In my writer’s journey I was blessed to have met a very talented author, who also became a good friend. I am honored to present to you here in this guest blog, without further ado…RJ Sullivan!
Hello, and thanks very much to my good friend the incredibly talented, John F. Allen, for having me on today as part of my guest blog in support of Haunting Blue, my latest release from Seventh Star Press.
The following “bonus scenes” were composed specially for this blog, but can be read as occurring before and after the school scenes in Chapter 2 of Haunting Blue. The scenes are self-contained.
Janice Copley, Dean of Girls, stared at the paperwork on her desk, the official record of the new student seated across s from her, a Ms. Fiona Shaefer. She kept her eyes on the paperwork so she wouldn’t gape at the student herself.
When the girl had entered her office, Copley bit her lip to hold back a shocked noise. The new student looked like an extra in a Clash video. Bright blue hair, spiked and unkempt, a jeans jacket and half-T. The head and shoulders of some pop singer glared back from the shirt. Did that style come back when I wasn’t looking? Every day, Copley saw something new in these halls that made her feel older and more out of touch.
Copley reviewed the record. Fiona, a senior, had transferred from Broad Ripple High School, a college town near Indianapolis. Well, that explains that. Fiona’s grades, for the most part, were pretty solid, with remarkable marks in English. She planned to major in poetry. No discipline problems. Well, that’s a pleasant surprise.
Having swallowed back the chuckle, she scanned the tentative schedule and scribbled her initials. She tore off the student copy and handed it to the stone-faced student. “Hello, Fiona. I’m always excited to see new faces here in Perrione. I’m a transplant myself. I grew up in Noblesville and took this job five years ago.”
The girl took the page. Copley waited while Fiona’s eyes scanned the paper. After a moment, her face broke into a grin. If not for the wild hair, Copley might have considered her attractive.
“So there’s no getting around it. You’re going to stand out a bit with your…city look, but—”
“Are there any rules against what I’m wearing?”
Not yet, but only because we never needed them before now, Copley thought. Out loud, she said, “Strictly speaking, no. But if anyone—”
“Listen,” said Fiona. “It’s not my choice to be here. My Mom moved us. I’m not in love with the idea, but I’m not going to start trouble. I just want to get through school and get on with the rest of my life.”
Well…that was something. Copley didn’t know what, but it was something. “I simply meant, if anyone causes you any trouble, you’re free to come to me. I mean that, Fiona.”
Copley waited. Fiona flashed another smile that, she had to admit, Copley found charming. “I won’t snitch—”
“Of course not.”
“— but if I have any problems, I’ll come to you.”
“Deal.” Copley reached out, and Fiona returned her handshake warmly. Maybe she’d been concerned over nothing. It seemed to her that the punk façade hid a gentle soul underneath. “Good luck, and welcome to Perionne High.”
An hour later:
Copley had just settled behind her desk with a fresh steaming mug of coffee. Movement drew her attention to the window. Oh, no, what? She recognized the gym teacher and two math teachers escorting a student in the direction of her office. Even through the slits of blinds, she could see the distinct blue-haired head of the new student.
She also knew the aftermath of a fight when she saw one. Figures.
She threw open the door and met the group halfway. Specks of blood marred the denim jacket. Dots of red also spotted the pop singer’s face on the half-t. A second look confirmed that the blood wasn’t the punk girl’s.
Copley struggled to keep her voice even, “Just an hour ago you told me I wouldn’t have to worry about you, Ms. Shaefer.”
Jeff–Mr. Fenley, she mentally corrected herself–spoke. “It was Clinty.” With his back to the punk girl, his look if sympathy communicated the rest. Go easy on her.
Clinty was a bully a frequent troublemaker. No two ways about it. She didn’t envy the Dean of Boys right now. The fact that this girl had tangled with Clinty and could walk to the office said something about her toughness as well.
But Clinty wasn’t her problem.
Conley pointed. “My office. Now.”
Head bowed, the punk girl walked, her feet dragging.
“You’ll need this,” said Jeff. He held out a leather strap with metal studs, perfect for fitting over knuckles. This, too, was stained with blood.
Conley took they weapon and followed the student. As soon as she shut the door, she let the strap drop between them on the desk.”What’s this for?”
“It’s an air freshener.”
“Funny. You asked me if your clothes were against the rules. This is.”
“I defended myself.”
I motioned to the stains on her clothes. “You look like you did pretty good.”
“He attacked me. I didn’t provoke him. I have witnesses. Those teachers saw it.”
Fiona folded her arms, focusing on a spot like every student Conley had ever seen who tried really hard to look toug while also trying really hard not to cry.
“I don’t doubt your word, Fiona.” She wrapped her fingers around the phone receiver. “I have to call your mother.”
“No!” Fiona sat up straight, and a tear escaped to fall over her cheek. “Please don’t call her.” Her eyes pleaded their case. “Look, can’t I just….do in class suspension?”
“The weapon ties my hands, Fiona. I have to suspend you from school three days.”
“I’m sorry. Your mother will have to come pick you up.”
“But I didn’t start it. I was defending myself. Please, Ms. Conley.”
Conley paused on the verge of dialing. She had no doubt that Clinty had jumped this girl. Maybe this time, the cowardly principal would expel that bully once and for all. Except Clinty’s father is the school security cop, so not likely.
“Listen, I’ll explain to your mother. I’ll tell her what happened. I’ll do whatever I can to make this easy on you.” She wasn’t sure why she said all this. Why did she feel moved to defend a girl she hardly knew? Because I know Clinty. That’s why.
“It won’t matter,” Fiona said, wiping her cheeks. “Why do you think /’m here in the first place? My mom hates me. She brought me here to torture me, and no matter what you say, she’ll assume it’s my fault.”
Conley reached out and patter her hand. “I’m sorry, Fiona. I’ll do all I can. But I’m sure it won’t be as bad as you think.”