"All right now, trombone section. Letís keep that oval tight during the second chorus. And woodwinds - be careful to unfurl those streamers precisely at the end of the song. That is very, VERY important. Jerome, take them through the song once more before we try it in formation." Jerome Livingstone, drum major of the Athens Memorial High School Marching Band, shielded his eyes against the bright setting autumn sun and nodded toward the second story window where band director Miles Bourne was watching this Ďclosedí rehearsal of the Marchiní Spartansí newest halftime routine. As the familiar melody of the Supremesí "Stoned Love" echoed across the playing field, the clack of Vice Principal Brenda Sandsí heels echoed down the empty hall of Athens Memorial, and into the classroom where Dr. Bourne watched his award winning band.
"Thank you for finally agreeing to meet with me, Dr. Bourne, " the exasperated school administrator said haughtily.
The music teacher glanced quickly at the attractive woman walking his way. "Iím terribly sorry, Ms. Sands. Iíve been very busy putting together our latest routine. I think when you see it, itíll knock your socks off."
"I donít doubt that - everything your band does is impressive."
"Hence our invitation to the Rose Bowl Parade," Bourne said proudly.
Brenda Sands sighed audibly. "Hence this discussion, Dr. Bourne. "We have already spoken about this at length. It was a great honor for our band to receive an invitation to this prestigious event. And nothing would please me, Dr. Hunter, our school board, even our state education department, more than to send the band to California. But you know that we have considered every budget shift, every fund raising, every borrowing possibility we could think of - and the Marchiní Spartans simply canít afford to go. I thought that was settled . . ."
The band director put up his hand to make Brenda pause as the song came to its conclusion. "Excuse me, Ms. Sands." Once again, he yelled into his megaphone. "Great work, musicians. But letís pick up the tempo at the beginning - and just a few bars before the big finish. Once more, Jerome." Bourne leaned out an open window to address a classroom right below where he was standing. "Dance Team! Are you in costume and ready to go?" Several young female voices responded variously with "any time," "letís do it," "just a few more minutes," and "why are we wearing these stupid costumes?"
The loud beating of a bass drum led into the strains of "Stoned Love" one more time, and Miles turned back to his attractive boss. "Sorry to interrupt - we were talking about our trip to the Rose Bowl . . . ."
". . . . we were talking about NOT being able to go to the Rose Bowl. I admire your optimism, Miles, but there comes a point when you have to accept things and move on. For the kidsí sake, for the parentsí sake . . . ."
". . . . and for the sake of the school administrationís credibility." Bourne finished Brendaís thought.
"ESPECIALLY for that. We received a call today - no, let me correct that: Principal Hunter received a call today from the editor of the Athens Herald, asking for his reaction to the news that the band is travelling to Pasadena in December. Since it was going to be the paperís banner headline this week, he wanted to get as many comments as he could. Unfortunately, he didnít get Principal Hunterís reaction - but I certainly did! And it wasnít a very pleasant reaction. Why, Miles? Why did you tell the newspaper, and parents, and students that the band is going to the Rose Bowl when you know we donít have the money to send them?" The volume of the last question reflected the Vice-Principalís displeasure with the band directorís actions.
"Stoned Love" was just ending, and before shouting more directions to the band, Bourne turned to Brenda Sands and said simply: "Because Iíve found a way to get the money." He turned away from her shocked expression and leaned out the window once more. "Okay, dance team, assemble on the platform as we discussed, and prepare for your special dance. Band members!" He announced through the megaphone once more. "Once the dance team is on the platform, prepare to play the song once more, and this time move into the special formation!"
Miles watched as the eight members of the dance team emerged from their dressing area, and grinned as several of the male band members greeted them with shouts and whistles. Instead of their usual leotards and dance skirts, the young women were wearing short togas, with very high slide splits and very low necklines, along with knee high laced sandals. Each of the girlís hair was drawn back or piled on top, with flower buds adorning their well-coiffed heads. Brenda looked out the window to see what the commotion was about, and was surprised to see the girlsí costumes.
"What kind of Ďhalftime showí is this, Miles? Those costumes are rather revealing, donít you think?"
"No different than their usual costumes - or the majorettes." Bourne offered.
"I donít think so, Dr. Bourne. Those other costumes are skimpy, to be sure, but not as blatantly - well, sexual, as these outfits are. Couldnít you have found longer robes that cover a little more, uhh, up top, and still keep this same ĎGreekí theme?"
"These are the costumes that the sponsor picked out," he explained.
"Sponsor? Since when do our halftime shows have a sponsor?"
"Not the halftime show, Ms. Sands. Our sponsor for the band trip."
The dance team was in its starting position now, and the hoots and yells had died down since the setting sun was almost directly behind the platform, and the glare prevented a clear view of the girls. Before Brenda Sands could ask further about this "sponsor," Bourne picked up the megaphone once more.
"All right, group. This is very important. Our trip to Pasadena depends entirely on your getting this song and formation exactly as I diagrammed it. I know you can do it. The Rose Bowl people think youíre one of the best high school bands in the country. This school is behind you one hundred percent. And most important, our trip sponsor believes you can make the magic happen. So letís do it! Jerome, count Ďem down!"
The drum major blew the whistle four times, and the bass drum started the intro to "Stoned Love." The band started playing, and moving into the special formation. The dance team began their interpretation of the song - young Greek beauties in love - and moved to the music. Rather provocatively, Brenda Sands thought as she looked on. She would have to convince Miles to tone this routine down before a public presentation.
As the two teachers watched, Brenda Sands continued her earlier interrogation. "You keep mentioning a sponsor. Iím not sure you can solicit that kind of financial commitment without official school board approval - or at least letting Principal Hunter or myself know whatís going on. Who is this mysterious sponsor, Miles? What do they have to do with this show?"
"Be patient, Ms. Sands. Youíll know everything in a moment." Bourne glanced at his female supervisor, and noted that her attention was on the dance team, and not on the band. Thatís exactly what he thought would happen, when he decided to include her visit in his master plan.
The band continued to play, and move into formation. Most of the brass and percussion section had formed the shape of a rounded head. Two sousaphones moved into the position of eyes, and a triangle of drums formed a large nose. An oval of trombones made up the mouth, and their slides looked like a tongue darting in and out. But most important was the large group of woodwinds who were positioning themselves at the top of the Ďhead.í They had not yet unfurled their special streamers, but it was almost time.
"Iím a busy woman, Dr. Bourne. Do you expect me to just stand still until youíre ready to deal with me?" Brenda Sands was getting upset now. Miles Bourne was being too coy. Principal Hunter had been on her back all day about the Ďoff-then-oní California trip, and would now certainly be on her case about the display of flesh and other attributes taking place in this dance. Her anger mounted as she continued to focus on the girls. She didnít notice that the song was winding down, nor that the band was nearly finished its formation. She also failed to notice Miles Bourne putting on a very special pair of sunglasses.
The old gypsy from whom he acquired the glasses - and this special formation - had assured him they would provide adequate protection. All Miles had to do was plan the right place and time for unveiling this special production. But Miles was an excellent planner as well as showman. That would be no problem.
The gypsy had even provided a contact with a special buyer willing to pay a handsome price for the unusual merchandise the band director would have to offer. Between private collectors and foreign galleries, there was a sufficient market for his product. But most important, the proceeds would raise the large sum of money needed to take the Marchiní Spartans to the summit of high school marching band-dom: the Rose Bowl parade; Pasadena, California; New Yearís Day.
The next few seconds seemed to happen in slow motion. As the band began the last bars of "Stoned Love" and formed a human head, the woodwinds across the top of the head unfurled their special streamers - also from the gypsy. The streamers were long and round, but ended in a large flat surface with a thin forked string of paper at the tip. Like the head of a serpent. Each streamer had the same look, and as the forecasted breeze blew lightly across the field, the Ďheadí of the formation was awash with what looked like slithering snakes.
And just as the woodwinds unfurled their important contribution, the dance team finished its gyrations, and turned to face the bandís formation as the song ended. They stared out at the head topped with snakes, and stood still just as they had rehearsed. In fact, more still than they had rehearsed. Actually, each girl felt a stiffness begin in her still feet and move up her body - even into her hair and face and eyes - until the entire dance team stood staring. Staring forever. Eight perfect statues. Eight beautiful sculptures of the young female form in various provocative poses. Eight desirable and very saleable results of staring at the magic-enhanced formation of the head of Medusa.
Miles Bourne would have liked to stare a few moments more at his greatest marching band triumph. But there was still work to be done. Vice-Principal Sands simply gaped at what she saw happening before her eyes. The sunís glare prevented the band members from seeing what had happened to the dance team. But Brenda Sands saw quite clearly the girls change from flesh to artful stone. Her first impulse was to look in the same direction as the girls to see what they saw, but before she could lift her head, Bourne put his hand over her eyes and pulled her away from the window.
At first she thought the band director was rescuing her. But then he began to quickly and roughly tear at her clothes: her blouse and skirt ripped asunder before she regained the wherewithal to struggle. But Miles Bourne was a man possessed, and he fought off her struggles and tore away her slip and bra. As her attractive breasts came free, heaving with the intensity of the struggle, Brenda Sands kicked the band director hard on the inner thigh, just missing a direct hit on the groin. He moaned and loosened his grip, and Brenda started to crawl away. But Bourne grabbed hold of a nyloned ankle, and pulled her back. His hands virtually slapped her heels off , and then he began to pull her pantyhose off from the knee down. By now, the fashionable Vice-Principal was completely unkempt - and mostly undressed. All that remained were her satin panties, and these were about to yield to the crazed teacher as well.
The Vice-Principal couldnít understand what had possessed Miles Bourne to try to rape her. But rape was not his intention. He had something much darker and evil in mind. With breathless and insane excitement, Miles was explaining everything to the captured educator. "Itís not personal, Ms. Sands. But I had to get the band to California, any way I could. And a dance team is not really part of the band. They donít really make much of a contribution - until now, that is." A crazed giggle issued from the band director, as he pulled Brenda Sandsí nude body back toward the window.
"You werenít part of my original plan, but Iím glad it worked out this way." She tried to turn her head away from window and its view of the band still in formation, but Bourne held her head firmly facing the outside. "I told you this would Ďknock your socks off.í I had just had to take off the rest. You see, I knew it just wouldnít be right for the students to be nude - even for the sake of art, and a much better price I might add.." They were near the window by now, close enough for the two teachers to look out, but far enough back so the band would not see their struggle.
"So youíre a bonus, Ms. Sands. A beautiful sculptured nude for some rich collector of artistic erotica."
Brenda started to scream, but as she looked out the window, it was too late. Her first glance was at the lovely statuary that had once been the Marchiní Spartansí Dance Team. And then she looked out at the band, and saw the head of Medusa formation. Her mouth opened slightly, and she emitted a short gasp, and then her well-toned, twice-weekly aerobicized body began to harden. In only seconds, she was as rigid as the toga clad figures on the dance platform. Miles Bourne had his bonus statue. . . .
. . . . After he regained his composure, Miles had the band march through an older formation for the upcoming home football game, while several movers quickly loaded the petrified students and Vice-Principal into a truck Bourne had rented for the occasion.
The Marchiní Spartans were the pride of Athens, Granite County, and the whole state as they marched on the streets of Pasadena New Years Day. Each band member wore a small black patch in memory of the dance team members and Ms. Sands, who had perished in a mysterious van crash on the evening of a rehearsal weeks before. The van had crashed on a windy road, over a cliff, into a deep and swift river. No bodies had been recovered. The trip to Pasadena had been an occasion of healing for the mourning town.
The citizens of Athens were certainly grateful to the anonymous benefactor who had funded the bandís trip to California. In fact, there had even been extra funds to buy new uniforms for the band. At a special banquet in his honor, band director Miles Bourne graciously accepted the communityís accolades.
"Thank you for your recognition of my efforts in securing a way for the Marchiní Spartans to march in the Rose Bowl Parade," he told a cheering audience. "But I can honestly say that the Athens Memorial High School Marching Band would not have the beautiful new uniforms they first displayed on New Yearís Day without Vice-Principal Brenda Sands. Wherever you are, Brenda, thank you." And the audience cheered all the more.
But on a pedestal in a small gallery of erotic art in Amsterdam, the nude and inert stone form of Brenda Sands was unable to say "Youíre welcome."