Two blue collar teens find themselves thrust into the white collar world. Concept by Jim S
|Author's note: As long as this note is here, this work is not completed. Check back occasionally and see how I progress!
"Mr. Allen! Can I have a word with you? Mr. Allen, do you have any comments for the press?"
Sighing to himself, Jim Allen didn't feel like talking to much of anybody, but he knew that as long as he tried to evade these wolves in reporter's clothing, he'd only be spending more of his time avoiding them than he was on getting on with his life. It had all happened so long ago.
Jim Allen had grown up on the north side of Indianapolis Indiana. His father, Thomas, was a factory worker and his mother, Irene, worked in the kitchen of the local elementary school. Irene would walk the 5 blocks to school with 'Jimmy' everyday. At the door, Jimmy would head upstairs to his classroom while Irene would go downstairs to the cafeteria in the school's basement.
At lunch time, Jimmy would come down with his classmates, including his best friend Ronnie Edwards. As close as brothers, the boys were very different in their appearances. Jimmy was lanky and small for his age, while Ronnie was taller but rather husky.
Since Irene worked in the kitchen, Jimmy received his lunch at no charge. Ronnie, on the other hand would usually bring a sack lunch, claiming he didn't usually like the school lunches, and this way he could have what he wanted for lunch. Irene however noticed that as often as not, Ronnie's lunch usually consisted of a peanut butter sandwich, maybe an apple and the 15 cents needed to buy a carton of milk, so Irene would slip extra onto Jimmy's lunch tray so that Jimmy could share it with Ronnie.
As often as not, since both families lived fairly close to the school, Jimmy would invite Ronnie over after school. Irene, who was usually able to be home before the boys got out of class, would keep an eye on Ronnie for his mother Helen.
Helen also worked during the day, but she was a secretary in a big downtown law firm, and didn't get off work till after 5pm most nights. As a divorce', Mr. Edwards was really no longer in the picture aside from holiday visits and the occasional weekend. Helen would stop by the Allen house and get Ronnie on her way home.
Both families were very blue collar, but that was soon to change.
By the time Jimmy and Ronnie started High School, Jimmy had grown several inches and had gotten rid of his lankiness. Ronnie had dropped his husky appearance by simply not gaining too much weight while he grew into his now 5'10" frame
Neither boy was conceited enough to think they were good looking. Jimmy had been known to quip that neither of them was likely to be seen on the cover of Gentlemen's Quarterly. Jimmy however was able to attract the attention of a girl in his class. While Ronnie (who now prefered just "Ron" except from his Mother, for whom he would always be Ronnie) had plenty of female friends ... he was rather shy at times and tried to cover it by acting like a clown.
By the time Jimmy and Ron were old enough to get their driver's licenses, Jimmy had saved up enough money to buy a decent used car (a 1972 Pinto station wagon) and Ron had sole possession of his mother's old car, a '79 Plymouth Duster. While their cars did not garner much attention from the students that liked to see the latest shiny cars, they were good enough for the boys, who really just liked the freedom of being able to drive where they wanted to.
In High School, Jim and Ron did most of the typical things that best friends did. They hung out together, went on double dates (when Ron got over his shyness enough to ask one of his female friends out, usually Rose or Sharon) and they discovered a common bond; tormenting the afluent students, the drama students and occasionally (at great peril) the "jocks".
As happens in most high schools, there are certain groups of students that tend to gravitate towards like minded others. Things were no different at High Ridge High School (home of the "Ridge Runners"). The afluent families encouraged their children to socialize with other monied family's kids, the athletes tended to stick together and the cheerleaders tended to socialize together with the jocks.
By the time Jim and Ron were seniors, they had developed an impressive track record of whom they had pulled pranks on, each time leaving no traces or clues to the identity of the "Ridge Raiders." Part of the reason they had evaded suspicion was that some of the stunts involved had been very meticulously planned, and in one case had involved a moderate amount of physical risk. While Jim and Ron weren't obvious sluggards or overweight, they simply did not carry themselves as the types to do such things. One very memorable escapade had the end result of an eight foot by 11 foot copy of the class president's failing report card hanging from the trees that lined the bluff near the Ridge from which the school took its name.
No one considered that Jim worked as a student assistant in the school's office, and it only took an unobserved moment to get a photocopy of "Kip" Miller's grades. Neither did anyone consider that Ron excelled in his studies in autobody repair, and could wield a pneumatic sprayer with the skill of a calligrapher's pen. When the special Seniors-only year book came out, an unexplained addition had been made to the sponsors page in the back of the book. These were the patrons, the parents, teachers and local businesses who paid for the publishing of the book. The addition said:
Watch your backs!
We're out there ...
The time came, near the middle of their senior year, that the boys realized they needed to be more careful about their raids. The rich kids had finally started to wise up, and realized that all that had been happening was the work of one entity, if only they could figure out who. Since several of the jocks were also from wealthy families, the word was getting around that this was all someone's intended plan to make them look foolish.
If there was one thing Kip and his crew really didn't like, it was being made fools of. That, after all, was their job to make others look foolish!
By spring of the boys senior year, it was clear that they had chosen their paths for the future. Jimmy had chosen to enlist with the Army, and was already set to start Basic Training at the end of the summer. Around the same time, Ron was enrolled in a tech school, where he would use his skills with a paint sprayer to start a career in auto body repair.
Sadly, it was at this time that a tragedy struck. Helen's employer, one of the senior partners at the law firm where she worked, had passed away. A rather eccentric man, Mr. Baker was quite fond of Helen. Not in a "dirty old man" sort of way, but just simply as a kindly older uncle to a woman who was struggling to raise her son on her own.
Helen Edwards found it odd the morning she came in for work, and was called into the firm's main conference room. Since her only time in this room in the past had been as a stenographer, by force of habit, she brought her steno pad with her. Mr. Miller, the firm's other senior partner, seemed to be pouring over a fairly large stack of documents as Helen walked in. Looking up briefly, he gestured for Helen to be seated.
Still assuming she was there for a task, Helen opened her steno pad onto the table top and noted the day's date and time at the top of the page. As she paused waiting, Mr. Miller looked up with a start as if just noticing something very wrong.
"No no Mrs. Edwards!" Mr. Miller exclaimed. "I've not asked you here to take dictation. I've asked you here because something has come up that will have a VERY profound affect on yours and your son Ronald's life. As you may have been made aware yesterday, Harland Baker, my long time partner and dear friend, was tragically taken from us this past week. He had been suffering a long time with various forms of cancer, and finally his body just gave up." Gesturing to himself, Mr. Miller continued, "As executor of his estate, Harland has charged me with assuring that his final wishes are seen to and that every thing he has written into his will is carried out to the letter.
"One of those items," Mr. Miller turned to the document before him as he spoke, "pertains to you and your son Ronald. Mrs. Edwards, there simply is no easy way to put this. Harland thought the world of you and Ronald." Seeing a look of shock on her face, he quickly added "No, nothing as crude as that. Harland was a man of great dignity and honor. His affection for you was as the daughter he'd never had ... and so your son was like a grandson to him."
Helen recalled that Harland Baker had never fathered any children. He and his wife Elisabeth were never able to conceive, even with the most advanced medical techniques of the day. As Mr. Baker and his wife regularly hosted the firm's annual Christmas party, and as everyone had benefited in one way or another from the Bakers' philanthropy through the years, Helen had never considered their kindness to Ronald as anything more than what others had received as well.
Continuing, Mr. Miller explained, "For years, Harland had spoken very well of your work, and on the occasion I had a chance to visit with Harland and Elisabeth they both thought highly of you."