When they got to the principal’s office, Coach Forester directed them to take seats in the waiting room, Ro and Atti on one side, the three bullies on the opposite side.
“I suggest you call your parents and ask at least one of them to come down here. If you have a cell phone, you can use that. If not, you can use the one on the counter there,” he said, pointing to the long counter behind which sat several administrative workers. They barely glanced up from their tasks, rather used to seeing miscreants waiting to go before the principal.
“I’ll be right back,” he said, disappearing into Collier’s office.
Atti first called her mother at work, who promised to come down to the school. Then Ro, using Atti’s phone, called Mike, who she knew would be home by now, probably starting preparations for dinner.
When Mike answered she barely got out, “Hi, Dad…,” before he interrupted her, “What’s wrong, honey?” Not only was it unusual for her to call him at this time of day, but there must have been something telltale in her voice…
Not quite sure what to say next, she paused for a second, then just blurted out, “I got in some trouble at school today.”
“Oh?” He didn’t actually have to say, “What kind?” as the question was clearly implied.
Ro took a breath to buy some time and to work up the nerve to just say it, “Uh, I was in a fight.”
While she hadn’t consciously thought of how Mike might react – surprised, mad, worried? – what he did say was rather unexpected, “That’s kind of serious. I’m pretty sure the school frowns on fighting.” Except he said it calmly, like it was neither a surprise nor a big deal. Then added, “Who did you have a fight with?”
She briefly explained about Atti being bullied and that she’d gone to her friend’s defense.
“Three boys…,” he said; it was more of a statement than a question, but then added with some concern, “But you’re okay?”
“Yea, Atti and I are fine.”
“I expect they want me to come down to the school, right?”
“Yes. I’m waiting to see Mr. Collier now.”
“Okay. I’ll call your mom and we’ll be right over.”
After about ten minutes Coach Forester emerged from the principal’s office, and, pointing at Atti, said, “Mr. Collier would like to see you now.”
Atti glanced at Ro, then rose and went into the office followed by Coach Forester. She was in the office for another ten minutes. When she emerged, Coach Forester pointed at one of the bullies that had been holding Atti, “You’re next.”
Sitting down next to Ro, Atti took her friend’s hand. “I told him exactly what happened. I can’t believe they’ll do anything to you,” she said.
Ro smiled, but it was a something of a rueful smile, because she knew the truth. “They have to, Atti. I was fighting; it doesn’t matter why.”
A few minutes later, Coach Forester called in the second boy that had been holding Atti.
It was while that kid was in the principal’s office that Mike arrived, followed soon after by Atti’s mother, and then Kate. Of course, there was a big huddle of adults and children, with Atti and Ro trying to tell their story to their respective parents, but half the time talking over one another.
While this was going on, the big kid, the one Coach Forester had called Fencik, was called into Mr. Collier’s office.
When he left a few minutes later Coach Forester said simply, “Miss Delahanty, your turn.”
Next: In front of the principal
(C) 2018 Dave Lager