Full Reads #3: High School Bad Girl
From the pages of My Romance magazine (Feb 1959) comes "High School Bad Girl". In this exciting story of innocence lost and regained we learn (1) getting drunk with a guy named Zip in a dirty boat house is probably a bad idea, (2) skinny dipping is the worst thing a human being can do short of mass murder, and (3) most importantly, don't ever - EVER - drink Papa's whiskey.
I was busy caulking a boat when I looked up and saw Zip Randolph's yellow convertible coming
around the bend that led to our place. He zoomed it down toward me fast, and brought it to a short,
hard stop that made the planks in the old landing shake.
My face and hands were smeared with tar-I had my short dark hair pushed up under one of Pop's
old caps. I looked awful, but I knew it didn't matter. Zip's father kept a speedboat at our place, and I
was pretty sure he must have come about that. He had-his father wanted Pop to tune up the motor
and let him know if it needed a new paint job before the weather got warm enough to start using it.
But after we talked about it, and I told him Pop had had to drive clear in to the city that morning
to get some motor parts fixed and wouldn't be back till late, he didn't go right away.
"You do this every Saturday?" he asked. "You work around here like this all the time?"
"Yes," I said, and went on daubing tar.
"Don't you get lonesome? Gosh, you mean there's nobody around here but you-you're all alone?"
"Pop's here usually. Today I'm by myself."
"And you mean to tell me you're not lonesome?"
I sat back on my heels and looked up at him when he said that. There was something personal in his
voice--something that sounded as if he really cared whether or not I was lonely.
I sat there looking up at him, wondering what he meant. The sun shone on his close-cropped blond
hair. In the blue sports shirt and grey flannel slacks Zip looked like exactly what he was-the best looking
boy in Claremont high school, the most popular, the one any girl would pick to build a dream around. It had been a long·time now since I'd done that kind of dreaming about Zip, or any of the other boys at Claremont. Dreams and a lot of other things-dates and invitations to parties, and most of the fun of school had stopped for me when I didn't make Pi Epsilon, the campus sorority that had been another one of my dreams all through my freshman year.
I'd been pledged for it-that was the terrible thing -pledged for it, and then black-balled for membership
by someone who hated me--and in Claremont High that was the worst thing that could happen to
If you weren't pledged for a Club at all, it wasn't so bad-you could still be popular. My mother was dead, and I lived with my father at the old boathouse two miles out of town, where he rented boats and fishing tackle. I couldn't afford expensive cashmeres or a good car of my own, but that wouldn't have mattered. It was being pledged for a club like Pi Epsilon, and then being black-balled. At Claremont, when that happened to you-it was the end.
It was so secret-you never knew why-and you never knew who did it to you-at least, you weren't
supposed to know . But I'd been in the shower in the gym one day, and I overheard two Pi Epsilons
talk ing-so I knew-though I still didn't know why. Jill Evans had everything a girl could want, it seemed to me-parents with money, lovely clothes , a car. Why should she hate me enough to talk two of the other club members into voting against me; so that with her own vote it made a blackball that kept me out of Pi Epsilon-and made all the rest of school just something I had to live through without having any fun at all? Because when no one knows the truth about a thing like that , most of them suspect the worst. It could be anything that kept you out of a club--bad morals , something wrong in your home background, something wrong with you.
I'd seen it happen to other girls-I'd never known how bad .it .could really be until it happened to me. I took it extra hard . I'd been so sure of getting in, that I'd pulled away from some of my other friends who hadn't been pledged -I'd hung around after the Pi Epsilons, let everyone on the campus see how eager I was. Then when it was all over , I was too shamed-and too proud-to go back to the friends I'd had.
The few dates I had chances for I refused. They were with boys who wouldn't have dared ask a Pi
Epsilon for a date, I knew that. So I spent my spare time working around the place helping Pop-and now Zip Randolph was standing there over me, asking if I were lonely and looking at me as if it really mattered. "Why-why no," I said. "I mean-well, I just do my chores for Dad and don't think about it."
"Think about it then," Zip said. "When is your father coming back? "
"I don't know -not till late, I suppose. He'll have to wait for the motor-and it's a long drive." ·
"Okay, then, I'll stic_k around and we'll have some fun . "
He reached down and pulled me to my feet. He was real tall, and I'm not very big. I had to look up
at him. He was smiling.
"You're cute/' he said. "You're real cute, Sandy.-I've always thought so." He gave me a quick hard squeeze, and let me go. "You'll be a lot cuter with that sticky stuff washed off your face, though ," he said. "Go on, get cleaned up. I'll drive back up the highway to a place I know and get some beer and stuff. I'll be back."
I didn't think he would. I didn't really believe it. I was slipping into the yellow print dress I'd planned to wear to school Monday, when I heard his car coming back down the road, and my heart began to pound faster than the sound of the racing motor.
What he'd said about getting beer worried me, for I knew Pop wouldn't like it. Yet I knew lots of the high school kids bro ught beer to parties. Even the Pi Epsilons had it at their parties, I'd heard them say so.
But Pop was strict with me about things like that. I'd never done any drinking at all-never wanted to. And having beer with Zip out here alone at the Lake with Pop away was quite a bit different than doing it at a party. Still, it had been such a long, long time since I'd had any fun at all' So I zipped up the dress and went running out to meet him.
That had been at three o'clock . By six-thirty, when the sun dipped down behind the trees on the other side of the lake, I was feeling dreamy and a little tired-and l)appier than I remembered being ever in my life.
Zip had drunk three cans of beer, and I'd had one- I knew it was the beer that was giving me the dreamy, unreal feeling . I'd made sandwiches, though we hadn't eaten them. We'd danced to the battered old record player. Zip had held me close against him , and as we danced, he kissed me-light, soft kisses that stirred me up inside, and made me want him to keep on doing it.
And pretty soon he said he was tired of dancing he pulled me down into his arms in Pop's old leather chair, and that 's where we were sitting when the telephone rang.
I picked it up, and it was Pop, calling from the city. He was having real trouble with the motor- it wouldn't be ready until morning-he'd have to wait overnight for it.
"You ·call some girl friend of yours to come on out and stay with you, honey," he told me. "Or maybe it would be better if you closed up the place, and went on down the road to Mrs. Connors and stayed the night. Idon't want you out there alone."
"Don't worry, Pop," I said. "I'll be all right." Zip was watching me as I hung up the phone.
"What's up?" he asked. "That was your father, wasn't it?"
"Yes," I said. "He can't get home tonight . He wants me to get somebody to stay out here with me."
"You've got somebody. Wouldn't he have a ball if he knew that?"
"He wouldn't like it. He wouldn't like it at all."
"I like it- how about you?" He pulled me close to him again, and though I knew it was wrong, and that I ought to send him away right now and start down the road to Mrs.Connor's house before it got dark, I
I COULDN'T stop worrying about it, though. When Zip started for the kitchen to get more of the beer
that I'd put away in the icebox, I held his arm.
"Not right now. Let's go outside for a while. We can go out on the lake if you want to--I'll even row you."
But he didn't want to go out on .the lake. We walked down to the water and stood there listening to the frogs singing. Then Zip said, "Let's go in the boat house and fool around...'
The boathouse was dusty and filled with all kinds of old junk-fishing tackle, motor parts. There was a beat up old couch by the window.
"This is swell," Zip said. "This is really living it up the way I like it. We should have brought the beer."
But I was glad we hadn't. Zip pulled me down on the couch with him, and his arms closed around me-tight and hard . I felt something stormy and sweet begin to pour through me-something that wanted me to forget the worry,something. that was almost strong enough to wash the uneasiness away-almost, but not quite. It was wonderful to be with Zip-to know that he liked me, but his kisses were too long, too hard and too demanding . Then he whispered something against my ear that made me pull away from him. "Come back here," he said. "Don't try that one on me, Sandy. Don't be a rotten little tease."
As I stumbled over things to get to the door, I heard him get up from the couch. I went running up the path to the house, and could hear him behind me. I got there before him, got in and got the door shut- but before I could slide the bolt, he shoved against it and was inside.
IT WAS too dark to see, but I could hear the sound of his angry, hard breathing. I'd never been more scared in my life as I fumbled for the wall switch and found it, and snapped on the light.
He was angry, but he didn't try to touch me. "Go on-,--go ahead-make like a little yo-yo if you
want to," he sneered. "Don't think I'm going to try to make you. I may be a little drunko-but not that drunko. All Iwant is the rest of my beer."
He went past me into the kitchen, and he was there a long time- I heard him opening and shutting the doors of the kitchen cupboards-when he came in, he was wiping his lips with one hand. He had a bottle of whiskey
in the other.
"You've been holding out on me," he said. "Why didn't you tell me you had this stashed away? This stuff is
hard to get hold of."
"That's Pop's whiskey," I said. "You can't take that."
"Don't be crazy- I've already got it."
He tipped the bottle and took a big drink-some of it spilled down over the front of his shirt. He looked at me and grinned, and didn't bother to wipe away the trickle of liquor that ran down his chin .."C'mon back down to the boat house," he said. "Maybe you'll change your mind. Maybe we can have a ball
after all." .
"You get out of here, Zip Randolph," I said furiously. "If you want to take that whiskey, I can't stop you
- but you get out of here . You get out of here right now ."
"I'll get out when I get good and ready." He took another drink of the whiskey and lurched past me to the door, and I stood and watched him go down the path to the boathouse, stumbling and unsteady in the moonlight.
I didn't know what to do. I wasn't really afraid of him now-yet if he drank much more of that whiskey, there was no telling what he might do. There was no one I could call-no one I wanted to come out here and find me with a drunken boy on the place . Pop had told me to go to Mrs. Connor and stay with her. She was a widow, our nearest neighbor- and though it was getting late and she would probably be in bed, I'd tell her that Pop had just called, and she wouldn't question it. I'd hurry back to the lake early in the morning, clear up the cigarette stubs and empty beer cans, and hope that Pop wouldn't get home before then .
But when I turned the bend in the road the next morning, the yellow car was still standing there. I saw it, and I knew what had happened- and I started to run.
Zip was lying on his back on the couch-still asleep. He didn't look handsome--he looked just dirty and disgusting. The .smell of whiskey and stale beer sickened me as I bent over him and tried to shake him awake.
"Get up." I said. "Zip-get up and get out of here! You've got to get out of here right away. Zip! Do you hear me? You've been here all night- it's morning. Pop will be here any minute!"
WHEN I finally got him awake,he couldn't stand up. He tried it, and flopped back on the bed,
groaning. He was sitting there, with his head in his hands when I heard a car drive in.
There was nothing to do- nothing but just stand there and wait. There wasn't any way to get Zip out now, without Pop knowing it.
There were steps outside that didn't sound like Pop's. Somebody pulled the boathouse door open and stood there looking in at us from the sunlight outside. It was Jill Evans. The light glittered on the Pi Epsilon pin against her pale pink cashmere sweater. She didn't speak to me or look at me--she looked around the boathouse---at the dirt and disorder- the beer cans- the whiskey bottle
She said to Zip, "When you didn't come to the party last night, I knew you must be up to something. I never dreamed it was anything like this. Well , don't think I care- don't think it matters, because it doesn't.'
Zip got up from the couch . He didn 't seem to see me, either. He started toward her. "Look- I just came out here and got plastered , that's all. I forgot about the party. Look, I tell you!..."
"Don't tell me anything." She was trying to be calm and superior, but she was furious. "You're filthy and disgusting that's what I think you are. When I heard you hadn 't been home all night-when somebody told me they saw your car out here, well I just didn't believe it, that's all."
"I tell you I just came out here for a ball-just for some laughs. I got hold of some whiskey and it knocked me, that's all."
That's all it had been, too. I knew that now. He hadn't meant anything he'd said to me. His kisses, his lovemaking-he hadn't had any thing in mind but just sex when he did that-and when I wouldn't give in to him he'd got ugly and abusive. But he was trying to explain it to Jill now- trying to apologize.
"If you'd go steady, the way I've been begging you to, maybe I wouldn't get mixed up like this. Maybe."
"I'll never go steady with you. I'd rather die first. I hate you."
She turned and went running toward the car she'd parked beside Zip's. He went after her, without a word or a look for me. He caught her just as she got her car . He put his arms around her and tried to kiss her, but she pounded at him with her fists and tried to get away. I could hear the loud, angry sound of their voices from the boathouse.
"I tell you it wasn't like that. This kid is just a little yo-yo-why would I be interested in her?"
SHE pulled free of him, got in her car, whipped it around and drove off . He got in his and went after her like a rocket .
I tidied up the boathouse a little, got rid of the beer cans and the whiskey bottle. As I walked slowly back to the house , scuffing through the dirt, I looked down and saw Jill's Pi Epsilon pin lying there.
For a minute I was going to step on it, crush it down into the dirt under my foot. But I bent and picked it up and stood there holding it in my hand, looking down at it. It represented everything that once I'd wanted so much-acceptance, belonging-having a place in the world, and a part in things. It was everything I wanted and could not have-not through any fault of my own, but because someone didn't like me and had the power to keep it from me.
Jill Evans. I looked at the pin lying in my hand, and I hated her . Her name was on the back of it, in fine,
small engraving-and the date two years before when she'd made the club, when she was only a freshman. Of course, she hadn't had any trouble making it. Of course, nobody had blackballed her. "She can get another pin/' I thought. But it won't be the same as this one. She'll think about it and worry about it, maybe, and be a little unhappy because she's lost it. It's no good to me, but I'm going to keep it anyway-because maybe if I do it will hurt her a little. And I want to hurt her-I wish I could the way she's hurt me." Because I knew that if I'd been a Pi Epsilon, Zip Randolph would have respected me the way he did Jill Evans, yesterday would never have happened!
If I'd thought I knew what being out of things meant- well, when I went to school Monday, I found out I didn't know at all, because the story was all over school-and now I was really an outcast. Someone had seen Zip's car at the lake--furious about what had happened, Jill had told her best friend about finding Zip at the lake with me, and of · course her friend spread the story.
Jill must have regretted that, though, because a little while later she and Zip started going steady together
But for me, it really was the end . The few friends I'd had were girls like me who weren't in clubs. Now even they drew away from me. I couldn't help knowing that some of the boys were looking at me with interest-a different kind of interest. Twice during the next weekend cars came with boys in them- one alone, the others in a crowd of three or four. They were boys from school that I'd never even talked to before, but Pop was home. When they saw that, they just turned and drove away.
But one nice thing happened, though at first I didn't appreciate it much. Sometimes I drove our old pickup in to school. Sometimes when Pop needed it, I walked the two miles, or hitched a ride with
someone I knew. I was walking home one day when a little, beat up car stopped beside me.
"Give you a lift," a voice asked.
IT WAS a boy from school, Don Romer, and I only knew his name because he was in my history class, and was so good and always knew the answers to things. We'd never even spoken. But I got in. Don was a tall, lean, brown-faced boy who lived out in the county, on a farm a mile past our place. I hadn't known that, either, until he told me.
"If you want to wait here in the morning, I'll pick you up."
"I will, if I don't have the pickup," I told him.
After that he drove me home whenever I didn't have my own car. Don wasn't as good looking as Zip Randolph-he didn't have as much dash. But after I got to know him I began to like him a lot. He was quiet and a little serious, but he could be fun. Once when the subject of clubs came up, he told me he had been offered a pledge for the Knaves, but had refused it.
"Why that's the best club on the campus," I said.
"Yeah, I know. But I haven't got time for that kind of thing. I'm in the 4-H Club and the Grange. I think some of that other club stuff is a little silly anyway."
As time went on, I began to think so too.
I still kept Jill Evans' Pi Epsilon pin, and sometimes I looked at it and one day I pinned it to my faded T-shirt and wore it around, and though it didn't belong to me, and didn't mean a thing, somehow it gave me a kind of satisfaction to look at it there, pinned to my old shirt.
Don drove into the place that day, late in the afternoon. He looked at the pin on my shirt, but didn't say anything. He'd come over to see me before - not often, because they were busy on the farm. But this was Sunday, and it had been a hot day.
"How about taking a boat and going for a row. I know that 's not much of a change for you, but after cultivating corn all day yesterday, it would be great for me."
"I'd like it," I said. "I never get tired of the water."
We rowed around the lake as the sun went down. We neared a quiet little cove where the trees screened a little,'sandy bit of beach. We'd been there before, and now Don beached the boat, and we got out and sat on the sand and watched the sunset. After a while I felt him looking at me, I turned-and he was looking at the Pi Epsilon pin on my shirt.
"Why are you wearing that thing?" he asked. "Where did you get it, anyway?"
"I found it," I said. "I'm·wearing it because- well , just because I wanted to."
"Sure it isn't just to get even?''
I looked at him. What did he mean? Did he know about Jill Evans and Zip? Of course, I supposed he'd heard the story, but he couldn't know it was Jill's pin. "What do you mean, even?" I asked him.
"For not letting you in. I think it bothers you a lot. It shouldn't!"
He leaned over and unfastened the pin from my shirt, and gave it a little toss. We both sat there looking at it lying on the sand.
"You ought to turn it in to the Club so whoever owns it can claim it," Don said. "But even if you don't want to do that, don't wear it any more."
You don't know" I said "You don't know how m ch a thing like that can mean to a girl. You don't know how it can spoil things. Even the things that happen to you are different afterward-the way bpys are-the way they talk about you."
"If you mean that crazy story about Zip'
"Yes, I do mean that. It wouldn't have happened if I'd been in the Club- he wouldn't have told about it-ruined my reputation."
"Your reputation isn't ruined. The way he tells it all he did was come out here, steal some whiskey, and get too drunk to drive home. It was a rotten thing to do, but I don't see how you could have helped it."
"I believe it," Don said. "In a way, it was a break for me that it happened. You never even looked at me before."
We talked a while longer, as the light faded. When we left to row back home, I felt happier than I'd felt in months-years, maybe. Because a lot of the sad, unhappy things I'd been thinking just weren't true-and some of the things I'd thought mattered so much , didn't seem to matter much at all.
Neither one of us thought about the Pi Epsilon pin, lying on the sand on the little, closed-in beach. But long after midnight that night, Pop and I were awakened by pounding on the door and the sound of voices. When we opened up, two people we knew staggered in out of the darkness. They were Tom and Mary Norton who lived on the other side of the lake. Tom's shirt was torn and there was a bruise underneath his eye. Mary was crying and in pain, with an arm that looked swollen.
THEY had been driving home late along the dirt road, and had almost run into several parked cars blocking the road. They'd heard voices through the trees, and they saw the light of a fire, so they started through the trees to the lake shore to get somebody to move the cars. They had come breaking through the screen of trees to the fire.
"They Were kids, " Tom Norton said. "Just a bunch of high school kids-girls and boys-an' they was stark naked-not one of 'em had a stitch of clothes on. When they saw us they scattered-couple of the boys come at me an' knocked me down. Mary got knocked up against a tree-looks like her arm's broken. Before . we could get back to the road, they jumped in their cars and high-tailed outa there . I want the police out here, Jim. If you don't call 'em I will."
Pop called th police. By the time they got there it was morning , and light enough to see, and they took one of Pop's boats and went over to the cove to look around. They found the burned out fire, some discarded clothing-and the Pi Epsilon pin with Jill's name on it.
By the next day, scandal about Jill Evans and the whole Pi Epsilon Club was running over town like wildfire. Some of the teachers at Claremont High had always been against campus clubs. They felt they caused discrimination and trouble. Now they really closed down, and in view of what had happened, there was a rumor that all clubs would be banned from the campus when school opened in the fall, and that Jill Evans might be expelled and not allowed to graduate.
Feeling was· strong against all the girls in Pi Epsilon, because everyone knew that they were a very close club and did things together-and that if one of them had been at the nude swimming party, the rest of them had been there too.
For Jill Evans, of course, it was worse than for the rest of them because she had no defense. She had mentioned losing her pin, but only to some girls in the club. Now when they tried to say so, everyone believed they were lying to protect her.
I was shocked and horrified by what had happened. But underneath it was a little, nasty feeling of satisfaction. I can't deny that. I had longed so bitterly to be a Pi Ep silon-been heartbroken when they wouldn't take me in. I guess I wouldn't have been human not to think that unless this was cleared up, it would be the end of Pi Epsilon entirely. Because even if they were allowed to stay on campus, nobody would want to accept a pledge to a club that was involved in this kind of scandal. Nobody would
dare. And it made me so very glad. I went around feeling like that until Don came over.
"Well, what are·you going to do about it?, he asked.
"I don't know, " I said. "After all, why should I do anything? Who did anything for me? Who stood up and said, 'It isn't true that Sandy Davis had a wild party with Zip Randolph out at the lake that night her father was away?' Who said anything like that, when they were all talking about me?"
"Nobody," Don said. ''Nobody had to-because nobody who knew you and cared about you believed it. I
IT WAS the first time he ever said he cared about me. I'd wondered sometimes how he really felt, but
this was the first time he said it.
"If I do tell them, you know what they'll think," I said. "Everyone will say that I was there--at that awful beach party-that I was one of them."
'1 don't think so" Don said "Not with me to back 'you up. don't believe anybody's going to think anything like that."
But I still hadn't made up my mind the day I went into town to do the marketing. l knew what I ought to do, but I hated to do it. I knew it was going to make me look silly and cheap to admit that I'd found the pin and kept it and worn it. It would make things right for Jill, and I was the only one who could do it, but
I didn't owe her anything. I was thinking about it when I came out of the store. and almost ran into Zip Randolph. I wasn't going to stop, but he did. He looked terribly embarrassed-he looked unhappy, too.
"Sandy!- well, I want to talk to you about something. l was coming out to your place today," he
said. "I guess maybe you'd have your Pop throw me out, but I was coming anyway."
"Pop wouldn't throw you out," I said. "Why should he? He doesn't know anything about what happened . Why were you coming out there."
"Look, I know I owe you an apology. I know I should have made it a long time ago-but a guy hates to admit it when he's made a fool of himself. Especially with a swell girl like you , Sandy. I don't know what was wrong with me that day-Jill and I were fighting-I was all mixed up. It's no excuse, but I'm sorry."
"lt's a1l right/' I said. "It seems like it happened a long time ago. It doesn't matter any more."
"Well, there's this other thing," Zip said. "That's what I was coming out for really. I thought maybe
well, you living out there and all - I thought you might have seen somebody that night. I thought maybe you or your father might have some idea who those kids were at that beach party. Because Jill wasn't there--nobody believes it, but it's the truth . We were together driving around in my car. We parked
for a while. But we can 't prove it, and nobody believes it. I don't think even her folks are sure. I just thought that maybe, some-way, you could help us.''
''I can," I said . "I guess I knew I was going to all along. But I'll tell you the truth-I didn't want to much. I don't want to now, because it's going to make me look pretty awful-but I will.''
Jill cried when she thanked me.
"It was wonderful of you, Sandy.It was a wonderful, brave thing for you to do, after what I did to you. I was the one who blackballed you-! guess you know that. I don't know why I did, really. I was just jealous, I guess. You're so pretty, and you know about boats and guns. and all those things boys like. I guess I was just.jealous of you, and that was why I didn't want you in the Club. We want you this year we took a special vote on it. You don't have to pledge, or anything. We're making you a member-just as if you'd come in last fall. We do want you, Sandy."
But I shook my head. "I'm afraid I can't. There's such a lot to do out at the Lake. And I'm going in for 4-H next year. Dan's giving me one of his father's calves to enter. I'm afraid I won't have time--but thanks for asking me. It all seems a little silly and kiddish now- that it mattered so much to me about the Club-that I let myself be hurt so badly . I guess it's something you just have to grow up through- and go on past into other things more important. Things like getting ready to marry Don when he finishes Agricultural School-things like learning to be a farmer's wife--things like that.