A Secure School
© Copyright 2006 Julien Gregg
All rights reserved.
No part of this story may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author. This story is almost all fiction. Almost all of the characters depicted in this story exist exclusively in the imagination of the author. Any resemblance to an actual person, living or dead, is, sometimes purely coincidental.
I looked around at all of my friends and
smiled. Nick and Jeremy were sitting at the card table, playing cards and
arguing over points. Peter and Marcy were sitting very close to each other on
the love seat, talking about where to go on their next date. Dustin and Phillip
were sitting on the floor in front of the television, watching the news coverage
of the strike that only lasted for one day. They'd all come over after they'd
heard about what Mr. Jeffries had said to Mitch. Ben and Wendy were currently in
the kitchen getting drinks for themselves and a few others.
"It turned out ok, Bud," said Steve, holding me as we sat on the couch. "I have to admit that I was a little scared about getting expelled, but we actually got what we wanted."
"I don't want to talk about school," I replied. "We'll deal with all of that on Wednesday morning. Right now I just want to be happy with you and our friends."
"Speaking of friends, where are Rick and Mark?" he asked.
"I'm not sure," I admitted. "I talked to Rick earlier, and he said that they were going to a movie or something. I guess they wanted some alone time."
"Sounds good to me," said Steve. "We haven't done that in a while ourselves."
"We will, though," I promised. "Soon."
I wanted to believe that all of our problems at school were over, but I wasn't stupid. We still had people like Leo Hartman and Ms. Tull to put up with, but I was already thinking about reporting her to Mitch if she said anything out of line to me or Steve. Mark and Rick would have to take care of themselves in that department. I just wasn't going to put up with shit from anyone anymore. I'd worked too hard on getting myself out of the self-hatred mode, and I wasn't about to let anyone try to put me back there again.
It was nice having almost the entire gang around again. It made me miss Doug and the rest of our friends, but not all of them were even in Storyville anymore. Doug was in classes at Storyville University with Dustin and Vince, but he was a busy boy. He'd called me twice when the news first started running coverage of the strike at Storyville High, though. He told me that he wished he could have been out there with us, but being a college student, his presence at the strike wouldn't have been all that helpful. As it was, we did seem to get what we wanted. Only time would tell, though.
Winter Break was right around the corner, and that meant that the second and final semester of my high school years was on its way as well. I couldn't wait to graduate and put Storyville High School behind me forever. It was sad in a way, though. There were some good memories attached to the school. Lately, though bad things kept piling on top of the bad memories. I just hoped that college would be better.
Over the course of the next two days, all of my friends showed up at the house. Doug finally showed up the following evening and hung out with me, Steve, Nick and Jeremy. He told us all about his new girlfriend, and he said that Frank was on his way back to town once again. It seemed that college wasn't working out for him. I wondered what the problem was, but I suspected that he was lonely. He was the only one of our group that was out of high school and not attending Storyville University.
Tuesday night, Steve and I got ready for bed early. Our first day back in school was going to be one that we faced with a good night's sleep. I thought about all of the things that Steve and I had gone through as we crawled into bed that night. I remembered the mess we kept creating of our friendship when we were both trying to deal with our feelings for each other. That put a smile on my face, though. It made me remember how happy we both were to find out that we both felt the same way. I fell asleep that night in Steve's arms as I thought about the day we'd nearly consumed each other at Nick's house.
The next morning we headed out for our run around five. Neither of us said a word as we got dressed and started out the front door. We ran all the way to the cemetery, and I spent a few minutes at my mother's grave before he ran back to the house. We'd long since given up taking separate showers, so once our communal shower was complete, we dressed for the day. Andy was already at the dining room table when we came back downstairs.
"Good morning, runners," he said, smiling. "Ready for your first day back to school?"
"We sure are," said Steve, sitting down across from him. "It feels like we've been out forever, though."
"Speak for yourself," I laughed as I sat down and grabbed a bagel from the plate in front of Andy. "I'm not looking forward to Leo Hartman and Ms. Tull to be honest."
"Oh, come on, Bud," said Steve, sliding the cream cheese toward me. "We'll deal with Leo when we encounter him. Something tells me that he's going to be a bit less of a problem since you decked him."
"You hit the guy?" Andy asked, leaning forward and looking shocked.
"It was right before the first locker bomb went off," I replied adding strawberries to my bagel. "He just couldn't shut his mouth."
"I thought you weren't letting what people say get to you," said Andy as he started to prepare his own bagel.
"I don't, usually," I sighed. "He just takes things a bit far. You know he's Reverend Hartman's grandson, right?"
"Oh, that Leo Hartman," he chuckled. "I've not met the grandchildren, but I have had the displeasure of coming face to face with the good minister on occasion. I can completely understand why you lost self restraint with Leo if he's anything like his grandfather."
"All gays will burn in a lake of fire and brimstone?" I asked after swallowing my bite of bagel.
"Fruit of the same tree," he said, nodding his head.
"Boy won't he be surprised when he actually stands before God," laughed Steve.
"We'll see," I said before stuffing the last of my bagel. into my mouth and washing it down with milk. "We should get going."
We met Nick and Jeremy at the side door to the house after we'd cleaned up after ourselves. Nick rode with Steve while Jeremy rode with me. We met up with everyone else as soon as we pulled into the school parking lot. Busses were beginning to arrive, and other students with vehicles were circling the lot, looking for a place to park as Steve and I followed Nick and Jeremy toward the main entrance of the school.
There was no line this morning, so at least that part had been taken care of. I could see the metal detectors at each door, and I smiled. A security guard sat at a table, checking off names on a list as he talked to certain people as they came in. I had no idea what that was about, but he ignored our group completely as we walked through the metal detectors and headed to our lockers. He did stop two students who came in behind us, though. I didn't stick around to listen to what he said to them. I followed Steve to our newly reconstructed locker.
It was pointless for us to go to our locker, though. We only had the books we'd been carrying the day our locker blew up. Everything else that had been inside had been destroyed. I think we went there partly out of habit and partly just to see if the locker had been replaced and if there was anything written on it.
In the quad we met up with Ben, Wendy, Mark, Rick, Peter and Marcy. Phillip was nowhere to be found, but he came strolling through the quad just seconds before the first bell sounded. We talked for a few minutes and then headed off to our first hour classes. I had no sooner sat down next to Wendy in Analysis when I was informed by Ms. Sprick that I was to report to Mitch's office. Wendy and I looked at each other, and she shrugged. I mentioned to Ms. Sprick that I had no book for her class, and she handed me a new textbook as I walked out of the class.
When I got to Mitch's office, two detectives were waiting for me. For a second I was worried that something bad had happened, but when Mitch smiled at me I saw nothing in his eyes to indicate that anything had happened. He introduced detectives Washington and Skoda as I sat down. I shook hands with both detectives and then proceeded to answer many of the same questions I'd been asked the day of the bombing. About five minutes after the bell sounded that began second period, I was excused. I was given a pass to get into Mr. Tolston's Psychology class as I left the Dean's office.
Mr. Tolston looked agitated when I came into the classroom, holding out my pass. I quickly explained to him that I had no text book, and he sighed before standing and getting one out of his file cabinet. He made me sign for the book and then said that I would be billed for the "lost" text before telling me to take my seat. I looked at him for a moment before walking over to sit beside Nick. Mr. Tolston glared at me every time he looked at me as class went on.
I was never so happy to get out of that class as I walked out and headed to Study Hall with Nick and Jeremy. Phillip told us he'd see us at lunch as he walked the opposite direction down the hall. As we walked into the class room being used for Study Hall, I got my first glimpse of Leo Hartman that day. He didn't even look at us as we walked in, and he froze when we walked past him to take our seats.
I sat down, letting Leo Hartman leave my mind as I pulled out my Analysis text and began the day's assignment while I talked with Nick and Jeremy. Nick talked about the fact that we'd passed two security guards in the halls as we made our way to this class room. We talked about how far we'd gotten with the strike until the bell sounded.
"How's your day going so far?" Mark asked as I walked into the locker room to change for gym after leaving Jeremy and Nick behind.
"Fine so far," I replied. "I got pulled out of first hour to answer questions about the bombing, though."
"Yeah, I think we all did," said Steve as he came up to us. "They got me in second hour. Same questions really. Only a few new ones."
"Same here," said Mark as we all started to undress.
It wasn't until we headed back to our lockers before lunch that we saw the messages painted on our lockers. I sighed as we got close enough to see that they were the same as before. I looked at Steve for a second before we both turned and headed for Mitch's office. We met up with Mark and Rick along the way. Their locker had been defaced as well. I looked up at the camera above us and smiled as I thought about how easy it was going to be to find out who had done it.
"Gentlemen," said Mitch when we walked into the Dean's office. He was standing next to his secretary's desk when we entered. "To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit."
"Our lockers have been defaced again," said Rick, and Mitch's smile disappeared.
"Shit," he muttered under his breath. "Today was going so good!"
"I'm sorry, Mitch," I said as we came the rest of the way into the office.
"You didn't open them, did you?" he asked, eyes wide.
"No," I said quickly. "After what happened the last time something was printed on my locker, the last thing I'd do is touch it."
"Good thinking," he replied. "Go on to class, and we'll get the police down here while the security boys look over the video tapes."
"Um, Mitch, its lunch time," Steve said slowly.
"Right," sighed Mitch. "Try to have a good lunch. We'll make an announcement as soon as we know the lockers are safe."
We headed off to the cafeteria in silence. Wendy, Ben and Phillip were seated at the table we all shared with their lunch trays in front of them as we came in. None of us were really hungry, and our nerves would have prevented anything we ate to stay put. We just walked over to the table and sat down. I looked at Steve, and I hated the worry that I could see in his eyes. Mark and Rick kept looking back to the doors of the cafeteria. I knew what they were waiting for. I was expecting it as well. We were all waiting for explosions. This was not the way I wanted to spend my education.
Leo and Noah walked into the cafeteria, but again Leo didn't look our way. Noah looked at us thoughtfully for a second before following his brother to the lunch line. I wondered for a moment if they had anything to do with our lockers, but I dismissed the thought just as quickly as it entered my mind. I watched them for a moment, though. It was Wendy who commanded my attention after a minute.
"What's going on?" she asked, looking at each of us one at a time. "You all look like you've just swallowed something bad."
"Our lockers," said Steve, looking at me for some reason.
"Again?" Phillip asked with wide eyes.
"It says pretty much the same thing it did the day they were bombed," I replied, only realizing it at that moment. Suddenly my gut was icy.
"This can't be happening," sighed Wendy as she put her face in her hands.
"It is happening," I said quickly. "Your dad is calling the police, and security is reviewing the tapes."
"So they'll know who did it this time?" Ben asked with excitement.
"We may finally know who it is that wants us dead," I thought out loud. Just then the intercom came to life with Mitch's voice calling me, Steve, Mark and Rick back to his office.
We looked at each other as we all got to our feet and headed back the way we'd come. I started to worry all over again. I told myself that if there were bombs in the lockers, school would be evacuated. He wouldn't have called us back to his office. There would have been some sort of announcement and then everyone would be charging for the exits. No, something else was going on. Perhaps he knew who it was.
"Boys," he said when we entered his office to find it full of security guars. "We know who printed the messages on your lockers, and we're pretty sure that no one opened the lockers. The police are on their way, and we aren't letting anyone near that locker bay."
"Its just a precaution," said one of the security men, but I didn't see which one.
"We want you to stay here in the office until the police let us know that there's nothing in your lockers," explained Mitch. "They'll want to ask you a few questions, I'm sure."
"Who is doing this?" I asked him directly. "Who?"
"Ella Tull," he replied. For the first time since we'd come back to the office, Mitch looked angry.
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