October 12, 1987

Hallie rushed into the cafeteria. She paused and took a deep breath.  She scanned the room looking for someone in particular.  Honey and Trixie were sitting at their usual table, along with Ruthie Ketner and Nona Williams.  Their four heads were together and they were in deep concentration.  No doubt they were making final plans for the Homecoming Parade on Friday. 

Honey looked up and waved Hallie over but she continued to scan the room looking for someone else.  Finally, her eyes landed on her intended target.  Jane Morgan sat at the table in the very middle of the cafeteria holding court.  She was surrounded by her lackeys, Elizabeth Schwartz, Hannah Pietz and Tiffany Kae Kelley.  They, too, had their heads together plotting something.

It might have been about some Homecoming activity but if it was, it was something about how they were going to assure they got elected to the Homecoming Court. 

Hallie marched up to the clique and slapped her hand on the table to get their attention.  The four girls glanced up, took in who was there, and then continued on with their conversation.  They giggled, pointed, and completely ignored Hallie.

She slammed her hand down again, this time catching the attention of most of the surrounding tables.   Jane looked up again in disdain.  This time Hallie was ready for Jane.

“Jane,” she said sternly.  “I’ve had it with you.”

Jane blinked innocently at her and said nothing, barely acknowledging her.

“All you’ve done since I joined the volleyball team is try to undermine me, but it’s not going to work.  This was the last straw.”

Jane continued to act innocent, bat her long fake over-masacaraed eyes and said, “Why, whatever do you mean?”

Hallie snorted and pulled out a piece of paper.  On the paper was a picture of Hallie spiking a volleyball.  The original picture was a great action shot that had been featured on the front page of the Sleepyside Sun sports section the week before.  Unfortunately, someone had photoshopped the picture.  They had drawn horns and a forked tail on her and put the caption, “The devil is in the dunk”. 

“This smells like something you’d do, Jane, and I’m done with your antics,” Hallie said.  “First it was breaking into my gym locker and dumping lotion all over my clothes.  Then you put Vaseline in my hair brush.  It took me four days to get that rinsed out of my hair.  I chose to ignore you, hoping that you’d just go away.  Well, you didn’t, so now I’m warning you.  I’m fighting back and you’d better watch out.”

“Ooh,” Tiffany Kae and Elizabeth said in unison.

“We’re really scared,” Hannah taunted.

Jane just sat there, letting her cronies do the dirty work.

“I would be scared,” Hallie said.  “You might remember my cousin, Mart Belden.  One of his favorite sayings was revenge is sweet, saccharine sweet.  Just remember that when you least expect it.”  She turned and walked over to the table Honey and Trixie were at.

“That girl will be the death of me,” Hallie muttered. 

“What’s up?” Honey asked.

Hallie slapped the paper down on the table.  Trixie and Honey gasped. 

It was like a dam had broken and Hallie started to rant. “Ever since I got a starting spot on the volleyball team, Jane Morgan has been out to get me. It doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do, she’s either making some dig under her breath, jabbing me in the ribs when I come down from a spike, sabotaging my clothes.  I kept my mouth shut up until now, but now I’ve had it.”

Honey gently patted Hallie’s hand, trying to calm her down.  “I had no idea it was this bad.  Why didn’t you say anything?”

Hallie plopped down on a chair and combed her fingers through her jet black hair.  “I wanted to take care of it myself.  I also didn’t want to stoop to Jane’s level.  She’s really not worth it, but I’m tired of being a door mat.”

“Well, if it’s any consolation, you aren’t the first person Jane has attacked,” Ruthie said.

“And unfortunately, you won’t be the last,” Nona said.  “Jane’s dad owns Morgan Realty and is active in the Sleepyside Chamber of Commerce.  He’s a really nice guy but has a blind spot where his daughter is concerned.  Whatever she wants, he has always given her.”

“Ever since she was in kindergarten she’s had one person that she’s decided to try and destroy. When she’s gets what she wants to moves on,” Trixie explained.

Hallie leaned her arms on the table.  “You mean no one has ever stood up to her?”

“Well, people have tried,” Nona said, “but she’s pretty cagey.  She never does anything in front of an authority figure.  And it usually is her word against yours.  She’s snowballed most of the teachers into believing that it’s always someone else’s fault.”

“Maybe it’s time someone did stand up to her,” Hallie said.

Honey looked concerned.  “Well, don’t do anything that will get you into trouble.”

Hallie thought for a few minutes.  “Don’t worry.  I’m not going to do anything like that.  Everything I do will be completely above board and in no way get me in trouble with anyone.”

Jane flounced over to the girls’ table.  “I hope you’ve come up with some fabulous decorations for the dance,” she said.  “Silver with blue accents would look lovely with the dress I’ve chosen.  It will be the perfect dress for Homecoming Queen.”

Nona and Ruthie each seemed to be overcome by a coughing fit.  Honey covered her mouth trying to hide a chuckle.

Trixie on the other hand deadpanned, “Well, I guess you’ll be disappointed.  We’re having a Halloween theme for the dance.  Orange, black and slime green are the color scheme.”

Jane glared at the girls and then stomped off.

“Of all the nerve,” Ruthie said.  “You’d think she was in charge of the school.  She couldn’t stoop down to volunteer to work on the Homecoming committee but she’s tried to run everything else, from the parade line-up to the music for the Grand March at the dance.”

“Does she really think she’s going to be elected Homecoming Queen?” Honey asked.  She started to eat her lunch.

“She thinks she can be elected, but I don’t know if anyone else does except maybe her cronies,” Nona said. 

“Well, if I have any say, she won’t even get nominated,” Hallie said.  “She has got to be put in her place. Like I said, she’s going to have a rude awakening.”

“It sounds like you have a plan,” Trixie said.  “I can’t wait to hear it.”  Trixie had been the brunt of Jane’s torments on numerous occasions. She had usually just ignored them but getting back at her without getting in trouble would be even better.

Diana walked up to the table with her lunch tray.  Setting down she asked, “What’s happening?”

After filling her in on what had happened, she was as angry as Hallie had been.  Of all of those sitting at the table, Jane had caused her the most heartache. 

“So what’s your plan?” Diana asked.  For the rest of the lunch hour, they plotted their revenge on Jane Morgan and her court of cronies. 

Their plan began that afternoon when nominations were made for Homecoming Court.  Jane was sure she would be homecoming queen and Tiffany Kae, Hannah and Elizabeth would be her court.  She had threatened just about anyone who had thought of nominating anyone else with dire consequences.

Only seniors could nominate girls to the court and you couldn’t nominate yourself.  The girls worked all afternoon trying to get several of the football players to nominate someone other than Jane and her cronies.  The guys were not fond of Jane, but up until now hadn’t really put much thought into the whole court thing.  

The girls didn’t tell the guys who they should nominate.  They only asked that whoever they nominate it was someone who wouldn’t be embarrassed and someone who they would really want to be on court.

That evening after dinner, Hallie came up to Trixie’s room to talk.  She flopped down onto the spare bed and sighed.

“What’s the matter?” Trixie asked. 

Hallie hesitated as she tried to make some sense of her thoughts.  “I’m worried.  Maybe I should just keep ignoring Jane.  She’s a senior and I’ll probably only be at Sleepyside for the year.  When Mother and Dad get back from South America, they’re going to want me to go back to Idaho.  Jane seems to have so much power in the school.”

“It’s up to you,” Trixie said, “but people have been ignoring and tolerating Jane since she was in kindergarten.  Maybe it’s time for all of us to fight back.  It’s not just what she’s done to you.  You heard how she’s tried to run the Homecoming Committee even though she doesn’t want to be on it.  You should have seen her when we were freshman and were putting on Romeo and Juliet.  The only time she hasn’t gotten her way was when she didn’t get the part of Juliet and the part of Liesl this summer.”

Hallie turned on her side to face Trixie, who was on her bed.  “And Diana was the one who beat her out both times, right?”

Trixie nodded.

“How did Diana survive?” Hallie asked.  “Jane must have been horrible to her.”

“She tried.  For about three months after the play, Jane would get her digs in about any little thing she perceived Diana had done wrong on stage.  It really affected Diana’s self-esteem for a while.  Then she started to fight back.  You don’t want to get on Diana’s bad side.  She has an acerbic tongue when she needs it.”

“Diana? Acerbic?” Hallie asked.  “I can’t believe it.”

Trixie nodded.  “You’d better believe it.  Just watch Jane when Diana is around.  She totally avoids Diana and you never hear her make a snide remark to Diana directly. “

“Well, I hope our plan works,” Hallie said.  “If not, I don’t know if I can put up with her antics during volleyball for much longer.”

They talked some more about the week’s upcoming activities.  Every night there was something going on.  Tuesday morning the nominations for court would be announced.  Classes would begin their hall decorations.  Wednesday would be Maroon and Gold day and seniors would vote for the court.

Thursday evening would be the snake dance and bonfire.  They would announce the king and queen then. 

The homecoming committee had worked closely with the alumni association to coordinate events and to encourage alumni to participate in events.  They had planned a reception and tour of the school for Friday afternoon.  A tailgate party was planned for before the game with the proceeds going to the scholarship funds.

Distinguished alumni awards would be given during the pre-game festivities.  Alumni were encouraged to attend and participate in the dance.

Tuesday, October 13, 1987

Honey picked up Trixie and Hallie early Tuesday morning.  The Homecoming Committee was scheduled to meet with Principal Stratton to review the nominations and prepare the announcement and ballots for the court.  Diana was going to meet them at school.

As they walked into the front doors of the school, Jane was lingering in front of Principal Stratton’s door.  They ignored her and walked into the office.  Jane tried to enter the office as well but Mr. Stratton held her off.

“Only committee members and the advisors are allowed in this meeting,” he explained.  “You’ll have to wait with the rest of the student body to find out the results.”

The committee and advisors met for about twenty minutes.  They discussed all of the nominations and made sure all of the applications had been filled out correctly.  There were several that had not been properly filled out and the committee had to decide how to handle it.

Because of the nature of the problem, the committee members asked the advisors to make the decision.   The committee members didn’t want to be accused of playing favorites.  When they left the meeting everyone was comfortable with the decisions.  Hallie and Diana exchanged high fives as they walked out of the meeting.

Trixie pulled Hallie aside as they left the meeting.  “How did you manage that?” Trixie asked.

Hallie earnestly said, “I didn’t have anything to do with that.  All I did was talk to some of the football players and asked them to submit some names.  It didn’t take much convincing, as they were all tired of Jane trying to flirt with them and then putting them down. “

“Well, I’m sure glad I don’t have Jane in my homeroom,” Trixie said.  “Oh, no…”

“What?” Hallie asked.

“Diana is in Jane’s homeroom.  I’m sure Jane will take her frustrations out on her,” Trixie said.

“Remember what you told me about Diana,” Hallie reminded her.  “She will do just fine.”

They all took off for their homerooms, eager to see the reactions when the announcement was made.

When the bell rang signaling the start of homeroom, Principal Stratton came over the intercom.

“Good morning,” he said.  “I’m pleased to announce the nominations for homecoming court.  Before I make the announcement I want to let everyone know about a decision the advisors made.  There were several nominations that had not been completed correctly.  They did not have the needed signatures and the form had not been filled out properly.  Unfortunately, those nominations were not accepted as they had not followed the rules.”

Diana, who was sitting behind Jane in homeroom, looked at Jane.  Jane looked smug, assuming her application wasn’t one in question.

Principal Stratton continued. “It is with great pleasure to announce the nominations for the 1987 Homecoming Court. Remember you will be electing a queen and her court of five attendants.  The nominations are: Emily Anderson, Claudia Baldwin, Trixie Belden, Jackie Davis, Tiffany Kae Kelly, Diana Lynch, Kathy Peterson, Nancy Robertson, Debbie Schultz, Honey Wheeler, Nona Williams and Shelby Zander.  Seniors will have today and tomorrow to cast their votes and the court will be announced at the bonfire Thursday night.  Have a great day.”

After he signed off, Diana’s homeroom was silent for about a minute.  Diana looked over at Jane who just sat in her chair.  All of sudden she turned around and faced Diana. 

Pointing a finger at Diana, Jane sneered, “I know you had something to do with this.  You and your bevy of friends are trying to get back at me for something I didn’t do.  Don’t worry, by noon I’ll be on the ballot.  Just wait and see.”

She stomped out of homeroom and headed down to the principal’s office.  Shortly after, the bell rang and the halls were filled with students.

Honey and Trixie had gym the first hour and had been excused to help get the ballots ready for the homecoming court.  They walked into the office just as Jane did.

“I’d like to see Mr. Stratton,” Jane said curtly to the school secretary. 

Mrs. Ditmar was the school secretary and served as the sentry to the principal.  Most people got along well with her, but she had no patience for prima donnas. Consequently, she did not like Jane’s attitudes and she didn’t put up with her antics.

“He’s on the phone right now.  Can I ask what this is about?” Mrs. Ditmar asked politely.

“You know why I’m here,” Jane snapped.  “Now let me back to see Mr. Stratton.”  She started to head back to the principal’s office.

Mrs. Ditmar stood up and physically blocked Jane’s way.  She was a petite woman who had been school secretary for as long as anyone could remember.  She was also very intimidating.  She had faced down many a defensive lineman over the years.

“I’m going to ask you again why you need to see Mr. Stratton,” Mrs. Ditmar said determinedly.

Jane flounced her brown shoulder-length hair and said through clenched teeth, “I want to discuss this atrocity called the homecoming court nominations.  It’s a disgrace.”

“Now that wasn’t so hard now, was it?” Mrs. Ditmar said.  “It looks like Mr. Stratton is off the phone.  Let me go back and make sure he’s available.”  Jane started to follow her.  “No,” Mrs. Ditmar said.  “You wait here.”

Jane started to pace back and forth as she waited for Mrs. Ditmar to return.  It was then that she realized that Honey and Trixie were standing in the office.

“You two,” Jane shouted.  “I know you are behind this.  You’re trying to get back at me for what I did to Hallie.”

Honey didn’t bat an eyelash.  “So you admit you’ve been bullying, Hallie,” she said.

“I never said anything like it,” Jane sputtered. “I meant that Hallie was mad at me and you were ganging up with her.”

Trixie looked her directly in the eye.  “We had nothing to do with the decisions that were made regarding Homecoming Court. In fact we recused ourselves so no one could question our motives.” 

Jane looked a little confused.

“You do know what the word recuse means, don’t you?”

Before she would answer, Mrs. Ditmar returned.  “Mr. Stratton will see you now.” Jane headed back to the principal’s office.  Mrs. Ditmar followed.  Mr. Stratton had asked her to sit in on the meeting.

After they left Honey whispered to Trixie, “Recuse? Where did you come up with that word?”

Trixie winked at her friend.  “My brother Mart is not the only one in the family that has an extensive vocabulary.  Actually, I heard it used on Murder She Wrote.”

They headed into the office conference room and began working on the ballots and finalizing the parade line-up.

In Mr. Stratton’s office, Jane burst into the room and shouted, “Why wasn’t my name on the ballots for Homecoming Queen?”

“Sit down, Miss Morgan,” Mr. Stratton said.  “I will discuss this with you as long as you can be polite and respectful.”

Jane sat down in chair across the desk from him. Mrs. Ditmar came into the room, quietly closed the door and then stood in the room out of the way.

“Now what is it you wish to discuss?” he asked.

“I want to know why my name wasn’t included on the ballot.  I know I was nominated,” she said.

Mr. Stratton pulled out the stack of nomination forms.  “It seems the nomination form was not complete,” he said.

Jane reached to grab for the form.  “Let me see that,” she demanded.

He pulled the form out of her reach.  “Hold on.  I am going to explain.  It seems that only the first page of the application was filled out.  Someone forgot to answer the question about why the nominated person should serve on court.  Remember the committee made that change and announced it several weeks ago. They had decided that they didn’t want the court to be just a popularity contest.”

Jane looked confused.  “What are you talking about?  I never heard of these changes.”

“I’m sorry if you missed the changes.  They were announced several times.  And the homeroom teachers went over the rules when they handed out the nomination forms.”  He looked down at her application.  “Well, here’s the problem.  You used last year’s form.  I don’t know where you got it but it’s a completely different form.”

Jane started to grab for the application again.  She did in fact know that the application had changed but she had filled out the form over a month ago.  She didn’t want to risk it being filled out wrong.  Then she had Tiffany Kae, Elizabeth and Hannah sign the form.  She needed five other signatures and had brow beat several of the wall flowers of the class to sign the nomination.  She didn’t want to redo her work.  The committee wasn’t going to look that closely at the applications.  They had never done so in the past.

“It’s not fair.  I bet that Trixie Belden and her bird friends are behind this. They would do anything to make me look bad.  You better fix this or I will have my dad call and you don’t want that,” Jane warned.

“That sounds like a threat, Miss Morgan.  I would be careful if I were you,” Mr. Stratton said.  “I don’t have to defend our actions but I am going to.  If you must know, it was the advisors who pushed for enforcing the requirements.  We really liked the emphasis that was put on the nominees’ applications.  We thought it would be a good teaching moment on the importance of following directions.  Most of the students refrained from voicing an opinion.  They said they would be comfortable with the advisor’s decision as they didn’t want to be accused of conflict of interest.”

Jane didn’t want to listen to any more of this.  She stomped out of the room and headed to a pay phone where she put in a call to her father.

After Jane had left the office, Mrs. Ditmar said, “She wasn’t very happy, was she?  Are you sure you want to go through with this?  Her dad can be rather influential.”

Mr. Stratton placed the stack of forms back on his desk.  “Roger Morgan thinks he has power over this school but he is about to find out he doesn’t.  He’s always threatening to cut off the donations he makes to the athletic boosters and art department.  It really isn’t that much and the coaches and art department are tired of all of the caveats that he places on his donations.  He wants all kinds of perks and if Jane doesn’t get what she wants then he makes a nuisance of himself until he gets his way.”

Mrs. Ditmar turned to leave and Mr. Stratton went back to work knowing that within the hour he would be hearing from Roger Morgan.

Trixie and Honey were just finishing up their work in the office when Jane stomped out of the principal’s office.

“I just know you’re behind this,” Jane snapped, shaking her finger at the two of them. “You and the rest of your cronies think you are so smart.  Well, just wait and see.  When my dad hears of this, heads will roll.” Without waiting for a reply she turned and stomped out of the office.

When the office door slammed shut, Trixie looked at Honey and burst out laughing.  “Well, even if Mr. Stratton caves in and lets Jane be on the ballot, that would almost be worth it,” Honey said.

“Honey Wheeler!” Trixie exclaimed.  “I can’t believe you said that.”

Honey continued to giggle.  “I can’t believe I said it either.”

The bell for first period rang and the two friends headed in different directions to their next classes.

All during the day, wherever Trixie went people were congratulating her on her nomination.  She was rather embarrassed.  She had never considered herself homecoming court material, unless the school had decided to add a court jester.  She couldn’t imagine who had nominated her.  After giving it some thought she decided that would be one mystery she wasn’t going to try and solve. 

At lunchtime the homecoming committee met to work on the final hall assignments and to discuss the rules and guidelines for that competition.  While they were waiting for everyone to arrive in the office conference room, Trixie, Honey and Diana began discussing the day’s events.

“I wonder who would nominate me,” Trixie said.  “It sure came as a surprise.”

Honey and Diana looked at one another in shock. 

“Who wouldn’t nominate you?” Honey asked.

Jane Morgan marched passed the conference room door, her father following closely behind him.

“Jane,” Diana responded and the three burst into giggles.

“Well, I’m not going to worry about it,” Trixie said.  “I doubt I’ll be elected anyway.”  She took a big bite out of the sandwich she had made from the sandwich bar. 

“Quit putting yourself down,” Diana scolded.  “There are lots of people that would want you on court.  I’ve heard lots of people comment on how fun the Homecoming Activities seem to be this year.  And Mom said the Alumni Association is so excited about the activities that have been planned that include them.”

As they continued to talk and eat, the rest of the committee arrived and they began putting some more finishing touches on the week’s activities.

Meanwhile, down the hall, Roger and Jane Morgan had entered Mr. Stratton’s office.

Roger pasted an insincere smile on his face as he shook the principal’s hand when he entered the office.

“I understand there’s been a slight misunderstanding regarding the homecoming court nominations,” he said.  “I’ve stopped by to try and help straighten them out.” As he withdrew his hand, Mr. Stratton found two checks in his hand. One was made out to the athletic department and the other to the drama department.  The money for could be used for projects each department had planned.

“I hope that’s not a bribe,” Mr. Stratton evenly said.  “I would hate to think that you thought I could be bought off.”

Before Roger Morgan could reply, Mr. Stratton pressed the intercom and asked Mrs. Ditmar to join them. He wanted to have a witness in case this got really ugly.

Roger feigned shock.  “How could you even consider that?” he asked.  “I’ve always supported extra-curricular activities at Sleepyside High School.”

“And there’s always been a caveat,” Mr. Stratton replied.  “Ensure Jane makes varsity volleyball, make sure that Jane has a lead in the play, change the rules so Jane can be in Art Guild because she doesn’t meet the criteria.”

Mrs. Ditmar silently entered the room.

“I’ve played along for four years, because up until now everything that Jane did she actually earned,” he continued.  “She was good enough to make the varsity volleyball team on her own, and the rules for the Art Guild were old and needed to be revisited anyway.  Others benefitted as well.  You never gave Jane enough credit for being able to make it on her own.  I regret taking the money in the past, not because I feel obligated to you now, because I don’t.  I regret taking the money because now your daughter thinks she can get whatever she wants by waving her father’s money around instead of earning it herself.”

Roger Morgan sat back dumbfounded.  No one had ever spoken to him like that in his entire adult life.  He had always been able to buy whatever it was he wanted.  He figured it would be quicker than having to earn it honestly and the outcome would be the same, achieving what he wanted.

“I’m going to give you back your checks and pretend this never happened,” Mr. Stratton explained. Turning to Jane he added, “and I’m not going to change the Homecoming Court nominations.  The committee determined the criteria for the nominations and announced it several times.  The fact that your application was on last year’s form shows that whoever nominated you was not paying attention or thought they were above following the rules.”

Jane started to protest, but her father stopped her.  “Mr. Stratton is right,” he said. “From now on I’m going to donate money because it will benefit the school, not to buy you a position.”

Jane did not look happy. She was used to being able to laud her power over everyone’s head.  How was she going to maintain her friendships with Tifffany Kae, Hannah and Elizabeth? She’d figure something out.  It was all that Hallie Belden’s fault.  She and those birds had been a thorn in her side for too long.  If she couldn’t be on the Homecoming Court she could do everything in her power to ruin Homecoming. 

She was so busy plotting their demise, she barely noticed that she had been ushered out of Mr. Stratton’s office. Hallie Belden had said revenge was sweet.  Oh, yes, it would be saccharine sweet.

Author’s Notes

Word count: 4679

I can’t believe it’s been five years since I became an author. So much has happened since them.

A super thanks to MaryN for bailing me out at the last minute.  I was lax in getting my story done and then had a huge error in the document.  Mal was overloaded with work and a trip and she agreed  to do the graphics at the last minute.  A true Bob-White.

Thanks to Mal and Bonnie who have tirelessly worked as my graphics guru and editor respectively.  Thanks also to DianaB, Kellykath and anyone else who has edited for me in the past.

I have loved all of the support all of you have given me. A special shout out to my WWW peeps, TrishB, Mal, MaryN, Bonnie, Ryl, and PatK.  Your support for my writing, and as well as life in general, means more than you will ever know.

Thanks to CathyP and the current owners of Jix for making such a wonderful safe have to discuss my favorite girl detective, offer support and inspiration and a little bit of fun as well.

This story takes place right before Status Quo.  It will finish after Status Quo.

Wondering what a snake dance is?  Maybe it was something only my high school did.  It was done before the bonfire for our homecoming.  The high school students would line up at the high school and run through town holding hands making like a snake.  (Think crack the whip but not on skates) They’d finish at the fairgrounds where the bonfire was held complete with an old outhouse that got tossed on the top of it.

Disclaimer: Characters from the Trixie Belden series are the property of Random House. They are used without permission, although with a great deal of affection and respect. All other material on these pages copyright 2014 by WendyM. Images from Microsoft Clip art and istockphoto.com and manipulated by Mary N in Photoshop. Graphics copyright by Mary N 2014.

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