The Victim

Chapter Two: Friends

Due process

By the time the detectives are questioning us at the police station, the video has already gathered over a million views. Sitting in the interrogation room, I can feel my hands shaking. I explain only what the cops need to know; namely, that when we saw where they were, we went to pay them a visit. I don’t mention we were the ones who leaked it.

“So you, what, just decided to record them being humiliated and beaten at their own house?” asks me a detective. “Look,” I say, “as I have explained, we did nothing to them, only watched it happen. They didn’t deserve to die, but what do you want us to do?”

“Tell the truth!” he bursts out. “I know you’re hiding something from me. You set this up, you knew it would happen.” I am close to a panic attack. “You filthy little liar. I’m tired of little b—” He holds his tongue from saying “b-word.” “Of you brats getting away with anything because you have money and a pretty face.” Someone knocks on the door. “Not now!” yells the detective angrily, but the knock persists. “There is a lawyer here to see her,” quietly explains a police officer.

“Did you ask for a lawyer!?” shouts the detective. I shake my head. The lawyer walks in anyway. “You,” he says pointing to me. “Don’t say another word. You,” he says pointing at the detective. “I will deal with you later. Now get out.” The lawyer sits down in front of me. “Look, this… old dog is out for you. But they’ve got nothing. Just come with me, I’ll get you out of here. The others are waiting.”

He stands up. “Wait,” I say, stopping him. “Who are you?” He sits back down. “I’m sorry, princess, you’re right.” He hands me a card that says “Best lawyer.” “I’m one of natdec’s lawyers. We actually met before, at that tol event with the speeches.” True. I remember him now. “Oh, right, sorry, it’s just with the stress, and—” He smiles and says “don’t worry” as he pulls out papers from his briefcase.

Oh right, I should explain natdec: it’s an important liberal organization which happens to govern and fund tol. My girlfriend’s uncle is an important chairman in its executive board. As we exit the building, I see policemen rushing to their cars. “There’s been another fire,” I hear them say. “Is it him again?” another asks. Amid the people rushing, I can see the detective following us around, watching closely. Outside, my girlfriend, her brother, my friend from school and my arab friend are waiting. My girlfriend hugs me and I hug her back. My arab friend looks away, clearly angry at me. We get into a car and the lawyer drives us to campus. For some eight minutes, my arab friend mutters things to himself. “Is something wrong?” I finally ask.

“You had to dox them!” he yells at me. “Why, why, why!? Four people dead, including the brother. Another two with permanent damage. And the brother who opened fire will spend his life in prison for—” “Wait, what?” I interrupt him. “Yes, he somehow survived. But he will be in prison for a long time,” he explains. It chills my blood.

What if he gets out and seeks us? What if he learns what we did? “If only you had kept your big mouth shut…” he sighs. I slap his face. “We made the decision. We!” I yell at him. “So don’t you dare blame it on me.” The rest of the ride we spend in awkward silence. We finally get to the campus, say goodbye to our lawyer, and go to our room.

My arab friend just walks away in silence. When my girlfriend and I enter our room, she pulls out a bottle of scotch and pours two glasses. I stare at the liquid, thinking about all the damage it has done, and push it away. But she offers it again and again until I accept.

We get drunk together. So drunk that I start to cry because she looks so much like my sister. I tell her about… you know, what happened to me before campus. She holds my hands and at some point tries to read poetry for me, but she’s so drunk she just ends up puking while I hold her hair. Still, that doesn’t stop her from trying to kiss me.