Saturday, April 6, 2013
PART 2: THE FIRST EVIL, 1931-1933: Chapter 9 (UNEDITED)
If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section to read the Prologue-THE TIME IN BETWEEN, 1846-1931 before proceeding to reading PART 2: Chapter 9.Otherwise, read from the jump :)
The First Evil
Plains, NY 1931
Carl Turner, Jimmy Kratz, Linda Parker, Reginald Johnson, Gail Carr, and Dorothy Blake had entered their senior year at Plains High School as part of the Class of 1932. Linda and Gail had been Dorothy’s closest friends since very early childhood while Jimmy, Carl, and Reginald also enjoyed growing up as boys together. The six of them would all know each other through the years of all of them attending the Plains School District, but the six of them wouldn’t really begin hanging out together until their sophomore year of high school when Jimmy would take an interest in Linda and the two of them would be each other’s steadies. Jimmy’s being with Linda would lead to Reginald’s interest in Gail. During the summer before junior year, Reginald and Gail would begin exclusively dating one another. Jimmy, Linda, Reginald, and Gail would often go out on group outings and attending the school dances together. Of course, Linda and Gail would also try to get Dorothy to come out and join in on the fun, but Dorothy would usually decline. The times she would go, she usually ended up feeling like a fifth wheel.
Dorothy was what some would call a ‘late bloomer.’ When Linda and Gail were interested in boys during their freshman year of high school, Dorothy would opt for reading a book instead of gushing over which boy she thought was the cutest. Dorothy still hadn’t had a boyfriend or even been on a date by the time their junior year had ended. But it wasn’t as though she couldn’t if she had wanted to. Many did find Dorothy to be a very pretty girl. She had the wavy dark brown hair and peachy complexion courtesy of her Black Irish heritage and even had her Great Grandfather Jonathan’s grayish-blue eyes. Her high cheekbones were inherited from her Dakota-Sioux Great Grandmother, a trait of Dorothy’s that Linda would claim to be openly jealous of.
“Honey, if I had your cheekbones, I’d be accentuating the hell out of those,” Linda always told her.
“Well then thankfully you’re not me,” Dorothy would reply.
Linda had the sort of ‘Blonde Bombshell’ look that often got her compared with Jean Harlow, a comparison that Linda completely ate up. Linda knew how to emphasize her best features and had decided to make Dorothy her personal project. In Dorothy’s opinion, Linda was just wasting her time. But while Dorothy would never admit to it out loud, there were times when she did question whether or not Linda was at least partially right.
What if there is just something wrong with me…Dorothy would sometimes wonder.
She had watched Reginald and Gail become close and Jimmy and Linda had even mentioned getting married after high school. Jimmy had given Linda his class ring and football lettermen’s jacket right before the junior prom, which was only a step away from an engagement ring. Linda would often share her experiences of “parking” with Jimmy and even Reginald and Gail had started occasionally doing a little of that themselves. One of Jimmy’s and Linda’s parking experiences had resulted in them going all the way in the beginning of the summer before their senior year. Two nights after that, Linda and Dorothy were sleeping over at Gail’s house where Linda did nothing but gush about her first time with Jimmy.
“I think Jimmy’s going to get me an engagement ring for Christmas this year too!” Linda said as she painted her fingernails a pale pink color, “I think we should have the wedding the summer after graduation. Of course, I want you two as my bridesmaids.”
“But, Linda, aren’t you worried about…you know…getting pregnant before then?” Dorothy asked.
“Jimmy and I talked about that,” Linda had answered, “if that happens, we’ll just have to get married sooner than planned.”
“Well, I’m glad you figured that one out,” Gail said with a dry tone as she painted her toenails deep red.
Linda looked at Gail, rolled her eyes, and returned to her pink nail polish. Gail had a rather dry, sarcastic sense of humor that Dorothy really enjoyed, especially when Gail used that humor to counter Linda’s over-confidence. Gail also had a bold, more vampy appearance to Linda’s softer, more feminine appeal. The dark red polish that Gail was using went well with her short, dark hair, brown eyes, and pale skin. Even Gail’s bedroom, was red, her favorite color. Dorothy also thought that Gail looked a little like Louise Brooks or Clara Bow. The three girls, all attractive in their own way, seemed unlikely friends, but complimented one another rather well.
Dorothy watched her two friends, Linda seated at Gail’s desk and Gail on the floor. Gail had a small tray of nail polish among a few other cosmetics on the vanity table by her desk and Linda had brought her very large makeup case which was packed to capacity. Seated on Gail’s bed with her back leaning against the wall, Dorothy glanced down at her own plain fingernails as Linda and Gail continuing their chatter about something Dorothy wasn’t paying to close attention to. The truth was, reading wasn’t Dorothy’s only interest. She did like boys and there was one boy in particular from school who she did like, quite a lot. But she didn’t have Linda’s confidence or Gail’s sharp wit. Dorothy had a more quiet intelligence to her. She wasn’t quick to share personal details about herself and even Linda and Gail were unaware of the crush she had on Carl Turner. There was one boy whom Dorothy was close to and that was her cousin, Cletus. Cletus was the son of her father’s older brother, Ronald and his wife, Eunice.
Most of the Blake side of Dorothy’s family lived in Illinois and Iowa, but some, like her Uncle Ronald and Aunt Eunice and their sons Chayton, Raymond, and Cletus lived in the Chatanooga, Tennessee area. When her grandfather, Gerard Blake, married her grandmother, Violet Hyland, they had purchased a plot of land in Tennessee and there, they had their children: Joseph, Abigail, Ronald, and Matthew (Dorothy’s father). Matthew Blake ended up attending college in the Plains, NY where he would meet, court, and get married to Liz Whitman. Matthew would work at a publishing firm that had merged with Livingston Publishing in 1925. The merge had occurred as a means of allowing the two companies to stay afloat through the looming Depression.
Dorothy was an only child and regarded Cletus as more of a brother than a cousin. He was a year younger than she was and like Dorothy, he had gotten some of the best of his gene pool when it came to his looks but lacked the confidence in working his charm with the opposite sex. Cletus was especially shy if he happened to really like the girl and at age sixteen, he still hadn’t been out on a date. And like Dorothy, Cletus’s friends were after him about why, at age sixteen, he still hadn’t had any real experience with girls. It also didn’t help that Cletus’s older brothers, Chayton and Raymond, had no problems with talking to girls. Chayton had just gotten married that spring and Raymond had a steady girl that seemed to be headed for a permanent arrangement. But as for Cletus and Dorothy, the only “dates” they had been on were the times one family would visit the other and the two cousins would go to the cinema and see a picture or to a soda shop. Dorothy did look forward to the trips to visit her Uncle Ronald and his family down in Tennessee. They were also a musical family. Cletus and her Uncle Ronald had taught Dorothy a little guitar and while she didn’t consider herself as good a player as her cousin and uncle, it was something she enjoyed. She also found she didn’t have a bad voice, either. It was sweet, soft, and lingered a little on the childlike side, but she had received compliments from those who had heard her. She was pretty shy when it came to singing and playing guitar around her friends and normally kept it to the privacy of her bedroom.
Knowing Cletus and his problems with communicating with girls allowed Dorothy to take comfort in the fact that she wasn’t the only high school student on the planet who had a hard time with dating. She was still staring at her bare nails in her lap, lost in her thoughts, when she heard Linda calling to her.
“Huh?” Dorothy looked up to see Linda and Gail staring at her as they sat with their nails drying.
“I was asking you if you wanted a nail color,” Linda answered, “I think you should try this peachy color I have in my makeup case.”
“Sure,” Dorothy said. She got up and reluctantly headed over to the powder blue case Linda kept her cosmetics in and began sorting through the bottles of nail color.
“I swear Linda, you have enough to open up your own five and dime,” Dorothy said, which got a chuckle out of Gail.
“Tell me about it,” Gail said.
“Hey, looking pretty takes work,” Linda said, “it’s what got me Jimmy.”
“Really?” Gail said, “I thought it was your grace, charm and wit that got him.”
Dorothy let out a snorted laugh and Linda stuck her tongue out at Gail before blowing on her drying fingernails.
“My point is,” Linda said, “Dorothy, it’s senior year. You missed out on homecoming and the prom last year. This year you’re going if I have to knock you out with a club and drag you there in a sack.”
Dorothy slowly picked out the bottle of peach nail color. Here we go again…
“Dorothy, I actually have to agree with Linda,” Gail said.
“See?! Come on, don’t sit this year out,” Linda said, “you need to have some fun before we graduate.”
“I have fun,” Dorothy said.
“Dorothy, you’re always reading,” Linda said rolling her eyes, “the only male figure you seem to spend any time around is James Livingston’s statue outside the library.”
“Hey! Hello, I like to read too,” Gail retorted, “and Reginald doesn’t see it as a bad thing.”
“And I’m not saying that it is,” Linda said, “but you also have to let boys know that you’re available to them. Otherwise, they are going to pass you right by just like they have been all throughout high school.”
Dorothy’s eyes lowered to the floor as she felt the heat creeping up to her face.
“Linda,” Gail said, shooting her friend a warning look.
“Hey, I’m just telling it like it is,” Linda said, “I’m just trying to help. Dorothy, come on. There has to be a boy you’re interested in.”
Dorothy fidgeted with the peach nail color bottle as she felt her heart begin to race. Maybe she would just come out and confess her crush on Carl as it appeared that Linda wasn’t going to leave her alone until she got an answer. But then what?
Carl was known for being a wise guy and somewhat of a daredevil, quite the opposite of Dorothy. Dorothy figured that like Jimmy, Carl could have his pick of any girl in town. Dorothy was certain she wouldn’t be Carl’s type and feared embarrassing herself if the secret came out.
“Dorothy, come on,” Linda urged, “you have to like someone. I won’t believe you for a second if say no one.”
Dorothy drew in a breath before muttering, “Fine. I like Carl.”
“Who?” Linda asked.
“Carl!” Dorothy said, much louder this time. She then realized how loudly it had come out and hoped no one else had heard it. She peered over at her two friends who sat, staring at her with their jaws dropped. Then, Dorothy watched as the O of Linda’s mouth spread into a gleeful smile. Linda jumped up, clapping her hands and squealing, not seeming to care if she smeared her nail polish.
“Carl Turner,” Gail said looking satisfied with the answer.
“I knew it!” Linda said, throwing her arms around Dorothy.
“You did?” Dorothy said, slightly horrified.
“Well,” Linda replied pulling away from Dorothy, “not specifically that you liked him. But I knew there had to be somebody you were mad for.”
Dorothy rolled her eyes. “Please don’t get carried away, Linda. I’m not mad for him. I just find him to be good-looking and I like his personality.”
“Well, we have to get started on this!” Linda said, “Carl and Jimmy hang around together. Maybe I can put a word in—“
“No,” Dorothy insisted, cutting Linda off. An expression of disappointment crossed Linda’s face.
“Well Dorothy,” Gail said gently, “I don’t see how it could hurt. You like him and I don’t see why he wouldn’t like you.”
“Yeah!” Linda chimed in, “you just have to make it more known that you’re available.”
“Girls, I don’t think so,” Dorothy said, “Look, I gave you the answer to your question. Now caan we just forget about it? Please?”
“Dorothy,” Linda scolded, “sooner or later, you’re going to have to get out of this nun rut you’re in.”
Dorothy raised an eyebrow at Linda. “Nun rut?”
“You know Linda, you’re just the queen of tact,” Gail said.
“Hey, I’m just trying to help her by telling it like it is,” Linda said.
“Look Dorothy,” Gail interjected, “there are subtle ways you can let a guy know you’re interested. What’s the worst that can happen?”
“I die of embarrassment and am the laughing stock of the school and end up having to be homeschooled because I can never show my face in public again,” Dorothy said, “can we please forget about it?”
Linda thought for a moment before conceding. “Okay, fine. But only for the time being.”
And Linda would keep her word on that. The subject of Dorothy and Carl would not be brought up again for the remainder of the summer. Linda continued dating Jimmy and Gail would still be with Reginald. Dorothy would listen as her friends would talk about their dates and parking experiences. Reginald and Gail kept inching their way closer to what Jimmy and Linda had. Sometimes Linda would get very intimate in the details of her and Jimmy and while Gail would shake her head and scold Linda for revealing too much information, Dorothy could see that Gail’s curiosity was piqued and Dorothy had to admit, so was hers. She would sometimes see Carl that summer when she would go with Linda and Gail to meet Jimmy and Reginald and Carl would be among the group of kids they would all be hanging around with. Dorothy would ignore the knowing glances that Linda would throw in her direction during such occasions.
September came and their senior year was officially in session. On the first day, Dorothy, Linda, and Gail walked to school together as they had done since seventh grade.
And as they had done since Dorothy’s two friends had gotten boyfriends, the trio dispersed when Jimmy and Reginald joined Linda and Gail. Jimmy and Reginald greeted Dorothy before they stole Linda and Gail away.
“See you at lunchtime!” Linda called to Dorothy.
Dorothy gave her friends a small smile and looked toward the group of boys that Jimmy and Reginald had come away from. She spotted Carl and had a brief thought go through her head to maybe take the advice of Linda and Gail.
What would it hurt to walk passed Carl and maybe try to smile at him a little? Nothing! But her nerves ended up getting the better of her and instead, she hurried inside the school building doing her best to avoid any possible eye contact with Carl.
Dorothy was walking toward the lunch area to meet up with Linda and Gail after her third period biology class. Her first three classes had occurred without incident and so far, this first day of school had not been any different from other school days. But when she was halfway to the school cafeteria, a strange, yet familiar, voice called to her.
Dorothy felt her heart lurch into her throat at the realization of who it was. She slowly turned around and sure enough, she was standing face to face with Carl Turner.
This has to be a dream. It has to be. Please let it be…
Her ability to speak failed her and she felt her limbs starting to go soft as she fought to maintain her stance. Carl was in fact there in front of her, giving her a friendly smile and his hazel-green eyes glistening. Dorothy’s gaze shifted from Carl’s eyes to his chestnut brown hair.
So thick and gorgeous…
Dorothy could hear the blood racing in her ears. She tried to get control of herself and the situation. She took in a breath. It was now or never.
“Hello, Carl,” she managed to get out, cringing at how squeaky her voice sounded.
After a couple years of simply watching and daydreaming about Carl from a distance, here they stood in the middle of the hallway with Dorothy trying hard to not make a fool out of herself.
“Well, I guess I’ll see you around?” Carl offered after a very long and awkward pause.
Dorothy nodded, clearing her throat. “Yes. Yes, of course. Have a nice day.” She was relieved her voice was back to normal.
Carl quirked the left corner of his lips into a small, half smile before he turned and headed back down the hall. Dorothy stood watching him until he turn the corner. She let out the air she had been holding in as the other students filed passed her. Her knees were still shaking and she clutched her books, hanging onto them as if they were a life preserver. The girl’s lavatory was only a few feet away from where she stood. She ran inside and burst into a stall, latching it shut. Dorothy leaned against the wall, shutting her eyes as a way of keeping the walls around her from spinning. She crouched down with her head lowered taking in and letting out deep breaths and began to feel better. When Dorothy left the stall, she caught her reflection in the mirror above one of the sinks and saw that all color had drained from her face. She splashed cold water on her cheeks before reaching into her purse to pull out the lipstick that Linda had given her. Dorothy opened up the tube and stared down at the glossy, pink shade.
“With your coloring, you can definitely wear this shade,” Dorothy remembered Linda telling her. Dorothy began to put it to her lips when she heard the final bell ring. With that, she closed the tube back up, threw it back into her purse, and dashed to her locker to retrieve her lunch before dashing to the lunchroom. She quickly spotted Gail and Linda and headed straight for the table. Linda and Gail looked at their friend in surprise as Dorothy collapsed into the seat across from them.
“There you are,” Gail said.
“Honey, what happened to you? You look as though you’ve seen a ghost,” Linda asked.
“You’ll never believe what just happened to me,” Dorothy said, “I can hardly believe it myself.”
“What?” Linda pressed.
Dorothy took a deep breath before answering. “Carl Turner talked to me! Just like that, out of nowhere.”
“That’s wonderful, Dorothy,” Linda said as she and Gail exchanged glances.
“It almost seemed as though he may have been waiting for me to come out of my class,” Dorothy continued, “but why would he do that?”
“I don’t know,” Gail said slowly and shrugged.
“But how would he even know my schedule,” Dorothy said, “unless…”
The sense of realization hit Dorothy with the intensitiy of a locomotive. She studied her two friends sitting across from her with rather suspicious expressions of guilt on their faces.
“Wait a minute, what’s going on,” Dorothy demanded.
“Nothing…” Linda said. But Linda’s denial proved futile as the look in her eyes said it all.
“It isn’t nothing,” Dorothy said, her feeling of dread and realization pulsing through her as Gail shifted her eyes away.
“Oh…please tell me you didn’t!” Dorothy cried.
“Didn’t what?” Linda asked.
“Don’t be coy, Linda!” Dorothy said, “you know exactly what I mean! You told him, didn’t you? After I asked you not to!”
“I most certainly didn’t!” Linda said.
Dorothy turned her gaze to Gail.
“Don’t look at me,” Gail said, “I didn’t say a word.”
Dorothy sat glaring at her friends. “Well somebody did and I want to know who. Now!”
Linda fidgeted in her seat while Gail turned her eyes down at her food and then back up at Linda.
“Alright,” Linda finally said, “I may have mentioned it to Jimmy and then he might have mentioned it to Carl.”
“Oh God…” Dorothy moaned. She could feel her appetite leaving her.
“Look, I’m sorry, okay,” Linda said, “but I think you’re overreacting. This is good! Probably the best thing that’s ever happened to you!”
Dorothy looked up. “Please enlighten me then, Linda.”
“Well,” Linda replied, “he talked to you. He didn’t go running for the hills.”
Dorothy paused. “Alright, fine. I guess you do have a point. But what if he was just doing it out of pity?”
“Will you stop second guessing yourself,” Gail said.
“Yeah, that isn’t going to get you anywhere,” Linda said.
“Well in your expert opinion, what do you think I should do,” Dorothy said. She couldn’t help the small trace of sarcasm in her voice.
Linda thought for a moment. “Well, you could maybe walk by him and see if he talks to you again. If he tries to make conversation, you know him talking to you just now wasn’t just a one time deal!”
“I don’t know,” Dorothy said, though she was starting to feel a little more confident than she was earlier.
“Dorothy, how will you know unless you do it,” Gail said.
Dorothy sighed. “Okay. Maybe you two are right. But I still wish you would’ve asked me first.”
“Would you have let us if we did?” Linda asked.
“No,” Dorothy said.
“Well, there you go. See? Jimmy and I did you a favor,” Linda said.
There was another pause before Dorothy said, “Alright, but at least let me wait until tomorrow. So I can maybe be a little more prepared…”
“You read my mind,” Linda said, “because I was just going to suggest my coming over tonight to help you decide what to wear!”
Gail shook her head. Of course Linda was going to use this as an opportunity to makeover someone. Clothes, hair, and makeup were Linda’s favorite subjects aside from Jimmy.
“Fine,” Dorothy said, “come over and do your worst.”
Linda smiled, pleased with herself. Dorothy picked at her food, relieved to have the subject of conversation change from her and Carl. She sat, anticipating Linda coming over her house that evening and talking to Carl again that following day.
She tried to keep down what she could of her lunch and kept telling herself that this was nothing to be anxious over. But Dorothy’s life was about to change. More than she knew at that time.
Read on to Chapter 10.