"I said let him go!" She gave Jon a shove hard enough to knock him down and lose his grip on Matthew, although not before he pulled Matthew over with him. Still crying in terror, the little boy got up and tore off, managing a feeble "Thanks, Caryn" through his blubbering.
"You bitch!" Jon started to get up, but Caryn straddled him and punched him in the temple, hard enough to knock his head against the grassy ground.
When Jon responded only by wrapping both arms around his head and curling up, Caryn stood up to go. For good measure she gave him a swift kick in the balls, and added, "Pick on someone your own size next time, huh?"
One detention and a thank-you from Matthew and Jane's mother later, Caryn forgot the whole thing. Until late that spring when she and Audrey were out riding their bikes around Blodgett Street. As she dipped in and out of the cul-de-sacs, a boy's voice in one of the side yards caught her ear. "Mike, hide! It's Caryn!"
Hide?! Caryn slammed on her coaster brakes and listened. "Caryn! Haven't you heard of her? She hates boys! She broke a kid's balls once! Stay away from her!"
Caryn looked down at her tall, gangling self, swathed in jeans and sneakers and the windbreaker she'd gotten for her birthday, and wondered what on earth there was to be terrified of. She did hate boys, true, but it wasn't as though she went around looking for trouble with them.
The accusation stung at first. But by the time she got back to her house for dinner that day, the hurt had turned to pleasure. Boys were scared of her?! She couldn't help but like the sound of that.
Caryn had come to like it. She had gotten over her dislike of boys, but she'd still enjoyed knowing the nasty ones were afraid of her. When she'd started blossoming a couple of years later, she'd figured that would be that as far as her terror-of-the-playground reputation was concerned. Which was just one of many reasons why she'd disliked her then-new breasts. The unwelcome monthly guest was even worse, but at least no one had to know about that, and she had come to like the way her curvy hips looked in tight jeans. But from day one, her breasts were nothing but a nuisance even back when she'd been able to fool herself about their size.
To her surprise, though, that had only made the boys more afraid of her for some silly reason. So she'd learned to live with them then. Now, knowing "Dude, she will" still held sway with the guys, it was a perverse relief to know being a 38-D wouldn't stop her from striking fear into the bullies' hearts, she conceded.
And they had felt so right pressed up against Dave's chest!
Newspaper was Dave and Maureen's last class of the day ("Yes, Newspaper is a class at our school," Dave could still recall explaining more than once to the kids he'd met at honors camp last summer), and Mrs. Cutchins, the faculty advisor and also Dave and Maureen's English teacher freshman year, mostly kept to herself and let the seniors run the show. This Dave did most capably and confidently, and the memory of their conversation at lunch had Maureen once again amazed at the change in her old friend.
But he did appear to forget the last item on the agenda on the whiteboard. So as he went over the final layout plans for the current issue, Maureen spoke up. "Dave, what about the elections gay porn threesome movies
"Oh, right," Dave said. "How could I forget that, now that we've drafted Tom?"
Maureen noticed that when he looked back up at the whiteboard, Dave leaned in and squinted to read the final item. "Can you see okay, Dave?" she asked.
"Of course!" he answered a bit too firmly. "Anyway, yeah, the election. Anyone know who's running besides Tom and Kelly?"
"Tom Ciseros is running?" piped up Meredith, the sports editor. "That's hilarious!"
"Rick and Kelly'll kick his ass," said Chris, Dave's second in command along with Maureen. "What's he thinking?"
"He's thinking of an anti-bullying platform," Maureen said. "What's wrong with that?"
"What's wrong is he's the wrong kid do it," Meredith said. "Kelly could get away with that. But he won't, especially against Rick."
"I don't know," Chris said. "You know Doug is running too?"
"Doug Corman?!" Maureen exclaimed.
"He and Rick hate each other anymore, ever since homecoming," Chris said. "Did you hear about the bungled play?"
"We were there," Dave and Maureen said in unison, exchanging knowing looks as they recalled what else had happened that night involving Rick.
"He and Doug blame each other for losing the game, still," Meredith said. "I think Doug just jumped in to spoil it for Rick. But if the vote is split enough ways..."
"Yeah, probably," Dave said. Privately he was already thinking how the bitter rivalry could help Tom, but it wouldn't do for the editor in chief to take sides.
It took about ten minutes to draft a brief rundown of who was running, and then Dave gave the freshmen staff their orders for typesetting, an unglamorous job the youngest on staff always got stuck with. Most of the others had cleared out of the room by the time he'd finished, but he looked up to see Maureen still in the doorway. "So what do you think about Tom's chances now?" he asked her.
"I think he's still going to come in last," she said as they both stepped out into the hallway. "But good for him for trying, huh?"
"I'm not so sure he will," Dave said. "If Doug and Rick and Kelly all split the jock vote, who knows what'll happen gay live cam?"
"Kelly's got the troublemakers' vote locked down, though, with that slogan," Maureen said. Kelly's first posters had a slogan -- "What the hell, vote for Kel" -- that had gotten them torn down by the teachers almost immediately and earned a warning from the principal, but they'd been a hit with the students all the same.
"I wonder if they'll even vote, though?" Dave asked.