Chapter 1

She let herself out of the trailer quietly; she’d learned long ago not to disturb her mother. It was still dark out but she could walk this path blindfolded; she’d walked it every schooldays of her life. Every school day of her life, she’d walk the quarter mile from her trailer, down the dirt road to the asphalt road of Highway 52, cross the two lane highway and stand and wait for the bus.

When she was younger, she’d get off at the first stop, H. P. Long Elementary. Then, when she graduated H. P. Long, she’d ride it down to the second stop, O. K. Allen High School.

She remembered when she was younger; the students that were big enough to go to O. K. Allen seemed like gods to her. She thought it must be so great to be in high school, to be almost grown up.

Now, at eighteen years of age, she realized there really wasn’t anything great about being in high school; it was just a continuation of the ostracization and alienation she’d endured in elementary school. She endured ridicule as ‘trailer trash’ and the daughter of a single mom and drunkard. No one knew who her father was, but there was plenty of speculation.

She looked both ways but there was no traffic so she crossed the road and looked once more to the west. No sign of the school bus.

She turned and faced the east and smiled as the sky began to slowly, majestically turn from black to deep purple to violet. A faint line of gold could be seen as the sun’s rays began to spread out along the horizon.

“Come on, ain’t got all day!” Miss Hebert’s gravelly rasp broke into the beauty and Velma sighed and turned and got onto the bus.

“Standing around dawdling,” Miss Hebert groused and complained as she swung the doors shut and floored the accelerator.

Velma sighed as she scanned the dark interior of the bus for an empty seat. Finally she gave up and sat down next to Stevie Miller.

“Hey, I’m saving that seat for Jack!” Stevie complained.

“Tough shit,” Velma groused. “Guess you’ll just have to wait until lunch to be with your boyfriend.”

“Nun uh,” Stevie said and tried to shove Velma out of the seat.

Velma grabbed Stevie by the back of his head and slammed it into the back of the seat in front of them.

“That’s it, Aucoin!” Miss Hebert yelled as she slammed on the brakes. “You! Off!”

“Fucking cry baby,” Velma hissed as Stevie cried and held his hand to his bloody nose.


“Come on, Velma,” Mr. Boudreaux sighed. “Surely you could have found another way to resolve this.”

“I think she was drunk, or high or something,” Velma accused. “Should have seen her, weaving all over the road and shit.”

Jim smiled and shook his head.

“Miss Aucoin, you know she was not weaving all over the road,” he said and she smiled.

“Look, Mr. Boudreaux, I sat down, and Stevie starts trying to push me out of the seat and…”

“Yes, he was wrong for that,” he conceded. “But again, you’re an adult here. Surely you could have found another way to resolve this problem?”

“Uh huh,” Velma said

“But Miss Hebert said she will not let you back on her bus until you apologize to her and to Stevie, okay?” he went on.

“Uh huh,” she said and he smiled and stood, indicating that their ‘meeting’ was over.

He knew she would do it. Despite her deplorable living conditions and her tough girl façade, Velma Aucoin was a Straight ‘A’ student and was rarely in his office. Whenever she was in his office, he talked to her like she was an adult, an equal. He knew that she was a good girl; she just didn’t have much of a chance.

He’d been raised the same way; his own parents constantly lost custody of him due to excessive drinking, fights, abuse of him and his two sisters. He grew up in a succession of foster homes and run-down trailers and decrepit apartments and rotted shacks in and around Bay St. Louis in Mississippi. But he applied himself and went to college and was now the principal of O. K. Allen High School in Mumphrey, Louisiana.

His two sisters chose to blame their lot in life on their traumatic childhood and follow in the footsteps of their parents. Patricia was a crack addict, living in Biloxi, Mississippi. Rebecca had three children by three different fathers and was constantly losing them to Child Protection Services due to abuse. Jim had long ago ceased giving them money or any other assistance.

Just to show him that she wasn’t giving in that easily, Velma ‘scratched an itch’ on her nose, using only her middle finger. He hid his smile; he knew that little trick of giving someone the finger without blatantly giving him or her the finger.

“That will be all, Miss Aucoin,” he said and dismissed her.


Mrs. Davis barely glanced at the note that Velma showed her for being tardy. Her dislike of Velma Aucoin was barely disguised. Velma took her usual seat, after brushing off the thumbtack that someone had put on it and glared at Stacie Coutre.

Stacie was pretending to find a spot above Mrs. Davis’ head very interesting. Kimberly Webber likewise looked anywhere but at Velma. That didn’t surprise Velma; Stacie and Kimberly rarely did anything without the other’s participation.

She wanted to scratch her head. Her head itched terribly, but she knew if she scratched her head, the rumors would fly that she had head lice again.

That was why her brunette hair, formerly long, luxurious locks, was cut short to her scalp. They’d gone on a field trip to Baton Rouge, the state capital. While there, somehow they’d contracted head lice. Of course, everyone blamed Velma for it.

Momma, making a decision between the lice shampoo and a bar tab, had simply taken scissors and whacked away at Velma’s hair to get rid of the pesky critters. Of course, it didn’t work and she had to buy the shampoo anyway, but Velma had to endure being called ‘Elmer Fudd’ for the rest of her junior year.

She wondered if she dared ask Mrs. Davis if she could go to the bathroom, but knew that Mrs. Davis wouldn’t let her and would do her best to embarrass her in front of the other Seniors.

Finally the bell rang and she gathered up her books and dashed to the bathroom.

Stacie and Kimberly were already in the bathroom, checking on their already far too excessive make-up, but Velma’s head itched too badly for her to turn around and leave. She passed the two smirking eighteen year olds and went into a stall.

She unzipped her baggy jeans and shoved them down and sat down. Finally, she scratched the maddening itch and sighed.

“What is that smell?” Stacie screeched. “Smells like, like, trailer trash!”

“Oh, that’s just Elmer Fudd,” Kimberly laughed.

Velma heard the other toilet flush and the stall door creak open.

“Y’all, y’all are wrong for that and you know it,” she heard Paris Mouton tell the two giggling tormentors.

Velma then heard the door of the bathroom open and close, then silence.

Stacie and Kimberly suppressed their giggles as they attached the hose to the sink faucet. Velma opened the door to the stall and they sprayed her liberally.

“She says we did WHAT?” Stacie asked, mouth open in disbelief.

“We hosed her? In the bathroom?” Kimberly asked, her face a mirror of Stacie’s.

Jim Boudreaux sighed. He wanted to expel the two girls outright, but knew their parents wouldn’t take that lying down. Stacie’s father was a lawyer who liked to bully people and Kimberly’s father was the mayor of Mumphrey.

“Of course, if Velma had sprayed either one of these two spoiled little brats, I’d have no choice but to expel her,” he thought bitterly.

As he predicted, neither Kimberly’s or Stacie’s fathers took their daughters’ suspensions lying down. But he was adamant; they would not return to school until Monday.


Velma sat in her bed and tuned out the disgusting, animal sounds her mother and her mother’s latest boyfriend, Randall, were making. Her bedroom window faced the west; she loved watching the sunsets.

She could tune out all other senses; the offensive stench of her mother’s cigarettes and whiskey, the grunting pig noises of sex, the feel of the stale, dank air on her skin, the taste in her mouth, and just focus on the setting sun.

The descent of the blue and gold, the sun throwing up its last gasp efforts of yellows, then fiery orange, dwindling down to red, then purple, and finally black claiming reign. She could wrap herself in the velvet blackness, a cocoon that blocked out all other sensations.

The absolute best, however, was a late night thunderstorm. She would throw open the window to embrace the heart racing, overwhelming beauty. All of her senses would be alive and on fire. The inky blackness, then the sudden brilliance of the lightning, the rumble and growl of the thunder, the smell of the rain, the electric taste in her mouth.

She remembered once, the lightning had been sheet lightning and she had nearly fainted from the sheer grandeur of it. The whole world would light up for that instance, like the brightest of days, then the snap and groan of the thunder rolled through her, into her heart. Her brown eyes searched frantically for the next flash, her full lips stretched wide in an awestruck smile.

She’d written a poem about that night, but Mrs. Davis made fun of it, in front of all the other students, so Velma never shared her feelings with anyone else since that day.

Chapter 2

Jim turned up the stereo in his battered old pick up truck. Robin Trower’s ‘Bridge of Sighs’ blasted out of the powerful speakers.

“A car ain’t nothing but a place to wrap around a stereo,” Mack, his best friend used to joke.

The truck had cost him fifteen hundred, but he’d put an eight hundred dollar stereo system in it.

He remembered the first time he’d ever heard this song. He and Mack and Linda and Suzanne were down on the pier. Mack had an eight track player and was ranting on and on about this great song by Procol Harum’s former guitarist.

Linda had looked so good in that bikini, and asked him to put some lotion on her back. The song wailed and soared as he rubbed the oil into her skin. She didn’t protest as his hand went around to her side and rubbed up and down on her small breasts.

“Want to?” she whispered and he nodded his head yes.

From the back seat of Mack’s car, he could still faintly hear the song as Linda slid her bikini bottom down. He looked at the very first pussy he’d ever seen and groaned as he blew his load into his swim trunks.

“Thank God for youth,” he thought as he remembered that day.

Despite the huge load he’d blown, he did not lose his erection and managed to avoid a repeat ejaculation as he slid the condom on.

“‘Been a long time crossing…. Bridge of Sighs,'” and he drove himself into Linda’s tight, wet pussy.

Her moans of passion drowned out the rest of the song, as did his grunts and moans.

“Wonder what ever happened to her?” he mused.

The driver of the sugar cane truck was looking directly into the setting sun when he pulled out onto Highway 52; did not see Jim’s battered old white pick up truck.


Velma sat, stunned, as Mrs. Davis tearfully announced that Jim Boudreaux had been in an automobile accident on the previous evening and was in ICU at Southeast Medical Center.

“Velma! Velma, where do you think you’re going?” she snapped as Velma raced out of the classroom.

Paris heard the girl’s heartbroken sobs as she entered the bathroom.

“So the little bitch ain’t made of ice after all,” she thought as she too dabbed her own tears.

She’d tried once to befriend the friendless girl, but Velma had rebuffed her so vehemently that Paris never tried that again. While she didn’t participate in or encourage the petty treatment of Velma, she did little to stop it either. Even if she was the daughter of Jim Mouton, owner of Mouton Toyota and Lexus dealership, she still had to worry about her own social standing at O. K. Allen.


Velma sat and tried to choke down the tuna salad the cafeteria served. They always put too much pickle relish in it, rendering it almost unpalatable. If she weren’t so hungry, she would have simply eaten the gelatinous macaroni and cheese and green peas. But she was hungry.

Paris put her own tray down and grimaced.

“I hate tuna salad,” she confided to Velma. “Well, THIS tuna salad. They ought to call it ‘Pickle salad,’ you know?”

Velma ignored the girl.

“But, I forgot it was Friday, so now I got to choke this stuff down and try not to vomit,” Paris went on.

“How in the fuck do you forget it’s Friday?” Velma snapped.

“Alarm didn’t go off, what I wanted to wear was still in the laundry hamper, shoe lace broke, Consuela burned the eggs, Grant’s giving me all kind of shit about wanting to go see Mr. Boudreaux tomorrow, Dad’s on my ass about a couple of charges from like three months ago, guess it just felt like a Monday,” Paris shrugged and shuddered as she bit into the tuna salad. “God, do you think they could have made this any grosser?”

Velma looked at the blonde haired girl and tried to make her tear go away without wiping it.

“You, you’re going to see Mr. Boudreaux tomorrow?” she asked, voice barely more than a whisper.

She didn’t want her voice to crack, to let the other girl know there were any chinks in her armor.

“Uh huh, he’s in ICU, so visiting hours are all screwed up,” Paris said and shoved another forkful of the unappetizing salad into her mouth. “So, I figured if I get there at eight, I should be able to get in to see him. They only let two people at a time go visit him.

She looked up and saw the tears sliding down Velma’s face.

“You want to go?” she asked.

Velma shook her head no, unable to speak.

“You sure?” I can swing by, I know where you live, and…” Paris said.

“No! All right? I said ‘no!'” Velma yelled and left the cafeteria.

Chapter 3

Momma and Randall were arguing, nothing new there, about where he had gotten the money to buy a bag of marijuana. Esther shrilly accused him of stealing it from her.

“Uh huh, and where the fuck you get that kind of money, huh? Huh bitch?” Randall yelled back. “You ain’t never got no fucking money when I need it but you telling me you had two hundred? Huh? That’s what you telling me?”

“Two hundred? You out of your fucking mind?” Esther screamed. “You know what we could have done with two hundred?”

Then the slapping started, the shoving, and thumps and Velma sat in her bed and looked out the window at the brilliant sun, low in the horizon, but not quite touching the lip of the horizon yet.

If she could just hold on for another thirty or forty minutes, she’d be able to pull the night around her


“Hey, sleepy head,” she heard, and then felt the threadbare blanket being pulled down.

She grabbed at the blanket and pulled it back up. She was nude underneath; a thunderstorm had rolled in at two in the morning, waking her with its deep-throated rumbles. She’d stripped off the long tee shirt she slept in and masturbated as she watched the flashes of lightning and heard the thunder. The harsh slap of the rain against her window was one of the most romantic, loving sounds she knew and she loved imagining herself and a lover making love, out in a field, being drenched in the storm.

She wasn’t a virgin; she knew what it felt like to have a man on top of her, his penis driving itself into her, filling her. A friend of her cousin’s had asked her out and they went to Chili’s in Hammond, then to see some stupid movie that he wanted to see. Afterward, they came back to the trailer, but Momma was still down at Paradise Lounge so she let him come in.

His kisses were clumsy, but still felt pretty good to her. His gropes were clumsy as well, but he managed to hit the right spots on her breasts and her nipples responded. She pulled him off of the couch and into her bedroom.

The first thrust hurt her horribly and his erection wilted at her agonized scream. Moments later, though, she was encouraging him to fuck her.

He didn’t call her for a second date but did let all of his friends; including her cousin know that he’d fucked her.

The blanket again slithered down and her eyes flew open. She looked into the laughing blue eyes of Paris Mouton.

“Paris, what the… What are you doing here?” Velma whispered, afraid of waking Momma or Randall.

“I know you said you didn’t want to go see Mr. Boudreaux, but I could tell you really did, so I came to get you,” Paris said and shrugged. “I knocked and knocked, but no one ever answered, so I tried the knob and it wasn’t locked, so I let myself in, hope you don’t mind.”

Velma didn’t want to tell her, but the lock hadn’t worked in about ten years. Momma had gotten really drunk one night, and couldn’t get her key to work, so she busted the lock and they’d never bothered to have it fixed. Anything of any value had long since been stolen or pawned so there was no need to lock the trailer.

“Paris, get out of here!” she hissed hoarsely. “You can’t just, who the fuck do you think you are?”

“Come on, get up,” Paris said and began to pull the blanket down again.

“Paris! Stop it! I’m, I’m naked!” Velma hissed.

“Oh, so what?” Paris giggled. “It ain’t like I ain’t seen it a hundred times already! Remember Coach Shelly makes us shower after every P.E.?”

Paris leaned closer to Velma.

“I bet she does that shit so she can see us naked,” she whispered.

Resigned to the fact that Paris wasn’t going away, and wasn’t going to give her any privacy, Velma got out of the bed and pulled her long tee shirt on.

“I’ll go take a shower and then I’ll be ready,” Velma said and left the room.

“Okay,” Paris said and sat back on the bed, facing the window.

The morning was still gray, the clouds from the thunderstorm not fully dissipated by the morning sun.

Velma went into the bathroom and made sure to slide the bolt in fully. Randall hadn’t tried it yet, but Momma’s last boyfriend liked to ‘accidentally’ walk in on her whenever she was in the shower, or on the commode. He was a creepy old drunk; Velma hadn’t cried any tears when he died of a massive heart attack. Momma had been mortified to find out that he was not divorced, as he’d told her, but infect had a very attractive wife and five children living in Hammond.

Paris was looking through Velma’s few prized possessions; her books, when Velma returned. She looked over at Velma and smiled.

“I have a bunch of these books too,” she said. “I haven’t read this one, though, it any good?”

She held up ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,’ by Anonymous.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s good, kind of depressing, it’s about drug addiction,” Velma said and yanked open a drawer on the battered, wobbly chest of drawers.

“Can I borrow it?” Paris asked. “I promise I’ll bring it right back.”

“Uh, yeah, yeah,” Velma agreed and wished Paris would leave the room, give her some privacy.

She pulled a pair of panties on and wished she’d had better-looking panties. She rummaged around until she found her nicest bra and slipped it on. From another drawer, she pulled on her only pair of khaki shorts, the ones she wore whenever her mother decided they needed to go to church, then found a purple half-shirt. She pulled her canvas tennis shoes on and turned to face Paris again.

“Ready?” Paris smiled.

“Ready,” Velma agreed.

Chapter 4

Velma wasn’t sure what model it was, but she could recognize that the Lexus that Paris drove was one of the nicer models. Paris giggled as she hit a button on the key and the car chirped to let them know that it had been unlocked.

“I just love that sound!” she giggled and opened the driver’s door.

Velma perched on the edge of her seat, not wanting to make any indentations in the expensive leather interior.

“You like Classical?” Paris was asking. “Kimberly and Stacie are always giving me a bunch of crap about ‘that’s not real music,’ and ‘how can you listen to that boring stuff?’ but I like it. And you know, when I try to point out to them how the stuff they call music is just borrowed from Classical, they act like they don’t know what I’m talking about.”