Storyville 2
by Julien Gregg
Edited by Bruce

© Copyright 2005 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. 
  For a list of my other stories, original and fan fiction, please visit my personal website.


Chapter 8

"We did come to the school this morning, Mitch," I said when Mitch called to find out why we weren't in school. "We just didn't stay there."

"Tommy, you guys should have stayed," replied Mitch. "I was looking forward to talking to all of you about the security measures."

"Well, we decided that we weren't going to stay in a school run by a board that feels that we are the problem," I said slowly. "If they think that we're the only reason they need to do anything to secure the school, then why should we attend?"

"But don't you see that you're letting them win?" Mitch asked desperately. I heard him sigh, and I felt I had to make myself understood.

"No, I don't see that," I replied quickly. "They aren't winning anything. We're planning a meeting with the GSA as soon as possible. I'm hoping for tomorrow, if not later tonight. We'll discuss what to do about this with everyone in the group."

"What exactly are you thinking about doing at this point?" Mitch asked. "I mean what exactly do you think the GSA will be able to accomplish?"

"I'm not sure if the GSA can accomplish anything," I said. "If we can come up with something at the meeting, then I'll go from there. I'll even call you to let you know when the meeting is going to be held and where. That way you can come to the meeting and find out what we're all planning."

"You know you can't hold that meeting at the school," cautioned Mitch.

"I know that," I assured him. "I'm looking for a place to hold the meeting. There will be over a hundred people there, so it has to be somewhere big."

"Just let me know," he said. "I do want to be there. I'll talk to you about what I wanted to discuss with you guys then."

"I really am sorry about all of this, Mitch," I said, feeling a bit guilty in spite of the fact that I'd done nothing wrong. It wasn't fair that any of this was happening to any of us, but I couldn't help thinking that I was the cause.

"Tommy, you have nothing to be sorry about," said Mitch. "This isn't about you, personally, and even if it was, you have done nothing wrong here. The board is wrong, and the person or people responsible for the bombs are wrong. We will get this solved, Tommy. I promise you that."

I felt only a little better after ending that telephone conversation. I had to tell Steve everything that we talked about, and he stopped me several times to tell me what he thought about it all. By the time I had told him everything, Vince was coming through the side door with an excited look on his face. He waited until he had our undivided attention before saying anything.

"I have the place for your GSA meeting," he gushed. "Storyville University's version of the GSA wants to help, and you guys can have the meeting in the gymnasium there."

That was just what we needed. The gym at the college would hold everyone, and the fact that their version of GSA wanted to help was something that put a real smile on my face. He went on to tell us that several of the college members had told him that they already knew what was happening at Storyville High, and they thought it was unacceptable. When he'd told them about the poor security measures being taken by the school board, most of them had been angry.

"I'll call Rick in a little bit to tell him," I said. "How many of the SU members are going to be there?"

"It all depends on when you hold the meeting," stated Vince. "There's nothing going on in the gym all week long, so you could hold it any night this week. I've got to head to the school to pick up homework for you two, so call Rick and Mark while I'm gone."

I did call Rick, and Mark was with him, so I didn't have to make another call. They were both excited about the SU GSA wanting to be a part of whatever we decided. Mark promised to start getting in touch with every member of the high school group later that night. He said that with jobs and after school activities, he wouldn't be able to get in touch with everyone. I promised to make some calls that night, too, and by the time I terminated that call, I was in a brighter mood.

Then I called Officer Reagan and let him know what we were doing. He said that he'd actually like to sit in on the meeting, too. He told me that he would remain quiet and just observe, but he wanted to know what we were planning to do as well. He said that the investigation into the bombs in our lockers was still underway, and any gathering of students should be monitored by the police in some way. I supposed he was right about that, and I promised to call him back and let him know when the meeting was going to be held. That only left planning the time of the meeting and calling everyone in the club.

"We can't call anyone yet," reminded Steve. "Everyone is probably still in school. I doubt that any of the members of the GSA saw us leave and followed us."

"No, we'd have heard from them by now," I replied. "I think I'll wait until an hour or so after school lets out to start calling anyone. I need to talk to Mark and Rick about when to hold the meeting. We need to be able to tell people a time along with the place of the meeting if we're going to ask them to skip something to attend."

"I can't believe this is happening," sighed Steve as he sat down on the couch. He ran his fingers through his hair and sighed again. "This is just unreal. I mean, you see things like this on the news about schools in other places. I just never thought it could happen in Storyville."

"I know," I replied, sitting beside him and taking one of his hands in my own. "It is happening here, Steve, and we're in the middle of it."

He looked at me for a moment before he spoke, and I could see the fear and pain in his eyes. I knew that this had to be hurting him just as much as it was hurting me. Our own school wasn't safe. I knew that it was partly because of me. If I hadn't come out of the closet, Steve, Mark and Rick wouldn't have had to. Sure, Steve had wanted to come out, but I still thought that the only reason that he did was because he was with me.

"You're wrong, you know?" Steve whispered.

"Wrong about what?" I asked.

"This isn't your fault, Tommy," he said, surprising me. Had he read my mind or something? "This isn't your fault, it isn't my fault or Rick and Mark's. This is happening because some crazy people believe that they are right about morality or something. It has less to do with any of us than we think."

"Steve, maybe . . ."

"Don't," he said, putting his fingers over my lips. "I know what you're going to say, Tommy. I know you've been thinking about it since our locker blew up. You aren't leaving the school. We're going to fight this, Tommy. We're going to hold this meeting and find out how many of the people in the GSA are on our side. Then we're going to take action."

"You know, you shouldn't leave your doors unlocked," said Meg as she came into the living room, startling both of us. "That's dangerous, boys."

"Hey, Meg," I said stupidly. She'd startled me, but my mind probably wouldn't have let me come up with anything more articulate than that anyway.

"Hey," she said, sitting in the recliner across from us. "I hear you boys played hookie because the school board is full of idiots."

"News travels fast, huh?" I sighed.

"Oh its all over town," she said, smiling. "Parents all over Storyville have been calling the school all morning long. It seems that they think that their children are in danger."

"We didn't say anything about anyone being in danger," said my alarmed boyfriend quickly, sitting forward on the couch.

"Calm down," she chuckled. "You boys don't get all of the credit for what's happening right now, but you did begin it. Mitch and a few of your teachers have been secretly making phone calls this morning about the lax security at the school and reminding parents that lockers were bombed and children were hurt."

I stayed quiet as I thought about the implications of what Meg had said Mitch and the teachers were doing. It had to be to get parents to start complaining about how their children were being safeguarded. Mitch had said that he had a plan, but I hadn't asked him what it was. I wasn't certain that he'd tell me if I had asked. Was he trying to piss off the school board?

"I see Tommy's gears are turning," said Vince as he joined us in the living room with Shirley on his heels. "The whole city is in a buzz about Storyville High School's poor security."

"Are parents arriving at the school?" Meg asked, smiling.

"Oh in throngs," replied Vince, nodding as he handed me and Steve stacks of papers for our assignments. "Mitch and some of the security guards are trying to calm them down."

"Its a good thing that Phillip decided to sleep in this morning," sighed Meg. "I didn't really want to spend my morning at the high school."

"What is going on?" Steve asked slowly. He looked at all three of the adults in the room in turn.

"Well," said Shirley, smiling, "Tom is now at the school demanding that Ben be excused from school due to poor security along with several other parents of students in Storyville High."

"Where's Phillip?" I asked quickly.

"He and Dustin are on their way over here," she replied.

We finally calmed down as Shirley began to explain what was really going on. Mitch had recruited a few loyal teachers to make a few phone calls to start the chain reaction of angry parents calling the school or showing up, demanding that their child be produced. Parents were pulling their children out of school and threatening the school board. This was Mitch's plan to deal with the way the board was treating the school's security.

I knew that the second phase was up to us, though. The GSA would have to pick up the ball now that Mitch had put it in play. I just needed to think about what we were going to do. A strike had been my first thought when I'd asked if the entire group could be brought together for a meeting, but that didn't seem like much now that parents were pulling their children out of school. What would the effect of a group of students protesting be now?

The rest of the morning and afternoon were spent listening to updates that Meg got from calling Mitch. Before one that day, more than eighty percent of the students were out of school. Meg said that the board was raising Hell, and it wouldn't be long before they'd hold a meeting to discuss this little development. I wanted to be at that meeting along with the rest of the GSA.

Phillip and Dustin arrived with excited banter about what was happening at the high school. Dustin was a member of the college version of the GSA, and he already knew that we were planning to hold a meeting in the college gym within the next few days. He told me that most of the college club members were looking forward to our meeting.

"Well, its happened," said Meg, coming back into the living room after having been on the phone with Mitch again. "The school will be closed for the rest of the week, and there will be a board meeting on Friday night."

"Then all we need to do is get the GSA meeting set," I said, smiling. "We can start calling everyone now. They should all be home."

First we called Rick. He had already been calling people. He'd been telling them that the meeting would be held on Wednesday night, and I quickly agreed that Wednesday was a good enough day. I started to call my own list of members after that. By dinner time I was finished. I quickly explained to Steve and the adults what was happening while we sat down to eat our dinner.

"So you're going to hold the meeting on Wednesday?" Dustin asked.

"That's what Rick had been telling people when he called them," I replied. "I'm sure we can get it all set up in time."

"The college members will help with that," assured Dustin. "Vince and I can get in touch with most of them tonight."

The next day I sat down with Vince and Dustin to tell them exactly what I wanted to happen at the GSA meeting. The board meeting was what had really sparked my renewed enthusiasm for getting the GSA together. What I wanted was to pick at least twenty students from the GSA to attend the board meeting. We'd discuss what those twenty students were going to say when we were all together. I wanted input from other members before I just rolled over them and made decisions on my own.

I called Officer Reagan to let him know that the GSA meeting would be Wednesday night at seven in the University gymnasium. He assured me that he, as well as a few fellow officers, would be there. We talked about what I planned to bring up at the meeting, and he confessed that he knew very little about school board meetings.

After classes Wednesday afternoon, Vince and Dustin stayed at school to help other members of the college GSA members set up the gym. Steve and I spent almost the entire day with Rick and Mark. Ben and Wendy were with us as well, and Wendy talked about food.

"If you're going to have that many people together for any amount of time you have to feed them something," she insisted. "My dad already bought all of the sandwiches, so you don't have to worry about that."

"Vince said that the university was providing coffee and tea, so there's the drinks," added Steve.

"What exactly are we planning to get the GSA to do, Tommy?" Tim asked. "I mean, you're the one who wanted to call the meeting. I just wondered what was tumbling around in your head."

"I wasn't sure what I wanted to accomplish at first, but now I want to select at least twenty GSA members to attend the school board's meeting on Friday," I explained. "I believe that if they are going to discuss the homosexual population of Storyville High, then part of that population, along with supportive friends, would be at the meeting to listen and be heard."

"What do you want said at the board meeting?" Rick asked.

"That depends on what the board has to say," I replied. "Let's face it. We all know that the school board isn't happy about any of us being in the school. I'm sure they're going to say something about segregating the school in some way. Mitch hinted that they'd tried to talk about that last time. I want some of us there to sort of be in their face while they talk about how we're the cause for the danger in the school."

We all got ready for the meeting and headed over to the university. When we got there the parking lot was nearly full. I wondered if all of these cars were here for the meeting. If so, we had more members than we knew of. Peter was there, and he joined our group as we walked into the gymnasium.

"Big turn out," he said, smiling at me. "This should be cool."

"I just hope we have enough to feed everyone," I chuckled as we walked inside.

What I saw when I got inside the gym wasn't anywhere near what I had expected. From the stunned looks on my friends' faces, they hadn't expected to see what I was seeing either. There was a carpet rolled over the gym floor to save from scratching it. Rows of chairs were placed on the carpet. There had to be at least two hundred chairs, and most of them were full. Three tables of refreshments, including the sandwiches that Mitch had bought, were lined up in front of the stacked bleachers. Another smaller table was next to them with huge canisters of tea and coffee. There were sodas as well as bottled water in a large bin next to that.

Mitch and Mr. Branch were sitting with Officer Reagan and three other officers I'd never seen before. They smiled at us as we came in. My knees started to shake a little as I realized that I was the one who called this meeting. That meant that I was the one who would have to address the group and get things started.

I walked over to the podium that had been left for me and turned on the microphone. It popped and squealed, but only for a few seconds before it was silent again. It got everyone's attention, though. All eyes were on me, and the gym was silent. I tried to smile at everyone. I'm sure it looked more like a grimace, though.

"First, I'd like to thank everyone for coming on such short notice," I said, trying to keep my voice even and clear. "I know that our normal meetings are held on Thursdays, but something very important is happening that I believe we should be ready for.

"As you know, lockers inside our school have been bombed. Bible verses have been painted on lockers, and homosexual students and their friends have been harassed. I believed that, after last year, we were done with this sort of thing. I was wrong apparently. What's happened to change what is going on isn't adequate. The school board put in place minimal security for a major threat.

"At first, I was happy that the school board was going to step up to the plate and try to make sure that we had a secure place to gain our education. However, after talking with our Dean of Students I found myself disappointed. It was implied to me that the school board believes that only the homosexual students in Storyville High School are in danger. That's bad enough, but the poor security I found at the school the very next morning showed me that even though the board believed that homosexuals were the only students in jeopardy, they didn't think highly of making sure that those students were secure and safe.

"I submit to you that eight police officers at four entrances to the school, checking bags as students walk into the school isn't very good security. For one thing it proved to hinder entrance to the school more than anything. Why were there no security guards patrolling the halls? Why were there no metal detectors at the entrances? Why were there no cameras in the locker bays? Surely the locker bays need cameras. After all it was lockers that were bombed."

I took a break there and looked out at the faces in the crowd. Some looked confused, but many looked angry. I wasn't sure that anger was what I was trying to invoke, but it was better than passive confusion. I wanted them to be offended by the board's actions. That would get them to where I wanted the meeting to go, but anger wasn't something I was good at dealing with.

"What are we going to do about this?" asked someone in the crowd.

"I don't want to go to a school that doesn't think my safety is important," said another.

"We have to let them know that we are as important and valuable as every other student in the school," said another voice.

"I agree with that," I said, taking their attention back. "The school board is having a meeting this Friday night to discuss the fact that parents have pulled their children out of Storyville High as well as the fact that several students left the school on their own. I would like some of us to be at that meeting to listen to what they have to say. I'm hoping that at some point we'll be able to voice our concerns as well."

"What if that doesn't work?" someone asked.

"That's a very good question," I replied. "We can't stay out of school forever. We have to be in school to graduate. However, if the school board continues to believe that our safety is not important, then I suggest that we strike. I'm sure that the board doesn't want the news media to find a group of students walking around the perimeter of the school with picket signs."

"Who is going to the board meeting?" someone asked.

"That was my next point," I admitted. "As I said, it would be pointless for all of us to go. With so many voices, the message we are trying to convey will become harder to hear. Twenty is a good number. It will show them that we're serious, but it won't overwhelm them."

"Who decides who gets to go?" another voice asked.

"Well, that's tricky," I said. "I think that the officers of the GSA should be at the school board meeting. That leaves twelve more to make twenty."

Chaos erupted after I said that. Everyone was talking at once, and with so many people at the meeting, it was impossible to hear any one voice. I'd lost them at that point, and I had no idea how to get them back. Twenty people out of the sea of people in front of me seemed impossible now. Luckily, Mr. Branch and Mitch solved things for me.

They got everyone quieted down again, and Mr. Branch announced that all of the high school club members would be allowed to vote on nominated members. That, I have to admit, was a wonderful idea. I mentally kicked myself for not thinking of it. Mitch announced the candidates, and soon everyone was forming lines to drop off little pieces of paper with names written on them to three different boxes that Officer Reagan and his fellow officers were holding in front of the sea of chairs. The meeting broke up for refreshments while the officers counted the votes. It was very strange for the police to be present at our meeting, but it was nice at the same time.

Each one of the police officers smiled at us any time we talked to them or walked by. I also found out that two of the officers had gay relatives as well. That made me even more happy to have them there. Soon the twenty members that would go to the board meeting were named, and the meeting began to wind down.

Everyone wanted to know exactly what would happen if we decided to strike, and I told them to talk to Peter and Ben about that. We'd already decided that the strike would be their baby to rock. I trusted them both enough to just do what they said, and Peter and Rick did as well. Changes were going to be made at Storyville High School one way or another.

The story will continue soon . . . .