A Legacy of Love
Copyright © 2021 Jeffery Young All rights reserved
The class of ’76 was just a temporary guest to the land of the sharks. Each year, Hillview High School contributed five hundred new cit- izens to the Florida community. Each year, there were more fami- lies, more marriages, more deaths, and more births, and Hillview High School always held its own. The big five hundred! It wasn’t a very special school, by any means, just a school where teenagers from ages fifteen to eighteen spent six hours each day, learning, playing, or both. But the key difference, if there was one, was the fact that these people had pride in their local high school. They were proud to go to a football game, thrilled to be called “Rah, Rah, School Spiriters” and just as thrilled when someone asked if they were from the “land of the sharks.”
The heart of Hillview High didn’t lie within the confines of the stuffy little office building, which was more of a makeshift barracks than a house of administration. Instead, it lay in the mammoth gym room where many a spirited pep rally was held. During school hours, the coaches held various classes in physical education there. However, after school, Hillview’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were awakened from their sleep as the school spirit was conjured by the sound of dancing feet. It was in that room where Mrs. Briner’s dancing cheerleaders gathered to practice some of their special routines.
The janitor was sweeping the gym floor as some of the cheer- leaders trickled through the door. His work was silent and thorough as he broomed his way over every speck of dust blown in by the wind or carried in by a forgetful student who didn’t wipe their feet. Nevertheless, a dirty floor was to be cleaned, and he was the only one to do it. The girls walked over to some of the indoor stands and sat down. Each had her uniform on, a brightly colored skirt, which was accented by a blouse with many folds in the material, revealing the school hues. It was the official uniform of the Hillview Dancing Cheerleaders. The janitor, however, paid little attention to the highly spirited and colorfully dressed cheerleaders as they carelessly walked through his neatly stacked piles of dirt.
“I wonder when Mrs. Briner will be here?” asked Jill Sauls as she sat with the other girls in the stands. “You’d think she’d be here by now!”
“Oh,” answered Patty Brown as she finished her Geometry homework. “She’s probably talking to Miss Perfect, Beth Davis. How she ever became the captain of the cheerleaders, I’ll never know!” Then she turned to the girl next to her. “What do you think, Marge?”
Marjorie Williams was casually primping herself in a small compact mirror, not really paying any attention to the other girls until Patty nudged her shoulder.
“Well, Marge?” repeated Patty.
“Well what?” asked Marjorie innocently.
“What do you think of Beth Davis as captain of the cheerleaders?” Marjorie sat quietly for a moment as she contemplated the
question. Then she got the answer she was looking for. “Well, I guess she’s better than the captain we had last year.”
“Do you mean Diana Peters?” asked Terri Thurnsgood. She carefully wiped off her sword, which was one of many props used in the girls’ dance.
“I thought she was okay,” interjected Wendy Bows, the eaves- dropping dishwater blond.
“But look at it like this,” began Marjorie. “Whose idea was it to sell candy instead of greeting cards?” Then she accented her point by making flamboyant hand gestures. “We made more money this year alone compared to the last three years put together, and it isn’t even jamboree time. I don’t know what you think, but I like the way she’s been running things.”
“That’s only because you’re the assistant captain!” accused Patty. She stood and walked to the door looking for Mrs. Briner. Then Patty reseated herself. “It’s that smiley face Beth always has! It’s just
creepy to have someone smiling all the time like that…and the way she carries that Bible with her is weird man—really WEIRD!”
“Oh, come off it, Patty!” commanded Marjorie. “You know that everybody here likes Beth, so why don’t you fly up a tree?”
“You’re just jealous, Patty,” interrupted Jill. “You can’t stand the fact that Beth was elected to the student council, and you weren’t!”
Patty flashed her Spanky-like glare and put her fist on her hip. Pam, another cheerleader, walked in. When she saw Patty, she imme- diately burst into laughter. Patty turned toward Pam and hissed!
Pam laughed all the harder.
“Uh-oh,” said Terri. “Looks like the fat’s gonna hit the fan!” “Just what do you think you’re laughing at?” snarled Patty. “I
don’t think anything’s funny!”
“Oh, Patty,” Pam replied. “It’s just the way you look when you’re
mad.” Then Pam leaned close to her and put an arm around Patty’s shoulder. “Your eyes bulge like a bullfrog, and your neck stretches like a turtle.”
Patty was aghast. “Well, thanks a lot, Pam! You’re a real heap, you know that?”
When Patty said that, Pam’s humor soured. She stopped her laughing and sat quietly, folding her arms. There were other cheer- leaders who sat at the top of the stands and carried on their own little conversations. Patty decided to join them. Marjorie, however, remained seated and talked to Jill, Terri, Pam, and Wendy.
At the top of the stands, Gloria, Sharyn, Debbie, and Nancy were quietly discussing some of the dates they had. Debbie was mak- ing some rather interesting illustrations with her fingers, when Patty joined them.
“And there I was,” Debbie continued, “holding on to the back seat as he—”
“Hey, everybody,” Patty interrupted. “What do you think of Beth as captain?”
“Why did you interrupt me?” demanded Debbie. She was peeved because she was just about to get to the good part of her story. “I don’t go around interrupting you.”
“I just wanted to know what you thought about Beth as Captain of the cheerleaders.”
“I think she’s okay,” replied Debbie.
“She was real good in that play,” said Sharyn, another drama student. “I’m just surprised she didn’t try out for any plays this year.”
“What does being in a play have to do with it?” asked Nancy.
“I think way down in the translation,” began Gloria Bothby, “that Sharyn sees Beth as I do when I play tennis with her after prac- tice. Beth is the highly competitive, hardworking leadership type, who belongs in the capacity of captain, and furthermore—”
“Yeah, yeah, Gloria,” said Sharyn, “enough already! Patty, what we’re trying to say is that we think Beth is a pretty good captain, don’t you?”
Patty was outnumbered. “Oh sure, I was just wondering!”
Patty left the girls at the top of the stands and rejoined Marjorie and the others. Marjorie stood on one side of Patty, and Pam stood on the other. They sensed a point had been made, and they wanted to cash in on it.
“Well?” Marjorie folded her arms. “What did they say?”
“Is she?” continued Pam. “Or isn’t she?”
“What do you think?” returned Patty. Then she got up and
walked out just as Mrs. Briner and Beth came in.
“I wonder what’s wrong with her?” Mrs. Briner asked.
“She had to go to the bathroom!” Marjorie laughed.
“Don’t fall in!” called Pam.
Beth and Mrs. Briner just stood there looking puzzled.
Then Beth walked over to the stands and sat down next to her
best friend Marjorie. The two were alike in many different ways. Both had blond hair, although Beth’s was a shade darker, and each of them sported rich suntans. They were about the same size—some- where between 5’6″ and 5’8″. Yet the only real difference between them, however, had nothing to do with their physical or mental con- figuration. Both were good students as well as good athletes. It laid in a reality far deeper than things someone could see with their eyes. Beth was a Christian, and Marjorie was not.
Mrs. Briner clapped her hands, calling for their attention. “Okay, girls,” she began. “I have a meeting. I must leave in a few minutes, so we’re not going to have practice today.” There was a spo- radic round of applause. “Since you girls know the routine you’ll be doing at the Spring Jamboree, I’ve asked Beth to meet with you to tell you exactly what I want.”
“Why don’t we meet at my house?” suggested Marjorie. “We’ll have more room at my house and its closer to the school.”
“Well,” Mrs. Briner asked. “Is that all right?”
“Sure,” replied Beth.
“Okay, girls,” Mrs. Briner said. “Meeting adjourned.”
Beth scurried around her room to get things organized before
she was due at Marjorie’s. She straightened the wrinkles in the bed. Then she walked over to the mirror and brushed her hair until it lay softly upon her shoulders. With a little bit of makeup, her eyes glowed brown amid a deep blue sea. Just a spot of lipstick, she thought. She didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. After she was satisfied with her appearance, she quickly rushed into the kitchen where her mother, Ann, was busily making supper.
“Hi, Beth,” Ann said with a smile. “Are you going somewhere tonight?”
Beth walked over to her and gently kissed her mother on the cheek. “Yeah, the cheerleaders are practicing our routine for the Spring Jamboree. I have to be at Marjorie’s at four thirty. Is there anything ready to eat?”
“There is some lunch meat in the refrigerator, and the dressing is in the cabinet over the sink.”
Beth opened the refrigerator and took out the lunchmeat and some bread. Then she walked over to the drawer by the stove and pulled out a bread knife. Going to the cabinet, Beth grabbed the mayonnaise and mustard and went about her work of making a sandwich.
“Is Dad home yet?” asked Beth as she went for some lettuce in the refrigerator.
“Not yet, dear,” replied her mother. “Could you get some onions from the pantry?”
Beth walked to the pantry and got the onions and gave them to her mother. “I was wondering if he was still mad after our argument last night.”
Ann stopped her preparation and looked at her daughter. “He didn’t say anything about it this morning. Your father has never been able to stay mad for very long. He always seems to cool off in a hurry.”
“I just wonder what makes us fight like that.” Beth spread some mustard on her sandwich and added cheese.
Her mother paused and thought for a moment. “I think that it’s because you both are so much alike. I’ve lived with your father for twenty years, and believe me, you’re both as stubborn as a mule! But your big problem is the fact that you have had bad timing for a lot of things. Take last night as an example. You shouldn’t have asked your father for that dress just after he had come home from work.”
“Well, I had to have it for the Spring Jamboree. I might be in the Jamboree Court!”
“Still, you should have waited until he was rested. After all, $300 is a lot of money.”
They both giggled a bit. Beth finally finished making her sand- wich and poured a glass of milk.
“Yes, I suppose you’re right,” Beth said as she carried her sand- wich to the breakfast bar and sat down. “I just hope that dad still isn’t mad.” Beth looked at the clock and saw that it was 4 o’clock. She rushed by taking three bites of her sandwich.
“No,” Ann Davis replied. “I don’t think he’s still mad. He called me this afternoon at the office and asked me what size dress you wear. If anything, he probably loves it when you spar with him.”
Beth’s eyes opened wide. With her mouth still full, she choked a loud and happy. “He did?” She quickly swallowed and repeated more clearly, “He did?”
“That’s right, Beth,” Ann said. “He did! He said that he’d give it to you after the tailor was finished as a surprise.”
Beth took another bite of her sandwich, swallowed half of it, and said, “All right!” Then she washed it down with her milk. “Did he say when he’d bring it home? Is it the one I wanted?”
“Yes, your father said he’d bring it home when it was ready, and I told him that it was the one that had the gold flowers and wide collar.”
“Did you tell him where to get it?” Beth asked, washing her hands.
“Of course, dear, at Christy’s Boutique,” Ann replied.
“That’s it!” She went to the sink, washed out her glass, and left it there. She glanced over to the clock on the wall. It was 4:25 p.m. “I gotta go!”
Beth kissed her mother and rushed out to the garage. Mrs. Davis scurried after her and stopped in the doorway in time to see Beth opening the door to her 68 Maroon Fury III.
“What time are you going to be home?” asked Mrs. Davis.
Beth paused at the car door. “I shouldn’t be any later than about five or five thirty. Maybe six, if the girls decide to stick around and
“Gossip again?” giggled the teenager’s mother.
“Mother!” snapped Beth. Then she smiled and purred, “Yeah.”
There were several cars filling the small driveway in front of the Williamses’ home when Beth arrived. Bold and colorful bumper stickers on each car proclaimed staunch support for Hillview High School with daring slogans like “Hillview Sharks Eat Sailors” or “Don’t Jaw around with Hillview Sharks!” Beth parked her car on the curb and got out. The sounds of girlish laughter echoed from within the house. Beth locked her car door and weaved her way through the many cars, which had filled the driveway, to the front door. The big Spring Jamboree game was just a few weeks away, and all the cheer- leaders were meeting every day after school to practice the welcoming dance for the Jamboree King and Queen.
“Hi, Beth!” Marjorie and the other girls called out as they opened the front door and welcomed their late team captain.
“Sorry I’m late,” Beth replied, “I needed a bite.” “That’s okay, Beth,” said Marjorie.
“Yeah,” agreed Pam. “Let’s just hurry up and get started.”
Beth trudged up the stepping stone walkway, which was lined with bright red roses. An elegant butterfly fluttered about majesti- cally from flower to flower with the poise and grace of a ballerina. It caught Beth’s eye as it flew by and right into a spider’s web. The but- terfly was quickly entangled in the spider’s web. Suddenly, the butter- fly became engulfed by a strange light, which appeared to be a cross.
“Come on, Beth,” called Marjorie.
“Yeah, sure,” Beth said softly.
Beth glanced once more at the ugly spider as it quietly ripped
the colorful wings from the insect and allowed them to fall to the ground. She knelt down and picked one of them up. The colors shimmered like rhinestones. There was a speck of red at the tip of the wing. Blood? It isn’t possible. The red spot disappeared.
“What are you doing, Beth?” asked Marjorie. “Come on! Hurry
Beth dropped the butterfly wing and joined the other girls
inside. She walked over to a chair and sat down. Then she glanced down at her hand. Suddenly, the red spot appeared once more, except this time it was on her.
“Blood,” she whispered. Then Marjorie’s telephone rang. Beth turned away for a second, but when she looked back, the blood had disappeared.
“Beth?” Marjorie’s mother called, entering the living room. “It’s your mother. She says that Mrs. Briner called, and she wants you to call her back. I think your mother said something about you girls performing for some Australian baseball players.”
“Australia?” asked one of the girls.
Beth’s surprise showed on her face. “I’ll call Mrs. Briner tonight and ask her what this is all about, okay?”
Beth took a deep breath and brushed away a lock of hair that had fallen over her eyes. “Australians.”
Suddenly the blood on her hand reappeared. *****
The smell of cigar smoke was so thick that the aides of William E. Paris, president of Paris Phosphates International, dreaded to even open the door, much less stay in there and listen to him rave. However, that’s exactly what his special aide-de-camp, Jones, had to do. The Capone-looking executive, Paris, stood at a huge picture window, stroking his dark mustache and puffing on his cigar. He looked like a kingly lord studying his empire from a mountaintop. The man shook when he raised his hands. His face became red, and his cigar burned like a blazing torch as he orated and puffed on it profusely!
“I don’t care what you have to do to quietly get rid of that guy Navelle,” Paris fumed, “but I want him off the paper!”
“I’m sure, sir, that the Trenton City Herald had nothing to do with today’s editorial,” Jones explained, “but they have deadlines, and it must have slipped under the rug.”
Paris extinguished his present cigar and lit up a fresh one. “Oh, they knew what they were doing all right! They’ve been trying to get at me since that land deal in Ocala. I raked in a bundle selling that phosphate to the Russians!”
“Thanks to your friend, who just so happens to be the White House counsel!” Jones interjected.
“Gary Burgoyne,” Paris laughed. “If it weren’t for him, I’d have lost it all!” Then he puffed his cigar and blew smoke rings. “Do you know that he’s arranged for the president to visit Trenton on the first of May?”
“No, sir…I”—Jones made a note on his clipboard—“didn’t know that.”
“That’s what makes me the president and you the aide.” Then he paced the floor in front of his huge oak desk. “I don’t care how you do it, shut Navelle up. I got a bundle in trying to get us some good press by touring them Aussies throughout the United States, but if Navelle ruins it, Jones…” Paris sat on his desktop and shook an accusing finger. “I’ll have a new head on my mantle at home, right next to the hyena!”
Jones swallowed hard and changed a page on his clipboard. “Mr. Halden, the Australians’ coach, says that they need more money if you intend them to reach Trenton on time.”
Paris’s eyes swelled amid his now red cheeks. “What is he doing with the money we’ve been sending him, lighting cigars? It’s that guy Orwell, his business manager. He looked like an idiot when I first met him. He probably has everybody in diamonds now, the jerk! Tell Halden, he will get his money, but I want our people to see that it’s spent right!” Paris jabbed his cigar in the air to make that point clear.
Jones looked down at his clipboard and made another note. “Your personal detective has said that your son Billy has been hang- ing around the high school again.”
“Oh no,” Paris groaned as he stood and walked behind his desk to be seated. “I want him to stay away from there! I don’t want any more trouble like we had in Atlanta. That’s what I get for letting him stay with his mother!” Then he slapped his hand on his desk. “Have you heard the way he talks? Billy was born in Chicago, but he talks like he’s from Memphis! He got that from his mother—a true belle of the South who enjoys her weekly alimony check!”
“The detectives say that he’s already encountered a few of the female students.”
Jones held his clipboard in the small of his back. “If something should develop,” the man shifted in his stance, “what shall I do?”
Paris stood and walked over to Jones and poked his finger in Jones’s chest. “But if something goes wrong, you’re going to pay everybody off, just like we did in Atlanta! I don’t want any bad press!”
Beth sat quietly on her bed and peered out her window. The sun was slowly going down, and it gave the sky a rich and fluent blend of colors. The cheerleaders finished their practice earlier than usual, and Beth was home before six that evening. After calling Mrs. Briner, Beth decided she’d go up to her room and do some homework. She looked beyond the horizon and found the sun burning like a red disk above the bay. Her eyes filled with tears. She bowed her head
and closed her eyes. A tear dripped down her cheek, and she looked again to the horizon. The seagulls squawked loudly in their separate groups. They seemed to cry out with joy as they dove for fish. The sound of the breaking waves filled the silence as the tide washed into the bay. Beth sat quietly at peace with herself and at peace for the time being, with all her worries.
ABOUT JEFFERY YOUNG
Jeffery Young is an award-winning writer and Army veteran whose multi-faceted career has included work in the culinary field and in the newspaper industry. Jeffery holds degrees in communication and criminal justice, and his work with AmVets California garnered interest from President Ronald Regan. He is also the author of the book, “Tales Out of Church,” which is a collection of short stories told by an overimaginative Catholic priest.
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I haven’t done a book haul in a while so here we go! These are all the books that I have picked up in the last two months or so. Let me know in the comments below if you have read any of these and what you thought of them or the most recent book you have hauled that you really like!
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