Fiction Teens & Young Adult

Jason pulled up in front of the ugliest building Ronald had ever seen. The distressed brick facade stretched away to the left and right, far enough to dwarf the limousine Jason parked in front of the massive bronze double doors, covered with verdigris. The only things lending the ominous structure some semblance of life and character were the crenelated walls and ivy climbing from the manicured lawn halfway to the small square windows. Closely spaced iron vertical bars on each window countered the ivy and the castle-like appearance though, bringing Ronald back to his original impression of foreboding. The square sign with block letters identifying the edifice as the “Domino House. Molding Hoodlums into Gentlemen since 1784” only deepened Ronald’s intense dislike of the place. Dislike he chose to keep to himself.

“Don’t bother,” he barked at Jason, opening the back door of the limo. Jason climbed out of the driver’s seat in spite of Ronald’s comment.

“I’ll get your things, Master Rovington.” Jason walked to the trunk of the car and opened it. Ronald was able to snatch his duffel out of the trunk before Jason could grab it. Making no comment, Jason hefted the large steamer, using both hands. As soon as it cleared the rim Ronald slammed the trunk shut. Jason followed two steps behind as Ronald swaggered up to the large doors. Before he decided what to do next, Jason grabbed the massive lion’s head door knocker on the right side and banged on the door three times. Both could hear the triple thud echo on the other side of the doors, rippling down the central hall, followed by precise, military footsteps approaching the doors from inside the boarding school.

The doors swung wide, exposing the long, central hallway. Ronald wouldn’t have been surprised if the hall were lined with flickering torches, but it was not. Weak yellow light from wall-mounted sconces escaped the hall, spilling past Ronald and Jason to end one pace behind the pair.

The man standing within was just as impressive and frightening as the building itself. He stood taller than the 6’2” driver Jason, shoulders wide enough to make the wide, bronze doors seem normal. He stood as straight as the brick walls, sporting a medium brown uniform. Close-cropped white hair stood at attention atop his blocky head, and square jaws thrust forward over his thick neck. His tanned face was baby-bottom smooth. Steely grey eyes assessed Jason and Ronald. An aquiline nose stretched down from the eyes to a thin, straight line. Colorless lips compressed to form that line, until his lips opened to welcome them to the school, although welcome may be a bit of an overstatement.

“Enter,” he commanded. And it was definitely a command. He rotated to his left, providing an opening for them to pass through the doors. Ronald swaggered in, duffel in hand. When Jason started forward, the militant giant stopped him with an outstretched hand. “Students must take care of themselves here. No servants, butlers, chauffeurs, or assistants.”

“I’ll just bring his trunk in,” Jason offered, trying to step past the open doors with the steamer held in both hands.

“He’ll bring his own trunk in, or do without.” Mr. Military placed a hand on Jason’s chest, barring progress.

“It’s heavy,” argued Jason.

“Then he must be strong.” Mr. Military took the steamer from Jason with one large hand, pulling the doors closed with the other.

“I don’t want to be here any more than you do, slick,” Ronald sneered. “Where do I go now?”

“Follow me,” Mr. Military ordered, setting the trunk down just inside the doors.

“What about my trunk?” Ronald asked.

“Take it with you if you want it.”

Ronald slung his duffel strap over one shoulder and grabbed the handle of his steamer with both hands. He managed to raise it one inch off the floor. “It’s too heavy.”

“Leave it for now.”

“It’ll still be heavy when I come back.”

“If you can’t get it to your room, it won’t stay here when you come back.”

“Oh yeah? Where will it go, then?”

“In one of the dumpsters.” Mr. Military started to march down the hallway.

“Hey you,” Ronald said, walking behind the broad back of the what? Headmaster? Physical Education trainer? Bouncer? “What do I call you?”

“Mr. Rogers.”

Ronald followed Mr. Rogers halfway down the long hall, to a paneled wooden door. A plaque on the door read “Mr. Johnstone, Headmaster.” Mr. Rogers opened the door and stood aside, motioning for Ronald to enter. He closed the door behind Ronald.

The office of the headmaster was well-lit. Ronald stood in front of a chest-high counter. A boy his own age, with a shaved head and wearing a tan uniform, sat behind the counter. He looked up at Ronald with hard, hazel eyes and no hint of a smile or a welcome. He flipped open a ledger that lay in front of Ronald on the counter.

“Name, age, grade, and reason for attending.” He pointed a slender, well-manicured finger to a separate column for each detail to be entered. A pen lay beside the ledger, attached with a small chain. Ronald picked up the pen and wrote his entry neatly on the next open line.

“Ron, 15, 10, asshole father.” The boy behind the counter stood, making his nametag visible: “Geoffrey.” He picked up the ledger and stepped over to his left. He lifted a hinged section of the counter.

“The headmaster will see you now.” Geoffrey motioned for Ronald to enter, pointing to an open door that led into an inner office.

Geoffrey followed Ronald into the headmaster’s office, laid the ledger on the headmaster’s desk, then retreated and closed the door.

Ronald slouched into the chair in front of the headmaster’s desk. The headmaster opened the ledger, glanced at the latest entry, then looked up at Ronald.

He’s a weak old man,” Ronald thought. Mr. Johnstone quickly disabused him of that notion.

“Stand until you are told to sit, Ron.” Ronald remained slouched in the chair, staring at Mr. Johnstone. Until he felt the rude awakening of electricity coursing through his body after the headmaster pressed a button on the underside of his desk. Then Ronald leaped out of the chair and stared at it as if it had come alive. He noticed the metal contacts sprinkled over the seat and arms, connected by blue lightning until the electricity subsided. When he glared at the headmaster, he reformed his initial opinion. The man was a devil, a lecher, and a right mean bastard.

Brown stringy hair, interlaced with white, formed a pair of wispy horns rising above the man’s forehead. Bushy brown and white eyebrows came to a v above a bulbous nose and rose to form a smaller pair of horn shapes on Mr. Johnstone’s brow. He leered at Ronald, showing a pair of sharp canines bordering large, yellowing teeth.

“Think of me as a bigger asshole than your father. And for all intents and purposes, I serve as a father figure for all of the boys here. You may now sit.”

“No, thanks. I think I’ll stand.” Ron gave the chair a wary glance. Mr. Johnstone stood, raising a riding crop in his right hand. He whipped it across Ronald’s face, raised his voice half an octave, and ordered “SIT!”

Ronald dropped uneasily into the chair and whipped his cell phone out of his pocket. “This is bullshit!” Mr. Johnstone offered a humorless half-smile.

Before Ronald could start to push buttons on his phone he was jolted out of the chair again.

“Goddammit,” he cursed, stepping away from the desk, out of arm’s reach. He kept an eye on the headmaster as he pressed the number for his home from memory. He heard the satisfying sounds of the buttons, but no comforting sound of the call going through. He took a quick, nervous look at his phone. His fears were confirmed as he saw ‘No signal’ displayed on the screen, and four empty bars, indicating no service.

Ronald turned around and pulled the office door open. He couldn’t resist telling the headmaster “I’m outta here, asshole.” He rushed through the door, threw the counter gate open, and leaped to the main door. He heard Geoffrey call out “You can’t …” as he slammed open the office door. Fortunately, Mr. Rogers wasn’t standing there in the hallway. Ronald stamped out, closed the door loudly behind himself, and started towards his steamer and the main doors of the school.

He heard a loud siren squealing over the PA system. Was that a signal that classes were over? Or an alarm? All the rest of the doors lining the hallway opened and uniformed students marched out of classrooms, turning left or right to head to their next class. Several tossed questioning looks his way, perhaps because he was the only one in the hallway not in uniform. But no one stopped, as Ronald hurried past his steamer to the front doors. Ignoring the heavy steamer trunk, he pulled open the door to his right and stepped out onto the walk. He was a little surprised to see the limo idling at the curb, but he sprinted towards the car, yelling for Jason to wait.

He tore open the back door and slid into the limo, barking at Jason to head for home.

“What about your steamer, Master Rovington?”

“Fuck the steamer, Jason. Just drive. Hurry.” Ronald turned to give a worried look at the school. It wouldn’t surprise him if Mr. Rogers marched out of the school and stopped the car somehow.

Jason carefully put the car in gear, checked for traffic, turned on the left blinker, and pulled away from the curb. He left the school in a stately manner, driving just under the posted speed limit.

“There is a conference call for you to hear, Master Rovington.” Jason pressed a button so the voices of the headmaster and Jason’s father issued forth from the rear speakers. Jason heard Mr. Johnstone’s oily voice first.

“I don’t think Master Rovington wishes to attend our school, Mister Rovington.”

His father’s mellifluous voice responded.

“What do you mean? Hasn’t he shown up yet?”

“He did. I had him in my office for less than five minutes.”

“And after that? Did you enroll him in your program?”

“The first part of our program, Mr. Rovington, is to discourage rebellious young men from becoming students here.”

“The first part?”

“That’s often all that is necessary. And that first part is covered by the enrollment fee you submitted.”

“An exorbitant enrollment fee, but he isn’t enrolled?” Jason’s dad sounded angry.

“Relax, Mr. Rovington. If our initial enrollment fails, you need not resubmit another enrollment fee. The next time young Master Rovington comes to our establishment, he will remain here until graduation. If, that is, another visit is requested.”

“You can be sure I’ll request it, Mr. Johnstone, if Jason still acts out when he returns home.”

Jason jabbed the button to speak. “I won’t act out, dad. I promise,” he panted. Then he added, “Mr. Johnstone makes you look like an angel.”

Mr. Johnstone chuckled. Mr. Rovington was quiet for half a minute. “I’ll give him two days, Mr. Johnstone. If I’m satisfied with his improved behavior, you won’t hear from me again.”

“It’s been my pleasure, sir,” came Mr. Johnstone’s response.

“It won’t be your pleasure if I have to send him back there, I assure you.”

“Nor will it be young Master Rovington’s pleasure, I assure you, sir.” Mr. Johnstone’s statement was followed by the definitive click terminating the connection. Mr. Rovington sighed.

“Bring him home, Jason.”

“Very well, Mr. Rovington.”

“Thanks, dad. I won’t let you down.” Jason ended the conversation and relaxed back into the seat.

October 22, 2020 19:58

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