Left Behind Ch. 1

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In a world where you grew up the only child to obscenely rich parents, avoiding the trap of becoming a pompous, bitchy, spoiled brat would be extremely difficult. When that child fully embraces the power of manipulation that comes with that upbringing, the opportunity to get any and everything one could want is basically there for the taking.

That was the charmed life that 18 year old high school senior Jessica Jennings had enjoyed ever since she could remember. Born to an upper class, old money family, Jessica had the daily double dreamed of by most girls in America. She had an unlimited access to money and on top of that, she was also extremely cute and curvaceous.

A sassy, innocent looking natural blonde with long straight hair and a trim athletic figure that was compacted snugly into a 5 foot 8 inch frame, Jessica’s tanned skin and bright, albeit sometimes phony smile filled the dreams of the boys she attended private school with as well as most any man she encountered during her daily routine around the Cleveland suburbs.

Jessica’s latest adventure in getting whatever she wanted from her Mom and Dad was breast enhancement surgery during the summer vacation between her junior and senior years of school. Although God had endowed Jessica with enough cleavage to make it through life without ever having to work a day, she had become a victim to the same pitfalls of peer pressure that all teenagers are subject to. Three of her fellow students at The Mercy Academy had gotten boob jobs the year before and now all three had easily passed Jessica in cup size. With money being no object, when Jessica started her senior year her B-cup and suddenly increased to a D-cup overnight.

* * * * *

Mercy Catholic Prep was one of the most affluent and academically respected high schools in all of the Midwest. Along with the educational laurels it had garnered, the financial pull of Mercy’s alumni and its wealthy student pool enabled the school to afford the extravagant facilities and coaching needed to make the athletic department a juggernaut in the Eastern Ohio amateur sports scene. The football, lacrosse, golf and swimming teams all had won state titles in recent years.

Mercy Prep’s cheerleading program was also nationally respected. Being a senior and in her fourth year of cheering for the squad, Jessica Jennings loved the attention she received on the sidelines in the Fall with the football team and during the spring semester with the boys basketball team.

* * * * *

There had long been dissention in the hierarchy of Mercy Prep’s athletic department as to whether a quality prep school such as itself should play some of the top notch public high schools occasionally, especially in basketball.

Mercy’s decision makers knew they could dominate the public schools in most sports but basketball was another story. No one batted an eye when Mercy would be highly ranked in the golf or lacrosse rankings but when the basketball polls came out every year, critics of Mercy Prep would always point to the fact that they never played any ‘real’ competition.

Tiring of the constant negative press and looking to silence their critics, Mercy finally agreed to play and home and home series against one of the top notch public high school teams. Mercy worked out an agreement with one of the inner city schools, Franklin High to play at Franklin in mid January and then at Mercy in February.

Franklin High was situated in one of Cleveland’s poorest neighborhoods and there was much angst among the Mercy Prep parents and decision makers about whether it was a good idea to send a full compliment of cheerleaders and band members to the first game at Franklin.

Fearing it would appear that Mercy was ‘scared’, the public relations people in the school’s hierarchy felt it necessary to send a full entourage to show a spirit of cooperation, thus the full cheerleading squad was allowed to accompany the team to the game.

* * * * *

The whole week leading up to the game, Jessica was brought to the verge of sickness having to listen to her Mother harp on the school’s decision to force the cheerleaders to be exposed to the kind of atmosphere they would be see inside Franklin High. Jessica knew that under no circumstances could she expect her Mom to accompany her to the game downtown, even though her Mom had hardly ever missed an opportunity to show up when they were cheering at a game against another one of their prep school rivals. There would be no one in the Franklin High stands that Ms. Jennings could brag to about how successful Jessica was. That, as well as the fact that Jessica’s parents were also racist as Hell.

* * * * *

Jessica had continuously brushed off her Mom and Dad’s concerns about the trip but as the chartered bus carrying the Mercy Prep players, coaches, trainers and cheerleaders inched its way through the dilapidated Franklin school district and finally into the Franklin High lot, Jessica began feeling ümraniye escort the not so subtle effects of her 18 years of being raised inside of a racist household. The butterflies fluttering in her belly felt as if they were bumper cars as she saw the assembled crowd flocking towards the Franklin gymnasium.

Being in that neighborhood for the first time in her life, Jessica nervously studied her watch, trying to determine just how long they would be trapped there.

Outwardly, she tried her best to smile but Jessica couldn’t help but feel like her and her group stuck out like sore white thumbs on a black hand. Piling one by one off the bus, the entourage from Mercy felt strangely like the brave black students of the 60’s felt when integration was forced onto American school districts. Disappearing briskly inside the school, the Mercy Prep cheerleaders found the room that would serve as their dressing room and changed for the game.

Stripping out of their sweats and hurriedly slipping into their uniforms, Jessica and her cheering mates lined up in the room, checking each other over to make sure the uniforms were on straight and that their make up and hair looked good.

Before they knew it, the girls were filling one by one out of the room and slowly weaving through the dense crowd down the smelly, sweat soaked hallway that led to the gym. Surrounded by so many of what Jessica perceived to be foulmouthed and catcalling black kids, Jessica privately admitted to herself that her Mother’s concerns were probably warranted.

Chewing the stale wad of gum in her mouth like a nervous piston, Jessica dutifully kept her face pointed forward towards the shining lights inside the rowdy and racous gym. It was then Jessica realized this was the first time in her life she had been in a place where there were more black faces than white…in this case the discrepancy was about 50 to 1.

As she walked across the threshold separating the hallway to the gym and suddenly being inside the actual arena, Jessica did feel a definite jolt of excitement to her psyche when she felt the vibrations of sound and the bathing of light that the carnival like atmosphere provided. Slowly, the instinct that all athletes have when they approach game time hit. Surrounded by her teammates and coaches, Jessica watched as the Mercy Prep Basketball team finished their warm-ups. The butterflies she was feeling now were focused on the game itself. The best way to block out her discomfort with the location ,she reasoned, was to concentrate fully on the game itself.

Still, Jessica couldn’t ignore how awkward she felt out there on the floor in her tight and revealing red and blue outfit. As her tanned legs carried her forward, dodging the various people milling around the court, she tried her best to block out the whistles and catcalls from the crowd, knowing full well they were aimed at her and her fellow cheerleaders. It was almost worse than being naked, Jessica imagined, because it seemed that the girls had especially dressed up in such revealing outfits, just for the approval of the leering young male audience.

* * * * *

After the introductions and the opening tip, once the game was underway, Jessica and her cohorts were able to settle into the familiar routine of watching the game, doing their cheers and watching the clock, anxiously counting down the seconds until the game was over and they could get out of there. More than anything else, Jessica longed to get home so she could take a long hot shower to wash the sweat as well as the feeling that all the leering male glares had seemed to leave embroidered on her flesh.

As the first half gave way to the second and the closeness of the game dictated that she pay more attention, Jessica almost was able to completely block out all the peripheral distractions. Even the heavy bouncing of her new, augmented breasts dancing inside her size too small sweater top mildly slipped her mind as the time wound down.

Looking up at the scoreboard to see that there was only 4 minutes left, Jessica could literally visualize the light at the end of the tunnel of her long stressful night. With Mercy holding a 63 – 60 lead with under 4 minutes to go, Jessica’s insides started to fizz now believing her team actually had a chance to pull the upset.

With every basket or defensive stop Mercy would make, Jessica and her cohorts would jump high into the air and holler loudly for their team. On the flip side, each of the girls would cringe when a Franklin player would make a play to keep the game close.

With the game so tight, for the first time all evening Jessica could sense the crowd was not focusing directly on her. With that annoying weight lifted off her shoulders, Jessica and the other cheerleaders felt invigorated in their attempts to cheer Mercy Prep on to victory.

* * * * *

Leading by 1, 69-68, with less than 30 seconds left, all Mercy had to do was to hold the ball and wait for Franklin pendik escort to come out and foul them so they could go to the line. The small group that had accompanied Mercy clenched their fingernails to their mouth as victory was within reach.

As the seconds melted away, Mercy patiently passed the ball around, trying to work off as much of the clock before a Franklin guy could foul them. Suddenly, the ball ended up in the hands of the only freshman on the team, Ryan Dumas.

When three Franklin players desperately rushed towards Dumas, the rookie panicked severely and had a brain lock. As he tossed the ball away, a loud roar went up from the crowd when they saw it land out of bounds and the referee point in Franklin’s direction.

Franklin had 8 seconds to get the ball up court to try to win the game. The entire gymnasium buzzed with anticipation as Jessica and her fellow cheerleaders stood nervously courtside waiting for the final verdict.

With all 2000 sets of eyes inside the gym focused on Franklin point guard Alvis Haynes dribbling the ball up the court, there seemed to be a vapor lock inside the arena as the final seconds ticked down. As Haynes cut across the half-court strip and angled towards the top of the key, the wiry 6 foot 2 high school kid picked up his dribble and raised his right hand towards the hoop. With two Mercy players’ hands in his face, Haynes fired an off-balance jumper up and it spun towards the basket as the clock hit zero.

Jessica closed her eyes instinctively as the ball neared the basket. In her self imposed darkness she waited for what seemed to be an eternity as her knees shook. The silence in the gym was almost deafening to Jessica’s ears until finally, the verdict was in.

The loudest roar of “OHHHHH… NNNOOOOOOO,” she had ever heard crashed through the silence. Opening her baby blue eyes, Jessica could see all the members of the Mercy Prep boys basketball team jumping around center court as if they had just won the NBA title. Without realizing it, Jessica had uncontrollably began jumping up and down also as the shrill yells of “There was a foul” or “That’s bullshit” rained down from the crowd above.

As Jessica and her fellow cheerleaders strutted and skipped their way over to where the Mercy boys were celebrating at center court, she accidentally bumped and grazed several of the dejected and exhausted Franklin high players who stood stunned on the floor. The look of disgust on their sweaty faces wasn’t helped any either with all the bouncing perkiness of the girls’ enthusiasm as they rushed past them, hurrying to join in the celebration.

Jessica was screaming so loudly, she thought she heard one of the Franklin kids yell out, “Shut up Bitch!” at her as she rushed by, but in her haste she completely ignored the verbal assault coming from the sore losers.

* * * * *

Sensing the atmosphere was growing more volatile by the moment, the Mercy Cheerleading coach along with all the other adults present forced the group off the floor and hurried them to get changed and get on the bus to leave.

“We’re leaving in five,” Jessica could hear her coach yell out as she frantically tried pulling her sweats over her saturated uniform.

Pulling her sweatshirt over her large heaving bosom, Jessica smiled broadly realizing she was going to be first to be dressed and to get on the bus.

As the other girls finished up and hustled out of the make shift locker room, out into the cold night air where the chartered bus was waiting, suddenly Jessica remembered something very important. She had in her haste, forgot and left her backpack in the room they had changed in.

Hurriedly drifting away unnoticed from her group, too embarrassed to tell anyone she had made a brain fart, Jessica bravely fought through the crowd that was growing more restless with every white face they saw.

As she weaved through the maze of arms and legs, Jessica finally arrived back at the makeshift locker room, ducked in and sure enough, her backpack was where she had left it.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, back on the bus all the players, trainers and coaches had been accounted for and the bus’s engine was running. As the cheerleading coach began her mandatory roll call, her voice was drowned out by the blaring whine of the police sirens that had been called to try and quell the potential disturbances following the game.

Sensing the situation was growing worse, the bus driver on his own took the moment of opportunity and closed the bus’s doors, then hit the gas, in the process leaving Jessica Jennings behind, over 10 miles from home in the middle of several hundred emotionally charged and upset Franklin High school students and fans.

* * * * *

As Jessica fought her way back out to the parking lot where she thought the bus was still waiting, she stood there looking around, the reality of the situation still out of her grasp. There were two yellow Franklin district buses bostancı escort sitting off to the side but as she craned her head around, there wasn’t any sight of the full sized charter that had brought the team to the game. It was then that the deep, awkward uneasiness began to chew at her mind.

“Uh…ohhh,” Jessica sighed sheepishly as she paced along the graffiti covered sidewalk. Continuing to search around for the bus, all Jessica ended up seeing and feeling was the assembled crowd seeming to close in around her. Feeling the first inkling of tears welling up in her eyes, Jessica frantically searched for her lifeline to safety , the Mercy Prep charter bus, but it was no where in sight.

Even though she was surrounded by hundreds of people, Jessica felt strangely as if she was somehow trapped on a desert island without anyone there to help her.

Being the only white face in a sea of black, stranded in the chilly Cleveland night, the only option Jessica could think of to find her way to safety was to get back inside the school, find a payphone and call for help.

She thought momentarily of calling her parents but considering her present surroundings, Jessica decided against it. As she made her way down the hallway to where she had earlier saw a payphone, Jessica honestly didn’t know who she was going to call

* * * * *

“Move Bitch”, “Are you lost”, “Cracker”. Every imaginable wise crack and insult was spat at from the onlookers around her as Jessica’s head swirled and pounded with anxiety. Jessica could never remember a time where she had felt so helpless, whenever she needed help there had seemingly always been someone there to save her. As she nervously looked around the hazy hallway, there was no one there this time to help.

When her eyes finally found the payphone, Jessica felt a momentary sense of relief and euphoria wash over her. Reaching into her pants to fish out the change to use to make the call, suddenly all of her hope faded. As she swirled her hands around her sweatsuit pockets, all she could come up with was her lip gloss, two pennies and 2 sticks of juicy fruit gum.

“Wrong side of the tracks Bitch”, “Looking for one of these”, “Bet she would look good on her knees!”

More insults and insinuations rained down on Jessica as she tried to keep herself from crying at the payphone. Only this time the words were not coming from the passerby’s. Looking tentatively up with her reddened eyes, Jessica could see several tall and muscular black boys standing in front of an opened door down the hall near the entrance to the gymnasium. Through her tearsoaked eyes, Jessica recognized several of them as players from Franklin’s team.

With her brain nearly on overload, Jessica stood at the payphone frozen as the group of black high school boys leered at her from outside their locker room. Embarrassed, Jessica returned her gaze to the floor. In all of her life, Jessica had craved and sought out the attention of men, for the first time in her life, she simply wanted to just disappear.

* * * * *

In a classic case of good cop/bad cop, one of the members of the Franklin High basketball team burst out from the assembled group of hecklers and weaved his way through the mingling crowd towards the only white face in sight.

“Something tells me you ain’t having a good night young lady,” the deep but velvety voice inquired.

Jessica turned instantly, blushing from fear, not knowing how to respond.

Watching as the 6 foot 4 inch teenager eased up to her, Jessica hesitantly made an internal pact to trust the only person that had shown enough kindness to come up to her and help.

Cautiously raising her blue eyed gaze up to meet his dark pupils, Jessica finally responded, “I’m trying to use the phone…I…I…I’m with…from Mercy Prep…I kinda sorta got left behind…”

“Shit,” the tall black kid said incredulously, with a healthy dose of compassion.

“I don’t seem to have any change on me,” Jessica continued somberly.

“Wouldn’t have mattered anyway…” the player started, stopping in attempt to fish out a name for the cowering young girl.

“…Jees…Jess…Jessica,” The blonde debutante finally admitted after a long pause of trepidation.

“Hi Jessica…I’m Darrell…Darrell Sweeney…You’ll played a great game tonight!” The towering black kid answered with a hint of sly shyness. “Don’t worry about a phone …that one gets busted up every now and then when kids try to rob it…it hasn’t worked all year…they even steal the out of order sign. Coach Evans has a phone though in his office…I’m sure he wouldn’t hold a grudge against one of the Mercy cheerleaders…he’ll let you use his,” Darrell continued, smiling as he elicited Jessica’s trust.

The helpless blonde teenager was so thankful that this smiling black guy had just offered her the biggest break of the night, Jessica instantly started walking towards him to follow him towards the coach’s office. As she followed about 5 feet behind Darrell, it suddenly hit Jessica that he was leading her right into the boys locker room, literally into the teeth of every one of her insecure nightmares that she had developed due to her subtle racist upbringing.

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