Lords of Discipline, ©1986 Pat Conroy
"Good afternoon, Colonel," I
said to Colonel Thomas Berrineau, the Commandant of Cadets.
"How did you
know it was me, Bubba?" he asked, coming into my field of vision.
"I'd recognize that
high-pitched castrato voice anywhere, Colonel. How was your summer,
"My summer was fine,
Bubba. I could relax. You weren't on campus. I didn't have to
worry about my niece's virtue or plots against the Institute.
Where did you spend your summer, McLean? The Kremlin? Peking?
"I stayed home
knitting mufflers for our boys in Vietnam, Colonel," I said. "It
was the least I could do."
"You son of a Bolshevik,"
he whispers softly as he drew his face nearer to mine. A cigar
hung from his pendulous lower lip, and its ash glowed brightly
inches away from my right cornea. I had never seen the Bear without
a cigar in his mouth. I could have more easily imagined him without
a nose or ears. You could often smell his approach before you
saw him. Your nose would warn you of the Bear's quiet scrutiny
before he unleashed that voice so famous among cadets."
"Colonel Thomas Berrineau,
the Commandant of Cadets, was always watching his students. He
always had cigar in his mouth. When he spoke with his students
he sometimes seemed threatening, but he was usually just sarcastic."
-- Rewrite by D. O'Connor