By Connie Alexander
On the way to school I decide that take the ‘wait and see’ approach with Justin. I figure that if he really is sorry for what had happened then he’ll seek me out.
When we get to school, there are a couple of police cars there and when I go in to get settled for assembly, nobody seems to know why they’re here. I try to find Chelsea, figuring that if anyone would know, she would, but I can’t find her.
Morning announcements are kept short and when I can’t seem to find out what’s going on, I decide to just head off to English.
I get settled at my desk and get all my stuff out then sit back and casually watch Miss Mitchell write on the board as I listen to the conversations going on around me.
I think my new prescription is helping. I don’t feel quite as pulled tight as I have been but looking at Miss Mitchell I still feel a bit of a zing. Of course that’s probably just because she looks like she ought to be taking this class, not teaching it and she’s also just about as cute as can be. She’s got the cutest little…okay; maybe I’m not fully recovered just yet.
With a sigh I start thinking about the phone call I had with Robbyn last night. Something seemed a bit off and I’m not sure what. She was as chatty as always and was going on about the play she’s in. Maybe that was it, usually she asks about what’s going on with me and this time she didn’t, she just went on about the play. She sure was excited about it. I wish I could see her in it but I did get her promise to have her Mom take a video so I could at least see that. Who knows, maybe she’ll go into acting instead of physics. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?
“…K-9 hit on her locker and when they opened it up they found the drugs.”
Hearing this I interrupt, “Hey Pam, who are you guys talking about?”
“Blair, they found drugs in her locker.”
Karen, the girl Pam was talking to adds, “I bet they haul her off to juvie for this. It doesn’t surprise me though, have you seen how she dresses? You just know she’s into drugs and stuff.”
I tune her out and sit back stunned. Despite Karen’s comment, Blair doesn’t strike me as someone who does drugs. Then I go back over what I heard. Blair’s locker, they found the drugs there. Remembering yesterday afternoon I begin to wonder.
Grabbing my stuff I jam it back into my pack and get up and go to Miss Mitchell.
“Alex,” she says, “you need to take your seat, class is about to start.”
Keeping my voice down I say, “Miss Mitchell, I need to go see Mrs. Cavanaugh, it’s important. I think I saw something that relates to what’s going on this morning with the police.”
Miss Mitchell thinks for a moment then says, “Okay, Alex, you can go. Stop by my office later to get your assignment if you don’t make it back to class on time.”
“Thanks, Miss Mitchell.”
I grab my pack and head towards the offices.
When I get there, Chelsea is sitting at the secretary’s desk outside her mom’s office.
“Alex, I can’t talk now and you shouldn’t be here. You should go to class.”
“Chelsea I need to talk to your mom.”
“Alex, she’s really busy, it’ll have to be later.”
“Chelsea, it’s about Blair’s locker, I need to talk to your mom. It’s important.”
“Okay, hang on a minute. This really better be important.”
“It is, trust me.”
Chelsea gets up and goes over to the small conference room door that’s next to her Mom’s office and knocks. When the door opens, I see Blair sitting at the table, her makeup runny from crying.
Chelsea says something then closes the door and comes back.
“My mom will be right out, Alex. She told me to have you take a seat.”
I sit down and wait and it seems like forever before the door opens and out steps Mrs. Cavanaugh.
“Chelsea, any word from the Fowlers?”
“No, ma’am. Nothing yet.”
“Okay, I’ll be in my office with Alex. If they call, put them right through. Alex, follow me.”
I follow Mrs. Cavanaugh into her office. She gestures for me to sit and closes the door then goes and sits down at her desk.
“Alex, Chelsea tells me that you have something very important you need to tell me and that it can’t wait. I hope it is important because as you can see, I’m extremely busy.”
“Yes, ma’am, it is important. I’m guessing that Blair is in trouble because something was found in her locker?”
“Alex, I really can’t discuss that with you…”
“Yes, ma’am,” I interrupt, “I know that. It’s just I saw someone in her locker yesterday afternoon.”
“What? Alex, I need you to tell me everything you know. Start at the beginning.”
“Yes, ma’am. Well, yesterday I had to leave early for a doctor’s appointment. It was right after the start of last period and I was going to my locker to put some of my things away and get the rest of my homework. My locker is right outside Miss Mitchell’s room, and across the hall and down a bit from Blair’s. Anyway, when I came around the corner, I saw Joan slamming a locker door and rushing off towards the music rooms. At the time I thought I was mistaken in thinking it was Joan ’cause her locker is way down the hall from ours. When I heard about what happened to Blair I got to thinking and I’m sure it was Joan and that the locker door she slammed was Blair’s.”
“Are you really sure about all of this? Did you see her put anything in the locker or take anything out?”
“I’m sure it was Joan, Ma’am. I didn’t see if she put anything in the locker or take anything though.”
“Okay, Alex. I appreciate you coming forward about this. I want to ask you not to speak about this to anyone and I’m afraid there might be more questions I’ll need to ask you so I’m going to have you wait outside.
“Could you ask Chelsea to come in here please?”
I do as she requests and after I sit down, I take out my phone and give Mom a call. I won’t talk about this to anyone else, but I want Mom here if she can come.
I’m hanging up from Mom just when Chelsea and her Mom emerge from the office. Mrs. Cavanaugh goes back into the little conference room. When the door opens, I see Blair with her head on her arms on the table and a couple of other people in the room before the door closes again.
Chelsea sits down at the secretary’s desk and immediately starts to type. From the angle, I see she’s sending out IMs but I can’t tell to whom. When she’s done she looks up and smiles and says “Don’t worry about your classes, I just let your teachers know that you’re excused for now.”
“Thanks. Why are you playing secretary today?”
“Mrs. Rogers isn’t feeling well and with what’s going on, Mom felt that she’d get me out of the line of fire by having me help out here.”
“That makes sense. I expect you’d be grilled otherwise.”
Before she can answer, Joan comes into the office. I’m feeling real awkward as she looks over at me then tells Chelsea that she was told to come down here to see Mrs. Cavanaugh.
“She’ll be right out, Joan. Why don’t you have a seat and she’ll be right with you?”
Joan sits opposite from me and I take out my English book so I don’t have to look at her. A few minutes later, Mrs. Cavanaugh comes out and asks Joan to go with her into her office. About ten minutes later, Mom comes into the office, and seeing me, comes straight over.
In whispers, I explain what’s going on and while we’re talking, Mister Rosenberry, our history teacher, comes in with a policeman and his dog.
Mrs. Cavanaugh comes out of her office for a minute and whispers something to Mr. Rosenberry, sees Mom and gives her a small smile and a nod of her head then goes back into her office.
Mr. Rosenberry and the policeman leave the office and all is quiet again.
Twenty minutes later it seems like everyone and their cousin descends on the office. Mr. Rosenberry and the policeman come back, another policewoman shows up, a man who asks after Blair so I assume he’s her dad shows up and by this time it’s getting rather crowded.
The policewoman goes into Mrs. Cavanaugh’s office, Mr. Fowler goes in with Blair and Mrs. Cavanaugh comes over to me with another policeman.
“Mrs. Conners, I’m glad Alex called you down here. Alex, I’m glad you came forward, this is Detective Prescott and he has a few questions for you.
“Detective, you can use the office just across the hall.”
Mom, Detective Prescott and I go over to the other office and he asks me about what I saw then asks if I’d write it down as a statement. With Mom saying it is okay, I sit and write down everything I saw at Blair’s locker.
When I’m done with that, we go back to the main office. When we arrive, Joan’s dad is there yelling at Mrs. Cavanaugh, Joan is crying and being led off by the policewoman. Her father follows and everything is quiet again.
Another twenty minutes and the door to the conference room opens and people start filing out. The policemen start to leave and the guy I thought was Blair’s dad turns out to be a lawyer.
“Thank you, Mrs. Cavanaugh, for not letting the authorities question Blair before I got here, I’ll be sure to let her father know how you’re looking out for his daughter and I’m sure he’ll be pleased that this was resolved so well. I’ve got to go now so if there is nothing else, I’ll be leaving.”
With that he grabs his briefcase and departs.
Blair looks like a beat-up raccoon—a very lost and lonely beat-up raccoon.
Getting up I go over to her and say, “Come on, let’s go to the bathroom and get you cleaned up a bit.”
Blair, looking dazed, just nods her head and lets me lead her away. As we leave I tell Mom that we’ll be right back.
In the bathroom, Blair takes a wet paper towel from me and wipes her face with it to clear the tears away. Given how heavy her makeup usually is, her face is a fright at this point.
“Thank you, Alex.”
I rub her arm in reply and ask, “Are your folks on the way?”
With a snort Blair replies, “My Mom is in Palm Springs and will soon be on her way to New York and Daddy is in the middle of some business meeting. That’s why he sent his lawyer down here.”
I can’t believe my ears. If something like this happened to me, Mom and Dad would be here in a second and nothing could keep them away.
“Do you have any brothers or sisters? Anyone who you can be with?”
“A brother or sister? Thank god no. I don’t need to be with anyone, I’m fine.”
“Yes you do. If there’s no one at your house, you can just come home with me. I’m sure Mom won’t mind but we can ask. And given everything that has happened I bet we can go now.”
Pulling away from me, Blair says, “I told you I don’t need anyone. Why are you doing this?”
“Everyone needs someone at one point or another. Besides, I told you, I’m your friend, it’s part of the job description.”
Ignoring Blair when she tries to pull away again, I take her arm and we go back to the office.
Going over to Mom I ask, “Mom, Blair doesn’t have anyone to be with and the way the morning has been school will be a bit much. Could we take Blair home with us? At least until she has someone home to go to?”
“How about it, Blair? Would you like to go home with us for a bit?”
Looking down, Blair shrugs her shoulders and says, “I guess so.”
Mom goes over and talks to Mrs. Cavanaugh and I see her nod her head. Smiling, I say to Blair, “It’s okay, Blair. Let’s get your things.”
We get our bags and when Mom finishes talking to Mrs. Cavanaugh, we go out to the car and head home.
When we’re almost at the house, Blair perks up and looks around.
“We’re going to your house?” she asks me.
“We’re not that far from my house. You can just drop me off there.”
Mom replies, “I don’t think you should be at home alone right now, honey. You’ve been through a lot this morning.”
By this time we’re pulling up at our house and Blair says, “I won’t be alone. Rose will be there. I’ll be fine.”
“Who’s Rose?” I ask.
“She’s our housekeeper and cook. She’s raised me since I was a baby. She’s my friend.”
As we walk inside Mom says, “Well give her a call, I’d like to talk to her first. In the meantime we can get you girls a snack and you two can relax a bit.”
Sighing in resignation, Blair takes the phone from Mom and dials. When the phone is answered, Blair speaks rapidly in Spanish to someone that I overhear is Rose.
Blair hands the phone to Mom and says, “Mrs. Conners, this is Rose. She says that she can come pick me up.”
Mom takes the phone from her and surprising Blair, starts speaking to Rose in Spanish as well. When they’re done talking, Mom hangs up and says, “Rose will be by right after lunch to pick you up. I told her that was fine, so why don’t you girls run on upstairs for now. You can have lunch in a little bit then Rose will be by.”
Giving Mom a smile, I take Blair on up to my room.
“Well, this is my room,” I tell her. “Make yourself at home.”
“Thanks, it’s nice.”
“Thank you. If you want, my bathroom is through that door. You might want to fix your face. Your makeup is a fright at this point...”
Looking in my vanity mirror, Blair says, “Cripes you’re not kidding are you? Aw crap, will you look at that. The one time I don’t wear black and I get makeup all over my blouse.”
Blair is wearing a black bustier dress, a bunch of lace petticoats, black and white striped just over the knee stockings and a frilly white blouse. It’s quite a neat outfit really and I can see what she’s talking about. Her makeup had dripped on her blouse from her crying.
“The sooner that’s washed, the better the chance of getting the makeup out. If you want, I have some Woolite under my sink. We can give it a quick wash. You don’t really need the blouse with that dress, or you can borrow one of my shirts.”
Blair gives me one of her calculated looks and says, “I don’t get you, Alex. Why are you doing this? What’s in it for you?”
“Why I’m doing this is because I like you and as to what’s in it for me…a friend?”
Blair looks down and says, “Thank you, Alex. Um, I guess I’ll take you up on your offer. Could you undo the clasp?”
Blair turns her back to me and I undo the hook of her dress and slide the zipper down.
“There you go. While you get your blouse off, I’ll dig out the Woolite.”
I go into the bathroom and start cold water running in the sink. I get the soap and add a bit then turn to the door to find Blair there holding her blouse out to me and wearing nothing but her panties, tights and boots. No bra.
At the sight of her breasts, I give a slight gasp and put my hands reflexively over mine.
“Ouch, didn’t that hurt?”
Looking down, Blair looks at the studs going through her nipples and gives me a chuckle.
“Actually they didn’t hurt nearly as bad as getting my bellybutton pierced.”
Looking further down I see a white-gold hoop with a red jewel hanging from the top of her navel.
Taking her blouse from her I shake my head.
“You’re braver than I am. I had to work myself up to getting a second set of holes in my ears. I can’t imagine getting my bellybutton or <shudder> my nipples done too.”
Smiling, Blair turns and goes back into my room and at my vanity starts to fix her makeup.
“Like I said, it wasn’t too bad and I like how they look.”
“Oh I do too, but you’d have to catch me to do that to me. Even then I could guarantee a fight.
“Did you want a shirt or are you okay without?”
Blair finishes with her makeup and starts putting her dress back on and says, “I did them myself.”
“What, your piercings?”
“Yeah, you see they won’t do more than your ears at our age. I wanted more done so I did them myself.”
I’m just standing there stunned thinking about doing that to myself. No way.
Getting her dress adjusted, Blair turns her back to me and says, “Can you…?”
“Oh sure.” And I zip her up and as I hook the top Blair adds, “I can do yours if you want.”
When Blair turns towards me she starts to laugh at the look on my face. “I’ll take that as a ‘no’ then.”
“Yeah, please do.” Heading to the door I add, “Let’s get something to drink. I can see you’re going to be a fun one to hang around with.”
Chuckling, Blair follows me downstairs.
On the drive up to San Francisco for my fitting I can’t help but smile as I think back to how things were when Rose finally picked up Blair.
Blair and I spent the time before lunch getting to know each other some more. We progressed far enough that Blair called Rose to have her pick her up an hour later rather than right after lunch.
I learned that Rose is more like Blair’s mom than her real mother. According to Blair her mom and dad married young and Blair was a surprise. Her parents really didn’t want children, but took the opportunity to check off a box on the ‘to be expected’ list. Dad is only interested in the next ‘deal’ and mom spends her time flying all over shopping and living the care-free life. Blair was relegated to the ‘help’ to raise.
Rose had been employed by Blair’s father even before he and her mom met. Rose took on the task of raising Blair and seeing them together they act just like Mom and I or Ellen and Mom do. There’s real love there.
A surprising thing I learned about Blair is she wants to be a chef. She loves cooking and creating things in the kitchen. She’s learned all she knows from Rose and plans to go to culinary school when she graduates.
When we finally say goodbye, our friendship has firmly taken root.
Turning from looking out the window, I tell Mom, “Thank you.”
“What for, honey?”
“For coming down to school and for helping Blair.”
“Well I had to be down there, you needed me and as to Blair, you’re helping her, not I.”
“I like her, Mom. I don’t understand why her parents treat her that way.”
“I don’t know either, sweetheart. Some people shouldn’t be parents I guess. She has Rose though. We spent some time talking while you girls were upstairs getting ready. Rose is like her mother. She loves her very much you can tell. It about tore her up that she wasn’t home when the school called their house.”
“Thanks all the same. I really think Blair and I can be friends.”
“I do too, honey.”
Mom pulls up in front of the studio and parks the car.
The fitting goes well. I’ll be wearing three outfits and posing on the upper level of the runway in two of them. We get everything together and labeled with my name and the number for the order of appearance then go over the styling and makeup look they want me to have. It’s pretty basic, we’re not showing couture, these are exercise clothes. Actually I didn’t have any say: it was the makeup artist and Margo the designer. When they got the look they wanted, the photographer took several Polaroid's and other shots then I was done until Friday.
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