Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C9-6

When the weekend arrived, the girls were helping their mother prepare dinner when someone knocked at the door.

“Jane, honey, will you get the door while I finish basting the chicken and Olivia butters the rolls?” Brielle asked sweetly.

“Sure, Mom,” Jane chirped as she set the bowl of mashed potatoes down and washed her hands.

She answered the door to find Bruce on her doorstep. Her face lit up, as did Bruce’s.

“Hey!” She greeted, happy to see him.

“Well, hello, Ms. Home School,” Bruce greeted with a smile, “Can I come in?”

“Yeah, come on,” Jane said as she let Bruce inside.

Once Bruce was inside the house, Jane introduced him.

“Mom, Olivia, this is Bruce. A real close friend of mine from Thomasville High. Bruce, this is my mom, and my sister, Olivia.”

“Nice to meet you, Bruce,” Brielle told him as Olivia smiled and waved, “Would you like some dinner?”

“Thanks, Ms. Markowitz, but I wanted to see if I could take Jane out on a date,” Bruce said before turning and gazing at Jane with a smile, “I just got a car and I wanted to take her for a ride. They just finished fixing it up yesterday.”

Jane smiled and turned to her mother.

“Can I, Mom? Can I go with Bruce?”

Brielle smiled.

“I don’t see why not. It’s after five-thirty now. But I want you home at eleven. Okay?” Brielle told her.

“Definitely!” Jane agreed.

Bruce and Jane excitedly ran out of the house, hand in hand.

“Check out my wheels! What do ya think?” Bruce gushed.

Jane smiled as she gazed at the classic, shiny red, 1979 Trans Am with brand new tires and chrome hubcaps. Black racing strips ran down the center of the hood, the roof, and the back of the car. There was a spoiler on the tail with louvers on the back windshield.

“I love it,” Jane gushed.

Bruce walked over to the passenger side and opened the door for Jane. After Jane got in, he closed the door behind her, then walked around and got in. He slid down behind the wheel and put his seatbelt on before cranking the ignition. Jane followed his lead, clicking her seatbelt secure.

The motor loudly roared to life as Jane noticed that Bruce had glass packs. As he pressed down on the gas, the motor roared even louder, like a racecar. Jane smiled at Bruce. As soon as Bruce pulled out of the driveway, he bore down on the gas and took off as the motor screamed.

It was so loud that Grandma Bennett, only a few houses down, came out onto her front porch to see whose car was making so much noise. She stood on the porch and watched as the car sped by with Jane in the passenger seat, waving at her as they passed. She put her hands on her hips.

“What in the Sam Hill!” Grandma chided, watching the car speed out of sight.

Bruce took Jane to a new 80’s themed Malt Shop, called “The Black Trans Am,” that had opened a few months prior. When they walked in, they were amazed at the 80’s pop art that decorated the walls along with the framed old newspaper columns that had headlines that read, “The Iran Contra Affair,” “Chernobyl,” “Space Shuttle Challenger Explodes in Mid Air,” and “Reagan Wins Second Term.” They also saw old movie posters from theaters, such as ones for the movie, “Batman,” with the number 1989 engraved in a golden label under it. Others were, “Lethal Weapon, 1987” “Caddyshack, 1981,” and “Ghostbusters, 1984.”

There were posters of the era’s rockstars and music groups as well. A Purple Rain poster of Prince, perched on his motorcycle and others of Motley Crue, Dokken, Guns N Roses, Madonna, Depeche Mode, and Tears for Fears.

The seats at all the booths were refurbished backseats from old Trans Ams. They were black and looked polished to a perfect shine. On the other side of the dining area were vintage Atari arcade games like, Pac-Man, Asteroids, Q-bert, Berzerk, Pitfall, and Frogger. They also had Nintendo Arcade games, like Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, and Mike Tyson’s Punchout.

As the song “It’s My Life,” by Talk Talk, played over the restaurant’s speakers, Bruce and Jane looked around and were amazed.

“Boy, I would give anything to have been a teenager during the 80’s! I hear my parents talk and say what a cool decade the 80’s were!” Bruce said.

“But if you had been, you’d be in your 50’s now,” Jane said.

“True,”

“I’ll bet my mom would feel old as dirt coming in here. She was born in ’85. That’s almost 40 years ago,” Jane said, “I can’t imagine being that old.”

“My dad keeps warning me, ‘Son, you’re only young once. Enjoy it. Because tomorrow, you’ll be 50 and wonder where all the time went. He says it creeps up on you.”

“Yeah, Grandma B says the same thing.”

They took their seats at one of the booths and a thirty something waitress seated them and handed them their menus.

“I’ll give you a minute to look over the menu and return when you’re ready to order,” the waitress said kindly.

When the waitress returned for their orders, Bruce looked up.

“I’d like the Big Gnarly Cheeseburger and fries with a cherry 7up,” he told her.

“And I’d like a Mega Cheese Coney with a Coke,” Jane said.

The waitress jotted down their orders in her pad, then took their menus.

“Alright, we’ll have your orders out in about 20 minutes,” the waitress kindly assured.

Bruce then took Jane’s hand and gazed into her eyes.

“I heard about the knife fight. I don’t blame you for not coming back to Thomasville High, but we miss you, Jane. Me, Roxie, Andy, Brenda, and so many others. We really miss you. I just want you to know that,” he said softly.

“Yeah. I know,” Jane said, “But I’ve got to look out for me, and it isn’t safe there for me. Thomasville High is a very toxic place. It’s a very dangerous place for me.”

“I know. I don’t blame you, babe,” Bruce assured her as he reached across the table and gently brushed a stray strand of blond hair out of Jane’s face, “I’m going to talk to my father and see if he can’t transfer me to Pathways Home School too. Chicken Chandler, Breanna Lindsay and that bunch there. They’re giving me, Roxie, and rest of us a hard time. And the sheriff paid me a visit over the fight in the park. Says he’s going to be watching me like a hawk from now on.”

“I hope your father agrees to home school you, Bruce. Thomasville High blows and you don’t need to stay there.”

“Another thing that concerns me is that Breanna, Audrey, and the rest of those ditzy broads are going around trying to get information that’s none of their business-they’re asking a lot of questions about you and your mom. Word’s gotten around about your mom homeschooling you and now, they want to know where you live and where you hang out. Those dip wads just won’t let go. They’re like dogs with a bone.”

“I guess they just don’t have a life, do they?”

“Nope.”

“Well, enough about them,” Jane said, “I wanna talk about you and your car. And what you’ve been doing with yourself for the past few days.”

Bruce leaned in closer.

“Thinking about you. That’s what I’ve been doing the past few days. Being anxious to come see you and spend time with you. And when they finished my car today, your house was the first place I drove, to” he said softly.

Jane gazed into Bruce’s eyes as she smiled and reached over to pluck a piece of lint off Bruce’s shirt collar.

The Bully’s Worst Nightmare: Truth

To bullies, everything is all about appearances. They work hard every day to put on the best and most convincing fronts. It’s what they’re best at.

Bullies are some of the dumbest, most incompetent people on the face of the earth, yet they’re talented at making themselves look intelligent. They make themselves look bigger, better, and more important than they truly are. They always have an image to keep up. But that image is false.

Truth shatters that image and lays bare their imperfections. Confront them with the truth about themselves, and that facade immediately melts away, and those true colors bleed through.

The truth hurts, and it’s maddening. Anytime bullies are confronted with the reality of who they are, they become enraged, going from zero to one hundred in a split second. Instant bitch mode is activated, and all hell breaks loose.

But this is a typical reaction from bullies. Their overinflated egos can’t handle being wrong and someone calling it out. It’s as if you hold a mirror up to them and show them their naked reflections and all the stretch marks, cellulite, and bumps of fat they’ve for so long kept hidden from the rest of the world.

When another person addresses a bully’s bad behavior, especially in front of an audience, they immediately bristle. They will deny it; they will fight it, but they can’t escape it.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C9-5

The next day was Thursday. Brielle first stopped at Olivia’s school and turned in her books. As she made her way through the halls there, she noticed the stares she got from some of the teachers and office personnel nearby. Next, she arrived at Thomasville High School and went into the principal’s office with an armload of textbooks.

“Mrs. Markowitz, how may I help you?” the principal, Mr. Winchester asked.

“I’m just here to turn in Jane’s books. She will not be returning to Thomasville High,” Brielle told him.

“Oh, yes. We heard about the knife fight, and we were prepared to address it this morning when Jane returned,” the principal said.

“Yeah? Well, that won’t be necessary because she’s not coming back here,” Brielle quipped.

“And why’s that, may I ask?”

“I think you know why. I’m enrolling her in Pathways Christian Homeschool. So, she will still be getting an education. She just won’t be getting it here,” Brielle told him.

Mr. Winchester leaned back in his chair.

Brielle Confronts Mr. Winchester

“Well, just so you know, we’ve filed an unruly child report and recommended that Jane be shipped off to reform school,”

Brielle gave the principal a serious look.

“Jane is a good kid and she’s being bullied! She has been for a while now! And none of you are protecting her! Some of her teachers are even joining in! I won’t let you send her up! No!” Brielle refused.

“Then the district will have to recommend it. In cases like these, we’ll see that our powers supersede yours.” Vice principal Walker said as he walked in.

Brielle gripped each side of the principal’s desk and leaned in toward the principal.

“Not if I home-school her! And let’s get this straight! She is my child! Not yours! Now, here are her books. She won’t be needing them anymore.” Brielle said as she sat Jane’s textbooks on the principal’s desk in front of him. She then walked out.

“Well, I’m sorry you feel that way, Ms. Markowitz,” Mr. Winchester called back.

As Brielle headed for the front exit, she noticed a group of snotty teachers standing nearby and glaring at her.

“What are you looking at?” Brielle fired off before walking out of the school.

The teachers looked at each other and shook their heads.

Brielle Takes her Girls Out of Thomasville Schools

“That woman is crazy, just like her daughter,” remarked one teacher.

“Yep. The apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree,” remarked a second teacher.

“I feel sorry for her. I truly hope the poor dear gets the help she needs before it’s too late. And I hope she gets her daughter some help too,” remarked a third.

Unbeknownst to the school, Brielle went into the school wearing a body camera she’d ordered online, which was disguised as a bejeweled broach she wore on her blazer style jacket. Brielle knew that if she was going to protect her babies from these narcissistic psychopaths, she would have to gather her own evidence and she would have to seek a court and law outside of Thomasville and Glover County.

One of the teachers then went into the office and approached one of the secretaries.

“I need to make an important phone call,” she said, “And I need to make it from the school phone so that it looks better.”

“Sure,” the secretary said kindly as she handed the teacher the phone that sat upon her desk.

The teacher began dialing.

Mr. Winchester, who sat in his office, also picked up his phone and dialed.

Brielle Enrolls Jane and Olivia in Pathways Home School

Next, Brielle took the girls to Pathways Christian Homeschool. The mother and daughters sat in the lobby for thirty minutes before they were called back to the office of the Dean of the school.

The Dean was a kindly elderly man of seventy, who had forgone retirement and loved the work he did. A tall, thin, bespectacled, silver haired man, he shook Brielle’s hand and the hands of both girls.

“I’m Mr. Culpepper, the Dean here at Pathways. I’m happy that you chose Pathways to provide the remainder of your education and I’m confident that these girls will have a wonderful educational experience here,” the Dean said in a friendly tone.

“Now, I’m curious. Why did you choose Pathways?” he asked with a smile.

“Because the kids at Thomasville Middle and Thomasville High were bullying these girls. And when I was going to school here, I also experienced bullying. It was so bad that the bullying my classmates dished out to me bordered on mobbing. And now, some of the teachers who teach there today are former classmates as is the sheriff and most of the powers that be in this town. And since they can’t get to me so easily, they’re now targeting my daughters. I’m also pretty sure that they’re having their kids target them too,” Brielle explained, “One of the kids slashed Jane with a knife yesterday and that was the last straw.”

The Girls are Excited at the Prospect of Home School

“Oh, yes. I hear that things are really bad in the Thomasville schools. In fact, they’re quite dangerous places to learn for a lot of kids. We have several students here at Pathways who were bullied at Thomasville Middle and High Schools. I remember getting their school records. And when I looked at them, I noticed their grades were poor and they had negative marks by the teachers there. But when they transferred here and began attending, their grades skyrocketed seemingly overnight. These kids school performance improved dramatically. And now, they’re doing wonderfully and many of them will get to graduate early. I have no doubt that your girls will do the same,” Mr. Culpepper assured.

Brielle looked at each of the girls and smiled.

“Well, girls. Are you excited?” she asked.

“Oh, I’m so excited!” Jane gushed.

“Me too!” Olivia said excitedly, “I can’t wait to get started!”

Brielle looked at Mr. Culpepper and smiled.

“Well, if you have the enrollment forms ready, I’ll be happy to fill them out and make a check out to pay for this year’s tuition and books,” Brielle told him.

“Are you sure you can afford it, Mom?” Jane asked, concerned.

The Dean of the Home School Welcomes the Girls

“Yes, baby girl! I make enough tips at work and with your dad’s child support, I can afford it. I wish I had done this long before now and I’m so sorry, sweeties! I’m sorry that I drug my feet and let things get out of control before I finally took you out of those hellholes. I feel partially responsible for you getting hurt yesterday, Jane. I’m so, so sorry,” Brielle told them as she wiped away a tear.

Jane and Olivia, who each sat on opposite sides of their mother, leaned against her and laid their heads on her shoulders. Brielle snaked each arm around each girls’ shoulder, giving them a big squeeze. Mr. Culpepper sat behind his desk and smiled.

“I’ll have my secretary get those forms,” he assured as he rose from his chair.

And so, the girls were enrolled and began their studies at Pathways. They attended school at home, with Brielle as their teacher in the mornings. Grandma Bennett took over the teaching duties during the hours Brielle worked at Bobtail Bud’s.

Both Jane and Olivia studied hard, using the kitchen table as their school desks. Their schoolwork had suddenly, almost magically, gotten much easier and before long, their grades skyrocketed, just as Mr. Culpepper had predicted.

The Girls Quickly Adjust to Home School and Their Grades Improve

Jane no longer had to worry about her grades being marred by school suspensions and detentions. And Olivia, no longer had difficulty in her schoolwork due to the hyper-vigilance she had sometimes struggled with due to being bullied by classmates at the middle school.

And as the first days of home school went by and the week progressed until it ended, it seemed that the girls had seen the last of the Thomasville school bullies and could finally leave the bullying they suffered in the past, where it belonged.

Please Hold On! The Best is Yet to Come!

People may bully you now but they won’t always. Although the bullying is intense- even unbearable, the struggle is only temporary. And I do not say this lightly. I know what you must be thinking… “But she doesn’t understand!”

“Nobody understands!”

“She’s isn’t suffering, and she doesn’t understand the hell I go through every day at work or at school!”

I do understand because once upon a time, I was stuck in the same spot that you are in today. I know what it is like to want to smile, laugh, sing, and dance only for others beat it out of you. Also, I understand the pain of wanting to believe in yourself and see your own value. You try to feel good about yourself, only for others to repeatedly and seemingly deliberately drum into your head that you are nothing.

I Feel Your Pain because I Experienced it.

To want to speak and use your voice, only for people to silence you. You want to just live in peace. But others only threaten physical harm, further degradation and humiliation. School staff threatens suspension or expulsion. Your supervisor may threaten you with the loss of your job and livelihood. Moreover,  others may sabotage your opportunities! I know all too well the desire to move forward and go places, only for bullies to hold you back.

To want to escape the torment, only to be stuck in a toxic environment with toxic people, against your will! I know the horror of knowing that others curse your very existence and bombard you with death threats.

I know what it feels like to have others force you to sacrifice your own needs and wants for their own satisfaction! And to see others getting gratification and entertainment- all at your expense. I know what it’s like to be marginalized, shut out, devalued as a person. Additionally, I know what it’s like to even be slapped, kicked, beaten, scorned, disregarded, walked on!

It is a feeling of being run over by a truck, whose driver then stops, throws it into reverse, and backs over you again. The driver shifts back into drive and mows over you- yet again. He then stops the truck, opens the door, sticks his head out, and asks, “Are you dead yet?”

Bullies Don’t only Want to Hurt You, They Wan’t to Destroy You.

And any signs of life- any whimper or movement only encourages the driver to close the door, shift into reverse again, and back over you again. He just keeps running and backing over you until you finally succumb to the trauma and die.

Yes. This is akin to what targets of bullying endure. Bullies want to destroy you, and it seems that they won’t relent until they are sure that they have done just that.

But know this. You will not have to deal with these people forever, and Karma does repay- in spades! If you keep believing in yourself, you will become successful and happy. And when you finally get there, your bullies won’t even matter to you.

Know that You CAN Overcome Bullying!

You are beautiful! Smart! Awesome! And one day, you will cross paths with people who will see your worth and love you. Even better, they will love you unconditionally- just for being YOU! You will find a teacher, school, supervisor, or employer who will see the good you bring to the table.  And these people will view you as the asset you truly are!

Don’t give up. You are worth fighting for!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C9-4

Brielle arrived home fifteen minutes later and burst through the door, anxious and terrified.

“Jane!” She cried.

“Back here!” Olivia called.

Brielle rushed into the bathroom and was horrified at the many droplets of blood all over the sink and vanity and the floor around it. She grabbed Jane’s arm to have a look at the knife-wound. She noticed that the slash was about three inches across the side of her shoulder and gaping open, revealing torn skin and muscle. Blood continued to ooze from the wound.

“Oh, Lord Jesus!” Brielle gasped, “What happened, baby!”

As Jane spoke, Brielle grabbed a large washcloth and white towel out of the linin closet by the shower stall.

“Janessa Holtz, April Hart, and Samantha Criss tried to attack me as I was walking to my bus and I had to defend myself. Janessa tried to hit me with a pair of brass knuckles and Samantha pulled out a switchblade and slashed my arm with it,” Jane explained.

Nurse Mom

“Olivia, go into Jane’s room and find her a tee shirt! We’re taking her to the hospital,” Brielle instructed, “She’s going to need stitches.”

Olivia did as she was told, bringing back an oversized tee shirt.

“Thank you, sweetie,” Brielle told her as she dressed Jane’s upper arm with the clean washcloth she made into a compress and wrapped the towel tightly around the wounded arm before tying it. She then helped Jane into the tee shirt.

When Brielle arrived at the hospital with the girls, a young, twenty something nurse immediately escorted Jane back to ER 7. Brielle and Olivia followed close behind. When the doctor arrived, he gave the order and Jane’s arm required sixteen stitches.

Brielle called the city police. Five minutes later, they arrived and made a report, then gave Brielle a copy.

Later, Grandma Bennett arrived, visibly worried.

“What are you going to do about this, Brielle?” she asked.

“Well, I just called the police and made a police report. They may not do anything about this. But at least, I have an official record of the attack,” Brielle answered seriously.

“Or you could get the state police involved,” Grandma Bennett suggested.

The Emergency Room

Meanwhile, Misty Allen Lindsay and Rita Winchester Crabtree, also nurses, were on their way back from a late lunch break when they caught sight of Brielle and Grandma talking in the hall. The two former bullies stopped suddenly, they then crept into an empty room nearest Brielle and her grandmother, out of sight. They listened closely as they hid in the vacant ER 6, the room next to the room Jane was in.

In the hall, Brielle continued to talk quietly.

“That was the last straw, Grandma. Jane’s not going back to Thomasville High,” Brielle swore, “I’m taking both Jane and Olivia out of Glover County Schools and enrolling them into Pathways Christian Home School first thing tomorrow.”

“That sound like a great idea, Brielle. They can’t continue to attend a school where they aren’t safe,” Grandma Bennett agreed, “And I can oversee them while you work. I’ll see to it that they study their lessons. You know me, Brielle. I’m a stickler when it comes to those lessons. I was with you when you would spend the night with me on the weekends and I will be with those girls.”

When the doctor released Jane to go home and the family left the hospital, Misty and Rita came out of the empty room and approached the nurses station.

Brielle Makes a Final Decision

“Can you tell us who the patient was in ER 7?” Misty asked the younger nurse who sat at the nurse’s desk.

“Jane Markowitz,” the younger nurse answered. “She got into a fight at school and one of the other girls slashed her with a switchblade. She had to have sixteen stitches in her upper arm.”

“Were the police called?” Rita asked.

“Yes. Ms. Markowitz called the Thomasville City Police,” the young nurse told them.

“We’d like to see the girl’s chart.” Rita said.

“Sure,”

When the younger nurse handed Jane’s chart to Misty, Misty and Rita sat down, behind the long nurse’s desk. Sitting side by side, they both read the chart carefully before Rita picked up the phone and dialed. She paused before speaking.

“Bobby, it’s Rita. I have something to tell you that you need to know about,” she informed quietly.