Fiction: The Difficulties of Hazing

What happens when Cadet Buck Crenshaw acts like a gentleman . . .

Buck Crenshaw went to the cadet officer on duty after finishing his final examinations.

“Cadet Crenshaw, United States Military Academy, reports his entrance into this office, sir.”

“Well, cadet, what do you want in this office?” the upperclassman asked.

“I desire permission, sir, to make a visit to my brother.”

“Permission granted. Now get out of my sight. Oh, by the way, Buck, tell Fred I’ll meet him in an hour by the library.”

“Yes, sir. Cadet Crenshaw, United States Military Academy, reports his departure from this office, sir.”

The cadet officer leaned back in his chair, waving him off with a laugh at Buck’s self-discipline. “Go.”

Although Buck looked forward to summer camp as a yearling, he would miss Fred’s class leaving tomorrow for summer furlough at Niagara Falls. Fred’s brash personality and good looks crowned him king of his year, and sometimes Buck enjoyed tagging along.

Buck knocked at Fred’s door. Fred’s roommate—a member of the graduating class, who disdained plebes and yearlings—ushered Buck in with a belligerent push towards his brother. Fred grunted Buck’s way while packing trousers into his bag.

“Morning, Fred, what’s the news? Oh, Phillips says to meet him at the library.”

“Yes, yes, I know,” Fred said, clasping shut a leather travel bag. While their basic features echoed each other’s, Buck’s height and Fred’s brawn set the twins apart. “What do you mean by being so friendly with Streeter?”

“Friendly?” Buck replied. “I was ordered to be a gentleman and so I was, Fred.”
The first classman huffed and walked out. Buck glanced at him. “What’s he bothered about?”

Fred looked Buck over with hands on hips. “I’ll be away for two months now, worrying about your mental fitness. It’s all over the academy you were soft on Streeter.”

“Soft? When? I’ve only had a very small amount of time with him. How could I be one way or the other?” Buck asked.

“You have your heart set on promotion still, Buck?” Fred asked, brushing his wavy black hair in the mirror.

“Of course. I’ve been told that I shall have it.”

“Don’t be so certain,” Fred warned.

“Is there something else bothering you, Fred? I don’t understand your tone.”

“If I have a tone it’s because I’m disappointed in you, Buck. Plebes are supposed to be treated like shit. I thought you’d be one for tradition. You won’t help any candidate by coddling.”

“I’d never coddle! I intend to do all that’s expected of me by the regulations,” Buck said. “Unlike you, I won’t crawl up a cadet if it’ll endanger my promotion. I intend to be fair—but strict—never lenient. I’ll treat Streeter like any other.”

Fred shoved Buck to the bed. “What game are you playing at, mister?”

“Mister? I’m your brother!” Buck shoved back.

“I’ll surely cut you if you befriend any of the plebes. Word is that you’ve got a conscience that can’t be trusted,” Fred said.

“Word is?” Buck laughed. “Who told you that? I’d like to know!”

“Look, I know that you’re still sore that I got here first and made a place for myself among the big bugs,” Fred began. “Is it my fault you got scarlet fever?”

“I’m not in the least sore! I’m doing quite well for myself,” Buck said, getting up from the bed.

“Yes, well, anyway,” Fred replied, distracted by himself in the mirror. “I think you should take my advice and keep your soft side to yourself.”

“Soft side?” Buck asked, troubled now. “This is all over my treatment of Streeter?”

“No, it’s not just about the nigger,” Fred said, returning to his packing.

Buck stood around for a few moments. “Well, I hope you and the other devils have a grand frolic this summer.”

“Of course we will, and we’ll come back eager to see how our yearlings have done at camp. Be tough, Buck, or they won’t respect you—they won’t learn their place. Remember it’s for your own good.” Fred sighed roughing Buck’s lighter, straighter hair. “I’ll miss you, too. It’s such a habit to worry for you when we’re apart, but we’re adults now and that’s silly, I guess.”

Buck’s shoulders relaxed.

Fred continued. “So, you’ll be at the hops and all now, taking our girls. Bet you’ll get the cream of the crop,” Fred said, appraising his handsome brother for a moment. “Well, I’ve got to meet Phillips. See you then, in August.”
They shook hands and went their own ways.

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw and his misadventures when you buy the book today!

30 responses to “Fiction: The Difficulties of Hazing”

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