2007-10-01: Wrecking Ball


Lee_icon.gif Rochelle_icon.gif

Summary: Rochelle creates havoc in Lee's closet office. Not really. But she does break something. It is actually not Lee.

Date It Happened: October 1st, 2007

Wrecking Ball

Brubaker Secondary School

On the surface, Brubaker Secondary School seems a peaceful and placid campus, centered around a venerable building, whose dignified facade is contained behind a tasteful iron fence. Within this building, the halls are kept clean and the atmosphere is pleasant, conducive to learning.

Other, more modern outbuildings are on the grounds, including a cafeteria, a computer and science lab, and an administration building. Well-maintained fields for soccer, baseball, and football can also be found nearby. The casual visitor would remark on this middle-of-the-road private school's "respectability", even perhaps on its scrupulously maintained racial diversity.

Yet there is a certain sense that something's wrong in the school. Empty housings for security cameras broken or never installed. A certain furtiveness when students pass in the halls. A jolt of surprise that's just a little too high when approaching someone from behind. Difficult to put one's finger on, and one of the watchwords seems to be "not getting involved", not asking questions, so whatever is wrong is never illuminated fully

The woman at the front desk knows who Rochelle means. "Mr. Jones." she says with a superior smirk, as if she is saying the name of a janitor she doesn't particularly like. "Yes, I suppose he's still here. Back through that hall, down the stairs that say 'Basement', then go to the right. Look for the door marked 'Do Not Enter'. That's his office."

The basement is Dickensian in its shadows and arcs of light, the sound of clanging, ancient vents and pipes distantly echoing. It's no joke. 'Do Not Enter' is not just Lee's office, but the door is open and Lee himself is visible there. He has a phone so old that it's /rotary/ pressed up against his ear. "No, look, what I'm saying is…no, I don't have a purchase order. They won't give me a purchase order, I don't /want/ to buy it from you anyway, what I want is for you to…yes, I understand that. I understand that…" His desk, comically tiny, like a child's desk that his long legs are crammed up against, is scattered with paperwork. He is writing on a little memo pad with a red pencil as he talks to whoever.

Any emotion that the woman at the front desk has for Lee is probably gone unnoticed, for the most part; Rochelle isn't here to see what people think of him, she's here because- wait, why is she here, exactly? These thoughts take place only while she's making her way down to Lee's office, so by the time she gets there and comes to the conclusion that maybe it was silly to come to the school- it's too late and the broad woman finds herself already in the hallway nearby.

Practically shuffling her way closer, Rochelle leans tentatively against the doorframe as she looks inside. She's still in what may very well be her clothes from work; a half-buttoned, dusty old denim shirt that is a few shades lighter than her jeans, a white shirt underneath, and boots that have seen better days. Her brown hair is pulled up haphazardly at the back of her head, and she has been wearing a doe-eyed expression since coming in the building. That desk seems a bit small for him. Seeing as Lee is on the phone, Rochelle doesn't say anything at all yet, opting to linger in the doorway.

Lee notices Rochelle - she's not what you'd call subtle, even when she just leans in, and looks surprised. "Wha…huh? Look, my class really needs this and I don't think you understand the…hello?" He sighs, hangs up the phone, but a smile comes to his face, "Rochelle, hey. Hi, come in. Uh, if you can. There's a couple of chairs over there." He looks almost relieved to see her, saying: "I was going to call you, but things have been so crazy lately. Do you want some coffee?" He has one of those teeny-tiny hotel coffeepots plugged into a sad, wobbly little outlet plate on the concrete floor, along with several clearly hand-prepared packets of coffee, probably from some indie roaster only known to nine people in the whole city.

Rochelle only now notices the fact that the office is inordinately tiny. "I. This is really tiny." Never one to state the obvious. She sidles in the door now, carefully eyeing her surroundings before feeling comfortable enough to pull up a chair. It is a short chair, much like Lee's short desk. It makes a few unhappy creaking noises under her weight. "I can live without coffee in the middle of the afternoon. But thanks anyway." Crazy, huh? That's what they all say. "I'm not entirely sure why I'm here. Maybe cause we haven't been on shiny-happy terms, or maybe cause I'm too pokey for my own good."

Lee lifts his hands. "Let me start. I am sorry about what I said to you and the guys at the workshop. The whole point of going there was to work on getting better. You gave me some advice, it was good advice, you did that to help me, and I threw it right back in your face. It was uncalled for and I apologize." he says. "I appreciate what you told me and I'd love the chance to practice with you again, if that's in the cards."

A passing janitor looks in the office, seeing Rochelle crammed up against one side of the desk and Lee, his knees almost to his chest, crammed up against the other. "/What?/" Lee says. The janitor moves on.

Rochelle just nods along after a moment of listening, expression one that looks considering. It's pretty much what she was hoping to get out of Lee- if not just a simple apology. She likes this one, though! Her eyes meet the janitor as he peers in and moves on. "Thanks, Lee." One step away from 'thanks for apologizing for being an asshole', but even Rochelle isn't that brutally honest. At least…not today. "I'd say it's in the cards so long as you want it to be. I'm not a grudgy person, but you know if you do that again I might just stick your bow up your-" As if on cue, some pipe somewhere in the basement lets out a loud, obnoxious, rattling rumble. Rochelle's neutral slouch straightens a little as she blinks up at the ceiling.

"This can't be a safe place for an office. This isn't even an office. It's a broom closet with a desk." She pretty much grunts at the end of this sentence. Eloquence isn't needed.

Lee says, "The administration doesn't intend for me to be in it long, I found out. And no, that doesn't mean I'll be getting a new office. It means I'll be finding a new school." rather sourly. "They've stuck me with all the borderline kids, the at-risk kids, the ones that are behind, and if I can't get them to pass the state assessment exam, they don't have to pay me the performance bonus the rest of the teachers get, /and/ they can blame it on me and let me go next year." It's not a complaint, exactly, from his tone, but it's clear it preys on his mind. "So. A closet for an office, castoff textbooks, nothing for classroom supplies, and an assistant principal that expects me to teach the test fifteen minutes out of every hour."

Rochelle got a rise out of that, somehow. The woman across the desk isn't oblivious of that fact. "I could always threaten them with some sorta building ordinance." And it would most likely work to an advantage, and at least serve to move Lee where he might actually be able to breathe. The last thing anyone wants is a big fat letter ordering construction on behalf of safety guidelines- or face fines, fees, felonies, et cetera. "If they're putting your kids down here with all this equipment too, it's more than just a hazard." He's talking about exams, and she's talking about building codes. "So they basically took you out of one craphole and put you in another?"

Lee says, "Can't blame this on anyone but myself. I washed my hands of JPS junior high and /ran/ across town to be in this office, thinking I'd be treated better." wryly, and adds: "The weird part is - these kids need help too, even if I'd been thinking of anyone other than myself, I might have come." He chuckles and shakes his head. "No, the classrooms are upstairs. The kids don't come down here, or they're not supposed to, anyway. I think there's a makeout spot about a hundred yards down that steam tunnel, under the administration building, or maybe just a very suggestive-sounding pipe. And anyway, the school has lawyers, lots of lawyers."

"I might not be the brightest crayon in the box, but even I know that if hints get dropped hard enough, someone's gonna feel it." Lawyers or not, Rochelle can still complain. Probably will, eventually. "You could always just…stay in the classroom, instead of here. If kids don't come down here, how're they supposed to ask you questions, or whatever? Seems sort of silly to have a spot outside of the room, anyway. Then again, I came from one of those small rural schools with high scores and a day off for deer season. Where the most expensive thing was like…the floppy drive Macintosh. Maybe I have no place complaining about this school." Rochelle chuckles dryly.

Lee pats the phone. "Gotta use this. I have office hours upstairs in the classroom, they can find me if they need me. So how have things been for you?" he says.

Well, alright then. "Fine, I guess. The same old stuff. My life is really not that complex, Lee." Rochelle laughs again, but it's an actual laugh and not just an uneasy one. "Fall's coming. Which means winter is coming. Which probably means I'll get laid off weeks at a time again, from most things."

Lee says, "That stinks. How do you get through it, handy-person-ing?" He actually sounds like he's interested - not that she /needs/ help, but just that he figures she's got a method and he wants to know it.

"Pretty much. I'm always on case-by-case sorts of things. And temp jobs, aside from the big ones. I usually just do more of those." Rochelle smirks preemptively. "I usually get to run more equipment in fall and winter. Next week I get my mitts on a wrecking ball." At that, she even bounces her eyebrows a little. Construction machines are awesome, okay. "Jackhammers in spring, wrecking balls in autumn. Sure beats closet offices and midget desks."

Another cue. Creeeeeaaaak. Was that a pipe? No.

The old school chair Rochelle had so carefully put herself on finally gives up the ghost; the legs in the back buckle under, and the chair flops over with the woman on it. Luckily she's not flipping anywhere, and just lands with her knees awkwardly over the toppled seat and her back half on the floor. "Aaaggkkgggh-" Well, that was embarrassing.

Lee yelps and hops up, banging his own head on a vent that, normally, he remembers to lean forward and void. "Aaaagh, dammit!" he says, holding his head unsteadily. He doesn't /quite/ fall over. "Uuugh. Are you okay?"

Hahahah. Wait, that one was funny. Rochelle laughs as she pushes her arms at the floor in order to try and sit up on the cement. "I've had much worse. I should be asking you that question, stilts." Read: I'm as tough as a bull, and you hit your head, did you know?

Lee says, "I'm going to take that as a sign to close up shop." He offers her a hand - yes, he'll even help /her/ up if need be. "Let's get outta here."

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