Thursday, April 14, 2016

Chapter 23

Sunday, November 1, 1964

Today was a Sunday and a Holy Day, All Saints Day. For all practical purposes, it was the day after Halloween. That's all anybody could talk about at breakfast. 

At the priests' table, Bernie Fox pointed out that a couple of the boys looked a little worse for wear, specifically Michael Clark and Louis Dzinski. One had a black eye; the other had a bump on his head. 

"Oh, Lois and Clark," snickered Brother Rufus.

At that, Bernie stood up, tossed his cloth napkin onto his eggs, scanned to his right and then to his left, glared at Hank, and said, "Things get out of hand when a member of the staff doesn't know how to behave."  

Hank in turn glared at Brother Rufus. "He's right, Ruf. You're not exactly modeling Christian behavior."

Rufus said nothing, but his smirk said he wasn't repentant. 

The news troubled me. I wondered if the two boys had been targeted. Bernie acted like he thought so. 

After we recited the closing blessing, Hank took me aside and suggested I visit "my friend," Dingo Dave, about the condition of the two freshmen. 

Before I did that, on a hunch, I went back to the automatic dishwater, where I knew Michael Clark served an obedience. He was there, doing washing pots and pans. Sure enough, he had a bump on his head, easily seen on his short haircut. 

"Nice bump," I said. 

He turned and looked at me, "Yeah, I guess."

"Howja get it?"

"In the boathouse," he said. "They had me crawling at one pointand stuffed something cold and wet under my sweatshirt. Seaweed, I guess. Anyway, it was creepy. I tried to stand up and hit my head on something."

"How's your buddy, Louis?"

"Okay, but he got a black eye at the bottom of the ramp. They sent someone else down before he could get out of the way. Caught him with a foot, right under his eye. Nice shiner."

Was it accidental that the two boys with noticeable bruises were "Lois and Clark"? Hard to tell. Now to find out.

Even though it was Sundayand a holy day
most of the other seminarians had obedience chores to do however perfunctorily. Dingo Dave was a sacristan, which meant I should be able to find him in one of the chapels. I tried the main chapel first. Dave wasn't there, but the other sacristan told me to try the sister's chapel. I did. I found him in the adjacent sacristy. He had is back to me and didn't hear me coming. When I said, "Hi, Dave," he jumped and knocked over a bottle of altar wine.


"I'm not who you say that I am," I said with a straight face.

"What? Sorry. Shoot." He began wiping up the wine with something that looked like a handkerchief, probably a purificator.

"You've got a pretty good startle reflex," I said. "Good thing you caught that bottle before much wine was lost. I hope you don't get into trouble."

"Not unless someone thinks I drank this stuff instead of spilled it."

"I bet that never happens."

"No worries, never," Dave said, not entirely convincingly. "What's up?"

"A couple of things. First, the faculty noticed that several of the freshmen seemed a little banged up," I said. "Seems like the haunted house might have gotten a little rough. Didn't you get a warning from Father Grease to take it easy?"

"Father Hop did that. He came down to the locker room while we were getting ready. Kind of a drag."

"So what explains the bumps and bruises? Enough for the faculty to notice."

"Got me. We took it easy
easier anyway. We kept the slideactually it was safer than having them come down stairs in the dark. And we kept the seaweedother than that ..."


"Okay, technically it wasn't seaweed. It was from the lake ..."

"And ..."

"We just put it down the back of their shirts. Cold, wet, and creepy
but it wasn't going to hurt anybody."

"Your idea, I bet." 

"Sure, I'm the resident lake expert. Like I said, it wasn't going to hurt anybody."

"A couple of guys got something to show for it." 

"Kid bumps his head. Another  got banged up on the slide."

"I thought you had that covered."

"Like I told you yesterday, the stairs were covered with cardboard and we had mattresses at the base of the stairs," Dave said. "No one should have gotten hurt, but maybe they ran into each other."

"Well, that shouldn't have happened."

"No, it shouldn't have. Maybe we blew it once."

"For Louis Dzinski and Michael Clark, as I understand it."

"Lois and Clark," he said. 

There it was again. "See that nickname suggests to me that those two are being picked on
and your haunted house might have been the perfect opportunity."

"Well, I don't know nothin' about that."

"You know enough to call them Lois and Clark."

With that, I turned and left him cleaning up the wine. I went the two floors up to my room and lit up a Lucky. My throat was killing me, and a cigarette was unlikely to help me on that score. On the other hand, I was nicotine starved and it would help there. To address the throat problem, I decided to visit the nurse. By the time I wound my way to the nurse's station, there were only two underclassmen ahead of me, both wanting attention for scrapes.

When it was my turn, I said, "We've got to stop meeting like this,"

Sister Angela was able to stifle her mirth long enough to swab my throat again. "If you stopped smoking, we probably wouldn't have to meet at all."

"That's what I'm told," I said.

"Don't worry, that's the last time I'll mention it," she said. "If you enjoy bronchitis that much, keep smoking. It's working." 

I was tired of this subject already and went in another direction. "You've been busy this morning."

"Yes, indeed. I seemed to have experienced a run on bumps and bruises."

"Anything serious?"

"Not really," she said. "But the number of patients was a little disconcerting."

"The juniors and seniors put on a Haunted House for the underclassmen," I said. "They seemed to think it was the best ever."

"And apparently they have the marks to prove it," she said. 

"It bears watching," I said. 

"Yes, indeed."

She gave me a jigger of Turpin Hydrate and sent me on my way.

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