Narrator: Joshua Penningway
"Joshua Penningway to the Guidance Office, Joshua Penningway to the Guidance Office," The lady's sweet sounding voice was indifferent, yet it boomed through the speakers in the hallway like lightning.
I'm not going to try and act brave here - I was scared shitless. There was no question that the imminent conversation (or rather, interrogation) with the Guidance Counselor was regarding The Rogue. Normally, I would have been ecstatic to escape the class with Mrs. McWhirter, however, this replacement was not one I had in mind.
Instead of proceeding any further towards the Art studio, I turned back and to the corridor on my left. The staff offices were all crowded in one area of the school, conveniently close to where I was at the moment. I had only been to the Guidance office once; quite a ridiculous reason for that visit. It was concerning a rather dark creative writing piece I had submitted for English. My teacher was highly perturbed by it and thought it necessary I talk to a shrink.
My hand reached for the handle of the Guidance Office door, and I tugged at my blue sweater nervously, my face was red - I was sure of it. Oh, bloody hell! What the fuck am I supposed to say?! There were too many people to protect, but to say one lie would lead to revealing a truth, or vice versa.
There were too many of us there, and too many things happening - and as a host, it would lead one to believe that I had shamelessly let it all happen. What they didn't know was that at parties like these, there was never a host; people liked to entertain themselves. But perhaps that ought to change.
"Hi, uh, I was told to come here," I think I was holding my breath as I said it, incapable of making eye contact to the lady.
"Yes Joshua. Have a seat first," She replied coldly. I assumed she was a student assistant of some sort who had rather much be at the cafeteria having a casual rant with her peeps.
It was a small room. There were three doors leading to the private offices of three different counselors. I remember having learned Sex Ed from one of them; the only male counselor, Mr. Moody. I doubted the competence of our school's counselors; they hardly did anything, and very few people had the courage to speak to them.
I sat on the two-seater green sofa which sunk in with my weight. I didn't like the plushy couches; they made me feel as though they were kissing my ass - it made me self-conscious. For the first time, as I sat there, I wondered how exactly The Rogue knew all this shit. The only mistake I made as a "host" was the fact that I most likely invited with open arms the person who had written the article. The article that would probably cause an enormous uproar in the quiet houses of many who attended. And my house, which was already made disquiet, was in no state to endure this humiliation.
My house was to never see such a party commence again. This I could rest assured about, as my parents (my mother in particular) would never stand for any form of carousing in her "God blessed home", and honestly, I wouldn't either. Of course, my reason would not be to prevent "holy uncleanliness", but rather another trip to this office and rushes of anxiety which generated through more than just me.
"Joshua Penningway?" Mrs. Hewes' head popped out of her office entrance. I greeted her quietly and entered the room.
A family photo was pinned up to the wall and thought of whether her children were upright, morally conscious and socially aware - the things Mrs. Hewes was about to say I am not in the nicest way possible. It was a school counselor's job to say the worst of things in the most positive of ways; it was with the Principal where you would hear it as it was and possibly even worse.
"I assume you've read the article in The Rogue already?" I nodded in response.
"So you would guess that I have a few things to ask you? Just want to get some facts straight and then you can get back to class. Sound okay?" No, it sounds pretty fucked up.
"Okay," I said feebly. I could still not come to terms with why the school was getting involved. The school, I supposed, were qualified to ask us of alcohol consumption or drug use that night, but who CJ had sex with? My gay brother? If I recalled correctly, none of which had occurred on campus, and are private. This was a violation of privacy.
"Please answer honestly; you'll find that the truth brings better things than lies. It's essential that we understand this situation fully," she warned me. She had might as well told me to contradict nothing of what was written in The Rogue.
"I don't want you to feel as though you're betraying your friends, but this is a serious question and one that regards the law stating that you are still an underage drinker."
"Who spiked the punch?" I said, asking to confirm that that was her question. She was delaying it with unnecessary talk and I was already beginning to feel claustrophobic.
"You read my mind," She gave one of those plastic smiles.
"Honestly, I don't know. I'm quite sure it wasn't Brent - I think he was in the pool with Leslie around the time it happened. There were loads of us so I couldn't see exactly who was in the kitchen when and what they were doing."
"I see. Well, I don't want to be too interrogating, but I think it'd be useful if you could write me a list of people who were there - for reference; I only know of a couple at the moment." I assumed it would be unfair for only a few of us to have to endure this questioning. Now I know what it feels like to be on the witness stand of a courtroom.
She set a piece of paper and pencil in front of me, and I began to make a list. My name first, CJ's name second, Leslie...
"You and Cameron Archvale are quite close, yes?" I nodded cautiously and knew where this was heading.
"According to the article, Cameron was scheduled to sleep at your house after the party, but had left with Crystal Jennings for a... an intimate evening?" Who does she think she is?! She ought to wear a goddamn police badge. I thought about this for a moment, cautious of not making it obvious that I was formulating a clever cover-up. There was bound to be other reasons for a guy to go to a college girl's dorm in the middle of the night.
"I don't think it was an intimate evening. CJ had forgotten his overnight things, and Crystal offered to drive him to his place to pick it up. I think they stopped by a gas station or convenience store - can't remember what he told me," I replied as coolly as my tongue would allow me.
I prayed there was no loophole in my lie. An instant later I was praying also that CJ was not the one to be called in next; it was essential that I told him of my cover-up before he entered this hellhole.
"So after CJ got back he was in the basement of your house until the next morning?" Mrs. Hewes questioned, a hint of doubt in her voice.
"Well, no. He woke up pretty early and went for a walk. He was back in by breakfast though," I responded.
I contemplated putting Adam's name and decided it would be unwise to get a student from another school involved. I was afraid that this would soon turn into a provincial thing, written in the local newspaper even. Such publicity was the last thing we needed.
"Okay, please answer this question carefully Joshua; I know it must be difficult for you." There was a pause. "There is no possibility that CJ raped Crystal?"
"Pretty positive there's none. Ask Crystal yourself and she'll say the same thing."
"Cameron Archvale Junior to the Guidance Office, Cameron Archvale Junior to the Guidance Office," The same lady's voice just sounded through the closed wooden door of Mrs. Hewes' office. It was muffled, but the name and place was clear. My session had hardly begun and they were calling him already. We are in deep, deep shit.
I could feel slight movement in my right pocket; three vibrations. I had one new text message.