Falling Beneath the Magnolia

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The Contest...

Chapter 6:

October 1962.

The Contest..

Bruce Point of View.

Autumn fades away, with it the front of an early southern winter begins to smother the town of Oxford. Everyone is helpless against the winter onslaught, none more so than the soldiers, who’s numbers had dwindled from 30,000 troops to 5,000.

They are and have been encamped in the grassy area at the center of the Track. Men’s track practiced at the nearby high school to give the soldiers space. The weather only seems to worsen, the bitter winds rip through the archways and tall columns of the buildings.

Today there is a rare break in the weather, it isn’t warm, but it is not freezing, at 63 degrees and with no wind the weather is perfect for a picnic.

Bruce sits in his civics class, he sits in his usual seat, the row in front of Bruce is empty apart from one person. When class started the man sat down in an empty seat in the row in front of Bruce. When he sat down in the empty seat, the entire row of students got up from their seats and left class rather than sit with him.

He had two other classes with Meredith, Bruce didn’t take part in the hazing towards this man, but Bruce did nothing to stop it, he had no animosity towards this man, that said Bruce isn’t chopping at the bit to be friends with him. His eyelids feel heavy, the school must not have anticipated the break in the weather, because the heat inside the classroom is sweltering and is causing Bruce to become drowsy.

Another paper airplane comes sailing down the lecture hall, the point of the airplane hits the shiny bald head of James Meredith. At the impact of the airplane on his head causes several of the students to laugh.

All class these airplanes had been thrown with pinpoint accuracy. Bored of the gag and most of all the class lecture, Bruce closes his eyes. He didn’t know how long he fell asleep for he is only woken by the sounds of bags being tossed about.

He wakes with a jolty start, people shuffle past him, he gathers his notes and makes his way to his car, Bruce drives towards Sorority Row, along the way Bruce spies the damage that had been fixed from the riots. All windows and wreckage has been replaced or removed. The only visible signs something happened are the scorch marks on the concrete that hadn’t washed way yet.

Bruce pulls in front of the Tri Delta house, waiting at the curb is a girl with shiny black hair. Today she wears a cream-colored button up shirt, the shirt is tucked into her tan riding pants, on her feet are a pair of quality knee high, brown leather riding boots. Bruce loved seeing Callie Bee in her riding clothes, if she didn’t already have the grace of nobility, to add to her beauty, the sight of her clingy pants gave justice to her figure. Dangling in front her knees is a wooden picnic basket. To Bruce she looked adorable and innocent.

Placing his Chevy in park, Bruce leaves it idling and greets his girlfriend.

“Let me get that for you” says Bruce taking the basket from her.

At the same time, he takes the basket in his hands, he holds the car door open for her as she take her seat. Once she is seated he retreats to the trunk of his Chevy, to store the basket.

As soon as Bruce gets into the driver’s seat the girl attaches herself to his waist in a big hug, she gives him several excitable kisses on the cheek.

“I have been looking forward to this ever since you called this morning. I asked Miss Betty our cook to make us a lunch, I took a peak and you will be happy to know that we have been blessed with potata salad”

“That is great news, not only do I get to spend the day with the girl of my dreams, I also get my favorite side dish.”

Bruce puts his arm around Callie Bee’s waist and pulls her into his rib cage tight.

“Did you go riding today?”

He asks her to make; conversation, he picked up the smell of wildflowers in her hair, if that wasn’t and indicator she went horseback riding then her attire would be next giveaway.

“Yes, the stress from planning this philanthropy has me at my wits end. With everything else goin on this semester, I feel that I am neglecting Fitz.”

Fitz is one of Callie Bee’s quarter horses that she stabled near the school. She rode as often as she could, Bruce loved riding with her, she is a skilled horsewomen, seeing her in her natural element always brought out a heightened level of pride.

The ride out to Lake Puskus is scenic, along the way, little farms and thick forests feature horses and deer, grazing on the foliage, like Bruce and Callie Bee, the wild life wanted to take advantage of unexpected weather.

Callie Bee happily leans against Bruce’s chest and takes in the scenery. Which is a nice change of pace, Bruce had been thinking of a way to snap her out of her funk, she had been in this strange mood ever since the Battle of Ole Miss.

“You been in class with that man right?” Callie Bee asks. Bruce knew who she was talking about.

“Yeah I have two classes with him, why do you ask?”

“I saw him goin to the JC, I saw a group of men spit at his feet. Are people that mean in class?” Bruce hesitated, but spoke truthfully.

“Unfortunately, yes”

“What kinds of things do they say to him”

“It is not so much what they say, it’s what they do, Bee such things aren’t for your ears.”

“It just seems that there is so much hate in this world, I thought after the mob had been chased away that all this ugliness would stop.” Her tone is strained and full of pain.

Since that violent night there had been one attempt at rebirthing the riot on the town square, the National Guard put a quick stop to that. Other than that, no incidents, the attitude towards James Meredith is a separate issue. Bruce had never seen so many people entrenched.

Only now does Bruce realize that this hate, combined with the Battle of Ole Miss had been what has affected Callie Bee’s mood of late.

As they near the lake for their picnic, Callie Bee randomly asks Bruce a question, she had been quiet for a few minutes.

“Bruce, I was thinking that this Thursday we should try and take in a show in Memphis, we haven’t done that in ages...”

Bruce now had further clarification on his earlier suspicions.

“Sweetheart, what’s wrong you know that’s the day of your contest?”

Out of the corner of his eye, Bruce witnesses her brush her hair out of her eyes, the wind of her open window kept blowing his dark strands into her face.

“I just don’t want to serve the men of this town, I know there will be police there also, they hardly lifted a finger as our campus was torn apart by those savages. If it wasn’t for men like you, who knows what would have happened.”

“Bee you have worked too hard to give up a few days before curtain call, you always see things through, I really think this will help you move passed these last few weeks. You will see, this will be good for other people, walking around campus feels like going to a funeral. Wouldn’t it be great to bring some semblance of normal and cheer back to Oxford.”

Surprisingly Callie Bee wore a huge smile stretching ear to ear.

“You always know how to make me feel better” she squeezes his waist with a hug.

With her concerns hopefully laid to rest, Callie Bee didn’t say the much more. It wasn’t much longer until they pulled into the park.

Thick trees are on either side of the dirt road leading towards the park, goldish dust kicks up from the dry clay of the road. At the end of the dirt road the lake comes into view.

“There is no one here” Remarks Callie Bee at the near empty parking lot.

“Looks like we will have the lake all to ourselves.” Callie Bee scans the parking lot.

Bruce parks his vehicle near the only other vehicle, he opens the passenger door for a waiting Callie Bee. Next he opens his trunk and hands her the basket.

“Bee please wait over by the dock I am going to rent us a boat.”

Bruce walks over to the little wooden lakeside hut, inside is a nice old woman, the cottontop is friendly enough to Bruce.

“Hello what can I do for you?”

“Good afternoon Ma’am, we would like to rent a rowboat please.”

The woman leans out of the window of her hut, she sees Callie Bee waiting at the dock. Sitting back down in her chair she asks Bruce.

“That pretty thing with you, y’all have been my only customers all day, even the regulars were fooled by the weather, it will be $2.50 please.”

Bruce pays the clerk and walks over to the dock. The oars were already inside the boat.

“Sweetheart just wait here a moment while I get the boat ready.” Bruce puts the oars into place in their holds. He then grips the mooring line tightly bringing the bow of the rowboat to the edge of the dock.

“Bee let me help you in”

Callie Bee walks over dangling from her arm is the picnic basket.

Standing on the dock with the wind blowing her hair back slightly, he never tired of looking in her direction. Bruce holds his hand out to Callie Bee to help her into the boat. She first hands him the basket, he sets it on his seat for a moment. He then grips the hand of the lovely brunette on the dock and slowly eases her onto the boat.

Callie Bee gracefully takes her seat with her back turned to the stern of the rowboat. Bruce tosses the line into the bottom of the rowboat and gives a good push off from the dock. As he settles into his position at the bow, of the boat, Bruce takes careful, long strokes in the water to prevent any from splashing into the boat.

Callie Bee is on her kneeling on her seat, leaning over the edge feeling the water with her hand, her fanny in the air offers Bruce a pleasant view complemented by the riding pants. Bruce felt that if the Viking slaves had this view inside the boat they might have rowed much harder.

They truly did have the lake to themselves, not a soul could be seen.

“It’s so calm…” Observes Callie Bee.

Bruce’s steady strokes carry them to a quiet area well away from the rental hut.

“This looks like a great place to eat; l remember there being some mention of ‘potata’ salad.” Mocks Bruce.

At times he liked to imitate her accent.

Cupping her pale white hand over her mouth, Callie Bee giggles at Bruce’s joke. She is nothing if not a good sport.

She moves the basket behind her seat, she begins setting down plates and cutlery onto the bench separating them. Then she takes out two sandwiches and then a container of potato salad, with one large serving spoon.

Bruce looks out at the water; he sees an eagle dive down and snatch a fish off the surface with its talons. Callie Bee says something to him, but he doesn’t hear her. It isn’t until knocks on the wooden bench separating her and Bruce that he comes out of his daze.

“Bruce, hello, Bruce wake up.”

He snaps out of his daze, when he stares at Callie Bee on the other side of the boat, she looks radiant. The sun shines off of her hair, the light bathes her smile, illuminating her sparkling teeth and dimpled cheeks.

“Hm” Grunts Bruce giving his attention to the pretty girl sharing his boat.

“Would you like lemonade or sweet tea?”

Bruce picks tea, Callie Bee turns around to dig out the container of tea.

With her back turned to him, Bruce reaches for his lower back. Drawing the heavy, clunky object, from his leather holster, Bruce is careful as holds his hand over the boat.

He couldn’t lean out any further without tipping the boat. Bruce frees his fingers from the revolver he used to kill one of Alice’s attackers.

The weapon plops into the water with a splash. Since the morning that the National Guard had restored order to the campus and town, Bruce had been trying to ditch the murder weapon.

The law reported to the papers that the person Bruce shot was an innocent bye standard, he knew different, that said they had been searching the vehicles leaving campus and doing searches around town, this is the first week the road blocks had stopped.

“What was that noise?” Asks Callie Bee.

She looks in the direction of the splash, she stares down looking at the water’s ripples for the cause of the noise.

“It was a bass darling a large one.” Replies Bruce.

Looking into her longing eyes Bruce gently leans forward and lightly lifts her chin to with his thumb and index finger. They embrace in a long passionate kiss, as he pulls away. Callie Bee grips the back of his head with her fingers, lightly pulling his hair in the process. When the long moment passes, the brunette stares at him starstruck and breathless.

A dazzled Callie Bee cutely adds.

“Wow, I hope we see some more fish!”

The couple happily tucks into their meal. Bruce wolfed down his portion of the potato salad, currently Bruce is consuming the last half of his sandwich.

“You got quite the appetite today Bruce, maybe you should think of entering the contest?” Bruce smiles.

“Ha, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Teases Bruce. Callie Bee is well near finished with her lunch as well.

“What can I say, you’re not the only one who enjoys a turkey sandwich.”

Bruce notices something about their sandwiches.

“Let me see something”

Bruce picks up the other half of her sandwich and compares it to the width of his sandwich.

“You picked the bigger sandwich” She bursts out laughing.

“I didn’t think you would catch it”

Bruce breaks out in laughter joining his girlfriend, even though both of them are now silent. Bruce can still hear their voices echoing off the empty lake and landscape. Hearing both their voices together, even in the fleeting distance, he heard their laughter clearly.

Her angelic tone, with his deep base; he wondered if this is how it sounded when the gods laugh, an almost endless rhythm and harmony and then almost entirely too soon the noise dies.

Bruce finished first eating first.

“Bruce, I’ll say it again you should enter the contest.”

“Okay my lady, it sounds like you want me to do battle for the sake of your honor?” She rolls her eyes.

Playing the part Callie Bee replies in her twang.

“I would be deeply honored if you took up my cause”

With their meal all but finished they place the empty plates and cups in the basket.

“If I am gonna do that...”

Bruce moves carefully, with the center bench cleared Bruce flexes his arms under Callie Bee’s weight, lifting her as if she is not heavier than a house cat.

Bruce drapes his girl on his lap, being slightly caught off guard Callie Bee, lets a surprised laugh escape her lips, the giggles echo across the still water.

With her giggling he expands on his earlier statement.

“If I am gonna do that, I am going to need a favor to wear during the contest to give me strength.”

Still sitting in his lap, Callie Bee intently stares at Bruce, the look of intrigue spreads across her face, he can tell she is thinking, then she pulls the red silky bow from her hair.

She drapes the ribbon around his neck and then purrs into his ear making his goosebumps stickup all along his body.

“May this small piece of me and my heart travel with you and this ribbon, let this extension of my heart see you through to victory.”

There is no glimmer of a jest or exaggeration in her tone. She had meant those words. Bruce’s mouth quickly found hers.

He found some time between their embrace to tenderly whisper in her ear.

“Bee you are the one person in the world that I adore with all my heart, know I am not taking any of this for granted.”

“Bruce you ain’t going anywhere are you? You ain’t even gonna try to put a ring on this.”

She held up her hand, she showed him the ringless finger.

“Bee…”

He was speechless… almost.

“You would marry me?”

She kisses him on the forehead in the same tender way she did the night she tucked him into the bed after the riot. When her lips leave his head, his shoulders burned fire red and he felt all the blood in his body rushing to his face. He knew he was blushing and then she gracefully leaned next to his ear.

“Only if you ask… Embarrassed is a cute look on you darlin, I love you”

Bruce didn’t get a chance to say he loved her back as Callie Bee passionately rekindles their kiss from moments ago.

Day of the Contest:

His face won’t stop sweating, his armpits have now soaked through his third undershirt. Chuck pulls the black sweater over his body; he makes sure that there is nothing on him that could be considered identifying. He has checked himself over in the mirror a dozen times. His generic jeans are taped to his legs, he would wear tight fitting gloves.

Chuck leaves his room and staggers down to hall towards Bruce’s room, Chuck felt sick, he enters Bruce’s room, his face is dripping sweat and his hands are disgustingly clammy. Worse his complexion had turned an ominous green as if he could burst at any moment.

“Hey man I don’t think I can do this; you think the police will be busy but what about the Marshals, the Army or worse a passerby?”

Bruce didn’t like this at all, he couldn’t risk weakness…Today of all days they would both need to be sharper than tungsten needles. Bruce is left to do the only thing he can think of. He smacks Chuck across the face as hard as he can.

“Cut the shit, you and I have put near seven months into planning this job. We can’t back out now everything is in motion. Keep calm, by 2 pm you and I will be in different tax brackets. I am going to put in a few hours in at the diner for appearance sake, I’ll meet you here, make sure everything is working with the Packer, where are Ashley’s keys?”

Chuck takes a set of keys from his pocket and hands them over to Bruce. Bruce left shortly after, he arrived for his shift at 4:30. Bruce spent all morning busing tables for the early morning rush, he is on his last half an hour of his short shift.

He had spent the shift setting up the tables in the back of the Beacon, in addition, he also erected a dais for the competition. As he finishes setting up the chairs, his boss Rita walks over to him.

“McKean good work this morning, why don’t you go and punch out.” Bruce aims a forced smile towards his boss, on the outside Bruce appears to be keeping it together, on the inside however his nerves have feeling like he could shit his pants at any moment.”

“Thanks ma’am. I am going to go home and change, I’ll see you around ten after I go to Tupelo.”

“What you are going to Tupelo for?”

“I forgot to get the trophy for the competition.”

“You better get a move on; I would hate to see that sweet girl of yours when she’s ornery”

When Bruce arrives at his house he sees that a neon green sedan, a 1940s Packer idles in the driveway, parking in the street Bruce enters the house to see Chuck, he is still dressed in black and his nerves seem to have settled.

Bruce can spy the pintsize bottle of Evan Williams on the table looks like that is where Chuck found his courage. Bruce dresses and wished he could stomach a drink to calm his nerves, Bruce held no doubt that he wouldn’t be able to keep it down anyhow.

Both men wear all black, when they are around the block from the bank, they pull their ski masks down over their faces. They had bad gas as a side effect of the anxiety, therefore the flatulence is the car is enough to make both men gag.

Bruce had picked up this car in Arkansas in May, he and Chuck spent the summer restoring it. All for the purpose of this one job. Pulling up to the building Bruce adjusts his ski mask to make sure he could see out the eyeholes. Bruce and Chuck withdraw their guns and exit the car leaving the engine running.

6B, Callie Bee: Point of View.

Sweat drips from her face, arms tired, Callie Bee struggles to keep up with the demand. The turnout happened to be much larger than she had expected. A dozen of her sorority sisters failed to show up, causing the girls who showed to work overtime.

Currently Callie Bee is stirring the batter. Once she is sure the batter is soupy enough, she dips the ladle inside the mixture and pours it onto the skillet top.

Bruce had set up the tables for the mixing stations earlier, Callie Bee is at the station closest to the kitchen. The mixing tables are on the perimeter of the dining room.

Callie Bee wipes the sweat from her brow and looks around at the restaurant as the pancake cooks. She saw so many people, seeing another student flirting with one of her sorority sisters nearby, she wishes that Bruce would hurry up.

Mrs. Catherine phoned the Beacon to let her know that Bruce was on his way to Tupelo. He should be arriving within the hour, Callie Bee assumed he waited until the last minute to pick up the trophy.

Looking down at her work, Callie Bee places the finished pancakes on two plates, she hands a stack of four pancakes to a man and a stack of two to his wife.

The next person on her line is a Skinny Trooper with a shaved head. She felt momentary anger at the sight of the man. She blamed the officers for the destruction their campus endured. She pretends to be happy as she greets him. Not a second after greeting him, the earsplitting static of his radio is heard.

“Dang it Dean!” Screams Rita.

The old woman storms across the dining room her hands wave in the air erratically.

“Not today! We have too many people in Beacon, I ain’t listening to that noise all mornin, turn off that gotdang radio!”

Dean holds up his hands.

“Easy Rita, I forgot!”

Dean turns around to the five other officers behind him.

“Listen Y’all cut off them radios”

Callie Bee observes all the men in uniform turning off their radios. She loved that Rita enforced this rule, ever since they had gotten those radios they were such a distraction to have in the restaurant.

“What kind of pancakes can I get you? I have regular or you can have chocolate chip pancakes.”

Dean looks at her in the eyes, self-conscious she looks away.

“Don’t be shy sweetheart, if y’all were Rita’s regular staff, boy you’d make her the richest person in town.”

He adds a wink as he takes the plate from her.

When Dean leaves the table, Callie Bee feels an uncomfortable shiver creep down her spine. She wished Bruce would hurry up.

6C, Bruce Point of View:

Bruce pulls on his mask trying to get his eyeholes to stop moving, seeing that this is impossible, Bruce does his best to ignore the mask. Moving towards the bank, Bruce rubs the silky cloth of the red bow Callie Bee gave in a few days ago.

The ribbon feels like armor to him, resolved to see this through, Bruce enters the bank at a fast pace just short of a jog. In his hand is a revolver, he and Chuck bought two dumbgats, which are guns that are tossed after a job. They purchased the weapons from a Russian in Memphis.

As they storm the bank, the two tellers don’t look up until Chuck leaps onto the counter. The uncharacteristic display of athleticism on Chucks part, is almost as foreign as the cold voice to which he orders around the two female bank tellers. There is not a hint of nervousness in his icy tone.

“Don’t move!” Shouts Chuck.

Chuck bellows his orders as he jumps down on the other side of the counter.

“Get the fuck against the wall, I’ll splatter your brains if you think of moving.”

One of the woman is slow to move, Chuck doesn’t falter in his duties, Chuck grips them woman by the roots of her hair and tosses her against the wall near her colleague, both woman quiver in fear. The black latex gloves he wears offer his grip an extra rough touch.

Bruce had left Chuck to deal with the staff, he had been walking towards the hallway leading to the manager’s office. A tall man with thick hair spies Bruce in his black clothing. Both he and Bruce exchange awkward eye contact, then Bruce sprints after the man.

The manager runs into his office and closes his door, he tries to lock the door but Bruce’s foot slams into the door. The manager desperately tries to scramble to his desk, he opens the drawer, before his hand can reach inside, Bruce’s dives across the desk.

Knocking the bank manager into the drywall, Bruce gives the man a hard punch to his stomach, Bruce then beats the man with the hard steel of his throwaway revolver!

Several times he brings the trigger guard of his gun down on to the face of the bank manager! When Bruce smacks him on the bridge of his nose, the cartilage can’t stand up to the force of the two strikes of the weapon.

With the bank manager knocked out Bruce, takes his keys from his pocket and the gun from the drawer. As Bruce rips the telephone from the wall, Chuck enters leading the two woman into the room. He smacks each woman on the rear to urge them into the room.

“That is one fine ass” Shouts Chuck.

Chuck smacks the last woman on the rump hurrying her into the room. While Bruce breaks the key off in the office door, trapping the three people in the office. He drops the managers gun outside the office and returns to the main room.

The tellers had been in the process of filling their drawers and left the vault open. Bruce and Chuck fill their duffle full of cash.

They walk to the back of the bank and slip out the side door, their car is still running on the curb. Bruce and Chuck get into the car as they see several people approaching the glass doors. The pedestrians pull on the doors handle, unable to open the bank door from the outside the people peak in the windows. Chuck drives away from the bank unnoticed.

Chuck speeds up as he heads down South Lamar, he leaves South Lamar getting to the highway, Chuck crosses the highway and uses side streets, Chuck drives deep into the county he drives as fast as the Packer can take them.

Chuck turns onto county road 452, the road stretches for six miles. Halfway along Chuck pulls the car off the road and parks under a tall pine tree near a small pond. Hidden in the bushes under a green car cover is Bruce’s Chevy.

Getting out of the car the pair works quickly, they were a bit ahead of schedule. Chuck takes two gas cans from the bushes, Bruce stashes the money in the Chevy, Next they removed their clothes, standing in only their boxers they toss their clothes into the gasoline-soaked cab.

Bruce produces a book of matches and lights the entire matchbook and tosses it into the open passenger window. The flames instantly spread along the seat in a blaze of heat and flame, the boys get into the Chevy and drive away from the Packer.

He puts the pedal to the floor as the Chevy takes off down the street like a rocket. Riding back to the house in his underwear, Bruce looks in the rearview mirror. The black smoke grew thicker, he had gotten to the highway and could see the smoke from the burning wreckage.

As Bruce turns onto South 18th street towards his house, he feels giddy as a school girl. In excitement he bangs his fist on the dash and jumps up and down in his seat.

They sprint into their house in their boxer, strange actively like seeing two boys run from a car in their underwear is not unusual in a college town. Bruce takes a quick shower to get the smell of fuel and smoke from his skin. Once dressed, he dries his head with a towel and gives it a quick brush. On his way out he grabs the trophy, the trophy is on his bed, it is a gold cup with a plaque that is inscribed with the inscription ’1962 Tri Delta Fall Philanthropy 1st place!’

Bruce pulls into the Beacon ahead of schedule, he has trouble finding a parking spot, nearly all the spots are filled. Bruce sees a score of police cars in the lot. After he finds a spot a hundred yards away he walks towards the building.

Pulling open the glass door, before he walks into the building he spots a sign in neat female hand writing, the sign reads

‘Private Event all you can eat pancakes $3.00.’

Inside the Beacon is packed wall to wall, he has to push through the throngs of people towards the back-dining room. Bruce sees dozens of people standing around the dais, Bruce looks around for his girlfriend.

At mixing station near the kitchen, he finds his girlfriend. Callie Bee is covered in batter and her face is slick with a thin layer of sweat.

“You look like you been hard at it, thinking about becoming a cook after school”

Callie Bee looks up at Bruce with eyes of the deepest longing.

“You’re here, thank the lord, I have been wonderin when you would show, some of the girls were taking bets if you would make it? Ha, me as a cook I’ll tell you this I am not cut out for hard labor like this.”

Callie Bee leaves her spot behind the mixing table. She spies Dean looking over at her and Bruce. Callie Bee hops on her tippy toes and plants a quick but passionate kiss on his lips. When she and her lover separate from their embrace she sees the disapproving look sent her way. Ignoring the trooper she gives Bruce’s tasty chapped lips a second kiss.

“Gosh you would think I was returning from the war or something?” teases Bruce, He had been taken by surprise.

Callie Bee is marveling in her sneak kiss when she remember that she is pressed for time and need to find one more competitor.

“You are here just in time! There is one spot left for the contest will you please enter?”

Bruce looked up at the dais there were eight chairs total chairs, five of the contestants were police officers, one of which is the Sheriff Buddy Hagger.

“Okay I will but know you owe me big time for all the effort I have put in?”

“You know that I am always grateful for you...”

“I know you are, I just like hearing it.” Teases Bruce.

Bruce takes her ribbon from his pocket to show her.

“May I get a kiss for good luck?”

She lifts the ribbon to her lips once she has blessed the favor, Bruce puts it back in his pocket and climbs the steps to the dais. Taking his seat, he stares into the large crowd gathered in the dining room.

A sea of white faces stare at him, all wear amused smiles, his girlfriend Callie Bee moved her way to the front of the crowd.

6D, Callie Bee: Point of View...

She looks up at Bruce and offers him an encouraging smile, he was always such a good sport.

“He’s cute, but you could use a real man?”

A familiar voice had whispered into Callie Bee’s ear.

Callie Bee looks behind her and to her shock it was Dean the Trooper who whispered in her ear! He moves closer to her, he is inside her personal space! Everyone in the crowd is focused on the competition.

His hand slides under her apron, feeling her front then moving to her backside, Callie Bee moves forward but people block her...

She looks for a way out and sees one, but as she moves out of the crowd towards the bathrooms Callie Bee feels a pair of rough hands on her waist, the powerful hands push her towards the bathroom. Everyone in the restaurant is focused on the men eating no one hears her cry out.

“Sir please stop!”

The officer doesn’t listen as he pushes her against the wall and places her mouth on his.

6E, Bruce: Point of View.

Bruce didn’t know where Callie Bee took disappeared to. As soon as the buzzer sounded off Bruce had been inhaling the flapjacks. He had been shoveling pancakes into his mouth at such a fast rate his jaw began to tire.

He swallowed two stacks of pancakes with ease, upon finishing his third stack Bruce feels his mouth becoming dry and thirsty from the butter and syrup. Bruce takes a deep gulp of milk. Bruce then took down two more stacks.

Suddenly he sees Rita running up the stairs to the dais.

“Stop, Stop everything!”

She runs over to the Sheriff and whispers in his ear. He walks over to the microphone.

“Turn on your radio!” Bellows the Sheriff, chunks of food are spit into the crowd with his orders.

At the sheriffs request, the police officers in the building turn the knobs on their radios. The noise is deafening.

“All officers are to head to University Avenue now!!” Shouts the Sheriff to his men.

6F, Callie Bee: Point of View.

Callie Bee had pushed away from Dean, he had only gotten his mouth on hers for a second, She had retreated to the payphone bank when she heard the Sheriffs voice telling everyone to turn on their radios. Dean was five steps from her, she could feel the warmth of liquid running down her quivering legs.

“All officers respond to University Avenue; the Oxford Credit union has been robbed.”

The static had made the words hard to hear, still Dean turned away from Callie Bee leaving her with her shame, nothing too serious happened, she is still confused and alarmed about the interaction, no one saw, no one helped, Callie Bee had never had a man grab at her like that...

All the officers scramble over one another, Bruce gets up from dais and walks towards Callie Bee, the small amount of make-up she wore is smeared, her apron is damp and ripped.

“Rita what happened?” Asks Bruce pretending not to know what happened.

“The bank on the other side of town got robbed, it is all my fault I kept enforcing that stupid rule”

Inside his mind Bruce jumps for joy. He is happy that Rita is accepting the blame for his plan. On the outside he puts on a look of concern, he uses all he can to hide his smile.

“Rita please don’t blame yourself; you were just trying to do right by our customers. Don’t beat yourself up, you are not totally at fault.” Says Bruce with a gentle voice.

His words do little to comfort the older woman, tears swell in her eyes as she runs into the kitchen to cry.

“I guess all there is left to do is clean-up” Bruce mutters out loud.

Callie Bee only nods her head. Bruce assumed that it was the abrupt end to pancake eating contest for her withdrawn mood. No winner had been awarded for the victor of the contest.

After they had cleaned up, Bruce drove Callie Bee home, something is definitely wrong with her. She had spoken only a few words since the end to the contest.

Coming from the Square, Bruce turns right onto University. Callie Bee looks out the passenger window towards the bank, it took the police an hour to respond to the robbery, and it was the second time that Fall the police had been embarrassed by the national press.

She observes several officers scribbling into notepads taking the statement from a beaten bank manager. The manager holds an ice pack on his bleeding face.

“What animals…” Mutters Callie Bee.

Bruce assumed she was referencing the bank robbery, he didn’t know that her eyes are drawn to one of the men taking the statement, the bile in the back of her throat sours her breath at the sight of the Trooper named Dean. He takes the man’s statement, Callie Bee is about to tell Bruce all, then she stops that man is powerful, she didn’t want Bruce to get caught up in a small indiscretion.

Bruce drops her off at the Tri Delta house a few minutes later, he is anxious to get rid of her as he walks her to the front door. Once he pecks her on the cheek and says his goodbyes Bruce drives as fast as he can home.

That night he and Chuck count their haul, they had stolen $186,000.00. As Bruce slides Chucks half across the table, he mentions to Chuck.

“Now Chuck you need to put this somewhere that no one will find it, be very careful what you spend this money on. Nothing flashy, no new cars, jewelry or accessories. Even a new Tv or stereo could draw unwanted attention.”

“Don’t worry as soon as this semester ends Ashley and I will be heading up north. Maybe try and see what’s in Chicago.”

After Bruce has a celebratory drink with Chuck he retreats to his room. He opens his drawer for a pair of loose-fitting boxers to sleep in. His hand brushes a velvet case.

Opening the box, a one carat Tiffany’s ring sparkles off the overhead light. Bruce had spent his entire savings from bootlegging on this ring, he figured the robbery is a do or die situation. Taking the plunge had given him the necessary funds to give the love of his life everything they needed. All Bruce needed now is the right time to propose…

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