"Whoa, Mary, look who's here!" Jim said too loudly, pretend sotto voce. He,
Roderick, and I were at our lab desk working on multi-byte addition in
Everybody looked at the door. I looked over at Jim instead, and he raised his hands with a grin, backing away on his stool.
I rolled my eyes and shook my head and turned to the door. "Hi, Beryl."
She came in and walked over, greeting Trina with a touch of the fingertips and
a "Hi" on the way.
Roderick shifted over to an empty stool, and Beryl sat down by me.
"How was practice?" I asked.
"Good enough. Whacha doin'?" Beryl looked at the scratch paper where we had diagrammed what we understood of the problem and were writing tentative sequences of assembly language.
"Working out how to add big numbers," Roderick answered before I could.
"Bigger than what fits in the eight bits we showed you yesterday," I added.
She looked at the diagrams with a bit of interest, then shrugged. "Greek to me."
Chuckles came from various directions.
"Got time to wait while we test this?"
"Sure. If it's not more than half an hour."
Chuck looked up from where he and his group were helping Mister Forrest test
the serial I/O board in the computer. "Can we let them try their code?" he
Mr. Forrest nodded. "Time to take a break and see what we've figured out so far, anyway."
I looked at Jim and Roderick, and they both shook their heads.
"Let's use your code," Jim said.
Todd moved an empty stool over for me and I sat down at their lab desk. Jim and Roderick stood at either side of me to watch while I used the front panel interface to toggle in the code.
Beryl came over and stood behind me, resting her hands on my shoulders. I stopped working the switches long enough to give one hand a squeeze, deliberately squelching the nervous thrill that tried to course through me and stop my brain from working. I also ignored the murmurs around me.
"So what are these numbers in real num -- uhm, decimal?"
"Decimal. 123,456,789 plus 987,654,321 equals --"
"One billion, one hundred eleven million, one hundred eleven thousand, one hundred ten," she finished for me.
More murmurs around us.
I turned and grinned at her. "And you pretend you don't know what we're doing here."
"Just arithmetic." She grinned back.
Chuckles and quiet groans. Trina snickered. "Genius attracts genius?"
Beryl turned and they exchanged finger waves.
I looked at the ceiling. "How am I supposed to respond to that?" I muttered,
and looked back at the computer.
Beryl gave my shoulders a squeeze. My stomach jumped, ever so slightly.
"Okay, let's see if it flies." I stepped through, reading the input numbers and results aloud.
I checked the status register LEDs. "-- with no carry. Good," I breathed.
"-- again, with no carry. Okay," I nodded, cautious.
The carry bit in the status register array of LEDs lit up. "-- with a carry. So far, so good. Okay,"
The carry, plus
And everybody clapped.
"Let's see your code." Mr. Forrest checked my work. "Lots of repeated instructions. That's faster than a loop, but it takes more program space, and we only have 4K that we know is working just yet. Try a loop?"
"Well, that's what Jim is working on, but we weren't comfortable with where we put the loop count or with what happened to the carry while counting the loop."
"Let me see that, Jim."
Jim handed Mr. Forrest his work, and he checked through it, nodded, and handed it back. "Want to give it a try?"
"Results might be interesting?"
"I'm not sure I'd have any idea what went wrong."
"We can all think about it. Joe, write your code up on the board for everyone to look at. And Jim, you can write yours on the board next to Joe's. Try to line up instructions that do the same things."
Jim and I went to the board and put our code up. We consulted about what lined up where, and where I needed to leave empty lines so we could line things up.
"Still hesitant to try it, Jim?" Mr. Forrest asked.
Jim went back to our lab desk and looked through the summary of 8080 machine code instructions and their effects which Mr. Forrest had handed out for each lab group. He looked up and said, "It might work."
"Hot seat." Mr. Forrest indicated the stool I had been sitting on to use the computer.
"Do I get a back rub from Beryl?" Jim asked, with a wink at me. I grinned and looked at Beryl.
She grinned back. "Oh, since you're Joey's lab partner, why not?"
Jim looked surprised, but pleased, and sat down. Beryl stood behind him and rubbed his shoulders, then gave them a hard squeeze.
"Ouch. Feels good!"
JIm's code ran successfully, as well, and we all applauded.
"Okay, I'm thinking we can leave the teletype for tomorrow and just let the rest of you try your code, and then maybe I can get home by midnight tonight."
We all laughed.
After discussing the results we got with Jim and Roderick, I packed up my
stuff and left with Beryl. We turned left out the door, and she slipped her
left hand into my right.
At the first cross hall, I started to turn right and almost bumped into her. I corrected course quickly and followed her straight across.
"This is the long way to the library."
"My house tonight. Dad and Mom are home."
This time I couldn't squelch the butterflies in my stomach, and stopped.
Beryl looked up and back at me, challenging me.
"Erm, okay." I started moving again, not quite feeling the faux granite floor under my tennis shoes. I couldn't say anything as we walked, Beryl gently but playfully swinging our hands between us. She was doing the swinging. My muscles wouldn't have obeyed me if I had tried.
"Cat got your tongue?" she asked playfully as we left the south wing. The
fence wouldn't go up around the campus for another couple of years, and we
headed unimpeded for the street where she lived, less than ten minutes away.
"The cat or the butterflies she's chasing."
"Meeting your dad?"
"And Mom and Donna."
"You've never told me about your family."
"You haven't told me much about yours. I remember you're the youngest and you have, what, four sisters?"
"And one brother."
"... and one brother." She paused, suddenly quiet. "My big brother died when I was kind of young."
"Oh." I didn't know what to say to that. "Sorry to hear about that."
"I miss him sometimes. But I think he's happy in heaven."
"That's a good hope to have. I believe in the afterlife, too."
"Yeah. Heaven's a good place."
We came too soon to her house, and her dad faced me at the front door. Her
mother took Beryl's hand and pulled her in, hugging her closely.
"So. This is the Mormon boy that has been stalking my daughter for four years."
I couldn't tell if he was joking or not.
"Yes, sir." I said, not cracking a smile.
"What about this polygamy thing? How many wives besides my daughter do you plan on marrying?"
"No, sir. Beryl and I have not discussed marriage in the first place. No plans about that at all at this time. And, in the second place, we Mormons don't do polygamy any more."
"Any more?" her mom asked.
"One of my great-grandfathers lost his wife on crossing the plains to Utah, and when he got to Utah he married a widow with six kids who lost her husband on the way. With the second wife's permission, he married a third woman."
"So why don't you do that any more?" her dad asked, in a tone that broached no
"Well, there are several reasons. One is that God told us that, rather than go to war with all the people who thought that polygamy was a capital offense, polygamy would no longer be required of us."
"Required?" Beryl asked, puzzled.
"It was a different world. A single woman back then was looked on with suspicion and misunderstanding."
Her dad cleared his throat.
Beryl's puzzlement increased. "Huh?"
Beryl's mother hugged Beryl tighter, whispering something to her.
Beryl's face drained color. She turned to her mother. "No!"
I continued, "Anyway, when polygamy worked well, it helped prevent the worst options. It didn't always work well, but the leaders of the Church were rather strict that a polygamous wife who felt that she was in a bad marriage could be released from the bad marriage and be free to seek someone better. In marriage. Without having to leave her children or her belongings behind."
Beryl's mom suddenly relaxed, and her dad's stern expression softened slightly.
I continued. "Unfortunately, the members with fundamentalist inclinations who sometimes leave us, leave us before they understand what polygamy was supposed to be. And that can cause some pretty abusive family situations for them. Which brings up a third reason we quit. By the end of the last century, too many of our regular members were beginning to practice it without understanding it."
Her dad and mom both relaxed at the same time.
"Son," her dad said, "I've heard enough good about you from Beryl that I'm going to give you a chance to prove yourself."
I took a deep breath. "I hope you will not be offended that I won't be trying to prove myself. I always do my best to live a moral life and treat all people with respect, and I hope that will be good enough."
He grinned. "We'll see. We shall see. Well, come in so you and Beryl can study. That's what you came for, I think?"
Donna was standing in the front room, watching the drama wide-eyed, and Beryl introduced us. The two of them exchanged looks and giggles and grins, and Donna dragged Beryl off into the kitchen to talk for a minute.
While they were gone, I introduced myself to Karl and May, and they introduced
themselves to me.
Then they came back, and Beryl dragged me over to the couch, where we sat,
spread out our books on the coffee table, and dug in.
TV or Not TV (Typewriter)