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The Steele Academy

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This is my first writing sample here, perhaps eventually part of a longer tale. So get out those knives and hatchets and let me know what you think! Thanks. (You can comment here or reach me at ChrisR@vanidicus.com)


Chapter One


“Hey there, old roomie! What’s happening?” Paul Champlain, a senior year student at The Steele Academy looked in on Jim Gilman, his longtime friend and, until this year, his roommate.

“Yo, Paul. Not much. Just getting the feel for the new digs and trying to keep the little munchkins from going totally berserk. It’s fun to finally be the top dogs at school.” Jim looked up from where he was relaxing on his sofa.

“I hear ya, Jim.” Paul read aloud the sign on the dormitory door. “James Gilman – Resident Assistant. “Wow. Poor you! Full-time professional nursemaid. What did you get? Seventh graders or eighth graders?”

“Eighth graders, lucky for me. Newbies in seventh are way more trouble than they’re worth.”

“No shit. I lucked out so I just get to attend school this year. No underclassmen who need their noses wiped, no late-night tear fests. I may have to share a campus with them but I don’t have to work for them too!”

“Oh c’mon, you old Grinch. It’s not all that bad. The private room here is a nice perk – I don’t have to share with low-lifes like you. And the break on tuition comes in handy when I have to make car payments on the new Jeep.”

“Better low-life than no-life! So yeah – I heard a rumor your old man caved on the Jeep deal. Seriously?”

Jim smiled broadly nodded. “Yep. In the parking lot as we speak.”

“Excellent! See what you get for keeping your nose clean and having no fun? We’re going to have to try that monster out on some back Texas roadways, right?”

“No sweat. You pay for the gas, we go for the ride!”

“Consider it done. I gotta cruise. See you at supper.”

“Gotcha.” Jim watched as Paul sauntered away down the hall, scattering underclassmen in his path.

Jim reached up and stretched casually, his hands on the doorframe above him, and smiled to himself. There were six RA’s for the 60 incoming seventh graders, five for the eighth graders. If things went as normal, each group would work out weekend duties so nobody became a prisoner of ‘The Little People’ as they generally referred to their wards.

At 5’10” Jim was no giant, but he still towered over most of the 13- and 14-year olds he’d be supervising in the year ahead. There was even a pair of 12-year-old eighth graders for the first couple of months before their birthdays kicked in. He knew there would be challenges, but there was also bound to be a lot of fun included along the way.

As he noticed the clock on his desk he realized there was no time like the present to take care of one of those challenges, so he wandered down the hallway. Boxes of clothes and hangers and bedding and unidentified junk filled his path. He carefully paused or ducked as needed to avoid the youngsters unloading their prized possessions and making up their rooms.

At last he arrived at his destination and noticed two familiar youngsters chatting excitedly. One of the beds was neatly made with things put away in drawers and closet. The other bed was still bare, and nothing was hanging in the second closet at all. He gently knocked on the doorframe. “ ’allo?”

The two boys in the room turned to see who would knock before entering. They and their peers had spent the previous year getting accustomed to Steele Academy, but courtesies and niceties weren’t a big part of their young tween lifestyle. They normally just barged in. They smiled when they saw it was their fearless dormitory leader, Jim.

“Howdy!” said the boy standing by the door. Mike Sullivan was a happy kid who shared that characteristic with everybody he met. “You out prowling for the turkeys who aren’t finished moving in yet?” he asked with his perpetual grin. “We’re just getting settled in. I’m in 205 and we’re done there. Trevor and I just finished his place here so we can help the other guys if they need it. Oh. And the McCoskeys are late as always so they’ll do windows and floors for the rest of the year!”

“Well, no turkey hunting today, Mike. Just a bit of business to take care of,” Jim replied. He noted that Mike had put on a few inches in the course of his first year at Steele, and was closing in on 5’4” or so. Mike’s piercing blue eyes peeked out from under a dark brown rat’s nest of a hairdo and seemed to broadcast a message of comfort. Jim responded with a grin of his own. “And it looks like I found the two businessmen I need to take care of that business with both at the same time.” He paused. “When you get a couple of minutes, wander on down to my office. I have a proposition to make.”

“Geez! His ‘office’ now?” exclaimed Trevor Davis from his reclining position on his bed. “We’re back here less than a day and already the RA’s propositioning us. Is that good or bad?”

Mike grinned and shrugged as he whispered sotto voce, “All depends on what the proposition is and what’s in it for us. Let’s play along.”

Jim shook his head and looked skyward. “I should’ve asked for seventh graders. I swear I should’ve.” He turned and walked back towards his room cum office, certain the duo would be close behind. They were.

“Gee, Jim,” started Mike as they arrived at Jim’s room. “I love what you’ve done with the place! The whole scene is just SO you!”

“Very funny, dirtbag. Now get in here and close the door for a minute.” Jim motioned to the sofa that replaced one of the two beds found in a standard room, and took a seat by his desk. He compared the duo as they moved to the couch. Trevor was the shorter of the two by perhaps two inches or so. His bright blonde hair contrasted sharply with Mike’s deep brown, but they somehow complemented each other. He shook his head to clear his thoughts and began speaking.

“I actually need you guys to consider doing me a favor, but it’s not a foregone conclusion just yet.” He looked pointedly at Mike and said, “It might be asking more of you than you care to share, and I’ll understand if you say ‘No’, okay?”

Mike nodded. “Go for it. I have a hunch I might already know what you’re going to ask.”

“Fair enough.” Jim paused. “Fact is I just learned for certain that the McKoskey twins won’t be returning this year.”

“What?!” exclaimed Trevor. “Not at all? Tom was supposed to be my roommate. And Tim was going to be Mike’s, right?”

“Yep.” Jim took a deep breath. “But it seems their dad just got orders to go to Germany and they decided they desperately wanted to go along. It all just got finalized yesterday or I would’ve let you know before you went and set up your rooms.”

“Yeah,” said Mike. “Tim sent me a note about it the other night. He said they still weren’t sure as of then. Seems they found out the drinking age in Germany is 14 with your parents’ permission. And his brother told him that 14 is also the ‘informed consent’ age to have sex too, except you also have to get permission from the girl’s father. I can almost picture that one!”

Trevor laughed. “Yah, yah, Mr. Schmidt, can me and your daughter and my brother have some fun and … my what a beautiful shotgun and we’ll be going now and forever! Adios!”

Jim picked up the theme. “Sounds about right, although I’m not sure ‘adios’ is how you say ‘it’s time to disappear’ in German. But anyway, for now, the question is, would you two like to share a room? I guess you can have either of the two you’ve already set up. Otherwise it’s the luck of the draw who you end up with if we get late registrations.”

Trevor didn’t hesitate for a moment. “I’m good with joining up.” He smiled. “Probably could do better with a bum off the street, but we all must make sacrifices from time to time. If I could survive a McCoskey I can probably survive anybody. Maybe even Mike here.”

“Okay. That sounds like a ‘marginally almost sort of tolerable’ from Trevor.” Jim grinned. “Mike?”

“I gotta say it’s tempting, but I think I know what you were hesitating about, right, Jim?”

“Afraid so, Mike. This is one of those stupid ‘open kimono’ moments.” He chuckled. “Well, almost.”

“Gotcha. Okay. I’m totally good with it. And I don’t think it’ll be a shock.” He looked at Trevor.

“Trev, I honestly believe you’re one of the best guys in the class. And it doesn’t hurt that we’re the two youngest guys in the class either, so we have that in common. We can cover for each other when some of the dipshits go whacko.”

Trevor nodded. “No joke. Despite how ugly you are, that’s sort of comforting.” He winked.

“And that’s where the problem comes in,” Mike continued. “Only about five people on campus know this, and I hope you can keep it to yourself, but that’s up to you. The fact is…” He paused to catch his breath. “Fact is that I’m gay. And the second fact is, and I doubt Jim even knew this for sure, is that I think you’re cute. Really cute.” His voice began to falter. “Like… like totally hot cute. So maybe us being roommates isn’t a bright idea.” He exhaled and let his shoulders slump low.

Jim looked back and forth between the two boys. For the longest time, nobody spoke. Mike looked completely exhausted while Trevor looked confused and, if anything, a bit shell-shocked. After several painfully long moments – which felt like hours – had passed, Jim chimed in to break the ice.

“Thank you, Mike. I know what that took. Trevor, that’s probably a lot to take in for now. Maybe you’d feel better if you slept on it or something?”

Trevor shook his head. “No, I don’t think so. You said we all have to be honest so I guess it’s my turn.” He looked directly at Mike.

“I know that took a lot of courage, Mike. And I’m sorry how hard it was for you. Maybe I did sort of know or at least suspect, and the McCoskeys weren’t always the best at keeping quiet.

“But the fact is I’ve sort of kept things from you too. From everybody, actually. I’ve never said a word to anybody. For all I know, my mom is the only person who ever really noticed. Well, her and my dad before he died. The fact is, Mike…”

Trevor took a deep breath.

“Mike…” He hung his head as if to cry. “Mike, I’m a southpaw.” He stopped abruptly.

“A southpaw?” Mike scrunched up his face.

“Yep. Left-handed as the day is long. I write left-handed. I eat left-handed. I color left-handed. Hell, if I could catch or throw a ball to save my life I’d probably do that left-handed, but I can’t do that so I won’t do that at all. Ever. My Cub Scout knots were all backwards. My writing hand, which I guess should be called a lefting hand, is always covered with ink smear. You have no idea how embarrassing it is when people notice.” He paused and sat there, head hanging low.

Mike contained himself only a second before he erupted. “What the FUCK are you talking about? Who the hell cares if you’re left-handed?”

Jim caught the grin on Trevor’s face just a moment before Mike did.

Trevor seized the moment. “Exactly, you jerk! You think I care if you’re gay? I honestly don’t give a shit, okay? I honestly don’t care. You’re my best friend here, and probably the best friend I’ve ever had or ever dreamed of having, so I honestly DO NOT CARE, you asshole!”

Mike shook his head as he regained some semblance of control. “You honestly got all that worked up – got me all that worked up – just to jerk my chain?”

“Yeah. I’m afraid you’re rubbing off on me,” replied Trevor with a smug look of accomplishment on his face. “And it was totally worth it.”

“So… you’re serious? We’re roommates?”

Trevor looked to Jim for confirmation and got a shrug and a nod.

“Looks like we’re stuck with each other. Which room should we take?”

“To be honest, mine overlooks the square. Sort of more scenic.”

“Sure, yeah. So you can perv on all the guys in their PE gear.” Trevor shrugged. “Okay by me.” He looked at their RA. “Okay with you, Jim?”

“If you guys are happy with it, I’m totally fine.”

“Then let’s get out of here and get relocating. C’mon, Mike.”

Mike paused for a moment and looked at Trevor, a devilish grin on his face. “You dreamed of me, huh? Wow. And just out of curiosity… you said you do EVERYthing left-handed?”

Jim quickly interjected. “You two have the entire rest of the year to answer that, okay? Now get outta here! GO!”

The two boys threw open the door and actually giggled their way down the hall. Jim shook his head and smiled to himself. It was definitely going to be an interesting year.

Between the two of them, Mike and Trevor made quick time of relocating. Mike was actually correct about having the nicer room, so they grabbed everything in Trevor’s room and lugged it down the hallway. Some of the other boys objected about their things being tossed in the process, but Mike laid it all to rest with a quick, “You snooze, you lose!”

At last, the final sock had found its way into a vacant drawer, shirts, pants, and shoes were neatly stashed in their closets, and they both kicked back on their beds to rest.

“Can you imagine what this place must’ve been like back when Steele was an actual military school?” asked Trevor.

“Well, the only thing I know is there’s no way I’d be here if it was. This place has plenty of rules and all, but it’s still basically fun,” Mike answered. “I mean yeah, I could do without morning calisthenics and crap like that, but it counts for PE and you have to do that sometime.”

“Sure. But all the rules they must’ve had? Salute! Drop and give me twenty! Throw the grenade! Not for me.”

“Maybe,” Mike answered with a grin. “But there are a few people I wouldn’t mind throwing a grenade at.”

“You really are a violent twit! I’m glad I’m your roommate and not somebody on your shit list.”

“Speaking of which, that reminds me. The cafeteria should be open for supper by now. Let’s eat!”

“Good for me!” replied Trevor.

“And just for the record, you can be my roommate AND on my shit list at the same time. Just sayin’.”

Trevor popped him up against the side of his head with his ball cap as he dashed through the open doorway. “Yep. It’s going to be a great year.”

Es Endet


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