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Our Tullahoma Tigers weren’t all that hot as a football team.  Or even lukewarm, but it was the last thing holding our dying town together now that the mill is closing.  However, the real reason all the townspeople close up their shops and houses and come out for the games is the cheerleaders.  Leastwise, that’s what I believe.  These six young ladies, high school upper class students, make the Dallas Cowgirls look like shopping bag ladies.  The Tullahoma newspaper even covers them, but with more adjectives and fewer photos.

            So, when Sheriff Putnam said, “Officer Lorrain Vanderzanden, where you going?”

            “Why, it’s Friday afternoon and everyone’s going to the game.” 

            He raised a cautionary eyebrow.  “You’re the officer in charge, after me, of course.”

            “The front desk is covered,” I said, “and Jimmy’s on patrol.  I expect I might even see you at the game.”

            “ That Red Crutchfield’s behind that team’s success,” Sheriff Putnam muttered.  He was referring to the head cheerleader.  “She’s as full of pulchritude as the other gals, but she also has a brain.  Don’t want to  hear anyone making wisecracks about redheads and intelligence,” and he winked.

            “You know Red’s a home economics major.  She’s designed new costumes for the Tigers’ cheerleading ladies.”  I’d seen them the week before while handling a call at the school.  The garments had loads of diagonal stripes and a swoosh, a few chevrons.  The tiger fangs would make Tom Cruise’s dentures look like a picket fence.  If Mozart had a keyboard like Red’s tiger teeth design he’d’ve knocked out some knee-slapping music.

            Sheriff nodded me out, probably thinking he could postpone my next pay raise.  But when I took my unofficial post at the sidelines before the teams ran onto the field, the pie hit the fan.  The crowd was goggling the cheerleaders when this lawyer in a necktie rushed up.  He stood up tall as possible and handed Mrs. Roravich, the squad’s leader, a piece of paper.

            “This here is a cease and desist order, Ma’am.  Your girls have violated a copyright held by my client, a famous Fifth Avenue New York designer.  They are wearing his legally verifiable copyrighted design.”

            He grabbed a microphone and shrieked to the citizens of Tullahoma, “These pirates have illegally usurped my client’s design!”  Turning to Mrs. Roravich, he said, “It’s piracy and I’m suing if I ever see that uniform on your playing field again.  Our profits are in jeopardy as long as these children prance about in some cheap knockoff.”

            “My land, they’re just clothes,” Mrs. Roravich said, clutching her bosom. 

            Well, to make the story short, Red put her size 6 shoe down.  “I refuse to have the team wear some old sweat shirt.”  At that moment, Sheriff Putnam drove up to the playing field as the team gathered for the kickoff.  He’d heard the lawyer shouting from the loudspeakers.  “Sorry, ladies,” he said to the girls.  “You can’t wear that fancy guy’s design.  This here injunction he gave me says dresses are copyrightable.  This man’s artwork is protected by the Constitution.”

            Now you understand, the referees were all crowding up too, not the least because they liked the cheerleaders’ attitude.  Especially Brenda’s attitudes, her being left back a few years and now a ripe 19-year-old.  Thing was, that ref had his microphone on too, so the legal discussion was being broadcast to the stadium, the news feed to the big city, and eventually to the whole world.

            Red said something I can’t repeat because there might be small children about.  “This is a three-dimension design,” she said.  “It’s my design to make us look slimmer and more curvy than we possibly are.”

            The little lawyer ran up to Sheriff Putnam.  “Make them remove those infringing uniforms, Sheriff, or I’ll call the state police.”

            Sheriff Putnam shrugged, clearly as nonplussed as the cat who fell into the bathtub.  “What can I do?” he wailed.

            “All right!” Red said.  “Girls, we go to Plan B.  Now!”

            That Red, she’s a smart young lady who I’m sure will go far in life.  In about 10 seconds, the girls had taken off their uniforms and thrown them on the 30-yard line.  And, a complete and utter silence fell over the stadium, perhaps even the whole state of Tennessee watching TV.  See, those cheerleaders were as naked as jaybirds excepting for skimpy little bras and panties.  More important, they had Red’s artwork painted on their bodies with the swooshes and teeth in all the right places.

            “Now, Mr. Lawyer,” Red said, amplified to the high heavens, “are you going to confiscate our bodies too?”

            The lawyer turned and stalked off the field.  Sheriff Putnam got back in his squad car and drove off the sidelines, leaving a long divot in the track.  Then Red said to the ref, whose mic conveyed her message to the world, “Our clothes on the hanger do nothing for world peace.  The clothes on the woman do everything, and that’s what fashion is all about.  Boys, let’s play ball!”

            Oh, it was a great day for the Tullahoma Tigers, even if they failed to win their game.


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Bio:  Walt Giersbach moves between writing genres, from mystery to humor, speculative fiction to romance with a little historical non-fiction for good measure.  His work has appeared in print and online in over two dozen publications, including Short-Story.Me.  He's also bounced from Fortune 500 firms to university posts, and from homes in eight states and to a couple of Asian countries.  He now lives in New Jersey where he moderates a writing group.


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