Lexington High School – Scene 1. The Meeting (for members 100 and 101)
They’d been sitting in the guidance office silently for ten minutes. Zachary checked the clock again, noting that they were already eight minutes overdue. Boyd had been staring blankly at the wall the entire time, completely unmoving. Zachary almost wanted to wait longer before making a call; just to see how long it would be before the kid spoke. He was certainly one of the weirder ones on Zachary’s caseload. Blond, pale and all in black, Boyd was definitely going for some kind of emo, vampire… thing. That in itself was not so weird. The silence and tendency to stare blankly at walls, though, was a little odd.
Zachary had shifted back in his chair and started to grab the phone when Boyd commented tonelessly:
“I told you they wouldn’t come.”
Zachary glanced at Boyd with his hand on the receiver. He opened his mouth, closed it, and then furrowed his brow. He wanted to tell Boyd that he was wrong. That his mother’s last teaching period had ended an hour ago, and that she was likely in her classroom… down the hall, but it was entirely possible that Madame Beaulieu would blow off her own kid’s conference if she deemed it a waste of time.
“Well,” Zachary started neutrally. He paused, not knowing why he was trying to make excuses for Vivienne, anyway. The guidance counselor’s concern was the student, not the parent or teacher. In this case, both. He was sure it said that in the guidance counselor’s reference manual or something.
“Well, when does your dad get off work?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him for a month. He disappears a lot.”
“Uh. Alrighty. We can just start then, I guess. Your parents should be here since it’s about your recent behaviors, but the meeting needs to happen regardless.” Zachary shook his head and tried not to make it obvious that he thought Boyd’s parents were useless wastes of oxygen.
Boyd moved for the first time, just a minute shift of his weight, and settled his gaze on Zachary. When he still didn’t speak, Zachary frowned and brought Boyd’s file up on the computer. His attendance, cut list, and first marking period grades appeared.
“Why do you think I wanted to have this meeting, Boyd?”
“Your grades, and attendance, and the cutting which is new for you. You went from having over a 90 average to dropping nearly 20 points in every subject. These grades aren’t going on your transcript, but if you keep going like this through the semester, they will. It’s concerning.”
“…Because you’re going to go down nearly 20 points on your GPA. I just said that.” Zachary stared at Boyd. “You went from honor roll to cutting frequently. Do you understand?”
“I understand that. I’m asking why you care. Do you get in trouble if students fail?”
A low sigh escaped Zachary’s mouth before he could silence it. He braced his temple between his thumb and index finger as he stared at the screen. “Me personally? No. But your teachers don’t like it and as your guidance counselor, it’s a red flag when a student’s grades start rapidly declining. The purpose of school is for students to do well and become college ready, not to get worse.”
“I see. Well, just tell them I’m not worth the energy and you gave up on me. If you add that even my parents didn’t bother showing, I’m sure they’ll believe you and they’ll stop caring too.”
It was more likely that “they” would just be questioned by Seong and Connors about why they couldn’t keep Boyd engaged, or how could they challenge Boyd more, but Zachary didn’t see the value in bringing that up with a socially retarded sixteen year old.
“Look, let’s just cut to the chase–”
“I’m here!” came a loud, jovial voice as the door slammed open. A widely grinning man burst into the room, his brown hair windswept and cheeks reddened. As he strode to Boyd’s side, Zachary stared at him in confusion.
“There you are, champ! Easy to pick out, all in black as always!”
A heavy hand dropped on top of Boyd’s head and ruffled his hair dramatically, causing fine blond hair to frizz out. Boyd stared at the wall straight ahead, rather like a cat being unhappily frumpled.
“You weren’t at the house when I stopped by this morning.”
Boyd’s father, then. Cedrick Beaulieu.
“I was at the station. Vivienne called the police on me again.”
Cedrick laughed and dropped into the chair, causing it to clatter dangerously. He shook his head to himself. “That woman. Always forgetting her own child. I thought they put a caution alert on the house to ignore her midnight intruder calls when the description matched you.”
“Jim wasn’t going to bring me in but he thought I’d sleep better there.”
“Officer Caraway’s still in our district, huh? I haven’t seen the old dog in months. My sources said he planned to retire.”
Zachary looked at them and then very slowly turned his gaze to the clock.
“He said the money isn’t good enough yet. He also told me to tell you that Karen enjoyed your book and has been waiting for the sequel.”
“Might be a while,” Cedrick mused, rubbing his chin with his fingers. “I’ve been in a bit of a rut on the plot. I haven’t found my inspiration yet. I need the one piece that drives Reid. It’s like I always say–” He looked at Boyd expectantly, who tonelessly said:
“Find the truth and follow it to justice.”
“Find the truth and follow it to justice!” Cedrick repeated triumphantly, raising one fist high. “That’s the way you have to live, Boyd! With passion and resolve!”
Zachary stared at them in horror. Before he could say anything, Cedrick seemed to remember he was there. “So, you must be this Carhart person I was told to see. What’s the news? Wait!” He held up his hand. “Don’t tell me. I already know.”
A file full of candid photographs spilled out onto the desk. Some were of Boyd, clearly taken from hidden areas as there were blurred bits in the foreground and Boyd was often in the middle of a crowd or far away. Several were of Boyd and Hsin, and even more were of Hsin alone, seemingly following him about his daily routines. In a few of them, he was glaring at the camera.
“It seems to be related to this rather exotic-looking fellow my son started seeing six weeks ago. Hsin Liu Vega, seventeen years old. Lives in a bad part of town. Smokes, and more than cigarettes at that. Looks like a bit of a hooligan.”
Cedrick laughed and slammed Boyd on the back. “You could do better, Son. Oh by the way, I found out you’re gay. Maybe I should have led with that. Wait, was that supposed to be confidential? My sources didn’t mark it either way.” He eyed Zachary warily.
“Was… what supposed to be confidential? You know what– never mind.” Zachary ran a hand through his hair and glanced at the door. Somehow, he would have preferred Vivienne. “Ever since Boyd and Hsin started dating there have been problems. A lot of problems. One problem being that Boyd’s grades are dropping, he’s late to class, cutting, and has been found with Hsin in various locations around the school that are for staff only. Like the supply closet. And the basement. And… up in the ceiling tiles…”
He pointed at the screen. “He’s still doing better than a lot of kids, but it’s not a good sign. This meeting is a warning that if he doesn’t get his shi– act together, he’s going to completely fall off. Not to mention that Hsin is a very troubled boy who has been in even more trouble since he started dating Boyd.”
The last comment got Boyd to stir. He frowned at Zachary. “You’re saying I’m destroying Hsin’s life?”
“Wow.” Zachary looked at him flatly before turning to Cedrick. “Do you follow me?”
“Yes.” Cedrick leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. “But I don’t know enough about this Hsin kid. I see how he’s negatively affecting Boyd, but how is Boyd negatively affecting Hsin?”
“They’re bringing each other down. It’s not just one of their faults. It’s a standard issue Us Against The World type of situation. Boyd cuts class to follow Hsin around, Hsin punches everyone who picks on Boyd, Boyd mopes in corners and gets teased… annnd Hsin tries to set the bullies on fire. Do we see the pattern?”
Not waiting for an answer, Zachary looked at the clock again. Fuck. What had possessed him to schedule a meeting this close to the end of the day? He began signing out of the DOE websites on Chrome.
“I can’t go into Hsin’s full background, but I can say that he’s severely emotionally disturbed and in a self-contained classroom because of his tendency for violent outbursts. Severely violent outbursts. He had a rough childhood and he’s a rough kid. Suspended more often than not and doesn’t go to class… ever. He’s not stupid, but he doesn’t respond well to authority. Or humanity. Basically, he hates everyone who isn’t Boyd. So do with that info what you will.”
“I see.” Cedrick frowned and looked over at Boyd thoughtfully.
Boyd scowled at the wall and tightened his arms across his chest. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore. You both keep saying bad things about Hsin but it isn’t his fault. He doesn’t mean to hurt people; it just happens.”
Cedrick rolled his eyes. “Boyd. If this were a case of someone saying mean things to another person in the heat of the moment, that argument could work. But setting someone on fire is a serious offense. That isn’t something that happens randomly.”
“But it is,” Boyd insisted. He looked intently between Zachary and Cedrick. “Look, you people keep making judgments without asking him! He didn’t mean to set Harry on fire, he was just trying to scare him. But Harry suddenly jumped on him and it caught his shirt on fire and Hsin didn’t put him out because he’s probably scared of fire because of his past or something. And he punched Dennis because he was being an asshole but he didn’t mean to knock out half his teeth, he just doesn’t know his own strength.
“And he threw Cecilia down the stairs but he didn’t know the railing would break, and anyway she’s in gymnastics. She should know how to roll better. Plus she’s made a lot of girls cry in gym and no one does anything about it because she’s popular. Hsin’s the only one who stands up to these people. Shouldn’t you be saying that if he’s always hated humanity but now he’s found someone he does like, that it’s a step in the right direction? Instead of saying it’s bad and he should always hate everyone?”
“Uh huh.” Zachary began shutting down his computer. “And he also threw a chair at Assistant Principal Connors and trapped Coach Ferguson with the volleyball net. But none of that is the point. The point is, was, that you tagging along with his escapades is bringing you down and only encouraging him to stay exactly the same. Why don’t you weigh the pros and cons of this situation and try to figure out what’s going to be best for both of you? That was rhetorical, by the way. I’m going home now and really don’t need an answer.”
“He’s right, Boyd. You’ve always been a good student but you’ve had a complete change since being with him. That’s not healthy. If you really like this kid, you’d consider what’s best for him, too.” Cedrick patted Boyd on the arm, grabbed his file of pictures, and stood. “Come on, let’s go. We have some things to talk about. Oh, and Julian got some great photos of you I’m going to add to the family album so you can help me.”
“None of you understand us,” Boyd muttered sullenly.
Zachary stood up and walked around the pair to open the door. “Trust me, Boyd. It could be a lot worse.”