Wednesday, December 03, 2003

The outhouse on Lime Lake, part two

The public access area we were playing in was lined on two sides by evergreens, one side by the lake and the other by a narrow drive that emptied onto a rural road.

The Voice was deep and mean like my step-father's and all of us were immediately stilled. Those in mid-throw stopped. I had a rock and it dropped thoughtlessly from my hand. We froze for a tick. I looked at Greg, the oldest. He bolted into the woods behind us. We all followed.

We didn't scramble far into the woods because we had all left our bikes in the gravel by the outhouse. You don't desert your steed even in emergencies. I guess we imagined the furious adult would see an empty area and move on. We were wrong.

He saw our bikes laying on the ground and judged correctly that they belonged to kids.

We heard the voice again. He wasn't yelling but he was closer. "Alright, you kids, come on out or I am going to turn your bikes over to the police."

We could see him through the trees. Greg identified him in a hushed voice as the new high school principal. Even those of us that went to the Catholic school had heard of this guy. He was like a old western sheriff that had been brought in to rein in the rowdy northern Michigan rednecks that had been terrorizing the school. When we knew who it was we slunk out of the woods and all we were sure of was that the police would be called and then our parents would be notified but only after this guy was done hurting us.

We lined up orderly in front of him without being told. He examined us with the dispassionate eye of the established authority figure. He asked us our names, what grade we were in and where we lived. I considered lying but gave him my real name. I was pretty sure he didn't know my Dad. He didn't.

When Greg told him he was in seventh grade the principal smiled and said, "I'll be seeing you real soon, won't I?"

"Yessir," Greg stammered.

The rest of the conversation is a haze of dread and terror. I believe he just told us not to damage state property and to get the hell out of there.

He was still at the high school when I got there and I never mentioned the incident to him. I doubt he even remembered it. I do remember him as being someone people might refer to as "tough but fair" like Vince Lombardi. He was very big on hall passes. He'd twist your nose if you didn't have one on you if you were wondering the hall during class.

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