The air in Mr.Nilla’s office smelled like sour mint, and tasted of dust. The white walls were lined with brass-gold plaques, illuminated by cold, fluorescent light which bounced off the laminated pinewood table and the shiny edges of a plastic plant next to it. Mr.Nilla loudly sat down in his leather armchair and glanced at his computer screen.
“Is it true,” he spoke up in his gravelly murmur, “that your address is still 5675 Custer Drive?”
“That is interesting, Gentry, because I called your parents about some of your recent absences and apparently, you don’t live there anymore. You have also not been attending classes regularly.”
Gentry kept his eyes fixed on the spot behind Nilla’s head as the older man leaned in close to him.
“Gentry, um, can you explain this to me. Why don’t you live there anymore?”
“Ask my parents.”
“I will do so at my convenience. Where do you live now?”
“Well, if it is not within the district, then I will have to transfer you to another school. Tell me Gentry, do you take Bus 62 to go to your new ‘home’?”
Gentry’s eyes widened in unwelcome surprise, then again narrowed again when he spoke up, “I’m in my last year here. Doesn’t senior privilege apply?”
Mr.Nilla gave a grin then hid it again as he shuffled his papers. He slowly eased out of his chair and pulled a document from a folder, holding it up in the air like a lawyer before sliding it across the desk to Gentry hands, “Do you recognize this?”
“Yeah. I signed that when I joined the swim team.” He continued to focus on that white spot of wall, “What does this have to do with senior privilege?”
“Well, Gentry, it’s just that. A privilege. It can be taken away at anytime. Heck, I can write a letter and have it taken away.” Mr. Nilla started to chuckle, but it fell flat in the room’s stale air. He stopped awkwardly and reclined in his armchair, “As an athlete, Gentry, you are expected to represent our school by adhering to the code of athletic conduct. We expect athletes to be role models. And I will say it again, it is your job as an athlete to represent the school.”
“Just like it’s your job to be an asshole. I only represent what the school promotes, and this school promotes bullshit.” Gentry thought to himself, but didn’t say it. He mutely decided that Mr.Nilla was the kind of person who lectured others about their mistakes to distract from his own, and that it didn’t do any good to point that out.
“…Besides, Gentry, you should know what you are signing. That’s an important skill for college. You need to READ documents… internalize them and pay attention when you’re told things. You signed this document freshman year…” Mr.Nilla stated, “and you are in direct violation of the sexual harassment clause.”
“I never had to sexually harass anyone to get what I wanted.”
“Your inappropriate activities with a fellow student in a bathroom stall sexually harassed the janitor. These actions are the same as me exposing myself to young females in the girls’ bathroom.”
Gentry gave him a good hard look. Something crackled up inside him, a whip that drove the bull.
“My exposure, Mr.Nilla, was accidental because the bathroom stall broke open. The janitor is 56 years old, teenagers having sex is nothing new to him or anyone here except perhaps to you. Yet this isn’t the same thing as you exposing yourself to little girls, because people would pay to see my ‘sexual harassment’ and no one in their right mind would pay to see yours. In fact, no one in their right mind would pay to see you with or without your pants on.”
It was out before he could contain himself again, leaving Nilla with a stupefied look on his aged, rubber-like face. Gentry himself couldn’t believe what he’d said, and his heart throbbed wildly in his chest while a cold sweat dampened his flushed skin. Mr.Nilla gawked at him with wide, offended eyes before taking a deep breath and chuckling dryly.
“Watch your mouth, Gentry. This isn’t the only charge I have against you. You’ve broken a lot of rules this year. In fact, I suspect you are sabotaging office documents.” The man’s chair creaked as he pulled out another form.
Gentry regained his composure and stated in a soft yet steady drawl, “This accusation comes as a shock to me since I have full faith in your observational abilities.”
He was careful not to confirm or deny the statement.
Mr.Nilla held the form an inch from Gentry’s face, “Do you see the signature line?”
“Yes, that’s where our principals’ signature goes.”
“This form was to raise my salary.” Mr.Nilla sneered, “Can you read what the signature says?”
“From what I can see, it says Mr.Harold.”
“It says Mr.HarrHarr on it, and now it’s marked void.” growled Mr.Nilla, “What do you think I am, blind?”
Gentry took the form into his hands, “It says here that it’s void because you wanted to get paid for work you did not do.”
Mr.Nilla snatched the form back, “I am not going to put up with you, Gentry. Last time you got into trouble you were lucky enough to have your father defend you. But this time, I’m going to teach you a lesson. I’ve asked one of the office personnel to follow you home so I know which school to transfer you to. So, the next move is yours.”
“What about Nationals? I’m the best swimmer on the team. If you transfer me, this school will lose.”
Mr.Nilla scoffed, “You have only yourself to blame. Actions have consequences.”