Torn clothes - part 2 by thadeusz
This story is of course fictional ! But it is based on true facts : in a very select school, 11 boys (no girls) decided to wear only rags contrarily to the school rules. They were very seriously punished. This story is based on their unacceptable behavior. The reader should first read part 1.
Part 1 ends after the 11 boys had been forced to put on a uniform inspired from a British Junior Military Academy, including heavy boots. They had all received a haircut which transformed their very long mane in more classical short back and sides. They had also received a beret. Matt, the boy who is telling the story, and Robert, the gang leader, had been shorn: it was a complete #1, sides and top. They had also bothe been caned because their behavior was not appropriate.
That’s when Matt, the narrator who was in 9th grade, realized that he was in this Military Institution for Boys, created by his parents, for several years. He suddenly realized that he would have to wear his unpleasant uniform during all that time and that his originally curly hair would be kept very short during all that time. In fact, without saying so, he felt like a new recruit, but an unwilling one.
It was now Friday afternoon, late according to the sun although we had no watch anymore to be sure: our watches and cellphones had been taken away when we changed into our uniforms.
The Chief told us then that SGT Louring, helped by CPL Krenick, would show us our new residence and explain us the rules of we had to respect, unless we wanted to be caned.
So, our “basic disciplinary instruction” started then !
The SGT, who looked severe, was also a man who said that he wanted us “to grow up”. He first showed us roughly how we had to behave “from now on, in a military fashion”: salute, march in step, etc. He also told us that we always had to wear the beret outside but that we had to take it off as soon as we were inside: we had then to fold it and place it under our right “epaulet”. He let CPL Krenick show us how we had to put on the beret in a swift gesture, but also salute, take the beret off and fold it in one stroke. He made us repeat this several times because it seemed important for him.
After that, the SGT explained us how to enter a room: there is a special way to do it in the institution where we are now locked in.
We were told that whenever we entered a room, any room, we had to do as follows: march in step without hurrying, stop at the door, salute the authority present, take off our beret and place it under our right “epaulet” (that’s for the ‘swift gesture’), go to our place and wait there in the position of attention. This seemed ridiculous, but it was our everyday rule now ! And each of us had indeed a precise place, a precise seat, bed etc everywhere. In the MIB, each piece of furniture, bed, cupboard, desk and seat, including in the mess hall, was provided with a label with one of our “numbers”. We were not free to sit where we wanted but where our number was visible. This way, each of us knew where his place was, and the Chief, the CPLs and the SGT knew who was sitting there.
We were also told that if several of us had to enter the same room, we had to march one behind the other in the order fixed by our numbers !
This first training took a lot of time. After that, SGT Louring decided that it was time for our first meal in the MIB. He thus led us towards a big room provided with tables and chairs and called “the mess”. He also told us that we were about to receive our evening meal which was called “third mess”. Finally he decided that since Paul and I were the youngest ones, we would be assigned to the serving duty ‘until he changed his mind’.
Since I was Cadet 9.02, I entered second. For the first time I had to enter a room according to the rule explained above, and this was not obvious. After a stop at the entrance, I saluted CPL Belrose who was inside looking at us. I then took my beret off, trying to salute-and-take-off in one single movement as had been explained by the SGT and demonstrated by CPL Krenick. I then rolled my beret in order to form what I called “a cigar” and placed it under my right “epaulet”. I then walked without really looking to my assigned place. There I waited in the position of attention until all cadets were behind their desk and CPL Krenick shouted “SIT” and waited more until he said “SERVE AND EAT. Permission to speak starts now”. Paul and I started to serve and we all started to eat. We knew that on one side we had permission to speak during meals, but that on the other side, a well behaved Cadet does not speak while eating. This reduced the communications !
“Mess 3” did not last very long, but it was our first period of rest and free discussions. The SGT and the CPLs were not far and heard everything we were saying, but after a few minutes we started to discuss about what had happened to us, about our feelings concerning the uniform and most important our haircut. After that, the SGT decided to resume our “initial instruction”.
SGT Louring started by showing us around: we had only seen the courtyard and the mess hall of the MIB, the place where we had to live from now on ! In fact, the MIB was a big building our parents had bought to create a new boarding school, but for the time being we had only access to a small part of it. In any case it looked like (and was) a prison for students. It might seem hard from our parents, but now, years later, I believe that if they had not created the MIB, and kept us forcibly inside, we would have ended up in real jail !
When we arrived, there were two large common bedrooms : one for the five 9th and 10th graders and one for the six 11th and 12th graders. In the cupboard placed for him in his bedroom, each of us found a second set of uniforms, a set of duty uniform to be used for chores and a “sport” uniform. The time when I had my own private room was thus over ! The bathroom was common and placed between the two bedrooms.
We had already seen the big a mess hall (where we had already eaten) and its kitchen.
There was also a big classroom, with 11 desks and a big blackboard. It must be obvious to the reader that all the windows, in all the rooms, were provided with bars !
The SGT told us to enter (in the appropriate way of course) the classroom and go to the desk with our number. I thus went to the desk marked ‘9.02’ and waited there, with apprehension, in the position of attention. After a few minutes, SGT Louring told us: “SIT” and we all did it, nearly in one move.
The SGT reminded us of all the rules we had to respect if we did not want to be punished, which meant having our head shorn and being caned. The rules were rather simple: the main one was “RESPECT YOUR SUPERIORS AND YOUR TEACHERS”, a second one was “STUDY HARD” and then came “OBEY IN SILENCE”.
He then told us that since we were all behind in our studies, two study sessions were foreseen: the first one immediately after the last class (and a short break) during two hours and the second one, also during two hours, immediately after the evening meal (“mess 3”). The first one was called “supervised study” and we could have the help of specialized teachers, mostly the help of SGT Louring, the second one was called “non supervised study” and we could study, read a book or even (with special permission) play a quiet game such as chess. CPL Krenick told us how to behave during the “supervised study”: it meant remain seated and study, but once a teacher or a “superior in rank” came next to our desk, we had to rise immediately and take the position of attention until told to do something else.
On that first evening, we had thus our first “non supervised study”. SGT Louring told us to meditate silently about everything that had happened to us since Friday afternoon. I felt very bad because I was now a boarder and a prisoner in what I considered as a very uncomfortable uniform, and also because my head was now shorn.
During my meditation I realized that I had done everything I could to be punished, but I did not think that I deserved such a severe punishment. I hated the fact that watches and telephones were forbidden: they had been taken away when we changed clothes and got our uniforms. I hated the fact that silence had been imposed on us. It was also forbidden to speak, except during the breaks (which we had to spend in our own courtyard), during the meals and during the “non supervised study” provided we got the permission to do so. In the classroom of our old school, where we were supposed to keep going for our courses, we could only speak to the teacher if told by him to do so, but we were not allowed to speak to another pupil. This was a total change.
I also hated the fact that we had to keep short hair (and in my case that meant a “nearly zero haircut” every week) and that we were not allowed to see or communicate with our parents.
I must confess that I liked the idea of having a “supervised study” every day, Saturday and Sunday included. But I hated the idea of having to rise and take the position of attention during this study period.
About 30 minutes later, Chief Mulroy entered the classroom and CPL Krenick simply shouted: “ATTENTION”, which meant we had all to stand up, in the position of attention. The Chief told us to sit and meditate further. He started walking between the desks and reminded us that every time he stopped next to a Cadet, this Cadet had to stand up immediately. He moved slowly and came next to my desk. I rose and the Chief passed his hand on my head, as if to check whether my stubbles had already grown. He then said:
“Cadet, did you meditate ?”
I remembered my lesson and I replied:
“Chief, YES Chief”.
“How do you feel with your new haircut ?”
“Chief, I feel fine, Chief”
“This is well said Cadet, be seated. But remember that a Cadet must be modest, so in the future, in this institution, use only the third person. Say ‘Chief, this Cadet feels fine, Chief’ or shout simply ‘Chief, FINE, Chief’ ”
The Chief walked further and reached Robert’s desk. Robert stood up, but he did it obviously slowly, and in a way that showed that he was trying to defy the Chief. But Chief Mulroy remained very calm and passed his hand on Robert’s stubbles before asking the same question:
“Cadet, did you meditate ?”
Robert first replied obediently.
“Chief, YES Chief.”
“How do you feel with your new haircut ?”
Robert was careless and answered as follows:
“I hate it Chief.”
“Did you hear me telling Cadet 9.02 that he had to use the third person ?”
“Chief, YES Chief”
“So why did you do otherwise ?”
“Chief, because I felt like speaking normally, Chief.”
“Well this deserves a bit of special meditation. Put on your beret and go to the blackboard, face the class and stand at attention during 15 minutes. And quickly if you don’t want to be caned. Remember that you got a #1 shave. I could instruct CPL Belrose to give you a zero haircut.”
Robert did what he had been told to do, but I felt that it was not fair: CPL Krenick had not told us about this third person business. And this third person business seemed stupid.
We all looked at the clock, the only one available one in the MIB in order to observe the evolution of Robert’s punishment. At one time, he moved and the voice of Chief Mulroy came booming: “15 more minutes, don’t move Cadet.”
At the end of Robert’s punishment, CPL Krenick shouted:
“Back to your seat, Cadet 12.01, salute, take your beret off and be seated. All cadets must now start to prepare their Monday morning courses.
I looked in my desk I found the necessary school books and … a Bible. I had also found in my desk a small rucksack to go to school. This bag had of course my number on it and made me more conscious that even in class I would be a prisoner, but I carefully prepared it for the Monday classes.
Suddenly, SGT Louring decided that it was time to end this “non supervised study” session, and looking at the clock I noticed that we had indeed spent two hours in the classroom but I had not realized it earlier because I was doing something I had not done since a long time: working for school !
CPL Krenick shouted “Attention, berets on, move”. And we left the classroom in order. The Chief, the SGT and the CPLs had achieved a lot in a very short period of time.
The CPL marched us towards the bedrooms. I entered second the bedroom assigned to me and remained in the position of attention at the head of my bed, bed 9.02 ! CPL Belrose came in our bedroom and told us to take off our uniforms and to fold them carefully in the space provided for them in our cupboard. We were told that we could only keep our undies and that we were going, from now on, to sleep in undies only. There was a short moment for the bathroom and then bedtime, lights out.
When CPL Belrose had told us that we were to sleep in our undies, I asked the permission to speak and said that I understood the lesson now. I felt very bad and I really wanted to go home and get rid of this stupid uniform. I asked if it was possible to do so, but the reply was: “Your parents have decided that you are going to stay here for your own good. Keep that in mind and don’t think ‘but if’, that would only hurt you.”
I went to bed in silence and … I cried silently before falling asleep.
The next day, CPL Krenick woke us up early. It was my first Saturday without my parents. We first had to put on our sport uniform in a hurry, then go to the courtyard and do several exercises. After a certain time, the CPL told us to go and take a quick shower and to put on our “day uniform”. He then led us to the mess room where Paul and I were instructed to serve “mess 1”, i.e. the breakfast. It was not as good as at home, but it was healthy and at the end we were no longer hungry.
At the end of the meal, I gave to each of us an apple but Robert told me loudly:
“Not for me, I don’t eat apples.”
CPL Krenick told him that eating all the food that was served was compulsory but Robert refused. Chief Mulroy concluded this by:
“Now eat your apple, put on your beret and take the position of attention. During the supervised study that will come you will perform a 30 min standing meditation. If you don’t eat this apple IMMEDIATELY, CPL Krenick and CPL Belrose will force you to do what is required.”
Robert obeyed this time and appeared less at ease. After the meal we filed to the classroom for our “supervised study” and, since I had nothing else to do, I started to read through my books and get more ready for my Monday classes. Robert was sent to the blackboard where he had to stay in the position of attention, beret on his head, during 30 minutes. I thought that this was Robert’s last attempt to defy the Chief.
After that, we had some time to clean and iron our clothes (and my sport uniform needed it) and to polish our shoes. Then came mess 2, more military training, another “supervised study” (on Saturdays and Sundays we had two of them, with SGT Louring ready to help us). Then came mess 3 and a “non supervised study” during which I asked permission to play chess with Paul. There had also been 2 breaks during which we could play normally in the courtyard, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
When the CPLs led us to our bedrooms, I realized that in fact, this Saturday had gone by faster than I had expected.
The routine for the Sunday morning (and all mornings to come) started in the same way : early reveille, a bit of sport, shower and ready in uniform for mess 1.
On this Sunday morning, during mess 1, our breakfast, Robert tried again something but he respected the way of speaking required by the Chief, probably to avoid another caning. After breakfast he raised his hand and asked:
“Chief, permission to make a request, Chief ?”
The Chief replied: “Stand up and proceed, Cadet.”
Robert stood up, took the position of attention and continued:
“Chief, this Cadet is used to go to church on Sundays. He requests the permission to leave the MIB temporarily for that purpose, Chief.”
That was a pure lie, Robert did not go to church and we all knew it ! But the Chief reacted:
“How long is the service in your church, Cadet ?”
“Chief, 2 hours, Chief”
“Perfect, this morning you are all going to the classroom for a 2 hour long supervised study, but you Cadet 12.01, you will stand in the position of attention and meditate or pray in front of all the others. During two hours, you are going to be an example for all your comrades. UNDERSTOOD ?”
Lamely Robert answered: “Chief, YES, Chief”
The Chief then added: “And you will do this every Sunday morning”.
Our leader Robert spent 2 hours without moving in front of all of us, but after a few minutes we stopped looking at him. This was probably Robert’s last obvious attempt to defy the Chief. We all assumed that Robert had been tamed, and that we were thus also tamed ! But did Robert still deserve to be considered as “our leader” ?
The rest of the Sunday was uneventful and I spent most of my time getting used to my uniform. I also started to adjust and get used to the strange military way we had to adopt to do everything. My reasoning was simple: we are locked in, prisoners in this damned MIB for as long as our parents wanted (I was only 14), so I better get used to it if I wanted to avoid the caning !
I still felt uncomfortable, but I did no longer cry at night !
On Monday we had to go to school. The Chief had warned us: we had to enter each classroom in the appropriate fashion and it was strictly forbidden to speak with the other pupils, our former comrades. SGT Louring, who was specialized in the supervised study, was controlling Paul and me. The two CPLs and the Chief were controlling the other groups of Cadets could be controlled. SGT Louring led Paul and me to our class and watched us while we entered in the “authorized and military way”, without even a smile. I saluted the teacher who showed me a seat on the front row, my new seat in the classroom, next to Paul. The other pupils, boys and girls, started to laugh when Paul entered in uniform. When I entered and took off my beret, showing my shaved head instead of my long curls, they laughed even more. One of them called me “the prisoner”, another used my number and said “he is prisoner 9.02”. The teacher stopped them after a few minutes, saying:
“OK, you had a good laugh but that is enough now. These two boys are now Cadets in a Military Institution. They have to respect specific rules and are not allowed to reply to whatever you say. Keep that in mind when you want to make fun of them.”
The laugh stopped, but during the whole year I remained “prisoner 9.02” whenever they wanted to refer to me, while Paul remained … “Paul”.
During the breaks we were marched, in silence, to our courtyard and we thus looked more like prisoners than like pupils. After school, we had a short break and then our “supervised study session”. This was probably for me the turning point: a teacher came next to me and calmly explained me that I was really behind in my studies. I had never worked very hard in my previous and easy school, and I had completely stopped studying once I became member of the “rags club”. The teacher told me that if I kept behaving like that, I would fail my 9th grade and have to repeat it. This meant one more year as Cadet in the MIB. Now that I have a better vision of my previous situation, I realize that this was an excellent turning point even if I disliked this teacher for telling me that I had bad marks.
The week went on and life became very regular, everyday looking like the previous day since we constantly respected the same schedule. At the end of the week, each teacher wrote a report about each cadet, and these reports were directly handed over to Chief Mulroy. On the Saturday morning, we first had the haircut ceremony which was a simple refresh for all the cadets, except for Robert and I: we deserved again a full shaving with clippers on #1 guard.
Then came what was called the “weekly evaluation” or WE, not to be confused with “weekend”: each cadet, in turn, had to appear in Chief Mulroy’s office to hear his comments. For Paul and I it was a disaster. We both had only Fs. The Chief concluded that each of us deserved a “good caning”. This was promptly and efficiently executed by CPL Krenick. That day, I decided that this would be my last caning.
After the caning, we had some “free time” in our small courtyard and we played noisily like the boys that we were. But after that we had to go to the mess hall and eat our lunch, or “mess 2”. There was one change : the Chief decided that for the coming week, Cadets 10.01 and 10.02 would be on “serving duty”. This left Paul and me with a little bit more time to eat.
The afternoon was spent in our classroom, first compulsory “lonely” study, then (on a Saturday) “supervised study” with SGT Louring to answer all our questions, and finally after “mess 3”, we had our “non supervised study”. We were told that during that last period we could study, read a book or play silently. I chose to study in order to avoid further caning and I tried to do it with Paul, who refused.
I very rapidly got used to the routine but not to the uniform. Nevertheless, I wore it as I had been told in order to avoid further caning and after three weeks I realized that I had forgotten how uncomfortable this uniform appeared to be. I was now used to the routine and to the uniform, which I felt I would have to wear during the years to come, except during the holidays. The only thing I never got used to was the “taking off” and “putting on” procedure for my beret: I considered this as something very ridiculous, but I did it again to avoid further caning !
Let me come back to week two, which was uneventful. On the Saturday morning, I was full of apprehension. After the haircut ceremony, which went on as usual, we had the WE, the weekly evaluation. Paul, being Cadet 9.01, went first. The teachers had given him several Fs and he was sentenced to 5 of the cane. He seemed not to care: this was his fate and he was not yet ready to do something to change it. Then it was my turn to go into the Chief’s office.
I entered the office in the prescribed way, doing I believe a rather good job of it. Then I remained in the position of attention, without beret, in front of Chief Mulroy who seemed to take a certain pleasure at letting me wait. I was really anxious. After a few minutes, which seemed to me to last several hours, Chief Mulroy asked me:
“Cadet 9.02, do you think you worked well enough to avoid a good caning ?”
“Chief, this cadet did his best but he does not know whether that was enough, Chief.”
“Well replied Cadet. And well done in school. You have Ds and Cs, but not a single F. You keep your usual haircut, but you won’t be caned this time. This is not the case with your friend, Cadet 9.01. So I order you to help him in such a way that he has no F next week. UNDERSTOOD ?”
“Chief, YES Chief” was my reply, but I then added “Chief this Cadet suggested to Cadet 9.01 to work with him during non supervised studies, but Cadet 9.01 refused, Chief.”
The Chief added then: “Cadet 9.01 has been instructed to work with you, so there should be no problem this time. Now, go out or you will earn a caning.”
After that, the routine went on and I decided to study during the “free time” of the weekend in order to keep having good grades. I did so during the Saturday and the Sunday, I kept doing it during most of the rest of the week, helping a little bit my friend Paul, but just a little bit. I must confess that I worked more for myself than to help my friend.
At the end of the week, when it was again time for the haircut ceremony and the Weekly Evaluation, Paul was rather confident when he entered the Chief’s office. There he learned that he was wrong: he still had more Fs than any other mark and the consequence was automatic: five of the cane. I entered next and I heard the Chief tell me:
“Cadet 9.02, you have better grades. Only Cs, with one D and one B. That is good. Are you pleased with what you did ?”
“Chief, YES Chief” and I was really beaming.
“Well you are wrong to be pleased because you have been very selfish: you did not help your friend well enough. You forgot your first duty as a cadet: be always helpful for other cadets who need your help. You did not respect my order to help Cadet 9.01. I was thinking of letting you have a nicer haircut, but you need to be punished. It will be 10 of the cane and a full weekend in duty uniform doing only chores, except during the periods during which CPL Louring will tell you to help Cadet 9.01.”
“But Chief, this cadet will not be able to do his own schoolwork, Chief.”
“5 more of the cane for discussing my order plus a very special haircut. And if your schoolwork is not well done, you will have 5 of the cane after the next WE.”
So I got 15 solid ones of the cane given by the artful CPL Krenick. I was then told to go back to the chair on which I had already been seated for my weekly haircut. In front of all the other cadets CPL Belrose gave me a brutal “very special haircut”: he shaved every stubble that had been left using this time clippers with no guard. This left me with a baldy. I could feel the iron on my head. He did more when he used water to dampen my head, saying “Because of the way you behaved you do not deserve anything else for what I about to do” and he used then an old fashion razor to clean the last little bit of hair on my head. I thought that my torture was done when he got hold firmly of my head, pushed it backwards so that he could easily have access to my face and then shaved completely my eyebrows.
Eventually I came out of it with a baldy and NO stubbles left, not even the smallest stubble. I could have cried when I realized how smooth my head was, but I knew that crying would not change a thing: it would only let me have 5 more of the cane. So I remained silent and as soon as CPL Belrose was done with the shaving and told me to stand up, I pulled my beret from my epaulet and placed it squarely on my head.
The Chief, the SGT, CPL Krenick and all the other cadets were looking while I was punished. When that was done, the Chief simply said: “This is the punishment for those who abandon their fellow cadets. Go and get in duty uniform, you know what you have to do now.”
I ran to the room in order to put on my duty uniform. I did all kind of stupid chores, including serving the others during the three meals. I ate only dry bread and drank only water. But during the non supervised studies, I ran to put on my ordinary uniform and sit next Paul to help him. Luckily, Paul was not so stupid and during the last non supervised study he called CPL Belrose who was supervising us and told him that he was ready and did not need my help anymore. That left me nearly 2 hours to be ready for school, and I did it !
The next week was uneventful. I got use to the very strict discipline, the cleanliness which was expected from us during the short moments we had to clean everything, but also to the MIB routine. There was one special routine for the supervised study periods: we had to study while SGT Louring went from table to table and every time he stopped, we had to stand up in the position of attention and wait for his orders. That was nothing special, simply our discipline ! But when one of us wanted to ask for help, he had to stand up and raise his right hand until SGT Louring came. The SGT usually told us then to sit and started to answer the question, but if he considered that the question was stupid or irrelevant he sent the questioner to the blackboard for a period of meditation. Finally, I got used to that much more rapidly than I had thought I would. In any case, I studied a lot more than at home: there was nothing else I could do.
During this week I also spent all my non supervised study periods helping Paul, who really needed it. This left me with less time to do my own homework and I managed to do it faster and more efficiently.
At the end of this week came the usual and dreadful haircut. For Paul and most others it was only a “tidy up” process, for Robert it was again a “nearly zero haircut”.
The ritual was the same as usual: my number was called immediately after Paul was done, I went to the chair, took off my beret and placed it under my epaulet, but for me the Chief had decided that I needed help to uncurl my hair. So the haircut took more time, the clippers were not necessary, simply the razor to make sure I kept my baldy. This time, at least, nothing was done to my eyebrows.
We were then called, in numerical order, to the Chief’s office for our Weekly Evaluation. SGT Louring was there, sitting next to the Chief. I was rather anxious for Paul, since my caning depended on his results. I should not have been anxious: Paul had reasonable, if not excellent, results, and not a single F anymore. He came out of that office very happy.
I knew I had had less time to study, so when I entered the office I was apprehensive especially when the Chief started to speak:
“You have only Bs and Cs that could be good, but there is one exception. Do you know where, Cadet ?”
“Chief, probably in maths, Chief”
“Correct, and why is it like that ?”
“Chief, this Cadet had less time to study and he did it as well as he could, but maths was really difficult, Chief.”
“Do you think that your result deserves a caning, Cadet ?”
SGT Louring was smiling, but I made as if I had not seen him, keeping my eyes in front of me, as we had been told. So I replied:
“Chief, it is not to this Cadet to decide whether he deserves a caning. This cadet does not like being caned, but he will accept it if the Chief decides to give one. This cadet will then work harder and better next week, Chief.”
“So, if I decide that you must be caned, you will work harder next week in all domains ?”
“Chief, yes Chief”
“That might be good, you have an A in maths and only Bs and Cs for the rest. SGT Louring, how do you feel ?”
The SGT stopped smiling and replied:
“Chief, this Cadet worked well. He helped, and probably saved Cadet 9.01. He must learn to work better in other domains than maths, but considering his good result in that domain I suggest that he should not be caned but that he should have more supervised exercises even during the non supervised study periods. He is anyway helping Cadet 9.01 during the supervised study periods !”
“Did you hear that, Cadet 9.02 ? You got an A in maths and you will have more exercises since I noticed that you don’t do anything else than study. But for the time being, go and rejoice. DISMISS.”
I don’t know how I succeeded to get my beret, salute and leave the office according to the rules. I had been so anxious and the two of them were making fun of me, but in fact they were very pleased with my result.
The rest of the saturday was spent as the previous ones: meals, sport and laundry (which implied ironing our uniforms and polishing our boots). We had to learn all that and since it was now nearly a routine, we had some good laughs. Before third mess (supper), we had our usual supervised study and SGT Louring came next to me. While I was standing up, waiting for his orders he told me:
“In fact, you worked very well last week, but the Chief wanted you to know that nothing can be taken for granted. If you don’t keep working hard and simultaneously helping Cadet 9.01, you will get in trouble and be caned. UNDERSTOOD CADET ?”
“SGT, YES, SGT” for once I shouted also as he had done.
“That’s good, Cadet. Now you are going to solve these exercises and if you are not done at the end of the session, you will continue during the non supervised study. You can call me in the usual way if there is something you don’t understand. NOW SIT AND WORK.” Before leaving, he left me with a few sheats.
I started to work on the maths exercises he had given me and it was very hard. I was not done at the end of the session and I had to continue during the non supervised session. All the others were playing or chatting (calmly, noise was not tolerated) but I was doing some stupid school work. SGT Louring came and “supervised” me: he looked over my shoulder at what I was doing. So, applying the procedure, I raised my hand and stood up.
“What do you want, Cadet ?”
“SGT, it is not fair. I got an A and I am not allowed to play with the others prisoners, SGT”. Immediately after using the word “prisoner” I regretted it, but it was too late. I had to stand now and wait for the consequences.
“So Cadet, you view yourself as a prisoner and not simply as a boarder. It is interesting. You must work, despite your A and despite the fact that Cadet 9.01 is allowed to play, because you are so much behind and you could do so well. This requires a 15 minutes mediation. GO NOW.”
I immediately obeyed, placing my beret on my head and standing motionless, in the position of attention, at the blackboard and pretending that I did not see the others playing. During my “Meditation” I had time to understand that the extra work I had to do was possibly a chance to do better and not a punishment. After that my attitude changed drastically.
I did my homework and the extra work given by SGT Louring as fast as I could during the “supervised study” periods, I helped Paul as well as I could during the “non supervised studies” and I finished my extra work. Moreover, I also succeeded to have my uniform and shoes perfectly clean. There was one thing I did not do, or nearly not : play with the others.
The results came rapidly : I got straight As in all subjects and Paul got acceptable results. We both hoped to see our parents soon for Thanksgiving. My haircut was back to a decent #2 shave and my eyebrows were also back !
Suddenly, all of us realized that we were really in prison: we were not allowed to leave the MIB for Thanksgiving and we would remain without contact with our parents. My comrades, the other cadets, turned towards me and asked me to go and discuss this with the Chief since I always had good grades now.
I asked for an interview with Chief Mulroy and SGT Louring. I spoke as respectfully as I could asking them why we were not authorized to go and visit our respective families for this feast. Chief Mulroy simply replied: “A cadet does not ask questions, he must obey”.
Then SGT Louring intervened and said that our parents had noticed the progresses for “most of the cadets” (Robert and one or two others still had mostly Fs) and they did not want to interrupt the “positive process” which was going on. It is thus with this weak answer that I had to go back to my friends.
While the rest of the school was on Thanksgiving holiday, we had more time to play freely, but we still had two “supervised studies” and one “non supervised study” each day. Paul lost courage and decided to stop studying. I asked SGT Louring what I should do, and he simply said: “Keep trying, otherwise you will be punished again”.
In any case, SGT Louring made sure that I tried with Paul and he also gave me heaps of extra exercises, some of them required to study more theory than foreseen in 9th grade.
After Thanksgiving, life came back to normal in the MIB. Paul still refused to work with me and got bad grades, but Chief Mulroy did not order me to be caned for that. I now was happy with the MIB routine, life had become nearly normal for me. So I did not react too much when I realized that some of the exercises given by SGT Louring forced me to study, all by myself, chapters which were far beyond what had been seen in class. Finally we reached Christmass.
We were told that we would not be allowed to leave the premises, but that the “good cadets” would have a contact with their parents.
When it was my turn, I was told that I was allowed to speak during half an hour with my parents in the Chief’s office. I was also told that I had to salute and treat them as if they were my superiors inside the MIB, I was not authorized to sit in front of them and there could be no physical contact. This created a difficult atmosphere for my mother, but I was not astonished: it sounded so much like ordinary MIB rules. So when my Mother asked me: “Matt, don’t you feel that life here is very hard for you ? Do you succeed to adapt ?”
I simply replied: “Mother, this cadet feels perfectly adjusted to the situation and thanks his parents for giving him such an opportunity to learn in good conditions.”
My answer came automatically, it was not calculated, but I think that my mother was somehow shocked. My father congratulated me for my good work, “past and future” were his words.
I must mention here that Paul and Robert had been deprived of parental visit because of their bad grades. During the Christmas holiday, they had to remain in duty uniform and perform all the chores, except during the study sessions.
After the end of the Christmas holiday, I asked again Paul if he did not want “some help” for his courses. He accepted, which made me feel better but gave me more work and less time for my homeworks. In any case, SGT Louring continued to give me extra exercises, which for me were compulsory, and which obviously were more 10th grade like than my normal 9th grade exercises ! This forced me to study more, nearly all by myself but with the help of the SGT. Often I stood up asking for help, but when he considered that I could have solved the difficulty all by myself, he sent me for 15 minutes Meditation. Rapidly I started to think twice before I called for his help.
One day, during our Weekly Evaluation, Chief Mulroy told me that he was satisfied with my work and that if I continued he would give CPL Belrose the order to start giving me now a High and Tight. I pleaded saying that I was now used to my #1 all over, but he simply said “A cadet must always obey orders”. That day, I also asked SGT Louring if I was correct in thinking that my extra exercises were now 10th grade exercises. He replied that I was an obedient cadet, in 9th grade and that the rest was none of my business.
I must also say that since Christmas most of us had been authorized to write one letter a week to our parents and to receive one from them (the letters were of course opened by the CPLs). Paul got that authorization only after he had worked a lot with me and recuperated part of what he had not studied. Robert did not get that possibility.
Life went on, smoothly, and we all studied thanks to the routine imposed by the MIB. Well, all except Robert who continuously had Fs and a caning. His haircut remained a #1 while mine started to be a nice High and Tight. We then reached the Spring vacation and Chief Mulroy told us that we would all leave the MIB during 10 days. We were not going in our families, we were going to a sort of scout camp inside a USMC base. The Chief added that this was a favor which would not be renewed for the bad learners. He also said that he did not want to lose one of us, so he had decided that during the camp we would have to wear an electronic bracelet. Since it appeared difficult to combine a bracelet on our ankle with our regulation boots, we all ended up with a dog collar containing an electronic chip. It was not very comfortable, but I decided that since I could not avoid it, I would tell myself that it was part of my uniform, and I had gotten really used to that uniform. So, I succeeded to accept this dog collar without problem. I also convinced some of the other cadets who did not want to have it, that since it was the only way to be out of the MIB, they had to accept it gracefully. This worked with Paul but not with Robert who refused this dog collar on the basis that “it was contrary to the constitution”. CPL Krenick and CPL Belrose got hold of him, forced him to wear the dog collar and CPL Belrose gave him a very special haircut : a complete shave including his eyebrows. I had gone through that and I hoped that it would convince Robert that he had to calm down.
Anyway, these 10 days were excellent : no study sessions but only sports and plays with the CPLs and with other Marines. Robert could not enjoy this : his behavior was so bad that Chief Mulroy had him locked in the Camp brig most of the time.
As soon as were back from this Spring Holiday, SGT Louring freed each of us from the dog collar. I must admit that I had gotten used to it and that keeping it would have been a problem for me, but SGT Louring told me that I had to “Obey the rules”. During the last days of this Holiday, we resumed our habits. Robert refused to work and decided that since it was a Holiday he could play with others, which he did with the Chief’s consent. Some others were ready to resume study during the study periods but wanted to play the rest of the time. I convinced paul that he needed to work hard if he did not want to fail his 9th grade and have to stay one more year in the MIB. So I worked with him during the “supervised study sessions” and during the “non supervised studies”. SGT Louring let we speak with Paul even during the supervised studies ! He did not give me extra work during that short period.
Then came the end of the school year. We all had to take exams and the final results were communicated by Chief Mulroy and SGT Louring during a last Weekly Evaluation.
As usual Paul went first in the Chief’s office. He came out of it with a radiant face: he had passed successfully all his exams and was now admitted in 10th grade.
I went second in this office. Firstly, the chief congratulated me for Paul’s success. He then mentioned my own results in these words: “Cadet 9.02, your results are not bad but you did not get a credit for all your 10th grade courses”. I looked at him, bewildered. I had done my best and during all my WE I had always had straight As. I was ready to protest when SGT Louring said: “Cadet 9.02, you did not listen properly. You passed brilliantly all your 9th grade exams, but not all your 10th grade exams.”
I had not realized that SGT louring had made me take 10th grade exams, but that was the case. Chief Mulroy said that he was pleased for me and that I had the Summer Holiday to work with SGT Louring and learn enough to get the missing credits before the start of the new school year. He added: “If you get all your credits, you will be automatically in 11th grade and become a Cadet Leader, but if you fail you will be caned and have a special haircut instead of your High and Tight.
All the other cadets had passed successfully, but not as brilliantly as I had done (with SGT Louring help and advices) except one: Robert had failed most of his tests and did not get any of the required credits. He told us that he did not mind since he wanted in any case to leave the institution and start working. He even said: “I just turned 18, I am old enough to do what I want !”. But Chief Mulroy told us all that Robert’s parents had obtained from a Judge an extended minority writ for their son. That’s what you ask for a mentally retarded person. The Judge had thus decided that Robert would stay in the MIB as long as he did not get the credits needed to have his high school diploma or a GED.
Since in any case we were not allowed to go home, I decided that studying was the next best thing I could do. I also tried to help Paul by preparing him for his 10th grade and I spent lots of time playing with the other cadets, my comrades, in our courtyard. SGT Louring helped me a lot to learn all the notions I needed to pass my 10th grade exams with success.
After two weeks, Chief Mulroy told us that we would once again go, for two weeks, to the Camp where we had been during the Spring Holiday. We all accepted gracefully this time the dog collar which, once more, was imposed by the Chief. There was of course one exception: Robert. In fact as soon as we were in the camp and playing a game of hide-and-seek, Robert tried to escape. He was betrayed by his dog collar and sent to a cell inside the Camp brig for the rest of our stay. When we went back to the MIB, in the little van, Robert was chained !
We arrived at the MIB and could not believe what we saw: the institution was now much bigger, works had been done behind walls while we were still there and the last connections between our old section and the new one had been established during our stay at the Camp. The MIB was now ready to receive twice as many Cadets as when we arrived, there were more rooms, two classes, a bigger mess hall, and two more CPLs to take care of the new boys. There was also a special small room for the barber : CPL Belrose would no longer have to give us our weekly trim in the middle of the courtyard. There were also two small cells, visible from the courtyard and Robert was immediately sent to one of them, but without chain. As far as his dog collar, Chief Mulroy decided that he would keep it permanently, even when he went to classes.
SGT Louring told me that I could work for myself now and not for Paul since my exams were now no longer in a distant future. I studied, and studied, and studied. I only stopped studying twice for a parental visit. The first time, Chief Mulroy was present but the second time he let me alone with my father and my mother. Despite his absence, I chose to behave as a real cadet should do, exactly as I had been told to do during their first visit.
I took my exams and got a simple pass, not a “Good”. Chief Mulroy told me that it was not as brilliant as my results for my 9th grade, but that it was normal since I had studied almost alone all the 10th grade courses. I was now Cadet 11.04 since my three friends who were in 10th grade previously had also been admitted in 11th grade. Paul became cadet 10.01 and Robert, who had been cadet 12.01 became now cadet R12.05 (the R because he was repeating his year).
One cadet only had left the MIB: Sam Portil was the only one to get his 12th grade credits. There were now 12 new beds and 14 new cadets arrived making a total of 24 cadets in the MIB.
The new cadets were frightened at the start. There were now seven 9 graders and five new cadets in higher grades. They had all been sent to our institution because their parents felt that they needed more discipline. As far as the parents were concerned, my case was used as a “star case” and as a “show case”: the bad student who, thanks to the MIB, got the credits for two years in one.
I became Cadet Leader in charge of the 9th graders. Other cadets who had had a good school and disciplinary attitude were assigned as Cadet Leaders for the other grades. Paul was not one of them and this difference between us made him sad: I was now one of his “superiors” and he had to salute me every morning.
The school year started and I immediately realized that it would be a difficult one for me since I did not have all the bases a normal 11 grader would have acquired during his 10th grade. Luckily, SGT Louring kept helping me and one of the new CPLs, CPL Fernast, took over and helped Paul who really needed it. The other new CPL, CPL Voegler, was more specifically in charge of the discipline of the 14 new cadets.
The new cadets learned very quickly that in the MIB they had to study seriously: the choice was simple, either they studied seriously and they had a good weekly report or they would be caned and possibly have a dreadful haircut. During the first weeks, I spent lots of time trying to guide the seven new 9 graders through the rules of our institution, telling them for instance how to take care of their uniform, and other technical details we had had to learn very fast and all by ourselves … or be caned. After a few weeks Chief Mulroy told me that I had done a good job and that I should now concentrate on my school studies.
One cadet created problems. Robert, who was now R12.05, took very badly the fact that he had to wear his dog collar permanently. He was the only one and he was probably ashamed because of it. He thus rebelled as much as was possible in the well controlled MIB: he refused to study. He was thus frequently caned and shaved. He even spent most of his weekends in duty uniform serving the 9th graders, new humiliation ! Robert also tried to convince the new cadets that they had to rebell against this “unconstitutional attitude”, but the Cadet leaders and the CPLs convinced the new cadets that it was in their interest to behave according to the rules and to study. Finally Chief Mulroy decided to send Robert to one of the cells for several days.
Thanksgiving Holiday was uneventful for us, cadets of the first year, but as Cadet Leader I had to explain to the new 9th graders why they had to stay in the MIB and why they were not allowed to have contacts with their families. We had discussed that during a Cadet Leaders meeting with SGT Louring, and my explanation was that the new cadets had to get used to the very strict discipline of the MIB and to its specific orientation: make nearly school leavers learn ! My cadets accepted that and worked hard with me, which took me again some time away from my studies. I must say that all 2nd year cadets (except Robert) were authorized to have one parental visit in the usual format. When I entered the office where my parents were waiting (without Chief Mulroy now) I automatically saluted them and took off my beret, which made my mother ask questions. I replied politely but refused to sit or to hug her since we had been told that it was forbidden. She told me that nobody would see it but I replied that I would know it and that this was enough. My father was clearly pleased by my answers. In fact I had come to like very much my life in the MIB.
When the Spring Holiday came, Chief Mulroy announced that we would all go again for a week to the USMC camp where we had already stayed twice. The Cadets Leaders had a hard time explaining to the new cadets why they had to wear a dog collar during this trip, but it worked and all had a great time. Robert of course tried again to escape and was again sent to the brig, but on our way back he was chained, handcuffs and a chain on his ankles during the trip. He was then unchained and sent to one the MIB cells. He looked miserable.
Back in the MIB, Robert was kept in isolation: the Chief feared that he would continue to suggest to the new cadets to stop learning and to start a rebellion. He was no longer allowed to speak with any cadet and was told that he would spend all time, when not in classes, in his cell. He was miserable and it was sad to see our former leader treated like that.
The last day of the Spring Holiday, the Chief gathered all the Cadet Leaders in his office and let SGT Louring bring Robert in. Chief Mulroy told the following to our former friend:
“Cadet R12.05, we all know that you are a rebel. You wanted to create a rebellion in school and you took your friends, now your Cadet Leaders, with you. You can go on like that, but you are not the stronger. Your parents have decided to keep you here until you get your diploma, whatever your age. They got a decision from a Judge to that effect and I intend to keep you as much as possible separated from the others cadets. So you are not going to win at this game. Be smart and start studying again, life will be better for you and once you have your diploma, you can do whatever you want and rebell as much as you wish. What do you say, cadet ?”
Robert was embarrassed in front of us and replied politely to the Chief:
“Chief, if this Cadet promises to start to study again and to behave according to the rules, are you going to take off this humiliating dog collar and let him live with the others, Chief ?”
“Cadet R12.05, you are not in a position to discuss my orders. Start to study and to behave, I will decide later what I am going to do with you. Bring him back to his cell and let him think about this.”
Personally, I did not consider my dog collar as “humiliating” any more, it was only a “technical measure” and I could live with it. Most of my comrades, fellow cadets, viewed it as I did. So we waited hoping Robert would start to behave better.
The next day, we could all see that Robert had changed. He started again to study seriously during the classes and during all the study sessions. SGT Louring had told him that he was really behind and that he needed to work hard he wanted to get all the necessary credits this year. Chief Mulroy was inflexible: Robert kept his dog collar, his head remained completely shaved and he stayed in his cell when he was not studying or doing chores, like serving all the other cadets. He did all that without a word. All the cadets, and especially the new cadets, noticed that Robert, the rebel leader, had been “broken” by the Chief ! I don’t know if I liked that, but I also knew that I could do nothing about it except study to be out of the MIB as soon as possible.
After a few weeks, the Chief decided to let Robert go back and live with the other 12th graders. After a few more weeks with good school work, Robert was allowed to get rid of his dog collar and to let his hair grow a little bit.
At the end of the school year, I had great results and was thus admitted in 12th grade. Paul had a pass and was thus admitted in 11th grade, but without glory. As far as Robert was concerned, his work had not been sufficient. In fact, he had worked very well but he started too late. He got thus a fail and was told that he would have to repeat again his 12th grade.
He got the usual caning and shaving. The Chief decided that Robert had to think about all this, so he ordered CPL Krenick to place again the dog collar on Robert’s neck and to let him spend his first holiday week in a cell. Curiously, Robert accepted all this very gracefully. I think he was now tamed !
We spent the Summer Holidays exactly like the previous ones, except that I started, like all the other new 12th graders, to prepare applications for College. SGT Louring helped us a lot to do that.
A little bit after Christmas, Robert, who had worked very hard, got all the credits he needed for his diploma (with the few credits he had before). Chief Mulroy congratulated him and let him go free immediately. I must mention here that Robert had been freed of his dog collar as soon as we came back from the Marine Camp. He had lived with us and studied very hard during the summer. This had enabled him to take a few exams at the end of the Summer.
The next year, finally, I got my diploma and I planned to go to college in California and study psychology. SGT Louring had helped me very well and I had obtained a scholarship in a well known University and they had accepted me. My parents did not agree. We met and they told me that I was only 17, and thus still a minor. They recognized my good results and my good attitude, but they were afraid they I would stop behaving well in a far away University, in a State known for his “liberal” attitude. So they decided to send me to a Military College in the South in order to study psychology there. I was really angry because all my friends were going to “normal” colleges, but my parents did not want to change their mind. They even decided that “for my own safeguard and protection”, I should stay in the MIB until matriculation day in my new College.
Chief Mulroy did not like that, but there was nothing he could do: in fact he was an employee of my parents and of their friends since they had created the MIB. He nevertheless wanted to give me a special statute and promote me to “Cadet Corporal”. I respectfully explained him that this did not seem to be a good idea since I would have to give orders to former fellow Cadet Leaders. So he finally let me remain a Cadet Leader, and once again I went for two weeks to the Marine, with my diploma and … a dog collar, like all the other Cadets.
I will not lie: I spent a wonderful fortnight playing with the others, knowing I did not have to study in the immediate future. Back to the MIB, I could see the last enlargements: the MIB was now a big institution which could have 48 Cadets simultaneously. The rules were adapted and in order to let the future cadets have all a Cadet Leader, the Chief decided to replace me as CL by another Cadet who would stay during the full school year. Being now a plain cadet, still 12th graders according to my number, I was obviously an embarrassment for the Chief but I could not help it. So I decided to start studying my Psychology courses since studying was the only thing I could do. This required going to the school library, which was normally closed and in any case out of bounds. So I suggested to the Chief (and I was really amused when I did that) to place me again on dog collar in order to let me go freely to the places where I could prepare myself for my first College year. Chief Mulroy was really annoyed, but SGT Louring explained him that this was the only way to respect my right to be free and my parents’ decision.
I had also long discussions with SGT Louring and he reminded me that I would have to take at least one ROTC course each semester. I asked him which branch of the military he suggested and he told me that he suggested the Marines, but he also told me that I should sign no document mentioning that I wanted to become a Marine officer, unless I really wanted it.
Matriculation day arrived finally and my parents took me to the College they had chosen. I left them, annoyed not to be alone like the other new students. I received my new uniform, a severe haircut which was a #0 head shave and I became a plebe. During one year, I lived with three other plebes in the same room, constantly subject to hazing by the upperclass students. I astonished everybody by my way to behave easily in a very military fashion, but that was due to my years in the MIB. I also learned a lot and I liked what I learned. The main differences with the MIB was that we had daily military exercises, but also that we had weekend passes and could go (in uniform) freely to town and that we had also leaves, too long to stay in the barracks and too short to take a plane and go home. All that was great.
At the end of the year, my parents told me that I had turned 18 now, that I had proved that I would and that I was thus free to go to my California University. I decided to stay in my Military College, not because of the Military attitude which I did not like, but because of my friends: we were no longer plebes and had learned to live together. The courses were also interesting and the lectures were great. I had now officially been promoted to Cadet CPL and this had a serious meaning.
Near the end of my studies, I was offered a scholarship to study further in any university of my choice, provided I accepted to serve as marine Officer during a certain time. I refused since I did not want to join the military: I had remain in contact with SGT Louring who had given me good advices. I had another scholarship, enabling me to go without any obligation and get a PhD in the University I liked in California and this is what I chose.
I am now a fully trained Psychologist and I live in California, wondering from time to time whether I would ever have achieved this if my parents had not locked me in the MIB during 3 good years. Paul did not go to college and is now working in an insurance company, where he is doing well. We are both married and remain in contact.
Robert tried live in his parent’s house after he got his diploma and was freed from the MIB, but that did not work well since he kept telling his parents how nasty they had been with him. He left and tried to find a job, without success and finally, of all possible places, he enlisted in the Army where he still is, a SGT now ! Robert is probably the only one of us who is not married.