Chapter 43 - I Did Something Bad
“They say I did something bad / Then why’s it feel so good? / They say I did something bad / But why’s it feel so good? / Most fun I ever had / And I’d do it over and over and over again if I could / It just felt so good, good” – I Did Something Bad, Taylor Swift
Henri forgot that he had left his basketball shoes in his locker the night before. While the guys are in the change room, getting ready for the surprise morning practice that Mr. Carrow announced to them yesterday, Henri goes through the empty school to retrieve his shoes from his locker. But when he turns the corner to the hallway of his locker, he sees something he can’t believe.
I knew the school opened at 7:30 am, so I walked to school early that day and took one of the back doors instead of going through the front, avoiding the front desk of the school. I walk towards his locker, knowing exactly where it is and the number. His locker is on the second floor, at the end of a small wing that has no classes in it. No teachers come down here. I stare at it for a bit, thinking of the owner of it. You really are a terrible person, Henri Young. It’s time for everyone else to know it too. I take the red spray can out of my bag and start writing on his locker the best word to describe him and the one word that will grab everyone’s attention. ‘R-A-P-I-S’. As I finish the ‘T’, I hear footsteps around the corner.
“What that fuck do you think you’re doing, Arya?!” Henri yells at me, coming up right to my face and I stand up straight to meet him. He looks to his locker and he can’t believe the word covering it. “You’ve gone too far this time.”
“It’s time for people to know the truth, Henri,” I say to him, and then put the can of spray paint in my bag and leave Henri to look at his own destruction. I go through the hallways, going to the cafeteria to pretend like I came in early to do homework.
“Ms. Secord.” Mr. Carrow says as I pass by him, I turn to face him, “A little early to be here isn’t it?”
“Just came in early to finish up some homework,” I say and then turn to get away from him and head to the cafeteria. Henri never told me what happened after I left, but with what happened later that day, I can piece together a pretty clear picture without him saying a word.
“Young, what’s taking so long?” Mr. Carrow says when he finds Henri at his locker.
“Coach, I…” Henri says, just looking at his locker. Mr. Carrow looks at the six-letter word written in red across the locker.
“What is this?” Mr. Carrow says angrily, turning to Henri.
“I don’t know…” Henri says.
Mr. Carrow’s nostrils flare, “It was that girl wasn’t it?”
“Who?” Henri says, still in shock.
“That girl who plays soccer.” Mr. Carrow says, “Secord.”
“I don’t know who did it.” Henri says, “It was like this when I got here.”
“It was her,” Mr. Carrow says confidently, “I just walked past her in the hallways. She will pay for this.”
“What do I do?” Henri says helplessly to the locker.
“Go to the janitor,” Mr. Carrow says sternly, “Tell him that there’s spray paint that needs to be removed from a locker. He’ll know what to do, this isn’t the first time.”
Henri does exactly what he’s asked, while Mr. Carrow takes a photo of the locker with his phone. When Henri brings the janitor back to his locker, Mr. Carrow tells him, “Go back to the gym.”
“But my shoes,” Henri says.
“Get your stupid shoes!” Mr. Carrow yells at him and Henri quickly gets his shoes from his locker and races back to the gym, scared to be there any longer.
“Take care of this.” Mr. Carrow says to the janitor.
The janitor looks at the word written across the boy’s locker. “Mr. Carrow, are you sure we should…”
“Just remove it!” Mr. Carrow yells, “And if it’s not gone before students start arriving, I’ll know who to blame.” And then Mr. Carrow walks back to the gym, leaving the janitor to clean up the mess.
He’s cleaned plenty of graffiti before, many different words, but never this word. Why would someone write this on the boy’s locker if it wasn’t true?
I waited. I waited for the uproar. I waited for the students to talk, whisper, spread the word about what was written on Henri’s locker, but nothing happened. I decided to look for myself. When I went to his locker, I saw nothing. He had taken it off before anyone could see it. “Arya Secord to the principal’s office please.” I hear over the intercom. All the students around me stare and point at me, thinking I must be in big trouble. And they were right.
When I walk into the principal’s office, there are four people. Mr. Filch, the principal, at his desk, Mr. Carrow, standing in the back corner, Henri, sitting in a chair and a man standing behind Henri’s chair who I would soon learn is Henri’s father.
“Ms. Secord.” Mr. Filch says, “Please sit.” I sit in the open chair next to Henri, feeling all their eyes on me. “Ms. Secord, it seems someone vandalized Henri’s locker this morning. Fortunately, the janitor was able to clean it off before anyone saw.” Mr. Filch says, “Do you know anything about this?”
“I don’t,” I say automatically without even thinking about it.
“She did it!” Mr. Carrow says from his back corner. “I saw her at school early this morning, fleeing the scene of the crime.”
“Ms. Secord?” Mr. Filch asks.
“I was here doing homework early this morning,” I say.
“This very serious, Ms. Secord.” Mr. Filch says.
“I know,” I say. And then, in my peripheral vision, I see Henri’s father slap Henri on the side of the head.
“I saw her,” Henri says, “I saw her spray paint my locker.” He was reluctant to expose me, I guess we all hate to be a snitch no matter what the situation.
“Ms. Secord?” Mr. Filch asks.
“Okay, I was the one that spray painted it,” I say.
“Why would you write that on his locker?” Mr. Filch asks. “Did he do something to you?”
“No, but he…” I start and then look to Henri. I can’t tell them what he did. I can’t expose Mia like this. And he knows it.
“Ms. Secord, this is going to lead to suspension, if not expulsion.” Mr. Filch says, “I’ll have to gather all the information and send it to the board for review…”
“Wait!” Mr. Young, Henri’s father finally speaks, “I will not have this word connected to my son for everyone to see and judge on, even to say it is false, which it is.”
“I can’t just suspend or expel her with no reason,” Mr. Filch says.
“She will leave this school then,” Mr. Young says, and I turn to look at him, appalled by what he is suggesting. “Say it’s just a transfer, but she will leave this school. I don’t want her anywhere near my son. No one outside of this room will know.”
“Mr. Young,” Mr. Filch says, “I can’t just tell her to leave…”
“May I speak with them alone?” Mr. Young says. Mr. Filch is upset to be thrown out of his own office, but when you are Mr. Young, owner of Young Construction, you get whatever you want. Mr. Carrow and Mr. Filch both leave the office, leaving me with Henri and his father.
“Now you listen, girl,” Mr. Young says to me, “Henri has told me everything. About him dating your sister and how she then decided he raped her after he broke up with her.”
“That is not what happened,” I say.
“Shut up.” Mr. Young says, “I’m going to tell you what’s going to happen. You are going to leave this school, take your sister with you, and act like it was your choice. I don’t care what school you go to, just leave this one. You can say you were having issues with other students as a reason to give to your parents if you want, again, I don’t care. You are never going to tell anyone about this, ever. The only people that will know the full story are you, me, Henri, and your sister. If anyone ever finds out about why you left, you will tell them that you tried to ruin Henri’s reputation by falsely accusing him of rape. That will be the story you will tell Mr. Carrow and Mr. Filch when they come back in here. Have I made myself clear?”
“Why should I?” I say, for some reason feeling brave against one of the richest, most powerful men in the town.
Mr. Young comes right up to my face. “Because it would be a shame if anything happened to your father’s dentist practice.”
“You’re threatening my father?” I say. I didn’t know he would stoop this low, but I shouldn’t be surprised.
“Just do what I say, and you’ll be fine.” Mr. Young says, “Now, have I made myself clear?”
“I’m not doing it,” I say, “I’ll tell my dad. He’s not afraid to stand up to you.”
“He should be,” Mr. Young says, and I glare at him. Young Construction is the construction company that the major cities around us all use for their big projects. The company is huge, you can see their trucks on the streets, and everyone knows who they are. But there’s a reason they are the biggest construction company around. Because they get rid of any competition. There are rumours of what they’ve done to other construction companies. Slashing tires, breaking equipment, anything you can imagine. And they never get caught, never pay the price for their actions. Some say Mr. Young came from a mafia family once upon a time ago, they say he’s been in jail, that he’s done terrible things in his youth. And then he built up this construction company from nothing, but you can’t get the mafia life out of his blood. If there’s a problem, he’ll take care of it, or find someone to. There is only one big construction company in the town next to us that has managed to stay alive with Mr. Young and his goons around. And that’s only because they would leave their employees out overnight with their construction equipment, equipped with baseball bats to beat up Mr. Young’s guys when they stepped foot on the property. At least that’s what my dad told me.
These two big construction companies are the only ones in the surrounding area to do major projects and they have accepted each other’s existence, but Young Construction is still the dominant one. With the things Mr. Young has done, I should be scared of him. My dad should be too. He’s done so much worse without any repercussions. Setting a match to my dad’s dental office, destroying his expensive equipment would be child’s play to him. He’s gotten away with far worse. Filing a complaint or a delayed reaction from the police won’t help when your entire practice is destroyed. And then he’d do it again. Like he did to all the other construction companies. Ruined them until they were no longer competition anymore. “Tell your father if you want. Just make sure you use my name when you do,” and he smiles at me.
Expose Mia to be judged by everyone and risk my dad’s practice, or, just leave this school, getting myself and Mia away from here. I think of all the bad that will happen if I try to go up against Mr. Young and I don’t see any good. I see my dad’s practice get ruined, I see Mia’s years of high school ruined. But, if we switch schools, Mia gets away from her rapist and doesn’t have to see him again. She can have a fresh start, somewhere different, and be a different person.
Yes, it’s nice to see someone pay for the pain they’ve caused, yes, you want justice for the wrongs that have been done to you. But it’s not always possible. And maybe getting away is the best solution for the situation. Getting away to live a better life and not be brought down by the horrors of your past. That’s why I chose what seemed like the coward’s way out. Because putting people through more pain so that they can attempt to get justice doesn’t always work. I was the one who did something bad, with good intentions, to try and get justice for my sister, to expose a rapist, and it backfired on me. This time, I would give her an escape, a fresh start, and maybe that would be the better path to take for healing. Getting away.
“I’ll do it,” I say.
“You’ll do what?” Mr. Young asks, wanting a clear answer.
“I’ll go along with your bogus story,” I say. To protect the ones I care about. They shouldn’t have to suffer because I lost control. Mia never asked me to get back at Henri. That was my choice. I hated him and what he did to her. How he made her feel and that he didn’t even think he did something wrong. I’ll admit, I was selfish. What if Mia didn’t want me to get back at Henri? Yes, I spray painted his locker to expose him for who he truly is to everyone. But I also did it for myself, to let my anger out. I’m not going to let Mia suffer because of me.
“Good,” Mr. Young says, unaffected by my attitude. “I’ll go fetch Mr. Carrow and Mr. Filch.” When Mr. Young leaves the room, I turn to Henri.
“You called your father?!” I yell at him.
“Trust me,” Henri says, “I didn’t want to, it was Mr. Carrow that called him. He’s the one that wants you gone for trying to ruin me.”
“This is ridiculous,” I say.
“I told you, you went too far,” Henri says.
“Do you really believe what you told your father, Henri?” I ask him, “Do you really think you did nothing wrong? Do you really think you’re not a rapist?!”
“Stop calling me that!” Henri yells at me, the anger growing. “It’s not true. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“You are a rapist,” I say, pushing him closer to the edge, “And you will get what you deserve eventually.”
“She never said no,” Henri says, “She was just shy and unsure of herself. Not surprising for her first time.”
“She was scared,” I say.
“How am I supposed to know?” Henri says, “She knew what was going to happen when she came over, if she didn’t want it, she should have…”
“Fuck you,” I say, “you took advantage of her and you know it. No one should have to manipulate, convince, or guilt someone into sex. They should just want to do it. And if at the moment, they don’t want to do it, then you back off. How can you enjoy sex with someone that doesn’t want you to do that to them? Only a sick, twisted person would get off on that. You just said, ‘How am I supposed to know?‘, just be aware, Henri, read the fuckin’ situation and don’t be an asshole. It’s not that hard, even for an idiot like you.”
He glares at me and I can tell he’s very angry. “I hope you enjoy your new school,” Henri says menacingly, “I bet Lexi will be disappointed to lose his girl.” I glare at him. “Don’t worry, Arya, I won’t let anyone know that West Side’s ‘perfect princess’ was hooking up with the hockey captain in the drama room closet.”
“Go ahead,” I say, “tell people, I don’t fuckin’ care.” I’m not going to even ask how he knows. I’m just so done with him.
“Yes, you do,” Henri says, “you don’t want people thinking you’re a slut. After chewing my ear out over your sister, you go and suck the hockey captain’s…”
“Shut the fuck up!” I yell at him. “I didn’t…” I shouldn’t have to explain myself. I shouldn’t have to comment on what I’ve done with anyone. It’s none of their business, but teens love to gossip. They love hearing who’s with who, who’s having sex, who’s not, it’s ridiculous. “I’m not fuckin’ explaining myself to you.”
“Don’t get yourself too worked up, Arya,” Henri taunts. “We both know you have a temper that you don’t know how to control.”
“Only when I’m dealing with fuckin’ pricks like you,” I say.
“I bet Mia will be happy to hear that she has to leave this school,” Henri says, “Nice, pretty, smart girl. It’s a shame she has a psycho for a sister.”
“I bet she’ll be glad to get away from a rapist like you,” I say, and I know I am pushing him further to the edge.
“Call me that one more time Arya and I’ll beat that snarky attitude out of you,” Henri says, “I’m not scared of hitting a girl when she needs some sense slapped into her.”
“What other word would you like me to use, Henri?” I ask, “Because I can think of no better word to describe you.”
“How about I describe you, Arya? Do you know what guys say about you?” Henri says and I just stare at him, waiting for his response. “They call you a prude, Arya. They call you a tease. That you think you’re too good for any guy. That you purposely make yourself look as desirable as possible, just so you can reject guys. That it’s a game to you. That you’re asking for it. They say that some guy just needs to bend you over and fuck you so that you can get over yourself. Knock you down a couple of pegs.” I try to keep a straight face. I’m either a slut or a prude. That’s what it’s like for girls. You will be judged no matter what you do.
“What is wrong with you?” I say, “Why would you say that?”
“Because you are trying to ruin my life, Arya!” he yells at me. “Because you think I’m something I’m not. I have never forced a girl to do something against her will.”
“Just because you think you didn’t force her, doesn’t mean you didn’t,” I say, “but I am done with this conversation. I’m done trying to make a rapist realize why his actions were wrong.”
He comes up to me. “I warned you, Arya,” Henri says and then he slaps me across the face. I stand up to him, but as I do, all three of the men previously in the office come back.
“Ms. Secord?” Mr. Filch says, sitting back at his desk. “Is there something you want to share with us?”
I look at all of them, saving my last glance for Mr. Young. He never takes his eyes off me, as if daring me to defy him. How do you beat someone like him? Someone that will stop at nothing to keep himself on top.
“I want to explain what really happened between Henri and me.” I take a deep breath. “I had a disagreement with Henri,” I say, feeling the burn of Henri’s slap on my face. “I thought I could ruin his reputation by falsely accusing him of being a rapist. I know it was wrong.”
“This is very serious, Ms. Secord,” Mr. Filch says, “Do you realize the harm you could have caused to not only Henri but this school?”
“I know, Mr. Filch,” I say, “I think in the best interests of everyone, it would be best if my sister and I transferred to a different school.”
No POV – Before Going into the Office
“Please call Arya Secord to my office.” Mr. Filch says to Ms. Pince.
“Of course.” Ms. Pince says, and then over the P.A. system says, “Arya Secord to the principal’s office please.”
“Sometimes I hate this job.” Mr. Filch says, “I have Mr. Young in my office now claiming that this girl spray-painted ‘RAPIST’ on his son’s locker.”
“Is it true?” Ms. Pince asks.
“Mr. Carrow confirmed the story. Even has picture proof.” Mr. Filch says. “I’ll have to see what she says.”
“Ms. Pince, Arthur, thank you both for joining me.” Mr. Filch says to Ms. Pince and the janitor who had cleaned Henri’s locker earlier day. Mr. Carrow stays in the corner of the office.
“As you know, Arya Secord spray-painted ‘RAPIST’ on Henri Young’s locker.” Mr. Filch says, “She did it out of anger towards him. Arya and her sister are going to transfer to East Side Academy. Today is their last day at West Side Academy. This is a delicate matter. We do not want it spreading around the school that a girl falsely accused a guy here of rape, so please, keep this information to yourself. I mean it, you can tell no one. If anyone wants to know why the two of them left, say that Arya was having issues with one or more students and decided to switch schools. Her sister Mia left because it only made sense to keep the two of them together. Understood?” Mr. Filch looks between the janitor and Ms. Pince. They both nod, but they are both thinking about different things. Ms. Pince is thinking how much nicer it will be without that girl around, flipping her hair, smiling, attracting stares from any guy that comes near her. The janitor is thinking that a girl who has been hurt is being thrown to the curb to maintain the image of the prestigious West Side Academy.