They decided to send him to military school. Besides, they wanted to take an extended trip to Europe.
Dennis was cowed as his parents drove into this small town in Tennessee, away from the temptations of Nashville or even Knoxville. It looked like everything he feared from the movies: earnest, smartly-dressed boys, the military school located in a rural community, rooms neat as a pin. Classes from 0800 to 1600 daily, then proctored study hall in the evening until 2100. Lights out at 2200. That's how they told time there.
"Well darn!" He chanced a mild oath and was immediately shussed by others.
So Dennis decided that maybe he would play the long game, appear to adjust well to this new, dreadful regimen, and then escape to a life of being on the road.
In the meantime, he had shown promise as a cadet; and was summoned to the office of the Commandant, General Tso. This was scary, as General Tso was rumored to be a retired warlord who had been known for his ruthlessness. Ruth left him for another warlord.
General Tso was about as inscrutable as they come; a middle-aged man of Asian heritage and a stern demeanor. He made Dennis stand at attention while he appraised him, with his austere gaze.
"Ah, you seem like a clever one; too clever by half. You plan to appear adjusted to cadet life; but you plan to spring back to your former self when scrutiny is relaxed. Your kind is well-known to me. And useful."
Dennis shuddered with fear. This General Tso was wilier than any other adult he had ever known.
"But your type can be useful. You can be my drug courier to nearby cities."
"What sort of drugs?" asked Dennis.
"Opium and pain relievers. Fool! You don't think we move meth, do you?"
"No, Sir!" Dennis shouted forcefully, being totally scared to death.
"Well, good. I will pay you a stipend, allow you one night per month at a strip club, and name you a Cadet Second Lieutenant. Stand at ease!"
"And I'll teach you my secret recipe."
So things improved for Dennis Callahan. He found his school more comfortable, he had lots of money, and he could go to strip joints in Nashville often. And he had a cooking skill which he attributed to the broad cultural experience that came with a military school background.
Later on, Dennis conned his way into law school. He served briefly as a Staff Judge Advocate in the Army. And later joined a prestigious law firm.