The Victim

Chapter Three: Ascent

Rapist

My friend from school and I march down the main hall in our college building, following two police officers. They are going to arrest the creepy professor, and I will get the whole thing on film. We get to reception and the police officers ask where he is. “He’s just down the hall to the right, on the diner,” explains a clerk. As we walk, everyone stops to stare. Finally we reach the diner, which is packed. “There, officer,” I say, pointing with my finger. He stands up. “Sir, you’re gonna have to come with us,” says a police officer. “Wh-what is this? What are you doing?” he asks. The whole diner has gone silent now. Everyone is watching.

“Sir, we are arresting you on charges of rape—” a police officer starts. The diner goes wild with gasps of horror and of indignation. “You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defense—” “No, this is a mistake!” he interrupts as he is being handcuffed. He looks around the room, and I think he understands. The damage is done. His reputation has been destroyed. Even if he was cleared of all charges now, which he won’t, people would always have the doubt. “I hope this teaches everyone that the world has changed, and no man in a position of power can take advantage of a woman!” my friend from school shouts at him.

The crowd at the diner applauds. I look at my friend from school. She’s wearing a radiant smile. We follow the teacher as the police escort him into the patrol car and leave. I stop recording and say, without looking at her. “You set this whole thing up.” She says nothing so I go on talking. “When the brunette told me not to worry about him, during class… You asked her to say that, right? But why have you waited until now to let me know?” She tries to look away. “I don’t know what you…” she says, but I grab her arm to stop her. “No, you don’t understand,” I say. “I’m trying to thank you.” She turns around, but says nothing. “It’s alright if you don’t want to acknowledge it. I know, and that’s enough. How about we hold a little… conference with the teachers, to explain what has happened?”

Now she’s looking at me funny. “That’s exactly what I had planned,” she says and we both smile. We return to our building, where rumors about our teacher are already spreading like wildfire. We head straight for the student rights representative, and ask for permission to invite media channels. They redirect us to different people holding different charges. We meet with the student’s body representative, the head of the teacher association commission, the student council president and vice president, and many other bureaucrats with a fancy title and absolutely no agency. All they want to do is damage control. They try to offer us “benefits,” wanting to keep this whole thing low-profile. I start to drift off during one of the tedious meetings, and imagine my friend from school and I sailing a ship like corsairs while spider magicians try to hypnotize us. “To finalize the process, let us now arrive at a resolute, non-aggressive agreement. It will ensure that no such—” “Stop!” I yell standing up and taking my hands to my head, interrupting the person speaking. “You are very unhelpful,” I say, concluding the negotiations.

My friend from school snaps out of the trance too. I take her hand and we leave. “These people will do us no good,” I say to her on our way down a flight of stairs. “They want to pose as the heroes who rooted out evil from this institution while protecting it.” She nods and says, “We need to go public without them.” Then suddenly I remember. “The tv hostess from the incident with the bullies,” I say. “She’ll help us. I just have to find her number again.” She looks at me funny and says “are you sure she’s the best—” “Ok, here it is,” I interrupt her. I call and put the phone on speaker so we both can listen.

“Who are you and how do you have my personal number?” She’s not very happy now, but she soon will be. “Hi, I don’t know if you remember, but we filmed that special report on the boy who had been beaten…” “Yeah, I remember,” she says. “The arsonist. Wh-what do you want?” she asks.

“A depraved teacher has just been arrested at my college. I have a tape of him offering me to trade sex for grades. We also have two victims willing to speak up.” I stop. My friend and I look at each other, crossing our fingers. I swear I can hear her licking her lips. “Text me where to meet you at this number. We’ll shoot this on-site,” she says. I smile. “Thank you for—” I say but she’s hung up already. I text her the details. “be ther 1 hour,” is all we get in response after a few seconds. My friend smiles and says, more calmed, “I’m sorry if I didn’t let you in on this.” “Don’t worry,” I reply. “I think my phones are tapped anyway. This was the safe way to go. Did you get everything you needed from tol?”

She nods. “How did you become such good friends with the brunette?” I ask her. “Through a common friend. She’s been, well, my rock during these last months, when I could barely speak to you. Did you know she was actually raped?” So far I’d thought they had offered themselves up, so it catches me by surprise. “We’re going to nail that motherf-worder to the wall,” she says passionately. It makes me wonder if she, too, was… But I won’t ask her if she doesn’t want to talk about it. “Thank you for this, truly.”