By Bernie Suttle
Brian Richardson was a well liked solid B student who played on the MAD High School “B-Basketball” team while holding a part-time, after-school job. Brian had fallen hard for his classmate, Diane Nichols. He couldn’t explain it. She was in his English class and he couldn’t take his eyes off her or stop thinking about her. Diane was attractive, wholesome, smart, friendly and nice. She also was known to be Gus Goller’s girl.
Gus was first string, all-league as linebacker on the football team; big and mean with the features of a gargoyle. He had sole possession of last place in class academic standing. Gus had announced to the entire MAD High community that Diane was his property and that he would beat to a pulp the first person who dared to ask Diane out. He made sure the whole school knew about his threat.
Brian was aware of Gus’s attempt to protect what he deemed to be his property but he still wanted Diane, and he told her so. To Brian, being with Diane was worth almost any cost. A beating would only happen once and then they could be together.
Diane didn’t want anyone to be hurt emotionally or physically. She didn’t like being a ‘chip’ in this battle. She feared Gus but was also sensitive to his feelings in the emotional battle for her attention. She was flattered by having these boys competing for her but she felt like the maiden in the tower during this struggle by her suitors. Most of the school was aware and sympathetic to Diane and Brian’s plight.
Knowing about Gus’s oath, they tried to dissuade Brian from his pursuit. Gus had clearly stated, “She’s mine and the first guy who takes her out gets a beating. That’s the price.”
With “All League honors” and Diane on his arm, Gus swaggered with confidence gloating that the wimp, Brian, wouldn’t take his beating for her. But after football practice one day the football team surrounded Gus in the locker room. The biggest team member pressed his face close to Gus and said, “Gus, you’re good on the team. You’re all league. But slavery was ended by the Emancipation Proclamation. If you touch Brian, we will all swear that you are a fag who’s come on to each guy on the team and we want you off the team.”
Soon after, Brian and Diane had their first date after college followed by forty years of marriage and four children.
Gus went on to USC where he was cut from the Frosh team and dropped out of school. He then was employed by the city in road maintenance, still living under the directive of his high school teammates.
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