Story #20- “When a Feller Needs a Friend”

This photo comes from me. I recently found it at an antique store and I loved the inscription. Away we go!

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They called themselves the Renegade Brigade, which roughly translated meant a small army faction of rebels. A rebel was when someone chose not to follow a group. These particular four teenagers could more accurately be described as outcasts, or those purposely left out. But it was nicer to think of oneself as a rebel rather than an outcast, and so they clung tight to the name.

The Renegade Brigade consisted of Bing, Liz, Bob, and Angela. They had found each other in various corners of the school.

Bing was always in the music room, singing. He sang to himself. He sang when anyone else would listen. He probably sang more words in his life than spoke them.

Liz was always running around backstage in the theater. Unfortunately, she still had yet to land a role on the stage.She spent her afternoons peeking through the curtains and gazing at the actors as they rehearsed.

Bob was a rather shy student who hid away in the rarely seen dark corners of the library. His father was one of the founders of the school, though he did not much like to discuss that point. The pressure to graduate at the top of his class was always chewing away at him.

Angela wasn’t usually seen anywhere in particular. She was a quiet young lady who loved to study religion. She did not speak much.

There was nothing much wrong with the Brigade, except for the fact that they were seen as slightly… eccentric. Maybe more than slightly. They each held a strange air of devotion in their respective practices. They were all so serious in what they loved to do. They were all slightly too passionate. They were easy targets for their classmates.

The four students came together one afternoon following a pep rally. A long-standing tradition of the school was to form five teams between the student body. One team played the part of the school and the other four played their rivals in town. Then the teams went outside to play games and run relays, where the home team would win every time. At the very end of the picking assembly, Bing, Liz, Bob, and Angela were left standing and waiting to be chosen.

“Can’t have two of the teams be uneven,” one boy said. They knew him as the senior class president. “Sorry!”

And without any further explanation, the rest of the students ran outside in their designated teams, leaving the four to stew in the gym.

Liz began to cry into her sleeve.

“I can’t believe they didn’t even pick you,” Bing said, staring at Bob. “You being the founder’s son and all.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Bob muttered. “I hate the kids here anyway.” He shrugged and turned to the doors of the gym.

“Wait,” Bing called out. Bob turned back. The two women looked up.

“What if we taught the school a lesson?” Bing said. “What if we played a trick on them that showed them what happens when they leave people out?”

“Like what?” Liz asked.

“…I might have an idea,” Angela said. They all turned and gaped at her. “You do?”

Angela smiled and nodded. They huddled around her.

The Renegade Brigade spent weeks planning their trick. They met in the dark corners of the library. They met in the music room. They met in the props closet at the theater.

“We have to meet on campus,” was all Angela demanded. It was an easy task to comply with.

“Look, it’s the lonely musketeers!” other students jeered. But the Brigade always ignored them.

On the day of the trick, they met in front of the school and had their photo taken together.

“So the whole school will remember us,” Bing said.

“Yes,” they agreed.

Later that day, the entire student body gathered in the auditorium.

“Good afternoon, classmates!” Liz said, strutting onto the stage. “Today we have a special presentation planned about the perils of exclusion.”

The audience groaned.

“Now, now,” Bing said, entering the stage, “this is not a lecture.”

“It’s a warning,” Bob said quietly. He stood next to Liz and Bing. “This is a warning about what happens when you leave people out. It’s a public safety announcement, if you will.”

“You see,” Bing told them, “years ago, there was a girl. And she was teased and left out of everything. And she vowed that one day, after she died, she would return to the school and haunt everyone!”

The students just stared at them. Then the class president burst out laughing. The rest of the audience followed suit. Bing, Liz, and Bob watched their classmates laugh.

“Guess that was a terrible idea,” Bob murmured to Liz. Liz looked like she was going to cry again.

But just then, the lights flickered on and off.

“Who’s doing that?” the class president asked. He looked up at the lights and sound booth.

“We’re all down here!” another girl yelled out. The Brigade smiled at each other. Angela had been right. She was so quiet that the rest of the school had forgotten about her.

The lights flickered again. Then one of the spotlights wavered back and forth, back and forth. It strained and squeaked in its position. The student body looked up as the spotlight crashed to the stage. It landed down center and exploded between the presenters and the audience.

“What’s going on?” the students called out.

An inexplicable wind whipped through the auditorium. Liz held onto the flowers in her hair to keep them from blowing away. Angela really knew what she was doing up there!

A crackling sound came from the back booth. The phonograph had been wound up.

Hush now… you are mine now… no escape now… you are mine… Hush now… you cannot run now… you must pay now… and you are mine…

“Ahhhhh!” The students jumped out of their seats from every section and ran for the doors. They streamed out of the building.

“I’m sorry!” the class president yelled as he ran out. “It will never happen again!”

The doors closed and suddenly it was just Bing, Liz, and Bob on the stage. They whooped and hollered and hugged each other.

“That showed them!”

They turned and saw Angela next to them.

“Angela,” Liz said. “You were right. They fell head first for our trick.”

“But how did you do all of those things?” Bing asked.

Even Bob leaned forward. He had to know. Maybe they could pull a similar stunt to get his father off his back about school.

“Yeah, how did you do it?” he asked.

Angela smiled and looked at each one of them.

“It wasn’t a trick,” she said softly. And then she disappeared, right in front of their eyes.

Bing, Liz, and Bob stared at the empty space where Angela had been standing. They looked at each other. No one could manage a single word.

The Brigade never had another meeting. But Liz went on to become the lead actress in the next production. Bob set aside academics and became the captain of the football team. And ol’ Bing Crosby ended up doing just fine. They never spoke of Angela, though they often thought of her. And several weeks after the presentation, when Bob received the photo of them from that day, he simply wrote their names at the top and stored it away in a drawer labeled: “Friends.”

THE END.

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