Title: “High School Confidential - Twenty Years Later.”
Copyright: June 30 2001.
Author’s Note: This is the second story in what is turning out to be a small series involving recurring characters. The first is Angel Of The Morning.
Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction. All persons are imaginary and any resemblance to persons living or otherwise is purely accidental.
He'd been watching the tall blonde woman for most of the evening. She had caught his eye when she first walked in with another couple. He recognized the brunette right away. Her name was Miranda and he had dated her briefly in their senior year, but he eventually lost interest when she wouldn't put out. He did not recognize the man nor the blonde. Finally, after spending almost fifteen minutes combing his memory, he called over an old friend to help identify them.
"That's Phil Johnson." His old friend, Doug, informed him.
"Phil Johnson…Phil Johnson." He repeated, trying to place the name. Finally, it came to him. "The dweeb, Phil Johnson?" His old friend nodded. "What is he doing here with Miranda Tyler?"
"They got married a few years after school," Doug supplied, "He runs the Ford dealership now and she works for the school division. They got a couple of nice kids, well…they're teenagers now."
Although he found this information interesting, his attention was focused on the blonde. "And the woman with them?" He asked. "I don't remember her."
Doug hesitated looking towards the Johnson table. "Umm…she's didn't go to school here."
"I kinda figured that." He snapped back, rather testily, "Do you know who she is?"
Doug hesitated again and was about to answer when the calling of his name distracted him.
"Dougie…Dougie Marshall!" A short chubby woman with light brown hair wrapped her arms around Doug, hugging him gently, but firmly.
"Amanda? Is that you?" He asked.
"Yes it is…oh Dougie…how are you?"
"I'm doing great, and what about you? I heard you married…"
The man silently fumed as Doug and Amanda slowly walked away from his table. "Ignorant bitch." He thought.
He was just about to call Doug back and demand an answer when movement at the Johnson table caught his eye. The blonde got up and followed dweeb Phil onto the dance floor as the first verse of the Bangle 'If She Knew What She Wants' blared from the speakers set on the D.J.'s stage. His breath caught as he watched dweeb Phil place his hands on her thin waist and they began to dance.
The silky black strapless dress she wore accentuated her milky white complexion. His appreciative eye followed the way the material hugged all her curves, from the swell of her full breasts to the flat of her stomach to the round firmness of her hips and buttocks. The hemline ended just above the knee exposing legs that seemed to go on forever.
The song ended and the couple returned to the table. The woman glanced his way before she sat down, he was sure she was looking right at him. This was at least the third time he noticed her looking his way. As she and Miranda talked, she crossed her magnificent legs, exposing most of her thigh. His imagination ran wild, wondering what it would be like to have those legs wrapped around him.
He felt his groin react and quickly looked away. He wanted to meet the woman and from the few glances she threw his way, he was fairly certain she wanted to meet him too. Nevertheless, he didn't think it would be appropriate to greet her with a raging hard-on.
After he had regained his composure, he allowed himself to look her way again. Miranda and 'The Dweeb' Phil were presently on the dance floor, dancing to some old AC/DC. The woman rose and he leaned back in his chair, watching the blonde's hips sway as she sauntered up to the bar.
Now was the time. He quickly polished off his drink and made a beeline for the bar. If his timing was right, he should end up in line right behind the blonde.
His timing was perfect. As the pretty blonde turned from the bar, he stepped up behind her, almost causing a collision. As it was, she had to stop abruptly, causing most of her drink to spill over her hand and onto the floor.
"Oh…Excuse me." She said slightly startled.
"I'm sorry," He replied, looking into her amazingly grey eyes, "It's all my fault."
"No…it was my fault." She stated firmly. Her voice was soft and gentle, like a whisper on a warm summer breeze. "I hope I didn't I spill anything on you."
"No, I'm fine." He offered her a winning smile, "Here…let me help you with that." He reached behind her to grab a rag off the bar, lightly brushing her shoulder with his chest.
"Thank you very much." She responded as he took the glass from her hand and gave her the rag. She quickly wiped her hand dry then reached for her glass.
"This one's almost empty, please let my buy you another." He offered, smiling the sweet smile that had melted so many a young woman's resolve while he was in school.
"That's very kind of you," she replied, "but you shouldn't have to pay for my clumsiness."
"Please. It was all my fault." He insisted.
She gazed at him and it seemed to him that her eyes clouded over, as if she was momentarily distracted. Then she offered him a sparkling smile. "If you insist."
"I do," he said, "tell me what you're drinking and I'll bring it to your table."
As he stood at the bar waiting for service, he marvelled on how well the last half hour had passed. No one had bothered him while he engaged the woman in some pleasant conversation. Even the Dweeb and his wife stayed away, first by dancing, and then by getting corralled by another couple. He couldn't remember their names, but he recognized them as two more from the nerd brigade.
He suddenly realized that he still did not know the blonde's name, he told her his name, but she never returned hers.
"Oh well," he thought, "it's not important anyway." He was returning home the following afternoon and he wasn't about to keep in contact with her, not with the wife and kids hovering around.
Miranda and her husband were returning to the table just as the man sat down and placed a drink in front of Angela.
"Oh God Phil…we got company"
"John Finley!" Miranda exclaimed, "How are you?"
John looked up and offered a smile, but not before Miranda witnessed the flash of irritation that crossed his face. He stood up and reached across the table to shake her hand. "I'm fine Miranda. And you?"
"We're great. Do you remember Phillip?" She released his hand
He reached for Phil's hand, "Yes I do, Phil Johnson…right?"
Phil nodded, "Nice to see you again John." Phil tried a genuine smile, but Miranda could tell it was taking every bit of his will. As they sat, she lightly squeezed her husband's arm for support. John didn't notice the touch, or Phil's smile briefly change to a scowl; his attention was drawn back to the blonde.
"I was just getting to know your friend here." John sat down beside her and casually placed his arm across the back of her chair before continuing, "I was telling her that if she'd come to our school, she'd have had the guys lined up for blocks." He gave the blonde a quick wink, "They wouldn't have gotten past me, of course."
Miranda glimpsed an amused twinkle in the blonde's eye, "Of course."
"So John, what have you been up to all these years?" Phil asked.
John leaned back, making himself more comfortable. "Well I moved out west after graduation and got a job with an oil company. It was hard work in the beginning, but I worked my way up and now I oversee the operations of half a dozen rigs."
"That must be a very important job." The blonde sighed.
Unfortunately for Miranda, Angela's comment came just as she took a sip of wine. Fortunately, she still had the glass to her lips so she was able to gracefully spit the wine back into it instead of all over the table. Was Angela flirting with John? John stuck his chest out in a way that reminded her of a strutting peacock.
"Yes, it's very important. If I'm not there to direct the men, they wouldn't know what to do and it could cost the company millions."
Angela smiled and gazed at him for a moment. She was about to say something when Miranda reached over and lightly touched her hand.
"Sorry to interrupt, but…I…um…need help with something." Miranda pleaded.
"Sure," the blonde replied, "What is it?"
"Not here." Miranda glanced bashfully at the men at the table, "Come to the bathroom with me."
"Certainly." The blonde smiled, and before she had fully stood up, Miranda grasped her arm and hastily pulled her away.
"Angie…Just what in the hell are you doing?" Miranda asked when she was sure they were far enough away to not be overheard.
"What do you mean?" Angela asked innocently.
"What do I mean?" Miranda glared up at the tall blonde and took note of the mischievous grin gracing her wine-shaded lips. She faltered for a moment, then regaining her composure, asked, "What are you up to?"
Angela took a quick look around. She spied one of the rear entrance doors, open to allow fresh air into the rapidly warming room, and grasped Miranda's elbow. "Come with me and I'll fill you in."
Phil breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of the women returning to the table. He knew that they had only been gone for ten minutes, but it had seemed like an hour. To say that he disliked John Finley would be an understatement. He absolutely loathed the man.
John Finley had been the school bully, mercilessly picking on anyone who was in any way different. John was built like a bear, and would have been perfect for the school's football team…if there had been one. John used his size to intimidated people, including his friends. Years later, Phil learned that the only reason John had so many friends was that most of the guys hadn't wanted to be on the receiving end of John's terrorizations.
As John bellowed out laughter at one of his own crude jokes, Phil remembered hearing that same laughter when John purposely tripped a boy at school. The boy had suffered from some debilitating bone disease as a child, and as a result, walked with an unsteady gait. His stagger had made him a prime target for John's cruelty. Phil's arms prickled with goose flesh at the sound of laughter produced by the most hateful man he would ever meet.
Phil asked his wife to dance, just to give himself a chance to get away from this man and was surprised when she refused. He then became more confused when both women actively engaged John in conversation and laughed at his crude jokes. He knew Miranda loathed John as much as he did. She had learned more about John's mean streak during their brief time together than Phil cared to know. He was positive that she pulled Angela away so she that could warn her about the type of man they were dealing with.
"But then again, that's the type of man he was twenty years ago," Phil thought. "Maybe he's changed."
However, the more John drank, the less Phil believed it
The small talk continued, John doing his utmost to impress the blonde. The only thing that made the evening bearable for Miranda was knowing what the night held in store, but now her patience was wearing thin.
She had lost count of the number of drinks John was shooting back, but with each one, his language became fouler and his jokes cruder. She felt that if she had to smile through one more of his racist, sexist, or homophobic comments, she would literally scream. However, she was mildly amused that he didn't notice that the blonde he was trying so hard to impress, cringed and pulled away from him every time he looked her way.
"So tell me," John asked, focusing his attention on Miranda, "What ever happened to that queer you used to hang around with?"
"Queer?" Miranda asked. She knew to whom he was referring, but she was tired of the game and just wanted him to spit it out.
"Yeah…what was her name again?" He momentarily became lost in thought and didn't notice Miranda and Phil's smiles turn from forced to genuine.
"That's it!" John exclaimed, slamming his open hand on the table, "Jo…the lesbo."
"That's me." Came a voice from behind him.
John swung his head around so sharply that the bones cracking in his neck were plainly heard over the music. He had only a moment to regard the dark-haired woman standing behind him before the blonde blocked his vision.
Miranda forcefully bit back laughter as she watched John stare with wide-eyed shock as Angela wrapped her arms around Jo and kissed her deeply with simmering, unbridled passion.
John tried to make sense of the scene playing out in front of him. The beautiful blonde clung to the tall dark-haired woman in a fairly erotic pose. John's mind re-played various scenarios involving two women, gleaned from various low-budget porn movies he owned. The tittering behind him slowly brought him back to the reality that he had just been made a fool of.
"Wha...What the fuck is this?" John sputtered.
The blonde regarded him but said nothing.
"What are you? Some kind of...of...dyke?"
Jo laughed. "Is that the best you can come up with? I would have thought that after all these years you would have improved your vocabulary."
John felt his cheeks burning, anger and embarrassment flowing through him. He raised his hand meaning to wipe the grin of Jo the Lesbo's face.
Jo's eyes turned dark and serious...challenging him. "Come on John...do you have the guts?" She pulled away from Angela and moved toward the man, stopping only a foot away from him. "When I was a kid you managed to scare the hell out of me. But I'm not a kid anymore John. You may be bigger, but I'm meaner... Thanks to you, I'm a whole lot meaner."
John faltered. He didn't expect Jo's challenge, didn't expect her to stand her ground. Dark eyes bore into him...burning through his skull. He pulled his eyes away in a vain attempt to collect his thoughts.
He glanced to his right and noticed that they were being watched. He looked at the faces staring at them, looking for support, looking for encouragement in bringing this un-natural creature down. He studied the faces. He could easily read the look of contempt that looked back at them.
" At me." He realised, "They're looking at me...not her...but me." His former classmates looked at him with only contempt and hate.
"Don't like what you see John?" Jo's voice seemed to be coming from far away, "These are the people you pushed around, the people you bullied. Did you really think you had earned their respect? They're not scared of you anymore John. They grew up...maybe it's about time you did the same."
John Looked back at Jo. Her eyes were longer burned with anger. Instead what he saw there was even worse...pity.
Jo pulled Angela a little closer as they danced, enjoying the feel of the blonde woman's body pressed against hers.
"I never knew," Jo whispered softly into her ear, "that you could be so devious."
"Who? Me?" Angela questioned. Her voice gave the impression of being slightly offended, but the play of her facial muscles against Jo's cheek indicated her smile.
"Yes…you." Jo said, raising her head from her lover's shoulders to look into her smoky grey eyes.
"I know…" Angela sighed, looking slightly abashed, "it wasn't very nice and normally I would never think of doing anything like that."
"So why did you?"
Angela searched Jo's dark brown eyes for a hint of anger or disappointment, but all she saw was curiosity. She sighed and put her head on Jo's shoulder, quickly placing a light, discrete kiss on Jo's neck.
"We had only been here for about fifteen minutes when I first noticed him staring at me. It didn't bother me at first, but every time I looked over his way, I would catch him staring. He started giving me the creeps."
Jo hugged Angela a little closer, providing both comfort and support. Angela was an incredibly beautiful woman and was used to lustful stares from both men and women, but it always made her feel uncomfortable...and a little frightened.
"I asked Miranda if she knew who he was." She continued, "She told me all about him, the terrible way he treated her, the way he terrorized others," She hesitated for a moment, "the way he terrorized you."
Jo sighed, remembering the comments, taunts, and threats he bombarded her with during her three years of High School, after he found out about her relationship with another girl.
It had happened innocently enough. She had been horsing around with her girlfriend, hiding a note she had received from Miranda behind her back. Her girlfriend was determined to read it, as it had contained a juicy piece of gossip about one of their teachers. Jo kept it out of reach, but when her girlfriend threatened to tickle her, Jo bolted. They ran through the halls and headed to the stairs leading to the second floor. Jo had tripped as she tried to take the stairs three at a time, but she caught herself and controlled her fall. Her girlfriend caught up with her and teased Jo with an 'Oh…you poor baby' and gave her a quick kiss on the lips before running off with the note she had ripped out of Jo's hand.
Jo was laughing, and was still laughing even after her eyes met John's as he watched the event from his perch on the stairs.
She had shrugged off all the comments he threw her way, laughing at his childishness. She had many close friends who knew about her sexual orientation and who had accepted it. She really didn't care what he thought of her. She never realized how much her laughter had intimidated him. He deemed her a threat to his power.
She remembered the night he had cornered her while she was walking home from her girlfriend's house. He threatened her and asked her if she thought she was tough enough to take the place of a real man. She thought of pushing her way past him, but there was no way she could match his size and strength. So she fought back the only way she knew would work against him, she shrugged off his threats and defied his will by refusing to be intimidated. Finally he stumbled upon the only threat that stopped her and placed fear in her heart. He threatened to physically harm her girlfriend. Jo wasn't sure if it was a threat he would carry out. Guys like John tended to be big on bark but little on bite, but she wasn't ready to take the chance.
Her relationship ended soon after. Jo pulled away from her girlfriend. She began to build a shell around herself. Fear had entered her life.
Jo strengthened her hold on her lover and friend. "He did make my life a living hell for a few of years. Then, one day, he was gone. I do have to admit that I let my fear of him, and people like him, affect me for many years. But being with you, and having friends like Miranda and Phil pulled me out of my shell."
Angela only nodded, remembering the woman she first met so many years before
It was Angela's first time at the women's bar. She recently moved to the city and was still learning her way around. When a friend suggested showing her the local gay haunts, she readily accepted.
The bar was dark and smoky, but Angela had immediately noticed the dark-haired woman at the pool table located near the entrance. She also noticed the glances the woman threw her way all night. Through the course of a couple of weeks, Angela made discrete inquiries about the woman, learning her name, her profession, that she played various sports, and most importantly, the fact that she was single. Angela had the distinct feeling that the woman was interested in her, but she never approached.
Angela really didn't know how to make the first move when it came to meeting women, but as she drove by the bar on her way home from work and noticed the woman's beat-up truck in the parking lot, she decided that maybe now was a good time to learn. She returned home, ate quickly and then spent a good two hours fussing over her hair, make-up and wardrobe.
She breathed a sigh of relief when she entered the bar and found the woman was still there. Since it was a weeknight, Angela had worried that the woman had just dropped in for a quick after-work drink before heading home. Steeling her resolve, Angela walked up to the woman's table and asked her for a dance. The woman stammered a bit, but accepted.
Over time, Angela had learned many endearing things about Jo, including the fact that she was shy. So many times during the course of their budding relationship, Angela could feel Jo pull away from any form of publicly displayed affection. Angela accepted this as shyness on Jo's part. Over the years, Jo had slowly loosened up. Now, it was not unusual for Jo to hug, hold hands, or dance with her in public.
Now Angela realized it wasn't as much shyness as it was fear that made Jo pull away. Fear created, at least partially, if not entirely, by the man Angela had met this night.
Angela looked back up at Jo. "What I did was not only mean, but dangerous. I thought he was going hurt you. "
"He was thinking about it." Jo paused for a few moments, then continued, "Can I tell you a secret?"
Jo looked out across the people dancing around them. "You made my dream come true tonight."
Angela stopped dancing, momentarily off balance by this sudden change of direction. "Pardon me?"
Jo looked down at her and smiled. "I have always dreamed of telling that bastard off. I have imagined different scenarios where I would meet up with him and make him pay for all the trouble he caused in my life. This was actually better than I ever imagined"
Angela smiled and murmured, "Payback's a bitch."
Jo laughed. She fought her desire to kiss Angela, knowing that they had tempted fate enough with the dizzying kiss that Angela had greeted her with when she first walked in. Jo knew she was well respected in this little town and her relationship was accepted, but she also realized that there was a limit on what the people around her would accept. Dancing with her lover of almost eleven years was one thing, but open displays of affection was another. Instead, she contented herself with just holding Angela close, knowing she could show her all the love she felt when they returned home.
John's eyes were red and burning reflecting the amount of alcohol he'd consumed the night before. When the jet engines began to whine, building up speed for take off, he honestly thought his head was going to explode.
Even with his raging hang-over, he was relieved he was leaving. What had happened to his town in the years he had been gone? He couldn't believe two dykes were allowed to carry on just like any other 'normal' couple. Even his old friends seemed unaffected by the display of the two women.
He briefly wondered what the world was coming to when queers were demanding and winning the same rights as everyone else. Then his thoughts drifted back to a comment Jo made as he turned to leave.
"Times have changed John, maybe it's time you changed with it."
Even in his alcohol-hazed state, John knew that there was truth in that statement. He was still trying to be eighteen, still trying to be 'the man'. But time moved on and left him behind. He silently wondered if he'd ever catch up.
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