When I first met Jeannie, I was in the eighth grade, and she was the new girl who had just moved to our school. It was the first day for her, but the middle of the school year for the rest of us.
Our home room teacher Ms. Payne checked her office slip, wrote her name in her attendance book, and asked her if she would like to introduce herself, while standing in-front of the entire class!!!
As a new student, I would have been horrified. I mean it would have been a struggle for me just to remember my name. Ms. Payne had a real knack for putting students on the spot.
My name is Mark Winters and I got in so much trouble sitting next to my two friends, Kevin and Carlos, that Ms. Payne, our home-room teacher moved me to the other side of the room.
Jeannie seemed very comfortable however and introduced herself with a poker face that hid any underlying fear. Plus, she spoke in an organized manner that almost sounded like a speech she had rehearsed.
Jeanie started by telling us where she was from, the name of her old school, how badly she missed her friends, and how happy she was for the opportunity to make some new ones, and finally the reason she moved here: Jeanie’s dad got a promotion, but if he accepted they would have to relocate within 30 days.
Her father did not have a choice about the timing, otherwise her parents would have waited until the end of the school year instead.
Then Jeannie concluded by looking over at Ms. Payne to see if she was satisfied. Ms. Payne told Jeanie that we were happy to have her.
And we were.
I know I was because Jeanie, was hotter than hell. I have never seen a more beautiful red-head in my life, and redheads were my favorite.
There was only one other empty desk in the classroom, and that the one in front of me. I sat in the second seat behind her. The student who previously sat their was an authentic Native American named Johnny Wolf. And he lived on a reservation with several other Indian families that composed an actual tribe.
I called him Johnny “Howling Wolf” because of his allergies, as he was constantly itching, sneezing, and coughing. It was non-stop. Nothing against his heritage, but I hated sitting next to him because of it.
One day it got so bad, I waited after class to complain to the teacher.
“Ms. Payne, I want to be moved back to my old seat.”
“No, I’m not going to do that, she said.”
“I don’t care where you move me than, just anywhere away from Johnny, I said.”
“Forget it, Ms. Payne said dismissively.”
“You can move Carlos or Kevin next to Johnny instead, I offered.”
“Thank You for telling me what I can do, she replied.”
Truth be told, I don’t even want to breathe the same air with Johnny let alone sit next to him.
“Johnny sounds sick and I don’t want to catch whatever it is that he has.”
“You’re exaggerating; besides it only sounds like Johnny has a case of hay-fever, Ms. Payne replied offhandedly.”
How did she know, was she a teacher or a doctor?
I never heard of someone who sounded like there were coughing up a lung because of Hay-Fever?
Hell, my grandfather had bronchitis and he didn’t sound that bad, Mark stewed silently.
“Ms. Payne, how do you know that whatever Johnny has isn’t contagious?”
“Then I assume we’d all been coughing, she said.”
Another month passed, and Ms. Payne gave each student in the first row a stack of tests, each student would take one and pass the remaining tests back.
Of course, I was sitting behind Johnny, and suddenly as he turned I guess he suddenly had one of his sneezing fits and coughed right in my face. He didn’t even try to cover his mouth with the tests in his hands.
I was so disgusted that in a fit of rage, I lost it, “Cover that filthy hole, savage !!!”
Ms. Payne had her back turned so she hadn’t why I reacted the way I did.
“Mark Winters, I am appalled, you apologize to Johnny this instant, Ms. Payne demanded.”
I got up and told her that I had to go to the bathroom to wash my face first because Johnny hadn’t covered his before he decided to puke on mine.
After class, I stayed behind again, “Mrs. Payne, I want to be moved, and if you had moved me like I asked you to in the first place, this whole nasty incident could have been avoided.”
Johnny’s condition sounds like it’s getting worse. I think he needs some modern medicine and not whatever their giving him out there on that reservation, because whatever it is, it’s not working.”
“What are you going on about, Ms. Payne said annoyed?”
“I’m talking about you blatantly overlooking your duties as a teacher, by ignoring one of your student’s serious health conditions, I replied.”
“My duties, Ms. Payne repeated?”
“Well, I don’t have him in any of my other classes, Mark answered.”
“It is not the school’s policy to recommend treatment or medication, nor are we authorized to give it. Now if you have a problem with that, maybe you should take it up with Principle White, Ms. Payne answered curtly, in fact I was going to sent you to his office anyway.”
“Well before you do, I just want to make sure that we have our story straight, the school’s position is to just pretend that Johnny’s health problems were never serious, so if anything does happen while he’s still on school property, the District can claim to have no prior knowledge, And if God forbid he actually dies in class, the Board may not get sued for negligence by the Native American Council.”
“I do not make those decisions, Ms. Payne, retorted, turning red, and looking both angry and embarrassed.”
“What about your Hypocritical oath, Mark asked?”
“My Hypocritical what, Ms. Payne replied?”
“What if what Johnny has is terminal, I mean those Native American’s have all the money in the world because of the casino’s, but they still choose to live out there on those reservations, like a bunch of…”
“Savages, Ms. Payne completed?”
“Yea, that’s right, savages, I mean why is it that the Indians are so self-sufficient with everything else, except when it comes to home-schooling their own children, Mark asked?”
“Maybe they want to modernize, and start indoctrinating themselves into society, Ms. Payne replied.”
“That’s fine, let them modernize, I’m not a racist, but I don’t want to suffer from whatever it is that Johnny’s suffering from, just because they don’t believe in the “White Man’s Medicine,” Mark made quotation marks with his fingers, is no reason for the rest of us to suffer.”
“Well, I can’t very well tell Johnny that he can’t come to class, now can I, Ms. Payne said defensively?”
You don’t have the authority, I bet Mr. White doesn’t either.
Why don’t you go find out for yourself young man?
“No, I’m going to call the Army instead, then, tell them it’s an outbreak, let the (CDC), storm in here and quarantine the entire town.
But I’m going to going to you a heads-up first, so I can sneak out first with me, you can drive us to Vegas, because I would hate for you to wind up on the wrong side of the plastic bubble, if you know what I mean, Mark said with a straight face.”
Ms. Payne burst out laughing.
Mark stared back at Ms. Payne in total amazement, more like shock. He wasn’t even trying to be funny, but whenever he got really upset about something, he started running off at the mouth, and then he couldn’t stop himself.
Your hilarious, and then she started laughing again.
He waited for her to finish laughing, and then he said, “You know Ms. Payne, this is the first time, I think I ever heard you laugh, it sounded more like a revelation than a statement the way Mark said it.
“I didn’t know you could laugh, Mark continued.”
This time she smiled but she covered her mouth like she was embarrassed.
“Look, I can’t make any promises, but I’ll talk to Principal White maybe there’s something he can do, but not me, I’m just the teacher.”
Despite her age and profession, Ms. Payne revealed herself to be a warm human being who had a sense of humor. She could even treat a student with respect, instead of just being another condescending adult.
Mark suddenly realized, maybe Ms. Payne was just another person stuck in the same horrible situation that he was in.
They shared a common tragedy. It was like a worker from the boiler room of the “Titanic” who was top deck and speaking to a passenger from first class. Or maybe the captain himself, it didn’t matter now that the ship was sinking, they were all in the same boat.
Could it be, that Ms. Payne was just as disgusted about Johnny’s condition as he was?
But unlike Mark, she didn’t have the luxury of complaining about it, because she had a job to protect.
“You hate Johnny being in your class, as much as I do, Mark said out loud.”
Ms. Payne looked up at him again, but this time she was startled, she studied Mark and he saw a look of panic on her face.
You don’t want Johnny in your class in your class anymore than I do, Mark said shaking his head.
Suddenly Margaret Payne, wondered if maybe she had said too much, and then after a delayed moment, and she panicked, but then her composure returned, and she went back to grading her papers, “Goodbye, Mark.”
Ms. Payne, the teacher had returned.
Mark slung his backpack over his shoulders and headed out. But before he left the classroom he stopped at the doorway and turned around.
“You know, Ms. Payne, I would like to tell everybody that you have a very contagious laugh. But I don’t think they would believe me, maybe if they heard it from you themselves some time, you could help me convince them, and then Mark left without saying “Good-bye.”
Never in her eighteen years of teaching could she remember a student giving her a compliment. Not on her looks, not on her hair, not on one of her outfits. Nothing. Margaret Payne continued staring at the empty doorway.
Mark did learn that Ms. Payne had made good on her word however, because something finally changed regarding Johnny.
His parents admitted him into a regular hospital, where they discovered that much of his illness was due to allergies. But it wasn’t just hay-fever, Johnny had a rare condition because his lungs were super-sensitive.
The allergies from the dust and pollen created a constant state of irritation within the air sacks themselves. So, given enough time, and left untreated, his condition could have become fatal.
His family moved Johnny to another tribe further North of the state, and Johnny lived on another reservation, but one closer to a clinic that specialized in his type of illness.
After Johnny left no one from the school ever heard from him again, Mark never got so much as a Thank You” let alone an acknowledgment, but if Johnny got the help he needed, that’s all that really mattered.
Anyway, Johnny’s exodus was the only reason why there was an empty seat in the classroom to begin with. And now the new girl Jeannie would be sitting next to him, Her name reminded him of that same from TvLand, “I Dream of Jeanie” and if of Mark could not have dreamed up a better replacement.
Jeanie was so beautiful that Mark had to turn away as she walked towards him, and so that he would not stare, but that was almost impossible, her beauty seemed magnetic.
Mark thought Jeanie might have been one of the most beautiful eighth grader in the entire world. And that was also because she matured early; and already had the body of an adult woman.
Mark had read somewhere that girls were maturing much earlier now than any time before in history. There was this theory that it was due to all the hormones, and steroids they put in the cow’s milk. Well if Jeanie ate her Frosted Flakes, she was proof of that.
She might have had the face of a 13-year-old girl, young, fresh, and innocent, but she had the mature body of a curvy, voluptuous vixen.
Her tits were fucking huge!!!
The contrast between her youthful, innocent looks, and her mature well-endowed body, only enhanced each other that much more.
Mark couldn’t help but wonder, if Jeanie’s body was as innocent as her face looked. But after she sat down, Mark began to have a hard time concentrating. He saw multi-colored spots, and instantly developed a headache, the pain throbbed until he had to close his eyes. He rubbed his forehead, and then his temples and he try to relieve some of the pressure. If it got any worse Mark thought, he might have cried out.
And then suddenly he started to get flashes of images. They were about Jeanie the new girl. Sometimes Mark got “visions,” for lack of a better definition. It didn’t happen with everyone, he wasn’t psychic in the broad sense.
Usually it was just a female who Mark found extremely attractive. Sexually attractive. Sometimes the pictures were accompanied by a sound, or a feeling, but mostly they were just images.
The last time this happened to him was with a blonde girl named Tiffany who was the first girl who had ever given him oral sex. Aside from kissing a girl or feeling once or two up, since fourth grade, Tiffany the blonde, was Mark’s first sexual experience.
She was one of the most popular, and attractive girls at the school, but she was selfish and ultimately visions of her leaving him broken-heated always overshadowed any sexual desire he felt for her.
Tiffany was ultimately deemed a selfish woman, and she would punish any man who loved her, even destroy him, it.
Girls had conquests too. It was always the getting and not the having with Tiffany.
Mark didn’t know why Jeanie suddenly “activated” these flashing images the same as Tiffany had done before her.
Was this a warning?
Silently as Jeanie sat down next to Mark the pictures kept exploding off in his head like silent flashbulbs, one after another.
“Mr. Winters, can you give me the answer, Ms. Payne interrupted?
“Mark jumped back in his seat, his “visions” were gone, the story was over. Hearing Ms. Payne’s voice brought Mark back to the present. To the here and now.
“The Answer?” Mark said, clearing his throat.”
“Yes, the answer, weren’t you paying attention, Ms. Payne asked?”
Hell no, I wasn’t paying attention, Mark thought to himself. How could she even ask him that with a straight face, wasn’t that the only reason why she called on him in the first place, because she caught him not paying attention.
Mark wanted to ask Jeanie out after class but if Ms. Payne made him look like a fool, it could ruin his chances and he hadn’t even introduced himself yet.
You never got a second chance to make a first impression. Not a good impression.
“I’m sorry Ms. Payne, I couldn’t hear you, could you repeat the question again, Mark asked?”
Ms. Payne scoffed.
“Who shot our 16th President Abraham Lincoln, Ms. Payne repeated?”
“Uh……That John…. Telephone…… Booth guy, Mark finished quickly.
The entire class erupted in laughter.
“That-is-not-funny, Ms. Payne said, to the class enunciating each word carefully to let the room know she meant business. All of you quiet down this instant, she commanded.”
“When the class quieted down, Ms. Payne returned and picked up exactly where she left off, “You mean John “Wilkes” Booth, Ms. Payne corrected him?”
“Yes, that’s exactly who I meant, Mark answered.
I guess Ms. Payne didn’t want to look like a fool in front of the new girl either, Mark thought to himself.”
“Then why didn’t you say so in the first place, Ms. Payne asked, putting him on the spot again?”
What? Are you fucking kidding me?
I gave you the right answer now move on bitch, Mark thought to himself.
Why was Ms. Payne giving him such a hard time?
Was Ms. Payne deliberately trying to embarrass him in front of the new girl? She had never acted like this before.
“Ms. Payne, you told us last semester that if we couldn’t actually remember the answer; to associate something with it instead, like an image.
So, I took the last name “Booth,” and I tried to link the answer to a picture that I could associate with his last name. And Telephone Booth was all that I could come up with. Telephone Booth and John Wilkes Booth, Mark said, putting his two hands together into one for emphasis.
Ms. Payne was both, amazed and confused, the latter because she had never told the class to link words with pictures. Mark had made that up on the spot.
There was a pause while Ms. Payne stood standing and was trying to remember when she had said that, Mark per-emptied a comeback before she could respond a second time.
“Look, Ms. Payne, I don’t know why you’re always calling on me, unlike these snobby rich girls, I like your casual shoes, he said pointing at them for effect and giving her the thumbs up for approval. Mark wanted the attention off him and back on her, it was gutsy gamble.
Everyone in class including Ms. Payne herself, with the exception of Jeanie, looked down at her shoes, and then, once she knew that she’d been had, she lifted one of them up to check the underside to see if she had anything stuck on the bottom.
“No, the other one Mark said.”
Now he was pushing it.
The entire class erupted in laughter again.
This time she didn’t yell at the room to quiet down, she waited instead patiently. Maybe Mark had earned that laugh. But before she spoke again, Mark panicked.
Maybe he had gone too far this time, and he should have quit while he was still ahead. He couldn’t help himself, he was still reeling from the images that he’d seen from Jeanie’s past and now his mind was racing into over-drive.
Mark couldn’t have stopped his mouth even if that meant a one-way ticket straight to the principal’s office. Better to die a rebel than branded a fool.
Now that the class was quiet again, a composed Ms. Payne with a Mona-Lisa smile scanned the classroom. Her body language proclaimed: I am the adult here, I will be the bigger person.
Her tone and mood seemed much lighter when she spoke this time as well, “Well, I hope the rest of you will be able to associate pretty pictures with answers because there’s going to be a test, next Monday, and you can bet that question will be on it.
The entire class grumbled as if in protest and then Ms. Payne stood in front of Jeanie’s desk, “I’m sorry, honey, but that includes you as well.”
Jeanie nodded without looking up at her. Suddenly the bell rang, and everybody got up and filtered out of the class, and into the hallway.
Mark straggled behind as most of the class disappeared, some of the girls turned around to size Jeanie up again, before they left.
It was common for Ms. Payne to leave for the teachers’ lounge to refill her coffee during the bell in-between classes. When she left with the rest of the class, Mark took this as a good sign.
Kevin and Carlos, who sat together on the other side of the classroom, were waiting for him by the door, but Mark waved them on impatiently to leave, but trying not to be too obvious.
He didn’t need those two idiots sticking around, he needed to have Jeanie alone when he spoke to her, if they stayed they would only try to make him look bad, and fuck things up for him.
Jeannie didn’t act like she was in a hurry either, so while she was taking her time collecting her things, Mark tried to keep pace; desperately thinking up an excuse to talk to her. Now that he had the opportunity he had drawn a blank.
When he couldn’t think of anything clever, he was just going to say “Hi,” before she got away, but when he turned to face her, she was already looking at him, and caught him off guard, he froze, as then he smiled.
“Hey, he said.”
“You were funny, Jeanie said.”
“How do you mean, Mark asked smiling.”
“Complimenting her shoes, Jeanie returned.”
“Yea, but I wasn’t trying to be funny; Ms. Payne really did catch me daydreaming, and then he checked the doorway to make sure she hadn’t double-backed.”
“So, you were lying when you said you like her shoe’s, Jeanie asked?”
“Oh, there okay, but I’d wish she buy some new ones, she wears the same outfits on the same days, and sometimes the other kids make fun of her because of it, So I was really just trying to help her out.”
Oh, Really, Jeanie said smiling.
Yea, some people can be so… immature, besides, I like your shoes a lot better, Mark smiled back.”
Jeanie laughed again, she hadn’t been this nervous talking to a guy in a long time, but she did have on a cute pair of “shoe-boots” on that were a fashionable style at the time.
“Our Homeroom Teacher “Ms. Payne,” is well named because she loves to try to cause me grief, every chance she gets.”
“You the bad boy, defending her, Jeanie asked?”
“Alright, maybe I’m exaggerating, but this time my distraction was legitimate Mark answered.”
“What distraction was that, Jeanie flirted.”
She didn’t mean to sound flirtatious, but it came out that way and she couldn’t prevent it when it did.
“Well for one thing, Ms. Payne’s voice itself is a distraction. You ever hear the voice of the guy that does the Garfield the cartoon cat in the Movies.”
“Yes, Jeanie said.”
“Ms. Payne’s voice is a little like that, she has no inflection, and for someone who has a “boring” voice she sure loves to hear herself talk.”
“Are you sure you’re not exaggerating again, Jeanie asked?
She’s the reason I daydream Jeanie, did you have a Ms. Payne at your old school, Mark asked?”
Now it was Jeanie who looked at the doorway, “Yea, but her name was Ms. Harp, Jeanie replied.”
And you Jeanie, he said shyly
And me what, she asked?
“And you had me distracted, Mark replied.”
“Why me, she asked?”
Why you! Don’t you own a fucking mirror? It might have something to do with those two-bowling ball titties strapped to your chest, he thought to himself.
“Well, it’s not every day we get to meet a new student from a faraway land, and that’s very exciting for these parts, Mark answered.”
“Exciting, what do you mean by exciting, she asked?”
“You’re a mystery Jeanie, nobody knows anything about you, Mark explained.”
She noticed Mark was using her first name a lot, and he seemed very comfortable doing so, that was amazing considering they had just met.
“Even after I told you, and the entire class my life’s story, Jeanie exclaimed.”
“Yea, I can’t believe Ms. Payne made you do that, I hate standing up front just to give a book report, let alone telling my life’s story to a bunch of strangers, Mark agreed.”
“Oh, my God, Mark, I was so embarrassed, please tell me I didn’t look like a fool, Jeanie begged.”
“No, you were cool, maybe a little shy, but for your first day, you did great, Mark complimented her.”
“I have to admit, out of all my teachers Ms. Payne was the only one who made me do that, Jeanie said.”
Mark moved in to whisper, she smelled of expensive perfume. It was intoxicating. “I should warn you Jeanie, Ms. Payne is a real bitch, so don’t take anything she does personal, I heard she even drinks in-between classes.”
Jeannie laughed. This boy was hilarious.
“Thank you, Mark, Jeanie said, smiling, you’re good at making a new girl feel better.”
“Well, I wasn’t born here either, I was a new student myself at one time, but even then, I had the luxury of starting fresh in September like everybody else, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to move in the middle of the year, Mark said compassionately.”
“You don’t know the half of it, Jeanie replied.”
Then give me your number and tell me the other half after school, Mark said taking out his pen and waiting for her number.
Wow, Jeanie thought to herself, how could she resist.
My number, she balked, I don’t even know you!!!
Mark handed her his pen and paper, if you give me your number I can call you after school, I wish we had more time to talk and then he turned around again to check the doorway.”
Jeanie stared at him, and behind those emerald-green eyes, Mark could see her trying to decide if this was a good idea or not. He nodded slightly as if silently encouraging her.
“Mark, I don’t even know your last name maybe we shouldn’t rush into anything, Jeanie said.”
“My last name is Winters, he replied offering his hand so that she could shake it.”
She took it, but with the same side, she was left-handed.
“Yes, and I’m the new girl, Mr. Winters, you understand if I don’t, Jeanie said a little defensively.”
Yes, I do, Ms. Winters, but I would like to be your first friend, I mean if you’d let me…
Jeanie flipped over the front cover to write but stopped when she saw notes from a previous class.
“Uh, can I write on the back page instead, she asked?”
“Just write over the notes, Mark replied.”
Jeanie laughed as she quickly found a blank page and scribbled, her number.
“Okay there you go Mark Winters, she said.”
He looked at her handwriting, beautiful handwriting Jeanie Winters.”
“What did you say, Jeanie asked fearfully?”
Mark looked up at her, “I’m sorry I must have thought one thing while saying another, I don’t remember your last name, Mark said disarmingly.
Jeanie looked at him a little suspiciously, as she handed him back his pen.
Grants, she said.
“Thank you, Jeanie Grants, Mark corrected himself speaking her name correctly the second time.
“Jeanie never took her eyes off him while Mark put his notebook away and slung his backpack around his shoulder; then he picked up Jeanie’s pink backpack and handed it to her.”
“We better go, Jeanie, Mark said, as he noticed the other students for the next class pouring in as he walked beside her. He didn’t want to run into Ms. Payne again.
“Do you know where your next class is, Mark asked.”
“Yes, I memorized my schedule, Jeanie said.”
“Jeannie, I was just thinking, can you give me a specific time to call you, just so I don’t wind up talking to your dad, he asked.”
Jeannie laughed, “How about Saturday around noon.”
But that’s five days away, Mark said.
“Right let’s not rush into anything, Jeanie smiled.”
“Saturday then, it’s a date, Mark confirmed.”
No, no, I didn’t agree to a date, I just agreed to accept your call, Jeanie she said panicked, but inside she was lit up like a Christmas tree. She squeezed her arms tighter and closer to her chest.
A date, she thought to herself, she had never been on a date, and then Jeanie started blushing, it brought out her freckles.
Ms. Payne was returning from the teachers’ lounge to her class with a fresh cup of coffee. She had just poured a shot of baileys crème from a disguised container that she hid in the back of the fridge. This would be her third shot of the day.
She reminded lagging student to get to their next class before the second bell rang, but she was distracted, as she sipped her Irish Coffee. And wondered if the Mall was having a sale on shoes this week-end.
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