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LMS VI: The Halls of St. Julian's

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Sun Nov 06, 2022 10:14 pm
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looseleaf says...

Week Nine - Chapter 3.4 - 1,073 Words (i swear i did not plan that)

George squinted, “Didn’t you all fight for the Austrians in the war?”

“The main army did, yes, but he fought for the Czechoslovak Legions, which fought with the United States.” Eduard wanted to tac on that Uncle Oskar and his mom’s brothers had fought for the regular military but was able to catch himself beforehand.

Those parts would have to remain hidden inside of him for as long as he possibly could.


The grey stone of the Church had been washed mere hours before the boys stepped foot inside of it. Small puddles of water were scattered across the floor. Janitors mopped them in a frenzy.

“How do all six grades fit in here?” Eduard asked. He kept a watchful eye on the teachers who were directing the boys around. He couldn’t be caught talking in Church on his first day.

George’s silent shrug agreed with Eduard’s concern. The football player was walking a few steps in front of the third baseman. He was either a fast walker, Eduard decided, or he did not want to be seen with the Czech from Nebraska.

Bright streams of purples and blue shone down on the boys from the three stained glass windows behind the alter. A few of them shielded their eyes with their hands, but most automatically found their pew without an issue. Eight boys were assigned to each row and the Church was dividing into sections to fit each grade.

An intricately-carved, raised pulpit stood to the left of the altar. Mr. Alarie was using the last minutes before the ceremony to go through the papers he had prepared. One.. two.. three.. four.. five.. six whole pages, Eduard counted. He groaned. Creighton Prep’s commencement ceremonies had never been more than two and a prayer service.

A boy in the pew in front of Eduard suddenly twisted around, leaned his arms on the top of the pew, and scanned him from his head to his unshined shoes. His suit was nicer than any outfit Mr. Klement had left behind; his cufflinks alone were probably worth dozens of dollars. Eduard wanted to roll his eyes. Days ago he had been conning his neighbors out of pennies to help his mother get by and now, here he was, in a sea of people who the depression had spared from its wrath.

“Who are you?” the boy asked.

“Eduard,” he whispered in response, “I’m in the fifth form.”

“Oh, you’re the new Bohemian student, aren’t you?”

Eduard nodded. The boy stared at him for a moment, as if he was deep in thought, but faced the front as quickly as he had turned around. He whispered something to the brown-haired boy next to him, who in turn flipped around. A wide grin was plastered on his face.

“What does your father do?”

“Excuse me?” Eduard replied. There was no doubting that it was an important question. The answer to What does your father do? would guide his position in the school for the next to years.

“I asked ‘what does your father do?’ He probably owns a pub for the rest of your population to feed off of,” the boy snickered and his friend, who had been too cowardly to ask the question himself, smiled.

Eduard scoffed. The only Czech alcoholic he knew was Uncle Oskar, and he had only started drinking after they moved to the States.

“For your information, my father graduated from here and went on to own a bank.”

The boys in front of him looked at each other, deciding Eduard’s rank in the social hierarchy.

“Really?” the coward asked.

Eduard wanted to say no. Mr. Klement hadn’t really owned a bank–he was a manager at one–but that would not have been enough to fully persuade them.

“He did,” he replied, “Do you not believe me?”

The boy shook his head and they both turned around to face the altar. A group of greying men had appeared in the chairs next to it. Even they were wearing uniforms. The men all wore black suits with the red and blue school crest on their left breast. Their ties were pressed and all of them were either black or matched the emblem.

A wave of shhhhhh moved through the crowd, although almost nobody was talking. The few boys who were whispering to their friends quickly straightened themselves. Teachers’ eyes moved rapidly between the boys, searching for the offenders.

“Good afternoon, gentlemen.”

“Good afternoon, Headmaster Alarie,” the crowd replied in unison. Eduard and a few first forms were the only ones delayed.

“I believe we are all glad to be back within the walls of St. Julian’s; or, if you are one of our new pupils glad to be beginning the next chapter in what will be a very fruitful life,” he began, “The 1935-1936 schoolyear is set to be one of the greatest in St. Julian’s Academy’s history since our founding in 1827.”

“He says this every year,” George DeMund mumbled under his breath. Eduard hardly acknowledged him, never tearing his eyes off the man giving the speech.

“The main reason, of course, is our student body. I can already see among you the next president, several governors and senators, Congressmen, ambassadors, and bounds of lawyers and the like. All of you will leave these doors and join the ranks of great St. Julian’s alumni, such as the president, four Senators, nine Governors, twenty-one Congressmen we have created.”

“That’s one more than last year,” George tacked on. Eduard wondered if the interrupting would become a regular thing.


“There’s one more Governor than last year,” he replied, “Last year, there was eight, this year there’s nine. I think there may be another Congressman, too.”

“Do you know who it?” Eduard asked. Whose father held one of the highest positions in the country? He should have done more research before arriving at the school. In hindsight, knowing whether or not befriending some boys would make the next two years more worthwhile would have been useful information.

“The father of the third baseman I was telli-”


“--you future fine men are living out St. Julian’s legacy. Everything the student body does should embody the attitude of the school as well. Your championship is our championship, and your successes are our successes. That being said–”

“This is where the fun ends.”

Eduard sighed, “What?”

“He’s about to give us the rules on visiting St. Jane Frances’.”

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Mon Nov 14, 2022 4:52 am
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looseleaf says...

Week Ten - Chapter 4.1 - 1123 Words

Monday. The first hellish day of classes. The first day Eduard was officially a student at St. Julian’s Academy.

The weekend had gone smoothly. By omitting some details and embellishing others, Eduard was able to change the stares of his classmates from looks of disgust to looks of admiration or, at least, indifference. George had introduced him to a few of the baseball and football players; each of them worth more than the amount of money Mr. Klement’s bank had held.

“Who do you have for English?” George asked. The two boys were walking to class, taking a shortcut” behind the dormitories and school buildings instead of using the sidewalk.

“Hold on,” Eduard pulled his crumpled schedule out of his pocket and read down the rows until he found Fifth Form Honors Literature, “Mrs. Davidson. Is she nice?”

The other boy laughed, “She’s a real dog. She gave me a ninety on an essay last year because I forgot to put three of my sources in alphabetical order.”

“And she took off ten whole percent?”

“Well, I had some grammatical mistakes, too.”

Eduard nodded. The only question he had asked that morning was at breakfast, where he asked if Mr. Thompson’s class was hard. Out of the kindness of his heart (or, perhaps, his desire to diminish his teachers’ reputations), George made it his mission to mold his roommate’s opinion of each of their teachers.

The boys rounded the corner past the tennis courts and history building and wound up on the sidewalk connected to the main courtyard. About a dozen cars were parked alongside the road.

“Are those the teachers’ cars?” Eduard asked, but almost immediately regretted the question once he looked closer.

The cars were all less than three years old and none of them would have lined the roads back home. He scanned each car carefully: a 1933 Lincoln, a 1932 Packard, and a 1932 Cadillac were the closest of the three cars. Beyond them was an Auburn Speedster from the current model year; the only one Eduard had ever seen in person. No teacher could afford those cars, and neither could he. Pictures of his Ford back home flooded his mind. He glanced down at his used math textbook. It was as if he was the only student on the entire campus who had experienced the Depression. For a brief moment, Eduard finally appreciated the true purpose of his parents sending him to St. Julians. It was not for the education: it was for the connections.

“Of course not,” George replied, as expected, “They belong to the few non-boarding students we have.”

“Are those their parents cars?”

George laughed, and Eduard joined in.

They walked up the path and into the math department’s building. The black front door was surrounded by an intricate white doorframe, which each of the windows matched. The inside of the building resembled the dormitories with a grand staircase in the center and hallways branching off onto either side.

“The bottom floor has our classrooms and so does the left side upstairs. The other spaces are professors’ offices and a conference room, but no one really uses it. It does have some books about math, though, on its bookshelves.”

Eduard said, “Do you have Mr. Thompson’s class?”

“I’m in the math level below you, so I have it later in the day,” the other boy answered, “I have to get to the history building.”

“Oh, well, thank you for taking me over here. I’ll see you at lunch.”

“Yeah, yeah,” George began closing the front door in between them, “Have a nice first day. Try not to die.”

Eduard smiled until the door latched. Then, he walked up the stairs and tagged behind a large group of students who were making their way to the upstairs classrooms. A few of them split off from the crowd as they neared the end of the hallway, but the majority of them entered the same classroom.

Three rows of five desks filled the room, each with its own wooden chair and a small cushion. The boys each hurried to sit in the spots farthest from Mr. Thompson’s desk, leaving Eduard with a front-row seat. The front wall was almost completely covered by a chalkboard. The words “Honors Algebra II” was scrawled upon it in large, sloppy handwriting.

As the bell rang and the clock struck eight, Mr. Thompson strolled into the room. He was wearing a worn brown jacket, grey pants that did not match, and a white-buttoned down shirt. His tie was yellow and stained in several places.

“Good morning, class,” Mr. Thompson announced as he set down the papers he had been holding under his arm, “As you all know, my name is Mr. Thompson. I was born and raised outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, and attended Columbia University for my bachelor’s and master's degrees in mathematics. I was too young for the Great War but I served for three years in our Navy. That being said, I will be your Algebra II teacher for this year. Why don’t we go around and introduce ourselves?”

“We all know each other already,” a voice from the back row said just loud enough for Eduard to pick up. Mr. Thompson did, too.

“If you are so sure about that, why don’t you start? And say something about yourself, as well.”

The boy scoffed, “Frank. I row for our team.”

“Well, Frank who likes to row, thank you for starting,” Mr. Thompson said and a few snickers rose from the class, “You next.”

“I’m Robert. I’m a day student.”

“My name is Marcel. My family has a house in France, which we live in over the summer.”

Each boy sounded off, listing their name and what they thought was their most notable attribute. One boy had swam two miles at once, while another was an award-winning equestrian whose family owned a ranch in Nevada.

“I’m Cameron. I play third base in baseball.”

Eduard’s head immediately turned to face the dark-blond-haired boy to his left. He was wearing a letterman jacket, but no one seemed to care about the uniform violation. Eduard looked at Cameron’s desk. His summer work was meticulously filled out, each equation and note overly explained to the finest detail.

“And, finally, our new student, Mr..?” Mr. Thompson interrupted Eduard’s train of thought.

“My name is Eduard,” he said, “I’m from Omaha.”

“You don’t sound like it,” a boy named Harrison said from the second row.

“Well, I am originally from Czechoslovakia. My family moved here when I was five.”

“Oh,” Harrison mumbled, his nose scrunching in an expression of semi-disgust. A new, Bohemian student in his math class? Impossible.

“But my dad is a St. Julian alum.”

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Mon Nov 21, 2022 5:33 am
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looseleaf says...

Week Eleven - Chapter 4.2 - 1078 Words

The nose scrunch lessened in intensity and the other boys’ eyes wandered elsewhere. A single leaf fell from a tree outside as the wind began to whistle. Mr. Thompson smiled at the group of students and rubbed his hands together as every father does while talking about something they are excited about. Mr. Klement himself used to make the same gesture when discussing the newest models of Czech Tatras and Pragas. Eduard hoped to one day enthusiastically describe his passions to his own children.

“Wonderful, everybody,” the teacher said, “I hope you all come to love Algebra and mathematics as much as I do or, at least, learn to tolerate it a little better than you currently do. Now, please take out a piece of paper and write ‘Introduction to X^2’ at the top. I expect your notes to be well-organized and precise so that you can study from them and them alone. Sloppy notes are no excuse for failure.”

A grumble rolled through the crowd of boys. The sound of papers being flipped and pencils scratching began to fill the room. Eduard could feel the tough spot on his middle finger, which appeared every year due to holding his pencil wrong, start to form.

As Mr. Thompson wrote each number and variable on the board, Eduard began to feel at ease. This was still not his school–he was not sure if it would ever be–but he welcomed any educational environment and any competition. He had read the school’s welcome pamphlet from back to front; he knew how important winning an award at the semester prize ceremonies was.

“I will give you all a moment to solve this equation,” Mr. Thompson said after about ten minutes of notetaking. Eduard swiftly scribbled some numbers on his paper that somewhat resembled long division. A moment passed as he contemplated his next move: should he wait for an old student to answer first, or raise his hand? Did he want to be thought of as like everyone else or as a contender for the top of the class? The latter won out.

“Yes, Eduard?”

“34x plu–no, minus–9,” he replied. For once, he was grateful for the summer studying his father had made him do, year after year, a half hour every summer day but Sundays. Eduard had instinctively carried on the tradition this summer, the first without his old man by his side. Perhaps summer math was one of his ways of holding on.

“Good job, Mr. Klement,” Mr. Thompson smiled, “Did everyone get that answer? May I move on?”

Most of the boys nodded in unison. The ones who didn’t simply kept their head down and did not raise their hand to fix their mistakes. Mr. Thompson reiterated his question again, looking specifically at the boys who refused to ask for help, but to no avail.

Eduard also answered the next problem, receiving another look of approval from Mr. Thompson and a grumble from the other students who were almost about to finish the problem. Soon enough, a new equation was written in chalk and Eduard’s pencil was whizzing across his paper again.

“Yes, Mr. Jenkins?” Mr. Thompson asked, glancing toward a ginger student rather than the Czech.

“6x plus ninety-five,” Harrison replied, which elicited a good job from the teacher. Eduard looked back at his classmate, who met his gaze. Eduard wanted to assume that Harrison Jenkins was it; they were now competitors vying for the top spot. Yet, something deep in his gut disagreed. Only three questions had been asked.

The class went on with Eduard answering every other question while Harrison, Marcel, and Cameron filled in the gaps and waited to pounce when he got the occasional question wrong. About halfway through the period, Mr. Thompson slowly stopped calling on Eduard, then Harrison, and the other boys: a subtle effort to help those falling behind catch up. It did not work. Either their egos or their fear of being seen as lesser prevented them from answering questions and potentially risking being wrong.

Textbooks slammed shut and binder rings snapped as the bell rang. Eduard Klement’s first class, over in the blink of an eye. He collected his supplies and slipped them into his bag, being careful not to crinkle or tear any of his detailed notes. Boys rushed passed him in a hurry to meet with friends in between classes as if the passing period wasn’t ten minutes long.

“Mr. Klement?” Mr. Thompson asked when the majority of students had left the room. It took Eduard a moment to register that “Mr. Klement?” was referring to him, and not his father or uncle.

“Yes, sir?”

“I just wanted to tell you that you did extraordinary today,” Mr. Thompson said, “It is not only hard to start at a new school in the middle of your high school journey, but I have never seen a new student as prepared for the first day as you were.”

“Thank you, Mr. Thompson.”

“May I ask how you were so prepared?” the teacher continued, turning around to wipe the chalkboard clean before his next class, “I know I sent out a summer math packet, but, even if you received it on time, I admit it was not that challenging.”

The packet had not been complicated at all. In fact, it had made Eduard doubt how rigorous St. Julian’s curriculum was. But, seeing Mr. Thompson teach and try to help those at the bottom of the intellectual ladder made him realize why it had seemed so easy, “My father used to make me do extra summer math and reading, besides what we were assigned for school.”

“Well, next time, you write to him, please tell him that it worked.”

Eduard chuckled despite himself.


“My father died of pneumonia last year,” Eduard shrugged but continued when Mr. Thompson opened his mouth to apologize, “Don’t worry about it, Mr. Thompson. The life insurance money was the only way I would ever be able to go here, so maybe it was a blessing in disguise,” he partially fibbed.

Mr. Thompson smiled at Eduard with the warmth of a grandfather.

“I’m sorry, anyways,” he said, “I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day, and, please, do not hesitate to ask me any questions about anything.”

“I definitely will,” Eduard replied as he slung his bag over his shoulders and began walking towards the door, “Thank you, Mr. Thompson. I’ll see you on Wednesday.”

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Mon Nov 28, 2022 4:54 am
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looseleaf says...

Week Twelve - Chapter 4.3 - 1069 Words
Sorry, this week's part was very rushed and is very, very unedited!

Eduard exited the room and made his way down the stairs. Other students had already entered the math building and were making their way to their classes ten minutes early. Sweat had started to appear on their faces, and some of them were breathing heavily after jogging from building to building. Eduard had to admire their dedication.

He glanced down at his schedule. Math was done with, now he had Honors Chemistry and History before lunch. After lunch, he was assigned to period four physical education. Baseball tryouts were set to take place during it. Eduard had never heard of baseball tryouts in the fall–baseball was a spring sport–but George had detailed how dedicated the school was almost as dedicated to sports as it was to academics. Spring sports teams began practice in the fall, and fall sports teams were “highly encouraged” to start practicing in the summer. Fall players who didn’t participate in summer practice tended to be reprimanded for unrelated issues during the school year.

Eduard sped from the math building to the science building. He kept pace with the boys who appeared smart; the ones with their heads down, books held tight in their arms, who were running in between classes. He hardly paid attention to the ones talking to friends, besides waving at George and a group of boys in his dormitory who were relaxing in the main courtyard.

The science building was one of the three surrounding the central courtyard. It was on the right, history was on the left, and the library with the ginormous steeple was dead center. Mr. Klement used to tell stories about reading library books on the grass during the warm months and reading next to one of the library’s fireplaces during the winter. Eduard had always been uninspired by the pictures his father’s stories painted in his mind. If only Mr. Klement could know that Eduard had become truly impressed by St. Julian’s. That was one of the many things he had never seen realized before pneumonia struck.

The interior of the science building was as grand as the last. The bottom left floor was dedicated to Biology, the right to Chemistry, the top left to Physics, and the top right to several miscellaneous classrooms and offices. Everything was organized, from the room numbers to the number of beakers on each shelf. By the end of the year, no doubt, everything would become unruly and broken.

Chemistry and History went on with hardly any bumps in the road. He missed a few questions and was distracted for several minutes by some leaves fluttering outside the windows. Both teachers, seeing the new student sitting in the front row, made everyone introduce themselves despite the class being acquainted since they were twelve. Eduard’s embarrassment only grew (his “newness” seemed like a burden more than anything), but he listened attentively to each of his classmates. The search for his place on the social ladder would not end soon.

The trek from the science building to the cafeteria took longer than the other passing periods. As Eduard walked past the gymnasium, he ran into George, who was coming from a religion class, and decided to make conversation. The other boys walking with the football star had not been in Eduard’s classes; they had not heard his embarrassing introductions.

“Well, well, well,” DeMund spoke as Eduard walked up to his group of friends. There were five of them, four of which had played American football together since the first form, “if it isn’t Eduard.”

Eduard flashed a quick smile.

“You’ll be surprised to know that your not the only new student here,” he continued.

“What? I thought I was.”

“No,” a voice to the right of Eduard said in a British accent. It belonged to a short, yet muscular, brown-haired boy who sounded much weaker than he looked, “My name’s Leonard, but call me Leo. What’s your accent?”

“Nice to meet you,” Eduard took Leonard’s extended hand and shook it as they walked, “I was born in Czechoslovakia. You’re British, I presume?”

“No, my parents just taught me to speak like this since they wanted a child with a British accent,” Leo said, laughing at the end when Eduard’s face filled with confusion, “I am only joking. I’m from Birmingham and transferred from the Charterhouse School, which is Southwest of London. St. Julian’s has a much better track team, so I convinced my father to move me. It didn’t take much effort.”

The conversation flowed between the group of boys as they made the journey to the cafeteria. Besides George and Leo, there was William from outside of Los Angeles, and twins Reginald and Louis from Virginia. The twins and Leo’s parents were divorced without any hope of reconnecting, and George’s were on the brink of it. William’s mother and father loved each other and their ranch, which left little room for their children. He was the only one of his siblings at St. Julian’s, his younger brothers were students at the Judson School, in Scottsdale, Arizona, but would transfer once they reached the third form.

They entered the two-story cafeteria building. The windows were open and let the light flood in on the crowded tables. The first and second forms were assigned to the upstairs tables–the ones farthest from the kitchen–and the rest were ordered from youngest to oldest downstairs.

“Let’s hope the nosh isn’t as bad as Charterhouse. It was truly horrible.”

The boys filed into the line, which practically wrapped around the interior of the building. Eduard observed as anyone who tried to cut the line was pushed to the ground by other angry students as the supervising teachers turned a blind eye.

“Did you meet Mr. Third Baseman?” George asked, leaning with his elbow against one of the large, bullet-shaped windows.


“Did you meet Cameron Flanagan? The baseball player I was telling you about.”

“Oh, yes, yes I did. He seemed nice,” Eduard replied.

Reginald (“Reggie”) chuckled, “Sure, he’s nice. But, let me guess, he didn’t answer any questions in the classes you had with him?”

Eduard thought for a moment. In math, Cameron had not raised his hand once. His arm stayed down in Chemistry, as well.

“No, he didn’t.”

“He does that every year,” William butt in, “He scopes out his competition on the first day and, after doing that, he brings out his full power.”

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Thu Dec 01, 2022 4:06 am
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looseleaf says...

looseleaf wrote:Inspired by Snoink, here's my NaNo word cloud! This is just Eduard's part of the story--not Theresa's. :))


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Mon Dec 05, 2022 4:05 am
looseleaf says...


In past chapters, I mention that it's 1936. I actually meant for it to be the 1934-35 schoolyear and somehow screwed it up along the way. So let's just pretend it's 1934 while I fix it please and thank you.

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Mon Dec 05, 2022 5:18 am
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looseleaf says...

Week Thirteen - Chapter 4.4 - 1033 Words


Eduard frowned and looked at the crowd of potential teammates in front of him. It was not out of disappointment—that would be practically impossible at St. Julian’s so far—but discouragement. Nine people play on a baseball field at a time. Creighton Prep’s Varsity and JV teams never grew past sixteen members. Eduard ran a quick headcount. Fifty-three boys.

The Czech found his way to where the fifth form students were congregating. Almost everyone was wearing the same outfit: a white shirt tucked into shorts with an elastic waistband. The cleaner the clothes, the more expensive the shoes and watches tended to be, and the more grease was rubbed into their hair.

“Your name, form, and preferred position, please?” the coach asked as soon as he sat on the risers. The page of names was almost full.

“Eduard Klement, fifth form, third base,” Eduard replied. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a familiar blond classmate turn to glare at him. Once the coach walked away, he spoke.

“So, are you any good at playing third base?”

“I would like to think so,” Eduard responded to Cameron. He was not one to brag, especially when the person he was bragging to was one of the best players in the school and, therefore, one of the best players in the nation, “Yes, I’m decent.”

“By Nebraska standards or everywhere-else standards?” Cameron asked.

Eduard sat for a moment, mouth slightly agape while trying to search for the right rebuttal. Seconds passed and Cameron’s friends started snickering. Social ladder, Eduard thought to himself, This is what you’re really here for.

“Everywhere-else standards.”

Cameron’s eyes narrowed as the rest of the group averted theirs. Eduard had certainly made an impression–whether it was the right one, he wasn’t sure yet. He sat in silence as the last of the boys slowly made their way to practice.

“What team do you Nebraskans cheer for?” one of the boys asked in an attempt to fill a moment of silence.

“The Cardinals.”

Cameron snickered, “The Cardinals? Come on, the Yankees are the best team out there. We beat the Cardinals in the World Series in 1928!”

“And we beat you in 1926, what’s your point?” Eduard retorted, “The Cardinals are going to win this year, just you wait and see.”

“Want to bet?”

Eduard stared at Cameron. The blond boy wasn’t bluffing. In fact, he already looked as if he had won, as if a team of men he did not control had won the World Series and cheated Eduard out of some money he did not have.

“How much?” Eduard asked. If it was more than three dollars, he would turn it down, but of course it would not be less than that. The pristine watch on Cameron’s told him so.

“Thirty dollars,” Cameron smiled, one side of his mouth more crooked than the other. He stood and stuck out his hand in Eduard’s direction, silently taunting him into taking it.

Twenty-five dollars was enough to buy the Klements’ dinner for two months, if not more. It was enough to keep Eduard’s car running for dozens and dozens of miles. It was enough to let Mrs. Klement to take a break, or Uncle Oskar to find a job that didn’t make him take his anger out on his relatives. It was money Eduard did not have, but money he was almost certain he could win.

“Alright, Cameron, twenty-five dollars,” Eduard accepted Cameron’s hand but did not begin to move it. He continued with an equally crooked smile on his face, “and third base, assuming the loser does not already have it.”

The other boy stood in silence for a moment. Granted, there were two third-basemen on the team: the main one, who played ninety percent of the games, and the back-up who was only there so the team had more people, which equalled more funding from the school. No one wanted to be the back-up and, if he was being frank, Eduard was also quite certain he would be the back-up. He was the best on Creighton’s team–he had been featured in the local newspaper just last year–but Creighton Prep was unfortunately not the same as Ivy League feeder schools such as St. Julian’s. What Phillip’s Academy, The Hill School, St. Julian’s, and similar school’s students lacked in academics (which they rarely did), they made up in athletics.

“You have a deal.. Klement, was it?” Cameron said, finally shaking their hands.

“Eduard. My name is Eduard.”

The two boys made eye contact for a moment. A flash of realization ran through Cameron’s. He had competition now. Competition he could not act like competition around, although they and the boys who had witnessed the exchange knew the truth. Eduard was new–he could not have possibly scared the school’s best athlete already.

The coach began to pace in front of the bleachers, scanning his clipboard. An assistant coach and nurse stood behind him. The boys on the bleachers stood and puffed their chests as if standing for an army inspection. A few third form students stopped smiling to make themselves more intimidating and stronger to the coach.

“Let’s see, boys, we are going to begin with running. I assume you all have stretched already.”

Eduard glanced between the other students, only the new ones looking as concerned as he did. Cameron shot him a knowing grin and his friends snickered. It was their plan all along. The bet was a ploy to secure Cameron’s spot. Eduard was only thankful he made it.

“May I have the sixth form students, please?” the coach asked as he motioned to the grass behind him. The smallest congregation of boys, around eleven of them, walked to the coach and formed a straight line in front of home plate. The assistant coach had made his way to a point past the outfield, Eduard assumed around two hundred yards, and was readying his stopwatch, “We will start with the boy on the end, Luke, correct?” the boy nodded his head, “When I count to three, you will run to Assistant Coach Cline, back to home plate, and back to Assistant Coach again. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

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Mon Dec 12, 2022 5:19 am
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looseleaf says...

Week Fourteen - Chapter 4.5 - 1025 Words

“One… two… three!” the coach said and the boy took off like a bolt of lightning. His legs and arms became a blur as he neared Assistant Coach Cline. Eduard felt a lump forming in his throat. He couldn’t run that fast.

“Who is that?” Eduard asked to no one in particular. It was more to himself, but that didn’t stop someone from answering.

“Luke Gooden,” a boy who Eduard assumed was George’s brother by his looks and voice, “He is only a sophomore, but he is already being sought out by top colleges. We played the Princeton B-Team last year and the coach spent a solid twenty minutes talking to him. Offered him scholarships and the like if he keeps his averages up, but Luke only wants to go to Yale, though.”

Eduard could have scoffed but chose to smile politely and go along with it. It’s not like there was anything wrong with wanting to go to one university versus another; he only thought it was a waste of an opportunity for too small of a reason, “Oh. Where is he from?”

“Luke lives about a mile away on Gallagher Street. He doesn’t board here,” the little DeMund continued. He was a much more lanky and gaunt version of his brother; George’s sinewy structure was replaced with skin and bones, and his perfect teeth were substituted for uncomfortable braces, “His dad is a partner at the biggest law firm in the state… well, the biggest law firm in the state that isn’t based in Boston.”

Eduard nodded as Luke made his way back to the starting line. A minute and forty-two seconds was clocked and written down on the coach’s clipboard. The nurse began talking to him, “What does your dad do?”

“He’s in banking, which, obviously, is not a very good business to be in right now. But we’ll be OK. We always have been. What does your father do?”

“He was a banker, but he passed away last year,” Eduard said. His hand instinctively went to his pocket to rub the piece of paper he had taken from home.

Eduard Klement Sr. and his son Eddy Jr.

“We did alright, though, when the stock market crashed. It was not like we had no savings–we had a little and my grandpa had just died, leaving us some money–but my sister and I started working a little bit.”

“I am so sorry,” DeMund replied. Eduard couldn’t tell if it was for his father dying or the fact that he had to work, but he hoped it was for the former. He had hope in the DeMunds, a hope that they would be his one connection to normalcy in St. Julian’s.

“It is fine. His death is what allowed me to go here which, I guess, is a good thing,” Eduard cursed himself for saying it, but it was true.

The younger DeMund, whose name turned out to be Henry, and Eduard talked as the sixth-form students completed their running. In the end, the fastest time belonged to Luke and his one minute, fourty-two second, four-hundred yard run. Obviously, he had gone to the practices over break.

The fifth form students were instructed to line up as the sixth form boys moved to do some other drill. Eighteen boys’ bones and knuckles were cracking as they stood from the spots they had been sitting in and walked over to the coach. Eduard waved goodbye to DeMund, seeing as he was a third form student and would start running when Eduard was getting ready to leave.

A boy named Timothy ran first. His shoes were obviously too big–his ankle popped out of them a couple of times as he was running–but that did not hinder him. He made it to Assistant Coach Cline and back in two minutes and thirteen seconds. Other boys followed suit, failing to top Luke, but still amazing Eduard with their swiftness. It wasn’t if Eduard was not fast, he could run a mile in about ten minutes, but the St. Julian’s boys were nothing in comparison to his old teammates. Two minutes and nine, a minute and fifty-seven, two minutes and nineteen: numbers seemingly so small, but so astounding.

“Cameron, get ready for your turn,” the coach said as the other boy, Henry, began making his way back to the line. He was the slowest of them all so far.

“How’s your wife doing, Coach Fitz?” Cameron asked the coach as nonchalantly as someone talking to their best friend.

“She’s alright, thank you, Cameron,” the coach responded, mumbling a bit to try to conceal the two of their’s friendship with the other boys, “Still recovering from that car accident she had several weeks ago.”

“I am so sorry about that, coach. If there is anything my family or I can do to help, please let me know.”

Eduard could hardly believe the sympathy oozing out of Cameron’s mouth, manipulating the coach with every drop. Words such as suck-up, sycophant, and bootlicker floated through Eduard’s mind, threatening to break free, but he shut his mouth tight. It was not his place to say anything.

“I appreciate that, but you have already done so much,” Coach Fitz opened his mouth to say something more, but Henry made it to the finish line and he clocked his time. Two minutes and forty-nine seconds. So that was what Eduard had to reach to not be a complete loser. He readjusted his glasses several times before deciding to stuff them in his pocket. They would only bounce on his nose and distract him, if not fall off.

“One… two… three!”

Cameron sprinted like a madman to Assistant Coach Cline, who was waiting expectantly for him at the other side, not even looking at his stopwatch. Eduard had not seen him reset it, either. Perhaps he forgot, and Cameron would have to redo his lap.

Fifty-six seconds in and Cameron had high-fived Assistant Coach Cline. They exchanged a wide grin before Cameron started running towards the short line of boys still waiting to go. Eduard blinked and crossed his fingers.

A minute and forty-five seconds.

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looseleaf says...

Week Fifteen - Chapter 5.1 - 1117 Words

“You didn’t ask any girl out? Not one?”

“No,” Eduard replied bluntly for what felt like the hundredth time, “Reggie doesn’t have and you’re not pestering him!”

“Well, unlike you, I’m not the starting third baseman. I’m the head of the speech club and it’s better to not try than face the embarrassment of my position.”

George, Eduard, and Reggie were relaxing in the former two’s dorm room. George was laying on his bed, his tuxedo jacket sprawled on the floor, not to be moved until the next laundry day. Reggie was on Eduard’s bed, with his back on the sheets and legs up against the wall. He was bouncing a tennis ball back and forth. Eduard was busying himself by annotating The Picture of Dorian Grey at his desk next to the window.

“It’s not like I didn’t have fun,” Eduard said.

“But not enough fun to stay the whole time,” George mumbled, “You really had to drag me out a half hour early?”

“Your date ran off with her friends the moment you walked in the door. I wasn’t messing up anything for you.”

The annual St. Julian’s and St. Jane Frances’ Academies’ autumn dance was still going strong in the gymnasium. Eduard was not lying about having fun–the people watching, dancing, and talking to girls was the most enjoyable thing he had done since leaving Omaha–but he grew tired, and the weight of the homework he had become too much of a burden on his mind. George had been standing in the corner near the punch bowl, yet not drinking any of it. It was actually George who insisted on leaving because of “the looks” he was beginning to get.

“Wilma loves me. I know she does,” George replied.

“If not, you can just find another blonde broad to do your bidding.”

George threw his copy of The Picture of Dorian Grey at Reggie, who swatted it onto the floor with the tuxedo jacket.

“I am right and you know it. Does Wilma ever hang out with you without other people to see you?”

“What are you getting at, Reginald?” George asked. Eduard sighed and leaned his head on his hand. His weekend would be miserable if he did not finish his notes.

“I’m just saying that maybe–just maybe–Wilma likes the star football player and not George DeMund.”

“Shut up.”

“If it wasn’t true, she would have let me take her to the dance instead of you,” Reggie replied. The constant bouncing of his tennis ball only added to the tension building in the room. Eduard silently agreed with him. Almost George’s entire life was football–he lived and breathed it–and that was what most girls saw in him. When their friend group walked through town or went to his games, the girls saw his letterman jacket or uniform first, not the little bit of personality he had outside of his sport.

“I said shut up!” George suddenly stood and picked up his jacket. He threw it on quickly before making his way to the door, “I’m going back to the dance.”

“Come on, George. I did not mean it.”

“If you didn’t mean it, you would not have said it,” George said. He opened the door and left it open behind him. His footsteps echoed through the halls, each step quieter, but as angry, as the last.

“He knows I am right. He just doesn’t want to admit it,” Reggie pouted. He continued mockingly, “Big, strong sports-ball player doesn’t want his feelings hurt.”

“Sometimes it’s better to be nice, though, Reggie.”

“Shut up, Klement.”

Voices sounded from outside the dorms as Reggie got up to leave. Eduard watched as George exited the building and passed a couple walking toward the boy’s car. George turned to stare at them for a moment but eventually carried on to the gymnasium.

“Did you…not…?” the boy asked his date when they approached his car. Eduard tried to open his window to hear their conversation, but couldn’t easily. He also worried about being seen as a creep, depending on which of his classmates the boy was.

The girl replied by saying something muffled, but much slower than what the boy had said. Drunk, Eduard thought, and slurring her words like an idiot. George must have touched the punch bowl, he decided.

The sound of a car door opening and the engine starting cut through the silence. Yet, they were still talking.

“Get in,” the boy said rather clearly. Eduard squinted and pushed his glasses farther up his nose. It was too dark to see anything but the couple’s general form and the shine of the car.

The girl-shaped shadow shook her head.

“Come on,” the boy continued, “Don’t….me. I will… My father…have you… Now!”

The girl finally agreed and walked behind the car to get to the passenger side. For a brief moment, her gold and garnet earrings and necklace shone in the moonlight as she rounded the vehicle. The door clicked and she disappeared into the car. It sped off into the night, her jewelry still giving off a faint glimmer until it disappeared past the cul-de-sac.

Lucky bastard, Eduard thought. The boy with the car was having a much better night than he was. Sure, Eduard chose to come home and annotate, but if he had any girl he wanted by his side, he would have made a different choice. Reggie was right; he was the starting third baseman and, while he had barely made that position over Cameron, the St. Jane Frances’ girls did not know that. He could have milked the third-baseman title for all it was worth, all while the boy with the car was flaunting his father’s title and wealth in order to coax his date into being with him.

The rich jerk probably hadn’t done anything in his life: never accomplished anything that the other St. Julian’s students hadn’t also done. But, in that moment, there was a piece of Eduard that wished he could be like him. A boy with no accolades, but all the opportunities in the world awaiting him in the future. There was one girl at the dance (her name was Ethel, he believed) that had caught Eduard’s eye. Her auburn hair had been curled and set in perfect waves on her head. She was gorgeous and had even smiled at him when they made eye contact, but she ran off with a richer, more well-known boy than him. Eduard hoped that attending St. Julian’s and making the most out of his situation would fix that; he would be the boy who got the girl he wanted, and was not so worried by schoolwork that he left dances.

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looseleaf says...

Week Sixteen - Chapter 5.2 - 1208 Words

Eduard shook his head and sighed. His mother had always said he wasn’t much of a doer: her “malý pomalý chlapec,” as she always called him.

“So many dreams and wants,” she once said after he detailed to her how he wanted to fix and upgrade his car, “But not enough willpower to fulfill them.”

He picked up the open envelope from his desk. Mrs. Klement and Hedvika had both written him a letter and sent them in the same envelope. Hedvika’s had been three pages, mom’s had been two. A lot had happened in the month and a half he had been gone from home. None of the events were out of the ordinary, but reading about his family’s life at home from almost 1,500 miles away changed his perspective. Hedvika taking the neighbor’s boy to her Fall Ball, and vise versa, seemed like a treasured story instead of a yearly occurrence. It left Eduard longing for more, especially from his mother’s letter. He could easily tell she sugar-coated her letter, substituting the financial struggles Eduard knew she was struggling with for stories of Anton’s first words.

Eduard rose from his chair and picked up some of his clothes off the floor. His pajama shirt was desperately in need of ironing, but what did he really care? George would be the only person to see it, not even, seeing as he usually buried himself under the covers when he slept. He walked to the shared bathroom and, after showering and haphazardly combing his hair, he changed into the green plaid pajama set. Crowds of students were starting to return from the dance, so he hurried out of the bathroom before the adjoining room’s residents could walk in on him.

Eduard laid in his bed thinking about the couple with the car. How Eduard wanted to live without consequence, to never have to worry about raising food prices to pay his mother’s bills. As thoughts flooded his head, he decided, once and for all, that was his goal. That was what he would get out of St. Julian’s. One day, within the next decade, he would finally be happy. He would have no financial or emotional worries. Aunt Vera’s bruise-covered face and Hedvika’s innocent smile appeared in front of him. He would do it for them. No matter what.


George had returned from the dance late, the smell of his own alcohol-infused punch strong in his breath. He collapsed on his bed without changing and remained there until ten o’clock in the morning. Eduard was up long before him. The day was Saturday, October 6th, 1934. The Cardinals were playing their fourth World Series game against the Detroit Tigers, but Eduard had been to busy with schoolwork to follow it. Today was the perfect day to play catch up.

He packed his bag with some homework, but mostly money and his family’s letters. Eduard also wanted to buy them a little candy and trinkets from the local stores. Mrs. Klement had rejected his money the last time he sent it to them, so gifts would have to do.

Eduard had bought a bike within the first two weeks of school, ditching the idea that he might replace his school bag. All of the boarding students had a bike, so, he thought, why should he travel in any other way? If he lived in the area he would find a way to afford the finest car to drive him to school. Perhaps an Auburn Speedster.

The bike was a little rough around the edges, but it did what it needed to do, and soon enough Eduard was speeding down the road to St. Julian’s at uncontrollable speeds. The way down the hill was easy–it was the climb up he was dreading. Eduard biked at a leisurely pace once he signed out of the school at the gate. He was in no hurry, in fact, he had scrounged up enough money to buy himself lunch at the dinner instead of eating the school-provided weekend food.

Fifteen minutes out of the twenty-five-minute bike went on without a bump in the road. The weather was pleasant enough, all different varieties of birds were flying and singing, and there were hardly any cars on the road. It was at the fifteen minute mark that he learned why.

As he approached a turn in the road, an ambulance and police car started to come into view. Both of their sirens were off and the few officers, photographers, and medical people on the scene were just loitering around. They had the road blocked off, and one of the only police officers actually doing anything was directing traffic to turn around. A big crowd for a seemingly little issue. It was not intriguing enough, though, for him to stop. That is, until he saw it. The girl’s hat from last night. Once white with several gold and silver faux flowers and such on top, it was now stained red, with a few of the decals now hardly hanging on by a thread

Eduard immediately stopped and threw his bike to the ground. He ran towards the woods, where everything seemed centered on, but was grabbed by an officer before he could make it past the second row of trees.

“Boy, you can’t just run onto a crime scene like that,” the officer said, “Has anyone ever told you that?”

“Crime scene?” Eduard almost panted as he tried to catch his breath, “What happened?”

“Some negro girl got herself killed. It’s nothing that concerns you.”

Eduard’s eyebrows scrunched and his mouth hung slightly open. It couldn’t be the same girl as last night, then. Could it? No, no private school like St. Julian’s would allow someone of a different race within the doors unless they were the president of some country. Even then, it would be a stretch.

“Who is she? What happened? Do you know wh-” Eduard spat out.

“Woah, kid. I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you that.”

“Why not?!”

The officer laughed, “I have orders and laws I have to abide by, just like you. Now why don’t you scram, alright? It’s a nice day, I’m sure you have things to do.”

“Can I at least watch?” Eduard asked, and the officer looked even more incredulous, “Please? I can stand by my bike out of the way. I really want to be a detective or officer one day, sir. This stuff fascinates me,” he lied.

“Look, I will let you stand here next to me,” the man sighed, looking around to his fellow officers to make sure none of them saw their exchange, “but shut up and keep quiet.”

Eduard nodded and made his way back to his bike. He leaned against a tree that was planted on the side of the road. And then he watched. He watched as another officer emerged from the forest, pointing behind him and yelling. He watched as the doctors and EMTs rushed into the forest with a stretcher. And he watched as the stretcher came back out, this time with someone on top of it. That someone had gold and garnet earrings and a corsage around her wrist.

It was her. Eduard was sure of it.

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looseleaf says...

Week Seventeen - Chapter 5.3 - 1059 Words
Warnings: death, descriptions of murder/blood/wounds

He followed the paramedics as they carried her to the ambulance. From a distance, nothing seemed wrong. Her eyes had been (assumably) closed by one of the paramedics, and her hands were folded on top of her chest. Eduard waited for them to pull out a white sheet or to finally put her in the ambulance, but, instead, they stood there as if a dead girl was not resting in their arms. One of them was dangling a cigarette on his lips, more concerned about what the wife was cooking for dinner and not his job.

Eduard inched forward. He was careful to stay behind the eyeline of the officer who had allowed him to watch, so not to stretch his invitation. He squinted, tilted his head to one side and then the other, and held his hand straight over his eyes as a visor; anything he could do to get a better view. It was then that the real damage came into view.
She would have been pretty, Eduard thought, if she was not beaten so harshly. There was no gun shot wound as he originally suspected, but who was he to be making assumptions and connections? He had read one Sherlock Holmes story, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and he couldn’t even recall if there was a gun involved. One thing was for certain, though: the girl looked like the hounds had gotten to her.

Her face was bruised and puffy. What Eduard had thought were moles from a distance were actually blood splatters. All the blood was coming out of two locations: her forehead and her neck. The former looked as if someone had spread strawberry or cherry jam all over her face. That someone had taken a rock, or a crowbar, or some heavy object, and bashed it against her face for some reason that definitely was not worth taking a life. The second location, her neck was the only sign of an actual weapon being used. A knife had slit it, before or after her forehead had been destroyed, Eduard was not sure.

“Kid, step back, would you?” the officer said, “If you want to be a detective, you have to follow people senior to you’s orders.”

“Sorry, mister. I did not realize I had stepped too close.”

The officer made a tsk-noise and continued leaning against his car, doing nothing. The paramedics were leisurely scanning her face as if seeking out any non-obvious damage. She was dead, they had already decided, and they did not particularly care why; what they cared about was how long they could stay out of the office without their boss noticing.

Finally, an officer emerged from the woods with a purse in his hands. It was gold-encrusted and was a fine, white color. Eduard would have expected Eleanor Roosevelt to carry the bag around on official visits, not a colored girl who looked more out of place in Massachusetts than a needle in a haystack.

The officer holding the bag looked up and, spying Eduard, started to yell.

“Boy, get out of here! This is a crime scene!” he shouted, as if any of his fellow officers were treating it as a crime scene instead of a freak accident.

Eduard glanced towards the officer who had allowed him to stay, but found no one to defend him.

“I’m sorry but, sir, I really want to be a detective and..,” Eduard tried the same lie again, but the other officer’s demeanor did not change. He changed his tactic, letting the one secret he had for himself go, “I think I saw her last night, at the St. Julian’s Academy dance. I know, I know that sounds unimaginable, but I swear I did.”

All the officers and paramedics looked at him. This random kid, of no importance, was telling them he was one of the last people to see a murdered girl alive. A girl none of them had ever seen in town or at St. Jane Frances’, for that matter.

The officer that had allowed Eduard to stay glared at him, not believing the one truth he had actually told. Eduard did not meet his gaze, whether out of embarrassment, anger, or cowardice he did not know. He did look at his badge. Sergeant Alarie, it read. The same spelling as Headmaster Alarie. The officer did eerily resemble the headmaster. Perhaps they were related. Maybe even brothers.

“Come over here,” the other officer waved Eduard over and he happily obliged, his feet taking him to the other side at record speeds, “I will let you see this, and I will ask you a few questions, and then you will leave. Understood…?”

“Eduard, Eduard Klement. I go to St. Julian’s.”

“You may call me Mr. Franklin. You have a very.. Midwestern accent for a St. Julian’s student,” the officer remarked.

Eduard chuckled, “I am well aware of that, Mr. Franklin.”

Mr. Franklin nodded and began opening the girl’s purse while she was still being carried by men a few feet away. Mr. Franklin donned no gloves or bothered to be cautious with the bag, but he was still doing more than any of the other officers Eduard had seen had done. Despite being fascinated by the crime scene, Eduard felt almost as unbothered by the true reality of the girl’s death as the officers. Nothing particularly struck him about her: he had never seen her, except from his dorm room window, and at this point, he was not particularly certain it was her. In the back of his mind, he was trying to convince himself it was not her. She would not have been allowed at the dance. She was likely from a rich family from another state who just happened to pass through, and something happened, and she was left in the woods.

“Would you look at this?” Mr. Franklin muttered under his breath. Eduard broke free from his thoughts and refocused himself on the contents of the purse, which were now scattered on top of a Ford police car.

Mr. Franklin was holding a sturdy, almost shiny white piece of paper. After examining it, he turned it towards Eduard, whose denial over who the girl was only becoming more unreasonable.

“St. Jane France’s Academy for Young Women
Name: Ibironke Gbadamosi Age: 16
Home Country: Nigeria
Dorm Number: 231”

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looseleaf says...

Week Eighteen - Chapter 5.4 - 1248 Words
Warning: death, basically the same as last time, unedited as usual

The officer made a hmph sound as his eyebrows scrunched together. He appeared deep in contemplation to the point where Eduard did not talk in fear of disturbing him. A gust of wind blew through the trees, sending leaves flying through the air and onto the ground below. Not all the vegetation had turned brown and mushy yet, but the ones that had were blown every which way now.

“If this is her real I.D., Eduard, you may have seen her last night,” Mr. Franklin said, scratching his chin.

“That’s what I said.”

“Now, don’t be short with us, boy,” Officer Alarie almost yelled from behind Eduard. He had walked over to the two of them while they were staring at the piece of paper, “We are the ones who decide whether or not you are telling the truth.”

“You’re not the epitome of power, Alarie. Stop acting like you are,” Mr. Franklin mumbled, staring at the junior officer. He seemed to say something telepathically as well, but Officer Alarie would not leave his position behind Eduard.

Mr. Franklin shifted in his spot and put the I.D. back on the top of his car. He stuck his hand in the pocket with his notepad in it but, instead, took out a pack of Lucky Strikes. He carefully selected the second cigarette from the left and stuck the rolled tobacco in his mouth. He lit it with a silver lighter with his name monogrammed on it.

“Eduard, did you see Miss. Ibironke Gbadamosi last night?” Mr. Franklin asked.

“Based off the earrings and hat, I think I did, yes.”

“Based off the earrings and the hat? Are you positive you saw this girl, or just another girl from St. Jane Frances’ who also owns expensive accessories?” Officer Alarie questioned and, again, Mr. Franklin asked him to stand down. The former shut his mouth but stayed glued to his spot.

“Did you see anyone with her?”

“I was in my dorm room and heard her and her date arguing–well, not really arguing–on the street below my window. He was trying to convince her to get into his car and eventually succeeded,” Eduard paused for a moment, realizing that none of the officers were deeply paying attention to what he had to say, “Are you going to write down what I am saying?”

“I will do my job how I see fit, thank you, Eduard,” Mr. Franklin continued, “Did you see what type of car it was?”

“No, but it was some dark color. The only reason I saw her earrings and things was that she walked under a streetlamp and it illuminated her.”

Mr. Franklin took a long draw on his cigarette and sighed. The smoke drifted from his mouth onto Eduard, who coughed. Mr. Klement had not smoked, and prohibited it under his roof, even to the point of forcing Uncle Oskar to go outside in the dead of winter to have a cigarette. He hated the smell of it and how the smokestained his wallpaper and furniture.

“Thank you for answering those questions. I believe that’s all I have for you.”

Eduard’s eyes widen and mouth opened slightly in shock, “That’s it? You don’t want to know whether I saw her date, or who I know was out of the dormitories? Or if I saw the license plate number?”

“Did you see it?” Officer Alarie asked, one eyebrow cocked. He looked suspicious but, at the same time, as uninterested in how Ibironke Gbadamosi as his coworkers. The medics were finished loading her into the ambulance and were now leaning against the vehicle smoking. One of them was talking about his daughter’s piano recital without caring that someone else’s daughter was sitting in his ambulance, rotting away. The other was mindlessly making smoke rings and watching the continuous supply of leaves falling out of the trees.

“No, I did not,” Eduard said matter-of-factly, “but I thought it was a police officer’s job to discover information and come to conclusions based on what they find.”

“Alright, Eduard, I will tell you what my conclusion is,” Mr. Franklin replied. His cigarette was hanging loosely to his lip, “Miss. Ibironke’s date was driving her back to St. Jane Frances’ when they got into a scuffle. You said she did not want to get into the car in the first place, so it’s far from inconceivable. She gets out of the car, so angry smoke is practically coming out of her ears, and he makes a u-turn and heads back to St. Julian’s. Did you go to bed after they left?”

“Yes, but my roommate and friends would have still been out.”

“Are you positive?”

Eduard thought for a moment, “I know my roommate got back late, but I don’t know what time. Or when the others came back.”

“Then you would not have seen if the car came back to campus. I know for a fact that there are some very well-to-do students at St. Julian’s whose parents let them take their car to school during the school year. I have pulled over some of your classmates for speeding where that is exactly the case. So, that does not rule out boarding students from being her date, but that would not matter anyways, seeing as he would not be guilty of anything besides, maybe, underage drinking.”

“So what are you proposing happened to her?” Eduard asked.

“We are one of the few parts of Massachusetts that has a small black bear population. The bear probably attacked her as she was walking back to school, but left her to die after she put up too much of a fight.”

“You make it out as if the bear was too weak to overpower her.”

Mr. Franklin sighed for what seemed like the millionth time, but, perhaps, the tired and uncaring atmosphere of the officers made it seem like it. He began putting Ibironke’s belongings back into her purse as he spoke, “Forgive me, Eduard, but a boy high enough in status and wealth to go to St. Julian’s Academy is not going to murder some black girl. They just wouldn’t. I have worked in this town for twenty years and the worst thing a St. Julian’s boy has ever done is hit his classmate’s Lincoln with his Packard,” he chuckled at the absurdity of the memory, “I can see you trying to string facts together, trying to come up with some bombshell revelation that will change everything, but I can assure you, she was an unlucky girl who happened to have an argument with her date the night a bear decided to take a walk.”

“But what if–?” Eduard started, but Mr. Franklin held up his hand.

“Try to have a good rest of your day,” he smiled, opened his car door, and entered. Officer Alarie followed suit and the paramedics began readying the ambulance to go to the morgue.

Eduard shook his head and began walking back to his bike. So much for a peaceful day around town.

“Was he suspicious to you?” Officer Alarie asked his partner as they departed the scene.

“In the beginning,” Mr. Franklin admitted, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel, “but, besides, his generation is all about change and justice and all that horseshit. You can’t put it past him to be curious and pushy.”

Officer Alarie grunted and leaned his head on his hand.

“So, where do you want to go to lunch?”

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Mon Jan 16, 2023 5:49 am
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looseleaf says...

Week Nineteen - Chapter 6.1 - 1081 Words

Eduard groaned and rubbed his eyes. Yesterday’s practice was rough. The first snow of the year had flurried down on the group of boys, but they were not allowed to be distracted for even a moment. Baseball practice was for baseball, not to admire falling ice. The team played two full games. The cold only worsened the soreness they would feel in the morning.

“Good morning, sleeping beauty,” George said from his desk. The footballers’ coach had been gracious and given them last night off, “Are you still feeling absolutely wretched?”

“You make it out like I was dying of hypothermia last night,” Eduard said. He reached for his glasses and cleaned the lenses on his pillowcase before putting them on. His eyes landed on his pants once his eyes adjusted; he had slept in his baseball uniform, “That’s disgusting.”

George snorted and rolled his eyes. He turned back to the papers dotting his desk. He had so much to do, and so little time. Despite having the evening off, he had somehow fallen behind on homework, and falling behind at St. Julian’s was not an option.

Eduard swiveled himself to the side of his bed and planted his feet on the floor. Snow still drifted past the two boys’ window. The roundabout outside was covered in at least an inch of white and several students were pelting each other with snowballs.

“What time is it?” Eduard asked. He slipped his slippers on, stretched, and stood. A few of the boys at practice had said that St. Julian’s had its own snow plow. Eduard wondered when it would finally get here.

His roommate checked his watch, “Ten o’clock in the morning.”

“No crap it’s the morni–ten o’clock? And you didn’t wake me up to go to class?” Eduard exclaimed. He rubbed his head and began pacing around the room, “George, I had a meeting with Mr. Thompson today that I could not miss! I told you this, why did you let me sleep in?”

“Hold your horses, man, they canceled classes today. Headmaster Alarie himself came around to all the dormitories to ensure that everyone knew. Mr. Thompson’s downstairs, too, if you want to confirm I’m not lying,”

“Well, are you a liar, George?”

“My brother sure thinks I am,” he sighed. Henry and George DeMund had blown up into an argument a week ago about something trivial and had not spoken since. Eduard had been relaying messages, such as reminders to write to their parents, from George to Henry during practices, and it was really starting to get on his nerves. He and Hedvika had always sorted their issues with much less than the DeMunds had. Maybe their status made it more difficult to reconcile.

Eduard selected his outfit from his dresser and went to the bathroom to change. The cleaning team would come through the dormitories on Sunday to spiffy up the boy’s rooms so, in the meantime, the place was a mess. He scrubbed his face with soap and water before putting on his striped shirt, brown suit jacket, and matching pants. He ran his fingers through his air. It was not that tangled, but he brushed it anyways to keep up his appearance. George was the only one who had to know how unruly he could actually become.

“What are you doing today?” Eduard asked as he exited the bathroom.

“Work,” George grumbled. His head was resting in his left hand while his right feverishly wrote down notes on a piece of paper, “Mr. Johnson seems to think that it is of the utmost importance that we learn everything we can about the War.”

“Is that not a good thing? ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,’ you know.”

“Yes, I know that stupid quote, Mr. Johnson’s said it a thousand times as an excuse for teaching the most tedious class at this school,” George complained, “All I really have to know is that, one, my father and his generation fought in it and, two, a lot of people died. I don’t see why we need to delve much deeper than that.”

Eduard’s smile disappeared from his face as he donned his coat and scarf, “Well then, George, it’s a good thing your parents enrolled you in this school. The deaths of thousands upon thousands of people is not insignificant.”

“Fine, yes, whatever you say, Mr. Scholar,” George mumbled. His eyes stayed focused on his work and he did not flinch when Eduard opened the door unannounced, “Have fun wherever you are going.”

“I plan on it.”

Eduard made his way down the hallway towards the stairs, stopping once to say hello to Reggie and William, who had their door open. Both of them were busy with some sort of work, unaware of the possibilities for entertainment that lie outside. Reggie layed on his bed annotating a copy of Frankenstein, while William was dissecting a math problem. William was not good at math–in fact, he confided in Eduard that he struggled terribly in it–but he had carefully crafted a look that told passing dormmates that algebra was a walk in the park.

“Doing anything fun today?” Eduard asked, hoping to engage one of them in conversation. The veins in William’s forehead became visible as his pencil broke on his paper.

“It’s a Thursday,” Reggie responded, “I don’t know about you, Eduard, but I have never heard of a fun Thursday.”

“Perhaps you’ve never tried to have a fun Thursday,” he said as a grin returned to his face.

Reggie sighed and moved his book so it did not block his view of the doorway. He glanced at his bedside clock.

“Give me fifteen minutes. Then you’ll be sorry,” he agreed half-heartedly before immediately returning to underlining phrases. Eduard nodded and practically skipped down the steps.

The main entryway was almost completely decorated for Christmas, another thing that would be finished when the dormitories were cleaned on Sunday. Garland hung from the railings and a huge, real tree stood in the nook that formed between the staircase and the wall. The carpet had changed, too, and was now red and green for the holiday.

“Are you going out to enjoy the weather?” Mr. Thompson asked from the armchair by the front door. He had a book in his lap and a mug in his right hand. He picked up a clip board from the floor, “If you are, I need you to sign out.”

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looseleaf says...

Week Twenty - Chapter 6.2 - 1190 Words

“Yes, sir,” Eduard said. He walked over to his teacher and took a pen out of the cup on the side table.

Mr. Thompson chuckled as he held up the clipboard, “You don’t need to call me ‘sir,’ Eduard, just Mr. Thompson. If I can be honest with you, Eduard, the only reason this school requires students to call their teachers ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ is to seem more prestigious and proper than we actually are. Do you call your tutor or housekeeper at home sir?–”

“I don’t have a housekeeper. My mom, sister, and aunt do all the cleaning,” Eduard replied, finishing signing his name. His signature looked like normal handwriting with a few loops and curves than cursive. He found that it was easier for others to read.

“–That makes two of us. But, your tutor, you would not call them sir or ma’am, right?” Eduard nodded, “So the only reason you call me sir or ma’am is because I work for St. Julian’s, not whatever company you hired your tutor from, and we place prestige on an obscenely high pedestal.”

Eduard hesitated for a moment. Mr. Thompson could obviously trust him enough to disparage St. Julian’s in front of him. It was nice to have someone that shared his beliefs but was brave enough to speak them, if only in front of him. But, Eduard could not drop his false facade, even if Mr. Thompson knew it was false. He had to maintain his image.

“Isn’t it proper to address someone older than you as sir or ma’am?” Eduard asked. He fiddled with his fingers and made small movements to the front door, trying to escape from the situation at hand.

“I am not a history teacher, but I know that times are changing. 1934 is not the same as 1924. Both of us know that,” Mr. Thompson leaned towards Eduard slightly, encouraged by his own enthusiasm over his ideas finally spilling out, “The boys and higher-ups here don’t. They’re still stuck in the exuberant, rich days of the past while the vast majority of the population are struggling to put food on the table in the present.”

Eduard shuffled in his spot at the older man’s all-too-real comparison. Thoughts of his mother flooded his mind. Her last letter had been almost entirely exaggerated. It was paragraphs and paragraphs about Anton’s first steps, Hedvika winning the spelling bee, and the party the neighbors all threw after the Cardinals won the World Series; the only two sentences that even mentioned money was about how Aunt Vera had taken Hedvika’s place, and that Mr. Dostal insisted on giving Ms. Klement more than he owed her. Grandma Schovajsa’s letters suggested that a romantic relationship was on the way.

“Almost all of the people here are out of touch with the world.”

“Almost?” Eduard asked. He had forgotten how they had even gotten to this conversation.

“You are not out of touch with the world. And neither am I, I hope,” Eduard nodded slowly, the meaning of his teacher’s words overshadowed by how much he wanted to escape the situation. Mr. Thompson sighed, “Have fun in the snow, Eduard.”
“Thank you, Mr. Thompson,” Eduard said. Before he managed to escape, Mr. Thompson stopped him by the arm and looked into his eyes. He was scanning Eduard, trying to find his true opinions on the matter since the boy refused to say them. But he found no obvious answer.

“I believe in you, Eduard. I believe you can take what this school will teach you, whether they are useful or more society-oriented rules, and use them for good back in Omaha or Prague or wherever you decide to live. Don’t you forget that,” he almost pleaded. Mr. Thompson recognized a past version of himself in Eduard. The Klement boy was the first student he had seen in years that was discontented with the expensive cars and designer cufflinks that lived at St. Julian’s. He was the last student that he could ever make a true impact on. And Eduard, at least, listened to advice. Perhaps that was because Mr. Thompson reminded Eduard of his dad.

“I won’t forget, Mr. Thompson, I promise.”

With that, Eduard walked out the door, greeting the cold air and crunchy snow as a friend he had not seen in years. He was free. An uncomfortable feeling hung in his stomach. Mr. Thompson was right, at least partially. He checked his cufflinks. They looked real gold, but they were in fact silver. His watch was no better with a leather strap instead of a precious metal. It was vintage, so that worked to his benefit. Had Mr. Thompson seen through him that easily? Or maybe the older man still believed he was the same boy he was on the first day.

Eduard trudged through the snow, his hands buried in his pockets, pulling his jacket as tightly as he could. The cold was welcome compared to the brutal atmosphere inside. Snowflakes fell slowly from the grey sky. They landed on his shoulders and made dark spots on the fabric. “Little snow kisses,” Hedvika would call them. Eduard would tell her that she was ridiculous, that only animals could kiss. She would shake her head and giggle.

A group of students was standing in the grass island in the center of the roundabout. One of them was nursing a cigar, while the others were on their second or third cigarette. As Eduard neared them he recognized the former as Cameron Flanagan. For once, he did not look as scary.

“It’s nice to be outside, is it not?” Eduard asked, smiling and standing beside one of the boys with a cigarette. He looked at the shorter, Czech boy as if his little brother had interrupted his conversation. One of them opened their mouth to rebuttal him, but Cameron spoke first.

“It is, but I do have homework to do,” Cameron shrugged, taking his cigar out of his mouth but holding it hardly an inch from his mouth, “I just cannot bring myself to do it.”

Eduard chuckled politely, “Me as well.”

They stood in silence for a moment. It grew more comfortable as the silence went on, the group’s conversation feeling more over than interrupted.

“You were right, Klement.”

“Pardon?” Eduard asked, his ears practically perking up at the sound of complimentary words coming out of Cameron’s mouth.

“You were right about the Cardinals winning World Series. It was a damn good series, too, even if the Yankees did not make it. I always love it when it comes down to the seventh game. The anxiety is palpable. Ironically, the last time it happened was in 1931, again when the Cardinals won.”

“Well, uh…” Eduard paused for a moment, “I’m sorry the Yankees didn’t make it. But, this was two months ago, we could have talked about it ages ago.”

“No, we couldn’t have, because I just got the money from my father for the bet we made,” two ten dollar bills and two fives appeared from Cameron’s pocket, “I always keep my promises, Eduard, even if it means I lose.”

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looseleaf says...

Week Twenty-One - Chapter 7.1 - 1128 Words

December had passed without any momentous events. It had only been a short two months since Ibronke had been killed, yet all of Eduard’s interest in her had already died. Nobody else at St. Julian’s had noticed she was gone, nobody had acted strangely afterward. The world went on without her. Of course, Eduard knew that was not true–her parents and siblings were definitely still in mourning–but, as far as he was concerned, nothing had changed.

“God, I hate this class,” Cameron groaned as they made their way to math class. They had started walking together because of their friends’ different schedules. Their friendship had grown in the past couple of weeks; both of them were growing less intolerable by the day.

“Why do you say that?” Eduard asked. He saw William, Reggie, Louis, and Leo make their way to the history building. They exchanged a few smiles, then carried on with their respective walks. Eduard’s eyebrows scrunched: something was missing from their group.

The other boy sighed, “I don’t know, Mr. Thompson is so averse to everything this school stands for. Before winter break, I heard him grumbling about some ‘rich pricks’ while he was grading our exams. To me, if you’re going to work at a place, you should be fine with the students there–or, at least, not voice how much you hate them!”

Eduard nodded along as Cameron spoke, “Well, he likely didn’t think you were listening in on him. It seems to me that he was letting out some frustration and not actively complaining about how wealthy the students here are. William probably just flunked another test!”

Cameron chuckled. With him, the son of a Congressman, by his side, Eduard felt as if he had succeeded. He had climbed the social ladder. He was no longer the Czech Nebraskan whose father was one of the few St. Julian graduates who never amounted to anything. Eduard was moving up in the world.

“Still, he shouldn’t be saying things like that. He works at St. Julian’s–he should know what that entails,” Cameron said. They arrived at the math building and Eduard opened the door for them both, “Besides, we’re not bad people. None of the students here are horrible.”

“I totally agree.”

The boys climbed the stairs to their classroom. They were among the last to arrive, and Mr. Thompson looked at Eduard disapprovingly as he entered. He took the last spot next to the windows, which was in the third row.

“Alright, class, welcome back,” Mr. Thompson began, rubbing his hands together, “I hope you had a wonderful winter break, I bet you all did,” Cameron glared at Eduard as if that single line proved his point, “and now you’re rested enough to continue on with your mathematical studies!”

Eduard leaned his head in his hand and sighed. Christmas break had been long and arduous. His mother had insisted he come home and spend it with his family. Their finances said otherwise. If Eduard were to go home for Christmas, his family would not be able to pay their bills. It was as simple as that. There were tear stains on Mrs. Klement’s most recent letter, but Eduard knew what was best for them. Having a roof over their head was more important than seeing his family for a week.

So, Eduard spent his vacation at school. He was one of only seven boys to do so, the other six being foreign exchange students whose voyage home would be too long to even bother with. The school set up a Christmas tree in the fifth and sixth form dormitory for them. Eduard received several new clothes, some homemade treats, and two books he had specifically asked for.

The most surprising gift of all was from Uncle Oskar. It was currently wrapped around Eduard’s wrist, the leather and gold cold against his skin.

“This was my brother’s watch.” the note that came with it said, “We each bought one with our first paychecks when we came to Nebraska. We used to say we had the finest watches in town, fit for the two finest brothers. Now I want you to have your father’s. Considering how much we spent on them, it only makes sense that it should be used.”

Eduard rubbed his finger over the watch face. He remembered this watch, but its whereabouts in the months since Mr. Klement died had never crossed his mind. He supposed he thought his father was buried with it. Apparently not. His finger found the gold rim around the clock. Mr. Klement was never one for expensive objects. In fact, the watch was the most expensive thing he owned besides his house and car, and it probably cost less than twenty dollars. Now it was the most expensive thing in Eduard’s wardrobe, and it did not feel like enough.

Eduard’s eyes drifted from his watch to the windows. His ears absorbed the lesson Mr. Thompson was describing, but his hands wrote no notes, and his eyes only watched the barren tree branches sway in the wind.

A familiar figure came into view on the sidewalk below the math building. His head turned left and right, left and right, scanning the area as if to make sure nobody saw him. He snuck along the sides of the building, at the edges where no one could detect him unless they were looking. The grease in his hair and the polish on his cufflinks made them shimmer in the sunlight.

George DeMund was skipping class at St. Julian’s Academy, and Eduard was witnessing it.

What was he doing? There were serious repercussions for skipping class, especially if you played a sport. Your position on the team was not set in stone; it could be changed or given to any other member at a moment’s notice. Why would George risk it?

Eduard’s eyes went wide. George had woken up early, early enough that he was not in their room when Eduard finally rolled out of bed. But, he never went to class. Reggie and William and the others had left their rooms, gone to breakfast, and trekked to class without him ever catching up to them. Also, he was dressed to go out, but with who? The girl he had been seeing was a St. Jane Frances’ student. If the repercussions for skipping class at St. Julian’s were serious, the ones at their sister school were downright hellish. After all, rumors of girls being trapped in nuns’ offices for hours and scrubbing hallway floors in front of everyone had circulated around St Julian’s, and no one had ever disproven them.

George disappeared out of sight of the classroom’s windows. Eduard glanced furtively around the classroom–no one had seen what he had just seen.

Follow your passion. Stay true to yourself. Never follow someone else's path unless you're in the woods and you're lost and you see a path. By all means, you should follow that.
— Ellen DeGeneres