The Feisty Four – Chapter Seven

As the chauffeur drove away, the girls headed toward the teachers’ house. Reeny asked them how they had gotten there and Julie said her mother had reluctantly dropped them off down the street “to get some information for a project” from another student and would return in two hours.

As they walked, it occurred to them that they didn’t really know how to roll a house.  They had only heard other people talking about it.  The one thing they did know was that they needed to work under the cover of darkness and it was fast approaching.

Tut-Tut looked at Reeny and said “maybe you can hold one end and I’ll walk around the house and we’ll wrap it.” That didn’t make any sense to Amy and seemed a certain way to be seen, so she came up with the idea of throwing the rolls over the house.  That didn’t work because they didn’t loosen the first square and half of their supply ended up laying on top of the roof.

They only had two hours before the chauffeur and Julies’ mother returned and they had already wasted half that time.  Suddenly, the front porch light came on and in a panic, the girls threw down the rest of their stash and started running down the street.

Hiding behind some bushes, they weren’t sure if their hysterical laughter was due to the comedy of errors or because they were terrified at having almost been caught.  What if, God forbid, they had been caught?  It was that night they decided that their criminal careers were over.

Panic set in as they wondered what would have happened.  They envisioned the dreaded grounding from their parents which would be a given, but would that happen before or after they went to prison?  They all agreed that they would not look very smart in black and white stripes and Reeny, being the fashion icon she was, would never be able to tolerate it if the stripes were askew.

They had seen movies where prisoners were chained together, had to break rocks all day long and were fed bread and water.  Not only that, but they would be known as jailbirds.  Jailbirds!  How old would they be when they finally got out, if they ever did?

Tut-Tut said “we’ll be all dried up, like a bunch of prunes!”  Julie quickly kicked her sense of humor into gear and said “think about it.”

She waved her hand as if it held a magic wand and said “in prison, Tut-Tut, you will be Homecoming Prune.  I’ll be the cutest raisin and Amy?  You will be most likely to wrinkle!”

That was enough to cut through their anxiety and the girls calmed down, just in time for Julies’ mother to show up and say “did you get what you needed?”

The next morning when they went to school, they wondered if old sourpuss had seen them.  Had she noticed the toilet paper on her roof and in her yard?  If she hadn’t seen them, had she told the principal anyway, who through some divine power would know it had been them?  By lunchtime, they breathed a collective sigh of relief when nothing was mentioned.

Feeling triumphant for having evaded the long arm of the law, the girls were talking about their plans for the summer.  A quiet, pensive moment came over them when they realized that the next year was going to be their last year of school.  The feisty four would come to a crossroad and each one of them would be choosing a different path to follow.

 

To be continued______________________

 

 

The Feisty Four – Chapter Six

Reeny, Julie, Tut-Tut and Amy were now a force to be reckoned with. Combined, they had money, loyalty, beauty and brains.

The girls had learned a lesson from almost getting caught smoking in the bathroom and one day, a casual comment from Reeny set off a chain of events that would ultimately change school policy.

The teachers had their break room where they all sat around and smoked unencumbered, so why shouldn’t the students have a space of their own? Reeny wasn’t a smoker but she was ahead of her time when it came to equality, be it gender equality or basic equal human rights.

It was a brilliant suggestion and one that was worthy of pursuit.  The girls decided to form a task force.  They started collecting signatures from all the students and it didn’t matter if they were smokers.  Their idea was that it was their right and they should be provided with a special smoking section at the school.  What was fair for the teachers should be fair for them.

After the signatures were collected, Amy was charged with writing the proposal to be presented to the principal.  She walked into the office and said “this is a petition and the entire student body has signed it.”  As she handed it to him, he looked at her and said “oh, Lord.  Well, let’s have a look.”

The principal was a strict enforcer of the rules and was not one to suffer fools lightly but by his own admission, he admired “gumption,” especially from a girl.  He was the proud father of a grown daughter who as he put it, had “determined her way into a mans’ world.”

The next Tuesday, when the weekly assembly was held in the auditorium, the principal announced that there would now be two smoking sections at the school.  One would be designated for the boys and one for the girls.

That lone gesture was what prompted the students to start calling the girls “the feisty four.”

Although the end of the school year was several months away, it was time to start working on the annual.  Reeny was of course, drafted to take part this year.

Being the practical joker, Julie had the idea to rearrange the pictures.  Some sophomores were elevated to senior status and some teachers were demoted to groundskeeper.  The principal was going to be surprised when he found himself listed as the drum major, wearing a suit and tie.  It would be explained in the caption under the picture that he had misplaced his uniform somewhere in the gymnasium on picture day.

If the girls were worried about any repercussions, their fears were put to rest when the annual came out.  Everybody appreciated the humorous touch, even the teachers.  Trying to find their pictures became a visual scavenger hunt.

It had been a ballsy move and put a punctuation mark at the end of the “feisty four.”  It also became a tradition from that year forward.  It would be another legacy left by those four girls.

Acquiring smoking sections and altering annuals were not the only things the feisty four did.  Before Christmas, they started soliciting local businesses to donate items and food.  They organized a talent show at the school and charged admission, even from the teachers and the proceeds were donated to charity.

They knew there were students at the school who would not have a good holiday because there just wasn’t enough money and they gave a list of names to the representative from the Salvation Army.

Julie asked local florists for unsold flower arrangements to take to the people at the hospital where she volunteered.  Those people would be alone on Christmas and she thought flowers, even a few days old, might brighten up their day.

They were young humanitarians but they were still capable of mischief. One weekend, they decided to roll the yard of a grumpy teacher they referred to as “old sourpuss.”  She would smack a boys’ hand with a ruler for just looking at her sideways and would send girls to the office if they were caught whispering to each other.

They worked out their plans and agreed to meet in the teachers’ neighborhood.  When Reeny arrived in the Rolls Royce with a trunk full of toilet paper, the girls laughed at first but then asked if the chauffeur would tell on them.  Reeny smiled and said “not if he wants to keep his job.”

 

To be continued_____________________

The Feisty Four – Chapter Five

Amy Adele Allen didn’t have the striking beauty of Tut-Tut nor the cuteness of Julie.  Her look could best be described as exotic.  Her close-cropped raven colored hair and olive skin set her apart from most and her small, dark-rimmed glasses added an air of studiousness which fit her persona perfectly.

She was called “straight A’s” not only for the obvious reason but also because of her brains.  She too had made the Superlative list as, hands down, “most likely to succeed.”  She was an auditory eidetic.  If she heard a story, a phrase, a speech or a definition once, the words became visible text in her mind.  Students and teachers alike were stunned by her perfect total recall.

It was unclear where she got her remarkable memory.  Her father was the vice-president of the local steel company and although clearly intelligent, he would oftentimes come home having forgotten to pick up the gallon of milk her mother had just called and requested as he was leaving the office.

Her mother was a homemaker, who ran the house with the efficiency of a well-oiled machine but would sometimes spend hours looking for the cigarettes she had misplaced or important papers that needed attention.  Amy once suggested that she make notes.  Her mother said she did but then she couldn’t remember where she put the notes.

In school, Amy carried her books with her but never opened one other than for display purposes while in class.  When asked how she was able to give a proper assigned “book report” she smiled and said “I read the first page, the middle page and the last page.”

With her extraordinary gift for writing and smooth verbal skills, her reports not only fooled even the most discerning teachers, they impressed them.

She also had an artistic flair.  She used to draw figures of beautiful women for boys to hang on the inside of their locker doors.  She could whip out a picture with such casual aplomb that it left everybody completely awestruck.  She was the one who was always called on to provide illustrations for any upcoming events and was the go-to person for the layout and design of the schools’ yearly annual.

Her art teacher urged her to go to school to pursue a career at the local newspaper, drawing advertisements or perhaps even being a sketch artist for the police department.  Amy could have placated her but instead balked at the idea and told her that she had absolutely no interest in an art career. It angered the teacher who reprimanded her with “you have a God-given talent and you are wasting it.”

Amy wasn’t yet sure where she wanted life to take her.  She toyed with the idea of doing research and maybe going down in history as the one who found a cure for cancer or maybe she could finally answer the mystery of why people had to sleep.  The need for those little slices of death had always fascinated her.

She only knew that she wanted to leave a mark.

 

To be continued____________________

The Feisty Four – Chapter Four

Courtney Honeycutt, aka “Tut-Tut” was the beauty of the group.  Her blonde hair and mesmerizing clear blue eyes were upstaged only by her perfect Hollywood smile and she was often compared to a young Marilyn Monroe.  She had a figure girls envied and boys had dreams about.  She had twice been crowned Homecoming Queen but wasn’t the kind to “wear her crown all year.”

Everybody said she could be a movie star but from the time she was a little girl, her dream was to be an airline stewardess.  Her father, whom she adored, was a commercial pilot and because of that, traveled much of the time.  She believed that if she became a stewardess, she could spend more time with him.

She dreamed about the places she would go and what she would see and do.  She had never been out of the sleepy little town but knew there was a huge world out there and she intended to see it someday.  Life had not yet taught her that things didn’t always work out the way she planned.

Her dream ended one weekend a year earlier when she and her mother were hit head on by a drunk driver.  Her mother didn’t survive.  Being young and healthy, she recovered but the scar that was left under her right eye, effectively knocked her out of the skies.  Airline stewardesses were not allowed to have any facial scars and although hers had faded, it was still visible.

She watched her father fall into the bottle for a time and she, at the age of fourteen, even sought refuge in alcohol until her friends stepped in and saved her from self-destruction.

The man who hit them was the son of a wealthy entrepreneur from out-of-state.  He and his father arrived in court along with their high-profile attorney and due to a technicality, the charges were dismissed.  Tut-Tut said she never forgot that as he walked out of the courtroom, he looked over at her and winked.

You could tell when it was on her mind because a deep underlying rage was almost palpable and she would close her eyes and whisper something the other girls were sure was a curse.  Although she still went to church, she could never justify in her mind, how Gods’ mercy could have been so misplaced and secretly vowed revenge some day.

Her grief was tempered by a boy named Jeffrey Martin.  He lived in another county and went to an all Catholic boys’ school.  He gave her a promise ring right after the accident and had stood by her as she struggled with potential alcoholism and the worst, survivors’ guilt.

She was sure that as soon as they got out of school, they would get married and start a family.  It was another beautiful dream and she spent time in class, thinking about him and practicing writing “Mrs. Jeffrey Dale Martin.”

She had seen how her parents interacted with each other and she believed in love and marriage.  That was the kind of life she wanted and she knew that Jeffrey was the one she would have that life with.

Although she was extremely close to the other two girls and shared her innermost secrets with them, she found that she and Reeny seemed to have an almost ethereal connection.

 

To be continued……

The Feisty Four – Chapter Three

Julie Treadway was popular in school and had consistently been voted onto the Superlative list as “the cutest girl.”

She was quick-witted and her one-liners could often drop you to your knees with laughter.  She was diminutive, standing exactly five feet tall but her effervescent personality made her seem almost gigantic at times.  When she walked, her long brown ponytail swayed back and forth in perfect cadence like a metronome and was almost hypnotic to the boys watching it.

They described her as that “cutie pie” but none of them got any further than a quick conversation in class or in the hallway.  Most of them were poor and had no higher aspirations than to work at a local filling station, with dreams of someday owing it.

Julie had plans after she graduated and it didn’t include being married to a grease monkey.  She wasn’t going to be one of those women who walked around the house all day long in a bathrobe and slippers, with curlers in her hair, chasing a child who needed its diaper changed.

There also wasn’t going to be a two income family in her future.  She would laugh and say “I’m not going to get married and have to go to work to support myself.  I can stay single and do that.”

She was unapologetic in her determination to marry a rich man and live in a mansion on top of a hill.  She didn’t really care where the mansion or the hill was as long as her husband was rich and it was obvious that she was not going to find him in that sleepy little town.

The exception could have been Bobby Earl Willoughby, IV.  He could be described as almost beautiful but everybody knew he was a player.  Julie was briefly captivated by his charm but she had a good head on her shoulders and quickly saw through his game.  Their romance fizzled before it ever caught fire.

To some, Julie may have sounded shallow but living from hand to mouth had never appealed to her.  Her parents were by no stretch of the imagination as wealthy as Reenys’.  Even though they lived comfortably, Julie knew that poverty had once been a way of life for them until a fortuitous venture by her father resulted in a stroke of good fortune.

Only those closest to her knew that almost every weekend she volunteered as a candy-striper at the local hospital, delivering flowers to patients and offering conversation to those who had no visitors.  She was known as one of the most empathetic, caring volunteers and her youth made her benevolence even more impressive.

If you were her friend, no torture had ever been invented that could make her betray you and if somebody dared to bully anybody, this “cutie pie” would attack with the ferocity of a rabid dog.  Her vituperations would leave you with no doubt that you had just been slain.

She was also a practical joker and nobody was immune.  She once posted a note on the students’ bulletin board that school would not be held the next day, due to a teachers’ strike.  It wasn’t until late that afternoon that a teacher saw it and had to make an announcement that all students were expected to attend class the next day.

The joke that is still legend was when she ordered new carpet for the office. The workers showed up with all their samples and measuring supplies, only to find out that it had been a prank.  They never found out who did it and there was a mock “warrant” posted in the window of the office.  Every time she saw it, she grinned.

 

To be continued……

The Feisty Four – Chapter Two

After their class was over, the girls walked by the office and saw Irene and a well-dressed gentleman, sitting in front of the principal and Mrs. Grant. The Rolls Royce was parked outside and they assumed Irene’s father was the gentleman.  A few of the groundskeepers were looking at the car as if it was a spaceship.  Like most of the people around town, they had never see a car that fancy.

The girls knew what was surely going to happen to Irene and the guilt started to overcome them.  They may be cowards but they were cowards with a conscience.  They questioned each other as to whether they should go in and confess, but they were terrified at what would happen for not only smoking in the bathroom, but for letting somebody else take the blame.

That night, they talked on the telephone and tried to decide what to do. Should they tell their parents that they were smoking at school?  All of their parents smoked, as did all of their teachers but they had been warned to “do as I say, not as I do.  Don’t ever let me catch you with a cigarette.”

If they confessed, they would surely suffer the most horrific of punishments, which was being grounded until they were thirty.  That had been threatened more than once, so they decided that wasn’t an option.

Maybe they could blame it on somebody else.  They could say that they saw somebody run out before they could get a good look at them. Everybody knew that teachers were idiots and by definition, so was Mrs. Grant.  Surely she would believe their well-constructed tall tale.  She would also believe that their excuse for not coming clean in the first place, was because they were scared that the person would find out they told on them and beat them up after school.

That plan sounded perfectly reasonable to the girls of fifteen, who possessed intelligence that far exceeded any nitwit teacher.  They decided that the next day, they would all go to the office and tell Mrs. Grant their intriguing, cloak-and-dagger tale of the mysterious, phantom villain who got away.  They would then appropriately tremble as they explained their fear at the thought of retribution from that heinous, vindictive smoker.

The next morning the girls met in the rotunda and although nervous, they were ready to put their brilliant plan into motion.  After they took a deep breath and started walking toward the office, they stopped dead in their tracks when they met Irene on the way.  She smiled as they walked toward her.

In unison, they said “oh, my God!  Thank you so much for not telling on us! What happened?  Why aren’t you suspended?  Why aren’t you expelled?” Irene laughed and said “my father made a substantial donation to the school.  You know what they say.  Money talks.”

They chatted until the bell rang for class and as they started walking away, the girls said “will you eat lunch with us?  We’ll save you a seat.” Irene said “sure.”

At lunch, it was as if Irene and the girls had been friends forever.  There were conversations about boys, idiot teachers, smoking and future weekend sleep-overs.  The girls were surprised at how down to earth Irene was, considering her background and wealth.  Irene was surprised at how warm and genuinely caring the girls seemed to be.  It was that day that she became “Reeny” to them.

From that point on, the four girls were inseparable and eventually became known as “The Feisty Four.”

 

To be continued…………

The Feisty Four – Chapter One

Irene Farley slipped into a booth at Woolworth’s, opened her compact, checked her cherry red lipstick and admired her new up-do.  As she looked toward the front door with anticipation, she was catapulted back twenty years to her youth, when things were simple and everybody believed that everything life had to offer was theirs for the taking.

In high school she was a trend-setter so it was no stretch to think that she wouldn’t still be sporting the latest hairstyles, clothes and accouterments, tweaked with her own unique panache.  She had always danced to a different drummer.

She was unusually tall, standing just shy of five feet ten inches in her stocking feet.  All through school she stuck out like a sore thumb, especially next to the much shorter boys who had yet to hit their growth spurt.

From one week to the next, it was pure speculation as to what style or hair color Irene would have when she showed up for class.  It could range anywhere from platinum blonde to jet black or a combination of the two.  It could be slicked back into a ponytail or hanging loose around her face.

Everybody remarked about how much the different hair styles and colors completely changed Irene’s appearance.  She was far from what you would call beautiful or even attractive but there was an air of mystery about her that was appealing and eventually people would start to notice.

She wore make-up and lots of it.  She wore nail polish in colors that nobody had ever seen.  She wore designer clothes that had been bought at high dollar department stores up North.  For every outfit, she had shoes to match.

None of the other girls in school wore make-up and most of their clothes had been hand-made or bought at Roses’ Discount Store.  They had but one pair of shoes that were worn all year with the exception of the required tennis shoes for physical education, when held in the gymnasium.

She didn’t fit in with the smart crowd nor did she fit in with the popular crowd.  She was an oddity.  She had been transported from New York to the South where people talked slow, things moved slow and most folks were poor.

Every day, she was delivered and collected by a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce.  When she walked up the more than fifty steps to the entrance of the school, the students stepped back, resembling Moses parting the Red Sea.

Everybody wanted to know what her father did for a living and where she lived but they didn’t dare ask.  They were a bit afraid of her.  Her deep raspy voice, coupled with her height, fed a rumor that she was really a boy pretending to be a girl.  There were also rumors that she belonged to a coven of witches and those rumors spread like wildfire the first time she died her hair black.

If the whispers she heard as she walked by bothered her, she never gave any indication.  She walked with an air of confidence and looked almost as if she was in tune to an entirely different universe.  She seemed to be one of those people who didn’t need or want friends but soon, three girls would come into her life in a most unexpected and serendipitous way.

One day between classes, Irene dashed into the girls’ bathroom.  She immediately heard “shh” and then noticed six legs in one stall.  She could smell the cigarette smoke as she entered her own stall.  The girls quickly tossed their cigarettes into the toilet and separated.

When Irene came out, she walked over to the sink to wash her hands and without warning, the door flew open.  Mrs. Grant, the guidance counselor, walked in and said “alright, girls.  Come on out here.”  The three girls slowly opened the doors to the stalls and walked out.  Mrs. Grant said “I know somebody has been smoking in here.  Which one of you was it?”

They all stood in silence, trading glances, knowing that if you were caught smoking in the bathroom, at best you would be suspended and at worst, you would be expelled.  Mrs. Grant said “okay, if nobody is going to speak up, you will all be going to the office and you will all suffer the consequences.”

Suddenly, Irene spoke up and said “It was me, Mrs. Grant.  I was the one who was smoking.”  Mrs. Grant took her by the arm and angrily said “then you come with me.  Now!  You other girls get on to class.”

Irene didn’t know it at the time but because of her selfless sacrifice, she had just made three lifelong friends.

 

To be continued_______________

 

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