MR. WILLIS: Which Mr. Willis?
MR. TRASK: George, Junior, sir. You were in a position last Tuesday night to see who committed this act of vandalism. Who was it?
GEORGE WILLIS: Well, I have an idea who it was.
MR. TRASK: No, no, not an idea, Mr. Willis. Did you see or did you not see?
GEORGE WILLIS: Well... I didn't have my contacts in. Come on. I was in the library. I'd taken my glasses off, and I was gonna put my contacts back in. Then I helped Simms close up, and the next thing I know, we're outside, and I hear this sound, and I didn't have any time to put my contacts in.
MR. TRASK: Whom, with your limited vision, did you see?
GEORGE WILLIS: Like I say, it was blurry. I can't see without my contacts.
MR. TRASK: What did you see, Mr. Willis
GEORGE WILLIS: What? What, you mean definitively?
MR. TRASK: Stop fencing with me, Mr. Willis! Tell me what you saw!
GEORGE WILLIS: Now, don't hold me to this, but no contacts, it's dark and everything, I mean...
MR. TRASK: Mr. Willis!
GEORGE WILLIS: Maybe... Harry Havemeyer, Trent Potter and Jimmy Jameson.
MR. TRASK: Maybe?
GEORGE WILLIS: Ballpark, best guess.
MR. TRASK: Could you provide us with some detail?
GEORGE WILLIS: I mean, why don't you ask Charlie? I really think he was closer.
MR. TRASK: Mr. Simms.
CHARLIE SIMMS: Yes.
MR. TRASK: You don't wear contact lenses, do you?
CHARLIE SIMMS: No, sir.
MR. TRASK: With your untrammeled sight, whom did you see?
CHARLIE SIMMS: Well, I saw... I saw something, but I couldn't say who.
MR. TRASK: All right. What was the something you saw?
CHARLIE SIMMS: I couldn't say.
MR. TRASK: You couldn't say or you wouldn't say?
CHARLIE SIMMS: Well, I just... I just couldn't say. I'm...
Couldn't, wouldn't, shouldn't, you're exhausting my patience and making a mockery of these proceedings
I will give you one last chance. The consequences of your response will be dire. By dire I mean your future will be jeopardized permanently. Now for the last time, what did you see last Tuesday night outside my office?
CHARLIE SIMMS: I saw somebody.
MR. TRASK: "I saw somebody." Good. Did you see their size and shape?
CHARLIE SIMMS: Yeah.
MR. TRASK: And they were the size and shape of whom?
CHARLIE SIMMS: They were the size and shape... of most any Baird student, sir.
MR. TRASK: I am left with no real witness. Mr. Willis's testimony is not only vague, it is unsubstantiated. The substance I was looking for, Mr. Simms, was to come from you.
CHARLIE SIMMS: I'm sorry.
MR. TRASK: I'm sorry too, Mr. Simms, because you know what I'm going to do, inasmuch as I can't punish Mr. Havemeyer, Mr. Potter or Mr. Jameson? And I won't punish Mr. Willis. He's the only party to this incident who is still worthy of calling himself a Baird man. I'm going to recommend to the Disciplinary Committee that you be expelled. Mr. Simms, you are a cover-up artist and you are a liar.
FRANK SLADE: But not a snitch!
MR. TRASK: Excuse me?
FRANK SLADE: No, I don't think I will.
MR. TRASK: Mr. Slade.
FRANK SLADE: This is such a crock of shit!
MR. TRASK: Please watch your language, Mr. Slade. You are in the Baird school, not a barracks. Mr. Simms, I will give you one final opportunity to speak up.
FRANK SLADE: Mr. Simms doesn't want it. He doesn't need to be labeled "still worthy of being a Baird man." What the hell is that? What is your motto here? "Boys, inform on your classmates, save your hide; anything short of that, we're gonna burn you at the stake"? Well, gentlemen, when the shit hits the fan, some guys run and some guys stay. Here's Charlie facin' the fire
, and there's George hidin' in big daddy's pocket. And what are you doing? You're gonna reward George and destroy Charlie.
MR. TRASK: Are you finished, Mr. Slade?
FRANK SLADE: No, I'm just gettin' warmed up. I don't know who went to this place. William Howard Taft, William Jennings Bryant, William Tell, whoever. Their spirit is dead, if they ever had one. It's gone. You're building a rat ship here, a vessel for seagoin' snitches. And if you think you're preparin' these minnows for manhood, you better think again, because I say you are killin' the very spirit this institution proclaims it instills. What a sham. What kind of a show are you guys puttin' on here today? I mean, the only class in this act is sittin' next to me. I'm here to tell you this boy's soul is intact. It's non-negotiable. You know how I know? Someone here, and I'm not gonna say who, offered to buy it. Only Charlie here wasn't selling.
MR. TRASK: Sir, you're out of order.
FRANK SLADE: I show you out of order. You don't know what out of order is, Mr. Trask. I'd show you, but I'm too old, I'm too tired, too fuckin' blind. If I were the man I was five years ago, I'd take a flamethrower to this place! Out of order? Who the hell you think you're talkin' to? I've been around, you know? There was a time I could see. And I have seen. Boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. But there is nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit, there is no prosthetic for that
. You think you're merely sendin' this splendid foot soldier back home to Oregon with his tail between his legs, but I say you are executin' his soul! And why? Because he's not a Baird man. Baird men. You hurt this boy, you're gonna be Baird bums, the lot of you. And, Harry, Jimmy, Trent, wherever you are out there
fuck you too!
MR. TRASK: Stand down, Mr. Slade!
FRANK SLADE: I'm not finished. As I came in here, I heard those words: "cradle of leadership." Well, when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and it has fallen here. It has fallen. Makers of men, creators of leaders. Be careful what kind of leaders you're producing here. I don't know if Charlie's silence here today is right or wrong; I'm not a judge or jury. But I can tell you this: he won't sell anybody out to buy his future! And that, my friends, is called integrity. That's called courage. Now that's the stuff leaders should be made of. Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew, but I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard. Now here's Charlie. He's come to the crossroads. He has chosen a path. It's the right path. It's a path made of principle that leads to character. Let him continue on his journey. You hold this boy's future in your hands, Committee. It's a valuable future, believe me. Don't destroy it. Protect it. Embrace it. It's gonna make you proud one day, I promise you.