The Man from Swift Current
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
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Chapter 69: Dr. Nohr

Rick broke the connection with Glenn, stretched out on his bunk and returned to staring at the ceiling.   Talking with Glenn had helped him to handle the shock he felt.  However, Rick couldn’t get the horrible scene captured in the photos Sgt. Riehle had shown him out of his head.   The fact that his fellow soldiers were capable of such cruelty and brutality scared him.   He had been trained to kill, and to do it very efficiently.   What he saw in the photos was barbaric and inhuman.  

He knew many of his fellow soldiers really hated gays.   He’d heard their jokes and their vituperative statements about gays in the military, and what they’d do if they ever met one.   At the time, he didn’t believe they would really harm anyone, despite their threats to do so.   Now, he knew what they were really capable of doing, and that knowledge made him sick to his stomach.   What if they ever found out he was in a relationship with a guy?   Would they do the same to him?

He couldn’t reconcile what he’d seen in the photos with what he knew of Sam.   He thought to himself, “There is no way Sam was gay.  He didn’t have any of the behaviors I’ve come to associate with people who are gay; but then, again, the only gay person I know very well is Glenn.    Sam didn’t act at all like Glenn!   On the other hand, I guess you could say I’m gay, and I don’t act like Glenn, either!

“I happen to be a guy who’s in love with another guy.   If that means I’m gay, I guess I’m gay; but, to me, being gay also brings with it certain stereotypical behaviors, and I don’t have those behaviors.   So, I don’t fit the gay stereotype.   I guess Sam could’ve been like me – just an ordinary guy who has fallen love with his soul mate who happens to be a guy.”  

“Now, on the other hand, my partner, Glenn, says he’s gay and means it!   He’s not a flamer, but he does things that clue you into the fact that he is really into guys!   Things like checking you out from head to toe.   I ought to know because he did it to me when we first met!   I was pretty certain he was gay even before he told me.   I hope I’m not that obvious about it!   Yes, I do check out the guys, once in a while; but, mainly I’m pretty much focused on my lover boy.   Do I notice when a gorgeous babe walks by me?   Hell yes!   In fact, Glenn hates it when I comment on the beautiful women we encounter.   I guess he has a right to worry, given my past sexual exploits with the female sex.”  

“Sam always seemed to have a girlfriend, and I don’t remember him ever paying any attention to the guys.  I wonder if all of that was a cover up for him, to avoid admitting he really liked being with guys?”

Rick decided that he didn’t have the answers to reconcile Sam’s behavior with what Sgt. Riehle had told him; but thought maybe he could talk to his buddies, and get their take on the whole deal.

Rick got off his bunk and left the barracks.   He headed toward the mess hall.   As he entered, Stan called him over to join them.   He walked over to their table and took a seat.   He looked around the table at Joe, Mark, Stan, and Jimmy.   Rick thought, “Could one of these guys be the one who killed Sam?”

Stan looked Rick in the eyes, “I know what you’re thinking, Rick.   Could one of us have been the one to do Sam in?”

Rick nodded, “Yes, I’ve wondered that, but I would hope that none of us would ever do anything so cruel and barbaric to anyone.”

Joe agreed, “Sam didn’t deserve to be murdered in that way.”

Stan exclaimed in anguish, “I wish I could get the images of Sam’s death out of my head!”   He put his head in his hands, as his emotions got the better of him.

Joe put his arm around Stan’s shoulder, “It’s okay, buddy.   We all share your pain.”   Joe looked over at Rick, “Did Sgt. Riehle show you the photos as well?”

Rick replied, “Yes, he did.   Like Stan, those images won’t go away.   They have been permanently engraved in my mind.   It really bothers me that anyone could do that kind of thing to another human being.”

Mark said, “Yeah, those photos were very disturbing.”

“I wonder why Sgt. Riehle decided to show them to us?” Jimmy asked.   “Is that normal when you’re being questioned?”

Mark replied, “He was watching your reaction to the photos.   They made me sick, and I lost it right then and there.”

Stan said, “I was pretty sickened by them, too; but I managed not to puke in front of Sgt. Riehle.”

Just then there was a bit of commotion by the door.   They looked over to see what was going on.   They saw four MPs escorting a couple of guys out of the mess hall.   Stan said, “Those guys are from the motor pool.   They didn’t look too happy to be escorted out of the mess hall.”

“Aren’t those guys Sam’s friends?   He used to hang out with those two, when he wasn’t playing poker with us,” Mark said.

Rick nodded, “Yeah, those are the two guys Sam told me were his best buddies.   They used to get him all kinds of things that no one else could.”  Rick looked at his watch, “I’ve got to go.   Lt. Col. Bachman gave me an hour before I had to report back to my duty station.   I’ll catch you guys later.”

Rick left the mess hall and returned to duty.   He tried to concentrate on his assignment for the day; but his thoughts kept returning to Sam throughout the day.   He was pretty spooked when one of the guys from the motor pool poked his head around the back of one of the supply trucks.

“Sorry to have startled you, corporal,” Sgt. Massey said, apologetically.   “Everyone around here has been pretty jumpy since they found one of our own murdered in here.” 

Sgt. Massey looked Rick over, suspiciously, “Corporal Lernier, I believe I’ve seen you in here before with Corporal Meyers.   Is that true?”

“Yes sir,” Rick responded.

“Why is that?” Sgt. Massey asked, his eyes narrowing.

“We were assigned to work with the motor pool to finish getting the supply trucks ready, sir,” Rick replied.

Sgt. Massey’s face cleared when he heard Rick’s reply.  “I was just making sure you weren’t his lover.   I’d hate for the same fate to happen to you.   Carry on, Corporal.”

“Yes sir!” Rick said.

Sgt. Massey left Rick standing there, wondering what exactly he meant by his comments.   The thought that someone would try to do the same thing to him practically paralyzed him.   Corporal Smith tapped him on the shoulder.

“Hey, are you okay?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine.   Let’s get this done so we can get out of here.   This place gives me the creeps,” Rick said, turning back to the work he had been doing before being interrupted by Sgt. Massey.

“You’re right about that.   It’s been pretty spooky working here since they found that guys body in the back of that truck over there,” Corporal Smith said, pointing to a supply truck parked across from them.

Rick looked at the truck Corporal Smith pointed out to him.   A shiver ran up his spine, and he felt like a cold icy hand had closed around his throat.   He gulped and took a deep breath, trying to calm himself.

They finished up their assignment and left as quickly as they could, without making it seem like they were running scared.


I couldn’t sleep after talking to Rick.   It was so obvious that he was very upset about something, but couldn’t talk to me about it.   After rolling in my bed for about an hour more, I got up and grabbed my laptop from my desk, and went downstairs so I wouldn’t wake up Ben.

I logged into my blog and started writing.   I wrote a long note to my boyfriend:

“Rick, I want you to know how much I love you.   I know you are going through some difficult times, and that you can’t talk to me about them right now.   I will always be here for you.   When you read this, I want you to print this off and put it in your wallet, so you can read it whenever you start to feel down, or just need a quick boost to get you throughout the day.”

“Rick, I love you, because, more than anyone else in my life, you know how to make me feel special.   When we first met, I was so turned on by you, sexually, that all I wanted was for you to take me to bed with you (I still want you to do just that!).   However, when you first kissed me, it was to comfort me.   I was so messed up from my breakup with Ian.   You didn’t pressure me into having sex with you, even though you could have.   You listened to me and let me pour out my innermost feelings.   You didn’t judge me, or try to give me advice.   You held me close and promised to be there for me.   That was the day I fell in love with you.   You were so kind and gentle with me.   I knew, then, that I had to do my best to win your love!

“I’m so glad you had the courage to pick me up from Brett’s place and bring me home with you.   My happily-ever-after story began that day, when you kissed me, and told me you loved me.  Some guys have told me that there is no way we could have fallen in love so quickly; but, they don’t know you, and they don’t know me.   They say what I have written about us only happens in fairy tales!   They can’t believe that true love conquers all!   Well, Rick, guess what?   We’re living proof that those fairy tales were based on true stories like ours!   I feel sorry for those guys who are so jaded and cynical that they can’t believe that true love can happen to guys who’ve only known each other a few weeks.   Some say it’s all about the sex!   Well, you are pretty good in bed, so I guess I can’t deny that part!   However, there’s more to it than just sex.   You’re not just my lover, but my best friend.   You’ve always been there to listen to my worries and to help me see that things are better than they seem.   You brighten my day with your smile.   I miss your mischievous grin and your playfulness.   I miss your warm hugs in the morning and the fantastic showers!”  

“Rick, I know we’ve had our ups and downs, but the ups far outnumber the downs.   Life hasn’t been rosy for us, but we’ve always had each other to rely on during hard times.   No one compares to you in any way!   You are the best lover, the best companion, the best friend, the best looking, the best at getting me to laugh, the best at comforting me, the best life partner and the best guy in the world.   Did I say you were the hottest stud?   Yes, you’re the best looking man I’ve ever met!  

Finally, Rick, I want you to know you are loved.   You have a large extended family who loves you, but most of all I want to say “I LOVE YOU!”   Don’t you ever forget that someone loves you – ME!    8-3-1-4:   Eight letters, three words, one me, forever!   (Just in case you forgot what that means I’ll spell it out for you – I LOVE YOU FOREVER!)   Good night lover boy!   Yours forever - Glenn.”

I clicked on the publish button, then clicked to see how it looked on my blog.   I read over it and decided it was what Rick needed to read after our earlier conversation.   I closed my laptop and slipped back up to my room.   I put the computer on the desk and climbed back into bed.  I looked over at Ben.   He was still sound asleep.   I soon drifted off, knowing that I’d done my best to comfort Rick.   Little did I know that Rick would read it only moments after I published it to my blog.


Rick thanked Corporal Smith for working with him and returned to his barracks.   He wanted to check Glenn’s blog, but his computer wasn’t booting up.   Stan came through the door of the barracks and saw Rick messing with his computer.

“Hey, Rick!   What’s up?” Stan asked.

“Hello, Stan.   I can’t get my computer to boot up.   I don’t know what’s wrong with it,” Rick replied.

Stan came over and played with it for a minute.   “It looks like you need to recover your operating system.   Do you have a recovery, or back up disc?”

Rick answered, “Yeah, sure.   I made the backup copies as soon as I bought the computer.”

“Why don’t you try using them to boot up the computer and recover your software?” Stan suggested.

Rick smiled his thanks, “Thanks, Stan.”

“No problem!   Give me a yell if that doesn’t work,” Stan said, as he moved on toward his end of the barracks.

Rick pulled out his recovery discs, and placed disc number one in the DVD/CD player.   The whole process took a while to restore everything that had been corrupted.   When it was finally done, Rick rebooted the laptop and everything seemed to be working okay.   He typed in the address of Glenn’s blog and started reading the entry that Glenn had posted only moments before.   As he read, tears started rolling down his cheeks.   By the time Rick finished reading Glenn’s post, his heart was full of gratitude for the love of his life.   Glenn knew just what he needed to hear, and how to help comfort him.   Rick clicked on the comments button and typed, “I love you more each passing day.   8-3-1-4.” He hit the submit button and shut down the computer.   He felt much better and able to cope after reading Glenn’s blog.

Rick looked across the barracks and yelled, “Hey Stan!   Let’s go get something to eat!   I’m starving!”   Rick hadn’t eaten much all day.   The thought of food had revolted him after seeing the photos of the murder scene.  

Rick thought, “I’m so happy to have found my soul mate!   I can’t wait to see Glenn, and show him just how much I love him!   Maybe we’ll get to go home for a couple of weeks.”

Stan shouted back, “Be right there!”

The two soldiers headed over to the mess hall and joined their comrades in arms for a quick meal and a night of poker.


I awoke from a deep sleep to find Ben pulling the blankets off my bed.   “Wake up, sleepy head.   You’re going to be late for class!” Ben shouted, laughing, as he tried to roll me out of bed.

“Alright, I’m awake!  What time is it?” I asked, as I stretched out and yawned.

“We have to be to class in 30 minutes, and you haven’t even gotten out of bed, yet!” Ben replied.

I got up and grabbed some clean clothes and my towel.   I headed to the shower.  A few minutes later, I walked back into our bedroom showered, shaved and dressed for school.

I looked over at Ben, “Come on, Ben.   I’m ready to go.”   I grabbed my backpack and headed down the stairs.   Ben followed me down and we walked out the door.  We walked down the two blocks to Como Avenue and crossed over to Van Cleve Park.

Ben looked over at me, “Race you across the park!”   He took off across the park, leaving me behind.

“You’ll pay for that!” I shouted, as I sprinted across the grass to catch up to my cousin.

I managed to catch Ben about half way across the park and grabbed his shirt from behind to slow him down a bit.

Ben shouted, “No fair!   You can’t cheat by holding me back!”   He pulled free of my grasp and jumped out in front of me.   I poured it on and managed to beat him to the other side of the park by half a stride!

Ben slowed to a walk. “I would’ve won if you hadn’t cheated!”

I laughed, as I walked beside him trying to catch my breath. “It’s fair if I win!”

Ben laughed. “I’ll remember that, cuz!   You just wait!   I will get even!”

I grinned. “I’ll be waiting!”

Ben punched me in the shoulder. “I’m sure you’ll be shaking in your shoes!”

I said, “I don’t think so!   Ben, I’ve decided to change my major.”

Ben gave me a puzzled look and asked, “So, what caused you to change your mind?”

“When we were at Zach’s house, I was listening to Robbie play his violin and it hit me that I should do something I enjoy doing.   I love music, and it makes sense that I should make that my life’s work,” I said.

“How are you going to make a living?   Have you thought about that?” Ben asked, seriously.

“Yes, I have.   I plan to minor in computer science; so, I can work on computers during the day and play music in the evenings.   I recognize the fact that musicians don’t make much money, and it takes a lot of hard work to make it big in the music industry.   So, I figure that I will have to work in the computer field to help me do what I enjoy doing,” I said.

Ben asked, “Why do you think computer science will be better than mechanical engineering?”

I said, earnestly, “Ben, I’m horrible at math.   I barely passed the math classes last spring; and I’ve signed up for the calculus class here, but I’m afraid I’ll fail.   Rick helped me get through that last math class, and still, I barely managed to pass!   I just can’t make heads or tails of those math equations!   Computer science has got to be better than all the math classes that the engineering department requires!”

Ben said, “I don’t know if that is true, Glenn.   You need to see a counselor to make sure you get all your required courses in for your new major.   I’ll show you where the counselors are located, after our first class.”

We entered the classroom to find Zach and Mark were in the same class.   “Hey, guys!” Ben greeted his teammates.   We took our seats next to them as the professor came and handed out her syllabus, and started explaining her policies.   Unfortunately, she also assigned us homework!  

I looked at Ben and whined, “I’d hoped we wouldn’t have homework the very first day.”

Ben laughed and said, “We’ll survive.”

Zach and Mark high-fived us, and left for their next class.   Ben and I headed over to find out what I needed to do about changing my major.   We found the counselor’s office and knocked on the door.  

The man behind the desk looked up and waved us into his office.   He reached across the desk to shake our hands.  “I’m Mr. Clarke.   What can I do for you boys?”

Ben said, “I’m Ben Nielsen and this is my cousin, Glenn Nielsen.”

I spoke up then, “I’m here to find out what I need to do to change my major.”

Mr. Clarke smiled and said, “You’ve come to the right place.   What do you want to do?”

“I want to change my major to music from mechanical engineering,” I said.

“I’m afraid it’s not as easy as you might think.   You will need to submit a DVD/CD to the Music Department to be considered for admission to the School of Music.   The deadline is November 15 for submitting it for consideration.   Then, you will have to audition for the faculty, and here is the list of dates for the auditions.   May I ask why you want to major in music?” Mr. Clarke asked.

“I want to do something I enjoy as a career.   I’ve decided to do computer science as a minor,” I replied.

“May I suggest that you invert the order of your choices?   Majoring in computer science would put you in a better position for a job upon leaving college than majoring in music,” Mr. Clarke said, smiling at me.

I thought for a minute, “Okay, what do we need to do?”

“Let’s pull up your current schedule and see what we need to adjust,” Mr. Clarke said.   He asked for my student ID, which I handed to him.

After looking at my schedule, he said, “Well, you can keep your history class.   The one you attended today.   We can get you into to some lower division computing classes.”   He paused as he made the changes.   “You will need to speak to the department chairman about joining their programs.   Here are the forms you will need for them to sign, and here is a map showing where their offices are located.   Bring the signed forms back to me, then, you will be all set.”

He handed me the forms, and I shook his hand as Ben and I stood up to leave.   “Thank you for your help,” I said.

“No problem,” he replied.

Ben looked at the map, and found where we needed to go next.   We had an hour before his next class.   We found the chairman of the Computer Science and Engineering Department, who welcomed us to his office.

“How may I help you?” Dr. Snyder asked.

“I would like to transfer into the School of Computer Science and Engineering,” I said.

Dr. Snyder looked at my forms and said, “I’m glad to see you have decided to major in computer science.   I’m sure you’ll find it a very rewarding program.”

He signed my forms and handed them back to me.   “I look forward to seeing you in my classes.”

“Thank you very much,” I replied, and we headed for the School of Music.

We couldn’t find Dr. Nohr in his office, but his secretary promised to call me on my cell when the chairman returned.  

Ben and I split up for our next class.   I went to sociology and he went to his astronomy class.   I entered the classroom and scanned it for anyone I knew.   Not seeing any familiar faces, I took a seat in the back.   After class, my cell rang.   I answered it.  “Dr. Nohr is back in his office, if you would like to visit with him.”

“I’ll be right there,” I said.

I cut the connection and gathered up my books, shoving them into my backpack.

I found my way back to the Dr. Nohr’s office.   His secretary showed me in.

Dr. Nohr was seated behind his desk.   He was a balding man with a white fringe of hair surrounding his bald spot and he sported a white mustache.   His dark brown eyes were partially hidden behind thick horn-rimmed glasses.   He looked up at me.  “Please take a seat, Mr. Nielsen.”  I sat down in front of his desk, as directed. “I see here that you want to minor in music.   Are you aware of the requirement to audition before you can be admitted to the School of Music?”

“Yes, I am, sir,” I replied, looking him in the eyes.

“What instrument do you play?” he asked.

“I play the violin and the piano,” I answered.

“Do you plan to minor in music performance on both instruments or just one of them?” he asked.

“I want to minor in music performance on the violin,” I responded.

He smiled, “Good!   I happen to be a violinist, as well.  I’m always glad to see more young people learning to play string instruments.   Would you mind playing something for me today?”

“I would love to, but I didn’t bring my violin with me,” I said, looking across the desk at Dr. Nohr.

Dr. Nohr stood up and went to a locked cabinet.   He took out a key and unlocked it.   I watched him as he removed an old, battered violin case.   He brought it over and set it on his desk.   He opened it and removed a beautiful violin.

“This is my grandfather’s violin.   It’s the instrument I learned to play on when I was in grade school,” Dr. Nohr explained, as he lovingly tuned the instrument.   He handed it to me, with the bow.

“What would you like me to play for you?” I asked, as I tightened the bow and adjusted the shoulder rest.

Dr. Nohr said, “Well, you will have to play, from memory, a concerto for your audition.   Let’s try Mendelssohn or Brahms.”

I lifted the violin to my shoulder and started playing the Mendelssohn violin concerto.   I had played about half of the first part of the piece, when Dr. Nohr stopped me.

“How about the Brahms, now,” he said, leaning his head to one side, as he listened to me play.

I complied with his request.   I played most of the 1st movement, before he stopped me a second time.  “Do you know any of the Paganini concertos?”

“Yes, which one would you like me to play?” I asked.

Dr. Nohr smiled, “The 3rd movement of concerto number one.”

I knew that he was taking my measure as a violinist, which made me nervous, as I started to play the piece he had requested.   This time he didn’t stop me, but stood watching and listening to me.

When I finished playing, I was startled by someone clapping.   We both turned to see a couple of students standing in the doorway to Dr. Nohr’s office.

Dr. Nohr smiled and said, “Please come in.   Mr. Nielsen, this is Miss Daniels and Miss Radcliffe.   They are both violin students here.”

I smiled and said, “I’m glad to meet you both.   Please call me Glenn”

Miss Daniels shook my hand, “Please call me Patty.   Dr. Nohr is always so formal.”   Patty was about 5’4” tall, and a very slender Asian girl.   She looked like she was Japanese.   She had a ready smile and pleasant alto voice.

Miss Radcliffe nodded her head, but didn’t offer her hand.  “I’m Irene.   Glad to meet you.”   Irene was a very tall, reedy looking girl, with bright red hair and blue eyes.   She had lots of freckles and wore braces on her teeth.   She looked like she was just out of high school.

Patty said, “Dr. Nohr, we heard the beautiful music, and came to see who was playing.”

Dr. Nohr explained, “Mr. Nielsen was kind enough to indulge me by playing a few pieces on my old violin.”

Patty smiled at me. “Glenn, you play very well.”

“Thank you,” I replied.

Dr. Nohr said, “Yes, Glenn you do play very well.   I’m glad you have decided to join us in the School of Music.”

He returned to his desk and signed my forms for me.   He handed them back to me as he took back his old violin and returned it to its resting place.

He looked at the three of us and said, “Patty, why don’t you show Glenn around the music department?”

“Sure Dr. Nohr.   Glenn, come with us and we’ll show you where all the practice rooms are and introduce you to some of the teachers,” Patty said.

I followed the girls out of the office and out into the hallway.   “Glenn, here’s the sign up sheet for the practice rooms, and you can sign up online the night before.   Do you play the piano?” she asked.

“Yes, I play the piano, as well.   I’d also like to sing.   Do they have a men’s chorus?” I asked.

Irene replied, “Yes, they do, as well as an accapella group.    They have a Gay Men’s Chorus, too.”

I was surprised to hear that there was a separate gay men’s chorus, “Is the Gay Men’s Chorus sponsored by the university?” I asked.

Patty answered, “No.   It’s the Twin Cities Gay men’s chorus.   You should hear them.   They are really good.   They will be performing on campus tonight.   Would you like to go with us?”

“Sure, I’d love to go.   Do you mind if I invite my cousin to join us?” I asked.

Irene replied, “That would be great!   Who is your cousin?”

“My cousin, Ben, plays on the school hockey team,” I said.

Irene’s eyes grew wide, “That is so cool.   When can we meet him?”

I almost laughed at her change in attitude toward me.  “If you come with me, back across the bridge to the bookstore and I’ll introduce you to him.”

We walked back to the bookstore.   As we approached the entrance, Ben saw us and came over with Zach and Mark.   Ben smiled and said, “Hey Glenn!   Who are your new friends?”  

I grinned and made the introductions. “Patty and Irene this is my cousin, Ben, and his teammates, Zach and Mark.”

They all shook hands.   Irene smiled at the guys and asked, “Would you guys like to join us tonight at the Twin Cities Gay men’s concert?”

Ben looked at Zach and Mark who nodded their agreement.  “Sure, we’ll be glad to join you.   Where do you want to meet?”

“The concert is at the Ted Mann Concert Hall on the other side of the river.   Why don’t we meet here at 7 PM, since the concert starts at 8 PM,” Patty said.

Mark said, “That sounds great!”

We chatted with the girls for a bit, before we broke up for our next class.

Ben said, “You’re awesome, Glenn.   We haven’t even been through a full day of classes, and you’ve already lined us up with a couple of girls!   This is going to be a great year!”

I laughed at Ben’s excitement. “Okay, cousin, I’m glad I was able to fulfill your wish!   Now it’s up to you to turn on that charm and do the rest of the job!”

We sat through our classes and returned to our house to study for the afternoon.


Prev To be continued . . .