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just ordinary conversations

As if on cue, a quite overweight woman limped into view, assisted by a cane, holding a little girl by the hand, whose face was a three-year-old version of Brigid’s.

“Hey Ma,” Brigid said.

“Hello Mrs. O’Dierna,” Rod said. He knew she had some kind of heart condition and was in the hospital sometimes. Something having to do with when she gave birth to Jessy, her last baby. He wasn’t sure of the details.

“Hello young man,” she said in a jovial voice.

“Will you be okay?” Brigid said.

“Oh fine,” her mother said. “The stockboys will take everything out to the car.”

“I thought Dad was off today.”

“He was until a minute ago. Patrick called in sick.”

Jessy, jumping up and down in her snowsuit, couldn’t contain herself. “Nutella! Nutella!”

No nutella!” Brigid said sternly. “Ma, promise me, no sugary junk!”

“Okay, okay,” Ms. O’Dierna said with a tolerant smile. Then with a wave she ambled into the store, her youngest child in tow.

Brigid slowly shook her head. Rod knew that she was the oldest of five kids, and six years older than the second-oldest, so with her mother being frail she was kind of an assistant parent. She had that “concerned mother” look on her again. “Jessy eats so much in the way of sweets. Ma just can’t say no.”

Rod, figuring he could say nothing, sighed along with her. Now they both re-clasped their hands, a little ridiculously. An old woman smiled and put in a five as she passed. Now Rod’s friend Jermaine passed by with his mother and Rod waved.

Now it was their friend Latosha, stopping by with a bag of what looked like bread and eggs. “How was Ivan this morning?” she said.

“Not so bad this time,” Brigid replied. They were referring to Brigid’s job waitressing at the Olympia Diner, where she had the 6 a.m. to noon shift. Latosha worked there too, on Wednesdays after school. Ivan, the boss, could be a terror, especially when it came to keeping the ketchup bottles filled. “I have to fix my uniform though,” Brigid said. “I passed by the grill and the apron caught on that hook. A little tear, I can fix it.”

“Mine’s still too tight. I have to let it out a little. . . You’d think they had more sizes than just small and extra small!” Brigid laughed. They talked a little about school stuff, then Latosha left, walking to her house, which was two blocks away.

Rod noticed Brigid picking up the pencil for the Golden Sponsors list and playing with it. She was left-handed. With her fingers she did a little twirl as if her fingers were her hands and the pencil was her baton. Rod chuckled, trying not to glance back at the exquisite little jiggles this mini-twirling was causing with her breasts.

“I suppose I’m a little compulsive,” Brigid said, twirling the pencil again. Now she laid her palms up.

“Is something wrong?”

“No, just checking how rough I am. There’s a grip on the baton but it’s not real good.” She pointed to the metal shaft. In the middle it had a little network of engraved lines, not noticeable except up close. Now back to her palms. “I don’t want to get too callused, so I use hand cream at night, but only sometimes. I can’t be grippin’ with soft skin, it would hurt.”

“Why don’t you use gloves?”

“What, like yours? I need to be flexible.”

“No, I mean . . . um, like those fingerless gloves, they use for exercise.” He meant the gloves some people used for lifting weights.

“Ms. Kleinfelter was thinkin’ about that a few months ago, but she decided against it. It would quadruple the coverage of what I’m wearin’, and kind of dominate the presentation of the uniform.”

Presentation. A word Sarge used often. So important for a marching band.

Rod figured he could mention her uniform now, giving him an excuse to look at her breasts. “The circlets look nice today.”

“These are the sparkly ones,” Brigid said, gently cupping a breast in each hand so as to bring the sparkly circlets forward for inspection. They must just barely cover her areolas; they were about an inch and a half across. Rod wondered how they stayed on. Glue?

“They look a little golden,” Rod observed.

Brigid looked up. “No, that’s just that car.” A gold-colored SUV was parked nearby. “They take on the color around them.”

They both looked at her breasts, held in her hands. Or rather, they were appraising the circlets. She pulled her breasts up so that they pointed more upward.

“Now they look red,” Rod said.

“That’s from my hair,” Brigid said.

Rod gulped, and shifted in his chair uneasily, trying to accommodate his stiffening dick. Fortunately he was sitting down, and behind a table!

“I’ve wondered about lettin’ my hair down for marching, how it would affect the presentation. I should ask Sarge.”

Rod pictured Brigid prancing in front of the band totally naked, her long hair whipping around her shoulders and her arms, competing with the twirling of the baton.

“What made you want to be the majorette?” The question just popped out.

Brigid nodded and smiled at someone who put in a few dollars. “Last year when I was puttin’ together the clarinet for a game I saw Sarge and Grenicia goin’ to his desk, you know, next to the big instrument room?” Grenicia, a big black girl, now graduated, was last year’s majorette. “She was standin’ there in her uniform, holdin’ her baton on her hip, while Sarge was pointin’ to a diagram of the formation, showin’ where the drums would roll off, the yard lines, and a bunch of other details. It was like she was the on-field leader of the Tunemasters.” That was true. Sarge himself liked to stay on the sidelines during games. Even in parades, he never led the band; he always walked alongside in his business suit.

“And then, Sarge started askin’ Grenicia’s advice on things to do. Like she knew things he didn’t, just from bein’ the majorette.”

“Grenicia was very smart,” Rod observed. He remembered that her uniform had more coverage, with bigger circlets, a simple bikini bottom instead of the tiny strings Brigid had to wear, and sturdier sandals with heel straps. For some reason, the majorette uniform kept shrinking, year by year.

“Yeah, she went to Tufts, or Boston U., one of those places, on that ROTC scholarship, remember?” Brigid said, referring to last year’s graduation ceremony. She turned a little toward Rod, her rebounding breasts following, as if helping to emphasize her words. “People have an idea that the majorette is just bein’ pretty and twirlin’. But she has to be smart too, at least in the Tunemasters. (‘Tunemastiz.’) So I figured that’s for me. I can do that!”

“You always like a challenge,” Rod said. Then he realized it sounded a little sarcastic, somehow. He was going to say, That’s what I like about you. But that would be too much. Instead, he added, “That’s good.”

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