Other Sinful Things
I looked over at Colton and Jerome and asked, “What are we going to do?” Mrs.
Edwards was arguing with Mr. Steele and Mr. Jacobsen. They were insisting that
she should call the sheriff.

“If you want to call Will,” she stated adamantly, “then do it yourself.” She then
turned and headed toward the restroom. “Right now I have to use the bathroom.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Jerome. “I would like to be a fly on the wall in there.”

Suddenly, students came streaming out of the cafeteria to see what all the
commotion was about. Teachers were trying to get them to return, but they were
more curious about what was happening in the hallway outside. Mr. Steele and Mr.
Jacobsen were shouting at them to go back inside, but they ignored them.

Colton looked at me and asked frantically, “What do we do?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. There must have been a hundred students staring at us,
wondering what was happening.

Just then, I looked to my right and saw Sheriff Tackett and a couple of his deputies
approaching. I grabbed Colton’s arm, pulled him toward the restroom door.
“Quick,” I shouted. “We have to block the door.” Colton grabbed Jerome. We
interlinked our arms and stood defensively in front of the door.

Sheriff Tackett walked up to Mr. Jacobsen and asked, “What is going on?” He had
an exasperated look on his face. “We just went through this last night. Now, what
has happened?”

“I’ll tell you what has happened,” excitedly responded Mr. Jacobsen. He pointed
toward the restroom door. “A young man has entered the girls’ restroom. I want
you to arrest him!”

Tackett asked, “What young man?”

“You know,” stammered Jacobsen. “The one who pretends he’s a girl.” He pointed
again to the door. “Now, do your assigned duty, and go in there and remove him!”

Tackett looked around at the scene before him. He saw Colton, Jerome and me
blocking door. By now, over one hundred students had gathered to watch the
excitement.

He grabbed Jacobsen’s arm and tried to pull him away. “Walter,” he pleaded, “Let’s
go someplace and talk about this.”

“No!” insisted Jacobsen. “I want you to arrest him. Now!” Mr. Steele attempted to
calm him down, but he was adamant about having Tiffany arrested.

He looked at Steele and warned, “I hired you, and I can fire you! Now, do what I
hired you to do.” Steele backed away, crossed his arms and refused to do anything.

Tackett sighed and stepped over before us. “Please step away, Boys,” he ordered
politely. “I don’t want any trouble.”

“Leave them alone, Will,” spoke Mr. Wilder as he approached the sheriff.

“I got to go in,” replied Tackett as he turned to face Colton’s father.

“No, you don’t,” responded Mr. Wilder. “The ladies are in there using the restroom.
It would be against their rights to enter.”

Jacobsen muttered behind them, “Rights, my ass.”

It surprised me when Mr. Wilder wrapped his arm around mine. “You aren’t going
in, Will,” he threatened.

The sheriff looked around. Students were watching to see what he was going to do.
Jacobsen was shouting for him to arrest Tiffany while Colton, Mr. Wilder, Jerome
and I blocked the doorway. I could tell that Mr. Wilder was ready for a
confrontation.

Colton looked past me at his father. “Dad,” he asked nervously. “What are we
going to do?”

His father stared at Tackett and replied, “We’re going to let those ladies in there do
what they have to do.”

Just then, three more deputies came walking into the building. Two were carrying
canisters of pepper spray. Mr. Wilder asked the sheriff, “What are you going to do,
Will, gas us?”

Sheriff Tackett talked in a very gently voice. “I’m going to ask you real nice,
George, to move out of my way and let me do my duty.”

“You better!” shouted Jacobsen. The Superintendent grabbed him by the arm and
attempted to pull him away, but he refused to leave.

“I gotta go in, George,” insisted the sheriff. “If I have to arrest you, I will.”

I turned when two senior girls walked up and stood before Sheriff Tackett. “Then,
Sheriff, you have to arrest us, too.” They held hands and stood defiantly before
him.

Soon, three more students, a boy and two girls, joined the others and locked arms.
One of the boys was the vice president of the senior class. He was very popular and
active in many student organizations.

Tackett looked at him and said, “Matt, you got no business being here.”

“Yes, I do,” he replied. “I represent these students, and I’m going to insure that
you don’t do anything that you shouldn’t.”

Jacobsen shouted, “Arrest all of them!”

There was a loud commotion to my right, and I saw a local television crew trying to
make their way through the throng of students. Mr. Steele rushed over and insisted
that they leave the building.

The scene was more chaotic than it had been the night before. Mrs. Edwards came
out of the restroom and asked, “What on earth is happening?” She then joined Mr.
Steele in trying to remove the media from the building.

Several teachers were shouting at students to return to the cafeteria, but no one
was budging. They all wanted to see what was going to happen next.

I was trembling because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Colton was
holding my hand, but I could tell by the looks on his and Jerome’s faces that they
were as frightened as I was.

Mr. Wilder looked at us and said, “Keep calm, Boys. Nothing is going to happen
with reporters here.” Looking at the chaotic scene around me, I wasn’t sure.

Two girls approached and tried to wiggle in behind me. “We’re going inside, they
insisted.” I moved so they could enter the restroom. They didn’t appear angry, so I
assumed they were going to join our demonstration.

Demonstration? What had started out as a meeting in the conference room had
now blown into complete and utter chaos. Students were taking pictures with their
cellphones. What was happening would soon be shown on Facebook. That is
probably how the media found out about what was happening.

Sheriff Tackett approached Colton’s father. “I want all of you to go inside the
restroom and stay put until I tell you go come out.” He looked around at the mob
scene developing in the hallway. “I gotta clear this out before it gets out of hand.”

Colton’s father laughed and said, “I think it has already gotten out of hand.”

“Please, George,” pleaded the sheriff. “Just do what I am asking.”

Mr. Wilder began to push Colton, Jerome and me into the restroom. The other
students who had joined us also went inside. As soon as Mr. Wilder was sure all us
were safe, he closed the door and blocked it with his body.

Jerome looked for Tiffany. When he saw her, he ran over and hugged here. “Are
you alright?” he asked worriedly.

“I think so,” she replied. “What is happening out there?”

It seemed like everyone started talking excitedly at once. Suddenly, the senior
vice president shouted and asked for everyone’s attention.

“I’m Matt Sullivan,” he informed us. “I’m the vice president of the senior class.”
Everyone turned to listen to him. “We’ve got to settle down and stay organized.”
Mr. Wilder approached and put his hand on Matt’s back.

He continued, “I don’t need to tell you the trouble we could be facing. He looked
around at me and the other students. “We could all get expelled for what we’re
doing.”

“You won’t get expelled!” shouted Mrs. Oliver. “I’ll go to my grave first before I see
any of you get hurt.”

Mr. Wilder suggested that Matt, Mrs. Oliver, Mrs. Martin and he meet on one side
of the room to discuss how things should be handled next.

“Why can’t we all be involved?” asked Cathy. “We’re in this as much as you are.”

“And you are,” assured Mr. Wilder. “However, someone needs to take charge here.
We’re going to need a leadership team.” He looked around at us. “If you feel you
can do it, then I have no problem with that.”

We looked at each other. Cathy stepped forward and said, “You better handle it.”
Mr. Wilder smiled, and Cathy turned to join us.

Matt and the others huddled on the other side of the room while the rest of us
talked. The four girls who joined us introduced themselves. They admitted they
were scared, but they said they couldn’t just stand  by in the hall and watch.

One of the girls named Sheila looked at Tiffany and smiled. “I don’t understand
what is happening,” she said, “but I think you should be treated with respect.” She
then gave Tiffany a hug. The others hugged Tiffany and expressed their support.

Matt’s cellphone rang. After hanging up, he went over to the door with Mr. Wilder
and cautiously opened it. Two boys entered carrying eight boxes of pizza and a
case of bottled water. Matt thanked them as they left.

“Eat up, Folks,” said Matt. “Drummond’s Pizza Parlor heard what was happening,
and they thought we might be hungry.”

For the next half hour, we ate pizza and talked about what happened. Tiffany was
surprised when Sheila and the other girls told her that they supported her.

Vicki said, “You have more people on your side than you think.”

“I wouldn’t know,” replied Tiffany. “No one talks to me.” She reached down and
gripped Jerome’s hand. “Well,” she added as she looked at me and Colton, “other
than a few friends.”

“I think we’ve been afraid,” replied Sheila. “We didn’t know what to do.”

“Until this morning,” said Cassie, “there didn’t seem like anything we could do. But
when I saw how things were going, I couldn’t just stand by and watch.”

“Me, either,” responded Vicki.

“Look, Tiffany,” said Cassie as she reached out and took Tiffany’s hand. “You’re not
alone.” She looked at the other girls. “There’s a lot of girls who feel like us. We don’
t care if you use our bathroom.” She looked down at Tiffany and Jerome holding
hands and giggled, “We talk a lot about boys.”

Colton asked, “What do you say?”

Audrey, another girl who had joined us, giggled and replied, “Some of the girls
think you’re really cute.” I looked over to see Colton’s face turn red. I wanted to
reach down and hold his hand, but then that would out both of us to the school.

It surprised me when he grabbed my hand and squeezed it. “Sorry, Girls,” he
laughed. “I’m already taken.”

Sheila smiled and said, “Cool.” She looked at the other girls. “We kind of figured
you were gay. Several girls have tried to get you to date them, but you wouldn’t.”

Colton blushed again and replied, “Yeah. Whatever.”

Everyone turned when Matt’s phone rang again. He and Mr. Wilder again
approached the door and cautiously opened it. This time Mrs. Edwards entered.

She looked around the room and announced, “You may all leave now. Things have
settled down and the halls are clear.”

I was surprised when Matt announced, “We’re not leaving.”

“What?” asked Mrs. Edwards.

Matt approached and stood before her. “We aren’t leaving,” he said again, “until we
are guaranteed that there will no retribution for what we’ve done.”

He looked around the room. “How do we know that we won’t be arrested, or that
all of the students in here won’t get suspended, or even expelled from school.”

Mrs. Edwards appeared very nervous. “I’m not sure I can promise you that,” she
replied. “You have violated school policy.” She looked at the adults and added,
“And Mr. Tackett says some people may be looking at misdemeanor charges.”

Matt crossed his arms and stated adamantly, “Then, we’re not going anywhere.”

“But you must,” insisted the principal. “We’ve got the media posted outside. The
community wants this matter to come to an end.”

“It will,” responded Matt, “when you guarantee that we can walk out of here
without any reprisal.” He walked over and stood beside Tiffany. “And,” he added,
“Tiffany has the right to use the girls’ bathroom.”

Mrs. Edwards became angry. “You can’t make these demands! I can’t guarantee
what you’re asking.”

Matt walked over to the door and opened it. We could see flashes coming from
cameras outside. “Then   we’re done talking.” Mrs. Edwards stormed over to the
door and left.

The next few hours were boring. Thank goodness we were inside a restroom
because after gorging on  pizza and drinking several bottles of water, I needed
one. What’s strange is it didn’t seem to bother me that both men and women were
present while I was in the stall. “I don’t understand what the big deal is,”  I thought
to myself. Maybe it could be different in a boys’ restroom where there are urinals.
However, even then, there are usually several stalls where a guy could go for
privacy if he wanted to.

Colton and I were sitting against the wall. Colton had fallen asleep with his head
resting on my neck. I was getting a cramp in my shoulder, but I was afraid to
move for fear I would awaken him.

Cathy came across the room and sat down beside me. She had been talking to the
other girls for the past hour. I was happy that she was making friends with them.
She also appeared more cheerful than I had seen her in a while.

“Hey, you,” she smiled as she sat down. “You doing alright?”

“Yeah,” I replied, “but I’m bored.” I looked at my watch. It was after four. “When
do you think we’ll get out of here?”

She said, “I don’t know. It could be a while. Matt was talking to us earlier, and he
said he’s keeping in contact with his mom and dad. They’ve been down at the
school board all afternoon trying to meet with Mr. Steele.”

“Can you believe how crazy things got?”

“It was bound to happen sooner or later,” she replied. “Schools are going to have
to start dealing with students like Tiffany.”

“I guess you’re right,” I responded.

“Of course I’m right,” she insisted. “Kids today don’t look at the world like our
parents did.” She looked at me and frowned. “If anyone knows that, it should be
you.”

I asked worriedly, “But what do you think will happen to us?”

“Matt says the community is outraged,” she informed me. “They’re showing what
happened earlier on the national news.”

I sat up and gave her an astonished look. When I did, Colton woke up. “Are you
serious?” I squealed.

Colton yawned and asked, “What’s happening?”

Cathy continued, “Yeah. According to Matt’s dad, the news is showing Sheriff
Tackett and his men confronting us outside the restroom. He said some politicians
are commenting on it.”

“Damn,” hissed Colton.

“It’s not all bad,” assured Cathy. “Matt said most people are supporting us.”

We stopped talking when Matt’s phone rang. He now appeared to be the liaison
between us and the people outside. He and Mr. Wilder again went to the door and
cautiously opened it. Four boys entered carrying several large boxes. They placed
them on the floor, looked around and left.

Matt smiled and announced, “Dinner’s ready thanks to The Midtown Diner.” We
opened the boxes to find containers containing fried chicken, spaghetti,
cheeseburgers, a pasta salad and other assorted side dishes. There was a note
telling us to keep fighting.

When we finished eating, Cathy grabbed her stomach and moaned, “If we stay
here much longer, I’m going to gain twenty pounds.”

We spent the rest of the night inside the small, cramped restroom. It surprised me
that no one wanted to leave. Even Mrs. Oliver seemed comfortable sitting on the
floor beside her daughter. Mr. Wilder did a lot of pacing around the room. I think
he was afraid that Sheriff Tackett and his deputies might barge into the room and
spray us with tear gas. He and Matt rested against the door and tried to sleep.

Around two, Colton pulled me toward his lap. “Why don’t you put your head on my
lap and try to sleep,” he suggested. I drifted off to sleep several minutes later as
he gently stroked my head.

We began to awaken around six. I laughed when Cathy smelled her armpit, then
raised it to my face. “Do I stink?”

Colton laughed and said, “Only a girl would think about hygiene at a time like this.”

Cathy huffed and responded, “It wouldn’t hurt for boys to be more aware. I’ve
smelled some of you guys after you’ve gotten out of gym.” She went over to the
mirror, turned on the faucet and began brushing her teeth with her finger.

Colton looked at me and his face reddened. “What?” I asked.

“I gotta take a shit,” he muttered softly.

“So?” I replied. “People have been using it all night.”

His face deepened redder as he said, “But mine kinda stinks.” He looked around
the room. “I’ll smell everyone out of here.”

I sat back and laughed loudly. “You can’t just hold it,” I said.

He sighed and grabbed his stomach. “I guess not. I’m in so much pain right now, I
have to use it.”

He rose and went to the far stall. Seconds later, everyone stopped talking when
they heard a burst of gas, and then what sounded like an enormous eruption.

“Jesus!” shouted Mrs. Martin. “Have you no decency?” The room erupted into
laughter. I felt sorry for Colton. He had to be embarrassed beyond anyone’s
imagination.

Just then, people started fanning the air and coughing. Mr. Wilder was holding his
sides and laughing uproariously. “He does the same thing at the house,” he
announced.

Colton shouted out, “Dad! I’m already embarrassed!”

I held my nose and continued to laugh. I looked around the room and wondered if
anyone would leave. There was a flush, and Colton emerged from the stall. His
face couldn’t have been any redder. I felt sorry for him.

He plopped down beside me and muttered, “Don’t say anything.” I laughed as he
buried his head in his hands.

Everyone let out a loud laugh when his father hollered, “You didn’t wash your
hands!” Without looking up, Colton raised his hand and flipped off his father.

Two restaurants and a doughnut shop provided us breakfast. I couldn’t believe the
outside support we were receiving. After eating, I sat down beside Tiffany and
Jerome. They were still holding hands.

“How are you doing?” I asked Tiffany.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “This seems so unreal. I can’t believe that people are
risking everything for me.”

I responded, “Sometimes things are worth fighting for.”

I was thinking about my father and his fanatical ideas. This fight was about    
Tiffany’s right to use the bathroom, but for all of us it was something more.  For
me, it was a fight against wrong or right. It began for me when I first told my
father I hated him. Like we were doing now, I took a stand, that now looking back,
I don’t regret.

I could have continued to remain quiet and lived under his rule. However, it was
diminishing me as a human being. With each day, I was being choked of life. To
breathe again, I had to take a stand against everything my father stood for. I had
to live my life on my terms, not his.

I looked around the room and realized that is what each person here had done.
They had taken a stand against something they knew was wrong. They could have
easily turned their back and made Tiffany fight the battle alone. My chest heaved
with pride when I looked at Mr. Wilder, Mrs. Oliver and Mrs. Martin. It was harder
for them to denounce the rigid ideas they had been raised to believe. They had
joined the new fight, one that we understood had to happen. It was easier for Matt
and the others to join us. But for them, they had to break with old traditions and
fight for the new.

I smiled at Tiffany and said again, “Sometimes things are worth fighting for.” Only
this time, I said it
with a renewed understanding.


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Chapter 16