I love Tommy. I can't imagine a better brother.
Last Saturday I wanted to go to the mall with Jennifer and Mandy but Mom said no because I still had the laundry to do. Wash, dry, fold, iron and hang, put away. It would only take me about three hours to finish it, so I kind of begged her.
"Mom, I'll do it when I get back. Please let me go. They are going to look at dresses for the dance."
"No, Susan. We all have our responsibilities and you have yours too. You could have started last night if you wanted to go to the mall today."
"But, Mom, I didn't know they were going. They just called a few minutes ago. Please?"
Well, maybe I more than kind of begged her, but she stubbornly held out. Dad would have let me go. Why did he have to go golfing on Saturdays!
Tommy came into the kitchen when I was asking ... no, make that begging ... no, make that whining for the third time.
"Hey Sis, you know whining won't get you anywhere with Mom. Not even Dad. Now begging maybe with Dad, but not whining. Why don't you try negotiating? That works better with Mom."
"Tommy, you cut that out. Don't go giving your sister ideas. She has enough of them all on her own," said Mom.
"I tried that. I told her I would do the laundry when I get back, but she said no."
"How about you offer to make a deal with her."
"Tommy, I warned you not to interfere."
"Aw, Mom, how about just a little grown-up horse trading so she can see how to do it?"
"So, Sweets, how about if you ask your favorite brother to do the laundry for you now—because Mom obviously wants it done now, not later. And to satisfy Mom's need for you to show responsibility, you offer to do the dishes and clean up after dinner for him next week in addition to your own chores? Doing all that extra work voluntarily will show her how important this trip to the mall is for you. Make sense?"
"Well yeah, but that's a lot of extra work I have to do, just to go to the mall."
"Sure it is. And that will show Mom how important this is, and that you are willing to take responsibility to do your share around here, and it will give her a good excuse to show some compassion without giving in."
"Harrumph. Too smart for your own good."
"See, Sis. If we make the deal, Mom will probably go for it. Whaddya say?"
"Okay, but if I'm going to do your work for you, you've got to do me some extra favors."
"Whoa, whoa, there Susan. You don't want to talk Mom out of letting you go because you are backpedaling on your deal even before you're out the door, do you?"
"No ... no. Of course not. Mom can we do what Tommy said?"
"Well, Susan, if this is a deal between you and me, with Tommy as an interested party, then I suppose you should be the one to offer me your terms—in your own words. Tell me, yourself, what you want and what you are offering." Mom was in her lawyer mode again.
"Mom, you know! What Tommy just said."
"Tell me yourself, then. Take your time and get it right so I can decide."
"Okay. I was supposed to do the laundry this week, but Tommy offered to do it for me this morning if I will clean up after supper next week for him—in addition to my own chores, which next week will include the laundry again. Is that okay? Can I go to the mall now?"
"May I go."
"May I go to the mall? Please?"
"Are you happy with the deal, Susan. Do you think Tommy took advantage of you?"
"Well, maybe a little, but I don't think you would have gone for the deal if I got away with something, would you?"
"That's good thinking on your part. No, I probably wouldn't.
"Tommy, are you satisfied? You know you didn't really gain anything, doing her work this week in addition to your own, for her doing the same for you next week. Are you okay with this?"
"Sure, Mom. You guys aren't fighting. Sis isn't whining. She gets to go to the mall with her friends. And I get to play with you guys' underwear."
"Tommy!" we both shouted at him.
So see, Tommy is smart and helpful and figures out how to help me. He took me to the mall and dropped me in front of Target. I started to get out. Instead I jumped up on my knees and leaned over the console and grabbed his head and kissed him a wet one on the cheek.
"Thanks, Tommy, for being such a wonderful brother."
"You're welcome, Sweets. It's easy with someone as nice as you."
I remember when I was just a freshman. Some of the junior boys started snapping bras on the girls. That was embarrassing but it wasn't too bad. The teachers got mad and yelled at them when they happened to catch somebody, but that wasn't very often. At least they did it to a lot of different girls, so if you got snapped, you were just one of the crowd. I told Tommy about it and he said not to make a big deal over it. If something got worse, to let him know though.
It did get worse. Some of the guys saw about sharking in Japan and decided to do it at our school. If you don't know about sharking, it is where someone comes up behind you and pulls up your skirt and pulls down your panties—while someone else takes pictures. They try to catch girls when they are alone and not suspecting or anything. Or they pull down your top and bra. And all that would be bad, but then they started taping the pictures on the lockers for everyone to see.
I was really afraid everyday at school that someone would grab me. I worried in the crowded halls when a bunch of people bumped me. Guys would kind of walk in a big bunch, laughing, and pushing each other and everyone else. I tried to stay with my friends, but they sometimes had other classes. And it was especially scary walking across the yard to the music room. None of my regular friends were in band with me.
Then one day, walking in the upper hallway from algebra to Spanish with Cindy and Jennifer, I saw two guys standing in the hallway in front of us. They were talking and joking quietly, facing away from us, but they didn't look like the academic type, with their chains and spikey hair. We kind of used our special ESP to let each other know to be careful and we moved closer to each other and over to one side of the hallway.
Before we could react, somebody ran up to us from behind and pulled Jennifer's knit top down over her shoulders and grabbed her bra straps and pulled everything down, kind of trapping her arms to her side. The guy had his hood up so we didn't get a good look at him, but I noticed a black ink stain on his left sleeve, near his elbow. He quickly turned and ran back down the other way and down the stairs even before we could yell at him. I ran after him but by the time I got to the stairs, he was gone.
At first Jennifer was so startled she turned towards the guy to see what was going on, and then she fought against him but he had surprised us. She struggled to get her hands up and cover herself, but her arms were caught. She spun away from the guy who pulled down her top ... right into the flash of two cameras. She ducked down to cover herself so then the boys with the flashes turned and ran past the Spanish classroom, down the other staircase.
Cindy and I helped Jennifer get her top back up, but she was so scared she was shaking. She was crying and huddling, so Cindy tried to comfort her but I got mad. I stomped into the Spanish classroom and started yelling at the teacher for what went on. Of course it wasn't her fault but it was right in front of her doorway. I was yelling at her for letting this happen by her room when Cindy and Jennifer came into class.
They kind of shuffled towards the back of the room and sat at a double desk. The other students were kind of shocked that I had yelled at the teacher, and I could tell the girls were feeling sorry for Jennifer—and the boys were checking her out even more than usual.
Jennifer has the biggest boobs in the class so she gets a lot of checking her out every day. More than me, but I get some too. I suppose it was her big boobs that got the sharkers after her. But now her boobs and giant, dark nipples are going to be plastered all over the hallways and the restrooms by lunchtime. I just knew it. Jennifer is shy about her size and is always very modest. I knew it was going to be humiliating for her.
I stamped my way up to Senora O'Reilly and told her I needed a pass to go find my brother to help Jennifer. Tommy would help.
"But, Susan, what could your brother do? We should contact the office and send them a report."
"Another report! And then what? Nothing again! I want to talk to Tommy. He will help."
"We can't have vigilantes roaming the halls..."
"Tommy's no vigilante—you know him, he's been your student for three years—but he will help Jennifer. I've got to talk to him so we can stop them before all those pictures get posted!"
"Okay, Susan. I'll go along. Here, take this pass requesting Tommy be excused from class. Do you know what he has this period? P.E.? Well that might be a little harder to get to him since they are probably changing, but do the best you can. I'm sending a report to the office right now."
I grabbed the pass and darted out of the classroom. I ran through the halls and out to the athletic field. The boys' gym was just across the practice diamond and I cut over the infield to the locker room entrance. I pulled up short at the double doors. I could hear boys yelling and making noise inside, but there was nobody around for me to ask to get Tommy. And I was just a freshman girl. Outside the boys' door.
But I was mad, so I pushed the door open and yelled, "Tommy, this is Susan. I need your help right now."
It got quiet near me, but off in the distance I could still hear yelling and laughing. "Tommy, this is Susan," I yelled at the top of my lungs. "I need your help. Would you come here? Now. I have a pass for you."
There was a little more silence, and then one of the guys hollered, "Tommy, someone named Susan is at the door yelling for you."
Then a chant began, "Tommy, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy."
Even though I was still mad, I was starting to get embarrassed and I began to realize Tommy would probably be embarrassed too by my being here. Even though I couldn't see anybody around the wall, no naked boys or clothed ones either for that matter, I turned around and drilled my eyes into the gray concrete floor. I could feel my face heat up as I listened to the chant, "Tommy, Tommy, Tommy."
And then someone started up, "Susan needs you. Susan needs you. Susan needs you."
And then it got combined, "Tommy, Susan needs you. Tommy, Susan needs you."
I was getting ready to crawl into the crack that wriggled across the floor and disappear into the foundations of the earth when Tommy came around the corner in his gym clothes—a white T-shirt that said Harrison High, green running shorts, running shoes.
"Hi Susan. What's the matter?"
I turned and ran to him, wrapping my arms around him. "Oh Tommy, I'm so embarrassed. I didn't mean for the guys to tease you, but I didn't know who else to ask."
Tommy put his arm around me and smoothed my hair, and then gave it a little tousle. "And what, Sweets, is causing the uproar in your life? And don't worry about me and the guys. We'll be cool."
"Tommy, you know how those guys were snapping freshmen bra straps and then they've been sharking. When I was walking to Spanish a guy jumped us from behind and tore Jennifer's top down and when she turned around to hide, two guys were there to take pictures ... and then they ran away. Oh, it's just awful. You've got to do something or her picture will be up all over everywhere. And she's so shy. It will ruin her."
"Hmm. I'm glad it wasn't you, but what can I do? Did you report this?"
"Senora O'Reilly is reporting it. It was just outside her door. And she wrote a pass for you to be excused from P.E. so you can help. She said she didn't want a vigilante roaming the halls, but I told her you wouldn't be like that. She knows you and trusts you. What can we do?"
"First off, you need to go outside so you don't get into trouble. I'll take the pass to Coach Anders and meet you out front. You need to calm down and remember everything about those guys you can. And there might have been some girls involved, too. Think about your whole surroundings.
"Starting to feel a little better?"
"Kind of. Thanks, Tommy. I love you."
"Me too, Sis. Now skedaddle out the door. I'll see you in a bit."
I went outside—the sun seemed so glaring—and paced back and forth. I tried to think of what the guys looked like. I didn't remember any girls around, just those two guys in front and the grabber from behind. I waited for a few minutes and then Tommy came around the corner with a smile on his face.
"Now let's see if we can figure out who these bums were. Coach Anders was really pissed. As soon as I get some more information, he's going to help us and get the whole P.E. class to join in. Nobody's gonna get beat up, but we might be able to deal with this quickly.
"So what can you tell me?"
I told him all I could remember, including the black stain on the sleeve. Tommy was trying to build up a picture in his mind, so he asked questions about things I hadn't thought to mention.
Then we walked over to the doors for the gym. Not the locker room. The gym itself, where they have the basketball games. Tommy took my hand, which helped to settle my nerves, and led me into the big room where it seemed like there were a hundred boys in their gym clothes, sitting on the bleachers. Coach Anders looked over at us as Tommy dragged me with him. Tommy went right up to Coach Anders and introduced me to him and asked the coach if we could get started.
"Guys," Tommy said with a loud voice, "some of the boys at this school have been getting out of hand. They may think they are teasing, but what they are doing is hurting people so much it might affect their whole futures. We need to stop it now.
"This is my sister, Susan. Her good friend—and my friend, too—Jennifer, was just accosted and stripped and pictures taken of her, in broad daylight and in the hallways of our school. We have to stop this before someone does it to your sister or your girlfriend. Or thinks they can go out onto the street to your mother or your friends.
"These guys are cowards who grab and run, just like purse snatchers. We need to find them and stop them and let them know we don't want them, or anybody else, acting like this at Harrison High. Are you with me?"
There was a resounding Yes and Lock and load and Bring it on and stuff like that. It was kind of scary. I stood behind Tommy and Coach Anders, trying to make myself small. It was hard to remember that just a few minutes ago I had barged into their locker room and yelled for Tommy. The guys seemed so much bigger now.
Tommy started to tell everyone what happened and where it was and what the guys looked like and asked if anybody had ideas. Coach Anders led me over to one of the benches so I could sit down and not be in front of everybody. A few guys thought they knew who it might be, and somebody else guessed where they might be making copies so they all started making plans to disrupt the operation.