AM November 5, 1962
Cody High School, Wyoming
The school corridor flowed with waves of blue and yellow uniforms, each one seeking a locker. The pace had a greater focus, now that winter had begun its descent on Cody.
“The one thing about small towns,” Scarlett grumbled, “is that there’s no such thing as a snow day.”
Amber chuckled at her friend’s dour words. “It could be worse. You don’t have to go out and cheerlead in it on Friday.”
“Trust you to find the silver lining.”
The pair reached their lockers, opening them to store their bags. Each sorted through their bags and locker for the books they needed for morning classes, while the torrent of students continued past them.
“So, when will Dwayne hear back from University of Wyoming, Scarlett?”
“He was told that the offers should be made by the end of the month. Since the sports scholarship would involve him relocating to Laramie during school terms, the time between now and mid-August next year would be needed to get everything organised.”
Amber tied back her dirty blonde hair, having left it down to keep the chill weather off her neck. “Wow, it will be pretty hard for you when he leaves.”
Scarlett shrugged, her red hair flowing over her shoulders. “He’s a good guy, but pretty one-dimensional. He only talks about football, as if it is God’s gift to the people of America. I will miss him, but not his constant talking about the game.”
Amber gave a sympathetic nod. “True. But, by that time we should have colour television in the town. How crazy is that?”
“I know. That kind of thing only places like New York City and the other west coast cities have. It will be the fanciest new thing the town’s seen since the courthouse.”
A sudden hush came across the students in the corridor, drawing the girl’s attention from their lockers and each other. The school principal, Harold Stauffer, was making his way towards them, with three others following him. A tall man in an immaculate pin-stripe suit and a cowboy hat walked alongside him, taking in the principal’s words as he surveyed rooms and the students with a dignified air. Behind them were two girls, who were drawing the focus of the students. Each wore a knee-length leather trench coat, thick scarves and gloves, denim jeans and expensive-looking shoes. The identical twins could only be differentiated by their scarves, one deep purple and other light purple.
Scarlett leaned over to Amber. “I wonder who they are.”
“I’d guess they’d have something to do with Ohio Oil.”
“Give me a break! They only told us yesterday.”
Scarlett huffed in resignation. “Fine. Why do you think they are involved with them?”
Amber’s tilted her head towards the suited man. “The big cowboy hat. I’ll bet you your lunch money that he’s Texan.”
“Really? We live in a town founded by Buffalo Bill himself! Every man in Cody has a cowboy hat, and half the women too.”
“We’ll see then. Take my bet?”
“Not a chance.”
The group continued their procession down the hall. As they passed Amber and Scarlett, the distinctive southern drawl of Texas was unmistakable in the man’s voice. Amber gave a pleased little smile to her friend, who returned a look of indignation. They quickly changed their expressions as the two girls looked at them, seeming to think the looks were aimed for them. The pair narrowed their eyes, which Scarlet and Amber noticed were very similar to the colour of their scarves. They lifted their heads in a smug fashion, continuing on in the wake of the principal and their father.
Scarlett pulled out the last of her books, balancing them in one arm as she shut her locker and locked it. Once closed, she hugged the hefty books to her chest.
“That was a lucky guess, Amber, and you know it.”
Amber gave her that smile again. “It was an informed guess. Fancy suit, big hat. And I could tell he was wearing cowboy boots by the way his pant legs sat. Any man who wears that sort of hat and those sorts of shoes with a suit can only be a loud-and-proud Texan.”
The cheerleader rolled her eyes. “Let me guess. You’ll be opening your own detective agency when you finish school?”
A shrug of the shoulders. “If you have a talent, you had best use it. No point wasting it. In any case, I was thinking of taking up journalism if I was accepted into college.”
“A mystery solving reporter. Not interested in the family business?”
Amber lowered her eyes. “Mum and dad are happy with the small town lifestyle, but I would like to see more of the country. A good journalist can work almost anywhere in the world, let alone the United States.”
The warning bell rang, reminding everyone to get to their home rooms before the next one sounded. The pair rushed up to make it in time, reaching the door just as the bell rang. Their homeroom teacher, Terry Bosch, scowled as he pointed them to their chairs. His greying middle-length hair and unmistakable Fu Manchu moustache, in conjunction with his imposing height and muscle, ensured that he looked every part the school’s wrestling coach.
“Once more, you two, and it’s detention for the rest of the week. You were late here all of last week.”
Scarlett spoke up. “Yes sir, but I was cheerleading last week. We couldn’t look bad for Coach Martoglio in his last game.”
Bosch gave them a dismissive wave. As Scarlett and Amber hastily made their way to their desks, they noticed that the two girls who were being given the presidential tour by the principal were now sitting in the front row.
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