Imagine: The List
Fic posted by members of Vo's Imaginings YahooGroup


Diane follows her crew to the auditorium, looking around the building where Principal Madison has agreed to allow her to interview his students involved in the scandal at the university in Boston. She walks to the stage and looks around, instucting her crew on how to lay down cables and put lights without damaging the floor before she follows Principal Madison on the tour of the school he'd offered her after agreeing to a single interview.


"The school's administration building is between the old girls dorm and the auditorium, with the dining hall behind the auditorium and administration building. On the other side of the auditorium is the current boys dorm. The laundry is past that."


"Old girls dorm?"


"We just built a new dorm for the girls this year since we were going to be out of room within the next two years. The old dorm was three floors and the third floor was just under half full."


"How many students do you have?" Diane pulls a notebook from her pocket, instantly falling into reporter mode.


"We currently have nearly five hundred students, two thirds are day students from town or Boston while the others board. But we get more boarding students every year from around the country."


"How many rooms do you have?"


"The old dorm had twenty rooms on a floor, three floors total. There were two dorm monitor rooms on the back of the first floor, the new dorms are five floors with twenty-four rooms on a floor with a floor monitor room at the end of each floor."


"Would it be possible to see a dorm?"


"The old girls dorm is currently turned upside down with the boys moving into it after the fire at the teachers apartment building, but I can show you the boys dorm and take you to inspect a room at the girls dorm." Walking over to the boys dorm, he leads her inside. Most of the boys are quietly studying or absent, but Diane smiles as she hears music just a little too loud until somebody else bellows to turn it down from another room. A door opens and a boy drags a large duffel bag out of his room, stuffed to the gills with obviously dirty clothes. He stops and stares at Principal Madison.


"Aww come on," he yells. "I'm doing my laundry, you didn't have to call in Principal Madison."


Principal Madison wrinkles his nose. "Use two machines and wash them twice if you have to, the student at the laundry will tell you what to use." he watches as the boy grumbles and drags the bag outside, tossing it over his shoulder when he's outside.


"Sorry about that, our students are still teenagers and we always have one who's new and still expects Mama to pick up after him and do his laundry. The dorm monitors usually don't get on them until somebody complains about the smell." he says as they walk back outside.


Diane chuckles. Walking past the old girls dorm, they follow the sidewalk to the new girls dorm. "Oh this is nice, is the new boys dorm going to follow the same floorplan?" She asks after they go up to the fifth floor, the only floor currently without an occupant.


Principal Madison nods.


"You have a separate building for the teachers?" Diane asks as they walk out of the building.


"Yes, many of our single teachers choose to live on campus, while many of our married teachers, those who have started families, live in town. An electrical fire broke out last Monday, there were only minor damages, mostly smoke but the fire department didn't let anybody back in until the wiring could be inspected. Luckily there was enough room in the dorms for all the displaced teachers. Two of the apartments that sustained the heaviest damage belonged to the teachers who were going to take over monitor duties in the boys dorm at the end of the semester we chose to have them move in early. Unfortunately to move them in we had to move the boys out of their rooms, most of the teachers were busy moving furniture that night. The kids had already made plans to turn the old dorm into a private home for them, this threw a wrench into their timeline."


"Monitor duties?"


"At the back of the old dorms, there were two larger rooms, in the city they would be called studio apartments. Dorm monitors live in those rooms, their duties are to make sure the students are in the dorm by nine o'clock when they lock the outside doors for the night, they make sure students are in their rooms by eleven, eleven-thirty friday and saturday nights. When the school is in lockdown, usually because a winter storm has knocked out power and cancelled classes, they bring the students to the cafeteria and back to the dorms."


"Sounds like a lot of work."


"Yes, the girls and the boys have had the duties for over four years now. The girls turned over their duties as dorm monitors when their charges moved into the new dorm earlier this semester, the boys turned their duties over last week when the teachers took over their rooms."


"Can I see one of these rooms?"


"My teachers should still be in their offices, but I know Josette and the others are in their dorm."


They walk back to the old girls dorm, Diane taking in the shabbiness of the building before they walk through the doors at the front of the building and down a hall. Most of the doors don't have knobs and are held shut with garbage cans.


"Susan?" Principal Madison knocks on one of the doors and waves at one of the other rooms when a dark haired young woman comes to the door. Diane sneaks a peek into the room, finding two twin beds, one neatly made up while the other is bare, two dressers on either side of the door, and two desks against the side walls. A door is in the wall by the unmade bed, Diane decides that it must lead to a bathroom, from the space between doors in the hallway she guesses that two dorm rooms share a bathroom.


"We didn't need locking doors after we took over the building, David's got a contact that might buy them." She says. "We keep the outside doors locked when we're not in the building, we usually have our doors open so we can talk after we get back from classes."


"Looking forward to finals being over?" Principal Madison teases.


"That and I hope they get this hacking situation finished soon. I'm worried about him trying to alter grades since he seems determined to cause as much trouble as possible for the school."


Principal Madison moans. "I hadn't even thought of that."


Susan snorts. "That's because our school actually has some sense and made sure that the servers here are protected. The university hasn't seemed to have gotten that far yet, even after all this had happened."


Banging sounds from the basement and a call of 'electricity going off in five minutes' has Susan sighing and saving what had been on her computer before shutting it down.


Principal Madison looks at her. "We have an electrical engineer from David's company inspecting the wiring, he told us that he would have to shut off the power to inspect the circuit panel."


He nods and they head further down the hallway. Before he knocks on one of the doors, he turns to Diane.


"Are you allergic to cats?"




"Then we'll talk to Josette, normally she'd be at dinner now and heading to her shift at the school laundry after dinner. When she's not working, the kids eat later."


Josette opens the door and blinks at them. "Can we come in, Ms. Sawyer asked to see one of the dorm monitor rooms."


"Sure," Josette opens the door and they walk in. Diane looks around, like Principal Madison had said it was essentially a studio apartment with an open floorplan. On the left as they walk into the room is a twin bed neatly made up with three cats lying on it. Two doors in the wall past the bed reveal a bathroom and closet, a partial wall separating a galley kitchen from the rest of the room. Diane can see a sink under the windows, while there's a door leading to the outside next to the refrigerator, shut against the late November weather. On the opposite side of the door is a desk, shelves over it for Josette's textbooks. A table sits behind the desk, turning around she sees a recliner in front of a gas fireplace, a reading lamp and bookcase stuffed full of books sit beside it. Through the open door of the closet, she can see a row of totes. She can't make out the labels neatly taped to the containers from where she is standing.


The electricity goes off and Josette opens the door to get a little more light into the room.


Diane thanks Josette for allowing her to see her room, gives her a few hints about what the kids should wear for their interview, and they leave the dorm. Principal Madison takes her on a tour of the other buildings before inviting her to dinner. The students have already eaten and gone back to their dorms so the cafeterial is mostly empty. The head of her crew had told Diane they were finished with the preparations for the interview as the kids come into the room, filling their trays and sitting down to eat.


At eight o'clock, they walk into the auditorium, finding two rows of seats on one side of the stage, two more chairs in the back out of the way of the cameras, and another chair on the other side for Ms. Sawyer. A woman quickly checks her makeup as the crew gets the kids decked out with microphones and makeup so the lights don't wash them out.


"I'm sitting here with some of the students who have received letters from the school due to a hacker attacking the school. Can you please tell me how you first became aware of the situation."


The others look at Josette, she rolls her eyes at them and starts to speak.


"We'd been gone for the weekend and hadn't checked the mail until Sunday night after dinner. That's when I found a letter in my mailbox," she opens a folder where they'd all put the letters they'd received so far from the school and hands it over to Diane, who holds it up so the camera can see it. "Stating that I was on academic probation for failing three tests in a class I'd never signed up for. As you can imagine, I was freaking a little until David said there was another letter in my box. That's when we found out that the school servers had been attacked. The others opened their mail and both Anna and Alan found they had letters of their own. Anna was being asked to leave the dorm because of multiple noise complaints and her brother Alan was supposed to have tested positive for drugs and was losing his football scholarship." Josette hands the letters over Diane, the camera zooming in to view the letters over Diane's shoulder.


A slight choking sound, too silent for anybody to hear over the cameras has Susan looking over to see Druid with her hand in her mouth to keep from cackling like a hyena at the thought of Alan playing football. Jolt is patting her back, visibly trying to keep back his own laughter.


"The school doesn't have a football program, do they?"


"No, and none of us live on the university grounds either. The only complaints about Anna making noise at night is when she's had chili and wakes Abby up with her snoring."


"And then I just get up and poke her until she rolls over." the other identical twin on the stage snorts.


"The letter we received from the school," Again Josette passes over a letter and Diane. . .and the camera, look at it. "Saying that if we received letters that we thought were errors to bring them to the office."


"This is dated over a week ago, the school claims that they didn't realize that somebody had hacked the servers until this weekend." she says.


"The school has a serious case of CYA syndrome," Susan says. "It wasn't until another student had gotten a letter supposedly from a teacher that they admitted they had a problem."


"Another student received a letter supposedly from a teacher." Diane pounces on that statement. "There were more letters then?"


"Oh yes, Abby received a letter the next day saying she was being suspended for nudity in her dorm room." Josette hands over the letter. "Michael got a letter stating that his student loan was in default and that until he was current in his payments he couldn't attend class."


"I don't have a student loan," the young man that Diane knows from research is an award winning artist says. "That same day I got a letter supposedly from my teacher saying that I have no talent in art, I'm just wasting his and the other students time, and I should find another major." Josette hands over that letter also. "Funny, I thought my multiple awards, numerous show openings, and millions of dollars I've made this year alone would have said otherwise.


"Can I ask what you your school plans are?"


"Josette's majoring in Library Science, she's going to be coming back to the school to take over the Library after graduation. Alan is pre-med, Anna and I are majoring in education, Susan is pre-law, David is going for a business degree, his family has a construction company, and Michael and Alexander are going for a dual major of business and art."


"Is that why you decided to stay at the school instead of moving to Boston?"


Josette looks at Diane. "This is our home. I work four nights a week in the school laundry and until this semester most of us were dorm monitors."


"This is your first semester at the university, isn't it?"


"Yes, but because we all took so many AP classes while we were in school, all of us but Josette came in as second year students." David says, patting Josette's shoulder. "While the giant brain that is Josette struck again, she's a third year student and plans on applying for early admittance to graduate school next fall."


The interview is wrapped up about ten minutes later and the kids head back to the dorm, finding the engineer waiting for them on the first floor with the electricity back on. David talks quietly with him as the others head to their rooms.


"What do you mean I can't take my finals next week?" Josette growls when she's asked to go to the office after her classes the next day.


"I'm sorry Miss Takahawa, but our records show your student loan is in default."


"One, aren't student loans supposed to be deferred until six months after graduation? This is my first semester at school. And two, I don't have a student loan."


"Miss Takahawa, the school and the state has paperwork that says otherwise." the school's treasurer says.


"Then I want to see that paperwork, NOW!" Josette says. "Because I am seventeen years old, too young to have a student loan, even with a cosigner. I paid for my tuition and school books with a debit card, I can have the proof within an hour. I want to see your proof before I call the police and my lawyer." She pulls out her drivers license and the man who'd been so smug starts to get worried when he looks at the date of birth. Pulling her phone from her purse, she finds the number for the bank's vice-president that is over the scholarship loans and starts dialing. The number goes instantly to voice mail so she calls the main number for the bank, getting a teller who pulls up her card for that date and promises to fax the records to the number the school secretary gives her.


"Now while we're waiting, I want to see your proof that I have a student loan."


"Miss Takahawa, I umm . . .I mean to say we. . .umm."


"There's no we involved in this, Smithers." the school president says, scowling as he reads the paperwork the school secretary had given him, both the receipts from the bank showing the purchases on those date at the school and the paperwork from the school itself. "The dates match and the amounts match, Miss Takahawa indeed paid by bank card for her tuition and textbooks. Now show us the paperwork for Miss Takahawa's supposed student loan and remove the hold on her file so she can take her finals next week."


"I . . .I don't actually have the paperwork here, it's sent to a secure holding facility after it's put on the school's servers."


"And we all know how secure the school's servers are, don't we?" Josette growls. "This is that damn fool hacker's doing, isn't it?"


"I believe so, Miss Takahawa. Smithers, you got until nine tomorrow morning to either have proof that Miss Takahawa has a student loan, a valid student loan, or that this is the hacker's doing. Meanwhile, you can remove the flag from her file. And after you've done that, you can check all your records to make sure they're valid."


"That. . .that will take weeks." he whimpers.


"We owe it to our students to make sure nothing like this ever happens again. Miss Takahawa, please give me your phone number, I'll call tomorrow morning when I have either the proof that there is a student loan in your name so we can investigate further to see if it is a case of mistaken identity, that it is identity theft, or that this is in fact another of the hacker's sick jokes. Either way we will be removing that flag from your file so you can take your finals next week."


"Thank your President Mathers, it's a pleasure to do business with a real professional." Josette exits the office, finding the others waiting for her.


"What's going on?" Anna asks, giving her a quick hug as they walk outside. They'd gone off campus running an errand when Josette said she had to go to the office.


"That idiot hacker stepping up his games. I got a note in class to go to the office, where I was told I couldn't take my finals next week because I was supposed to be in default on my student loan. When I told the treasurer that I was seventeen, too young to have a student loan. . .even with a cosigner he started getting nervous. I then said I wanted to see proof of that student loan before I called the police and my lawyer in case it was identity theft. I called the bank and had the paperwork for that day sent to the office, the President agreed with me that I had paid by bank card and demanded to see the paperwork for my student loan. He finally admitted that he didn't have it, after it's put on the server it's sent to a secure facility'."


"And we all know how secure the school's servers are, don't we?" David smirks. "Yup." she grins. "The school treasurer has until nine tomorrow morning to determine if I have a valid student loan or if this is just another of the asshat hacker's hijinks." Josette grins as they arrive back at the dorm, hearing the electrical engineer up on the third floor. "I wonder if the news crews are still here, I'm sure they'd love another excuse to storm the university again."


"I wonder if we chose the right school after all." David sighs, rubbing a hand over his face. "Boston University didn't have med or law schools and we couldn't have afforded Harvard even if everybody got in," Josette says. "Any other school we'd have to pay higher tuition rates and this way we can easily 'commute.'"


"Grammy Allie can get us in better schools and get us help in paying for it. . .if not full scholarships."


"We'll keep it in mind in case this idiot keeps targeting the school." Josette says. Looking at the clock, they all drop their bags on beds or tables and head to the cafeteria.


"Miss Takahawa, can we please talk after the meal?" Diane Sawyer asks when she sees Josette and her friends enter the room.


Josette nods, running her meal card through the scanner and filling her tray before putting it down and going over to where Diane is sitting at the head table with the teachers.


"I was hoping you'd still be here." She grins and Jolt moans, after dealing with Josette for nearly seven years he knows that look. "Who pissed you off this time?"


"That . . .," the string of gutteral Japanese isn't understandable but everybody gets the idea she's not calling him an officer and a gentleman. "Hacker. I got a note in class that I had to go to the office, it seems the school is under the impression that I'm delinquint on a student loan and told me unless I paid it up, I couldn't take my finals."


"You're only seventeen." Diane nearly chokes on her meal, she hadn't realized Josette was that young. "You're too young to get a student loan, even with a cosigner."


"So I told them. I got hold of the bank and had them fax the paperwork that showed I paid for my tuition on my scholarship loan, and told them that I wanted proof of the student loan for a possible identity theft charge. After some hemming and hawing, the school treasurer finally admitted that he didn't actually have the original paperwork, that it was sent to secure storage after being put on the schools' servers."


"And we all know how secure those are." Druid snorts.


"He's got until nine tomorrow morning to get proof that there is a student loan in my name or that this was just another of that bleeping brat's sick jokes." Josette looks at Diane who is quickly grabbing for her smart phone. "If I got the note, I'm sure other students were targeted as well. This close to our finals, it's an obvious attack."


Diane says a few quick things to whoever picks up on the other end. "Thank you Miss Takahawa."


"Oh, it was my pleasure. Josette says before walking back to her table. "Anna, when you get back to the dorm, check my mail will you? You know where my key is."


Anna nods. "You're looking for another one of those letters like Michael got?"


"Yes like I told Ms. Sawyer, if I was a target I'm sure there are others who got the same note I did."


"Evil wench." David waggles a finger in her direction as she picks up her silverware. Josette grins. "Betcher ass I am."


"Josette, we'll see you in the laundry." Jolt calls after Josette's finished her third meal and puts her tray on the conveyer after checking the time. Josette nods and heads outside. Punching in, she checks the first room before heading into the back room, finding one cart of laundry and a number of large garbage bags filled with sheets and towels waiting for her.


Josette starts on the first bag, dumping each bag out on the floor before starting on the next bag. She starts shaking out sheets, leaving the towels on the floor for the time being. "Miss Takahawa?" Diane Sawyer asks as they come into the room. Josette looks back at her. "Do you mind if I keep working while we talk?"


"No, I don't mind."


"Is this all the boys laundry?" Jolt asks, looking at the piles on the floor and overflowing cart. They can't possibly have any sheets or towels left in the storerooms.


"I think so, they only got the one cart, the other laundry was in big garbage bags." Josette continues to shake out sheets and fills two commercial washers, adding soap and liquid bleach before starting them running. The towels fill another two washers and again detergent and bleach is added before the machines start running.


"Do you do this every night?"


"Not usually, this is two nights worth of laundry since I didn't work last night."


"Each floor has a day to send down their sheets and towels every week. Josette washes these items and returns them to the dorm. The girls send their laundry down Mondays and Tuesdays, the boys send theirs down Wednesday and Thursdays."


"Isn't it lonely working here alone at night?"


"No, I usually bring my school bag to work, I have a few hours while the machines are running for studying or to work on assignments. This close to my finals though I find doing laundry soothing."


"Do you have your classes selected for next semester?"


"Yeah, I'm taking twenty credit hours next semester, we've just got to find the time to sit down and decide if we're keeping the same schedule we have now or if we're going nights now that we don't have the dorms to watch. Like David said, I can work days just as easily as I do nights, at least until graduation." She snorts. "Of course if the university doesn't get its act together, we may be asking David's godmother to find us another school."


"What are the others planning for the summer?"


"Wellllll," Josette drawls out the word as she checks the machines. "The others are enjoying having their summers off after being in school year round for nearly four years, but I'd planned on going to the library in town to see if I could do my internship there this summer. But David's godmother wants me to come to where she is instead, she says I can do my internship there and get some additional training. If I do go, the girls are going to be taking over the laundry while I'm gone."


"Have you worked here long?"


"Nearly four years." She grins at Principal Madison. "So if I'm still working here after I take over the library, does that mean I get two paychecks?"


"No, you'll still only get one check, but you'll have two different pay rates on it." Principal Madison sighs.


Meanwhile Diane is doing the math. "That means you've been working here since you were thirteen?" Both Principal Madison and Josette nod. "We don't normally allow boarding students to take part time jobs until their sophomore years but Josette was a special exception. Since the student who had been doing the job before her was going to graduate, Josette started early so she could work with him and learn everything that needed to be done before he left. Her freshman year, the job was only two nights a week, when she turned a sophomore we had more students and the job went to four nights a week. Until her senior year, it was only twenty hours a week, at that time we allow students to pick up more hours. Josette works six pm to midnight four nights a week now and picked up a shift Sundays during the day in the other room."


"What do your parents think about this?"


"I'm an orphan, my mother 'died' when I was in sixth grade, she just didn't know it yet. I never knew my father." The machines beep and Josette brings over a cart, emptying the first machine and taking it to the dryer as Principal Madison quietly tells Diane Josette's story.


"I have to thank you for alerting me to this next aspect of the hackers attack, it seems that nearly a hundred students besides yourself have come up to us and told us that they were told they couldn't take their finals because of suddenly defaulting student loans. The school has of course been trying to cover it up."


"Like Susan said, CYA syndrome." Josette says as she empties the second machine of its load.


"CYA syndrome?"


"Cover your ass." Principal Madison says dryly.


"Ahhh of course." Diane chuckles. "I wanted to ask you if you and your friends would be interested in some other interviews. We will of course be reimbursing you for your time. Specifically, we'd like you to appear on Good Morning America tomorrow morning and 20/20 tomorrow night. I believe NBC would like to interview you for Dateline and the Today show."


"Is Kathie Lee really as full of herself as she appears on tv?" Josette asks as she empties the third machine and throws it in the dryer.


Diane chuckles, "You'll have to ask some of her coworkers that question, I don't work with her."


Emptying the last machine, she checks the time and walks over to the phone, dialing Abby's number.


"Abby Covington."


"Me, get over to the laundry with the others, Ms. Sawyer wants to know if we want to do some more interviews, including the today show and Dateline on NBC, Good Morning America and 20/20 on ABC."


Josette holds the phone at arms length, even across the room Diane and Principal Madison can hear excited squealing, then the sound of running feet.


"They'll be right over," Josette hangs up. "Thankfully we don't have classes tomorrow." She starts sorting out the second load of laundry, grinning as the others come rushing into the room just as Josette starts the machines.


"Is that your first batch of laundry?" David asks.


"Second," she points to the dryers.


"The morning shows and the evening shows?" Susan asks.


"The morning shows would be live, but we'd be taping your interviews in the afternoon for the evening shows." Diane says calmly. "You'd have to fly in to New York for the day, your principal has already said he'd be your chaperone for the trip. You'd be going to be on Good Morning America during the eight o'clock hour then going in a car to the NBC studios for your interview on the Today show during the nine o'clock hour. After that you'd have a couple of hours to yourselves before you're interviewed for Dateline and 20/20 and you'd be flying back to the school in the late afternoon."


"This way I don't get a call from the police that some of my students are at the police station and I need to send somebody to come get them." Jolt says dryly.


"Well if cheerleader barbie had actually fucking shown up where she told us to meet her, when she told us to meet her instead of being nearly three hours late, somebody wouldn't have called the police about us loitering." Josette snorts as she checks the sheets in the first machine.


"Cheerleader Barbie?"


"Our former social studies teacher, she always talked in a perky voice and annoyed everybody around her. the students called her cheerleader barbie behind her back because she always acted like she was leading a cheer at a pep rally. One month she decided that she wanted to take her class to New York to see the sights, assigning them papers on each place that would be due after they returned. Since 'not all of you can afford a hotel room in New York for a week'" he says in a sarcastic sweet little girl voice, "All the students commuted for the week. Unfortunately she forgot. . ."


"Or didn't fucking care." its Susan's turn to snort this time as she and Josette start pulling the now dry sheets from the machine and rolling the cart to the folding machine as the twins get on the other side.


"that her students also had other classes that week, and if they were gone from four in the morning till nine at night, they'd miss their other classes. So the teachers were angry at having to alter their class plans, either not giving assignments that week or assigning them earlier or later, the students were angry because they'd be getting up early and being crammed on a bus for a couple of hours coming and going, I was upset because my teachers and students were upset *and* she'd rented two busses for the week without my approval that I had find money in the budget for. . ." At Diane's quiet question he takes her over to there the kids are working, she sees Josette and Susan attach sheets to clips at the front of the machine and hit a button, the sheets and pillowcases go through the machine where they're folded and the twins put the sheets in piles at the other end. David takes a set and wraps it in plastic before putting it in one of the bags.


"Does Josette do this every night?"


"Yes, after the sheets and towels are washed and dried, they're run through this machine where they're pressed and folded. Then they're wrapped in plastic. When a student arrives at the dorms, they get two sets of sheets and two sets of towels, that way they can send one set down the laundry chute and use the other set. After their floor has sent down their laundry, they go to the storerooms in the dorms to get a new set of sheets and towels for the next week. If the others weren't here, Josette would be doing this all on her own."


"How?" At Josette's look the others back away, Josette puts in a sheet in the machine and walks around to the other side, putting it on a pile then walking back and sending a pillowcase through. "Just that like, once I had everything through I'd wrap everything and put it in the cart to send back to the dorm."


Diane shakes her head, looking at the carts of sheets and towels, working alone would mean hours of walking every night.


"Anyway it was the . . .second?"


"Third, third day in New York. We went to the museum of Natural History the first day because 'while most of you probably know it only from the night at the museum movie, it is a real museum.'" Josette says sarcastically. "We went to the Empire State building the second day, we had been at the United Nations that day, she told us to go look around the rest of the day because she had things she needed to do and we would meet up at a street cafe nearby before we drove back to the school."


"And she never showed up?"


"Nope, and the cafe owner finally called the police because she didn't bother to arrange anything with them to allow us to sit here waiting for her, she thought we were a street gang waiting to rob her. The first thing we know three police cars pull up in front of the cafe, followed by a SUV. A nice detective came over and asked us what was going on, we explained, he brought us to the local precinct for safekeeping while he called Principal Madison who backed up our story and arranged for another teacher to fly in, pick us up, and take us to where the busses were. The drivers weren't anywhere around, but the patrol officers had found the busses exactly where we said they were parked. Since the teacher still hadn't shown up, Principal Madison cancelled the rest of the trip. A local bus company heard about our plight and two of their men volunteered to drive the busses back to the school."


"Yes, and I spent a couple of hours complaining to the company that had furnished the busses and drivers, asking them what kind of employees they had that would strand nearly a hundred teenagers in New York."


"Did she ever show up?"


"Yes, she was arrested for public intoxication in times square the next day. The other teachers covered her class the rest of the semester while I looked for a replacement after I fired her. That's when we found out her teaching was a little 'erratic', she didn't teach from the book and none of the students would have been able to pass the standardized tests at the end of the semester. The teachers held extra classes at night and on the weekends to get everybody up to where they should be by finals. When she actually tried to get me to give her a recommendation, I laughed in her face and told her to get out of my school. I then talked to the school that was interested in hiring her, telling their principal and superintendent exactly what kind of teacher she was. As you can imagine, they didn't hire her. She then sued saying that I was telling horror stories about her and because of that she wasn't hired. I had the police report from when she left my students alone in New York City for hours, I had her police report saying she was arrested in times square the next morning drunk out of her mind, she was so drunk they had to take her to the hospital before they took her to jail. I had the contract with the coach company that she expected me to pay for, I had copies of tapes from her classroom showing her insulting the students in her sugary voice, and finally I had copies of all her assignments, nothing she taught was on the state's tests. I then countersued her for a partial return of the advance I'd given her when I hired her, reimbursement of the cost of the ticket I had to purchase to get a teacher to New York to get my students, and the cost of the coaches she hired without my authority to take a hundred students to New York for the week." Jolt smirks.


"I take it you won the court case?"


"Oh yes, she didn't get a dime and I got everything I'd asked for. The judge found her behavior reprehensible and ordered her to seek counseling."


"I never did get a chance to see the Statue of Liberty, that was supposed to be the next morning." Josette grumbles as the first machine beeps the second load is washed. Grabbing an empty cart, she starts emptying the machine and tossing everything in the dryer.


"Is there any other places you'd like to see in New York?" Diane asks.


"MOMA." Abby calls. "And the library with the lions in front of it."


"Hey, I'd just heard before you called. The right Reverend Al Sharpton is going to be holding a protest rally on the grounds of the university this weekend, calling for people to boycott the school." Anna calls around the back of the machine.


"Really?" Josette snorts. "I guess some poor unfortunate black student is being targeted by racists now, that's his usual m.o. isn't it? As long as a few hundred white students got screwed over by the school and the hacker it was okay, but one black student gets messed with and suddenly it's a plot against colored people."


"Josette," Principal Madison sighs.


"Tell me I'm wrong," she snorts. "He only shows up when a poor black child, usually its a girl, is attacked by the Man! That case when that girl was supposedly raped and racist slurs were written in marker on her skin, it turned out she'd just had sex with a bunch of boys and her own family had written on her for publicity, the prostitute at Duke University who was supposedly gang raped by the lacrosse team, then oh no it was only a few boys when one of the boys she accused proved he hadn't been at the party, then it was oh just three of them in the bathroom, her story changed so many times. But old Al Sharpton was there big as life blaming the entire lacrosse team of raping that girl even though there was no proof there had even been any consensual sex because it wasn't until later that she cried rape and by then it was a rape test was inconclusive. It was their fault that she was a prostitute, it was their fault she was only in it for the money, they were rich white boys who looked down on that poor innocent colored child of god. Those boys had their school lives ruined by her lies, the community turning against them, and the prosecutor hiding evidence that they were innocent for the publicity. It wasn't only until somebody else took over the case that first the rape charges were dismissed and then a day or so later all the charges were dismissed because they were innocent of everything. But here's old Al Sharpton proclaiming he's going to pay for all of her schooling so she doesn't ever have to do this ever again, not one damn thing to say for those poor boys who were persecuted for a year, not even a simple sorry. That is why I think he's the world's biggest hypocrite."


"Duke shares some of the blame there." Principal Madison says.


"Yeah, the entire school turned against them, and when the girl lacrosse team stood by them they were yelled at for daring to think their friends innocent until proven guilty. Those 88 teachers who wrote that letter about the lacrosse team, calling them all names and that they should be removed from the school, none of them would be welcome in any of their classes. . ."


"That was extremely unprofessional." Principal Madison sighs. "No matter how much you dislike a student, unless it's proved they've done something, you should never deny them the right to attend any class they want to attend."


"Yes, and only one of those teachers stood up and apologized when it was finally proved the three lacrosse players were innocent, saying they were sorry and welcoming them in any of their classes. Not one of those other teachers did, hell, none of the lacrosse players were in any of their programs to begin with so it was basically a case of nanny nanny boo boo, you're not one of my students but I don't want you anyway. Then Duke oh so graciously told the students they could return to the school, I'm glad they all told them to kiss their asses and went to other schools. That one boy would have graduated during all that drama if Duke hadn't bowed to pressure and suspended them."


"That's standard operating procedures in cases like that." Principal Madison says.


"And making the whole team ineligible for the year? Firing the coach?"


"That was petty politics." Principal Madison agrees.


"I called my godmother, she's as disgusted as all the drama going on at the university as we are and is looking into other schools that we can attend, we might have to take a lot of classes by computer but she's sure we can easily transfer if the university doesn't get its act together and get this shit straightened out." David says. "She'll send us a package with school catalogs once she gets a short list of schools together."


"You're thinking of transferring schools?" Diane asks.


"The university is playing 'stick our head in the sand and hope this goes away'." David snorts. "Josette had to prove she doesn't have a student loan before they took action."


"The bank checked my credit report for me when the teller gave the message I left to the vice president over the scholarship loans, there's no records of a student loan or any other unusual transactions, he's willing to verify that in case the school comes up with paperwork trying to claim I have one. In that case, he's personally going to call in the police for me." Josette says. "Something the university has so far refused to do."


"The police are involved," Diane says. "Yes, but that's only because the news of the hacking and that nasty letter were leaked to the media. The school didn't call them in, the committee that took over the investigation from the school did." Susan snorts. "The school is busy going on like business as usual and hoping this will all disappear."


Diane thinks what she's been seeing over. . . and finally nods.


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