This is the seventh letter I received, posted a month after the last. By this time I had accepted my role as middleman between Bobby Lee/Betty Jo and Ms. Brown, caring little now about the “who” and “why.” I did wonder, however, if Ms. Brown ever answered the emails, and what she might have written. Maybe someday I would find out. / As before, this piece is un-edited, the names have been changed, and the State intentionally omitted.
Dear Ms. Brown,
It’s me again, Betty Jo Sprigger. Hope you don’t mind, but I really like writing to you. You’re extra special, and so much better than my journal ‘cause you’re real and don’t smudge-up when my tears sometimes drip.
Anyway, to get right to the tip of the tail, I’d like to ask for your advice. You are probably aware of what happened at Homecoming, as I know Bobby Lee would have written you that very night, or at least the next day. Excepting that, he didn’t know what happened after he left. Fact is, after those pictures were shown of him and Fuzzy dancing, I didn’t step away from him because I thought he was gay or something like that. I backed up in total amazement because I was so proud of him for learning how to dance (yep, I’ve seen him on the dance floor, shifting foot to foot like Frankenstein on a patch of red-hot coals). And though I really wanted to walk out with BL and Fuzzy, I was afraid I’d only embarrass him more, especially as he looked pretty close to throwing up. So…I had to let him go.
Well, I got angry about then. At Jug for getting pats on the back for his latest victory over Bobby Lee; and at the other kids who laughed along with the football team; and at me…maybe most of all. I still don’t know where my nerve came from, and I can hardly remember walking up to Jug – but I’ll never forget the slap across the face I gave him, and the stunned silence that followed as I walked out the door.
I’m an outlaw now. As Jug shuns someone, so goes the school. And you know, Ms. Brown? I’m proud of it. Just to see the thousand-word smile Bobby Lee gave me the next school day, having heard about what I did, made everything in my world okay (I’m still not supposed to have anything to do with him, per momma, but then, maybe the wind’s changing…).
But, that’s not exactly why I’m writing.
Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
See, down here in my part of the state, there’s a saying – “Life can turn on the twist of a hog’s tail.” And I believe I went and twisted that tail. ‘Cause Bobby Lee is acting funny. Not in a bad or weird way mind you, but rather in a more confident way, like he knows something no one else knows. And Fuzzy’s following the pattern like a caboose, closed lipped, not even passing along notes about BL like he used to. Which left me wondering, what’s up? Then last week I saw the first challenge stuck on the school’s bulletin board. It was signed by “The Wizard” in big letters, and said that on Halloween night he would take command of Creedy’s hill at 9 pm. Then it went on and challenged Jug and the football team to try and take the hill away from him!
I should explain that Creedy’s lot has this big ol’ hill at one end. It backs to Dugan’s Creek, and over the years, due to the dredging of the creek, sediment and dirt have piled up to make the hill more like a mountain. Anyway, new challenges were posted almost every day, leaving the whole school wondering – who’s the Wizard?
Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Ms. Brown, between you and me, I’m pretty sure Bobby Lee’s the Wizard. And jeepers-creepers, he’s going to get slaughtered! Likely by ghosts and goblins and hobos and chainsaw murderers and vampires and pirates – as every Halloween Jug has a big costume party at his house (his dad, Sheriff Del, has one of the biggest houses in the valley). Anyway, here’s where I need your advice. Knowing that I love BL and don’t want him hurt, and that my momma will probably ground me for the next year; do you think it would be a stupid idea if I decided to help Bobby Lee on top of Creedy’s hill? Would it be lady-like? If so, would you wear a Red Riding Hood costume to hide your identity? Or would you just wear boots, a ten-gallon hat and a bandana?
Signed: An Outlaw in Hog Swallow, —
What advice would you offer?