Shari’s Honor

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: This story takes place sometime in the distant past. As with all of my other stories, I leave it to you, the reader, to decide when. CONTENT WARNING: Subject matter contained within addresses a love story with assault and revenge. If student-teacher dynamic, non-consent, and revenge are not topics you wish to see, please skip this story. For everyone else…please enjoy and please check out my other related stories featuring the characters within. And as always, thank you very much for reading!

*****

Shari Keefer stood near the small stairway of the North Haskell library’s double doorway when she caught the gimlet eye of a hard butch woman with short dark hair. It was Miss Eddie Neal, a gym teacher from F.W. Harmony, the oldest high school in Thatcher Blake. Miss Neal was speaking with a small group of colleagues presumed to be from the same school. The butch woman glanced up, and for a second or two, their eyes met. Shari suddenly felt uncomfortable, although she wasn’t sure why at the moment. The beautiful blond Social Studies’ teacher looked down at her feet and turned away.

Groups of teachers and administrators from Thatcher Blake’s four high schools were gathered around tables in the library’s common space. A district wide meeting concluded earlier in North Haskell’s main auditorium, and a light luncheon brought everyone here to fill their paper plates with sandwiches and other tidbits. Coffee and lemonade compelled others to gather around, water cooler style, exchanging gossip and news about the upcoming school year.

“Afternoon, young lady. You dropped this on your way out of the auditorium.” The butch gym teacher handed over a folder of notes.

“Oh, thank you.” Shari shot the woman a nervous little smile. “Departmental stuff…Mr. Lightcap would probably kill me if I lost these!”

“Don’t think I’ve ever seen you around before. My name’s Eddie. Eddie Neal. I’m over at Harmony High.”

Shari hesitated. For a second or two, she glanced around the overly crowded library, as if she were searching for help. At the main desk, she saw two of her colleagues discussing something over coffee. Miss Larsson and Miss Treadway, North Haskell gym teachers, were deep in conversation with each other at a small table towards the back. It was business as usual; the requisite all-district meeting before the start of another school year. Nobody seemed to notice Shari Keefer who unwittingly caught Eddie Neal’s apparent interest.

“I—ah—don’t think I’ve had the pleasure of knowing your name.” Miss Neal said.

“Oh…I’m Shari Keefer. I teach Social Studies at Talcott.”

A wide grin spread across the butch woman’s face. “Really? Couldn’t be for long. For a few seconds, I thought you might’ve been a student!”

Shari didn’t smile back. She sighed and looked around the crowded space as if she were searching for someone in particular. “I’m just starting my second year at Talcott. I taught at Walker before that.”

“Shame we haven’t met earlier.” Miss Neal said. “How ’bout I get us a cup of coffee? Or would you prefer something a little more refreshing?”

Shari’s sapphire blue eyes darted sideways, unsure of where to look. Her cheeks felt a little flushed and she held the retrieved folder close to her chest and replied with a nervous little laugh. “Thanks, but…I really need to find Mr. Lightcap. We’re supposed to start work on a project for our incoming juniors and seniors in US History.”

Miss Neal’s grin faded. “Oh, then maybe I’ll see you around the Wellness Fair this weekend.”

Shari shrugged. “Maybe.” She said before walking away.

*****

The District Wellness Fair, held during the last weekend of summer vacation, was arguably the most popular and well attended event in the city. There was a giant fun fair and carnival downtown with different sports competitions hosted at a few middle and high schools on a rotating basis each year. The clear August weather promised another enthusiastic turnout for this year’s event. It was Saturday, and Shari sat across from her colleague, Mr. Glenn Lightcap, finishing the last of her raspberry granita when she spotted a familiar figure in the crowd.

Shari watched the Talcott Varsity and Junior Varsity Pom Squads perform a few routines while stopping to look at the Talcott Fan Association booth, found among dozens of other tents selling food and spirit wear with the goal of raising funds for each middle and high school in the district. Kent Junior High Spirit Squad stood in formation before the sprawling crowd of onlookers who gathered to sit or stand curbside on the closed off section of East Main Street near the Sears and Roebuck. Shari and Mr. Lightcap parted ways after a short conversation. His daughter would be starting eighth grade this year. She was a member of the Varsity Spirit Squad, and he reasoned that he and his wife wanted to grab a good curbside spot to cheer her on. It was probably time to leave the carnival and head over to kağıthane escort North Haskell anyway. A tennis match between the Varsity coaches of North Haskell and Talcott would be starting in another hour or so, and Shari didn’t want to miss it.

Miss Velma Blount, longtime Varsity coach and PE teacher at Talcott High School will be competing against Miss CJ Treadway in a singles match on the tennis courts behind North Haskell. Both the Varsity and J-V teams were set to compete first in a fun match followed by the faculty competition as a grand finale. Tickets were sold by the Booster Clubs for both schools with all funds benefitting the athletic departments of North Haskell and Talcott, respectively. Shari figured the bleachers surrounding the tennis courts would be packed, so she wanted to be sure she got a good seat.

And there was another, more pressing, reason she wanted a good seat: Shari Keefer lived with Miss Blount. Years ago, the beautiful 30 year old Social Studies teacher had been Miss Blount’s former student. Since then, they became lovers, and Miss Blount treated Shari as her “wife,” although not officially, since nobody outside of their small circle of friends thought they were anything other than roommates. Same sex relationships in those long ago days were not only socially unacceptable, they were simply unheard of. Still, rumors often circulated. Most revolved around the formidable Miss Blount and her sexually ambiguous physical appearance with a few jabs about her sexual predilections thrown in for good measure. Shari was fully aware, and although she got along well with her colleagues in the Social Studies department, she was always careful to be discreet.

But almost as soon as she started to leave, Shari was distracted by the sight of a vaguely familiar person. A woman of average height with an almost military style brush cut—Shari guessed she was middle-aged—quickly moved through the crowd towards her. The blond Social Studies teacher paused for a minute or so to say hello to a former student from Walker High, Curt Rippentrop, when she recalled last week’s district meeting at North Haskell. It was the woman she met in the library; the gym teacher from F.W. Harmony.

As Shari said goodbye to Curt, she remembered seeing the woman earlier—not once or twice—but three times. The first time was when she watched a skit performed by members of the Harmony High Student Council. A sudden burst of applause rippled through the crowd watching the Kent Spirit Squad performance. Loud, rhythmic clapping accompanied a small chorus of chanting eighth grade girls’ voices. From this distance, the noise was echoey and dreamlike.

The woman with the brush cut caught up to Shari, compelling her to stop. “Hey there, you seem in an awful rush!”

Shari’s lips formed a strained smile. “Not really, uh, Miss…” Her voice trailed off as she struggled to remember the woman’s name.

“Eddie Neal. My friends call me Ed. We talked last week at the district meeting.”

“Ah yeah, the folder. Thanks for returning it by the way.”

“Oh, it’s nothing. Besides, I got the pleasure of meeting a pretty new face, beautiful, if you don’t mind me saying so. Your husband is a lucky man.” Miss Neal glanced at Shari’s hands and noted the slender fingers, each one lacking a ring. But that didn’t really mean anything. An absolute knockout like this girl probably had a boyfriend or two if she wasn’t married, not that Eddie cared. She just wanted to be sure.

Shari hunched her small shoulders up as if to shrug and responded with a nervous laugh. “Thanks, but I don’t have a husband.”

Another sudden burst of raucous applause burst through the crowd before the rhythmic clapping resumed. The sound, like a steady heartbeat, swelled and echoed. “What’s that, dear?” Eddie Neal shouted.

“I’m not married!” Shari shouted back, trying to make herself heard over the din of the spectators. She didn’t expect the reaction that followed. A wide smile, practically a full-on rictus grin, spread across the butch woman’s face. If she didn’t know any better, Shari would have thought she’d won the grand prize in a sweepstakes drawing.

“Oh, sorry for the mistake.” Eddie Neal replied with a raised voice. “I guessed I just assumed—”

Shari cut the woman off, hoping to make a hasty retreat. “Look, I’d love to stick around and talk, but I’m on my way over to North Haskell.” The young blond’s eyes scanned the crowded sidewalk, hoping to ask a spectator what time it was or get a glimpse of a passing wristwatch. She walked to the carnival from North Haskell a couple hours ago. The school was only about a mile or so away from where she stood, but now she regretted leaving the car keys with Velma. Eddie Neal’s smile softened a little, sensing the urgency in the girl’s voice.

“Must be off to catch the big tennis match.” She said. “A couple of my colleagues are helping out over there and I’m headed that way myself. kartal escort Why don’t you ride along with me? We’ll be there in two shakes of a lamb’s tail!”

Shari looked up at the sky for a few seconds, mulling things over. The offer was especially tempting; too tempting to pass up with the heat of the August sun bearing down on her. “Sure, why not!” She said, and followed Miss Neal through the crowd.

*****

“Have you seen Shari Keefer around?” Miss Lusby asked. “The match is about to start any minute now, and I know she wanted to make sure she had a good seat.”

Miss Diane Lusby, PE teacher from Talcott High, stood near the end of the chain link fence surrounding the tennis courts, chatting with friend and fellow PE teacher, Miss Birgitta Larsson. The fun match Between North Haskell and Talcott’s teams wrapped up with the girls from both sides shaking hands across the net. A dizzying sea of spectators filled the bleachers while others had brought lawn chairs or stood around the fence, jockeying to get the best view they could.

“Jude and Janie saw her running out of a car in the faculty parking lot.” Miss Larsson said. “She seemed to be in a pretty big hurry from what they both said.”

“Must’ve caught a ride from someone,” Miss Lusby speculated. “Probably Glenn Lightcap and his wife…”

A kssshhh! Sound of audio feedback was followed by a man’s voice announcing the anticipated battle between two of the most formidable tennis coaches in the history of Thatcher Blake Public School athletics.

Before it had even begun, the match had become part spectacle, part local pop-culture phenomenon; another epic folktale soon to be added in the annals of high school sporting events. A very tall, lean middle-aged man with jet black skin manned the loudspeaker. Mr. Ike Linley, known to the student body of Talcott High as “Coach,” introduced the two opposing players, and the audience roared with a chorus of shouts and whistles and eardrum-splitting applause.

Miss CJ Treadway has been described by many people as standoffish and unnecessarily curt depending on who was asked. She stood about average height for a woman in her 50’s, and her face seemed frozen with an ever-present stern and steely guise. Dark, calculating eyes stared straight ahead through the lenses of equally dark framed glasses. Her short sleeved shirt, in North Haskell’s red and black, said Ibizan Pride: The Coach is In! A small, black silhouette of a sighthound embellished the space over her left breast.

Miss Velma Blount appeared, racket in hand, and approached the net to shake hands with her opponent. The 56 year old veteran gym teacher towered over her adversary at an intimidating 6’2″. Her height, athleticism, and physical appearance never failed to elicit reactions of alarm from both students and parents. Without a doubt, Miss Blount was exceedingly butch, with light, sandy hair cut very short and blunt. Equally short, blunt bangs and thick eyebrows drew attention to the Amazon woman’s hoary, light blue eyes and the deep lines etched into the rugged features of her face. Her reputation of being firm but fair both in the gym and on the courts was unparalleled. Miss Blount was indeed an apex example of hard butch athleticism.

With her racket tucked under her arm, Miss Treadway’s hand clasped her opponent’s to exchange a firm handshake. Her eyes settled briefly on the solitary bulging vein snaking up the length of Miss Blount’s slim forearm like a faint bolt of lightning. The Talcott coach wore a blue and white shirt with This is Harrier Country! printed above an image of the school’s mascot, mid sprint, on the front of her shirt.

But she hardly felt intimidated. Miss Treadway and Miss Blount had known each other for years, both on and off the courts. And although Talcott’s head coach possessed an impressive talent and skill with a racket, it was not her sport of choice. Miss Blount was a runner. She always preferred distance over speed, and it showed in her profoundly slim, almost underweight, frame.

Miss Blount assumed her position and tossed the fuzzy, bright yellow sphere in the air before sending it over the net. The serve, though basic, is the one stroke over which the player (whoever it is), has total charge. Miss Blount’s serve was flawless, sending her opponent dashing to the far side of left court. For a split second, Miss Treadway was caught off guard, but she was quick on her feet. Her racket made contact, sending the deadly first volley screaming back across the net to the other side.

By the third set, it was clear that Miss Treadway was starting to get the better of her towering opponent. But neither she, or the spectators, knew that something else wrested Miss Blount’s attention from the match. During the first two sets, Velma Blount focused completely on the ball. She was determined to force Miss Treadway to deplete her energy scrambling all over the courts, and while she was at it, kozyatağı escort she aimed to make it look as comical as she possibly could. But now, her icy blue gaze fixated on the crowded bleachers. She saw a beautiful nimbus of light blond hair coursing straight down, like a waterfall, obscuring the hunched and shuddering figure of a young woman.

Miss Blount recognized the slender build and the sweetly innocent facial features revealing themselves as the girl looked up. Shari Keefer, the beautiful girl she called her wife, was also her former student. The towering butch fondly reminisced over the strong bond she’d developed with Shari during the girl’s senior year. And it was on a hot summer night in July after Shari’s graduation when the intensifying slow burn of their mutual bond came to a head. That night marked the end of their relationship as teacher and student, and the beginning of their relationship as lovers.

Velma, trying her best to conceal the trembling in her voice, told Shari to close her eyes. They were in the living room sitting close together on the sofa when they shared their first kiss. Velma couldn’t resist the look on Shari’s face or the pull of her soft, full lips. The girl had been crying only a minute or so before.

They were talking, but for how long, Velma couldn’t recall. But she did remember the sudden, fluttery outburst of sensation rising in the pit of her stomach. Her surroundings that night seemed to waver and fade until all she could see was Shari Keefer’s beautiful face. That first kiss was soft and sweet, and before she knew it, their lips met a second and third time. Velma slipped her tongue in the girl’s mouth, embracing her little body and wanting more. “Come with me.” The butch woman said. She took hold of Shari’s arm, helping the girl up from the sofa, before guiding her down the hall to her bedroom.

THWACK! Miss Treadway lobbed another brutal backhand shot across the net. The ball barely kissed the edge of Velma’s racket, causing her to stumble and miss the shot. The match was over with North Haskell claiming victory. Miss Blount stood there, holding her racket, and extended her hand across the net to exchange a final handshake with her (now victorious) opponent. She watched the restless crowd stirring. Some stood up and left the bleachers while the others were milling around the edge of the courts.

The towering butch woman felt a large hand on her shoulder. It was Ike Linley. The tall black man flashed her a sympathetic smile. “That was some real tough shit, Vel!” He teased.

Velma sighed. “Ah, what did you want me to do? Figured I’d let CJ win this one.”

Coach Linley shook his head and laughed. “You’ll get ’em next time!”

A few minutes later, Miss Blount finished packing up her things while talking to a group of her Varsity girls. She helped herself to a cup of water from a cooler that someone had set up courtside, and slung her gym bag over her shoulder. Miss Treadway and Miss Larsson were standing by the cooler talking to Miss Jane Dowd, a fellow PE teacher from Kent Junior High. Janie, as her friends and colleagues called her, has been Velma’s assistant coach on the Varsity and J-V tennis teams for several years. She saw Janie during the first two sets sitting next to Shari in the bleachers.

Velma shielded her eyes from the late afternoon sun and scanned the bleachers again. By now, the crowd had mostly thinned out, but Shari Keefer was nowhere to be seen. “Hey there, Janie, have any of you seen Shari?” She playfully nudged Miss Dowd with her racket.

“Thought I was supposed to be up against another coach today, but instead all I got was a sandbagger!” Miss Treadway quipped. “What happened out there?”

“Just doing my part for charity, Carol, helping out the less fortunate…and less talented.” That last remark provoked a ripple of laughter from the others. Velma always made a point to discourage any trash talking from her students in class and during sporting events, but she could hardly resist the opportunity to fire back a witty retort. Besides, it was all in good nature. A little trash talking now and then never hurt anybody.

But almost as soon as the laughter started, it stopped. Miss Dowd’s mouth stretched in a tight, straight line and she looked down at her feet. “Have you seen Shari, Janie? I saw her sitting in the bleachers earlier…” Velma’s voice trailed off. She stared back at Miss Treadway who just shrugged. Miss Larsson was silent. “Did something happen to Shari? Is she all right?”

“I think you better tell her.” Miss Larsson said. “Here, let’s have a seat.” She suggested.

Velma tossed her racket and gym bag on the bench near the cooler and sat next to her assistant coach. “Shari’s okay, Velma, but something happened on the way here from the carnival downtown…apparently.” The plain, dark haired assistant coach paused, putting emphasis on that last word. Velma didn’t like the sound of that. Not one little bit.

“I—I saw Shari sitting in the bleachers…she looked upset…like she was crying, or trying not to.” Velma said. “What happened?”

“Someone down at the carnival offered Shari a ride back here…so she could make the match on time. She wouldn’t tell any of us who. I was with Jude when we saw her leaving the person’s car.”

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