Copyright© 2011 by vlfouquet
Give Fair Warning
It was cold grey January day, the first day of the spring semester and Cassie's first day back to school since she went blind two and half years before.
As Marie drove into the city of Sonora, Cassie kept up her 360 degree scan out to a range of 250 yards. There were an amazing number of lousy drivers in such a small city. The unlicensed, farm workers and illegal aliens all of whom had no insurance and drove like they expected God to be next to them.
Cassie was in the fifth grade when she became blind and she would start in the second semester of the 8th grade of middle school. In the fall she expected to start her first year of high school.
Cassie had discussed what she could expect with Susie, who had become a regular visitor at their ranch. Susie had once been Cassie's best friend, but they had to become reacquainted It was almost like meeting someone new about whom you had read a book. It had taken awhile but over the last six months their friendship had been firmly reestablished.
"We are here Nina, you got all the papers?"
"The lunch, I fixed you?"
"Si, Marie, I've got all of it in my book bag."
Cassie opened the sliding door of the SUV, and pushed the button to lower the steps. She then exited the SUV using the extended steps. As soon as she was standing she turned to get her book bag and her collapsed cane.
Facing the front entrance of the school she snapped her wrist and her cane extended 36 inches in front of her. In reality her cane was a white enamel Asp Baton. With the white marking nobody would see anything but a blind person's cane.
She scanned the area around the front of the school. She knew from Susie that things had not changed much from elementary school. There would be a troublemaker somewhere around who loved putting someone else down to make themselves look bigger.
A bully! Boys usually were physical while girls liked to use words to do the same thing.
It did not matter to Cassie as she was no wimp. She had gone blind and had really fought back. Today she was much stronger and smarter and knew her own worth.
Tap, tap, and tap: she moved up the sidewalk toward the front entrance of the school. Her scan spotted the first suspect. A boy slowly approached the sidewalk in front of her. Cassie wondered whether it would be a shove, a foot trip, or the innocent bending down in front of her so she would trip over him.
He made his move and Cassie almost smiled. He moved with her cane as it went to the far left and he bent down to the right of the cane on his hands and knees.
Cassie came to a stop and did a polite nod of her head.
"Why thank you, but kneeling is not necessary. A simple bow will do."
She stepped forward with her right foot higher than normal and stepped onto the center of his back at his hip. Her weight hit him and he collapsed onto his face.
Almost everybody in front of the school had heard her and turned to see what was happening. She stepped off his back and with a tap, tap, tap continued into the school.
At the end of the last semester her parents had brought her to the school to meet the administration and to get familiar with the school itself. She knew the location of every one of her classes. Though her parents worried excessively about her getting lost or falling, she herself had no such worries.
Cassie almost laughed out loud as she thought of all her 'emergency' equipment. There was a lot that even her parents did not know about. There was a super-sat cell phone with GPS that was always on, a 500,000 candle power flash light and her back up collapsible cane that she wore on her left forearm. Her shoes had steel toes. The dress belt she wore was almost unbreakable and could be used in a thousand ways. She also carried a pair of sure grip gloves that would never slip or slide no matter how slick the surface they were trying to grip. Yeah she could make a ninja die of envy.
She walked into her first period classroom where she was fairly early. The schedule had shown that her first period started at 8:15 and her watch said.
"The time is oh eight hundred."
There were two students all the way to the rear of the room. Cassie moved across the room to the desk in the first row next to the windows. She scanned the black board as she seated herself.
"Mr. Johnson, American History 102 (1866 to the Present)" was written on the board. Good, she thought he did not use a projector, as long as he wrote on the board she would be able to read what he wrote.
She opened her book bag and took out her history text and a laptop computer with a scanner attached. She plugged in a headphone set with an attach microphone. Cassie also attached a micro recorder to the side of her laptop. She was ready to go. She could scan any printed material and the OCR and text to speech software would be able to read it back almost instantly.
The boys in the back had been joined by two more. They were watching her and carrying on a hushed conversation. It did seem strange, but the closer they got to the start of class and the more students who came in and found seats the quieter the class room seemed to get.
Just as the bell rang a man entered the room. He was in his early 30's and appeared to be in great shape. He had almost zero body fat and his muscles were hard. This man would give Sensei Inoue a run for the money for being in shape.
He stood behind his desk looking out over the class, he said. "For you who do not know me, I am Mr. James Johnson. Students will address me as Mr. Johnson, not as James, Jim, or Jimmy. The only reason you are being informed of my whole name is in case someone asks you where I am or to take something to me. In case any of you are lost this class is American History 102. If this is the wrong class, take yourself to the office and inform them that you are lost."
He paused to see if anyone left the class. Cassie almost shook her head as a student did get up to leave. "What had he been doing all the time we had waited for Mr. Johnson to arrive?" she thought.
"For you students that need textbooks we have them on the table at the rear of the Class. Go get yourself one, then line up down this aisle until you have signed for it.
"Homework will be to read chapter 1, 2, and 4 tonight. We will discuss those chapters tomorrow. Chapter 3 is redundant as everything in it is also in chapter 2 and 4.
"This being your first period class it is also your homeroom. Any time that you are told to report to your homeroom you will come here. That is one of the reasons that this class is 15 minutes longer than any other class period. Those 15 minutes are for school administration.
"The good and bad is the same for most of you. I do not send any student to detention hall."
A quiet groan flowed through the room. Cassie looked around and 3/4 of the class members were holding their heads.
"Detention hall is a waste of time. It's a waste for both students and the hall monitor. So if you get detention from me you will join me after school in the gym or on the track, which depends on the weather. You will be wearing your gym clothes. It just so happens that I am the football and baseball coach. Detention with me is one hour of exercise. I love to see young men and women running and one hour of running after school seems to have a detrimental effect on those things that cause detention."
"Ms. Howard, would you please stand up."
Cassie stood up.
"Class this is Ms. Howard. Ms. Cassandra Howard is blind. Where is your cane Ms. Howard?"
She turned and with a snap of her wrist the collapsed white enamel cane in her hand expanded to its full 36 inches length.
Mr. Johnson seemed to freeze for a moment. "Ms. Howard has been blind for almost three years and not attending school. She has, on her own, caught up with her former classmates. She has certain exemptions such as no reading or writing in class. She has a large amount of equipment that she carries with her to help her attend classes such as micro recorders, scanners and headsets. Any person interfering with or taking any of these things will be considered interfering with a person covered by the American Disability Act, a federal law. You do not want to see what befalls you if you do this. Have your seat Ms. Howard."
"Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Wilson it's obvious that you two have found something of immense interest so please let the rest of the class in on it."
Two of the boys in the back stood up.
"Egh sir I would not like to add to the embarrassment of another student so if you would please let me just write you a report on what we were talking about."
"Me too, Mr. Johnson," Matt Wilson said.
Mr. Johnson seemed surprised and made no move for a few seconds. "Mr. Richard Jenkins that was well said, but now you have really got me and the rest of the class curious. So, no, please give an oral report at this time."
Cassie slid deeper into her seat. She knew that this had to be about what happened out front earlier.
"Yes, sir, I was telling Matt, Egh Mr. Wilson that she might be blind but she was sure no wimp, not after she made Harry Hankins looked like a fool this morning."
The class all turned their heads to look at her. Even Mr. Johnson did a fast peek.
"Continue Mr. Jenkins."
"Well everybody knows Harry. He got in front of Ms. Howard and as she approached him he got down on his hands and knees right in front of her." He started giggling.
"Then she stopped. Eh, eh, eh she nodded at Harry and said in a voice everybody out front could hear: "Why thank you but kneeling is not necessary a bow will do." Then she stepped up on his hips and as he collapsed she stepped off of him and continued on into the school."
The whole class burst into laughter. Mr. Johnson just stood there for a moment. "Class" Everybody shut up.
"Mr. Jenkins, Mr. Wilson I will accept a written report from the two of you tomorrow."
"Ms. Howard that was an interesting story, could you please explain?"
Cassie stood up with her cane in her hand.
"Situational awareness sir, my Sensei has taught me to be aware of everything around me."
With a snap of her wrist her cane expanded in front of her. She twirled and stepped forward bending at the knee with her right leg extended behind her. Her cane was pointing down and to her front from over her head and her left arm was extended in front of her. Then she moved upright once more and the cane had collapsed.
"When the boy, Harry? Moved I heard his clothes rub against themselves. I felt the air move with his movement. I also sensed the direction of his movement. The analysis of all these variables led me to the conclusion that he was playing a prank so I did not attack him."
She bowed to Mr. Johnson and seated herself.
The teacher walked over to her. "Ms. Howard may I examine your cane."
Cassie held the collapsed cane in the palm of both hands.
He bowed as he took it up. He turned away and with a snap of his wrist the cane expanded to its full 36 inches. Then Mr. Johnson went into a series of movements that had her cane going in a dozen directions at once. Then he returned to a fully upright position and the cane was collapsed once more. He approached Cassie.
She held her hands open palms up. He placed her cane in her hands then he bowed to her. She returned the bow.
The rest of the day was as normal as she could expect. Most of the teachers acted resigned to having her in their class. Some simply ignored her. But the students were all watching her, even the ones not in her class.
Lunch time found her meeting up with Susie in the cafeteria along with a friend of hers that Cassie had not met.
"Cassie, I'm hearing rumors everywhere. Somebody said that Harry Hankins attacked you. Another says that you picked him up and threw him into the side of the building. What happened?"
Cassie took a minute to explain what had happened when she entered the building that morning.
"Well you were lucky! Harry plays dirty. There are going to be a lot of grateful students who are pleased that he is going to be aimed at you and not them." Susie's friend Liza said.
"He is a real thug, he will do anything to get even if you once get ahead of him."
"Well then I guess I better find him and give him a warning."
"What?" Liza almost screamed.
"Oh my God, Cassie you must of finally found your family motto!"
"Hun, what are you talking about Susie?" Cassie asked.
"Well I heard my dad talking about it once. You know he has known your dad for like forever. He was telling someone that the motto tells you everything you need to know about dealing with a Howard."
"Always give fair warning, never worry about when your enemies will die."
Cassie shivered as those words flowed through her. For a moment she saw a battlefield with a man in armor standing on top of a hill. From the top to the bottom was nothing but dead bodies. The man on top of the hill raised his sword to the sky and lightening struck up to the heavens. She heard the words echo "I gave fair warning!"
"Cassie, Cassie, are you here? Earth to Cassie, wake up."
She shook her head and looked around. "What?"
"Boy you were all dazed out there for a minute."
"I've got to find this Harry guy."
"Well if you have to find him he's over in the far corner of the cafeteria." Liza pointed across the table.
Cassie turned her vision in that direction and 'saw' the guy from that morning sitting huddled up at a table in the corner.
Finishing up her lunch quickly, she stood up and gathered all her things. Then she began a slow walk with her tap, tap, and tap in the direction of Harry. Susie and Liza followed one on each side at her rear.
The students in the cafeteria quieted as she got closer to Harry. More and more people noticed as a wave of silence spread out from her as she neared Harry.
Harry began to notice the gathering silence around him and looked up.
His eyes widened as he straightened up. "What the heck do you want bitch. You're dead and don't even know it. I always get even. Some way, somehow, I will get you."
Cassie just stared at him for a moment.
"I am Cassandra Howly Howard. My father is richer than all the other people in West Texas combined. I could be awarded three black belts in separate martial arts anytime I wish. And you wish to make yourself my enemy? You are a fool."
"The first rule of war is, 'know your enemy'. There are others: 'Attack when you are strong. Retreat when you are weak. Scout the enemy, destroy his resources. Kill his allies and supporters. Attack the rear. Take the high ground. Leave nothing behind that the enemy can use'."
"You knew nothing. Susie, tell him my family's motto."
"Hun? Oh yeah, the Howard family motto is.
"Always give fair warning, never worry about when your enemies will die."
"You should have thought before you acted. I have heard of you. You have now been given fair warning. You better check with your family, they may even work for our family in one of our enterprises."
With that Cassie turned and walked away, her cane tapping on the floor like a drum beat. Susie and Liza followed like two honor guards, one on each side and to her rear. With her vision she noticed as, one by one the students setting around Harry got up and moved away. Harry, who nobody liked, was now getting the ultimate punishment for a student. He was being ostracized.
A couple days later when Cassie got home she found her parents waiting for her. They called her into the breakfast nook. Marie took one look at the three of them and began bringing coffee and ice tea.
"Cassie I have heard some rumor that a boy attacked you at school on your first day. Your mother picked up similar rumors so what happened?"
The two of them set there waiting. Cassie waited and said only one thing. "Drinks"
Marie had them ready and two cups of coffee and a glass of iced tea appeared on the table. Cassie picked up her glass wondering just how she should explain.
"It started out as a school ground bullying except he did not get away with it and I turned the tables on him. Then the word came to me that he never gives up and he always gets even. I had turned it on him and he was the butt of jokes all over the school. I'd heard that he was making threatening noise about me.