Susan took a deep breath as she walked into the gymnasium. She could feel the tension in the air, the wooden benches were filled from one row to the other with students. Releasing her breath, she quickly eased down into one of the empty spots. Once settled she placed her purse down upon the floor and started to look around her.
The first thing she noticed was somebody had taped a series of pieces of paper to the back of the wooden benches. A quick look over her shoulder told her she was sitting on number "44" a lucky number she hoped. Tilting her head to side, she wondered if the numbers had something to do with that "Top Secret" project Ms. Tiff was working on.
Rolling her shoulders, she bundled everything up and shoved it out of her mind. Today was a holiday after all, we'll the closest thing she'll ever get to a real holiday. The dress code had been lifted, classes had been cancelled, test postponed and best of all no homework. Heck, even lunch promised to be good. Oven roasted chicken, sweet corn and homemade yeast rolls! A major step up from the canned corn beef, white sandwich bread and cold beans in this watery red sauce that was the normal fair.
"Hey Susan." A voice came over her shoulder. The voice belonged to her best friend Sarah. A girl around her height with golden blonde hair, blue eyes and deep southern tone of voice. "Mind if I sit by you? Rest of the seats seem taken." She said, spreading her arms about.
"Sure don't mind a bit." Susan said smiling as she patted the seat next to her. "Been a little worried about you. Tried calling you over the weekend, but all my calls went straight into voicemail." She said, taking her eyes off the highly waved floor.
"Been a little under the weather." Sarah answered. "Plus, Ms. Tiff has been driving me mad with all this homework. But then again." She paused and took a deep breath. "But then again, my cooking is kind of lacking and I've pricked my finger more times than I care to remember during our last sewing project. So I guess the extra homework kind of helps."
It took all the will power Susan posed not to giggle like a mad woman at Sarah's statement. She was just about to respond when the lights dimmed and a sudden boom filled the air.
"It's starting!" Sarah said, clapping her hands as she pointed toward one of the doors. "The football players, there all lining up!" Her voice had risen a little.
Susan rolled her eyes as she shifted her head toward the door her friend was pointing too. The players were just starting to line up. Each one of them wore gray colored woolen trousers, brown dress shoes, long sleeve, white button down shirts. Black ties and matching gray, woolen coats. Each one wore their hair short. Walking in a signal file line, they entered the gym.
"Totally not my type." Susan said taking a deep breath she settled into her seat. "Totally not my type." She said again as she released her breath, a deep, dark blush was starting to settle in her cheeks.
Sarah smirked a little.
"Is that because you have a boyfriend?" She said reaching over and poking Susan in her side. "Come on girl, come clean. Everybody knows you and that Walker's boy are a thing." She said sticking her tongue out as she watched Susan blush turn a deeper shade of red.
"Maybe." Susan said acting a little coy as she closed her eyes and turned her full attention toward the cheerleaders. Who where now, handing each football player a plastic set of Rosary beads. Fr. Trent the rector of St. Katherine's Episcopal Church, and there school chaplain was now walking into the floor. His salt and peppered colored hair was parted down the middle, and he wore the standard clerical attire. A black button down shirt with white clerical collar, black slacks, black dress shoes and a black colored blazer. Tucked under one hand was an old, well used book of Common Prayer.
"Maybe they're going to give them final rites and communion." Susan said, trying to turn the attention away from the subject of her and her boyfriend.
"Don't try to change the subject girl." Sarah said in a teasing tone of voice. "But.." Her voice trailed a little. "Come on Susie, we've been friends since daycare. Heck our mom's basically raised both of us. And James is kind of like the little brother I never had." She said, wrapping her arm around Susan's shoulder.
"Since last summer." Susan finally said. "We just met one night at a local coffee house. He mentioned he liked the manga I was reading, and we'll we started talking about manga and anime and one thing lead to the other." Susan paused to take a deep breath. "And before I could catch myself. I was going over to his house for dinner and he was coming over to mine. Its crazy.."
"Sounds nice." Sarah said once her friend finished speaking. Fr. Trent was now sprinkling holy water over the football players who were bending the knee before the old priest. Once the rite was finished, he took his lead. The football players, their role finished likewise took their seats. The cheerleaders followed their lead.
"We'll." A young woman said strolling onto the gym floor. "Now that Fr. Trent has blessed the football players, and the cheerleaders have handed out the rosary beads. I think it's time we can move on to the fun things. Don't you agree Miss. Fox." The young woman said with a nod.
"I agree with you there." Said a older women said as she joined the other women in the center of the gym floor. "We have quite a few surprises for you guys. Starting with the numbers taped to the back of your seats." She paused and winked. "More on that later. First let's puts are hands together and welcome Miss. Tiff down!" The women shouted.
The students on both sides rose to there feet and started to clap a women with flaming red hair, a motherly smile stepped down and made her way toward the center of the floor. She was dressed in white blouse with pearl buttons, the blouse was tucked into the waistline of a solid black pencil skirt. Black court shoes completed the outfit.
"Miss. Tiff." The older woman said with a little smirk as she wrapped her arm around the women's shoulder. "I have a modest proposal for you. As you know, we are raising money for our cheerleaders to attend a workshop in Oxford." She said in a gentle tone of voice.
"Yes I'm aware of that." She said giggling a little
"Right, we'll have some good news for you." She said, smirking a little as she nodded her head. A few seconds later, an old bathtub was rolled out and placed in the middle of the gym. "If you agree to sit in this bathtub and allow all twelve of our varsity cheerleaders to pour a bucket of beans over you. The Downtown Merchant Council and the Historical Committee have agreed to donate one thousand dollars a piece to the school."
"We'll." Miss. Tiff said taking a deep breath as she peered toward the women. "Sure," She said, giggling wildly as she reached down and removed her shoes. Once the shoes were removed, she tossed them to the side and gently climbed in. Once she was in, she settled down and put on a broad smile.
"Good on you!" The women said smiling a little as she nodded toward the line of twelve cheerleaders marching out, each one following closely behind the other. Each one wore their hair in a high ponytail, with a ribbon in the school colors tied around the base.
"Ms. Smith." The women said nodding toward the honey blonde girl who was the first in line. "Is the captain of the varsity cheerleading team. She is a senior, and will graduate this year with honors. She plan's attend Mississippi State this coming autumn." The women said as the honey blonde hosted the bucket above Miss. Tiff head. Slowly she titled the bucket of beans over her head, sending a stream of orange red beans down all over Miss. Tiff.
Tiffany could only giggle as the waterfall of beans started to roll down her head. Sending a wave of coldness rushing over her body, the savory smell of the beans filled her noise and the tingly feeling of beans, sneaking there way into her clothing caused her to squeal from shock and groan some might say from the pleasure.
"Up next we have Ms. Cartwright." The women said once Ms. Smith had finished pouring her bucket and stepped away. "She's one of two vice captains of the varsity cheerleading team. She is also a senior and will graduate this year with honors. She plans to enroll in a clinic based nursing school this coming summer." She then nodded to the second girl in a line. A fiery red haired girl with green eyes that seem to shimmer in the artificial light.
The girl giggled a little as she stepped up to the side of the bathtub. She slowly started to turn the bucket over, sending another waterfall of reddish sauce mixed in with small, tiny beans all over Miss. Tiff. Smirking a little, she reached into the bucket and filled the palm of her hand with beans, then grinning ear to earth she smothered the hand full all over Tiffany face, before ruffling her hair, getting beans and sauce into her hair
Tiffany sputtered a little. "Hey that was mean!" She said, flicking some of the gathered beans and sauce at the girl, who quickly skipped out of range.
"I guess." The woman said smirking a little as she took notice of the large amounts of sauce and beans settling in the bottom of the tub. "We should start calling you Miss. Saucy now." She said with a wink as the girl next in line dumped her bucket of beams, followed by another and another.
Tiffany only giggled like a schoolgirl as another bucket of beans were dumped over her head. Another one soon followed, followed by another one, the level of beans in the tub was starting to rise now, and she could feel the tomato sauce sinking into her blouse, her tights and finally her skirt. Her once shiny red hair was a tangled mess. Finally the last cheerleader, skipped up to the tub, With a wink she upturned the bucket over Tiffany, sending a downpour of beans and tomato sauce down upon her head. Then winking toward the crowds, she gently eased the bucket down upon her head.
"Wow what a show!" Proclaimed the women as the last cheerleader made her way off the stage. "Come on y'all put your hands together for the brave, and wonderful Miss. Saucy!" She shouted as Tiffany removed the bucket from her head and giggled. She was sure she was quite a comical sight.
"Man." Sarah said as she peered toward the messy teacher. "They're really stepping up homecoming this year. Gotta say, I'm glad it was Miss. Tiff in the bath and not me." The young girl shuttered as she closed her eyes.
"You know it!" Susan said as she stuck her tongue out at Sarah. "Though, you'll look cute covered in beans and tomato sauce. And your tomboy enough to do it too. Maybe we can talk Annandale into it too." A wicked little grin crossed Susan's face. "A mother and daughter bean bath."
Sarah blushed a deep red as she turned her eyes away from Susan. "Maybe, but only if we have a gunge booth too, and you go into it!"
Susan blushed a little. "Maybe we should talk more about this, how about we have a sleepover next weekend. I would say this weekend, but mom has me spending the week with Mrs. Vanderiere."
Sarah tilted her head in confusion and blinked three times in quick succession. "Sure, sounds nice. Good luck with Mrs. Vanderiere, I heard she can be quite a witch sometimes. She runs that boarding house for boys right? her Husband owns 'Vanderiere Tailoring and Alterations' right?" Sarah asked.
"Yep." Susan said.
"Going to catch hell girl. She takes tomboys and turns them into prim and proper ladies." Sarah said patting her on the shoulder. "Good luck, I'll be praying for you." And with that being said they turned their full attention toward the action unfolding down on the floor.
"Now," The woman said, taking a deep breath. "By now, you may or may not have noticed the pieces of paper taped to the back of your chair. In a few minutes we're going to play a short lottery." She paused and smirked a little. "If I call out your number, please come on down. I promise you, we have a nice little prize waiting for you."
The minute she finished speaking, was the minute several football players started to roll a large wooden tank out. The tank was in the shape of a phone booth, four clear sheets of plastic walled the tank in, inside the tank one would find a old wooden three legged stool. Sitting above the tank was a clear plastic tank. The tank held around twenty five gallons, or so the little numbers inked in the corner said.
"OMG" Susan said taking a deep breath as she pointed toward the tank. "That's totally insane!" She was starting to put two and two together. Releasing her breath, she felt her cheeks turn a deep bright red as she turned toward her friend. A loud mummer started to fill the gym as each student turned to his or her friend. Somebody was going in there, but who? It could be anybody, there was a real tension in the air now.
"I know right! Talk about putting your life on the line. All of us are putting are life on the line!" Sarah said, shaking her head as she peered toward the gunge tank. "But let's be real, there's like what three hundred of us? that's not counting the seniors, so if everybody has a number on there seat, we might get away clean." Sarah said, trying to reason a little.
"Right!" Chirped Susan as she turned toward her best friend. "Like, you know I'm not good at math or anything. But there less than a one percent chance there going to call are numbers. I bet it's going to be somebody really popular or powerful. Like one of the cheerleaders or maybe the head boy or girl!"
"Right." Reasoned Sarah. "Where nobodies really, just two little girls, two little fishes in a big pond."
The women standing in the middle of the floor stood there and smiled as she peered toward the students. With a big grin upon her face she walked over to a large gallon size glass jar that was resting upon an old card table. Filling the jar were many small slips of folded paper. "Okay the winner of this little game is." She dipped her hand into the mouth of the jar and started to dig around. Finally she came up with a piece of paper.
Finally one piece of paper was fished out of the jar. Smiling a little she opened the piece of paper, clearing her throat she called out.
"Would number forty four please come down!" She called out in a loud booming tone of voice. The booming voice carried over the whispering voices and muttering going on. The loud booming voice startled many people and shut them right up.
Susan felt all the color drain from her face as she turned around and noticed that the number she called was the one that matched the number taped to the back of her seat. Quickly a rosy color returned to her cheeks as she rose and smoothed out her skirt. "Sarah, it's been good knowing you." She said signing a little.
Sarah rolled her eyes and gently reached up and patted her friend on her shoulder. "God Speed Susan. GodSpeed." Her friend could be seen as such a drama queen sometimes. She totally felt Susan would have been an actor or a gypsy if born in another age. Mentally she noted that she should mention that her friend should cut down on those Gothic novels she was reading, they were kind of making her act stranger than normal.
Susan feeling a tad bit dramatic turned around and peered toward her friend, it was clear she was the chosen one now, as she was the only one standing up. Smiling her best sad smile, she reached down and took Sarah's hand into her and once her fingers were wrapped tightly around hers she peered into her eyes and said. "Goodbye my dear friend Sarah Mari Cartwright. I have enjoyed knowing these short fourteen years."
Sarah blushed a little and quickly pushed her friend a little. "Go ahead you goof. And try to act like a lady!"
Susan only smirked a little at the push. Slowly she picked her way down the wooden steps, her heart beating faster and faster with every step she took, soon she was walking past Miss. Tiff, who was soaking in a tub full of tiny beans and red sauce.
"Oh we gotta us a cutie. Kind of looks like you're going to church or something." Said the woman as she looked Susan up and down with her baby blue eyes. "Or is there a certain boy you like?" She said looping her arms around Susan shoulder as she guided her toward the gunge tank.
Susan looked down and blushed, she was dressed in a flora print, short sleeve dress, white stocking and two inch black heels. Her long brown hair hung loose around her shoulders, a simple pastel pink headband the hair from spilling over into her face. She had even been allowed to wear a little perfume today.
"No need to shy honey." The women said as she opened the door of the tank and ushered Susan inside. "It's not like we're going to call him down and have him pull the chain. Where not that evil, are we now Miss. Saucy." The women said peering toward Miss. Tiffany who seemed to enjoying her bean bath.
"Maybe, maybe not. I do think your boyfriend would be better though. I mean, what girl would not want to get gunned by her boyfriend of eight or so months." Miss. Foxy said with a giggle. "I mean judging by all the notes you pass between you in the hallways and in class. There must be something going on, I think you guys might have moved beyond holding hands and cuddling under the pecan trees."
Susan flushed a deeper shade of red as she settled down upon the wooden stool. Taking a deep breath she smoothed out her skirt and peered toward the tank sitting above her head. Releasing her breath, she folded her hands on her lap.
"We'll honey." The woman said leaning in and placing the mic mere inches from Susan's mouth. "Who's your boyfriend. Because right now for being brave and coming down, you're both going to be treated to dinner, a nice dinner for two at Kyoto's Japanese steakhouse." She said winking. "And since dinner alone would be nice, we're going to sweeten the deal. If you let your boyfriend pull the cord. We'll toss in two free tickets to a movie of your choice and a twenty five dollar snack bar credit!"
Susan took a deep breath as she gathered up her courage, taking a deep breath she peered into the mic, clearing her throat she said. "Brian Walker.. Would you please come on down?" She said flushing a deep dark red as a boy with long black hair, dressed in a white button down shirt, tucked into a pair of gray woolen slacks came down.
"Dang girl." The woman said, looking Brian up and down. "You know how to pick them." She said sticking her tongue out she handed the cord to Brain, then patting him on the shoulder she said. "Go ahead and pull that cord when you're ready!"
Brian took a deep breath and smiled a little. "You know I love you right?" He said smirking as he gave the cord a good hard yank. Releasing a waterfall of pink gunge down upon her head. The gunge splashed down upon her shoulders and rolled down her back and down the front of her dress.
Soon, Susan was covered in pink slime, the front of her dress clung to her body. The smell of eggs, oil and cake batter filled her nose. And through the thin plastic walls she could hear her classmates laughing, cheering and clapping. Somewhere even calling out her name in a loud chanting tone of voice. Blushing deeply she could tell malice was mixing with cheer. Gathering her courage, she stepped up from the tank. Miss. Tiffany was soon there opening the door. With a broad smile upon her face, she offered her bean covered hand to Susan.
"You did really good Susan." She said.
"Thanks." Susan said as she took the bean covered hand and gently walked out of the tank. With Miss. Tiffany helped, they both made their way to the center of the gym. Then, rolling the mental dice, Susan reached over and pulled the teacher into a sloppy hug. The student body, moved by the display of affection between student and teacher, rose to their feet and started to clap.