I wasn't able to post last Saturday for the Sassy Saturday group, due to entertaining the troops and the Moorpark Civil War re-enactment. But here's another look at the heroine in my series, The War This Side of Heaven. And in the following scene we also get a look at the killer who teaches one of Janette's classes.
From The After School Murders -- Chapter Two
Friday, September 6:
Before we knew it, lunch was over and the next class period well under way; but we took our time walking back. Mr. Fletcher had no class that hour and it was much too late to hurry anyway. Once back in the Journalism room, he wrote me a note and sent me off to what was left of Gymnastics.
Being late from lunch also affected my getting to U.S. Government. It was a scream to see the look on Noonan’s face when I walked in. Not having dressed for Gymnastics, I arrived cool and completely unruffled five minutes before the second bell rang. And there he was all set to jump down my throat for being late again. Being well aware of the situation from the excuse he’d heard the day before, Noonan naturally expected a repeat of tardiness. His look of disappointment and perplexity was a pleasure to behold.
Academically, it was going to be a breeze to make it through this class, but still I made notes while there. Then in between my study notes were written my observations on Noonan’s interactions with the girls in the class.
I had never been one to sit in the back of any classroom. That was the place chosen by troublemakers and the dopes that didn’t care about getting a decent education—as if that were really possible without effort outside the classroom. Blending in had been my M.O. until I went to war and began terrorizing teachers. But now, sitting against the back wall, the position afforded the opportunity for such important revelations that I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it sooner. Sitting in the corner by the rear door and with a number of vacant seats around me, I could easily see most of what went on. The only thing was that I didn’t dare let Noonan see how carefully I was watching him.
It was a relief that the man was finally teaching his class as he was supposed to. This meant less boredom and frustration for me. Of course, under the heavy hand and watchful eye of the school’s principal, Mrs. MacGregor, Noonan had no choice if he wanted to keep his job. His style also afforded some amusement. After observing for only a few days, it was easy to see what his political leanings were, even though he didn’t take a soapbox approach to persuasion. This entertainment value would help in getting through the class each day.
Though he didn’t flirt openly as he once did, there were those that Jake the Snake gave more smiles, more complements and over-all attention to. Some were more susceptible to it than others, but I kept an eye on them all, just in case. Since my view from the back didn’t allow me to read all the expressions on the faces of these girls, I couldn’t get the whole picture and didn’t dare make assumptions. Then again, knowing what I did about my enemy and what he was after, their reactions really were secondary.
Noonan didn’t like dark meat. He had a particular liking for the brown-eyed senoritas, if they had that Castilian look about them. Otherwise it was the fair skinned, rosy-cheeked girls he preferred. I was the only exception, and the reason had nothing to do with a physical attraction; where I was concerned, it was simply hatred and revenge. Still, it was possible that, as Margo had said, my new look just might put some thoughts in his head about me—and that thought made me want to vomit.
The other exception was Noonan’s wife. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that he consistently liked his females young and vivacious, while Marybeth Noonan was twelve years his senior and suffered from polio. To the naïve, the man was a saint for joyfully taking on such a burden; but it was obvious that all he had wanted was her money—and she had plenty from Texas oil and cattle after her father died. Noonan was, however, enough of a charmer to make her and lots of other people believe he had a genuine affection for her. Either that or her family was glad to have someone to finally foist her off on, and had simply looked the other way.
So I would make my notes daily, and amongst my observations would be thoughts on which girls would most likely accept his advances, and which were most likely to heed a warning.
------- The After School Murders is available on Amazon