Part One: Juvenile Delinquency
The weather was very hot and muggy that afternoon around close to lunchtime at Dwight D. Eisenhower High School in downtown Hillwood. It was mid September and the students were just now getting used to the idea of being back in school after several weeks of getting to know new teachers, new classrooms, new lockers, and for the new freshmen, a new school entirely.
Last year's freshmen were now this year's sophomores and were all going about their daily routines without the fear of being tossed head-first into a waiting garbage can, or head-first in a toilet bowl depending upon what was nearer. Their status was not much higher than this year's unfortunate freshmen, but high enough for them to be largely ignored by the upper classmen, aside from those unfortunate enough to be labeled "geeks" or "dweebs" in their freshmen year.
The former sophomores, now the new junior class, were revealing in the fact that they were now in the echelons of status among the rest of the upper classmen, second only to the senior class. For a lot of them, especially among the "in crowd" this was the year that they would cement their reputations to have a good position of popularity come next year when they would replace the outgoing seniors.
These rules of social status are the templates among the thousands of high schools throughout the country. The only exceptions to these rules were jocks and sports figures, some of whom started out their freshmen years on the football team, basketball team, or any other sports team where regional competitions took place. For them, being winners against other school teams earned them instant popularity despite class status.
One of the new sophomores was sitting near the top of one of the half dozen, or so, heavy aluminum benches just outside of the track and field track that doubled for the high school's football and soccer practice fields. She was a tall, thin sixteen-year-old girl with long blonde hair tied up into two pigtails, large blue eyes, a wide mouth and a long, slender neck. The girl was dressed in a white and pink t-shirt, with worn blue jeans and slightly dirty white tennis shoes. Her blonde pigtails were both sticking out of either side of her head just underneath the blue hat on top of her head. A green camouflage army jacket with several patches on it added to the look.
While everyone else in her year was busy in class before their lunch period, Helga G. Pataki was using her new-found free period to continue writing more things in her large spiral notebook in peace. Most of what she wrote was just poems, observations and crude drawings of people she knew and thought about. The majority of these drawings consisted of the face of a boy with a football-shaped head, dreamy half-lidded eyes, and a small, warm smile beneath a somewhat large nose. Usually this face was accompanied by hearts, angels, flowers, or even some small birds.
Helga was smiling slightly as she put the finishing touches on the latest additions to her notebook. This consisted of a crude, two-page map from Hillwood City to San Lorenzo and several small drawings of her hitchhiking, sailing, and walking from a tall three story brick building (the model of her own home representing her starting place in Hillwood) to a small house in San Lorenzo, where in the last drawing, the cartoon-ish version of her was standing in the embrace of the same football-headed boy and sharing a long, tender kiss with several small hearts all around.
Nodding approvingly at her handiwork and closing the notebook with a small sigh, Helga hugged it to her chest a moment. The outside of her notebook, its red cover was somewhat worn and had drawn on it, in black permanent ink, a heart with an arrow through it and the letters: HP + AS inside it. Next to this was a sticker that said: "KEEP OUT! THIS MEANS YOU BUCKO!" She was only a month back in school and she was almost a quarter of the way through the two hundred page notebook.
"Oh man, I'm going to run out of space before Christmas at this rate," Helga muttered to herself as she placed her notebook back into the purple backpack by her feet. Then she took a sip of a can of cola next to her and let out a burp.
Then she sat back, resting her elbows on the back of the bench behind her, now slightly hot from the sun almost directly overhead, Helga watched the girl's soccer team practicing nearby. She watched on with a slight bored look as the girls, dressed out in their red and white uniform tops, began to finish up with some last minute passing and scoring drills. One of them was a short, Asian-American girl, with short black hair and dark eyes behind her prescription sports goggles, Phoebe Heyerdahl.
Helga watched as the short girl was passed the ball. Phoebe managed to stop it and then made her way toward the goal post, where a larger girl named Patty Smith (also known as "Big Patty" due to her rather bulky build) waited to try and block her. Helga whispered, as if trying to will Phoebe to hear her, "Go close and aim for her life side, Pheebs! She's weak on her left in short distances!"
Phoebe obviously didn't hear her silent instructions, because she kicked way too soon and to Big Patty right, which the larger girl blocked easily. To make matters worse, Phoebe slipped on the wet grass and landed hard onto a patch of mud. A whistle blew and the goalie tossed the ball to the next kid in line to try. Helga shook her head and bit her lip as she watched Phoebe get up slowly and, looking forlorn, walk back to the group of players who'd already taken their shots.
After the last girl took her shot, also a blocked goal attempt, the soccer coach blew the whistle and told them to go hit the showers. Then Helga sighed and stood up, taking one last sip of her soda and making a basketball toss of it at the nearby open garbage can by the open gate of the four foot high chain length fence. The can bounced once on the rim and fell onto several small piles of candy bar wrappers, soda cans, cigarette butts, and even a condom wrapper lying on the ground.
Helga picked up her backpack and climbed down from the benches and stood by the gate. She then put one strap of her backpack over her right shoulder and waited for the team to pass by to talk to Phoebe.
The large, female gym teacher who ran soccer practice, a short, dumpy woman named Miss VanDyke, shouted at her. She wore tight white jogging pants and matching sweater in spite of the eighty plus degree heat. Her thin lips frowned underneath her mirror sunglasses, silver whistle gleaming in the sunlight. "Pataki! What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be in class?"
"I'm waiting to talk to my friend, is that a crime? Criminy!" Helga said, answering the large woman's frown with one of her own. Behind Miss VanDyke, Phoebe looked worried and shook her head, her eyes were pleading with Helga not to do anything stupid.
"You were kicked off of the team last year, Pataki," VanDyke continued, looking almost eye to eye with Helga. "That means, I don't want to see you anywhere near my soccer field, you got that?"
Helga's eyes narrowed because the woman was seriously inside her personal space. "So, I can't wait around on my friend to finish practice anymore? What the hell, lady? This is a free country, ain't it?"
"Watch your mouth, little lady," VanDyke said, her mouth tightening so that Helga could see all the hairs on her light female mustache, her eyebrows disappeared beneath her mirror sunglasses. "It was that sort of belligerent attitude that got you kicked off the team in the first place."
Helga folded her arms across her chest, "Wow, such a big word, guess those 'English For Dummies' tapes came in really handy last summer, huh?"
Now the large teacher bared her teeth and seemed to be restraining herself from physically grabbing Helga by the shirt. "You're out of line, Pataki! Now you get your smart mouth and your ass off of my field, before I tell Miss Santiago that you've been skipping class!"
"First of all, I am not on 'your field' as you put it, and second, you can't stop me from watching and talking to my friend!" Helga just looked directly into those mirror shades, though all she could see was her own angry reflection in them.
"No? Well, we'll just see about that, won't we, little Miss Smartass?" VanDyke said, offering a small, malicious smirk at her before she turned and walked ahead back to the school building. The rest of the team followed, some of them shaking their heads at Helga, while others grinning at her, including Big Patty, who offered her a wink that Helga returned. Phoebe glanced at her once, and Helga could have sworn she saw a smile cross her features before she turned with the rest of the team to the locker rooms. A moment later, Helga too went back inside.
After putting her book bag away in her locker, Helga waited for Phoebe by the entrance to the gymnasium. She leaned against the wall looking bored when the bell for lunch rang. Hundreds of students walked out of their classes and on their way. The sophomore and senior classes were on their way to the cafeteria for first lunch, while the freshmen and juniors were on their way to class till their own lunch period forty-five minutes later. She observed them as they passed. The same usual faces and types, the geeks, the jocks, the princesses, and the preps, all a bunch of losers as far as Helga was concerned.
The boy's class was the first to leave the gym. All of them had been playing basketball and Helga's nose told her that some of the big lugs either hadn't had time to shower, or simply didn't care. Helga was willing to bet on the latter.
Criminy, would it kill some of them to actually consider using deodorant at least? She thought with a snort.
Finally the girl's starting coming out of the gym. Most of them were not girly-girls, or the kind that needed more than a small dab of eye-shadow, or lipstick. Those types of girls were not exactly the sort to play sports. Many of that type were cheerleaders instead.
Helga never saw the sense in dressing up in such short skirts with matching underwear and those skimpy tops. Thankfully, the tops that the Hillwood Wolverines wore, which were gold and green, did not reveal cleavage (well, maybe the boys would probably disagree with that sentiment if a girl bent over just right). Still, they showed off the girl's whole midriff and looked really cold to wear during those evening football games.
Helga snorted at some of them as they passed, one of which was Lila Sawyer with several of her male admirers walking around her, carrying her books, or offering her drinks of soda. Lila wore her cheerleading outfit as if it were practically made to order for her—it probably was. Perfect as always, the girl even moved gracefully. Another boy, a senior, turned as she walked by her, glancing down at her backside to see the tops of two very long, graceful legs and a flash of the goldish-yellow panties. The senior girl next to him scowled and elbowed him hard in the stomach, getting his attention back to her heavily done up self.
Phoebe finally emerged, dressed in her usual blue skirt, with matching blue sweater (which Phoebe wore slightly off her left shoulder) and her round, purple-framed glasses making her small brown eyes seem darker. Her hair was tied up by a small blue clip on top of her head. Blue sandals displayed her dainty feet. Helga was always envious of her perfectly shaped feet, while her own were always somewhat long and boyish. She was self-conscious of them and just stuck to her white low-tops.
"It's about time, what held you up in there? VanDyke hanging around in the locker rooms and giving her 'give it your complete hundred and ten percent effort' speech again?" Helga asked, taking a shot at the soccer coach.
Phoebe shook her head and said, "No, I just had a little trouble in the locker room. Somebody went through the lockers and had been messing around with our stuff again. Nadine's bra was missing. Patty thinks it might be some perverted jerk from the gym class."
Helga snorted, "More likely it was VanDyke, checking around 'looking for drugs'." She made quotation marks with the words. Phoebe snickered a little at Helga's implication. Miss VanDyke, whose last name and almost un-ladylike appearance, made her a prime target for that old high school stereotype about female gym teachers.
Phoebe sighed and said, "No, I believe she went to the principal's office to discuss your conduct with her from before, and possibly to inform her of your skipping out of American history class."
Helga shrugged and looked completely unconcerned, "Let her, Jackman's an asshole anyhow. I could care less about that. Besides, I wanted to come out and see you practice." She looked at her best friend and said, "By the way, you really suck."
"Gee, thanks a lot for the support," Phoebe said sarcastically, rolling her eyes and smiling.
"Hey, what are best friends for?" Helga said with a grin. "Seriously though, Phoebe, next time go in close with the ball and aim for Big Patty's left. She had trouble on her left with her balance. You can see it in their feet. Patty leans on her left more because she's right handed."
They entered the now noisy cafeteria and went directly for the lunch line to be served today's special. The smell of the food was good despite the fact that the taste was probably not so good. As was the norm among all other high schools, the cafeteria food usually looked and tasted like leftover hospital food. The cafeteria had four long groups of tables that sat a hundred students a piece. The teachers had a table for themselves over by the front next to the first table. A notice board that held school news and the weekly menu was on the wall next to the start of the long line to the waiting servers.
The two of them stood in line and waited behind a couple of senior girls, who wore tight halter tops and short shorts or skirts. They also had their hair sprayed heavily and wore enough makeup to qualify them for jobs as rodeo clowns in Helga's opinion. She tried not to gag by the smell of the hair spray coming off of them. She turned her attention a second to the long tables in the cafeteria and saw all of the various groups already starting to take their seats.
As usual the seniors were taking up the first tables by the back of the cafeteria by the servers, the football team and the cheerleaders, who were among the top of the food chain in the social standing sat at their table as well. These people mostly looked proud of their elevated status and were talking and laughing among themselves, seemingly without a care in the world. Helga knew that to be slightly deceiving. Everyone had worries, especially about college and the real world after this year was done.
The next tables were the popular kids, the ones with the most money, or all the "cool" friends. Rhonda Lloyd was already there with several other loosely termed friends leaning in close and gesturing toward the football players and then giggling. It was enough to make Helga sick. At least Rhonda was still best friends with Nadine, who came over with her tray and sat down a moment later. Some of those popular girls wouldn't have anything to do with Nadine if she wasn't Rhonda's friend. Helga gave Rhonda some small measure of respect over her loyalty and sense of friendship, if not to her social status.
The next tables down were reserved for those kids who usually kept to themselves, or held little, or no social standing, but still managed to avoid being forced to the last table by the entrance and exits with the nerds, the Goths (who sat in their own corner away from the others and several seats apart as an unspoken rule), the bullies and the dimwits. It was the next to the last table where Helga and Phoebe usually sat.
Phoebe turned to Helga and said, "Your powers of observation concerning the team are really incredible."
Helga just shrugged and said, "Eh, it's just being observant. I mean any idiot can see that. Well, except maybe VanDyke."
"Helga, it's saying things like that which was responsible for you being kicked off the team in the first place." Phoebe said shaking her head.
"Oh, and here I thought it was because Frau VanDyke said I wasn't a team player, or that fact that I cussed her out in front of the school last game, because she got up in my face?" Helga said, crossing her arms.
"Well, those things are true," Phoebe conceded, and then added, "Plus, dumping that whole cooler of ice water on her after she took you out of the game. It might have only been that one game if you hadn't done that."
Helga smirked at the memory, "Yeah, maybe. Still I think I did her a favor, I mean she was stinking up the place, on the field and off of it."
Phoebe couldn't help but smile slightly now and added, "I don't think that many of the guys appreciated the impromptu wet t-shirt contest either."
Helga laughed at that one and said, "Hey, not my fault she didn't wear a bra that day."
Finally both girls made it to the servers. They each took a tray and some pre-wrapped utensils. Then they passed by as each waiting cafeteria lady in matching white aprons and hairnets dished out spaghetti in meat sauce, a roll, whole cornel corn, and a bowl of apple sauce. At the end were waiting trays of milk (either white or chocolate) or juices (either apple or orange). Helga chose chocolate and Phoebe white.
"Well what do you know, the meat sauce doesn't look like dog food this year," Helga observed smiling a little as they made their way toward their usual spot. "Maybe we lucked out this time?" Phoebe just smiled as they walked over to their places.
Just before they got halfway there, Helga accidentally stepped on a pile of spaghetti that someone spilled in the floor and failed to clean up near the senior's table. She slipped, losing her balance for a moment and upturned the entire contents of her tray over on top the head of one of the girls near the end of the table. The girl shrieked loudly and shouted, "GROSS!" She stood up and turned to glare at Helga. It was Gloria McMasters, the most popular girl in school among the senior class. Next to her the four other girls all looked shocked at what happened. Indeed, after Gloria's shout, everyone around her turned to look at what happened, including the nearby teachers. Some kids laughed at the sight of Gloria dripping with a mixture of spaghetti, corn and apple sauce on her hair and clothes.
Gloria stood just slightly taller than Helga and, using that to her advantage, said, "Why don't you watch where you're going?"
Helga scowled at being shouted at and said, "Well excuse me for trying to keep myself from falling on my ass, princess!" She hated it when someone was in her face like this. Her hands balled up into fists.
Gloria didn't seem impressed, indeed she looked down on Helga as if she thought she were somehow lower than her. She probably did. "Your excuse, next time, try keeping your eyes open, Pataki."
"My eyes are perfectly fine, Miss Snooty," Helga said, firing back at the girl's arrogance. "I don't paint them shut like you do!"
"Um, Helga, come on, we better . . ." Phoebe started to say, tugging on Helga's left arm and looking worried at the teacher's table, where a couple stood up seeing the confrontation. Helga ignored her and shook her hand off, still glaring up at Gloria.
Gloria's face, which had a drop of meat sauce and a single string of spaghetti on the right cheek, turned red with anger and affront. "Oh and I suppose you are the height of fashion then, Pataki?" She smirked and said, "Judging by those clothes though, I'd say not." The four teenage preps she'd sat with giggled at the words.
"Hey Gloria, don't be so hard on her," one of them said. "I used to dress the same way when I was a virgin too." More giggles.
Helga looked up at her and felt her own cheeks go hot, "Oh yeah, right. Like I want to spend four hours dressing up to look like I'm hanging around on street corners!"
Gloria snorted at the insult and added one of her own, "Oh, and of course this come to you from your own vast experience with boys, huh?" Then she snapped and said, "Oh yeah, I forgot, you've never even had a boyfriend. With that stupid blue hat and those pigtails, I see why. News flash, the homeless white trash look is out, Pataki." She smirked, knowing from the way Helga's mouth tightened that she'd scored a hit. The girls giggled again nodding.
Helga then leaned in and said, with a smirk of her own, "Well, I guess I never had quite as much experience with boys like you have, McMasters. At least, from all the locker room stuff I've heard. Oh yeah, I heard the free clinic is going to start posting your picture up, customer of the month for a whole year, wow what an accomplishment?" She felt satisfied seeing Gloria's face turn even redder, confirming both the rumors and the fact Helga just evened the score. The four girls on Gloria's side all looked scandalized.
"How dare you?" The prep shrieked and got nose to nose with Helga. Reacting to the proximity and her own anger, Helga shoved Gloria away. She landed against the table and her right hand fell into one of her friend's bowl of applesauce. Gloria pushed off the table and shoved Helga back, against the next table. Chants of "Fight! Fight! Fight!" began all over the cafeteria.
"Helga! No!" Phoebe shouted out, but it was too late. Helga grabbed a handful of spaghetti from the tray of some boy at the table she landed against and threw it. It missed Ruth, but hit one of her friends in the face. Another female shriek could be heard.
"FOOD FIGHT!" Someone shouted out. Then pandemonium broke out as over four hundred teenagers threw food at one another, or ducked underneath their tables to avoid being hit. Helga avoided being a target when she charged right at Gloria and grabbed a handful of her hair. Gloria screamed and grabbed Helga's arms and threw them both to the now food-covered floor. They rolled through the spilled food, struggling and shrieking at one another. Finally Helga ended up on top, ready to pound the stuffing out of Gloria, who looked scared now.
Before Helga could throw a punch, however, someone grabbed her around the waist and physically pulled her off of Gloria. It was one of the male teachers. Helga, her heart pumping fast, as well as her adrenalin, squirmed and twisted trying to get at Gloria, who sat up, holding a hand to a bleeding nose.
At that moment a loud whistle blew, and all of the food-tossing students froze in their tracks. Standing at the doorway was Principal Santiago, looking very cross and red-faced. Beside her, still wearing those mirror sunglasses indoors was Miss VanDyke.
"That's enough people!" The principal said as she walked inside purposely followed by the soccer coach. The students slowly sat back down, many of them were covered in food, or splattered by stray hits.
Gloria stood up unsteadily and backed away.
"That's right, bitch, you better run!" Helga screamed out at her, still very angry.
"That's quite enough, young lady!" Principal Santiago said as she came over and stood just behind Gloria. She was looking right at Helga when she said, "My office now!" Behind her was Miss VanDyke, who was smirking triumphantly, looking as if Christmas had just arrived three months early.
"What about her?" Helga shouted, pointing at Gloria. "She started it!"
"I saw what happened. She shoved first, but you were the one who threw down first," Principal Santiago said looking right at Helga. "You're in big trouble this time, Pataki." Then she turned and said to Gloria, "You can come along after the nurse looks at you, Miss McMasters." Gloria looked like she wanted to argue the point, but she just bit her lip and looked down nodding, looking sorry for her actions. It was a fine bit of acting Helga thought angrily.
Phoebe looked over at Helga anxiously. She had some spaghetti on the front of her shirt. Helga looked over at her and sighed shaking her head, letting her know not to get involved. It was her problem and she had to deal with the consequences.
"Everyone go back to homeroom class, lunch period is over!" Principal Santiago called out. Some of the students groaned, others booed, safely hidden away in the obscurity of the crowd of departing students.
Phoebe watched as Helga was led away to the principal's office and sighed shaking her head, "Oh, Helga." She wondered what punishment her best friend's angry tendencies were about to get her into.
In the principal's office Helga just sat there slumped in the uncomfortable office chair in front of the desk as Principal Santiago spoke, arms crossed across her chest and nodding whenever the woman paused. She frowned and then looked up when the woman seemed to stop talking to see the red-faced woman glaring at her. "You aren't listening to what I have been telling you!"
"Damn, I owe my friend Phoebe five bucks now," Helga said sarcastically. "She bet me that you would notice before we finished looks like I lost."
Principal Santiago glared at her and said, "Well then you better listen to this part: one week in school suspension."
"For what? Defending myself against that stuck-up bitch?"
"No for using that sort of language in school, for starting a food fight, and for being disrespectful to faculty members, Miss Pataki." She leaned forward in her chair looking down at Helga who did not meet her eye. "Did you ever consider how much more effective it would be to talk about your disagreement instead of lashing out?"
Helga sat back and snorted, looking at the window.
"This is your third fight this semester. You simply cannot continue to behave like this, Miss Pataki. You have a serious problem and your life is only going to get harder because of it. If you keep up the way you are going you could end up expelled, or worse, in juvenile hall. I believe you are familiar with Cherry Hill?"
Helga didn't answer directly, but the mention of the place was more than enough to make her tremble slightly.
Cherry Hill was the name of the Juvenile Correctional Facility for Girls beyond the peninsula beyond the river, an old set of buildings surrounded by dual fences where the very worst juvenile offenders were sent for some of the worst sorts of crimes to do some serious time. Helga herself had once been sent there, the victim of a set-up for arson at her old grade school when she was ten and spent the better part of a month and a half the subject of the worst sorts of punishments dealing with both menacing inmates doing hard time for violent offenses, to a crooked prison guard who enjoyed the torture and forced sexual favors of the most defiant her charges. Thankfully she'd had Arnold and her friends Phoebe and Gerald, who ultimately found the proof she was innocent and helped her out of that place and put the actual guilty parties behind bars.
Though Helga had not seen the place since then, and the nightmares of her experiences there were long gone, she could not help but trembled at any mention of the hell hole and the prospect of going back there again.
And, of course, Arnold wasn't here now to help her get out like before.
The principal continued, "You need to find a way to deal with your anger problems."
"I don't have any problems, it's everyone else," Helga said flatly. "This place sucks!"
"I'm sure you think that, but none the less I am going to make an appointment for you to see the school district psychologist. You do know Dr. Bliss, I believe?"
"Yeah," Helga said not saying more about it.
Principal Santiago looked at her, then frowned and said, "Fine, it's all up to you now, I am out of options. One more fight, one more incident and I will have no choice but to expel you from this school, do you understand me?"
"Who cares if I get expelled?" Helga said looking at her.
At that the principal leaned forward and said, "That I think is something you need to ask yourself, Miss Pataki. You're dismissed."
Helga wasted no time leaving the office, but not before she flipped off Gloria McMasters, who sat in the chair looking angry and miserable with cotton balls in her nose and a welt on her left eye.
Outside on the front steps Phoebe and Gerald waited for her. Gerald wore his varsity jacket with the pins and looking every bit the jock. If Helga did not know him well and he were not Phoebe's boyfriend she wouldn't even look at him in the hallways.
"So what's the damage this time, girl?" he asked, arm around Phoebe's waist.
"A well ISS and a trip to the shrink to work on my 'anger issues'," Helga said doing air quotes like a certain former teacher of theirs.
"Oh well that is not so bad," Phoebe said looking relieved. "Actually I believe that a trip to Dr. Bliss would be very helpful in alleviating your growing sense of boredom and sexual frustration."
Helga blushed and looked at Phoebe and then gave Gerald a glare when he chuckled. "I don't know what you're talking about, and besides I need to get to work soon."
"You don't want to hang out a bit, go to the mall?" Gerald asked.
"Yeah like watching you two make out while I'm eating Chinese food is so appealing to me at the moment, plus I sorta wanna ride around a bit and think awhile."
Both of them said their farewells as they went to Gerald's car. Helga went over to where her black and red Honda motorbike sat. It was a newer model that was sort of a fixer-upper. But Helga was quite accomplished as a mechanic and shop classes were her strong suit, next to gym and formerly soccer. She sat, put on her black helmet with the red stripe and started up the engine. She zoomed out fast, causing a few cars to honk their horns and one to hit its breaks.
Look out world, here comes Helga G. Pataki, High School Sophomore and she's one pissed off bitch, she thought pulling out onto the street.
To Be Continued . . . .
So how do you like it so far? Do you like Helga as a 16 year old bad girl? What do you think motivates her anger? Please let me know your thoughts and send me plenty of reviews. ~D.R.