Once upon a time (say about the fall of 2009), in a medium sized town in the upper U.S. Midwest (let’s call it Grand Forks, North Dakota), there lived two middle school girls who contested an election for President of their school’s student body. An easy story to tell, you say? Fairly predictable, and an obvious setup for a mildly amusing but innocuous story, you believe?
Well, just you wait….
Girl Number One was named McKenna Mendelson. She was a lifelong resident of Grand Forks, red haired (and sometimes eyed), stockily built- but not fat, lest you might assume otherwise. Despite her sometimes fiery disposition, McKenna was well liked, admired, sporty and intelligent. It was assumed by both McKenna and her schoolmates that the prize of becoming President would be something that McKenna could easily grasp when the time came for the election.
This contest, however, was complicated by a previously unknown obstacle in the form of Girl Number Two.
Girl Number Two was named Violet Manners, but, given her outlook on life, and her insidious efforts to gain goals and aims, the term “Vile” served not only as an effective diminutive of her first name, but an expert analysis of her character as well. The product of a true, if brief, Anglo-American union, she still managed to speak in the accent of her father’s native country despite having lived in America all of her life. This sibilant accent, along with the short black skirts she wore to emphasize her growing figure to the easily distracted boys, concentrated her chief assets into her body, but her mind, as all were soon discover, was no less dangerous.
In any event, although they had spoken casually once or twice in the halls, McKenna and Violet had little time to encounter each other in the busy school day, and they did not seem to have any reason to fight with each other- until the day the candidate sheet for school President was posted that October.
When McKenna, flushed with what seemed to be a good natured and unopposed triumph on her side, saw Violet Manners sign her name on the sheet- on every available spot to avoid others from signing up- she almost felt the urge to tear off her red and mustard colored shirt and blue jeans and challenge Violet to a two falls out of three wrestling match right there in the hall. But decency and good sense prevailed, and all McKenna did to Violet was tap her lightly on the back.
“Y’know, Manners,” McKenna said as calmly as she possibly could under the circumstances, “there are other people who want to be President of this school!”
“Such as who?” Violet demanded briskly.
“Well, ME, if you’re going to get into specifics!” McKenna retorted, pointing to herself.
Violet gave out a cackling laugh.
“YOU?” she said disbelievingly. “Who would want you in charge?”
“Most of the kids in eight grade who came up with me from elly,” said McKenna. “That counts for a lot here, Manners. But you’re new here, so you don’t know any better….”
“Neither do you, my dear!” Violet retorted icily as she crossed her arms over her black bloused, bosomy chest. “Perhaps they’re tired of looking at your ugly face all day and require a bit of a change!”
“Don’t call me UGLY, okay?” said McKenna, sensitive about her pockmarked facial appearance. “Anyways, you’re uglier than I am, with that blonde rinse job and those ugly teeth….”
“Both of those are NATURAL, thank you!”
“…plus, the fact that your personality is even uglier than….AAAARGH!”
McKenna suddenly felt a sharp pain in her chest, as if a rabbit punch had bashed its way to her insides. But Violet had done nothing to her remotely resembling a punch; she had not, it seemed, even bothered to raise her hand to her!
“This is what happens to ladies who challenge me, my dear girl,” Violet warned McKenna, “even though I’d hardly call you that….”
In a split second, Stretch Cunningham, who had heard the pain filled moans of her best friend from a distance, stepped between the two combatants. Standing over 6 feet tall, and well versed in the art of basketball, Stretch was by far the tallest and most imposing figure in the school. She was also McKenna’s best friend, and seemingly was able to come to her aid whenever “Mack” needed it from her. Even in jeans and a tie-dyed T shirt, she took up space, and that was enough to scare most people into backing off if they tried hurting McKenna. But Violet was not most people.
“All right, you!” Stretch demanded of Violet, with a fearsomeness that utterly belied her usually friendly, unflappable nature. “What did you do to Mack?”
“Nothing,” Violet said, curtly.
“Really? Then why the heck is she doubled up in pain like that?”
“Trade secret,” Violet retorted angrily through her lips.
“Tell me- or I’ll smack you one!” Stretch countered, resorting to her ultimate threat. “Nobody hurts my pal and gets away with it!”
“Well!” Violet said angrily. “I was prepared to figure out some way of allowing Ms. Mendelson here and myself to share the title of President and the glories related to it. But obviously, she’s not interested in that if you are going to come in in that vulgar way and try to prevent me from harming her! Well, consider yourselves, BOTH of you, in for a hard ride in the next two weeks! In the meantime, you, tall, blonde and pasty faced, can go right back to shoving balls into baskets- like you’re supposedly so good at! And you can shove them into some other places as well, while you’re at it!”
Violet turned to go, but then turned around and faced McKenna again.
“A parting gift, McKenna!” she said, looking at her.
Once again, McKenna felt the pain in her chest as before, only far worse this time. Ignoring the urge to hit Violet in the mouth, Stretch quickly escorted her friend to the nurse’s office, while Ms. Manners disappeared in the opposite direction.
Things worked out, at first. Miraculously, McKenna had no evidence of any pain by the time she arrived at the nurse’s office, so she was given a clean bill of health and sent on her way. This allowed McKenna and Stretch, who was serving as the manager of her campaign, to begin preparing their approach, which would be based on a statement of the issues at hand and an attempt to deal with them as they saw fit.
Violet, however, chose an opposing approach, one that was much more in keeping with the devious nature of her character- not to mention the deep pockets that her family seemed to possess.
Within hours, Violet had not only registered the domain names violetmannersforpresident.com and mckennamendelsonisastupidjerk.com but had built complete websites around them. She also made sure to set up a Facebook page in relation to her campaign, and to begin a regular inhabitance of Twitter to make her views and thoughts on McKenna and the campaign available to everyone- and I do mean everyone. Even the vast majority of people on the Web who had no interest in politics began to follow Violet religiously and add their unsolicited opinions to the gathering throng as if it would make some difference. Just like they did for everything else they passively observed on their computer screens instead of actively participating in something- anything!
Be that as it may, it wasn’t long before McKenna and Stretch noticed the presence of Violet on the Web, and they knew the secure position they had seemed to have in the election had now been severely compromised.
“Why, that…” Stretch cursed.
“I know, buddy!” McKenna said, beating a palm into a fist to diffuse her anger. “It’s a raw deal- and a crappy one at that! But what are we gonna do about it? There’s no rules against using the Internet in a school campaign, but there are rules about beating up your fellow students, regardless of how much they deserve it!”
“So what do we do then, Mack?” Stretch asked. “We can’t just let her win…”
“We won’t let her win,” McKenna said, gravely. “She’s all flash and show, using the Internet to play to everyone’s heart. The new kid against the establishment and all that. But it won’t work for her. Like I told her, she’s too new. If I’m running against her, she has no chance of winning! I got too much support in this school for it to go the other way!”
“You sure about that, Mack?”
Of course, if Mack had actually been in the presence of her new arch enemy at that time, that declarative statement would have been far less authoritative in tone. For Violet, thanks to an extended vacation in the West Indies in her youth, was something of an expert in perhaps the blackest of all magics- the ancient art of voodoo! Even now, her websites contained coded messages that unleashed secret magic spells that would permanently turn those reading them against McKenna and her aims. But that was not enough. Here, and now, she had constructed full miniature mannequins- or “poppets”- of McKenna and Stretch (just to be sure). Working from afar, she could injure both of them harshly by simply poking a needle into the poppet. The real McKenna and Stretch would be assumed to simply be suffering from physical ailments, and Violet, now opponent-less, would be free to run the school- and then the world, as she planned- unopposed!
“You two are my ticket to success!” she cooed to the poppets. “And it’s only good one way- UP!” And here she exploded into hideous evil laughter.
Due to Violet’s involvement of the Internet, the campaign stood out from those before it as one of the most contentious any middle school in the country had ever faced. Quickly, the school fragmented into virulent pro-McKenna and pro-Violet factions, each side using bullying, water balloons, and the fast trigger fingers of expert super soaker “hit artists” to attempt to get their side get their way in the final vote. Even more remarkably, the adults began emulating the kids instead of vice versa. The nadir of this was an armed standoff between a pro-McKenna faction from Grand Forks and a pro-Violet faction from the town of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, on the other side of the Red River. Both sides claimed ownership of the Sortie Bridge, which connected the two communities, in the name of their candidate. It took several hours of heated negotiations before the authorities of both towns were able to convince their wayward residents that it JUST WASN’T WORTH IT!
To those for whom it was worth something, however, the action continued.
Things came to a head at the final debate, held in the school gym just prior to the fateful vote, which was to occur the following afternoon. Both sides came prepared. McKenna, prepped by Stretch, had come armed with rhetoric, while Violet came armed, expectedly, with something different.
The two sides of the protracted dispute existing between the supporters of both candidates were each patted down by security to remove any weapons either side might try to use against the other. In addition, several wooden tables had been stacked vertically to provide a necessary barrier between them. Only after all this was taken care of was the debate allowed to proceed.
McKenna was first out of the gate, making a clear statement of what her position on the school issues were in a clear, forward thinking manner that reflected her understanding of the school and how it worked. And how to work a crowd, it seemed. It appeared that Violet, in spite of all her money and efforts, was going to lose in her bid to become President of the school.
That was when Violet chose to display her special skills and talents to the unsuspecting world beyond.
She whipped out her poppet version of McKenna and stabbed her underneath her arms as soon as the real one raised hers at the end of her speech. This caused McKenna to moan loudly in pain, just as her moment of triumph seemed near. To the shock of (nearly) everybody, she fell on her podium head first and then collapsed on the ground.
“Yes!” said Violet to the shocked audience. “I did that! I and I alone know how to use the West Indian secrets of VOODOO to my advantage! What you have just seen me do is just a small sample of what I can do to ALL OF YOU if you don’t allow me to assume the Presidency which is dutifully mine!”
Stretch Cunningham rushed out from the aisle behind the raised stage of the gym to try and restrain Violet, but she stopped short when she felt a cutting sensation on her throat. With a flying toss that seemed to come independently from anything natural in the universe, the mighty basketball star flew through the air and crashed through the stage floor, just inches from the prone body of her friend McKenna.
It was at that point that, in the confusion, the barriers between the competing sides fell down, and the fight was on!
Violet collected her dolls, packed them up, and ran out of the gym with a sneer on her face, secure in the fact that she had won….
….until she came face to face with McKenna and Stretch, out in the hallway!
“What in the blazes…” Violet said. “I left you in the gymnasium- clearly destroyed- back there! How did you…..?”
“You’re not the only one in this town that plays with dolls, kid!” McKenna said. Stretch merely nodded, while looking appropriately menacing.
“But how….?” Violet said.
“We have some experience working with magic!” McKenna said tightly. She and Stretch held up business cards representing their membership in the Grand Forks WWW: Witches, Warlocks and Wizards of America Inc. Too late Violet realized her mistake. She had no idea that there were other practitioners of magic in Grand Forks!
And, likewise, she never expected that McKenna and Stretch would have constructed a poppet of her! Or that McKenna would twist its head around counter-clockwise until it was severed from its body….
In any event, when the chaos was suppressed, and no trace of Violet was ever found again, McKenna was acclaimed President and assumed her new duties: serving as the Principal’s personal janitor for the duration of the school year. And everyone else lived happily ever after.
MORAL: Don’t assume you’re the only one interested in your own particular hobby, or you might get in trouble working with it. Also, make sure you compete in and conduct any sort of election responsibly so no one ever gets hurt, physically or emotionally.