“You there!” ‘Major’ McNabb cried. “What are you doing over there?”

Gnat looked up. “O-oh! Hello there. I’m just in the process of, ah…cataloguing the various architectural anomalies of the school, here. Ah, for comparison.” Sweat prickled up and down Gnat’s brow.

“Boy, are you trying to bluff your way out of answering a simple question with a bunch of ten-dollar words?” snapped McNabb. “If this were the army, son, I’d have you drop and give me push-ups until the only things you could gasp out were ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ and ‘sir.’ You catch my meaning?”

Gnat, looking miserable, wilted under McNab’s steely gaze. “No…sir?”

The vice-principal sighed, irritated by the response even if it had obeyed his request to the letter. “In the army, you serve up a sir sandwich when you’re in this kind of hot water,” he said. “Tell me again, real slow now, and using real small words, why you are slinking around my school, and see to it that the first and last words out of your mouth are ‘sir.’ Got it?”

“B-…uhm…Sir, but this isn’t the Army,” Gnat said. Then, hastily, again: “Sir.”

“That’s what people keep telling me when I give them orders,” McNab grunted. He held up his phone. “I’ve got the number to the HPD called up. Can you give me one good reason why I shouldn’t hit call? Like a polite explanation?”

“Ah…well…sir…you see, I…”

“Out with it!” McNabb snapped.

“I was looking to see how the school had changed,” Gnat blurted. “From before.”

The vice-principal looked at him, suspicious. “From before? Boy, you look like you’re not old enough to have graduated from here even on the five-year plan. Your parents students?”

“Yes! Ah…uh, sir, yes sir!” Gnat chirped. “That they were, sir, yes. Indeedy.”

“Uh huh. Sounds like two generations on the five year plan to me,” McNabb said. “Well, let me tell you, son: ain’t nothing changed about this building since ’94, when they added the new football field and the new band room. Your parents remember it just fine.”

“Any chance I could…see inside? Sir?”

“Boy, school is out for the summer and we do not do tours. Come back when school is in session.”

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