changing of the guard at grandville high chapter one
part two I only got one reply to the intro but here's chapter one anyway.
Way, way back then
August was a memorable month for me. It had two full moons in 1968. On the twenty-sixth I turned fifteen. My social standing was several rungs down the ladder from leper. My parents are solid middle class, church going socially acceptable people – so was I. My sister was not. She was a wildthing or that was what she calls herself.
I wanted to go out on this last weekend before school started. I needed desperately to be able to write something that I had done during the summer on my report about ‘what I did this summer’. They always make you write a summer vacation report. I don’t want it to be that I read 47 books and got sunburned - twice.
I forced, with a lot of yelling, my mother to force my sister to take me with her. She didn’t want to take me but she did and when I was in the car with her and Danny the feces really hit the rotary oscillator. She dumped me at the pool hall on highway thirty four, Bill’s place. She didn’t get out and take me in either. She just tossed me out of the car physically on the gravel parking lot and told me to be there when she got back.
I brushed myself off and went into Bill’s. The second I walked in the door I knew why she left me here. Bill’s is a geek hangout. And I’m a geek, I plan to be an librarian. My sister doesn’t hang out with geeks.
I took a seat and my mind began to wonder. I’ll be a freshman in Grandville high this year and I’m nervous about starting high school. I mean all the other kids I’ll have to deal with from different schools and I don’t fit in well with others. I have a tendency to speak before I think and it causes me some problems. I fight back when cornered and I like books a lot more than people.
Oh, my name is Sheila Bennette’. I’m fifteen; I have red, near unmanageable, hair and am not allowed to wear makeup. I’m a mess compared to my peers – no wait I don’t have any peers. I am at a level of geekdom that has no rivals.
Grade school was bad enough but this whole high school thing is terrifying. My sister is a senior this year and that isn’t going to help. She hates me. She says my geekiness causes her popularity to drop by 50 percent. She stays far away from me. Mother says this is normal for sisters. I don’t know how she would know she never had a sister, just five brothers.
That’s the background and now for the story.
Bill’s is a nice enough place I guess for a pool hall although he calls it a game room – a lot of socially aspiring geeks hang out there. I didn’t bring any money with me so I just sat. I wish I had a book about a stupid girl at a pool hall waiting for an unknown adventure that she hopes will never come. I could at least page forward and know what’s going to not happen next.
Now I was one of three girls here and only one of the boys asked me to play a game with him. It scared me and I said what I have always planned to say when a boy asks me to do something I don’t want to do. “I don’t think my boyfriend wouldn’t like that.”
No one else asked me to do anything I just sat for almost two hours. I realized the boyfriend comment was the wrong thing to say.
The geeks in the place started to clear out about eight thirty. It was just Bill and me in the place for the next hour. Bill is a very nice guy but he’s at least forty and has a wife and six kids. But he’s nice and bought, gave me a drink and put a quarter in the pool table for me to try to shot the balls back into the pockets. He told me the place would pick up again after the show was over about ten thirty.
I’m a terrible pool player but even I soon ran out of balls to shot. Bill was prepping stuff for the burger and fries run he knew was coming as the people came back in after the movie.
I sat and just watched. I was bored out of my mind and wishing I was home so I could take a bath and go to bed.
The car that pulled up out front and parked was a new distraction and I wondered who it could be. The tall make-your-heart-stop-and-your-mouth-drool guy got out and walked into the pool-, game room. He was in a white t-shirt and blue jeans. The heels of the heavy engineer’s boots clicked they hit the concrete floor. He had long blond hair and while he was maybe eighteen (later I found out he had just turned seventeen) he had a scruffy beard he was trying to grow. He yelled at Bill when he walked through the door. “Wild Bill give me a chiliburger with extra cheese.” Bill came from around the counter with a big smile. “Shaky Pete it’s good to see ya boy.” They hugged- two men hugged – it was weird.
I knew who Shaky Pete was although it was the first time I was able to put a face to the improbable criminal rep he carried.
They talked while Bill made the burger. Shaky Pete brought it out and sat at the table next to me. I just stared at him, he’s a real outlaw. He took a couple of bites before he ate a fry or two. He looked up and I turned my eyes away. I shouldn’t be staring at him. I watched him out of the corner of my eye. He tried to take another bite several times before he asked or said. “I can’t eat this with you avoiding looking at me so do you want a burger or fries or something.” I told him I didn’t have any money. He told me it was his treat. I ordered a Chiliburger with extra cheese and a root beer. He laughed I think at my lack of hesitation. Then he took out a knife, a switch blade knife, popped it open and cut his burger in half. He pushed the half with no bit marks over to me saying “It’s going to take Bill a while to make another one.” I was hungry so I ate the burger and shared his fries. I had learned my lesson and was not going to repeat the boyfriend lunacy.
Bill joined us with the second burger and more fries; it was already cut in half. They talked and I listened. Pete is very personable and I really wonder why he has the rep he does. He’s just back in town from a summer of working with his dad on the coast at a fishery. He’s also a sophomore at Grandville High this year. He missed one year while he was in juvenile detention for – I heard - assaulting a state trooper - I don’t know that for sure. But, that’s why he a sophomore and 17.
We talked until about ten fifteen when the geeks started to come back from the movie. I was finding Pete very interesting and I liked him. I was willing to take a chance. I didn’t want to be here. I asked hoping I wasn’t taking my life in my hands. “Pete do you think you could take me home, my sister dropped me here and I don’t know when she’s coming back.” I added quickly that my dad would give him some money for gas.
He smiled, “What’s your name?” I was flustered but got it out “Oh, sorry, Sheila Bennette.” He reached out his hand “Pete Shaker.” He had some chili on his hand and I got it on mine when we shook hands. We wiped it off with napkins as we tried to laugh off the very awkward moment.
He asked if I had a sister named Anajoyce. I told him I did and she was going to be in real trouble when I got home and told our mother that she just left me at a pool hall.
He laughed out loud and said. “I take it you don’t like your sister.” I told him I tried to but just couldn’t. He put his hand on mine and said softly. “I know your sister and she is a bitch.” I didn’t know what to say to that so there was another bout of about five minutes of real awkward.
He cleared his throat and stood. “Let’s go if you’re ready.” I was and so I stood, the boy that had asked me to play a game of pool with him was back and said, “I guess your boyfriend got here.” I nodded and Pete was nice enough not to let the cat out of the bag.
He opened the door of his little truck, let me in and then closed it. He went to the other side and got in.
I told him as soon as his door was closed I was sorry about the boyfriend deal. He smiled. “Do you really want to go right home?” I was nervous and said curiously “What did you have in mind?” He told me nothing serious. We could just cruse down main and I could catch him up on the summer goings on.” I just said what was on my mind like I get into trouble for. “I don’t really know what’s going on. I just sit at home and read a lot.”
It was quite for a while before he asked. “Have you read Fantastic Voyage?” I just looked at him and he said, “I guess you don’t read sci-fi.” I shook my head “No, I mean yes I read science fiction most of the time, you’re talking about Asimov right.” He sort of smiled as he watched down the road. “Yes I just finished ‘S is for Space’ and trying to get into ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’- I keep getting interrupted.” I put my hand on his arm “Really, I was going to start it tonight but… well here I am.”
He said, “And I’m glad you are. You’re nothing like your sister and I like that very much.”
We talked as we drove, the car or Falcon Ranchero it’s his grandfather’s; his truck was still loaded down from his trip. We talked about how he got his nick name Shaky Pete – it wasn’t from his name Pete Shaker he told me the story of when he was ten. He and several of his buddies were up on the old railroad bridge over De’marian Bay. They were all going to jump off and land in the water. Well they drew straws to see who would go first. He got the short straw and had to be first. He laughed as he told how he was shaking so bad he could barely stand. The others taunted him and so he jumped and landed in the; as he put it the very, very, deep and very, very, cold water. Then they chickened out and wouldn’t jump.
I told him I had heard a lot of the kid had jumped off the bridge. He shook his head as he said. “Not true, as far as I know I’m the only one that ever jumped off the bridge not intending to die.” He added with a laugh. “Now I’m not saying others haven’t jumped but I don’t know them. And I think I’d know if it happened.”
He just sort of stopped and added, “Well there was Brian Fetcher; I knew him; he jumped; but he didn’t intend to live.” I felt sick. Brian had jumped off the bridge just before school was out last year. He was aiming for the rocks. He missed and drowned. I added “Yeah he went to my church. Did you know him?” He nodded, “We played together when we were kids.” He sounded so sad, “I just don’t understand why someone would kill themselves. It just doesn’t make sense to me.” I told him it didn’t make sense to me either.
We cruised down main and sometimes he would ask me who drove what car or who someone was or who they were dating but most of the time I didn’t know. We didn’t have any trouble with conversation. Sometimes we were both talking at the same time; then we would laugh. It was really great.
We pulled into a gas station to get gas. He asked if I wanted to see a little of the wild side of the town. I didn’t answer so he continued. “I’ll take you home safe anytime you say.” I still didn’t answer. He handed me two dollars. “Go inside and get a quart of orange juice, you’ll have to ask for it at the counter.”
The guy came out and asked if he wanted gas and he handed him a five and told him five dollars’ worth or fill it whichever came first. I got out of the car and walked toward the door. He yelled “I guess you want a peek.” I didn’t answer but I glanced back to see Pete crossing the street toward a liquor store. It’s time for me to go home; so why am I doing this.
I walked in the door of the all night station and looked to see where the register was. Helen from my class was working. I don’t know her or talk to her I just know her to see her. I stood in line behind a girl, Helen seemed to know her but I didn’t. She was buying eight bottles of coke. When it was my turn I stepped up and asked for a quart of orange juice. She looked at me like I had asked for a million dollars. She seemed confused when she gave me the juice. I gave her the two dollars and she didn’t give me any change. I asked for the change. She smiled, “Sheila who are you with?” I didn’t think it was a big deal so “Pete Shaker.” She laughed “You’re with Shaky Pete. When did he get back in town?” I told her about nine, “He picked me up at the pool hall.” She shook her head and mumbled something about not understanding how this pairing got past her then she said, “Well this is a mixer, Sheila, we sell it under the counter because the cops watch the only grocery store that is open this time of night to see who’s buying mixers.” I said “So no change.” She shook her head “no change.”
I walked out to the car when I saw Pete coming back. He was with another guy. I walked out anyway. I didn’t know the guy but he looked rough, well-tanned and muscled from hard work, like Pete. He was a couple of inches shorter than Pete but they were built about the same. They were talking and laughing. They went over to the guy’s car and Pete called me over. He introduced me, Sheila to Gabe, Candy, Doris and Judy. Doris was the girl from inside that bought the cokes. Judy I knew-of from my last school – she has a bad reputation for fighting and smoking and going out with bad boys. She was puffing on a cigarette.
She asked me if my sister was out running tonight. I told her she was and with Bobby. Candy said “Well how nice – two for the price of one.” It must have been clear I didn’t understand. Candy told me he was looking to whip Bobby’s butt and Judy was looking for my sister. I asked if I had to buy a ticket to watch. They just cackled. Judy said rather loud, “Well she’s nothing like her sister.”
Gabe said they would send word if they run them to ground so I could watch. After we were back in the car Pete told me not to expect a fight, they threaten all the time. He added that he had never seen either of them fight.
The next place we stopped was the drive-in. We waited for the car hop to come over and then he ordered two cups of ice with straws and lids. The girl I didn’t know looked in the car and said. “Sheila is that you.” I answered yes and she just looked for a second before she said, “Do you know what you’re getting into here?” I knew Pete had some kind of liquor and the cups were to mix drinks. I was thinking about going home so I told her everything was alright. “I know exactly what I’m doing.”
She brought the ice and then left. Pete mixed the drinks right there and I was forced to take a drink to save face while the car-hop watched. It tasted pretty good compared to other liquor I’ve tasted.
We talked for a while and drank about a third of the drinks before he started the Falcon and backed out. He told me I didn’t have to drink any more if I didn’t want to. I told him I was doing ok. He asked if I still wanted to go home and I told him not just yet “Maybe Judy will run sis to ground.” He laughed, “Maybe.”
We cruised up and down the main drag for a while listening to the radio, singing along with songs we knew and talking over the songs we didn’t like that much. Both of us ran out of drink before we ran out of ice so I was appointed to make another one while he drove down the street. I finished mixing the drinks after asking him how much peach schnapps to put in. He told me the cap was a jigger and to add one cap full. I handed him his and then took a sip of mine. I looked over at the cop car driving right next to us. The cop looked at me and I damn near chocked on that drink. I thought we were in deep trouble but he turned on his siren and blasted off. Pete laughed. “I guess you didn’t see him until you finished mixing the drinks.” I told him no and he should’ve told me.
The drink was good and I must admit I was feeling it just a little when we stopped at the fairgrounds parking lot. There were other cars there sort of in little groups. We joined the group with the guys we met at the station. I wasn’t introduced but I sort of knew the senior boys in the other car. Judy was more than just feeling her drink. She was well on her way to drunk on whisky and coke; if I’m not mistaken. It smells like what my dad drinks.
We talked, played the radio and danced for about an hour. The dances were current and so there was very little touching; we kinda of danced with ourselves. I will say this I don’t dance but apparently that comes with a caveat – unless I’m drinking. I’m having very little trouble dancing.
The fairgrounds sets on a sort of hill where you can see what’s coming up the road and when we saw the cop car it was time to leave. We didn’t have that long and no one could find Judy. We looked as long as we could before we left. There isn’t any need for the rest of us to get in trouble because she’s drunk.
Gabe was spinning gravel when he took off headed toward the direction the cop was coming from. Pete told me there was a back way and he was making for the dirt to try to get away. We and the other cars moved out slow and quiet without headlight away from the cop and back toward town on another road. That’s why this is a good parking spot there are four ways out. The two cars in front of us continued on as we stopped and backed down a service road. Pete turned off the key and we mixed the last of the half pint of peach Schnapps with the last of the orange juice. The ice was long gone and so we just mixed it in the orange juice bottle. We took turns drinking.
We were sitting quietly listening to radio. Something hit the windshield right in front of me and it scared me. I jumped and somehow found myself in Pete’s arms. I think it was a surprise to both of us and we tried to get away from each other. I bumped my head on the back glass and he hit his knee pretty hard on the underside of the dash. He said he saw stars. This chain of events put us back together and we were not moving away too fast this time.
I swear we were about to kiss when the spotlight nearly blinded us. The cop kept the spotlight on us as he walked up. He asked if we had seen any cars go by in the last little while. Pete told him there was at least one and maybe two. He looked to me to confirm his story and I did. After all it was the truth.
The cop asked if we had been drinking and I told him “not yet but we’re going down for a coke in a few minutes.”
The cop told us to go now and we did. Pete kept snickering as we drove. I asked him what was wrong. He told me I was a strange girl, ‘we’re going to get a coke later’. I got it then I had mouthed off to the cop and didn’t even know it. He didn’t either.
The slant of the windshield in the Falcon Ranchero is such that on a dark night with nothing coming toward you; you can see the reflection of what’s in the bed.
I watched in horror as the thing began to rise in the back. I couldn’t even scream. I squeezed Pete’s hand and he looked toward me and said as he looked in the mirror. “What in the hell is that?” Then he laughed. “It’s that tarp in the back. It must have gotten some air under it. I relaxed and blurted out, “Think god I thought it might be a ghost or some kind of animal back there.”
He stopped the truck and went around to secure the tarp. He was tying it down when he let out this blood curdling scream. Then someone else screamed and then I screamed. Pete was in front of the truck and I joined him. The tarp monster was beginning to rise and I don’t know about Pete but I was ready to make tracks and leave the truck to the thing. The monster slurred our, “Get me out of this damn thing.” We jumped and held each other for just a few seconds before we realized it was Judy.
We then yelled at her for scaring the hell out of us.
She really smelled of whiskey and Pete believed there would be a road block at the bottom of the hill where fairground road joined the main drag. We stuff a mint bar down Judy and put her in the middle so maybe, just maybe we could get past the road block.
It was a mistake, we hadn’t gone a half mile before Judy expelled chunks of burgers and fries and mint bar in a nice whiskey and coke sauce straight forward. It bounced off the inside of the windshield and all over everybody and everything. Pete had the truck stopped by then. We are never going to get past any road block smelling like this. We got out of the truck leaving Judy to wailer in her puke. Pete had the last of the orange juice mix in his hand and we just stood there and drank it. We figured things couldn’t get any worse.
The next half hour or so we found a few grease rags and cleaned ourselves up a little. I almost puked a dozen times as I helped clean the chunks off Judy and out of the truck cab. Pete moved Judy and I covered the seat with the tarp and hoped for the best.
I was cleaning a chunk of something out of my hair when Pete came to a quick stop. I figured this was it the moment of truth, we were caught.
He backed the truck up and there they were two scarecrows a man and a woman. He looked over at me and I took a deep breath. It didn’t take long for me to decide that the dress the scare crow was wearing had to be better than the whiskey puke clothes I was wearing. “It has got to be better than this.” We took the clothes off the scarecrows.
Pete changed on one side of the truck and I on the other. I didn’t take my underwear off so I was never naked but it was just weird changing out in the dark while a man was changing on the other side of the truck.
He looks pretty good in worn-out baggy overall. But my dress is very, very, large. I asked about Judy and he told me she was passed out so she didn’t know she had puke all over herself.
I was about to get in the truck when he asked. “Do you want to barrow a watermelon?” I have to admit I was tempted to get one when we were getting the clothes. I nodded, “Yeah, let’s barrow two and get out of here.” You have to thump a melon to see if it’s ripe and at night it makes a sound that I bet can be heard for miles.
Soon we were back on the road and he told me there was a scenic turnout just down the road and we could eat the melons. The tension was getting to me. I laughed “and put off hitting that road block for as long as we can.” He nodded, “Yeah what do you think?”
We stopped to eat the melons. He had some salt in the glove box; but there wasn’t a knife. I asked why he didn’t use his switch blade. He didn’t answer he just dropped the melon on the ground and busted it. Then we ate the heart. We just pushed our fingers in and yanked it out. It was very juicy. I hope I don’t have too much puke on my hands.
We stayed for a long time eating the melons but soon we had to move on. We stopped again as we saw the lights from the roadblock. He took a deep breath and we started down; to our delight the roadblock broke up and we stopped again to wait for them to get long gone before we went on down the hill.
Pete was in his torn up overall with the old red flannel shirt from the scarecrow and I was in my oversized red checked dress. We took Judy home. He carried her up on her porch and put her in the swing. Then he knocked on the door and we left.
We both wanted a shower and some actual clothes but that was not going to happen for a while. He took me toward home and I really wasn’t ready to go. I knew I was going to be grounded for the rest of my life when I got there. We passed a park where I like to go and I remembered it had a fountain. I told him we could wash off there. I had in mind just washing off but Pete got in the fountain overalls and all. He was taking a bath.
The cops saw us in one of their drive by checks. They were between us and the car. He grabbed my hand and told me to run. I told him we should just give up. He told me my house was within walking distance and I would be safe. He’d take the rap for bathing in the fountain all by himself. God help me I began to run; we began to run hand in hand.
The cops gave chase and we got lost in the dark. We figured out where we were when we found the railroad bridge. By this time there was no turning back and so we decided to cross the bridge to get to his aunts on the other side.
He would barrow a car and take me home. We were about halfway across the bridge when I asked where he jumped from. He told me right about where we were but the water flow took him down stream about a mile before he could make it to bank in the curve down by Will Kent’s place.
It was about that time that we saw the train or at least the light coming our way, it was already on the bridge. I never realized how much a railroad bridge shakes when a train is crossing it. We had absolutely no hope of getting back to the other end of the bridge.
We also didn’t want anything to do with the cops on the other end. He asked me if I could swim. I told him hell no I wasn’t going to jump off that bridge in the daylight little alone at night. We fussed and tried to run but in the end we had no real choice. We could die when the train hit us or jump and maybe live another day. We jumped off the bridge. I was scared but I also knew he had jumped before and was still alive.
It seemed like forever before I hit the water. The oversized dress caught a lot of air and was stripped off over my head.
Water is so hard when you have fallen as far as we had. It hurt; if Pete hadn’t told me to cannonball I believe I could have broken both my legs because I planned to go in feet first.
The current took us away and even though I can swim I was taking in a lot of water and it was cold even for August.
We were able to get ashore on the curve of the river just like he said we would. We coughed for several minutes before we lay back exhausted on the sand. He stood first and tossed me his shirt. It was long enough to be a mini dress. We walked away from a night jump from the railroad bridge with a train coming and cops chasing us. Put that in your pipe and smoke it if you think I’m a geek any more, I sure wish I could put it on an English report.
Will Kent was nice enough to let us come in. He took us home, me first. I kissed Pete when he walked me to the door. I didn’t wait for him to offer either. I made the first move; after all I may never see him again. This was one hell of a night to end a summer vacation and I wasn’t going to let it end without at least one kiss. I don’t think most of it will go verbatim on a ‘what I did this summer’ report either.
He offered the second kiss and I didn’t refuse. I snuck up to my room and there was my sister asleep on her bed but someone was in mine. I looked to see who but it was just some pillows fluffed up. I took a quick sponge bath and ran a brush through my hair until I stopped getting chunks of things out and went to bed.
I could feel myself just about to ease off to sleep when the pounding started on the front door. I got up to see who it was and my sister was already at the window. My movements scared her and she screamed and asking me why I brought the cops home with me.
I told her I didn’t; and asked why my pillows were all lined up in my bed so it looked like I was there. She didn’t even blink. “I forgot to stop by Bill’s to get you so I just put the pillows in the bed and told mom you were already asleep.”
I just shook my head, “Sis you are a real piece of work.” Mom was at the door and the cops wanted to see my sister – right now. She threatened and told me we had been home since ten thirty and for me to tell the cops the same thing.
It turned out that Bobby had been arrested for breaking into the school. They wanted to know if sis was with him, because some girl was and they go together. She used me and mom for an alibi, she claimed she got mad at Bobby and walked to Bill’s to get me and then we walked home. Mom told them we were home by ten thirty.
My sister is a lying bitch and she is really good at it. The only think that saved her was I needed an alibi far more than she did. I told them they could ask Bill and he would confirm I left the pool hall just after ten. They said they would. I hope they only ask when and not with whom.
The cops left after Dad promised to take sis down to the station tomorrow so she could answer a lot more questions.
My sister and I were soon alone in our room. She asked me when and how I got home. I told her I hadn’t been home long enough to get to sleep. I think she noticed I didn’t say how I got home.
She wouldn’t let me go to sleep so when she asked the right question, ‘Who were you with tonight’ I told her Pete Shaker. She sat up in her bed and said, “He’s crazy you know.” I told her he was a nice guy and I was going to sleep.
She told me how I shouldn’t run around with people like Pete because I was naïve enough to jump of a bridge for him if he asked. I almost laughed out loud but I didn’t; I wasn’t going to get into a conversation like that. I covered my head with my pillow and went to sleep.
I was still sleepy when mom woke us at eight to get ready for church. I crawled out of bed and stumbled to the bath. Sis told me it served me right for coming in at four thirty.
My brain was still not really working when I got to the table mostly ready for church but not breakfast. I stared at the oatmeal and picked at it with the spoon. Dad lay the front page of the paper down on the table and I caught the headlines “Three teen injured in auto crash on old Fairground rd.”
It went on to read they were drinking and trying to outrun the cops. It gave their names, Gabriel Miller, Clarence ‘Candy’ Lake and Doris June del’Mire. When he finished I picked up that part of the paper and read. It reported they were all in serious but stable condition and expected to make a full recovery. I looked up to see my sister staring at me. I guess it was strange because I had never read the paper before. Mom asked if I knew the people that were hurt. Anajoyce, my sister, answered. “Just the names mom, we wouldn’t know them if we saw them.” I got the idea to just be quiet.
Last edited by max crash; 08-30-2014 at 03:44 PM..