Since Jackie didn’t have any classes with Brittany Lancaster, she decided to approach her at lunch. Catching her alone would have been ideal, but none of the cheerleaders were ever alone. They ran in packs.
As usual, they occupied the center table in the lunch room. A spot where everyone had equal opportunity to gaze upon the collective beauty that was the cheer squad. Even though there were only eight of them their voices could be heard above the dull roar of competing conversations; punctuated occasionally with a shrill laugh that sounded like the cry of exotic bird.
Pink seemed to be the color theme for the day. Pink and white. Pink and yellow. Pink and more pink. All of them together strengthened the fashion-infused flock imagery that had already formed in Jackie’s head.
Taking the direct approach could only result in disaster. Sitting together, in their micro social kingdom, they hid behind an invisible wall that prevented undesirables from piercing their click. Anyone outside the circle of coolness that they had erected would be rebuffed immediately.
Jackie picked at her bagged lunch until the cheer squad got up to leave. She timed it so that she arrived at the waste can at the same time that
was tossing the uneaten fragments of lunch. In the pecking order of the cheer
squad, Brittany ranked dead last
and must by the unwritten bylaws always bring up the rear as befitted her
Jackie put as much enthusiasm into the greeting as she could muster. She gave a
quick glance at the rest of the squad to make sure they had continued out the
nearby exit. They had. Brittany
had a high-pitched, nasal voice; a combination that formed an especially
unpleasant series of sounds whenever she talked. Brittany
“How do you like being on the cheer squad?” Jackie asked.
“Cheer is life,”
said at last. Brittany
“I’ll bet it is.” Jackie tried to keep the level of sarcasm in her voice to a minimum. “What I mean is that I think everyone would love to hear more about that. Can I interview you about the whole cheerleading lifestyle?”
“Well . . .” Her voice trailed off. The moment stretched until it left Jackie wondering if
might have forgotten
the question. Brittany
“. . . I’m not sure.”
“The whole school would be able to find out the reason you are so popular. Wouldn’t you like that?”
looked in the direction that the rest of the squad had gone. Her face had a
deer-in-the-headlights quality to it. “What reason is that?” Brittany
“Because you are a cheer leader.” Jackie said it with her best game show host voice. “The interview will show everyone just how awesome it is to be you.”
“I plan to put out a series of articles based on our interview and by time I’m done you will be the best known cheerleader in the school. Maybe even in the city.”
Her eyes sparked at the comment.
“You really think so?”
hushed tones, glancing once again at her missing companions. Brittany
“Absolutely! I have the most popular column in the school paper.” Jackie emphasized the word popular when she said it, hoping that it would strike a deep resonance.
The cafeteria door opened and Stephanie, the cheer squad captain poked her head inside. “
That was it. The powerful spell of summoning sent
scrambling to join the rest of the squad. Stephanie cast a single disapproving
look towards Jackie as the door closed. Then they were gone. Brittany
Jackie gave a silent victory shout. She had her inside source in place. Now on to the next phase of the plan. Whatever that might be.