Chapter 3: The Evolution of the Teen Rebels
It was now Monday, January 11, 1988. Josie, Seth, and Moira were hiding in an abandoned room in the back of the library. The room hadn’t been used since the 1960s, and no one knew the room existed.
The room had clean white walls and multicolored rugs, but years of neglect made the room almost unusable. Josie discovered that room during another missed art class and swiped enough cleaning materials from the janitor’s closet to make the room into a decent place for her to hide. The furniture consisted of discarded tables and chairs that no one took to the junkyard. Josie made sure that the furniture was presentable before her new-found friends could hide in the room.
Josie, Moira, and Seth were now sitting in that room, attempting to do their homework and ignoring the gossip their fellow students were involved in. Josie hated gossip; she often intimidated any student that engaged in gossip, whether the rumor was true or not. There was not a single student in Montagne Middle School who wasn’t scolded by Josephine Tremlett-Kahn for gossiping; even the teachers weren’t safe from Josie’s ability to detect gossip. She often called out the offending person in the middle of class.
Had she known she was the subject of today’s gossip happening in the library, Josie Tremlett-Kahn could have put an end to the gossip. She probably could have prevented the trouble the rumor might have caused...
Sheila Baines was the type of person who you would avoid if it were possible. She was described as a poisonous snake, with a dark complexion, short wavy red hair, and bark brown eyes. She was of average height, quite heavy, and often wore old-fashioned clothing.
Sheila, the oldest person attending Montagne Beach Middle School at age 16, ruled over the entire student body with an iron fist. She did not approve of anyone who dared to be different, nor did she like those who weren’t Black. She made sure no racial group was allowed to mix and kept those whom she deemed “weird” away from the rest of the school using isolation, intimidation, and cruelty. (Due to her cruelty, many kids who attended Montagne Beach Middle School either quit school altogether or convinced their parents to let them switch to another school. Those who stayed, however, did whatever they could to stay out of Sheila’s way as much as they could.)
Besides being a nightmare to the student population, Sheila also disrupted classes and angered many teachers with her awful behavior. No one was safe from her cruelty, not even the teachers and school staff. Yet, for all their efforts to get her under control, no teacher could get Sheila reprimanded or even expelled from the school. Sheila’s mother, Wanda, was on the PTA; no one was brave enough to approach her to discuss the problems her daughter was causing for everyone. So, everyone was forced to put up with Sheila’s antics. Josie made sure to stay out of Sheila’s way as much as she could.
Anyway, we should continue with the story about Josie, Moira, and Seth, but we must remember that they will eventually deal with Sheila about their strange friendship. However, the way they would deal with Sheila and her cruel ways would have the entire school talking for many years to come.
“It’s impossible to think Mrs. Higgs expects us to do three pages worth of math problems in one night,” Shane Giambetti said to Tom Quinn as they sat together at a table in the library trying to complete their math homework. “How am I supposed to do this work when I have to help work in my family’s bakery? That’s not fair.”
“Telling her about your family’s problems is out of the question, Shane,” said Tom. “You know how she is; she would say that “Your education is more important than your family.” I’ll be dead before I have to choose between school and family.”
“What does she know about working in the family business?” said Shane. “She’s an American citizen while I’m part of a family that moved here from Italy two years ago. Let’s be realistic here.”
“Indeed,” said Tom, but then the two boys were interrupted from doing their homework when Vanessa Bass and Kelly Adams walked by their table. They were talking about Josie Tremlett-Kahn, Seth Burke, and Moira Downing. In other words, Dinah Munoz claimed to see Josie and the other two walking into the library and told someone. Within 15 minutes, rumors about Josie and her new friends began spreading in the halls of Montagne Beach Middle School. The rumors were bound to reach the ears of Sheila Baines soon.
“I can’t believe that girl,” said Vanessa. “Who does Josie Tremlett-Kahn think she is, anyway?”
“She has no self-respect, wears trashy clothes, and has the personality of a goldfish,” said Kelly. “She needs help.”
“Either that, or a good beating,” said Vanessa. “If my mom ever found me wearing anything remotely trashy, she’d tan my hide.”
“I know,” said Kelly. “And what is up with those two losers that she’s hanging out with?”
“Seth Burke?” said Vanessa. “Now I know that guy is an anarchist who hates the United States, even if he was born and raised as an American citizen. What does he have against this country, anyway?”
“And what about that Moira Downing,” said Kelly. “That girl is such a pathetic loser. She doesn’t like anyone, wears that hideous blue scarf all the time, and insists that we call her Moira even though her name is Mary. Could she be even more messed up?”
Shane and Tom returned to their work, not believing a word that they had just heard. “Josie hanging out with Seth Burke and Moira Downing?” Tom cried out. “You’ve gotta be kidding me! Josie NEVER hangs out with the weird kids!”
“Not unless you’re talking about Lauryn Passano, Cooper Verdansky, Connor Finnegan, Mike Campbell, and Nikolas Huntington,” said Shane. “Those are the people she hangs around with.”
“Not really,” said Tom. “I’ve seen her with Caleb McGrath and Leyla Littleton on several occasions. They usually hang out on Cannery Row or Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey.”
“And let’s not forget Jacey Mayford,” said Shane. “Those two were buds even before they came here and we all know it. In fact, everyone knows that they were friends since the second grade. There’s nothing Josie wouldn’t do if Jacey’s not around. That’s just the way it is.”
“But Seth Burke and Moira Downing?” cried Tom. “Blegh! Those two are no good for her. When last I checked, Seth is a fool who hates this country and claims to be from some foreign country, even though we know he comes from this country. Moira is a messed-up girl who isn’t worth anyone’s time. If you ask me, I say that Josie’s making a serious mistake here by befriending those two. I hope she comes to her senses and gets rid of them before something bad happens to her.”
As she listened to the gossip that spread around the library, Sheila sat in her seat in the back of the library and frowned as she took in the scene before her: two girls, both disregarding her rules for them and their friendship, were discussing the surprising friendship of Josie Tremlett-Kahn, Seth Burke, and Moira Downing. This rumor made her blood boil to the point where an artery would burst and kill a 50-year-old man. She resolved to teach Josie, Seth, and Moira a harsh lesson about who they should or should not be friends with. Nobody defied her rules and lived!