was carrying. As he took it over, the weight of it, caused him to ask, “What is so heavy in this bag?”
To which Jennifer answered, “Well Vinny, its the “A.C.S.!”
Catherine laughingly asked, “The A.C.S.?”
In reply, Jennifer matter-of-factly said, “Yes, the Alternative Communication System!”
Deciding Jacob’s chamber should be there first stop, Vincent stepped in first, but he then stepped quietly back out into the tunnel.
As he tipped his head questionably, Catherine curiously asked, “What is it? Isn’t this a good time to visit Father?”
Vincent expelled a deep breath as he raised a brow, and said coyly, “Perhaps not! Mary is fitting Father with his apron…again!”
Catherine giggled as she explained to Ronald and Jennifer, it seemed as if Jacob had purposefully botched his sewing project, during “Sewing Circle” yesterday, just so he could be privately instructed by Mary!
The four quietly walked off speculating on the budding relationship between Jacob and Mary, and headed for Catherine’s chamber instead, where they could all comfortably visit before supper.
Once they all settled in about Catherine’s Sitting room alcove, Jennifer brought out the Pratt University pamphlets. As they spread them all out and about the table, Jennifer turned to Vincent, and with a question encompassed in her voice, she said, “Vinny, Cathy told me you were anxious for me to bring these brochures.”
Vincent shyly looked downward, and said, “Yes, I was anxious to look over them. Curious I suppose about the courses available to you and Ronald.”
As they all leafed through them, they finally decided on The History of Art and Architecture. This class covers the history of art and architecture in Paleolithic, Neolithic, ancient Western, and medieval cultures.
Catherine looked at Vincent, and asked, “If you were to take a course Vincent, what would you take?”
Vincent sadly looked downward, as he said, “Really there is no point in “What- ifs”! We all know this could not be a possibility for me.”
Catherine put her hand on Vincent’s arm and said, “You always told me it was good to have dreams.”
So she prodded a little more, and with a smile, she asked again, “So, if you could, what course would you take?"
Vincent took a deep breath, and picked up the bundle of brochures. He then pulled from the bottom, a pamphlet of a course he had spotted. As he expelled his disappointed breath he said, “Catherine, it would be this one.”
Catherine picked it up and read aloud, “ ARCH 506P The Architecture and Thought of Frank Lloyd Wright. This course surveys the buildings, writings and design philosophy of Frank Lloyd Wright. It examines various influences on his work and considers whether his ‘organic’ approach is relevant to the contemporary designer.”
Catherine looked at Vincent and said, “The course times for this class, are the same as Jen’s and Ronald’s class. Hmm, what do you think of that?”
Vincent tipped his head to the side as he said, “What of it Catherine?”
Happily, she told Vincent, “What if I told you, since Peter teaches at Pratt, he could arrange it for you to take a correspondence course in this class. He suggested I would take the course you chose, attend the lectures, and record them for you.”
Vincent looked at Catherine in wonderment, as he said, “I had always dreamt of attending College Catherine…it has been a deeply seeded longing in my heart.”
Catherine smiled, as she sincerely said, “You can have your dream. Peter explained you would need to acquire your GED, and take an entrance exam first of course.”
Anxiously, he stood and paced, and as he turned, he said, “I don’t know what to say…I never thought this could be possible.”
Catherine smiled and said, “Well it is Vincent…it is possible.”
Jennifer squealed with excitement as she said, “Oh now this is so cool! Are you going to do it Vinny?”
Thoughtfully, he looked downward as he said, “I would like to discuss this first with Father.”
Catherine nodded, knowing he would want Jacob’s support in this endeavor. In agreement she said, “Yes, that is a good idea. Maybe he can help you decide.”
The supper announcement sounded throughout the master pipes, and Jennifer asked Ronald, to haul the A.C.S. Bag with them, and she would present it to Jacob right after supper.
As usual, Jacob stood at the entrance of the Dining Hall, and happily greeted Jennifer. “Welcome!” As Father smiled at her, he said, “Vincent told me Catherine, and Ronald were going to try to coax you to join us to sup. I am so pleased they succeeded.”
Jennifer warmly said, “Thanks for making me feel so welcome! Do you think after supper, I could show you my solution to your communication problems?”
Jacob furrowed his brow, and said, “Well we dare’snt forget, Mary holds her Reading Appreciation meeting promptly at seven. Do you think you can present it to me in that short interim?”
She nodded excitedly, “Oh yes I sure do Pops! Right after supper err, right after we sup then?”
Jacob tried to hold back his smile and said, “Yes, and I am not exaggerating when I say I am most eager to see your idea.”
Delightedly, Jennifer said, “Great...I hope it will be the solution you have been needing.”
They all sat at their usual table, and Jennifer brought a definite liveliness to the conversation. They all laughed at the stories about she and Catherine in their formative years. And some of the tales, Catherine would have much preferred she hadn't mentioned!
But there was no stopping Jennifer, once she was on a roll, and when she started telling about the time they tried out for cheerleading...well Catherine was sunk.
Jennifer began, “Well Cathy was always so much more coordinated than I was! She took dance all of her life practically, and although I begged my Mom to take dance too, she simply said, no!”
Jennifer rolled her eyes, as she went on to convey her Mother’s reasoning, “She said my tuba lessons, were more than enough of an after-school activity for a young lady. Well any way, when it came time to try-out for the cheerleader lineup, we signed the list. Catherine tried for weeks to teach me this cheer to perform during the try-outs. Well I got it down pat, and when it was my turn, I got a Charley horse in my leg, and blew the whole thing! Catherine had been chosen of course, because she was so great, but she ended up turning it down!”
Jennifer became overwhelmed, as she thought of this gallant deed Catherine did on her behalf, and said, “What a friend uh? Cathy said if I wasn't going to be on the squad, then she didn't want to be either. She said she would rather just go to the football games with me, and check out all of the cute boys! Is she a martyr or what?”
Catherine once more looked humbly at Vincent, but for everyone’s amusement, she said,“Yes it was a difficult task, but someone had to do it!”
Jennifer shook her head at Catherine and emotionally said, “What a great friend!”
Catherine tried to soothe her friend, as she said, “You would have done it for me too! In fact you did! Remember you quit the Bird watchers club when they wanted to evoke my membership!”
Incredulously, Jennifer spewed, “Yes I still can’t believe they wanted to vote you out, just because you mistook that Nuthatch for a Woodpecker! Really, I had to quit for the principle of the thing!”
She then laughed, as she admitted, “Besides that cute boy Danny dropped out too, and somehow with him gone, peering through those binoculars for endless hours, had lost its charm.”
Jacob approached their table, and said, “I suppose now is as good a time as any Jennifer. Would you care to reveal your...uh, solution to me now?”
Jennifer stood up, and excitedly said, “Oh yes Po…” Suddenly stopping herself in mid-sentence, because she realized some of the children were around, and so...as per their agreement, she addressed Jacob as Father. Once again she began, “Yes FATHER, I would.”
Thoughtfully, she brought her hand to her chin, and said, “Let’s see...I may need some help here.”
She searchingly looked to the children, and said, “Eric, Kipper, over here please, and Samantha, Natalie right here…and Jamie you and Rebecca can pair up if you wouldn’t mind?”
Jennifer then smiled at Jacob, and said, “Father, I will pair up with you. Now I want these distributed to our trial groups. Cathy, will you help me pass these out?”
Catherine jumped up to help, and as she looked into the bag, she started laughing! Walkie-Talkies! There was quite an assortment of them too. Catherine gave the youngest girls the Barbie Walkie-talkies, G I Joe Walkie-talkies to Eric and Kipper, Rebecca and Jamie were given the Rainbow Bright’s and Father and Jennifer were given the Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too Walkie Talkie’s!
Jennifer then instructed, “Now each of you will be given a piece of paper and listed on it is your destination, and a famous book title with its author. When we meet back here, we will repeat our messages we received and this will verify the information had been accurately and clearly transmitted. It will also verify the radius is far reaching enough to be effective here in the tunnels. All right everyone…Battle-stations.”
Jacob’s “Battle-station” was the Dining Hall, so as he turned his Walkie-talkie on waiting for Jennifer’s message to come through, he smiled at everyone gathered around as they all waited in anticipation. Catherine looked at Jacob, and smiled to herself, as she thought he looked so cute standing there holding Tigger to his ear!
Finally Jennifer’s voice could be heard, and her message was “The Godfather by Mario Puzo.”
Jacob nodded in surprise, as he heard Jennifer’s voice all the way from the guest chamber loud and clear! As he unfolded his piece of paper, he prepared to transmit back to her, saying, “Let’s see what book title I have here…” as he cleared his voice, he pushed the button to speak, and read aloud, “Ahem…Under the Bleachers, by Seemore Butts?!! Oh my…Seemore Butts? Is this a legitimate title and author?”
Catherine embarrassingly said, “No Father, I think that is Jenny’s idea of a joke! I am so sorry!”
Everyone tried not to laugh, but they couldn’t help it! They all ended up laughing, and Jacob did as well, as the title resonated with him.
Upon everyone’s return to the Dining Hall, they all laughed, loving the experiment, but agreed although, the Walkie-talkies or the A.C.S. was great fun…the pipes would remain in tact, as the official method of communiqué!
In total agreement, Jennifer understood, and donated the A.C.S. equipment to the tunnels, and the children all ran off in different directions playing with them!
Jacob raised his brow as he told Jennifer, “I must say you do present a new perspective here for us Jennifer. You are a delightful girl!”
Jennifer smiled and said, “I love your world Pops! I am so honored to be included here.”
Jacob assuredly said, “Jennifer you are always welcome.”