Beatrice, colloquially BeeBee to her friends, woke up hours before the rest of the band. She had sat there in the RV watching Johnny silently drool, listened to Toggles melodically snore, and marveled at how Varistor looked like a corpse in her sleep. “Poor girl.” After that, she’d walked the campus for a while, found the cafeteria, luckily before it was filled with kids, eaten, and read the paper. Now she’s out of options and has nowhere to go and nothing to do. It’s amazing how there can be so much going on somewhere and yet no place to be. This is a college. Behind every door in every building, scores of people. People learning, learning history, learning math, some are playing music, some are lighting things on fire, but out here, there is no place to be, and going in the rooms is not an option. She couldn’t afford it, not yet anyway.
The grounds are beautiful and scream money, but isn’t that the point? The well-trimmed shrubs, block-long stretches of walkways, with trees curling over top, and every fifty yards opens up to either another crafted brick building or a manicured field of green.
The breeze gently whips through the walks bringing with it the smells of the grounds and school. The scents, some of trees, some of flowers, some of gyms and some of cooking. It really is a nice feeling, a feeling of purpose, change, and acceptance. BeeBee feels she has a purpose, to create art and share it with the world, to stay in good shape, and appreciate the body that had been given to her. She feels she is part of the change and changing herself, proud of what she has done, and confident that she is getting where she wants to be. The acceptance, does anyone that does not inspire envy or pride even have acceptance anymore? Have they ever? And colleges have that feel, the feeling that what I am doing matters and is what everybody wants of me at the same time.
Ahead, a group of soccer players cut from one of the fields behind the shrubs and walk toward her, laughing and talking.
She looks at them as they approach. Matching suits. Cleats, black socks, tight boyshorts above powerful soccer thighs. They are all wearing matching school shirts with “Altare Deorum” in a collegiate font above the school mascot, The Chimera from Greek mythology. They are all different yet the same, some darker, some lighter, none black, some eastern, some western, but they all have well-done hair. Again BeeBee thinks this place reeks of money. Money is no more good or evil than where she comes from, it’s just a different good and evil, a good and evil she cannot predict.
The girls look at BeeBee as she approaches. BeeBee is wearing all black fading into her dark skin with a purple tint to her hair. She conveys the youth of her age, but to these younger girls coveys adulthood beyond her years. Her pants are well pressed, her shirt is black and silken, this mixed with her lilac locks conveys a confusing mix of authority and familiarity.
Both parties politely make room for the other to pass.
Ahead, from the same opening in the tall shrubs a man steps out carrying a soccer ball in one hand and clipboard in the other. He is a stereotypical gym teacher, tall, broad at the shoulders, a paunch to match his assumed fiftyish years of age, and salt and peppered mustache and hair under a black cap bearing the same logo as the shirts before.
BeeBee has always been athletic, but she isn’t one for sports. It’s not the exercise that gets to her, it’s the teamwork, the social interactions, the schedule. She has always found the teamwork associated with a band much more agreeable. Bands tend to be democracies, and polite functional ones at that. She has always found the competitive nature of sports offputting.
The coach looks her up and down as he approaches, undoubtedly assuming her to be some lazy do nothing in her black suit and weird hair.
He beelines it right towards her, “Good afternoon, young lady. Can I help you find anything?” He has a smile on his face but his eyes and brow convey suspicion.
“No, I’m just taking a walk…” she says looking at the permanent marker writing on the right breast of his shirt, “…Coach Gary.”
Coach Gary is caught off guard for a moment then quickly realizes that she discovered his name from his shirt. “Well, if you’re not a student here, you need a pass to be walking the grounds.” He says, matter-of-factly.
“Oh, I’m part of the band playing the graduation party tomorrow night. Ivan Rocket?”
“Ah, right, some hippy band. Well, you are obviously not a student,” he continues through his drill sergeant grovel, “So, you guys are some kind of spiritual band healing nonsense?”
“I guess that’s what they say,” BeeBee chuckles.
Coach Gary is obviously not entertained by her flippant answer. “But, not Christian?”
The coach’s response comes unexpectedly to BeeBee. “Umm, no,” she says hoping to set the record straight, “We aren’t of any religion and are totally fine with whatever you or the school follows. I hope we didn’t convey anything else?”
“Well, young lady, there is only one healing hand, one Father that loves and protects us all.”
“I understand, I didn’t mean any insult.”
“And, I’m not sure that having your kind around here is good for the students’ education or sanctity.” his voice seeming to get gruffer. BeeBee couldn’t decide if the last statement was against rock n’ roll or her skin.
“I assure you that we aren’t ‘that kind’ of band. We only play fun happy encouraging music,”
The coach cuts her off, “Well, I was opposed to this nonsense during the planning commission and I’m opposed to it now,” the man’s voice getting more and more threatening. “If I had my way, there would be an entirely different situation going on around here.”
BeeBee looks the man in the eye. “Is it possible? He seems to be getting taller?” she asks herself, as the usual fear of being accosted by a middle-aged white man starts to move in a different direction.
“You kids have nothing but bad decision-making skills and bad intentions to boot.”
“Excuse me,” BeeBee stops him. “You are making me very uncomfortable and I am going to leave now.”
“Oh am I?” the coach asks and continues his rant and BeeBee quickly scurries away, still hearing the frustrated rant fade off in the distance.
Part of BeeBee is terrified, his booming voice, being confronted by a guy while alone, his size that appeared to grow with his anger, and her fear that also grew with his anger. The other part of her is exhilarated. There is something about a confrontation escaped that gets the blood flowing.