______ __ THE CHOCOLATE WAR ROBET CORMIER ______ This one's for my son, Peter. With love. __________CHAPTER ON. Robert Cormier Beyond the Chocolate WarPART ONERay Bannister started to build the guillotine the day Jerry Renault. One of the most controversial YA novels of all time, The Chocolate War is a modern masterpiece that speaks to fans of S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders.

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    The Chocolate War Pdf

    One of the most controversial YA novels of all time, The Chocolate War is a modern masterpiece that speaks to fans of S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders and John . READ Now Or Download File: thetwestperlnetself.ml?q=The+ Chocolate+War+%28Chocolate+War%2C+%% The Chocolate War. Introduction. 5. Unit Objectives. 7. Unit Outline. 9. Reading Assignment Sheet. 8. Study Questions. Quiz/Study Questions (Multiple.

    There was no connection between the two events. In fact, Ray Bannister didn't even know Jerry Renault existed. The truth of the matter is that Ray began to construct the guillotine out of sheer boredom. More than boredom: loneliness, restlessness. He was a newcomer to Monument and to Trinity High. He hated both—well, maybe hate was too strong a word, but he had found Monument to be a dull and ugly mill town of drab tenement houses and grim factories, with no class at all, a terrible contrast to Caleb, the resort village on Cape Cod where he'd grown up with beach sand between his toes and salt spray stinging his cheeks. Trinity was a suffocatingly small school, filled with guys who were suspicious of strangers or, at the very least, unfriendly.

    You may send this item to up to five recipients. The name field is required. Please enter your name. The E-mail message field is required. Please enter the message. Please verify that you are not a robot. Would you also like to submit a review for this item? You already recently rated this item. Your rating has been recorded. Write a review Rate this item: Preview this item Preview this item. The chocolate war: Robert Cormier ; Pantheon Books.

    Print book: Juvenile audience: English View all editions and formats Summary: A high school freshman discovers the devastating consequences of refusing to join in the school's annual fund raising drive and arousing the wrath of the school bullies. Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private. Find a copy in the library Finding libraries that hold this item Cormier, Robert.

    Chocolate war. Fiction, Juvenile audience, Internet resource Document Type: Find more information about: Robert Cormier. Reviews User-contributed reviews Add a review and share your thoughts with other readers. Be the first. Add a review and share your thoughts with other readers. View most popular tags as: Similar Items Related Subjects: He had won again.

    I am Archie. I cannot lose. Carter snapped his fingers and the meeting began to break up. Suddenly, Archie felt empty, used up, discarded. He looked at the kid Goober who stood there in bewilderment, looking as if he were going to cry. Archie almost felt sorry for the kid.

    But not quite. Jerry knew the symptoms--all the guys knew them. Most of them were freshmen and had been in Leon's class only a month or so but the teacher's pattern had already emerged.

    First, Leon gave them a reading assignment. Then he'd pace up and down, up and down, restless, sighing, wandering through the aisles, the blackboard pointer poised in his hand, the pointer he used either like a conductor's baton or a musketeer's sword. He'd use the tip to push around a book on a desk or to flick a kid's necktie, scratching gently down some guy's back, poking the pointer as if he were a rubbish collector picking his way through the debris of the classroom. One day, the pointer had rested on Jerry's head for a moment, and then passed on.

    Unaccountably, Jerry had shivered, as if he had just escaped some terrible fate. Now, aware of Leon prowling ceaselessly around the classroom, Jerry kept his eyes on paper although he didn't feel like reading. Two more periods. He looked forward to football practice.

    After days of calisthenics, the coach had said that probably he'd let them use the ball this afternoon. Using words like crap and bull and slipping in a few damns and hells once in a while. Actually, he did shock. Maybe because the words were so startling as they issued from this pale and inoffensive looking little man.

    Later on, you found out that he wasn't inoffensive, of course. Now, everyone looked up at Leon as that word crap echoed in the room. Ten minutes left time enough for Leon to perform, to play one of his games. The class looked at him in a kind of horrible fascination. The brother's glance went slowly around the room, like the ray of a lighthouse sweeping a familiar coast, searching for hidden defects.

    Jerry felt a sense of dread and anticipation, both at the same time. Bailey went quietly to the front of the room. Jerry could see a vein throbbing in the boy's temple. A line must be drawn between teachers and students.

    We teachers would love to be one of the boys, of course. But that line of separation must remain. An invisible line, perhaps, but still there.

    You 19 see its handiwork, bending the trees, stirring the leaves The boy leaped backward in pain and surprise. Had it been an accident? Or another of Leon's little cruelties? Now all eyes were on the stricken Bailey. Brother Leon studied him, looking at him as if he were a specimen under a microscope, as if the specimen contained the germ of some deadly disease. You had to hand it to Leon he was a superb actor. He loved to read short stories aloud, taking all the parts, providing all the sound effects.

    Nobody yawned or fell asleep in Leon's class. You had to be alert every minute, just as everyone was alert now, looking at Bailey, wondering what Leon's next move would be. Under Leon's steady gaze, Bailey had stopped stroking his cheek, even though a pink welt had appeared, like an evil stain spreading on his flesh. Somehow, the tables were turned. Now it seemed as if Bailey had been at fault all along, that Bailey had committed an error, had stood in the wrong place at the wrong time and had caused his own misfortune.

    Jerry squirmed in his chair. Leon gave him the creeps, the way he could change the atmosphere in a room without even speaking a word. But not looking at Bailey, looking at the class as if they were all in on a joke that Bailey knew nothing about.

    As if the class and Leon were banded together in a secret conspiracy. A pause. The noise comes after the flash, after the silence. That's the kind of silence that blazed in the classroom now. Bailey stood speechless, his mouth an open wound. Bailey shook his head frantically. Jerry felt his own head shaking, joining Bailey in silent denial.

    Your marks all A's, no less. Every test, every paper, every homework assignment. Only a genius is capable of that sort of performance. Do you claim to be a genius, Bailey? And it came. They laughed. Hey, what's going on here, Jerry wondered even as he laughed with them. Because Bailey did somehow look like a genius or at least a caricature of the mad scientists in old movies.

    Bailey stood alone at the front of the class, as if he was facing a firing squad. Jerry felt his cheeks getting warm, throbbing with the warmth. All those A's that implies perfection. Is that the answer, Bailey? And his lungs burned. He realized he'd been holding his breath. He gulped air, carefully, not wanting to move a muscle. He wished he was invisible. He wished he wasn't here in the classroom.

    He wanted to be out on the football field, fading back, looking for a receiver. The class was utterly silent. Jerry could hear the hum of the electric clock he'd never realized before that electric clocks hummed.

    The chocolate war : a novel (Book, ) [thetwestperlnetself.ml]

    And, of course, you're not. He could taste the hate in his 21 stomach it was acid, foul, burning. And a liar. You rat, Jerry thought.

    You bastard. A voice boomed from the rear of the classroom. The bell rang, ending the period. Feet scuffled as the boys pushed back their chairs, preparing to leave, to get out of that terrible place.

    Softly but heard by everyone. Brother Leon regarded them pityingly, shaking his head, a sad and dismal smile on his lips. Do you know who's the best one here? The bravest of all? He denied cheating. He stood up to my accusations.

    He stood his ground! But you, gentlemen, you sat there and enjoyed yourselves. And those of you who didn't enjoy yourselves allowed it to happen, allowed me to proceed. You turned this classroom into Nazi Germany for a few moments.

    Yes, yes, someone finally protested. Aw, let the kid alone. Leon ignored the noise. He turned to Bailey, touched the top of his head with the pointer as if he were bestowing knighthood.

    I'm proud of you. You passed the biggest test of all you were true to yourself. He gestured toward the class he was a great one for gestures. They're the cheaters.

    They cheated you today. They're the ones who doubted you I never did. The amusement was there because it was obvious what Emile Janza was doing he was siphoning gas from a car, watching it flow into a glass jug. Emile giggled. He, too, was amused that Archie should have discovered him performing such an act. The car, parked at the far end of the school's parking lot, belonged to a senior by the name of Carlson.

    Emile didn't bother to reply. He grinned knowingly at Archie. Carlson wouldn't do anything about it at all. He was a thin, mild kid who hated getting involved in messes. Not too many people defied Emile Janza, anyway, whether they were fat or skinny, mild or not.

    Emile was a brute which was kind of funny because he didn't look like a brute. He wasn't big or overly strong. In fact, he was small for a tackle on the football team. But he was an animal and he didn't play by the rules. Not if he could help it. His small eyes were imbedded in pale flesh, eyes that seldom smiled despite the giggle and the grin that sometimes flashed across his face, especially when he knew he was reaching people.

    That's what Emile Janza called it reaching people. Like whistling softly in class so that it got on the teacher's nerves, a barely perceptible whistle that could drive a teacher up the wall. That's why Emile Janza reversed the usual process. Wise guys usually sat in back. Emile didn't. He chose seats near the front where he'd be in better position to harass the teacher. Whistling, grunting, belching, tapping his foot, stirring restlessly, sniffling.

    Hell, if you did that kind of stuff from the back of the room the teacher wouldn't notice. But Emile didn't harass only teachers. He found that the world was full of willing victims, especially kids his own age.

    He had discovered a truth early in life--in the fourth grade, in fact. Nobody wanted trouble, nobody wanted to make trouble, nobody wanted a showdown. The knowledge was a revelation. It opened doors. You could take a kid's lunch or even his lunch money and nothing usually happened because most kids wanted peace at any price. Of course, you have to choose your victims carefully because there were exceptions.

    Those who protested found that it was easier to let Emile have his way. Who wanted to get hurt? Later, Emile stumbled upon another truth, although it was hard to put into words.

    He found that people had a fear of being embarrassed or humiliated, of being singled out for special attention. Like in a bus. You could call out to a kid, especially one who blushes easily, and say, "Jeez, you got bad breath, know that?

    Don't you ever brush your teeth? What a dirty thing to do. Stuff like that in the cafeteria, during lunch, in study class: But it was better in public places, with strabgers nearby, especially girls. That's when the kids squirmed. As a result, people went around being extra nice to Emile Janza. And Emile basked in that treatment. Emile was not stupid but he was not exactly bright in class. However, he managed to squeak by no F's, only a couple of D's, all of which satisfied his father whom Emile regarded as stupid and whose major dream was to have his son graduate from a fancy private school like Trinity.

    His father didn't know how cruddy the place was. He was never sure whether Archie Costello was serious or not. Emile never fooled around with Archie. In fact, Archie was one of the few people in the world Emile respected. Maybe even feared. Archie and The Vigils.

    Who else would siphon gas in the middle of the day? Out in the open like this? He wished he could share with Archie some of the other stuff. But he couldn't. Somehow, it was too private but often he wanted to tell people about it. How he got a kick out of things. For instance, when he went to the john at school, he seldom flushed the toilet and got a kick out of picturing the next kid who'd go in and find the mess in the bowl.

    And if you told anybody, it would be hard to explain. Like how he sometimes felt actually horny when he roughhoused a kid or tackled a guy viciously in football and gave him an extra jab when he had him on the ground. How could you tell anybody about that? And yet he felt that Archie would understand. Birds of a feather, that was it. Despite that picture. The picture that haunted his life.

    Archie began to walk away. How about the picture? Actually, Archie hated people like Janza even though he could admire their handiwork. People like Janza were animals. But they came in handy. Janza and the picture like money in the bank. Emile Janza watched the departing figure of Archie Costello.

    Someday, he'd be like Archie cool, a member of The Vigils. Emile kicked at the rear tire of Carlson's car. Somehow he was disappointed that Carlson hadn't caught him siphoning the gas.

    His long arms and legs moved flowingly and flawlessly, his body floating as if his feet weren't touching the ground. When he ran, he forgot about his acne and his awkwardness and the shyness that paralyzed him when a girl looked his way. Even his thoughts became sharper, and 24 things were simple and uncomplicated he could solve math problems when he ran or memorize football play patterns.

    Often he rose early in the morning, before anyone else, and poured himself liquid through the sunrise streets, and everything seemed beautiful, everything in its proper orbit, nothing impossible, the entire world attainable. When he ran, he even loved the pain, the hurt of the running, the burning in his lungs and the spasms that sometimes gripped his calves. He loved it because he knew he could endure the pain, and even go beyond it.

    He had never pushed himself to the limit but he felt all this reserve strength inside of him: And it sang in him as he ran, his heart pumping blood joyfully through his body. He'd gone out for football and there was a good feeling when he caught one of Jerry Renault's passes and outran everybody for a score. But it was the running he loved. The neighbors would see him waterfalling down High Street, carried by the momentum of his speed, and they'd cry out, "Going for the Olympics, Goob?

    But he wasn't running now. He was in Brother Eugene's homeroom and he was terrified. He was fifteen years old and six-one-and-a-half and too old to cry but tears blurred his vision, as if the room was under water. He was ashamed and disgusted with himself but he couldn't help it. The tears were from frustration as well as terror. And the terror was different from any other kind he'd ever known: Like waking up from a bad dream in which a monster was gaining on you and breathing a sigh of relief as you realized you were safe in your bed and then looking toward the moonlit doorway and seeing the monster stalking toward your bed.

    And knowing you'd stumbled from one nightmare into another and how do you find your way back to the real world? He knew that he was in the real world at this moment, of course. Everything was real enough. The screwdrivers and the pliers were real. So were the desks and chairs and the blackboards. So was the world outside, a world he had been shut away from since three o'clock this afternoon when he had sneaked into the school.

    Now the world had changed, had grown blurred with day's leaving and then purple at dusk and then dark. It was now nine o'clock and The Goober sat on the floor, his head against a desk, angry at his damp cheeks. His eyes stung from strain. The Vigils said he was allowed to put on the small emergency night light each classroom was furnished.

    A flashlight was forbidden because it might look suspicious to outsiders. The Goober had found the job almost impossible. He had been in the classroom six hours and had only finished two rows of desks and chairs.

    The screws were stubborn, most of them factory-tight, resisting the twists of the screwdriver. I'll never get done, he thought. I'll be here all night and my folks will go crazy and it still won't be done.

    He envisioned himself being discovered here tomorrow morning, collapsed in exhaustion, a disgrace to himself and The Vigils and the school. A noise from the corridor. That was another thing it was spooky. All kinds of noises. The walls spoke their own creaky language, the floors crackled, motors hummed somewhere, the humming almost human. Enough to scare a guy to death. He hadn't been this scared since he was just a kid and woke up'in the middle of the night calling for his mother.

    There another noise. He looked with dread toward the doorway, not wanting to look but unable to resist the temptation, remembering his old nightmare. Relief swept him. He wasn't alone anymore, someone else was here. The aspect of the beast nightmare, after all.

    He shrank back, his skin hot and prickly, like the onset of hives. He was aware of other figures crawling into the room, knees scraping across the floor. The first figure was now in front of him. The kid was masked. The masked figure grabbed the front of Goober's shirt and twisted hard, pulling him forward. He could smell pizza on the kid's breath.

    The mask was black, the kind Zorro wore in the movies. The assignment is more important than anything else, understand? More important than you, me or the school. That's why we're going to give you some help. To get the thing done right. Got that? His throat was dry. He was happy beyond belief. Help had arrived. The impossible had become possible. The masked figure raised his head. He also let go of Goober's shirt and pulled out his own screwdriver.

    It took them three hours. They had been staying up with her 26 nights his father and some of his uncles and aunts and Jerry himself since her return from the hospital. They came and went in shifts that final week, everyone exhausted and mute with sadness.

    Nothing more could be done for her at the hospital and she was taken home to die. She'd loved her home so much, always had some project underway wallpapering, painting, refinishing furniture.

    And then she got sick. And died. Watching her ebb away, seeing her beauty diminish, witnessing the awful alteration of her face and body was too much for Jerry to bear and he sometimes fled her bedroom, ashamed of his weakness, avoiding his father. Jerry wished he could be as strong as his father, always in control, masking his sorrow and grief. When his mother finally died, suddenly, at three-thirty in the afternoon, slipping off quietly without a murmur, Jerry was overcome with rage, a fiery anger that found him standing at her coffin in silent fury.

    He was angry at the way the disease had ravaged her. He was angry at his inability to do anything about saving her. His anger was so deep and sharp in him that it drove out sorrow. He wanted to bellow at the world, cry out against her death, topple buildings, split the earth open, tear down trees.

    And he did nothing except lie awake in the dark, thinking of her body there in the funeral home, not her anymore, but a thing suddenly, cold and pale. His father was a stranger during those terrible days, like a sleepwalker going through the motions, like a puppet being maneuvered by invisible strings. Jerry felt hopeless and abandoned, all tight inside. Even at the cemetery, they stood apart from each other, a huge distance between them even though they were side by side.

    But not touching. And then, at the end of the service, as they turned to leave, Jerry found himself in his father's arms, his face pressed close to his father's body, smelling the cigarette tobacco, the faint odor of peppermint mouthwash, that familiar smell that was his father. There in the cemetey, clinging to each other in mutual sorrow and loss, the tears came for both of them.

    Jerry didn't know where his own tears began and his father's left off. They wept without shame, out of a nameless need, and walked together afterward, arm in arm, toward the waiting car. The fiery knot of anger had come undone, unraveled, and Jerry realized as they drove back from the cemetery that something worse had taken its place emptiness, a yawning cavity like a hole in his chest.

    That was the last moment of intimacy he and his father had shared. The routine of school for himself, and work for his father, had been taken up and they both threw themselves into it. His father sold the house and they moved to a garden apartment where no memories lurked around corners.

    Jerry spent most of the summer in Canada, on the farm of a distant cousin. He had fallen into the routine of the farm willingly, hoping to build up his body for Trinity and football in the fall. His mother had been born in that small Canadian town. There was a kind of comfort walking the narrow streets where she herself had walked as a girl. When he returned to New England in 27 late August, he and his father fell into a simple routine.

    Work and school. And football. On the field, bruised and battered or grimy and dirty, Jerry felt as if he was part of something. And he sometimes wondered, what was his father part of? He thought of that now as he looked at his father. He'd come from school to find his father napping on a sofa in the den, arms folded across his chest. Jerry moved soundlessly through the apartment, not wanting to awaken the sleeping figure. His father was a pharmacist and worked all kinds of staggered hours for a chain of drugstores in the area.

    His work often included night shifts which meant broken sleep. As a result, he'd developed the habit of falling off into naps whenever he found a moment to relax. Jerry's stomach was weak from hunger but he sat quietly down across from his father now, waiting for him to waken. He was weary from practice, the constant punishment his body took, the frustration of never getting a play off, never completing a pass, the coach's sarcasm, the lingering September heat.

    Watching his father sleep, the face relaxed in slumber, all the harsh lines of age less defined, he remembered hearing that people who had been married a long time began to resemble each other. He squinted his eyes, the way one inspects a fine painting, searching for his mother there in the face of his father. And, without warning, the anguish of her loss returned, like a blow to his stomach, and he was afraid that he would faint.

    Through some nightmarish miracle, he was able to superimpose the image of his mother's face on his father's and for a moment the echo of all her sweetness was there and he had to go through all the horror of visualizing her in the coffin again.

    His father awakened, as if slapped from sleep by an invisible hand. The vision vanished and Jerry leaped to his feet. His hair wasn't even mussed. But then how could a stiff crew cut get mussed up? Another practice. One of these days, I'll get a pass off.

    Hunter left us a casserole. Tuna fish. She said you liked it fine last time. Hunter was the housekeeper. She spent every afternoon cleaning up the place and preparing some kind of evening meal for them.

    She was a gray-haired woman who constantly embarrassed Jerry because she insisted on tousling his hair and murmuring, "Child, child I can get it ready in five or ten minutes. Heat the oven and there it is That was his father's favorite word fine. Don't you have some great days? Or rotten days? The prescriptions come in and we fill them and that's about it.

    You fill them carefully, taking all precautions, double-checking. It's true what they say about doctors' handwriting, but I've told you that before.

    Was that the most exciting thing that had ever happened to his father? That pathetic holdup try by a scared young kid brandishing a toy pistol? Was life that dull, that boring and humdrum for people? He hated to think of his own life stretching ahead of him that way, a long succession of days and nights that were fine, fine not good, not bad, not great, not lousy, not exciting, not anything.

    He followed his father into the kitchen. The casserole slid into the oven like a letter into a mailbox. Jerry wasn't hungry suddenly, all appetite gone. Was this all there was to life, after all? You finished school, found an occupation, got married, became a father, watched your wife die, and then lived through days and nights that seemed to have no sunrises, no dawns and no dusks, nothing but a gray drabness. Or was he being fair to his father?

    To himself? Wasn't each man different? Didn't a man have a choice? How much did he know about his father, really? And he doubted whether his father would level with him, anyway. Jerry recalled an incident that had taken place years ago when his father worked in a neighborhood pharmacy, the kind of place where customers came to consult the druggist as if he possessed a doctor's certificate. Jerry had been hanging around the store one afternoon when an old man entered, bent and gnarled with age.

    He had a pain in his right side. What should I do, Mister 29 Druggist? What do you think it is?

    Beyond the Chocolate War

    And didn't dare put in into words. No one was allowed to breathe a word about The Vigils. Officially, The Vigils did not exist. How could a school condone an organization like The Vigils? The school allowed it to function by ignoring it completely, pretending it wasn't there. But it was there, all right, Archie thought bitterly. It was there because it served a purpose.

    The Vigils kept things under control. Without The Vigils, Trinity might have been torn apart like other schools had been, by demonstrations, protests, all that crap. Archie was surprised by Leon's audacity, knowing his connection with The Vigils and bringing him in here this way. As you said, Archie twenty thousand boxes, that's a lot of chocolates. The school always gives the boys a bonus. A day off from school when every chocolate has been sold. Last year we were taken to Boston to a stage show.

    Archie let the silence stretch. Archie decided to plunge. To see how far he could go. I'm just one guy. He was cool. In command.

    Beyond the Chocolate War

    Let Leon sweat. Archie was sweet and cool. I'm not a member of the Student Council. The beads of perspiration still danced on his forehead but he had become stiff and cold. Archie could feel the coldness more than cold, an icy hate coming across the desk like a deadly ray from some bleak and lethal planet. Have I gone too far, he wondered.

    I've got this guy for algebra, my weakest subject. Their eyes met, held. A showdown now? At this moment? Would that be the smart thing to do? Archie believed in always doing the smart thing. Not the thing you ached to do, not the impulsive act, but the thing that would pay off later. That's why he was The Assigner. That's why The Vigils depended on him. Hell, The Vigils were the school.

    And he, Archie Costello, was The Vigils. That's why Leon had called him here, that's why Leon was practically begging for his help. Archie suddenly had a terrific craving for a Hershey. Leon could be like money in the bank, for future use. And it hung. Leon didn't pick it up. Neither did Archie. They looked at each other for a long moment.

    He had never been able to use those words The Vigils aloud to a teacher, had had to deny the existence of the organization for so long that it was beautiful to use them, to see the surprise on Leon's pale perspiring face. Then he pushed back his chair and left the office without waiting for the teacher's dismissal. Yes, what? But the kid Goubert stammered and then said, "Yes, sir.

    Despite his height, he was easily six one, he reminded Archie of a child, someone who didn't belong here, as if he'd been caught sneaking into an Adults Only movie.

    He was too skinny, of course. And he had the look of a loser. Vigil bait. Archie was always puzzled about whatever there was inside of him that enjoyed these performances toying with kids, leading them on, humiliating them, finally. He'd earned the job of Assigner because. But something more than that, something nobody could find words to describe.

    Archie knew what it was and recognized it, although it eluded a definition. One night while watching an old Marx Brothers movie on the Late Show, he was held entranced by a scene where the brothers were searching for a missing painting. Groucho said, "We'll search every room in the house.

    That's what Archie did built the house nobody could anticipate a need for, except himself, a house that was invisible to everyone else. He always treated them with tenderness, as if a bond existed between them.

    Someone snickered. Archie stiffened, shot a look at Carter, a withering look that said, tell them to cut the crap. Carter snapped his fingers, which sounded in the quiet storage room like the banging of a gavel.

    The Vigils were grouped as usual in a circle around Archie and the kid receiving the assignment. The small room behind the gym was windowless with only one door leading to the gymnasium itself: a perfect spot for Vigil meetings private, the solitary entrance easily guarded, and dim, lit by a single bulb dangling from the ceiling, a watt bulb that bestowed only a feeble light on the proceedings.

    The silence was deafening after the snap of Carter's fingers. Nobody fooled around with Carter. Carter was the president of The Vigils because the president was always a football player the muscle someone like Archie needed.

    But 15 everyone knew that the head of The Vigils was The Assigner, Archie Costello, who was always one step ahead of them all. The Goober looked frightened. He was one of those kids who always wanted to please everybody. The guy who never got the girl but worshipped her in secret while the big shot hero rode off in the sunset with her in the end. Archie let it gather. He could feel a heightening of interest in the room. It always happened this way when an assignment was about to be given.

    He knew what they were thinking what's Archie come up with this time? Sometimes Archie resented them. The members of The Vigils did nothing but enforce the rules. Carter was muscle and Obie an errand boy.

    Archie alone was always under pressure, devising the assignments, working them out. As if he was some kind of machine. Press a button: out comes an assignment. What did they know about the agonies of it all? The nights he tossed and turned? The times he felt used up, empty? And yet he couldn't deny that he exulted in moments like this, the guys leaning forward in anticipation, the mystery that surrounded them all, the kid Goober white-faced and frightened, the place so quiet you could almost hear your own heartbeat.

    And all eyes on him: Archie. My father. He has a tool chest. Know what they use screwdrivers for, Goober? I mean, to put screws into things. And Archie let it pass. A relief to the tension. Not really lousy, though. Great; in fact. Beautiful, in fact. Worth all the sweat. Room nineteen. Second floor. Afternoon, evening, all night, if necessary. The brothers, most of them, the ones who count, will be off to a conference at Provincial headquarters in Maine.

    The janitor is taking a day off. There'll be no one in the building after three in the afternoon. No one but you, Goober. You and your screwdriver. The chairs, the desks, the blackboards.

    Now, with your little screwdriver--maybe you'd better bring along various and assorted sizes, just in case you start to loosen. Don't take out the screws.

    Just loosen them until they reach that point where they're almost ready to fall out, everything hanging there by a thread Then, others joined in the laughter as they envisioned the result of the assignment. Archie let himself be caressed by the laughter of admiration, knowing that he'd scored again.

    They were always waiting for him to fail, to fall flat on his face, but he'd scored once more. There's a lot of desks and chairs in there. We guarantee you won't be disturbed. The Goober nodded, accepting the assignment like a sentence of doom, the way all the others did, knowing there was no way out, no reprieve, no appeal.

    The law of The Vigils was final, everyone at Trinity knew that.

    Somebody whispered, "Wow. But a different kind of tension. Tension with teeth in it. For Archie. He braced himself. Reaching under the abandoned teacher's desk he sat behind as presiding officer, Carter pulled out a small black box.

    He shook it and the sound of marbles could be heard clicking together inside. Obie came forward, holding a key in his hand. Was that a smile on Obie's face?

    Archie couldn't be sure. He wondered, does Obie really hate me? Do they all hate me? Not that it mattered. Not while Archie held the power. He would conquer all, even the black box. Carter took the key from Obie and held it up. The black box was his nemesis.

    It contained six marbles: five of them white and one of them black. It was an ingenious idea thought up by someone long before Archie's time, someone who was wise enough or a bastard enough to realize that an assigner could go off the deep end if there wasn't some kind of control.

    The box provided the control. After every assignment, it was presented to Archie. If Archie drew a white marble, the assignment stood as ordered. If Archie drew the black marble, it would be necessary for Archie himself to carry out the assignment, to perform the duty he had assigned for others.

    He had beaten the black box for three years could he do it again? Or was his luck running out? Would the law of averages catch up to him? A tremor ran along his arm as he extended his hand toward the box. He hoped no one had noticed. Reaching inside, he grabbed a marble, concealed it in the palm of his hand. He withdrew his hand, held the arm straight out, calmly now, without shiver or tremor.

    He opened his hand. The marble was white. The corner of Archie's mouth twitched as the tension of his body relaxed. He had beaten them again. He had won again.

    I am Archie. I cannot lose. Carter snapped his fingers and the meeting began to break up. Suddenly, Archie felt empty, used up, discarded. He looked at the kid Goober who stood there in bewilderment, looking as if he were going to cry. Archie almost felt sorry for the kid.

    But not quite. Jerry knew the symptoms--all the guys knew them. Most of them were freshmen and had been in Leon's class only a month or so but the teacher's pattern had already emerged. First, Leon gave them a reading assignment. Then he'd pace up and down, up and down, restless, sighing, wandering through the aisles, the blackboard pointer poised in his hand, the pointer he used either like a conductor's baton or a musketeer's sword.

    He'd use the tip to push around a book on a desk or to flick a kid's necktie, scratching gently down some guy's back, poking the pointer as if he were a rubbish collector picking his way through the debris of the classroom. One day, the pointer had rested on Jerry's head for a moment, and then passed on. Unaccountably, Jerry had shivered, as if he had just escaped some terrible fate.

    Now, aware of Leon prowling ceaselessly around the classroom, Jerry kept his eyes on paper although he didn't feel like reading. Two more periods. He looked forward to football practice. After days of calisthenics, the coach had said that probably he'd let them use the ball this afternoon. Using words like crap and bull and slipping in a few damns and hells once in a while.

    Actually, he did shock. Maybe because the words were so startling as they issued from this pale and inoffensive looking little man. Later on, you found out that he wasn't inoffensive, of course.

    Now, everyone looked up at Leon as that word crap echoed in the room. Ten minutes left time enough for Leon to perform, to play one of his games. The class looked at him in a kind of horrible fascination. The brother's glance went slowly around the room, like the ray of a lighthouse sweeping a familiar coast, searching for hidden defects.

    Jerry felt a sense of dread and anticipation, both at the same time. Bailey went quietly to the front of the room. Jerry could see a vein throbbing in the boy's temple. A line must be drawn between teachers and students. We teachers would love to be one of the boys, of course. But that line of separation must remain. An invisible line, perhaps, but still there.

    You 19 see its handiwork, bending the trees, stirring the leaves The boy leaped backward in pain and surprise. Had it been an accident? Or another of Leon's little cruelties? Now all eyes were on the stricken Bailey. Brother Leon studied him, looking at him as if he were a specimen under a microscope, as if the specimen contained the germ of some deadly disease. You had to hand it to Leon he was a superb actor. He loved to read short stories aloud, taking all the parts, providing all the sound effects.

    Nobody yawned or fell asleep in Leon's class. You had to be alert every minute, just as everyone was alert now, looking at Bailey, wondering what Leon's next move would be.

    Under Leon's steady gaze, Bailey had stopped stroking his cheek, even though a pink welt had appeared, like an evil stain spreading on his flesh. Somehow, the tables were turned. Now it seemed as if Bailey had been at fault all along, that Bailey had committed an error, had stood in the wrong place at the wrong time and had caused his own misfortune. Jerry squirmed in his chair. Leon gave him the creeps, the way he could change the atmosphere in a room without even speaking a word. But not looking at Bailey, looking at the class as if they were all in on a joke that Bailey knew nothing about.

    As if the class and Leon were banded together in a secret conspiracy. A pause. The noise comes after the flash, after the silence. That's the kind of silence that blazed in the classroom now. Bailey stood speechless, his mouth an open wound. Bailey shook his head frantically. Jerry felt his own head shaking, joining Bailey in silent denial. Your marks all A's, no less. Every test, every paper, every homework assignment. Only a genius is capable of that sort of performance.

    Do you claim to be a genius, Bailey? And it came. They laughed. Hey, what's going on here, Jerry wondered even as he laughed with them. Because Bailey did somehow look like a genius or at least a caricature of the mad scientists in old movies. Bailey stood alone at the front of the class, as if he was facing a firing squad.

    Jerry felt his cheeks getting warm, throbbing with the warmth. All those A's that implies perfection. Is that the answer, Bailey? And his lungs burned. He realized he'd been holding his breath.

    He gulped air, carefully, not wanting to move a muscle. He wished he was invisible. He wished he wasn't here in the classroom. He wanted to be out on the football field, fading back, looking for a receiver. The class was utterly silent. Jerry could hear the hum of the electric clock he'd never realized before that electric clocks hummed.

    And, of course, you're not. He could taste the hate in his 21 stomach it was acid, foul, burning. And a liar. You rat, Jerry thought. You bastard. A voice boomed from the rear of the classroom. The bell rang, ending the period.

    Feet scuffled as the boys pushed back their chairs, preparing to leave, to get out of that terrible place. Softly but heard by everyone. Brother Leon regarded them pityingly, shaking his head, a sad and dismal smile on his lips.

    Do you know who's the best one here? The bravest of all? He denied cheating. He stood up to my accusations. He stood his ground! But you, gentlemen, you sat there and enjoyed yourselves. And those of you who didn't enjoy yourselves allowed it to happen, allowed me to proceed. You turned this classroom into Nazi Germany for a few moments. Yes, yes, someone finally protested. Aw, let the kid alone. Leon ignored the noise. He turned to Bailey, touched the top of his head with the pointer as if he were bestowing knighthood.

    I'm proud of you. You passed the biggest test of all you were true to yourself. He gestured toward the class he was a great one for gestures. They're the cheaters. They cheated you today. They're the ones who doubted you I never did. The amusement was there because it was obvious what Emile Janza was doing he was siphoning gas from a car, watching it flow into a glass jug. Emile giggled. He, too, was amused that Archie should have discovered him performing such an act. The car, parked at the far end of the school's parking lot, belonged to a senior by the name of Carlson.

    Emile didn't bother to reply. He grinned knowingly at Archie. Carlson wouldn't do anything about it at all. He was a thin, mild kid who hated getting involved in messes. Not too many people defied Emile Janza, anyway, whether they were fat or skinny, mild or not.

    Emile was a brute which was kind of funny because he didn't look like a brute. He wasn't big or overly strong. In fact, he was small for a tackle on the football team. But he was an animal and he didn't play by the rules. Not if he could help it.

    His small eyes were imbedded in pale flesh, eyes that seldom smiled despite the giggle and the grin that sometimes flashed across his face, especially when he knew he was reaching people. That's what Emile Janza called it reaching people. Like whistling softly in class so that it got on the teacher's nerves, a barely perceptible whistle that could drive a teacher up the wall.

    That's why Emile Janza reversed the usual process. Wise guys usually sat in back. Emile didn't. He chose seats near the front where he'd be in better position to harass the teacher. Whistling, grunting, belching, tapping his foot, stirring restlessly, sniffling. Hell, if you did that kind of stuff from the back of the room the teacher wouldn't notice. But Emile didn't harass only teachers.

    He found that the world was full of willing victims, especially kids his own age. He had discovered a truth early in life--in the fourth grade, in fact. Nobody wanted trouble, nobody wanted to make trouble, nobody wanted a showdown. The knowledge was a revelation. It opened doors. You could take a kid's lunch or even his lunch money and nothing usually happened because most kids wanted peace at any price. Of course, you have to choose your victims carefully because there were exceptions.

    Those who protested found that it was easier to let Emile have his way. Who wanted to get hurt? Later, Emile stumbled upon another truth, although it was hard to put into words. He found that people had a fear of being embarrassed or humiliated, of being singled out for special attention. Like in a bus. You could call out to a kid, especially one who blushes easily, and say, "Jeez, you got bad breath, know that?

    Don't you ever brush your teeth? What a dirty thing to do. Stuff like that in the cafeteria, during lunch, in study class: But it was better in public places, with strabgers nearby, especially girls. That's when the kids squirmed.

    As a result, people went around being extra nice to Emile Janza. And Emile basked in that treatment. Emile was not stupid but he was not exactly bright in class. However, he managed to squeak by no F's, only a couple of D's, all of which satisfied his father whom Emile regarded as stupid and whose major dream was to have his son graduate from a fancy private school like Trinity.

    His father didn't know how cruddy the place was. He was never sure whether Archie Costello was serious or not. Emile never fooled around with Archie. In fact, Archie was one of the few people in the world Emile respected.

    Maybe even feared. Archie and The Vigils. Who else would siphon gas in the middle of the day? Out in the open like this? He wished he could share with Archie some of the other stuff.

    But he couldn't. Somehow, it was too private but often he wanted to tell people about it. How he got a kick out of things. For instance, when he went to the john at school, he seldom flushed the toilet and got a kick out of picturing the next kid who'd go in and find the mess in the bowl.

    And if you told anybody, it would be hard to explain. Like how he sometimes felt actually horny when he roughhoused a kid or tackled a guy viciously in football and gave him an extra jab when he had him on the ground. How could you tell anybody about that?

    And yet he felt that Archie would understand. Birds of a feather, that was it. Despite that picture. The picture that haunted his life. Archie began to walk away.

    How about the picture? Actually, Archie hated people like Janza even though he could admire their handiwork. People like Janza were animals. But they came in handy.

    Janza and the picture like money in the bank. Emile Janza watched the departing figure of Archie Costello. Someday, he'd be like Archie cool, a member of The Vigils. Emile kicked at the rear tire of Carlson's car. Somehow he was disappointed that Carlson hadn't caught him siphoning the gas.

    His long arms and legs moved flowingly and flawlessly, his body floating as if his feet weren't touching the ground. When he ran, he forgot about his acne and his awkwardness and the shyness that paralyzed him when a girl looked his way. Even his thoughts became sharper, and 24 things were simple and uncomplicated he could solve math problems when he ran or memorize football play patterns.

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