Sweet Little Billie-Jo
“Where is my angel?”
“Here I am daddy.”
“Now, what are these police officers doing to you?”
“Nothing, they are just asking me questions.”
“Where is your mum?”
“She is in there,” Billie-Jo points across the corridor.
“She won’t be long, sir,” a policewoman said.
“There was a nasty accident. Your daughter, uh, witnessed it. We need to ask her a few questions.”
“Are you okay, princess?” Jack asked his smiling daughter.
His darling daughter was thinking back, she was replaying the scene in her mind.
“How can I dance with a boy in a wheelchair?” she asked her dad.
“Don’t say things like that, I know you are in shock.”
“But, dad, I promised the winner of the race could accompany me to the school fete. I don’t want to date a loser.”
Her father hugged her and stroked her blonde hair.
Both boys had fallen in love with their eleven-year-old classmate. All they had to do was to be first to the ice-cream shop at the bottom of the hill. The difficulty was the steepness of the road and the fact that the racers had to get over three crossroads. Yes, there were traffic lights, but this was a race.
The loser pulled out of the race as the first light turned red. Head bowed, he sloped off home.
The leading boy did not know he was the sole racer. He pedalled on, beating the first light by seconds. The second light was green. Billie-Jo crossed her legs with excitement. The third light was red, the brakes were hot as the cable snapped. Charlie-boy broke the passenger window of a pickup. He also broke his neck. Billie-Jo jumped and cheered, to the dismay of a pedestrian as she too witnessed the collision.
The lady’s report was the reason for the visit to the police station.
Billie-Jo smoothed out the wrinkles in her skirt and grinned at her father.
A door opened, “We can go, no action will be taken,” stated Billie-Jo’s mum, “Come on, let’s go home.”
“No action? What do you mean?”
“She caused it,” cried her mum.
“Can’t we visit Charlie?” asked Billie-Jo, trying but failing to keep her solemn face.
“Maybe we should?” asked her dad.
“Yes, great idea,” sarcastically answered her mum. “Remember the parents of the boy who ate the bee? They too blamed her, and they weren’t too happy when we took him some sweets,” pointing at the little princess, “Do you remember what she told their son, ‘Bees taste like honey’? So, no, I don’t want to go through that again.”
Her dad hugged his only daughter close, “Come on darling, cheer up, let’s find you an ice-cream.”
Mother studied the skies.
That was three years ago.
“Are you ready, angel? I can drop you at school.”
Father and daughter rolled up at the gates.
“Who is that? It looks like he is waiting for you? My sweet little girl has an admirer.”
“Just a boy, dad,”
“Can I take you to the school dance?” Andy asked as he hopped from left to right.
“Pete has already asked me,” answered a beaming Billie-Jo.
She flicked her hair away from her steamy blue eyes, straightened her school skirt, and grinned at him.
“Oh, sorry,” he moved away.
“How about we have a test? The winner takes me.”
The lad brightened, then he remembered, his opposition was his mate.
“I’ll ask Pete, and see what he thinks,” Andy was thinking about losing a friend or gaining a girlfriend.
The following morning, the three of them met outside class.
“What sort of test?” the first boy asked.
“Not French, I hope?” said Andy.
“Don’t worry, it won’t be like a school exam. Much more fun, you can be sure of that. Are you boys up for excitement? One of you will have the night of your life at the dance,” acting shy she left them nodding silently with a wink each.
Andy and Pete were the best of friends. It was surprising they had not mentioned their intention of partnering Billie-Jo before they had got up the nerve to ask her.
“How come you said nothing about taking Billie-Jo to the dance?”
“It scared me. What if she said no?”
The boy’s embarrassment was all the more fun for the sweet innocent little girl, who was enjoying thinking up the next danger. She stood, brushing her hair, eyeing Pete and Andy.
Each boy watched the other as they tried not to be seen ogling their dream girl. The boy’s temper was barely simmering, trying not to show their feelings for her to each other. There was no hiding their adolescent feelings.
Billie-Jo was stumped, struggling to think of an exciting quest. She didn’t want another bike race. She wanted to enjoy the race by watching first hand. The idea, sadly and literally, fell in her lap. She was about to enjoy breakfast sitting at the patio table.
The ear-piercing scream made her mum drop the toast and ran outside.
Billie-Jo was shaking, quaking in fear. Speechless in fury, she tore her eyes to her mum.
“Who could have done this? Miss Jingles wouldn’t hurt a fly!” she stammered through tears.
“Oh, darling, let me take her.”
The cat had tried to get home; it died as it attempted to jump from the fence.
“It looks like a dog attacked her. I’ll fetch a shoebox and we can bury her in the garden. I’m so sorry. I know how much you loved Miss Jingles,” her mother said as she gently lifted the bundle of blood-soaked fur from her daughter’s lap.
Billie-Jo’s tears stopped. She now had a plan.
Silence on the school run, Billie-Jo shrugged off her mother’s attempt at a kiss goodbye, slammed the car door as she stomped into class. She didn’t speak to classmates, ignored the teacher’s questions, only smiling when the break bell rang.
“Right, you two. Do you still want to take me to the school dance? Yes, or no? If you are serious, I’ll tell you what you must do to win my hand.”
The two boys looked at her, then at each other, and nodded.
“They murdered Miss Jingles this morning.”
She lost the boys.
“Miss Jingles, my cat.”
“Oh,” they nodded none the wiser.
“The killer must die.”
“Who was the murderer?” asked one boy.
Ignoring the question, she looked at each, like a teacher waiting for a pupil to own up.
“In my hand are two pieces of paper, both with a dog’s name, the boy who kills that dog in the most painful or ‘elaborate’ way, takes me to the dance. Clear? Easy enough? Who wants to kill the first dog?”
“You mean now?”
“No, idiot, I mean after school. Whoever takes the first name, kicks the game off, we’ll start as soon as it gets dark. Then the second contestant does his bit an hour later. I will watch and decide who wins.”
She held out a hand. The boys looked at the folds of paper, neither moved. She glared at each nervous lad and stabbed her hand forward.
With three pairs of eyes focused on the paper, male hands nervously took their pick.
“Ah, ha, ‘Snatch’, that’s the Doberman next door. Better you go second. And Andy, you picked ‘Cutey’, she is not cute. You go first. Meet me at the street corner up from my house at eight pm. Pete, you come to mine at nine. The rules are simple, there are no rules. Okay?” Billie-Jo breezed off with a smile brightening the corridor, nodding to girls she had ignored the entire term. The boys were not smiling.
Billie-Jo saw Andy creep past her house. She rushed out to join him.
“What are you using to kill the bitch?”
“I read somewhere that if you give a dog Viagra, it will have a heart attack and die. I stole some of my dads,” he laughed.
“I’ve got my Scouts knife to make sure,” he said hopefully.
“Still boring,” she killed his hopes.
The house was in darkness.
“Great, they must be out. Come on, climb over the fence,” she pointed.
The dog started barking.
“Yes, bigger than my cat, get on with it.”
Andy tested the wooden strapping and hauled himself up and balanced across the top of the wood.
“Here you are Cutey, a lovely hamburger just for you,” he lobbed the patty down.
“Go on then, finish her!” screamed Billie-Jo as she shoved Andy.
Cutey swallowed her snack, then went after the main course.
Billie-Jo skipped her way home.
At exactly the allotted time, Pete rang the doorbell.
“How did Andy do?” he asked.
“You’ve got something to beat. Do you want to wait for him? Or start now?”
“No, let’s get on with it.”
Billie-Jo tried to hide her enjoyment.
They went to the bottom of Billie-Jo’s garden.
“How are you going to kill it?” she whispered.
“Look what I’ve got,” he pulled a hoop of wire from under his jumper.
“And?” she sniggered.
“When he attacks me, I slip this over his head and tighten it until he can’t breathe.”
“Right, good luck then,” she pulled back part of the hedge.
Pete crawled on hands and knees through the hole.
Suddenly, his legs started trembling, then kicking. Billie-Jo pushed his feet harder until he was through. She made a gap in the leaves, but no good.
“Shit, I can’t see a damn thing.”
But she could hear the crunching of soft boyish bone. The neighbour’s back door opened to the owner’s scream. Billie-Jo quietly nipped indoors.
Minutes later sirens disturbed her tv programme, flashing lights shimmied across her ceiling. She smiled. She would dance with someone else.
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