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Jude let out this horrendous laugh. “You must think you’re talking to Jonquinette.”

Brenda eyed her with confusion.

“Sorry, Jonquinette’s not here right now.”

Brenda asked, “What are you talking about?”

“I have a message for you,” Jude responded. “Don’t ever talk to or touch Jonquinette again or you’ll have to deal with me.”

With that, Jude slammed the ceramic top across Brenda’s head and three teeth popped out of her mouth on impact. She hit her three more times with it: once more across the face, once in the ribs and once on the knee. Brenda lay motionless and Jude was satisfied. She looked in the mirror. While Jonquinette could stand to lose some weight, there were numerous kids her size or larger in second grade.

She stared at her reflection. “Don’t worry. I’m here to protect you.”

Jonquinette didn’t know what was happening. All she knew was that the physical education teacher, Mr. Turner, was restraining her for some reason. They were loading Brenda, Francine, and Rhonda into ambulances in front of the school. There were police cars in front of the building and everyone was glaring at her and shaking their heads.

She saw her parents pull up in their Volvo station wagon and practically jump the curb coming to a halt. The look on their faces as they emerged from the vehicle was frightening.

Jonquinette fell down on her knees and cried.

“What did I do?” she screamed out as her mother approached her with outstretched arms. “I didn’t do anything!”


July 1987

Summer Vacation

Jonquinette came flying out the front door of her house; excited that the weather was so nice. She’d had her share of cartoons for the morning and craved some fresh air. Her parents had offered to send her to summer camp but she couldn’t imagine dealing with the same nasty kids during summer vacation that she had to deal with during the school year.

It was sunny but not too hot. She had lost her favorite ball underneath the porch the day before and got down on her knees to see if she could locate it. She spotted it about four feet under the steps and went to find a large enough stick to retrieve it.

After much effort, Jonquinette managed to get the ball out and was elated. She started bouncing it up and down and fell in love with the pastel colors of it all over again. She accidentally bounced it too high and it went over the neighbor’s picket fence.

Jonquinette panicked. Mrs. Greer wasn’t always the nicest person in the world. Besides, Shadow, her poodle, tended to bark a lot and even though he seemed harmless, Jonquinette wasn’t sure whether he was a biter or not.

She didn’t see anyone peeking out the windows and Shadow was nowhere in sight so she decided to chance hopping over the fence to get the ball and hopping right back over.

Jonquinette had got it and was climbing back over when Mrs. Greer yanked her front door open and started screaming, “You little wench! What are you doing on my yard?”

Jonquinette hung there with both feet straddling the fence but neither touching the ground. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Greer. I was just getting my ball.”

Mrs. Greer came catapulting down the steps. “You have no business in my yard. Not to get a ball or anything else. My yard is my pride and joy. Mr. Greer, God rest his soul, spent his entire life making sure this yard was beautifully kept and I will not have little brats destructing my property.”

Jonquinette was at a loss for words as she dismounted the fence. She went to sit on the front steps, lowered her face into her lap, and cried. Mrs. Greer went back into her house and slammed the door.

Jude was sitting on the stoop playing jacks when Mrs. Greer came back out of the house with her pocketbook in one hand and Shadow’s leash in the other. She paused halfway down her walkway and leered at Jude. Jude leered right back at her.

“When your parents get home, I want to have a word with them,” Mrs. Greer lashed out at Jude. “I’m not going to have any more of your mess.”

Jude didn’t say a word. Just hissed between her lips as she watched Shadow take a dump on the front yard; the so-called “beautifully kept” front yard.

“Why is it that I can’t get a ball off your yard but that little runt can take dumps all over it? Huh, bitch? Why is that?”

Mrs. Greer was shocked and at a loss for something to say for a moment. “Just wait till your parents get home!”

Jude smirked and stuck out her tongue.

After Mrs. Greer and the mutt loaded into her Impala and drove away, Jude grew angrier by the second. “Why do you take crap off people, Jon? That bitch ain’t shit!”

In the middle of the night, Mrs. Greer’s scream could be heard two blocks away. Jude lay in bed grinning while Mr. and Mrs. Pierce turned on all the lights in the house as a bang came at the door. Fifteen minutes later, they came into the bedroom where Jude still lay amused and sat down on opposite sides of the bed. Jude didn’t want to be bothered with the bullshit so she let Jon take back over.

Jon was stunned to see both her parents sitting on her bed. “What’s wrong? What happened?”

“Jonquinette, someone poisoned Mrs. Greer’s dog, Shadow,” her daddy said. “Do you know anything about that?”

“Shadow? No, I don’t know anything about it.”

Her parents both eyed her suspiciously.

“Are you sure?” her father quizzed again.

“I’m sure. Why would someone do something like that, anyway?”

Her mother said, “Mrs. Greer said you two had an altercation earlier today. Something about you climbing over her fence to get a ball.”

“Yes, I did get my ball and she did yell at me but that was it.”

“She said you yelled back at her later when she was on the way to the store.”

“No, I didn’t,” Jonquinette said on the brink of tears. “I didn’t see her at all after that.”

Her parents eyed each other with confused expressions. Finally, her mother patted her on the hand. “Go back to sleep. Everything will be all right.”

The next morning, Jonquinette headed back upstairs after breakfast to get dressed for the day. There wasn’t much to do but she figured she could ride her bike around the block. She entered her room to find both her parents standing there. Her father had an empty can of rat poison in his hand. “I found this under your bed.”

Jonquinette fell on the floor and cried. “I didn’t do anything!”


April 1991

Seventh Grade

Jonquinette sat in the bleachers, faking a muscle spasm as usual. She hated to participate in gym class. It was ironic because at home, she had become obsessed with physical fitness. All of the baby fat was long gone and she had an hourglass shape. Many of the boys that used to tease her in elementary school were now sweating her to go out with them. She was too nervous to even think about the prospect of dating.

Sheila Vale hated Jonquinette but no one truly understood why. Jonquinette kept to herself, tried to concentrate on her studies, and went directly home from school every single day.

Sheila came over to the bleachers, dressed in her gym uniform, and folded her arms over her chest. “So what’s supposed to be wrong with you today?”

Jonquinette eyed her. “I have a muscle spasm.”