The following contains scenes of sexual activity between males. If it is illegal for you to read this in your jurisdiction or if you feel you may be offended by doing so, please read no further. The characters portrayed in this story may engage in behaviors that would today be considered unwise and unsafe. The author does not encourage such behavior: nor does he condone the violation of any laws. Please respect yourself and your partners. Please do not copy or distribute this story without the knowledge or permission of the author.
    This story contains some elements of a previous story of mine, The Secrets of Waldo. If you would like to read other works by me, go to the Nifty Home Page and click on the FreeThinker link under 
Prolific Authors. I am also writing another story entitled A Curious Set of Misfits in the Nifty Young Friends section.
    Note: the Russian composers mentioned in the story, Dmitri and Alexander Koronov, as well as the playwright Alexei Koronov, are completely fictional, as are the numerous compositions alluded to, for reasons that will become apparent later in the story. There is no Austin Evening Reporter, and the city of Sheffield is completely fictional.. All characters in the story are fictional and any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This is fiction and a fantasy. It did not happen.
    Any use of racial epithets is not intended to be offensive in any way, but is used to show the state of mind of the character using them. The author rejects all forms of bigotry and racism, as the story will show.
    I would like to know what you think. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email them to my address: chriswriter@, (this is not a hyperlink). Thank you so much for reading my story and for the wonderful support you have given me over the last three years.

Courage and Passion
By FreeThinker

“The school-boy, above all others, is not the simple being the world imagines. In that young bosom, are often stirring passions as strong as our own, desires not less violent, a volition not less supreme. In that young bosom, what burning love, what intense ambition, what avarice, what lust of power, envy that fiends might emulate, hate that men might fear.”
Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister and author, Coningsby, 1844

Chapter Two
Confusion to Brooks of Sheffield

    There seemed to be something very comical in the reputation of Mr. Brooks of Sheffield, for both the gentlemen laughed heartily when he was mentioned, and Mr. Murdstone was a good deal amused also. After some laughing, the gentleman whom he had called Quinion, said:
    'And what is the opinion of Brooks of Sheffield, in reference to the projected business?'
    'Why, I don't know that Brooks understands much about it at present,' replied Mr. Murdstone; 'but he is not generally favourable, I believe.'
    There was more laughter at this, and Mr. Quinion said he would ring the bell for some sherry in which to drink to Brooks. This he did; and when the wine came, he made me have a little, with a biscuit, and, before I drank it, stand up and say, 'Confusion to Brooks of Sheffield!' The toast was received with great applause, and such hearty laughter that it made me laugh too; at which they laughed the more. In short, we quite enjoyed  ourselves.
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, 1849-1850

    It may not seem apparent to most boys at first, but there is an advantage to living only half a block from school. You can set your alarm clock a little later than others do and still make it to school on time. Not having to ride the bus or walk three miles to school barefoot in the snow uphill both ways is probably the only advantage to living so close, but it definitely can be useful. It certainly was for Robby McDonnell on the first day of school. Not accustomed to getting up at seven in the morning, after three months of indolence, Robby was shocked out of his mind when the alarm went off and the station to which he had set the radio suddenly blared the scream at the beginning of the Beatles’ “Revolution.” Robby irritably hit the snooze button, or thought he had, and rolled over. Fifteen minutes later, his mother’s equally disturbing scream of “Robby! Get your ass out of bed!” served as the motivating factor he needed. It was only after two minutes of near panic, as he looked at himself in the mirror, now clad in his new school clothes, a blue short-sleeved button-down with blue plaid slacks and black penny-loafers, that he was coming his hair and remembered that he wasn’t a mile from school, as he had been the previous year in Austin, but a short two minute walk. He rolled his eyes and sighed with exasperation.
    The kitchen was unusually quiet for a school morning. Brian and Megan were on their way out the door, their walk to school being longer than Robby’s, leaving Robby alone with his mother, not so much a blessing, in Robby’s mind, as he thought it might be as it left him the center of his mother’s attention, as well as her morning irritation.
    “You need to get your ass down here when the others do. I don’t feel like cooking breakfast twice.”
    Well, maybe if you weren’t hung over, you might, Robby wanted to say. However, bitter experience had taught him to remain silent. He also remained silent when she dropped a slice of burnt toast on the plate in front of him and handed him an orange. Robby suppressed his frown and silently spread his peanut butter on the toast. His mother disappeared back up the stairs to her bedroom without another word as he consumed his breakfast, much to his relief, and when he was finished, he gathered his violin case and the new backpack full of the supplies he would need for the new school year and, without saying good-bye, slipped out the front door.
    It was a beautiful morning, warn and clear, the kind of morning that made Robby suddenly wish he hadn’t spent the entire summer burrowed up in his room. Well, it was too late now. There were already several other kids walking up the sidewalks on both sides of Sycamore toward the school and their chatter seemed to compete with the morning squawking of the starlings and blue jays in the trees. Robby joined the migration though, as he looked around at the other kids walk toward Emerson Middle School, it seemed they were oblivious of his existence. He shrugged.
    Chaos reigned in front of the school, as it did in front of every school on the first day of classes. Seventh and eighth graders were welcoming each other back and surveying the incoming sixth graders to see who would be good cannon fodder. The sixth graders were greeting each other and commenting on how cool it was they no longer had to associate with the little kids in elementary school. Several administrators were present to keep the level of pandemonium to an acceptable level; and, several teachers were guiding lost souls to their destinations.
    Robby felt a sense of excitement that he was embarking on the next stage of life, having left the world of little kids and elementary school behind. Though he missed Austin, he was glad of one thing. Back home, sixth grade was still in elementary school and one didn’t progress to junior high until the seventh grade. Even though Austin was a much cooler place than Sheffield, he liked the organization of the schools more in his new city.
    Robby waited for the Safety Patrol the crossing the street, even though several kids went on without waiting. Robby felt like a dork for waiting, but he wasn’t ready yet to start challenging authority until he was surer of the situation. While waiting for the Safety to hold up his stop sign, he glanced at the house on the corner and saw, emerging from the front door, the chubby kid with the almost white blond hair he had seen sitting on the benches the day before. He watched as the boy stood apprehensively on the front porch, looking fearfully at the crowds in front of the school. It was obvious he was scared. Robby started to wait for him, but the Safety was already in the middle of 18th St.
    “Hey! You gonna cross or what?” he snarled.
    Robby grinned sheepishly and ran across the street. By the time he reached the opposite curb, the boy on the porch was forgotten and Robby was negotiating his way through the milling kids. As he approached the steps leading up to the front doors, he noticed the inscription above the door, apparently from the school’s namesake, Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist.”
    What kind of Commie freak was this Emerson guy, Robby wondered as he frowned with distaste. However, before he could ponder this question more, he suddenly found himself sprawled on the steps and rubbing a bruise on his left arm as several boys walked past him, chuckling derisively.
    “Hey, dip,” one of them spat. He was wearing obviously expensive slacks and an alligator pullover with perfectly shined penny loafers. His dark hair was cut perfectly and combed perfectly. In fact, everything about the boy seemed perfect, even the fact that Robby could already tell he was a perfect buttface. “Watch where you’re going.”
    Robby stood and was about to respond by shoving the jerk from behind when he saw a surly man with a belly protruding from his jacket and hanging over his belt. He was standing near the steps watching. Robby looked at him as if to say, ‘Aren’t you going to do anything?’
    The man merely gave Robby a contemptuous look and turned toward a nearby crowd of screeching and giggling girls. Robby took a deep breath, rearranged  himself, picked up his violin case and climbed the steps to the school.
    He was to report to room 124. It was a moment before he realized he was going in the wrong direction. When he stopped to turn around, another boy, once again a little bigger than he, ran into him and, once again, knocked him down.
    “Hey!” Robby snarled as the boy stopped and looked at him with surprise. “Watch where you’re going!”
    The kid grabbed Robby by his shirt and threw him up against the lockers along the nearest wall. His eyes grew wide and menacing, with an almost crazed gleam in them, as his face came to within inches of Robby’s. His breath was putrid and Robby tried not to gag as his assailant waited a moment to speak.
    However, after a few seconds, the kid released Robby and simply walked away, turning to give him one last menacing look before moving on.
    This was not quite the auspicious beginning to the  school year Robby had expected or hoped for. Well, he thought as he once again put himself back together, it can’t get any worse than this.
    However, he soon realized that he was sadly mistaken, for when he doubled back and found Room 124 on the other side of the building, he entered the classroom and found sitting by the window on the opposite side of the class, Hippykid, gazing out at the  northbound traffic on State St, which ran along the eastern side of the school. Robby sighed and rolled his eyes before proceeding down the first aisle and choosing a desk toward the back. He set the violin under the desk and slid his backpack into the rack beneath the seat before sitting down.
    Robby settled down to watch the parade of kids entering the class. A rough looking boy in a plaid shirt and tight jeans entered. His reddish brown hair was strangely parted in the middle, rather like Hippykid’s, though it was not a long. He had freckles across his nose and cheeks and almost looked cute, (well, no, he wasn’t cute; no, not at all; well, maybe). However, the way he bulled his way into the room and down the next aisle over let Robby know this wasn’t someone to cross. Robby’s eyes landed on Hippykid and he shook his head with disgust when he saw the boy had pulled his dirty blond hair back into a ponytail. Man, he could never have gotten away with that back home. Austin had a lot of hippies and it may have been 1969, but he still couldn’t have gotten away with a ponytail in the sixth grade. He wondered if the teacher was going to send him home.
    Several girls entered and stood in the front, checking out the boys and giggling with each other. Robby raised an eyebrow and looked away just as another boy nervously entered. He stood beside the door, surveying the room and brushing his short, dark blond hair of his forehead. He, too, carried a violin case, a brand new one, it appeared. Robby watched him take a deep breath and then quickly claim the very first desk by the door, four desks up from his.
    The room was almost full when Robby’s heart sank. The fearful chubby boy he had seen earlier entered and was shoved roughly out of the way by the Perfect Buttface. He landed against the chalkboard and dropped his backpack on the floor. Robby cringed as he saw Buttface saunter carelessly over to a desk in the center of the room, a couple of rows away while the chubby boy nervously picked up his backpack. He surveyed the room and found an empty desk next to the freckled tough kid. As he stepped away from the chalkboard, the bell rang for Homeroom and a tall, skinny man with longish, strawberry blond hair entered the room. He smiled at the chubby kid, who scampered down the aisle to his chosen desk, to the accompaniment of a number of whispered insults. The teacher glanced about the room, noting the sources of the comments, as he organized his desk, as a slight curl formed at the sides of his mouth.
    “Well, boys and girls,” he announced with exaggerated cheerfulness, “welcome to Waldo, otherwise known to the outside world of the uninitiated as Ralph Waldo Emerson Middle School! I am Mr. David F. Osborn and I will be your guide, your mentor, your host as your begin your peregrinations through the fascinating world of secondary education.”
    “Huh?” grunted one particularly dim looking boy behind Hippykid. Mr. Osborn smiled indulgently.
    “I’m your teacher.”
    There were chuckles and giggles from around the room and Robby immediately began to relax. He glanced to his left and saw that even the nervous kid seemed to calm down a bit.
    “Well, the school board and the Administration have all sorts of fun things planned for us today, such as filling out paperwork, assigning lockers, etcetera, etcetera.” This last part was done in the Yul Brynner voice from The King and I.
    “But, first, I have an exciting little ritual that I hope you will all enjoy.”
    “Is this guy a dork or what?” Perfect Buttface whispered to a boy beside him who appeared to be a not-so-Perfect Buttface.
    “Yes!” Mr. Osborn declared joyfully. “I am, indeed, a dork, which brings us to the point of our next exercise. So that we may get to know each other, each and every one of you will stand and address the class, giving name, rank, and serial number, after which you will recount to us in vivid detail and living color the most embarrassing and humiliating moment of your short and angst-ridden lives. And, to show that I don’t play favorites and that I can take it as well as dish it out, I shall begin.”
    Robby was grinning as he glanced about the room. Hippykid was also grinning, but Buttface was rolling his eyes. The nervous chubby boy looked scared to death. Up front, the nervous skinny boy appeared to be totally perplexed, as if he had absolutely no earthly idea what was happening about him.
    “To begin, I am still David R. Osborn and this is my very first year as a teacher and, in fact, my very first class period to teach. I began my teaching career four minutes ago! But, before any of pariahs or piranhas get any ideas about ingenious ways of disrupting what will be the most interesting class you take this year, be aware that it was just a few years ago, that I sat in THAT chair,” (here, he pointed dramatically to the Perfect Buttface, as he opened his eyes manically), and committed all sorts of heinous acts. You can do nothing that I haven’t already done, so don’t EVEN try.”
    His eyes darted back and forth comically, causing some to chuckle and others to roll theirs.
    “Now, as for my worst moment of abject humiliation, I graduated  from Sheffield State University last spring Magna Cum Laude, which, for those of you who do not as yet speak Latin, means ‘With High Honors. However, as I was proudly marching across stage to receive my diploma from the Chancellor, with my parents proudly seated not a hundred feet away, as I reached forward to grasp the sheepskin, so to speak… I very sonorously… broke wind.”
    The classroom was deathly silent, until Dimboy once again grunted, “Huh?”
    Mr. Osborn’s eyes grew wide again as he focused in on Dimboy and explained, “I farted.”
    The class erupted in hilarity, except for Buttface and the nervous boy up front, who looked about the room in abject confusion. Robby could barely contain himself.
    As the laughter gradually died, Mr. Osborn smiled and sat back against the edge of his desk. Robby smiled as he watched the teacher, probably the coolest teacher he had ever had, brush his longish hair from his forehead. When silence returned, Mr. Osborn stood silently for a moment until he suddenly whipped his arm out and dramatically pointed to the nervous kid in the front corner desk, who looked as if he were about to wet his pants.
    “You sir! Stand! Your name! And, your humiliation!”
    The boy couldn’t have looked more terrified if the finger pointing at him were a gun. Trembling, he stood, almost at attention. Robby thought for a moment that he was going to klick his heels. The boy took a breath, paused, and, then said, rather loudly, “Moya imya Yevgeny Alexeivich Koronov, tovar… um, uh, Teacher Osborn!”
    Mr. Osborn looked surprised for a moment, the same moment it took before the class erupted in laughter. The boy looked about the class with complete confusion to the point that Robby thought he was going to burst into tears. Robby felt a sudden compassion for him and a sudden anger at the class. Mr. Osborn gathered his senses and smiled. He held a hand up to the class, which settled down, and then held it up reassuringly to the boy.
    “At ease, there, soldier. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.”
    This did nothing to ease the boy’s confusion. Mr. Osborn realized what was happening and grinned at the boy. He walked over and patted him on the shoulder.
    “Tui govorish p’angliskii?” he asked.
    A look of heavenly relief flooded over the boy’s face as a sudden flood of Russian poured forth, beginning with, “Da! Govorish po’russkii?”
    Mr. Osborn smiled and squeezed the boy’s shoulder before he could go any further.
    “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a very important person in our class.”
    Mr. Osborn patted the boy on the shoulder and smiled. The boy relaxed  and almost smiled.
    “Yevgeny, here, is the son of Alexei Koronov, a very famous writer from the Soviet Union. You may have heard on the news that Yevgeny and his father escaped from Czechoslovakia last year as the Warsaw Pact was invading. They have come to America to live.”
    “Fucking commie!”
    Mr. Osborn spun angrily toward the source of the comment.
    “You!” he declared, pointing to the freckled tough guy. “Stand!”
    The kid stood.
    “One. I will not allow that language in my room. You will never say that first word OR that second word in my presence ever again! Do you understand?”
    “Yeah,” the kid answered insolently.
    The kid did as he was told, though sullenly. Mr. Osborn turned back to the boy and smiled again, before addressing the class.
    “Yevgeny and his father made a dramatic escape from Prague just before the invasion last August and if they had been captured, his father would surely have been shot and Yevgeny, here, well, it would not have been pleasant. I think we all welcome you to America and to our class!”
    The class applauded, though the Perfect Buttface and Almost Perfect Buttface did so without much enthusiasm, Robby noted. Hippykid, however, seemed almost beside himself with excitement, as if he were going to jump out of his seat, rush over, and kiss the boy! Robby raised a skeptical eyebrow, but just as Hippykid looked his way. The kid smiled warmly at him.
    What was up with this guy, Robby wondered as he quickly turned his gaze back to the Russian boy.
    “So,” Mr. Osborn continued, “what do you want to be called? Yevgeny?”
    The boy swallowed and replied slowly, “My, um, how you say, friendly name…”
    The boy shrugged and smiled bashfully.
    “My nickname is Zhenya.”
    “Zhenya? Very good. Then Zhenya it is. I have to say, Zhenya, that you speak very good English.”
    Zhenya smiled.
    “In Soviet Union, all students learn English.”
    “Very commendable,” said Mr. Osborn. “I wish American schools required foreign languages at such an early age.”
    He turned to the class and asked, “By the way, is anyone in here taking a language this year?”
    Only a few people raised their hands, including Buttface and Hippykid. Mr. Osborn pointed to Buttface and asked, “What are you taking?”
    “Spanish,” was the reply.
    “Anyone taking anything else?”
    He pointed to Robby.
    “Fag,” said Buttface under his breath.
    “Stand!” Mr. Osborn declared, his arm pointing rigidly at Buttface.
    Buttface raised an eyebrow and with an insolent chuckle replied, “Gavin Dietrich.”
    Mr. Osborn paused for a second, which not lost on the student, before replaying.
    “Well, Mr. Dietrich. We finally meet.”
    Dietrich simply raised an eyebrow and sneered.
    “I’ve heard a lot about you. You have quite a reputation in the education community in Sheffield.”
    Dietrich’s sneer grew.
    “I’m not impressed. I’ll be watching you. I don’t want to hear that word again. Now, sit.”
    Dietrich remained standing just long enough to make a point without being obviously insolent and, only then, resumed his seat. Mr. Osborn continued to hold eye contact for several seconds after the boy sat.
    “I think we may need some serious consciousness-raising in this class,” he said as he walked around behind his desk and sat down. He looked at Zhenya and smiled.
    “I think, Zhenya, you don’t have to share your most embarrassing moment with us. I think we just experienced it with you.”
    There were good-natured chuckles around the class as he turned to the girl behind Zhenya. Robby, however, began to feel a slight sense of trepidation. He was afraid of what was going to happen when it was his turn. He wasn’t certain because he had not experienced much abuse or teasing back in Austin, but this was a new environment and one could not be certain, in light of what he had already seen and experienced.
    His fears proved to be well-founded.
    “Very good Melissa,” said Mr. Osborn as the dark-haired girl in front of Robby took her seat following her introduction. “And, now, it’s your turn,” he said to Robby.
    Looking as casual as he could, Robby stood and announced, “I’m Robby McDonnell.”
    “Is ‘Robby’ short for Robert?” Mr. Osborn asked.
    Here it comes, thought Robby, as his face began to grow warm.
    “Um, no. Robin.”
    “Ah, good,” said Mr. Osborn as he consulted his class role. “Robin McDonnell.”
    “Ronald McDonald?” someone asked. Several giggles and chuckles broke out around the class and, in seconds, the class was in hysterics.
    "Ronald McDonald!” declared  Almost Perfect Buttface. “He even looks like Ronald McDonald!”
    “Man! Look at that red hair!”
    Robby closed his eyes and waited for it to end.
    “Alright, that’s enough,” Mr. Osborn said with a smile. “So, aside from your parents naming you after a clown,” he quipped with a grin and a wink, “what’s your most embarrassing moment?”
    Robby was grateful to have the subject so artfully changed.
    “Well, once when we were driving to Padre on vacation, I got car sick and upchucked all over my brother.”
    This was met with a number of appropriate expressions of disgust. Mr. Osborn said, “Well, that’s not very original. Who hasn’t hurled on their siblings. But, I think that was humiliating enough. Very good.”
    Robby gratefully smiled and started to take a seat when Mr. Osborn added, “Just a second, Robby. I notice you have a southern accent. Did you just move to Sheffield?”
    Robby nodded.
    “Yes, sir. From Austin, Texas.”
    His teacher raised an eyebrow and smiled.
    “Really, now. What brings you to Sheffield?”
    Robby hesitated before answering.
    “Well, my dad was a reporter and he was killed in Vietnam and we moved here to be close to my grandparents.”
    This was met by the class with an embarrassed silence. However, Mr. Osborn’s sympathetic look quickly changed to one of recognition.
    “Not Patrick McDonnell?” he asked.
    Robby was surprised.
    “Yeah. How’d you know?”
    “Well, class, we have two celebrities in our midst. Robby’s father wrote a series of very famous and insightful articles about the war while in he was in Vietnam last summer.”
    Robby was surprised.
    “You read the Austin Reporter?”
    “No, but they were syndicated in the Sheffield Times. They were very good. Very courageous. Your father was a very brave man.”
    Robby was embarrassed; he was also very moved by his teacher’s remarks and, suddenly, he felt tears form in his eyes. He quickly sat down and Mr. Osborn, noticing, quickly moved on to the girl behind Robby.
    Robby paid little attention to the names and humiliations after his own introduction. He did, however, notice that a quiet boy near the front with jet black hair and pale skin, was named Tim Zitisky and that the nervous, almost chubby boy was named Sean Lindquist. Sean had a way blushing that Robby found cute, but he tried to suppress that thought. The tough kid was named Matt Hunter and nothing embarrassing had ever happened to him. Apparently, Gavin Dietrich had led a life remarkably free of embarrassments, as well. When it came time for the Almost Perfect Buttface to reveal himself to the class, Mr. Osborn was prepared.
    “Well, I’m sorry Biff LaFrance. I don’t believe that you, too, have never experienced  anything embarrassing or humiliating.  But, perhaps, we’ll just simply accept that living in the shadow of Mr. Dietrich, here, is humiliating enough for our purposes.
    Gavin simply sneered contemptuously while Biff looked confused.
    “Sit down, Mr. LaFrance,” said Mr. Osborn indulgently. Robby saw Hippykid cover a grin  with his hand.
    Hippykid. Robby’s eyes focused on him. The dark gold of his hair seemed to glow in the morning sun as it shined through the window he sat in front of. The hair was parted in the middle and pulled back into a ponytail. He sat with his right elbow resting on his desk and his chin resting on his heel of his hand, his fingers curled beside his chin, a serene smile on his almost feminine face. Well, it really wasn’t feminine; it was definitely a boy’s face. Yet, there was an almost pretty quality to it.
    Robby was hard again.
    Darn! Hard in the middle of class. Well, he thought angrily, it’ll probably go down before second period.
    When it was Hippykid’s turn, he stood and faced the class with that same weird, spaced-out smile. That was it, Robby thought. He’s on drugs! He has to be. He’s got a ponytail. He was sitting in the park meditating. He looks spaced out. He has to be on drugs!
    What a loser, Robby thought, even as his dick throbbed in his pants.
    “Well, my name is Ethan Spenser and I guess the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me was when I told Allen Ginsberg that his poetry was pedestrian.”
    He looked about the room with a perfectly honest and sincere smile. The class, every single member of the class, looked uncomprehendingly at him. Mr. Osborn took a double take.
    “Excuse me. You told… Allen Ginsberg… Allen Ginsberg, the famous Beat Poet… you told Allen Ginsberg his poetry was pedestrian.”
    Ethan nodded.
    “Yeah. I was only nine, so what did I know? But, looking back on it, I feel a little embarrassed about being so precocious and obnoxious.”
    Mr. Osborn seemed to be the only one in the class who knew who Allen Ginsberg was. The students still looked at Ethan as if he were an alien. The teacher seemed to be having trouble fathoming the possibility that Ethan could know one of the most famous poets in the country.
    “Well, one, had you actually read his poetry and, two, how did you happen to meet him?”
    “Oh, he was having dinner with us. My parents know him. And, yeah. I’ve read his poetry.”
    “Spenser,” Mr. Osborn said with dawning realization. “Morgan Spenser?”
    Ethan smiled.
    “He’s my dad. Except, he and Mom got a divorce. He still lives in the City.”
    Mr. Osborn raised his eyebrows in surprise and respect.
    “Well, we have a pretty illustrious class here, and it keeps getting more illustrious. Ethan’s father is a famous poet. This is quite unusual and we’re quite fortunate to have such interesting people in our class.”
    Ethan shrugged as if his own contribution to the class’s uniqueness was inconsequential.  
    “Um, I must say, however, Mr. Spenser, that there is a good chance that your ponytail is probably in violation of the school dress code, and, though I have no particular problem with it, it is possible that Mr. Huber may find it a tad objectionable.”
    Ethan smiled and said, “Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.”
    Mr. Osborn smiled at the boys quote of the school’s namesake.
    “Well, I’m sure Mr. Emerson would have no problem. Unfortunately, Mr. Huber is not as liberal as Mr. Emerson. Just be aware that there is the possibility that you may get to have a conversation with The Man before this day is over.”
    Ethan seemed completely at ease with this news. Robby shook his head in disbelief. What was up with this freak?
    Mr. Osborn finished the rest of the class, moved on to paperwork, and assigned lockers. Before handing out the text books for Social Studies, he directed everyone with musical instruments to take them up to the music room. Robby pulled his violin out from under his desk and saw several other kids remove their instruments. One boy had a French horn in the back that he retrieved. He saw Zhenya pull out his violin case and wait obediently. Sean pulled out a flute case. Oh, man, Robby thought. This kid wants to get the whatever beat out of him. Several others noticed, as well, because he heard chuckles from around the room as Sean blushed fiercely and stood uncertainly.
    However, it was when Ethan the Hippy pulled his violin case out from under his desk that Robby sighed with discouragement again. He’s gonna follow me everywhere, he thought as Mr. Osborn led them to the hallway and gave them the directions to the music room.
    He had decided that he would try to strike up a conversation with Zhenya as they walked up, but before he could come up beside him, Ethan the Hippy beat him to it.
    “So, Zhenya,” he gushed. “How do you like it here?”
    The Russian boy blushed and smiled shyly.
    “It is wery nice here; wery different, but wery nice.”
    “I saw one of your Dad’s plays in New York once. Off Broadway. Way off Broadway. The Falcon. You know, the one about the doctor who’s killed by the capitalists to keep him from curing the terrible epidemic.”
    Zhenya nodded.
    “My father hates that play.”
    Robby stifled a chuckle as Ethan looked a little surprised.
    “Really? How come?”
    “Because he… wrote play to make Khrushchev happy. He says it is wery bad play.”
    Ethan shrugged.
    “Well, everyone in New York thought it was great.”
    They were approaching the stairway at the end of the hall and Robby saw a chance to butt in. He came up beside the Russian boy as they reached the stairs and said, “Hey, Zhenya. I was wondering. Since your name is Koronov, are you related to Dmitri Koronov? He’s like my favorite composer.”
    Zhenya’s face broke into a wide smile as they climbed the stairs.
    “Yes! He is my grandfather’s uncle,” he replied proudly. Robby grinned broadly, stunned to be speaking to a descendent of the great Dmitri Koronov, composer of The Ice Prince. He was also secretly thrilled that he seemed to score a point over Hippy Ethan, though Ethan looked just as happy.
    “I saw The Ice Prince on TV last Christmas,” Robby said. “It was beautiful. I love it. It’s my favorite composition.”
    “I have never seen it performed,” said Zhenya. “My father will take me to New York on December to see it.”
    “You’ve never seen it?” Robby asked in disbelief.
    As they reached the top of the stairs, Zhenya replied, “Dmitri Koronov was, um, forbidden by Soviet government  because he was, um, how you say, um, against revolution? What is English word?”
    “Counter-revolutionary?” Ethan offered.
    “Da. I mean, yes. And, he was bourgeois. I never heard his music until my, um, my friend-teacher, um, what you call teacher for only one studyent?”
    “Tutor?” Ethan suggested.
    Zhenya nodded.
    “My tutor in Praha played “The Dance of the Wolves,” from The Ice Prince and it make me…”
    He paused, embarrassed. Robby smiled.
    “That’s OK. It made me cry the first time I heard it, too.”
    Robby saw Ethan look at him and nod with understanding. Well, maybe Ethan wasn’t quite such a freak.
    They reached the music room and the teacher, Mr. Stern, inventoried their instruments and directed them to the proper shelves before sending them back to class.
    “So, Zhenya,” said Ethan as they left the music room to return to Homeroom, “You must be related to Alexander Koronov, too.”
    Zhenya, however, seemed reluctant to discuss this.
    “Yes, but…”
    Ethan was gushing again as they walked toward the top of the stairs.
    “The October Symphony is one of my favorites. It’s so… bold and… I guess, courageous! It makes you want to go out and overthrow the government!”
    Robby was shocked to hear Ethan say something so treasonous! Zhenya simply frowned.
    “Dyedushka was evil man.”
    It was Ethan’s turn to be shocked.
    “Why? He was a great composer! I have lots of his records!”
    Zhenya said nothing more as they descended the stairs. Ethan looked perplexed and said nothing more. Robby tried to think of something to say, but Zhenya definitely did not seem to be in the mood for further conversation. The group proceeded back to Homeroom in silence. Robby was sorry that Zhenya seemed unhappy after the conversation, but he felt a slight degree of satisfaction that Ethan the Hippy seemed to be the cause.
    The remainder of First Period was taken up with distributing the Social Studies textbooks and introducing the course. Robby was almost disappointed when the bell rang. He took his time gathering his textbook and backpack, watching as Zhenya hurried out the door, followed by the rest of the class. Hippy Ethan didn’t seem in a hurry to follow Zhenya, Robby noted with a smirk. But, he wasn’t pleased to see Gavin Dietrich and Biff LaFrance get in line behind him as they made their way to the door. Nor was he surprised when he suddenly found himself sprawled on the floor in the doorway with the two Buttfaces crawling over him.
    “Dietrich!” Mr. Osborn yelled.
    “It was an accident,” Gavin protested before disappearing down the hall. Robby quickly recovered and moved out of the way in search of his locker.
    When he found it, he was able to get the lock’s combination on the first try. However, as he opened the door, his heart sank yet again as Ethan suddenly materialized at his side and said, as he began working the lock on the neighboring locker, “That Gavin Dietrich guy seems to have a few hostilities inside him.”
    Robby simply grunted. He set his book on the shelf, placed his backpack on the bottom of the locker and shut the door.
    He had less trouble finding his Second Period class, French. He noticed Sean the Shyboy entering the class ahead of him and he was glad that he wouldn’t be the only boy in French. He had feared that it would be all girls. He took a seat next to Sean at the side of the class just as Zhenya walked in. He smiled at the Russian boy and waved; Zhenya seemed relieved and hurried over to claim the desk in front of Sean.
    And, then, entered Ethan.
    Oh, for Pete’s sake! Robby muttered under his breath. He heard a quick burst of breath from Sean, as if he were silently chuckling. Ethan noticed the three boys and smiled broadly before coming over and taking the desk in front of Robby and beside Zhenya, who offered no reaction.
    “Hey, guys!” he said with a cheerful grin.
    Robby gave a polite smile and then looked out the window. Sean blushed and softly replied, “Hi.” Zhenya nodded and folded his hands.
    “Looks like we’re the only guys in here!” Ethan commented enthusiastically. “Four guys and a dozen girls. Looks like good odds to me.”
    He looked carefully at the other boys as he said this. Robby thought it strange that he should say this and then look so intently at them.
    “Yeah, I guess.”
    Sean simply blushed and looked down at his clenched hands.
    Madame Creneau  seemed to be a no-nonsense kind of teacher. She marched into class, dropped her materials on her desk, and immediately began speaking to the class in incomprehensible French. By the end of the class, Robby realized that she didn’t seem to have a very high opinion of boys who studied French, though why she should share the prejudice of other boys was beyond him. One way she demonstrated that prejudice was to segregate the boys in the back of the room and, when study partners were chosen, limit them to each other. Robby had hoped Zhenya would be his partner and that, failing that, he might get Sean. Of course, Ethan Hippyboy was appointed by Madame Creneau to be his partner. Zhenya and Sean were paired together.
    “Cool!” Ethan enthused as he looked back at Robby and grinned. Robby caught himself looking at that cute smile. Cute? No! it was not cute. It was gross. He was a gross, disgusting hippy who did drugs and protested the war. No. He was not cute.
    Robby gave a polite smile and then looked back at Madame Creneau. Was it possible that he could change his schedule and take Spanish, instead?
    Ironically, English followed French in Robby’s schedule. Naturally the three other boys had the same class. Robby was able to slip into a desk at the side in the midst of a group of girls. He accidentally caught Ethan’s eye and noticed his suggestive wink as he gestured to the girls around Robby. Robby blushed and looked away. Actually, sitting in the middle of a bunch of stupid, giggling girls was the last thing he wanted. Well, not the last thing; but, pretty darn close.
    “Hi, Ronald,” one of the girls cooed.
    “It’s not Ronald,” he responded with a bit more asperity than he thought was probably necessary. “It’s Robby.”
    “Oh,” she said, suggestively. “I think that’s sexy. You want to go steady?”    
    The others giggled. Robby looked at the girl as if she were insane or a disgusting insect needing to be squashed. Or both.
    Lunch occurred in the middle of Fourth Period Science.  Once again, Robby had found a desk where Ethan wouldn’t be able to sit beside him. Unfortunately, that also precluded Zhenya from doing so, as well, which irritated him. He really wanted to get to know Zhenya. He would be a fascinating friend, but it looked as if Ethan was going to try to dominate them both. Sean seemed pretty much of a wet rag and he wasn’t particularly anxious to have him hanging around, though he felt sorry for him. However, when the class lined up to walk to the cafeteria, Ethan insinuated himself between Robby and Zhenya and tried to make conversation.
    “So, Robby, how’d you like Austin?”
    Trying to be friendly and polite, but not too much so, he smiled and replied, “Oh, Austin’s the coolest place on earth. There’s all sorts of great music there and great food and its really pretty. The Hill Country is really cool.”    
    “Yeah, Dad did a reading there once. He said Austin wasn’t really like the rest of Texas. He said it was an oasis in a desert of ignorance.”
    They were about to enter the cafeteria as Robby, trying to control the irritation in his voice, looked at Ethan coldly and replied, in a Texan an accent as he could muster, “There ain’t nothin’ wrong with Texas!”
    “Oh, sorry,” Ethan replied contritely. “I didn’t mean to make you mad. I was just…”
    “Yeah, well. We don’t have hippies in Texas who hate the war and hate America.”
    They were now in line and Zhenya was looking back Robby with apprehension. He understood most of what was being said, though not all of it. What he understood, however, was enough to let him know that Ethan had offended Robby and Robby was not taking it. Zhenya was unaccustomed to such things as the school he had attended in Moscow was much more highly disciplined than the American school in which he now found himself.
    “Well, actually, you do. There are lots of people in Austin who are against the war. And, just because you’re against the war doesn’t mean you’re against America. My father says that sometimes the most patriotic thing you can do is to disagree with the government.”
    “Yeah?” Robby replied hotly. “Well, your father’s a jerk.”
    Zhenya turned and looked at Robby in horror. Several other kids in line watched as well, hoping for a fight. They were disappointed. Ethan simply smiled and replied, “That’s OK. You just don’t know my father. I’m surprised you’re not against the war, seeing as how your dad was killed there.”
    “It’s the Communists who killed him. My grandfather says we should bomb ‘em  back to the Stone Age and he’s right.”
    Ethan continued to smile, but he looked downward for a second, in thought. When he looked up again, as he picked up a tray, he said quietly, “Your father was against the war.”
    Robby looked outraged as he slammed his tray now on the rail.
    “He was not!”
    Ethan was silent as he moved forward. He took a plate with meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans from the lady behind the counter. As the lady handed an identical plate to him, Robby muttered, “Dad was a journalist. He was a good American. He wasn’t against the war.”
    Ethan took a pint of milk and a dish of tapioca pudding and moved on to the cashier. Zhenya had already paid and was quickly walking away, looking for an empty table. Ethan paid and picked up his tray. He hesitated for a moment and then followed Zhenya. Once Robby paid, he looked to see where Ethan was going and then deliberately walked in the opposite direction.
    He hadn’t made it far before a kid with a complexion looking like the lunar landscape slid his chair backward and into Robby, who fell sideways, throwing his lunch all over a table of girls, who screamed as Robby and his food landed all over them. The kid who had triggered the chain reaction laughed hysterically, as did most of the kids in the cafeteria. One of the girls slapped Robby in the face as he struggled to stand, accidentally grabbing her left booby.
    There was instant compliance as Mr. Osborn approached. He reached out to Robby to help him up. A janitor was already on the way to clean up the mess as the teacher looked daggers at the offender.
    “What’s your name?” he demanded.
    “Jack,” the kid replied insolently. “What’s yours?”
    “Jack what?”
    “Well, Mr. What, nice to meet ya.”
    Mr. Osborn’s eyes grew wide. He turned to Robby and said, “Go back and get another tray after you wipe yourself off. Tell the cashier I said so. Girls, were you all done? Then go to the girls’ room and clean up. This wasn’t Mr. McDonnell’s fault. As for you, Jack, we’re going to get to know each other a little better. Come with me.”
    “Well, I don’t kiss on the first date,” the kid said as several chuckles broke out around him. Mr. Osborn took him by the collar and dragged him away.
    After he had gotten a second tray and found an empty seat in the corner, Robby closed his eyes in fury and humiliation. As he tried to choke down his meat loaf, he pondered his life, as it had become. His father was dead, his mother was a drunken slut, his school was populated with freaks and jerks and buttfaces.
    And, his dick was hard as a rock.
    He clenched his fist in rage. Why? Why did his dick have to get hard every darn time he got mad? Why did his dick have to get hard every darn time he saw a cute boy? Why did his dick have to get hard whenever he looked at that jerk, Ethan Hippyprick?
    He glanced up just as Zhenya and Ethan were walking out the door and into the hallway. Ethan glanced over at him, but his face was neutral as he passed through the door. Sean followed a moment later, glancing shyly at Robby with what must have been pity.
    Oh, great, Robby thought contemptuously. The wussie feels sorry for me.
    The remainder of Fourth Period Science was uneventful, as was Fifth Period Math, in which he found a desk in the back of the class next to the freckled tough kid. Apparently, the guy approved of the way Robby stomped back to his desk. He nodded and said a tough, but almost friendly, “How’s it goin’?”
    Robby was in no mood for small talk. He merely grunted, which seemed to meet with Toughies approval.
    “Matt,” he said, looking over with a slight smile.
    “What?” Robby replied as he settled into his seat.
    “My name’s Matt.”
    Robby nodded.
    “Oh. I’m Robby.”
    All further conversation was stifled as the teacher, a mustachioed geek with black-framed glasses entered and began babbling something about more paperwork and assigning textbooks. Robby, apparently, disappointed Matt by paying attention Mr. Worsley, the name the teacher wrote on the blackboard without comment; and when the bell rang to end the period, he left the room without comment.
    Robby felt no trepidation about Sixth Period Physical Education, but Sean must have for when Robby entered the gymnasium, he saw Sean standing near the door to the Coach’s office, his hands jammed into his pockets and a look on his face as if he were being led to the executioner.
    He’s beggin’ for it, Robby thought as he walked across the wide expanse of the gymnasium. However, that thought came to an abrupt end as he suddenly found himself sprawled across the free-throw line. The kid named Jack who had provided so much entertainment in the cafeteria was standing over him laughing. Nearby, the Buttfaces, Gavin and Biff, were laughing hysterically, as was the moron from early in the morning.
    Well, perhaps Gym wasn’t going to be so fun, after all.
    Suddenly, “Jack” found himself on the floor beside Robby as a bigger kid with nicely cut brown hair and expensive looking clothes sat on the bully’s back.
    “Now, say your sorry to ‘Red,’ here,” he said holding Jack’s head up by the hair.
    “Fuck you,” the punk spat.
    “I guess I’m going to have to teach you some manners,” the older kid said as he jerked Jack’s head back.
    “Huffnagle! What the Hell are you doing?”
    All eyes in the gym turned toward the office, where they saw emerging a corpulent man in tight shorts and a knit shirt, stripped gym shorts up to his knees, and a mustache displaying part of the day’s lunch.
    “Hey, Coach! How was your summer?”
    “Huffnagle, get off that boy and tell me what you are doing.”
    “I’m teaching him manners, Coach. He accidentally knocked ‘Red,’ here,  over and didn’t even excuse himself.”
    Coach rolled his eyes.
    “Get off. Now.”
    Huffnagle grinned and stood.
    “You, Zit-face. What’s your name?”
    “Purvis,” Jack replied with none of the vim and vigor with which he had addressed Mr. Osborn earlier.
    “Get your ass up. I’ll be watching you. You, Red. What’s your name?”
    “McDonnell,” Robby replied as he quickly stood.
    “Good. Don’t be a wussy.”
    Robby’s eyes widened in disbelief and he was about to protest when Coach turned to the rest of the class and began to address the several dozen boys.
    “Alright, ladies, listen up. Today, I will be assigning your lockers and your uniforms, which will consist of shorts, t-shirt, and jock. You WILL wear these each and every day and you WILL shower each and every day at the end of class. NO exceptions. There will be no excuses just because you’re afraid someone will see what little you have. And, we WILL suit up TOMORROW!”
    This was not disturbing news to Robby; he expected it. However, the sheer terror on Sean’s face was almost laughable.
    “Oh, my God,” the Coach suddenly declared. “Someone got lost on the way to the girl’s gym!”
    Everyone turned to see where Coach was looking and, there in the very center of the boys, leaning on his right leg , his arms crossed casually, and a perfectly serene smile on his face, stood Ethan Hippyprick.
    There were chuckles throughout the class. Ethan seemed oblivious to them.
    “What… is…your…name?” Coach asked, punctuating each word as his eyes grew menacing .
    “Ethan Spenser. And, yours?”
    The man’s eyes grew wide and his face turned red.
    “I am your worst nightmare.”
    Ethan thought for a second and then reply, “Well, actually, Richard Nixon’s my worst nightmare, but if it makes you feel better, you come a close second.”
    The look of serenity never left Ethan’s face, but Robby was about to come unglued. He didn’t know whether to laugh at the kid’s audacity or be afraid for him. Apparently, the rest of the class was in eh same quandary.
    Coach stood for a full minute looking at him before saying softly, “Come with me.”
    Coach turned and marched toward the office, Ethan serenely following. As the door to the office closed, the whole class burst into a raucous cacophony.
    “Did you hear him?”
    “That was great!”
    “Coach is gonna kill him.”
    “Coach hates long hair. I’ll bet he cuts off that ponytail.
    Zhenya, who had been standing near Sean, walked over to Robby.
    “What will happen to Ethan?” he asked. “Will they… expel him?”
    Robby shrugged.
    “I don’t know. Probably give him a couple of swats.”
    Zhenya looked confused, but before he could ask for clarification, the door to the office opened. Slowly, Ethan emerged from within, displaying the same serene smile on his face. However, his face and eyes were a bright red and there was a definite moistness around them. His fists were clenched and he was not walking normally. It was as if he were holding something inside. Yet, the serene, peaceful smile never left his face.
    Coach emerged and announced to Ethan, in front of the entire class, “Tomorrow, you will come to school with a haircut and you won’t be wearing sandals. Is that understood?”
    With a very controlled voice, Ethan replied, “I will let my mother know.”
    “You’ll do more than that!” Coach replied with asperity.
    Ethan simply nodded formally.
    The remainder of the period was spent with official business. Several boys came up to Ethan, who seemed to have earned some respect in their eyes. Robby stood watching him, trying to figure him out. He was definitely the strangest kid he had ever met.
    His journey to his seventh and final class, Orchestra, was uneventful. He was the second person out of the gym, closely following Sean, who silently led the way up to the music room. When they arrived, Mr. Stern was asking what instrument each student played and then directing them to the proper seats. Naturally, when everyone was seated, Robby found himself between Zhenya, on one side, and Ethan, favoring his rear end, on the other. There were several other boys and girls in the section who Robby guessed must have been seventh and eighth graders.  Several of them looked down on the three boys with mixtures of indulgence and contempt. Sean, the only boy in the flute section, seemed to want to melt into his seat. Robby looked around curiously and saw “Huffnagle” from Gym class sitting in what he believed was the French horn section. Gavin Buttface was a trumpet, (why was that not surprising?), and Tim Zitisky sat with the oboe’s.
    Mr. Stern made a number of announcements, advised them of their performance schedule for the year, and notified them that auditions for seating would be held Wednesday, (the next day). Robby’s heart sank. It would be a combination of sight-reading a piece presented by Mr. Stern plus performing a piece of the player’s own choosing. Robby loved The Ice Prince and had taught himself to play the melody from the second movement, “The Dance of the Wolves,” on his violin. That would be his audition piece. He felt confident that Zhenya wouldn’t play anything by his illustrious family member and Mr. Stern hadn’t even raised an eyebrow at Zhenya’s name. However, the sight-reading was what made him nervous. If he could just make one of the second violin chairs, he would be happy. He would be totally humiliated if he ended up a third violin.
    He was so preoccupied by his worries that he almost missed Mr. Stern’s announcement that auditions would be held in two weeks for the Sheffield Youth Symphony. Zhenya and Ethan seemed to be paying careful attention. His heart sank. He knew, he just knew they were probably great violinists. With the seventh and eighth graders in the running with them, not only would he have no chance for even second violin in the school orchestra, he would never have a chance to even get IN to the Sheffield Youth Symphony.
    “So what are you going to play for your audition, tomorrow?” Ethan asked Robby as they made their way to the shelves to get their instruments. Robby saw that Zhenya was well ahead of them, and grinned as he turned and replied, “The Dance of the Wolves!”
    “No way! Zhenya’s gonna play that!”
    Robby’s heart stopped.
    “How do you know?”
    “I heard him playing it last night.”
    “Well, I was out walking last night and went past this house just down the street and heard someone playing it. Today, Zhenya told me he lives at 18th and Richmond, which is where I was! So, anyway, he played it pretty good. So, since its his great-great-uncle, he’ll probably play it.”
    “But, he said he never heard any Dmitri Koronov pieces!”
    “No, he said he’s never seen The Ice Prince performed. Since he’s been in America a year; he’s probably heard all of Dmitri’s work. Probably plays it all, too.”
    Ethan picked up his violin with a heavy heart. His favorite piece of music was about to be taken from him, and by the composer’s great-great-nephew.
    Well, it just figured.
    What else could go wrong?
    After leaving his locker in the downstairs hall, Robby caught up with Zhenya and Ethan as they headed out the front door into the sunlight and heat of the September afternoon.
    “So, Zhenya, wanna come over to my place? I just live down the street there. We could play violins and I could show you my model ship collection and my stamp collection, and we could play backgammon maybe, and…”
    “Thank you,” Zhenya replied, “but I must go home. My father is… waiting for me.”
    Zhenya seemed genuinely sad and embarrassed, but Ethan interrupted and said, “That’s OK, I live the same way. I can walk with you! See you tomorrow, Robby!”
    At that moment, Robby McDonnell wanted to shove Ethan’s violin, bow and all, directly up his happy hippy ass! But, before he could fully formulate the thought in his head, someone said, “Hey, Ronald McDonald!” and he almost instantly found himself falling over the benches circling the flagpole. Gavin Dietrich and Biff LaFrance strutted by chuckling before climbing into a Mercedes parked illegally  in front of the school.


    It was dark outside and Robby could faintly hear the eleven o’clock news coming on downstairs as he walked back to his bedroom after brushing his teeth. He walked quietly so as not to antagonize his mother, whom he had already antagonized by practicing “The Dance of the Wolves” for two and a half hours that evening. He had stayed up too late on a school night listening, with the volume on his record player turned down as low as possible, to the old RCA Victor LP of The New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein playing The Ice Prince. Had he missed anything that might help his performance? Was their some subtle nuance he could find and exploit to beat Zhenya Koronov and show that he was the master of his favorite piece of music?
    He flipped off the wall switch to the ceiling light, leaving the room in only the pale yellow light of the reading lamp on his nightstand. He walked to his desk and picked up a clean, brand-new spiral and his black Flair pen before walking to the bed and climbing in. Guiltily, he did not knell and say his prayers before crawling under the sheet. There was a time when he did so every night. Of course, there was a time when he had friends who liked him, when he was a daredevil and rode his bike where he wasn’t supposed to, when he was a kid.
    Well, he wasn’t a kid anymore. His childhood was gone now. Now, he was in Middle School and almost an adult and he was facing the disappointments with life that adults faced.
    And, his dick was hard.
    He had intended to lay in bed until he was sleepy and work on a new Brooks of Sheffield story. He needed to escape from the ugly realities of his new life and become Theophilus Brooks, twelve year-old genius secret agent of the CIA. After finishing his last story, he was ready to start another, even better story. This one would blow the other three away! This one would be the best ever. He would track a Soviet spy, a Russian defector who was really a Russian secret agent pretending to be a defector.
    Hey, he thought. Wait a minute! Nobody escapes from Russia or Czechoslovakia! Just how DID Zhenya and his father get from Prague to Germany? What if Zhenya’s father was really a Russian spy?
    That would explain why Ethan Hippydick was so friendly with him! Yeah! Ethan was in on it! His father was that Communist poet! He had to be helping Zhenya’s father.
    But, why would they come to Sheffield? What was here to spy on? The university didn’t do anything really important when it came to research and all Sheffield College was famous for was teaching languages and music and history and stuff like that. Languages. Maybe that was it. Maybe they were recruiting students at Sheffield College to betray their country and become spies for the Soviets! And, he, Robin Patrick McDonnell, was the only person who could expose them!
    He was excited. This was even better than one of his stories! This wasn’t just Theophilus Brooks, boy genius saving America. This was Robby McDonnell saving America from the evil Russian spy-ring!
    He had to plan this out. Yeah, that’s what he had to do. He had to think it all through, yeah, all… through… all about the spies… spies playing violins… and dancing wolves… spies riding dancing wolves and playing violins… and Brooks of Sheffield was going to save America… and Ethan Hippydick was… playing a violin and sitting on a dancing wolf… and he had a stiffy… yeah… Ethan’s stiffy… and the violins and…

And, so, ends Chapter Two of Courage and Passion. Tune in again next week to learn if Robby saves America from the Communist Conspiracy, or at least makes Second Violin in the auditions. In the meantime, please let me know what you think by writing to me at chriswriter@ Thank you so much!