Prompt – Did you ever get picked last in gym or some other class? Have you used that in your writing?
I probably did. I was lousy at basketball, but I avoided it. In doing so I must have avoided the embarrassment. But have I used those years and experiences in my writing? This is a cutting room floor casualty from a WIP that will never see the light of day. If this isn’t enough and you’re curious about more true stories -The Blue Bag and the Valentine’s episode – White Lies and Dirty Laundry and Deanna- With Two Ns
Roosevelt Junior High, November 1971
“Jackson. Mis-ter, Jackson, come on. Get up out of there. Jackson! Move it!”
Dammit. Jackson scrambled under the row of seats in front of him in the Roosevelt Junior High auditorium trying to pick up his science book, notebook, pencil and the single page mimeograph doodle sheet containing the synopsis of the 16-millimeter science film of the day because the girl on his right had gone ape shit and exploded on him. The girl on his left was about to cry, he could feel it. And the man who started films for science class every day, who was also his gym coach and homeroom teacher, was yelling at him. Gaw-odd-dammit.
“He dropped everything when she hit him, Mr. Stephens.” Janice, the girl on his left, tried to cover for him and not cry because someone was yelling.
“I don’t care, Miss Hurst. Jackson! Get up!” Mr. Stephens was leaning into the aisle, hands on the backs of the seats on either side of the row. “Jackson! Now!”
“He better never, never, never, ever, ever, ever do that again.” Connie, the girl on Jackson’s right, whacked the shit out of his back again. “You butt hole!”
“Miss Howard, that’s enough. Jackson!”
Stephens handled his own discipline, so at least this wouldn’t go to the office or his mom. If his mom found out he’d poked a girl in the boob with a pencil, even the eraser end, even on accident, she’d kill him. How did this shit happen? He sat up.
“Jackson, what the — ”
“He poked me in the…He poked me with his pencil in the…” Connie Howard couldn’t find the word she wanted for boob.
“It’s my fault, Mr. Stephens.” Janice was right on the edge of crying.
“Christ on a crutch, Miss Hurst. How is this your fault?”
“I, I asked him could I borrow a pencil, and then… it happened.”
“Somebody needs to tell me exactly what happened, before I yank the three of you off this row.” Stephens saw the flood coming and put his hand on Janice’s shoulder.
“Mr. Stephens, he didn’t do it. On purpose, I mean. Really. I saw it.” The voice one row down, one seat over from a red-faced Connie Howard suspended time because it came from Deanna Collings. The Hot Girl. Head cheerleader, president of everything, queen of whatever was left over.
“If you have some insight for me, Miss Collings,” Stephens relaxed his grip on the seat and Janice, dropped his head momentarily, muttered to himself before raising it. “I’m all ears.”
“Well, first,” Deanna shifted to face them, ankle on knee, arm over the back of her seat, “Janice asked Jax if he had a pencil she could borrow. He said ‘No, but Connie always has some.’ When he said that he pointed at Connie with the eraser end of his pencil, like this,” The Hot Girl turned her hand and demonstrated Jackson’s boob poke, “and poked her, here.” She pointed to the side of her left breast. “He wasn’t even looking at her when he did it. It was an accident. Really.”
Stephens scratched his chin that always seemed about a day away from his last shave, and waited.
“Mr. Stephens, my mom would kill me for poking Connie in the boob. And I’d never do that on purpose.”
“That she would.” Stephens held his laugh, checked off all of them with his eyes. “Can we all agree with Miss Collings that this little, um, ‘episode’ was an accident?”
Deanna flashed the Miss Popularity smile that turned just about everybody but Jackson to mush. “Connie, you know it was an accident. I’d let him go if it was me.”
Connie frowned, but let it go. “Okay. It’s alright. I’m sorry I hit you, Jax. But you’re still a butt hole. Janice?” She leaned across Jackson and handed Janice a sharp, new pencil, smashing her recently indignant left boob right into his chest.
Mr. Stephens walked back down to his projector shaking his head, crepe soled wingtips squishing all the way. Jackson. Poor kid. Completely surrounded by thirteen- and fourteen-year-old estrogen on that side of the auditorium and nowhere to hide.
Jackson leaned forward and reached long, careful to stay way out in front of his neighbor’s boobs and tapped the Hot Girl on the shoulder. She jumped, looked back at him.
“Deanna? Thanks, you know. Really.”
“You’re welcome.” She smiled a different smile that did turn him a little towards mush. He’d never seen her look anything like confused before, either, but she sorta did.
Deanna waited in the hall outside the auditorium after science class, grabbed Jackson’s shirt sleeve when he walked by, an action that threw a big wrench into the Hot Girl’s entourage. “I know you didn’t do it on purpose and it’s just not fair how you get in trouble all the time for nothing. I’m in your homeroom this year, sorta, so I had to, uh, you know… when you were getting it from Connie and Coach for nothing.”
“Yeah, um, thanks, you know? But girls on one side, us on the other. Kinda the same homeroom, but not really.” He was aware he’d need to not pee his pants if he talked to the Hot Girl for very long.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” She started to vanish into the crowd around her. “No, I won’t, it’s Wednesday!” She was walking backwards, almost shouting. “Where do you go with that big blue bag on Wednesdays?”
“Later.” There wasn’t time for the Tale of the Blue Bag. She was gone, swept away in a sea of popularity. This had to be the worst day of his life so far. Poking a friend in the boob by accident. Everybody in eighth grade watching him about to eat it with Stephens before the Hot Girl’s divine intervention. And then she talked to him. What did he say to her? Something stupid, probably. She sure was cute. More than cute. His mom had said, “Peaches and cream and big, bright eyes. You should be so lucky, Jax.”
Even though she’d made an effort to talk to him he still didn’t stand in line to hang with her before school or be part of the crowd when the two gym teachers decided to give them five minutes of co-ed home room. Why bother? She was pretty much sold on Matt, the guy with a few years too-late Beach Boy haircut, flip in the front, dyed Summer Blonde streaks and all. All the girls thought he was cute. Jackson thought he was a wuss, but he seemed to be by himself with that opinion. He and Mr. Stephens, anyway, Stephens saying to him one time during a Blue Bag handoff, “There’s a word for guys who put that shit in their hair, Jackson. Don’t be one of them.”
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