A/N: Evie is not exactly an 'OC.' There was a pretty character in Clifford and Ricky's class played by a very young Jennifer Beals in her first role. She had no name and no lines, but popped up in a few scenes and had a close-up. I thought it would be fun to flesh her out and see what came of it. Enjoy, this is the start of a little series
The boy with the big green jacket
Every day she stared furtively at the boy with the big green jacket. Ever since he came back to school four months ago, she wanted to talk to him, but he was a loner. He sat huddled in the far left corner and stared at the world outside the gated window, longing to be there and feeling caged in. Rumors swirled around the boy with the big green jacket. She didn't want to believe them, especially not since learning that Moody and his thugs perpetrated them to make money off helpless kids.
The new kid and her new friend, Clifford Peache, wasn't as helpless as Moody thought. Clifford was brave. She always endeared herself to the 'outsiders.' Although he was a rich, white boy from an affluent school and neighborhood, Clifford never let it get to his head. He poked fun at himself, especially when others laughed that he was chauffeured to school. To stifle the teasing he allowed some friends to be chauffeured too, complete with hotel amenities like chocolates, and a few sips of sparkling champagne. Eventually he decided to travel with his peers.
The first time she ever saw him on the cheese bus, she grabbed the opportunity to sit next to him and strike up a conversation. Clifford proved to be sweet and intelligent. Despite some obvious differences, they struck up an intrinsic friendship. She felt they could exchange thoughts and ideas freely. One of their similarities was the fact that their fathers often let business come between family. The only woman in Clifford's life was his wily grandma. She was glad she had her mother and her grandmother to rely on. Her father's parents all but ignored her.
She was particularly touched by Clifford's compassion for the boy with the big green jacket. Clifford dared to befriend this boy and ever since, she noticed a change in his demeanor. The big, young man's eyes now averted toward the head of the class, he took notes, and he wasn't afraid to make eye contact with anyone…anyone it seemed, but her.
Her name was Evalyn, Eva, or Evie, depending on who talked to her. She loved this English class, and sat in the center of the second row from the right. She wore a full head of dark, coarse curls pulled back into a long, frizzy ponytail, but today she was brave like Shelly and wore it wild with a pink headband. Before going to school, it was her daily ritual to stare disgruntled in her full-length mirror. Her burgeoning curves were taking forever to appear. Her mother had an abundance of them. Where did she come from? She had no chest to show off, not like Leilani, the platinum blonde that every boy drooled over. So she hid herself in plaid shirts and baggy jeans. Better that than to be called a string bean or a girl's worst nightmare-flat-chested. Her friend Shelly was called a beanpole, but even she had curves.
It was the first week of spring, and the weather turned warm. No more hiding. She wore a purple and pink striped top with feminine poufy sleeves and black jeans; she even dared to use make-up. She read enough fashion magazines to learn how to line her eyes properly, but she had to go light on the glamor, her mother would be disappointed. As much as the new decade of 1980 demanded it of them, a woman didn't need makeup to succeed. It was her mind that got her anywhere in life, not her beauty, and Evie had an A+ mind. Her mother, an entrepreneur with her own catering service, made sure of that.
"You have to try twice as hard, baby doll." Her mother told her. "You're not only a female with smarts, but you're half-black and most people will only see that half. You know how it goes, Eva."
Evie was often told she was beautiful – light mocha skinned, with huge black eyes and a wide pretty mouth, complemented by a friendly smile. Sometimes she felt her nose was too long, but at least it turned up 'cute' at the end. Nevertheless, some of the kids in school called her names; some were lame and harmless like, 'Oreo cookie' and 'brownie,' one old woman once told her she had a 'touch of the tar brush,' while other old people just said she was 'high yellow.'
Many of her black peers called her a sell-out, and many of her white peers didn't know what to make of her. They got annoyed realizing they constantly had to watch their tongues around her with how they spoke of different races. It was all a bunch of nonsense to her and she finally wised up instead of crying in the back of the girl's bathroom. She now simply told them that she was only part of one race – human. But the digs still hurt. Some days she felt just as much an outcast as Ricky Linderman…the boy with the big green jacket.
Ricky disappeared for three days since the incident with Moody's bodyguard Mike.
"He'll be back, he's just recuperating and stuff. He's embarrassed. I would be! Ricky could have slaughtered him but he kept his cool, that was the amazing part." Shelly said to everyone, and she was always right.
Some said he dropped out of school again, others said he was arrested, and some cruelly joked that he killed himself. Evie derided them for that one. She saw the hesitation scars upon Ricky's wrist a long while back. She wondered if his life was still a tragedy waiting to happen. Clifford didn't seem himself either. He looked exhausted, mussy, and a little shell-shocked, as if hiding a deep, dark secret. Evie approached him at lunch.
"A penny for your thoughts, Cliff? You look horrible, no offense. What happened to Ricky? Did you guys get into a fight? Is he alright? In jail? He's not dead is he?" She tried to cover all the bases within one breath.
Clifford lowered his head in his arms. "A lot happened to Ricky, but, no, he's not dead...at least I hope not. When I left him he was a mess. I've looked all over Chicago for him, he's nowhere."
Evie slid into the seat and put an arm over his shoulder. "That's really not good. Please, tell me about it."
"Why not? Did you make a promise?"
"Not really, but Ricky never told anyone before. It wouldn't be right."
Evie rocked him a little. "Come on, Cliff. I swear on my grandmother that I won't tell another living soul. If you tell me what he told you, I'll even let you in on a secret."
Clifford raised his head. Evie was an open book. He wanted to be relieved of the weight of Ricky's confession. Ricky never said to keep it a secret.
"Not a soul, Evie?"
"Okay. Ricky told me what really happened with his brother. He didn't find him dead; he accidentally killed him when they were playing with their dad's gun. He was so scared, he made it look like a suicide by putting the gun in his hand." Clifford said quickly.
The brevity of all Ricky told him finally struck Clifford. "Aww, man. I shouldn't have said anything, damn! I'm a horrible friend!"
It took Evie a moment to compose herself and pick her jaw up off the floor. She quenched the sob ready to escape her throat. She stared at Clifford sympathetically.
"Oh wow, Clifford. No wonder he's such a mess. He feels constant guilt. What an awful secret to hold in for so long. My poor Ricky!" She sniffled.
Her eyes blurred with tears and he cocked his head confused. "Why are you crying, Evie?"
"Jeeze, louise, Cliff! I'm crying cuz it's damn sad!" She said abruptly, then lowered her voice when others peered in their direction.
"You didn't cry when he told you?"
Clifford shrugged and picked at the mystery meat on his lunch tray. He wouldn't admit that he did shed a few tears after Ricky left the train platform that night. He never would.
"Why should I? It's not my brother. I was too shocked anyway."
"That's just like a man, isn't it? Always gotta suck in your feelings."
"Wouldn't wanna be a woman. Then I'd be crying every second, aside from that gross stuff every month."
"Very funny, Cliff." Eva sipped her chocolate milk contemplatively. "It totally makes sense why he ran away and stuff. My poor Ricky is really a gentle giant. He doesn't want to hurt anyone, but all everyone does is tell lies about him!"
Clifford snagged a few of her French fries. "What's up with this 'My poor Ricky' stuff? You got something going on with him?"
Evie bristled under his stare, but shook her head regrettably. "No…and that's my secret. I'm in love with Ricky, Cliff. I'm utterly and hopelessly in love with Ricky Linderman and he never gives me the time of day. I mean, he doesn't really give it to anyone, but he's talked to some of the other girls, even Shelly had a few conversations with him. Why not me?"
Clifford was still bowled over by her admission. "Ricky? He's a big white dude, I thought you might go for someone more…"
Evie narrowed her eyes. "More what, Cliff? More…black?"
"Nooo…I was going to say…tan!" He coughed embarrassed.
"I can like whomever I want, and I like Ricky. His beauty transcends all races I think, and he actually has a good tan. Now that the weather's warm, it's coming in nice and deep."
Clifford snorted. "Oh boy! You do got it bad. So that's it? That's your big secret? I knew that already. So did he."
Evie gaped at him. "You did not! And no he didn't!"
"Sure I did. You're always making google eyes at him, and I saw the heart with your initials on your desk in Biology. Classic crush. Ricky saw it too."
Evie grimaced. "That was a mistake. I zoned out." She wondered what Ricky thought of her affections, but Clifford wasn't saying.
"Sure, I get it, you were dreaming of body chemistry, huh?" Clifford teased.
Evie flicked a pea at him. "Chill out, Clifford. Don't tell anyone okay?"
Clifford crossed his heart. "I promise. If I can keep a secret like…wait a minute, I didn't keep it, I told you."
Evie hugged him. "Don't worry. I won't say a word. If there's anyone around here you could trust, it's me…me and Shelly!"
Clifford laughed. "Shelly? She'd have it printed up in the school newspaper by tomorrow's edition. She's a blabbermouth! A blabbermouth!" He waved his hands wildly and attempted to impersonate Ralph Kramden from The Honeymooners when heranted about his mother-in-law.
Eva laughed. "Shelly is very sensitive and caring… and you know what, I think you like her." She teased him.
"No I don't."
"Yes you do. You guys hang out a lot. That's great, because you look so cute together. The sophomore spring dance is coming up, you better ask her, Clifford. I think she's waiting."
Clifford jumped up and tossed his lunch tray in the pail beside the table. "Really? Fine, I guess I'll ask Shelly…but only if you ask Ricky."
"Are you crazy? He doesn't even know I exist."
"You're exaggerating, but if you feel that way then make him know. You're a brave woman, Evie. You could be shy, but you're not afraid to make friends. That's the deal. Take it or leave it." Clifford said smugly.
Evie sighed and held out her hand to shake on it. "You and your deals, Cliff. Fine. I'll ask him. But you ask Shelly first, because I thought of it first."
"Not until Ricky comes back. Otherwise it's not fair if he doesn't."
"Okay. Bell's gonna ring, Cliff, and I have to get to the fifth floor, it takes forever. Talk to you later?"
Clifford held her arm serious. "Of course, and remember, don't breathe anything about Ricky's story."
"I already swore, I hate swearing like that and my grandmother is still alive too." She pouted.
"Thanks Evie. I feel a little better now."
Later: After School and the bully fight
"Did you see that final punch? That was wicked!" Clifford gloated. "I'll be surprised if Moody can ever breathe from his nose again!"
"That wouldn't be so different, he'd have to keep his mouth open…and he's always got his fat mouth open!" Shelly said and nudged him appreciatively. "Somebody needed to end his tyranny and I'm glad it was you."
Clifford stared at her and realized Evie was right. Shelly did like him. He twisted his fist proudly. "It's all in the reflexes, Shelly, darling."
Ricky Linderman pushed his motorbike off to the side and shook his head with a little grin. Clifford was having his moment in the sun, and he wasn't about to take it away from him. He and Clifford, Cartman, and Shelly all left the park together and a few other straggling teens joined them down the pathway to glory…and burgers and fries at the local hangout. Fighting bullies was hard work and after-school starvation settled in. They were guaranteed the joint would now be Moody free. As they approached the entrance, a girl stood outside and Ricky recognized her from English class.
Evie waved shyly. "Hi guys! I left before too much blood was spilled…kinda got scared of a riot."
"Nahh, Clifford handled everything just fine…and so did Ricky! Did you see how he knocked that blockhead Mike flat on his back? The guy was out cold and then he ran with his tail between his legs!" Shelly pumped her fists up.
Evie noticed Ricky duck his head from the praise. Modest man. She loved it.
"Yeah, I caught that. He'll never live it down. You mind if I join you?" She asked.
"Sure, why not? There's always room for more admirers." Clifford led the way into the luncheonette and grabbed a big table. The after-school hordes dispersed because of the fights. Evie hung back outside and watched Ricky chain up his motorbike.
"How's your nose?"
"Is it broken?" She asked worried.
"Naw, just swollen. He didn't really get me there."
"Good! It's bleeding. Here, use this." She passed him a white hankie. "It's clean, I promise. My mother says I should always carry one for emergencies. I'd say this is one."
Ricky arely noticed the bleeding. He took it gratefully and patted his sore nostrils. A delicate scent of sweet shea butter pleased his senses.
"Thanks, you don't want it back do ya?"
"Uh, no…you can keep it."
Ricky held open the door for her as they went inside. Clifford ordered cheese burgers, fries and cokes all around.
"Oh man, Cliff. I wanted the caviar and steak." Ricky joked. "You should have us all over to the hotel sometime, they got some real good grub there."
"Gee, someone's hungry!" Cartman piped up.
Clifford punched Ricky's arm playfully. "He's a growing boy, he has to eat. What do you think? I'd say he has another four inches to go."
"Statistically, boys sprout the most in their early twenties, I'd say only two more, and lots of muscles." Shelly said smartly.
"Thanks, Shell. But not if I keep eating the crap at this rinky dink place." Ricky struggled on the edge of the booth with one leg sprawled in the center aisle. Evie waited alongside the table. He glanced at her and promptly stood up.
"Go ahead, Evie, have a seat."
"Yeah, squeeze in guys, she can make it, Evie's skinny."
"I'm not that skinny." Evie protested. "No, Ricky, you're tired, you need to get off your feet."
"I'm not an old geezer. Besides, my butt cheek is hanging off and it's really not comfortable, ya know?"
Everyone laughed and Evie slowly sank down alongside Clifford…but then she noticed a small booth across the way and hopped up to grab it.
"On second thought. I'm the tag-a-long here. I'll just sit over there and come by in a few minutes."
Evie hurried to the window booth and plopped down nervous. Clifford nudged Ricky's shins.
"You should go over there. I think she has something to tell you." He winked.
Ricky looked between the two confused. "What?"
Clifford smiled mysteriously. "Why don't you go find out?"
Ricky sat across from Evie and to her surprise, smiled warmly at her.
What a smile it was.
"I've been punted from the group. And to think I taught that little guy everything he knows."
"I see, and it paid off too. It's alright, I'm used to being the outcast."
"Me too. I'm not gonna cry over it now. What makes you an outcast?" He asked innocently.
"Well, it's kinda tough being two races at once. You don't know what you are or who you're supposed to be." She admitted.
Ricky was surprised at the depth of her answer. If he knew anything about Evie, it was that she was a deep thinker and always made insightful comments in class. He admired that.
"Why do you gotta pick one? Be an individual."
"That's what I try to do, but it's not so easy…I…I don't have a lot of contact with my dad, he's white, and he's always away on business. It's kinda weird when I'm with him and his crowd anyway. I feel like they don't approve of me. My parents are divorced."
"Oh, sorry. So, you're saying you're more surrounded by black people cause of your mom?"
"Yeah! And sometimes her relatives look at me cross-eyed too. I don't care either way, I can have fun everywhere, but…I don't know, Ricky, I can't really explain it." She faltered.
She didn't want to bore him, but when she looked into his eyes, she saw his keen fascination with her. She felt giddy inside.
Ricky noticed her hand curled up in the center of the table and he dared to pat it. "Then don't explain anything. Just forget about it and be yourself. It doesn't bother me."
"Nahh. Why?" Ricky suddenly realized his hand still lingered over hers, and he kept it there. "Should it?"
Evie smiled coyly. "That's great! I mean, I thought you…" A sudden shout of laughter and 'Ooohs!' burst out from across the way. Shelly looked beet red and Clifford was ready to slide under the table.
"Wonder what happened now?" Ricky asked. "I'll go get our food."
"You're such a gentleman, Ricky." Evie blurted out.
"I guess my mom raised me to be." He smiled.
When Ricky walked away, Evie caught Clifford's eye and he raised his thumb affirmatively and then pointed at her. It was her turn. She took a deep breath as Ricky came back to the table with their food baskets and dug in.
"Did you hear the news? Clifford's taking Shelly to the spring dance." He said with little enthusiasm between chews.
"I heard! That's dyn-o-mite! What's the matter, aren't you going?"
Evie could have kicked herself. Her invitation just sank to the lower depths.
"Me? I don't go to those things."
"Why should I? I'm not into all that ra-ra-school spirit stuff."
"It's not like that. They're just fun with friends."
Ricky tried to hide his sarcasm. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm not the 'fun' type."
"How do you know? You ever try to be?"
"Sure, I've tried, and I've been fun, but I'm just not feeling up to a dance right now."
"Well you have a month to think about it. You don't know how to dance, do you?"
Ricky blushed. "Nahh, I don't think I have to know that to make it through life."
"It's really easy, and half the time you just make stuff up. I could, I could teach you." She offered.
"Are you a dancer?"
"Well, I know some moves. I took dancing when I was little."
"Save your time, I'm not going."
"But you have to!" Evie said exasperated. Ricky looked at her oddly.
Evie calmed down, she didn't want to make a complete fool of herself. "Me. I wanted to ask you…"
A slow thud built up in Ricky's heart and he saw Clifford watching the table. The little manipulator struck again. He knew exactly what Evie wanted. Ricky didn't want to be rude to her.
"Ask me what?" His blue eyes flickered left to right and he chewed his inner cheeks.
"Ricky, would you go to the spring dance with me? I don't have a date yet and I'd really like if it were you." She gulped.
Ricky's hand stopped in mid-air and he crushed the French fry between his thumb and forefinger. Why did this invitation shock him when he readily expected it just a second ago?
Because as he stared into her deep, earnest eyes, a tiny light bulb went off in his head with a voice that said, "Do it and save yourself."
"Uh…uhh…Evie…yeah..." He nodded firmly. "Yes, I'll go with you. But don't expect miracles."
A squeal of happiness burst from her and she leaped up and kissed his cheek.
"Ricky, Thank you! We'll really have a good time. No ra-ra stuff. I promise." She gently hugged him over his shoulders and Ricky's heart beat normally again. Not only was she pretty, she was affectionate in a touchy-feely way. He could get used to that. Clifford recently told him it was time for a girlfriend and the more the talked the more he wanted it to be her.
Clifford started a round of clapping and Ricky glared at him.
"If you start singing, 'For he's a jolly good fellow' I might have to do to you what I did to Mike!" He warned. "Those fists won't save you!"
Clifford wagged his hands. "I won't! I promise."
"Ricky, I have a question." Evie sobered. She didn't forget the sad truth of Ricky's life, but it was one step at a time.
"Are you always gonna wear that big green jacket?"
Her question had a deeper meaning than regards a fashion statement. He pulled at the zippers and held out his arm.
"It's kinda hot in here, can you help me get it off? My arm's a little stiff."
Evie grinned and tugged on the sleeve until it slid down, then helped him with the other side. He tossed it next to him.
"Thanks, now where were we? You said you could teach me how to dance. I think we should go see Clifford's grandma, she knows how to trip the light fantastic..."
These one-shots are fun! Thanks to MarieDee on FF for her inspiration to write another MB story, she has some great ones up, check them out!