Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
January 4, 1988
"This is getting to be a problem," Shae told Eve at the Riley house the next morning. "I’m going to have to hop on one of these offers pretty soon, or they’re going to get withdrawn as the local basketball seasons get rolling."
"I’ve thought it’s been delayed long enough as it is," Eve nodded. "The problem is that I’ve only got provisional acceptances at both Ball State and University of Dayton, even though we think they’re both fairly safe from the security point of view. It means I could probably go to either, since there’s sure to be people accepted at them who go somewhere else, but what happens if we choose wrong?"
"There might be another way we could settle the acceptance issue," Shae said thoughtfully. "I’m thinking back to last spring, you know, the way your dad leaned on Mr. Ingersoll."
"Yeah, that was impressive," Eve said in admiring memory, one of the better memories of that eventful day.
"I think I learned something from that," Shae grinned. "I’m thinking let’s settle this today, at least find out whether I’m getting bullshitted by these coaches as a matter of course, or if they really want me. Dayton sounds a little too good to be true, anyway. I say let’s settle it now, but you’re in on it, too."
"Really, Shae, it’s your call."
"Yeah, but the danger with twisting arms is that sometimes you get caught at it," she replied. "If this doesn’t work, we may actually have to think in terms of University of Northern Colorado. We were through Greeley the last time we went to Colorado. The town stinks. I mean really stinks, they’ve got feed lots every direction from town, and you can cut the cow manure smell with a knife."
"Can’t be any worse than Bradford on a bad day, what with all the huge dairy operations we have here," Eve grinned. "And the security concern would be absolutely zip. No one from here would think of going there."
"OK, your call. First choice, Ball State or Dayton?"
"Ball State, I think, mostly because their program is better for you."
"I agree, but I wanted to make sure you did," she grinned. "Give me the phone, here goes nothing."
It took a couple minutes to get the coach on the line. "Hi, this is Shae Kirkendahl," she told the coach. "I understand you called for me a couple days ago."
"Yes, I did," the coach replied. "Miss Kirkendahl, I called you because I really wanted to urge you to accept our offer. From what I understand, I think you can make a big contribution to the team, and we’ve got another couple of recruits coming who should give us a good shot at the conference championships and the NCAA next year. I would really like to have you come here."
"I’d like to go there," Shae told him. "But, look, I’ll be honest. There’s one thing that’s holding me up."
"What’s that? If there’s anything I can do, I’ll see what can be done."
"Shouldn’t be a big deal," Shae said. "My best friend’s name is Denise Everiss Riley. We want to go to the same school so we can room together. She’s only got a provisional acceptance, but if we were sure she had a full acceptance, I’d be willing to go there, too. We’re not talking an athletic scholarship or anything, just an acceptance."
"That can probably be arranged," the coach said. "I can talk to the admissions office and hurry things along. Does that mean you’re going to come here?"
"Maybe I should explain something," Shae said, going for the kill. "I’m going to be making the same call to the University of Dayton and BGSU in the next few minutes. I’m just giving you a head start. I’ll give you her father’s fax number. This is a race, and the first time stamp on a letter from the admissions office giving her a full acceptance wins."
"Give me that name again and the fax number. I’ll talk to the admissions office right after we get off the phone." He let out a sigh, but his grin could be heard over the phone. "If you play this kind of hard ball on the basketball court, I really want you at Ball State."
"I’ll let you know as soon as I know," Shae told him, glancing at the clock to check the time.
"Bowling Green State?" Eve asked, as soon as Shae hung up the phone. "I never even applied there, and I know they didn’t recruit you."
"They didn’t, but there’s a big rivalry there," she laughed. "I could hear him tense up as soon as I said the word. Now, as I recall, Dayton has a big rivalry with the University of Cincinnati."
Seventeen minutes by the clock later, the phone rang: Bill Riley, calling from the office at General. "I’ve just gotten a fax from Ball State giving Eve a full acceptance," he said. "Did you have something to do with that?"
"Sure did," Shae laughed. "It means we’re going to Ball State."
"Shae, how did that come about?" Bill laughed. "I mean, I think I smell something tricky going on."
"Something you taught me," she laughed. "How to twist arms, General Hardware Retailers’ style."
April 23, 1988
"Ohhhhhh," Eve sighed. "Would you check out that gorgeous prom dress!"
"That would look really terrific on you," Shae agreed as they stood looking at the beautiful red satin and velvet dress on the mannequin in the window of Yvonne’s Fashions in the Mishawaka Mall. It was full and ruffled, a little low-cut, a dusky red that would have made Eve’s blonde hair really stand out. Shae could feel her friend’s thoughts. "Too bad," she added.
"Yeah," Eve sighed. "Too bad."
Shae didn’t think she needed to discuss it further. The Bradford High School prom had been the previous weekend, and she and Eve hadn’t gone, of course. Partly it was because they had avoided school social events all year, and partly since Eve would have had to go as Denis, and it was becoming increasingly hard for her to play the part. Still, missing the Senior Prom had been a little hard. Shae had at least made the offer that they go, but it got brushed off without discussion. Now, if Eve had been able to go to the prom wearing a dress like that, it would have been a different story – but at Bradford, there wasn’t a chance that could have happened. There was still six weeks of school remaining, six weeks to cover up Denis’ dual life.
From all reports the prom had been pretty good. The organizing committee had brought in a band that had proved to be pretty bad, but somewhere along in the evening someone had made the suggestion that Dayna grab her guitar and play it during a break. She’d gotten it, then played classic rock and blues for a solid three hours. It had turned the prom into more of a concert as kids just sat and stood around watching and listening as their classmate performed like she never had before, while the hired band just packed up and left, knowing they’d been shown up.
It would have been a lot of fun to see and hear – but that night, Shae and Eve had sat in the latter’s room, playing a computer game and trying not to think about what was happening.
"Too bad?" John asked. "Why’s that?"
Eve looked up at their friend and shrugged. This was perhaps the fourth time they’d called up the brothers and told them they could meet them at the Mishawaka Mall for a movie and hanging out a little, which they were doing. It wasn’t the same as having a real date, but it sort of filled in the hole, and the boys were always happy to have them call. "I couldn’t go to our prom," she sighed sadly. "It was last weekend."
"Same thing?" Paul asked. "Your folks won’t let you go on a date?"
"Same thing," she nodded. "Really, most of the time I don’t mind it, but it would have been nice to go to the prom."
One of the things Eve knew she was missing from her life were some of those shared experiences of growing up a girl. Those were things like playing with dolls, having girlfriends, Brownies and Girl Scouts, dating and other social activities as she got older – and, of course, the crowning moment of being elegant and dressy at the high school prom. For many girls, she knew, it would be the high point of their lives, the one chance they would have to dress like that, act beautiful and glorious, a memory to cherish.
But not for Eve, and Shae wasn’t about to rub her nose in it. Eve had covered a lot of ground in the past year, picked up a taste of those experiences, but there were a lot of growing-up things like them she knew she would always be missing.
"That’s really lousy," John said. "It’s got to be hard for you. But then, Paul and I won’t be going to our prom next weekend either."
"You’re not?" Shae asked. "Why?"
"No dates, of course," he snorted. "Come on, do you think any girls at our school would want to go to the prom with a pair of losers like us?"
"Yeah," Paul added. "Even the most desperate girl in our school would stay home and watch TV before they’d be caught dead at the prom with us."
"I don’t understand," Eve said, understanding perfectly but having to play the part. Paul was a lot like Denis in a lot of ways – a good student, much better than Denis, but tentative, nervous, considered a wimp and a dweeb – and put down a lot for it, taunted, teased, called gay and pussy and queer, and worse. The Denis in her knew it very well; he’d been there and had it done to him all his life. John really wasn’t as bad a guy by comparison, kind and gentle, and very protective of his younger brother – much like Shae was protective of Denis, except that John wasn’t a six-foot-eight athlete, but a non-athletic, glasses-wearing nerd himself, although not to Paul’s extreme. In previous meetings, the story had come out little by little – the two, Paul especially, had endured much of the same sort of crap that Denis had to put up with at Bradford. "You’re a pair of very nice guys."
"That’s because you don’t know us from school," Paul snorted. "We’re considered dirt, the lowest of the low." He let out a long sigh. "Eve, if you had any idea how much I’d like to go to the prom with a good-looking blonde like you as my date, if for no more reason than to prove that I can get a good-looking girl to go out with me . . . well, I’d have asked you a long time ago, but knowing about your folks not letting you go out on dates, I figured it wasn’t worth the trouble of asking."
"Same here," John agreed. "I mean, ever since we’ve known you, I’ve lain awake some nights dreaming that there was some way, just once while we’re in high school, that we could show that good-looking girls like the two of you would be willing to have something to do with either of us. Just once, it’d be nice to jam that down some people’s throats. Shae, I’d thought of asking you, but it wouldn’t work quite right for the both of us to bring you, and it wouldn’t be fair to Eve, either." He let out another sigh. "But it’s a nice thought, even though it can’t happen."
Eve glanced up at Shae, an amused smile on her face, and saw a similar amused smile looking back. It wasn’t as if the two hadn’t talked about the same exact thing, in a slightly different context. They knew that most people around Bradford High thought Denis and Shae hanging out together was less a high-school boyfriend/girlfriend thing than it was their parents working out an arrangement for Shae to more or less guard the much smaller boy. And, that was what they wanted it to look like to hide the much stranger process that was going on beyond that cover story. So, Denis showing up at the prom with Shae would be seen as more of the same, and not be noticed. But if it were possible for Paul to show up at the prom with Eve as his date, well, it would jam a lot of accusations, some true, back down the throats of the accusers at the boys’ high school. This wouldn’t be quite the same thing – but they could already feel how good they would feel to help out. Shae gave a little nod, and Eve grinned a little wider. "Well, maybe," she said, sounding extremely doubtful. "You say, next weekend, right?"
"Yeah, Saturday night," Paul said, hardly believing his ears. "God, that’d be neat if you could."
"Maybe we could work it out with your folks to spend the night with me," Shae offered helpfully, getting the drift. "Weren’t they planning on being away next weekend anyway?"
"Yes, they have that conference Saturday and Sunday," Eve dissembled with a frown.
"We couldn’t stay very late," Shae said slowly, as if thinking it over. "But if we tell my folks we want to hit a late movie over here, we might get away with it."
"It’s still a risk," Eve said doubtfully. "On the other hand, it would be nice to at least go to a prom, even if it’s not ours."
"It would," Shae agreed. "And we’ll never get the chance again, with you moving to Colorado in a few weeks."
"Yes," Eve nodded. "And with the school they want me to go to out there, and not having you around, it could be years before I get to go out on a real date again." She stood back, and glanced at the red prom dress on the mannequin. It seemed to reach out at her – the real her, not the little scenario that she and Shae were weaving for the two guys. This probably would be the only chance for her to have that elegant prom experience she’d dreamed of. She looked longingly at it again, shaking her head. "I don’t know," she sighed finally, knowing damn well she was going to do it but having to keep up the act. "I think it can be worked out, but we won’t know for sure until we can get home and see. How about if Shae calls you tomorrow or Monday to let you know if we can do it?"
"That would be wonderful," John smiled. "You don’t know what it would mean to us."
"John," Eve nodded. "If this works out, you don’t know what it would mean to me." She glanced at the dress again. "John, Paul," she said. "I know you want to go to the movie, but what would you think if we skipped it or put it off?"
"I suppose," Paul said. "You have something else in mind?"
"Yes," Eve grinned. "I’d like to try on that dress. That way I at least get to see what it looks like on me, and you do too, even if it turns out we don’t get to actually go to the prom."
* * *
The Bradford High School Prom had been held in the gym, which to all reports had been nicely decorated, but the Woodstock High School prom was held in a rental hall in Elkhart, and the decorations were much nicer. The band was a lot nicer, too, than they’d reportedly had at Bradford.
Eve felt absolutely gorgeous in the red dress; they’d hung around Yvonne’s for a while, and she had tried on several, but she’d always come back to that one as being the one that looked the most striking – and that was how she wanted to look.
After talking it over with the boys, and with each other, Shae and Eve had decided that they’d go all-out to be eye-catching and memorable, just for the sake of the guys, so everyone in their class would know that on the night of the prom they’d shown up with some really hot dates. It would leave them one memory of victory in their high school career, and Eve knew that she’d be able to absorb some of that victory and transfer it to herself.
Of course, Shae’s height made her pretty striking even in the worst of cases, and asking her to be truly striking was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. For the first time, she pulled out a few of those tricks she’d learned at Dress to Desire. With her long blonde hair cascading down her back, she was wearing a thigh-length black satin cocktail dress, very low cut, and so tight that it left little to the imagination. At that, she’d helped add to the image by wearing "sweater bumpers" on her nipples – little rings that kept them hard and standing, visible to anyone who even took a glance in her direction, making her look like the hottest thing on two legs in the room. Which she may have been.
The red gown that Eve wore was a little more conservative, but only a little. While floor-length, it was as tight in the bodice as Shae’s, and cut low enough to show some cleavage, the first time Eve had actually dared to show it off other than in a swim suit in Florida. The estrogen was doing its job, and a push-up bra was adding to the effect. Her hair was piled high upon her head, and while she might not have been as striking as Shae, she was easily one of the better-looking girls there.
Without much discussion, they decided to have Paul and Eve enter the room and be announced first. They’d worked it out that Eve would be Paul’s date, since there wasn’t much height differential – Eve was actually a little taller, and taller yet in her low heels, but the height discrepancy was a little less than it would have been if Paul had been Shae’s date. Paul was neatly dressed in a rented tux, looking nice and confident with the gorgeous girl on his arm, and Eve knew that he’d treasure the surprised looks on his classmates’ faces at the sight of the two of them for the rest of his life – and she would, too. The buzz of whispering filled the room as Paul elegantly guided her to a seat and held the chair for her.
The moment was almost spoiled, though, as she sat down and looked at a girl at a table not far away with a shock of recognition of her own – Vicky Varney, one of her classmates from Bradford! Maintain your cool, Eve thought instantly, she might not notice. She saw Vicky glance her way, and then listen to something whispered in her ear by her date. She saw a mild grin on her classmate’s face, and it didn’t take much figuring out the words that had to have landed in Vicky’s ear, something to the effect of, "Wow, what’s that dweeb doing with a babe like her?"
The shock of surprise that Paul and Eve presented only lasted for a moment, for there were outright gasps when John and Shae entered the room half a minute later. Wearing the highest heels she’d ever taken out of Dress to Desire, at over an effective seven feet in height Shae towered over her date, a good foot and a half shorter. The babble of voices rose to a literal roar at the sight of the two of them, and there were audible gasps of "My God, look at that!"
Eve turned to catch the sight herself, but kept an eye on Vicky, who was only a little less shocked than anyone else to see Shae there. There was no doubt who the most striking girl in the room was, and she wasn’t the Woodstock High School prom queen; she was the date of that dweeby guy with the even dweebier little brother. This was going to put some extra memories of the two in the Woodstock Class of ’88 that didn’t quite square with the rest of what they remembered.
John and Shae had no more than been seated at the same table when Vicky was at her ear. "Wow, Shae!" she said, just about ignoring Eve. "I didn’t expect to see you here! I’m surprised Denis let you loose."
"He knows I’m here, but he and his mom are out of town," Shae said, a little surprised but trying to maintain her cool. "I didn’t expect to see you, either. What brings you here?"
"Oh, it’s kind of a family-favor thing," Vicky blushed a little.
"Same thing," Shae shrugged. "You’re looking good."
"Yes, Shae, but you look, well, gorgeous!"
"When you’ve got a nice guy like John for a date, you want to look your best," Shae giggled, and decided to make the best of a bad situation. "This is John’s brother Paul, and his date, Eve. You guys wouldn’t know her, but this is Vicky Varney; she goes to school with me."
"Pleased to meet you," Vicky said. "Hey, I’d better be getting back to Robbie. You have a nice time!"
"You too," Shae grinned.
In a few seconds, as Vicky turned her back, Shae and Eve leaned close together to whisper in each other’s ears. "Close call, but I think we got away with it," Eve whispered.
"Yeah, she didn’t make the connection. It’d be hard anyway. Pitchfork?"
"Pitchfork" was a code word they’d shared for almost a year, and had had to use on a couple of occasions. It referred to Shae’s wisecrack in the car coming back from Chicago over a year before, about the crazed mob of villagers being after them with torches and pitchforks if they got even an inkling of what Eve was really up to. If there was a danger of Eve being recognized with Shae – and with Denis with her much of the time in school, it was a logical conclusion to jump to – then the drill was for Shae to draw attention while Eve got away from the scene. The two would meet at a predesignated point as soon as Shae could break contact. Every time it had happened before, they’d left immediately.
"Nooo," Eve grinned slowly. "She might get suspicious if we left. But, she looked right at me, and I didn’t get a flash of recognition. I think we’re safe, and it wouldn’t be right to the guys."
Shae shook her head. "No, it wouldn’t," she smiled. "All right, let’s fake it. I think we can get away with it. But Eve, you know what?"
"Even with that chest you’ve got," she laughed, "You’ve still got balls."
It hit Eve just right, and Shae, too; they broke down laughing at their private joke. When Eve got herself pulled back together, she whispered, "Shae, I’m going to get you for that some day."
Just then, the band started to play. It was not a rock band, but a romantic, slow-dancing group. John and Paul had warned them about what was coming, and the two guys had taken a few quick run-throughs on how to dance to this kind of music from their sister. It wasn’t a skill they’d needed before, like it wasn’t a skill either Shae or Eve had needed before, but Arlene had spent some time over the week working with them, too.
"Eve," Paul said confidently, "Would you care to dance?"
"Why yes, sir, thank you," she grinned. "I would."