*Author's Note: Any persons engaging in any sexual activity are at least eighteen years of age.
In the 2005 yearbook of St. Thomas Aquinas, there were the usual sections; the graduating class of 2005, followed by the Junior, Sophomore, Freshmen, and Eighth Grade class pictures, both as individuals, and as a group.
The faculty photographs followed that; and the intramural sports. The various clubs and groups followed the sports, and then the assorted photographs that showed the casual viewer slices of life, slices of activity in and around the school brought up the rear of the thin hardcover volume.
One photograph in that section commanded almost immediate attention. Two of the senior class are standing next to a 1959 Chevy, a somewhat unusual automobile, its large tail fins prominently displayed in the photograph. The two seniors are dancing to an unheard song playing on the car's non-standard stereo system, the tinted windows down so that they can hear the music.
Her face has a goofy smile as she bends at the waist, pushing her ample rear end toward him and he bends at the waist to mimic her movement, putting his slimmer backside toward her. The sleeves of his sweater dangle over the girl's hands, obscuring her small hands from sight. He doesn't look cold, though, even though his girlfriend is wearing his sweater. His long sleeve flannel shirt has some warmth in it, and the strenuous dancing generates enough heat too.
The caption of the page read "Casual Day." There were five other photographs on that page, showing others dressed in their best 'casual' clothes for 'Casual Day.'
"Brother Dominick, I got a way we can raise money," Elise Beatrice Simone announced as she bustled into his office.
"I HAVE," he corrected. "Not 'I got,' I have a way we can raise some money."
"Oh, yeah," the blonde senior giggled, flashing her braces at him. "Brother Dominick, I have a way we can raise some money."
"He sat, waiting. The girl had been elected, against her wishes, to the post of Treasurer of the Senior Class, but despite not wanting to be treasurer, she was dedicated to a fault.
"Shouldn't have gone to the dentist on Election Day," Kaitlin had shrugged when Elise protested.
"Casual Day," Elise said. "See, we got to wear..."
"HAVE," he corrected again.
"We have to wear these stupid uniforms all year," Elise pressed on.
"Wasn't aware they were stupid," Brother Dominick interrupted.
"You know what I mean," she giggled again.
She outlined her idea; on the last Friday of every month, the students would be allowed to wear casual clothing, rather than the school uniforms, but they had to pay two dollars for the privilege.
"You ain't got..."
You DON'T HAVE," he corrected her again. "Good God, Miss Simone, are you sure you're a Senior, on the cusp of graduating High School?"
"You don't have the two bucks, too bad, you got, you have to go home and put on your uniform, none of this 'oh, I'll pay you tomorrow,' 'cause I know these dorks; they'll NEVER pay up," Elise finished her pitch.
"Wow, that last sentence was almost grammatically correct," Brother Dominick said.
"Well?" Elise demanded.
"Nothing racy, revealing, inappropriate. No mini-skirts, no, oh, what do you call them, the shirts that don't go down all the way?"
"Crop tops? Belly shirts?" Elise asked.
"Those," Brother Dominick agreed. "No tank tops, no shorts."
"Got it," Elise promised.
"Good. Actually, I think this could be fun," Brother Dominick said. "I'm glad I thought of it."
"You!?" Elise screeched, and then giggled again as Brother Dominick smiled playfully at her.
She presented the idea to each of the classes. The twenty eight students in the Senior class, the twenty four in the Junior class, the thirty one in the Sophomore class and the forty nine in the Freshmen classes and the forty four in the Eighth Grade classes were enthusiastic about the new privilege.
"I wonder why there's like twice as many kids in the Freshmen and Eight Grade," she mused aloud at the dinner table.
"Easy; Dick shrugged. "What happened thirteen years ago?"
"Yeah, yeah, the biggest mistake America ever made," Elise rolled her eyes. "Bill Clinton gets elected to the White House."
Dick Davis' dislike of liberal politics was well known in the Davis household.
Once, Elise was trying to get her stepfather's attention. In a huff, after being ignored for several minutes, she finally huffed, "I'm so glad I'm a registered Democrat."
"What!" Dick yelled.
"Oh, good, now that I got your attention, I need..." Elise said.
"Very funny, young lady," Dick said, waggling a finger at her.
"And then eight years later, America almost makes an even bigger mistake, God damned Gore," Dick said tightly. "Even after getting caught, bold faced lying! 'I invented the Internet,' my ass! But no, no, Honey, think. Something else happened."
"I don't know," she finally said, shrugging her shoulders.
"Elise," Carmen laughed. "The First Gulf War?"
"Oh yeah," Elise said, then shrugged her shoulders again. "So?"
"So. Soldiers coming home, haven't seen their wives, their girlfriends in a couple of months, come home heroes?" Dick said, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
"Ew, Dad! You're gross!" Elise screeched.
Julie Vogel stood, in all of her blonde glory and smiled as Marlon Dublachon hemmed, hawed and stammered his way through asking the beautiful Junior for a date.
"You got to ask Jack, you know that," the girl finally said, ending his babbling.
Jack was Julie's older brother, who had taken on the role of her 'father' when their father committed suicide a few years earlier. He took the role seriously; Julie and Marnie Vogel, Jack and Julie's mother indulged him this.
Marlon smiled. He and Jack weren't buddies but Jack knew Marlon was one of the good guys. He had even said so himself.
Marlon found Jack just where he knew he'd find him; in the gym, practicing basketball. Coach Blanchard didn't like Jack, said Jack was not a team player, but grudgingly admitted that Jack was the best player on the team.
"Hey, Jack, "Marlon said and grabbed the ball.
"Tell you what," Jack said, after hearing Marlon's case. "I'll make you a bet."
"No, Dude," Marlon said. "We ain't playing 'Pick Up,' you'll beat the snot out of me, Dude."
"No, no, nothing like that," Jack said, retrieving a rebound.
His massive ego was well-stroked by Marlon's concession of his greatness on the court. "Got a trick shot I been working on. I miss it, you and Julie? Have fun, see you."
"And if you make it?" Marlon pressed.
"You got to go out on a date with...." Jack thought.
"No, dude," Marlon objected. "I ain't going nowhere near Gretchen, man."
"Aw, why not?" Jack laughed. "At least you'd get you some!"
"Rather do my hand, dude," Marlon said, shuddering at the thought of sleeping with the unattractive Gretchen Dunbar.
Just then, Roberta 'Bobbi' Quarveros strolled by.
"Her," Jack said, pointing to the dark skinned girl.
"No way!" Marlon protested loudly, making the girl look at the two boys.
Her face darkened and she scowled at Marlon. She brushed her long hair back with her hand, tucking it behind her ear and quickened her pace.
"See, man, she freaking hates me," Marlon said.
"Too bad, man," Jack shrugged. "Never know, I might miss this shot. It's a hard one."
"Okay, what is it?" Marlon asked, challengingly.
"Bounce the ball off the floor, into the basket, from the free throw line," Jack said.
"Bounce the... From the free throw line?" Marlon asked.
"Yep," Jack said. "I miss, you and Julie, have fun. Just get her home before midnight."
"You're on," Marlon said.
There was no way he'd make such an impossible shot. Jack smirked as he steeped up to the free throw line, bounced the ball a couple of times, testing the ball's velocity, then heaved the ball downward.
"You and Bobbi have a lovely time," Jack said as the ball swished through, barely disturbing the net.
"Aw, you mother fucker!" Marlon had to laugh.
"Tell you what, dude," Jack said as he clasped Marlon's hand in congratulations. "Go out on a date with Bobbi, I'll let you take Julie out next time, okay?"
"Yeah, yeah," Marlon said half-heartedly.
"Bobbi says no, though shot with Julie," Jack said and bounced the ball though the hoop again, again not even touching the net.
"You're an ass hole, Vogel, you know that?" Marlon said.
Bobbi looked up as Marlon slowly made his way toward her table. She did not like him, had not liked him from their first day of school at St. Thomas Aquinas when the two Eight Graders had collided in the hall.
"N*gger!" Marlon had spat contemptuously as he picked his books up.
Her father, mother and she sat in Brother Dominick's office while Marlon, his mother and father pleaded with Brother Dominick not to expel Marlon. Her mother and father tightly accepted the frightened boy's apology, but Marlon was aware he was on thin ice.
Five years later, she still held the resentment. She resented the majority of the students, but Marlon received the bulk of her anger; he was the only one that had ever given voice to what she was sure the largely white population of St. Thomas Aquinas really felt. What the majority of the largely white, lower middle class of Bender, Louisiana thought.
"What you want, Cracker?" she hissed as he sat down across from her.
"Sitting down, eating my lunch," he shrugged.
"I didn't say you could sit here," she spat.
He got up, looked at the seat, looked behind it, looked underneath it, then shrugged and sat down again.
"Don't see no sign on it says I can't sit here," he said and began eating again.
He looked up and smiled almost apologetically as the pretty girl stared murderous daggers at him.
She was pretty, when she wasn't glaring in hatred. Her face was round, framed by the long, cark hair. Her eyes weren't dark brown, but were rather a soft, caramel brown, as was the hue of her skin. Actually, she looked more Latin than African American. Her best feature was her smile; a rare sight, but a beautiful one when it was seen.
Her body was slightly pudgy; her breasts were definitely noticeable, but weren't huge. They certainly weren't on the same scale as Kaitlin Monroe's that was for sure. Being short, her legs were a little on the stubby side, emphasized by their thickness, and her rear end was rather pronounced.
Once, David Leblanc had affixed a strip of paper to a bent paper clip and hung it on the waistband of Bobbi's skirt. She walked around for nearly a half an hour with 'Wide Load' prominently displayed on her rear end until Sister Beatrice yanked the paper off of the girl's waistband. Then the entire school had to go into the gymnasium/auditorium to endure an hour long lecture on political correctness and respecting others' bodies.
She ignored his attempts at conversation and he smiled when he'd finished his lunch.
"See you later," he said and she glared daggers at his retreating back.
She could barely contain her giggles as he made his way toward her table. He put his tray down across from her again, and then looked at the seat.
She had taped a piece of paper to the backrest of the chair. "Marlon Dublachon can't sit here." He looked at the six other chairs around the table. All of them had similar papers taped to them. He looked at her and burst out laughing
"Here," she said, giggling and pulled the paper off of the chair to her right.
She turned and pulled the paper off of the chair to her left and turned around again. She was very surprised to see that he'd taken the seat to her right, next to her.
She'd expected him to just pull the sheet of paper off of the chair across from her when he saw her taking the papers off of the chairs.
He was good looking. That was part of the reason it had hurt her feelings so much when he called her that word.
He had sandy blonde hair, warm brown eyes, and an easy smile. His chin and jaw line were square, strong looking, and his body, scrawny as an eight-grader, had filled out very nicely.
He was tall, six foot one or two, to her short five foot stature.
"Hey, um, I was um, kind of hoping, you ever been to Manny's?" he asked between bites of the school lunch.
"Ha ha, very funny," she spat at him, scowling again.
"What?" he asked, frowning.
"Manny's?" she said. "Manuel Quarveros? My dad is Manny's, dummy."
"No kidding?" Marlon asked and smiled. "Dude, your dad's got the best Mexican anywhere!"
"I ain't a 'dude,'" she said, slightly mollified.
At least he hadn't been trying to be funny, or derogatory about her family's business. Kaitlin and the other snotty bitches Kaitlin hung out with were always making rude, snide comments about her being a waitress.
She brushed her long black hair back with her hand, a nervous habit of hers. He made her nervous, sitting right next to her; she could see some of the students looking over, slightly curious.
"So, um, I guess you wouldn't want to eat there, huh?" he asked, a slow blush beginning and spreading.
"No. Not really. Why?" she asked, and stuck a forkful of the school spaghetti in her mouth.
"I um, I was kind of, hey, you ever eat at Bombay's? Out in Kimble?" Marlon asked. "Um, it's right there on nineteen?"
"No, well, I mean, my cousin got married and Bombay's did the catering, man my dad was so mad! He does catering too, you know? We almost didn't go to the wedding because of that," Bobbi said.
"So um, you want to go?" Marlon asked hopefully.
"Wait, what?" Bobbi asked him, realization setting in.
He was blushing hotly now, his entire face a bright red. She looked at him for a long moment.
"You mean, like on a date or something?" she finally asked.
"Look, I know we didn't get off on the right foot and stuff, but that was like, what? Five years ago?" Marlon said quickly, almost pleading.
"I um, I got to ask my mom," Bobbi said, her own face darkening with a hot blush.
"Um, okay," Marlon said. "Um, can I get your number; I'll call you um, later tonight?"
"That boy, the one that called you...?" Maria asked,
"Yes ma'am," Bobbi said.
"Is fine with me, but you know how your father is," Maria agreed.
"Can YOU ask him?" Bobbi begged.
"Roberta, what you think?" Maria asked. "When that little boy, what was his name, Tyrone? When that boy wanted to take you to the Sweetheart Dance, who asked your father, huh?"
"You did," Bobbi said and hugged her mother tightly.
"This might be a little different, though," Maria warned. "This boy's white, right? And he did call you..."
"Five years ago!" Bobbi protested.
"You know your father," Maria said. "An elephant! Never forget nothing! Oh, except the anniversary. Or my birthday? That, that he forget all the time!"
Manuel glared pure hatred as the boy pulled to a stop in front of the house.
Bad enough his little Roberta wanted to go out on a date, and wanted to go out on a Friday night. Friday and Saturday nights were the busiest at the restaurant; she was sorely needed there. But she wanted to go out on a date with a white boy. THAT white boy.
"Manuel, sit down," Maria demanded. "Like a bull, ready to charge!"
A flurry of Spanish shot back and forth between husband and wife and Manuel's mood was even darker when Marlon knocked on the door.
"Yeah?" he demanded when he yanked open the door.
"Hi, I'm um, I'm Marlon? Um, I'm here to pick up Bobbi?" Marlon stammered.
"Yeah?" Manuel snarled. "Want to call ME 'n*gger?' Huh? Want to call me that, to my face?"
"Sir," Marlon said, regaining his composure. "That was five years ago; when I was a stupid little kid. I was sorry then; I told you I was sorry, you said you accepted my apology, didn't you?"
Manuel looked up at the youth; Marlon was at least six inches taller than him and grudgingly nodded his head.
"Daddy, please," Bobbi begged from behind him.
"What time you going to have her home?" Manuel demanded.
"When would you like her home?" Marlon countered. "I'll make sure she's back in plenty of time."
"Six thirty," Manuel snapped.
"Okay," Marlon agreed, then glanced at his watch. "That's fine; fifteen minutes' better than nothing."
Bobbi's heart did a little flutter. Maria smiled, despite her anger with her husband.
"Manuel, let the boy in," she demanded.
Marlon nodded his thanks to Maria and again introduced himself.
Husband and wife were nearly the same height and stocky build. Manuel was very dark skinned, being half Haitian and Half Guatemalan. Maria, being full Guatemalan was darker than Marlon, but lighter skinned than her husband. The husband still scowled at him, but the wife actually smiled.
"Um, actually, um, I was um thinking we'd go to Bombay, then um, there's that 'Saw' movie playing, oh, hey, you okay with that? I mean, it's supposed to be scary," Marlon said.
"No, no, that's fine," Bobbi agreed.
"So um, that gets out at; the next showing is at like ten thirty, so ten thirty okay?" Marlon asked Manuel.
"Ten thirty," Manuel said tightly. "Not eleven, not eleven thirty. TEN THIRTY, got it?"
"Yes sir," Marlon agreed.
"What you whispering about over there?" Manuel demanded of his wife as the mother whispered something to Bobbi.
"Telling her behaves herself," Maria claimed, looking her husband in the eye, daring him to say otherwise.
"Uh huh," Manuel said, not believing his wife.
"Bye Daddy," Bobbi said.
"Good Bye Mr. Quarveros, Mrs. Quarveros," Marlon said politely.
"Uh huh," Manuel snapped.
"Whew!" Marlon let out his breath when the door closed behind them.
"You um, you look real nice," Marlon said as he opened the car door for her.
"Thanks," she said and got into his mother's car.
She was wearing a pair of distressed jeans (they were 'borderline' on Casual Day) and a red cotton blouse. She had changed several times, trying to find just the right outfit for her date.
He was dressed in slightly baggy jeans and a flannel shirt; even though it was ninety degrees on this September evening. He also had on his favorite tennis shoes, his Air Jordans. The size thirteen shoes were still gleaming white; he wore them only on dates.
"I mean, we see each other all the time, but we always got on those stupid uniforms and stuff," Marlon said as he started the car.
"Yeah," Bobbi agreed.
"But you look um, you look real nice out of your uniform," Marlon went on.
"I bet I do!" she laughed out loud. "But how would YOU know?"
"That's not what I mean!" Marlon protested. "You know what I mean!"
Both eighteen year olds enjoyed a good laugh at Marlon's slip of the tongue.
Hashim showed the couple to a small table. If he thought anything about a white youth and a black youth together, his face did not register it.
"So um, what's good here?" Bobbi asked, looking at the menu.
"I um, I really don't know, I never ate here before," Marlon admitted. "I hear a lot of this stuff is spicy though; my mom and dad eat here all the time."
"Ah, maybe you like the chicken Tika," Hashim suggested as he pointed it out on the menu. "It's not too spicy, goes very good with the saffron rice."
"At my cousin's wedding, y'all had this um, this lamb stuff, it was like almost a sausage kind of thing," Bobbi asked.
"Ah yes, yes, the shiskabob; you like that?" Hashim said, smiling.
"Yes," Bobbi enthusiastically agreed. "Y'all ran out; we was just shoveling that stuff down!"
"Where's that at?" Marlon asked, looking at the menu.
"Lamb dishes, here," Hashim said, pointing.
"Oh, oh, and y'all had that, oh man! What was that, it was this all vegetable stuff, real hot,"" Bobbi went on.
"Hot like spicy or hot like have to blow on it?" Hashim asked.