The three Newberry Military School roommates stood almost hidden above the Sallyport on Second East. They had a brick pillar to both their right and left and a waist high brick battlement to their front. Behind them was the door to Denny and Phil’s last year’s room, and below them, in the open area of the Square was Wacky Wally, the faculty officer who had ordered the two hour long road march after his command to cease the snowball fight wasn’t obeyed. Piled in the corner of pillar and battlement were six snowballs.
Denny looked at Phil, who nodded and looked at Pine, who grinned. They each took two snowballs and spread out, Phil moving to the left where there was only a wrought iron rail, but which allowed more freedom. Denny held up three fingers and the other two nodded. But Wacky Wally began to turn and Pine threw, followed by Denny, both of whom ducked for cover.
Phil’s arm was still back when Wacky Wally yelled, “Mr. Boydon. Freeze!”, just before the new teacher was hit on the chest and face. Phil snapped to attention as Denny and Pine snuck into Phil and Denny’s old room.
Wacky Wally charged for the steps leading to Second East and in moments was standing, glowering at Phil. The senior cadet had to bite his inner lip to keep from laughing at the remnants of snowball on the green blouse and red cheek of Captain Pearson. Even his own doom couldn’t completely erase the joy of the coup his roomies had counted on Wacky Wally. If only he’d gotten his missile off, too.
“Mr. Boydon, who threw those snowballs?”
“Sir, I’d rather not say.” He knows exactly who threw them, Phil thought, and I can’t lie. He knew Wacky Wally was mad enough to press an honors violation, and Phil really wanted to graduate from Newberry. The faculty officer scowled at him.
“Do you know who threw them?” he asked.
Phil paused, gulped, and said, “Yes, sir.”
“You’re going to be answering for this, Mr. Boydon.”
“You didn’t throw a snowball.”
“Not this time, sir.” He hadn’t during the snowball fight, either. Phil’d been getting ready for wrestling practice when the bell rang and the announcement came to assemble in company formation on the first porches. That didn’t matter. He was part of the Corps, an important part: Company Executive Officer, Senior Porch Inspector, Officer of the Day, fourth year Senior, all of which required loyalty to the school and to the Corps. But not necessarily to self righteous martinets who let the fact they had once been a Newberry Cadet Captain overshadow the fact that they were now faculty, not cadet.
Captain Pearson glowered at him. Phil knew that the man thought that Phil was admitting he’d been part of the previous fight. But that wasn’t important; punishment for that was over and the Commandant wouldn’t allow any more.
“Mr. Boydon, taking the rap for somebody else is stupid. Especially when you really didn’t do anything wrong. Tell me who threw those snowballs and you’ll be clear.”
Phil thought. Might be ten demerits. On top of the ten he already had, that would leave him but five to escape punishment marches, and there were still three long months to go, plus change. “Sir. You saw me with a snowball. What I did can’t be undone by reporting others. It’s not an honor violation, sir. I don’t have to report them.” You should remember that, fool. You were a cadet here once, yourself, Phil thought.
Wacky Wally paused. “All right, Mr. Boydon, accept the consequences. You’re dismissed.”
“Yes, Sir,” Phil said, drew himself to attention and saluted. Captain Pearson returned it and walked down Second East towards the Administration Building. Phil went into his old room, where Denny and Pine stood talking to the current occupants as the record player began “March from the River Kwai”.
“Thanks, Phil,” Pine said, not taking his eyes out of a Senior English lit book. Strange, Phil thought, Pine’s not good about reading that during study hall, and this is free time, what’s left of it.
“Yeah, Roomie. Wacky Wally was not happy. What’s he gonna do?”
“He says he’s going to stick me. Maybe the Commandant will let me off easy. Ten or so. I always liked marches. Clears my brain.”
His roommates grinned.
“Greater love hath no man than this,” intoned Denny, and Phil wondered how his Jewish best roommate knew the New Testament.
“Tis a far, far better thing I do...,” said Pine, and Phil began to believe that Pine actually had read A Tale of Two Cities.
"Eight demerits,” the Commandant said three days later and Phil wondered about the amount. He still might get through the year without a march. It would be the first, last, and only if it happened. Regardless, he was glad he’d been loyal.
When he got back to his room, which was empty, he saw two packs of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on his desk. Everybody knew his favorite candy. He knew who had put them there.
“Snowballs” was first published online in EWG Presents
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