《Olivia and Ricky's Odyssey to Rock Bottom》10. Inquisition
: Though there aren't graphic details, this chapter contains mentions of sexual assault.
Ricky stepped through the door to the headmaster's small front office, where his secretary, Adrianna, sat. She was a brunette in her late twenties, dressed in an elegant shirt and pencil skirt.
The office—smelling dusty and faintly of her perfume—was furnished with a vintage wooden desk placed in front of low metal filing cabinets. Over the cabinets hung a huge old painting of crusaders in battle on horseback, the heavy golden frame carved and decorative.
Two large and boxy armchairs in brown leather were placed against the powder-blue wall across from the desk, next to the door that led into the administration office.
Ricky took a seat in one of them without a word—Adrianna barely looking up from her work. It was far from the first time he had occupied one of the chairs in front of her. After a while, Ricky started drumming his fingers on the wide armrest in an impatient rhythm, earning an annoyed glance from Adrianna.
An angry buzzing finally came from the intercom on the desk, and the secretary pushed a button to answer.
"Please, send in Mr. Stark von Linden."
"Yes, sir. - Father Correll will see you now." Adrianna gestured at the tall carved double doors at the end of the room. They almost reached the high ceiling.
Ricky nodded and swung his messenger bag over his shoulder as he rose from the chair with a sigh, walked up to the doors, and knocked.
"Enter," Correll called from inside. "Please, have a seat," he offered when Ricky stepped in and closed the door behind him, pointing at an additional set of the same boxy brown armchairs in front of his big old wooden desk.
Correll was sitting in an office chair with his back to the two draped windows in the room. A large wooden crucifix hung between them right behind him.
The walls were painted in the same powder-blue color as the front office, but it was harder to tell because of the many framed photos of graduating classes covering all of them. The oldest, which hung above the four-foot-tall bookcase on Ricky's left, dated back a hundred years to when St. Aquinas had been an all-boys school. A large bust of St. Thomas Aquinas stood on top of the bookcase, surrounded by a collection of antique ornamental plates and an array of memorabilia.
The headmaster observed Ricky as he sat down, placing his school bag on the floor by his feet. "Where's your shirt?" he asked with a nod of the head at Ricky, eyeing the naked skin under his blazer.
Ricky sighed, trying not to get worked up as he explained. "The driver who took me to school was an idiot and caused me to ruin the one I was wearing. I've asked for a new one to be delivered. It should be here shortly. Sir," he added after a beat.
Correll nodded and removed his reading glasses. Leaning back in his chair, he put his elbows on the armrests and knotted his fingers together, contemplating Ricky.
"Yes, well," he breathed in deeply, "normally we would, of course, address that issue, but I'm afraid we stand before a bigger problem than a transgression of school regulations, Frederick."
Ricky furrowed his brows, not sure what he would hear next.
"I have been privileged to some information regarding the First Dance," Correll paused, his blue eyes flickering back and forth between Ricky's, observing him, trying to detect any change in his demeanor.
Ricky felt a chill run down his back as he realized what this was about.
"Information that involves you," Correll continued.
Ricky closed his eyes shortly and ran a hand through his hair, gripping it lightly between his fingers. He was silently racing through his mind, trying to revive any memories from the dance. Any at all. But for some reason, he just kept coming back to Olivia Casini's brown eyes.
"It seems you were seen pushing a crying Miss Birch out of a restroom." Correll paused again, giving Ricky time to answer while he casually moved a pen off the papers in front of him. But Ricky remained quiet, desperately searching every corner of his mind for any recollection.
"I've been informed that both of you were in a state of undressed." Correll ceased to speak, obviously expecting Ricky to give a response. But he didn't know what to say, so he simply shrugged. "What were you doing with Miss Birch in the restroom?" Correll's voice rose, mistaking Ricky's shrug for a callous indifference.
Ricky felt the beginning of an angry outburst rise when Correll raised his voice at him. He had to fight to keep his own voice calm. "What people do in restrooms. Taking a piss, I guess."
"You guess? That is not an acceptable answer, Frederick." Correll's voice grew harder still.
"Well, I don't know, okay?" Ricky snapped, the volume of his voice louder than he had anticipated.
"What do you mean, 'you don't know'?" Correll leaned slightly forward, looking angry. "Were you under the influence at a school event?" He tapped his index finger hard on his desk.
"What?" Ricky looked at Correll with an irritated expression, not surprised the headmaster went there so quickly. That fucking asshole.
"Traces of drugs were found in the restroom—"
"And we all know that in all of New York, I'm the only one who's ever done drugs," Ricky cut in with wry resentment.
"You are the only student who got suspended for possession of an illegal substance last semester." Correll raised his brows at him.
Ricky scoffed and shook his head in disbelief. "It was a bit of weed. And you accepted a generous donation as an apology to fucking forget—"
Correll slammed his hand down on his desk with a bang. "I will not tolerate that kind of language in my school, Frederick. Watch your mouth." He pointed an angry finger at Ricky, who looked away as he sat back in his seat, flexing his square jaw and clenching his fists. The urge to give in to his boiling temper was growing fast.
"What were you and Miss Birch doing in the restroom?" Correll asked again, still in a demanding tone.
Ricky exhaled slowly through the nose, looking his headmaster angrily in the eyes. "I don't. Fucking. Remember," he said in a harsh, aggressive tone, leaning more and more forward in his seat at each word, gripping the armrest in his hands.
"That's the last time I'm going to let your foul language pass in my office," Correll warned with a raised finger before getting out of his antique office chair to pace in front of the crucifix on the wall. After a moment, he sighed resignedly and leaned his arms on the back of the chair.
"Then, we have a problem." He looked at Ricky with a stern face as the bell rang throughout the school, ending the first period. "If you're unwilling to tell me what happened in that restroom, I'm afraid you leave me no other option than to suspend you—"
"—Then the police can handle things from here on out until you start to 'remember.'"
"That's bullshit!" Ricky shot out of his seat, causing the heavy chair to scoot back some.
"That is quite enough from you, Frederick! Sit down!" Correll straightened up and pointed at the armchair.
"Fuck you! You wanna blame me for what happened to Birch?!" Ricky continued to yell as he pointed at himself. "Then where's the fucking evidence?!" He swept a bunch of papers off Correll's desk with force, scattering them all over the floor.
"This is unacceptable behavior, Frederick! I will let your father know about—"
"You can't fucking do this," Ricky spoke in a strained voice, his fists clenched at his thighs, trying to keep himself in check.
"Oh, yes, I can." Correll looked at Ricky with a grim expression. "You are greatly mistaken if you think I will allow a rapist to walk—"
"Don't you call me a fucking rapist!" Ricky grabbed the small inkpot sitting on Correll's desk and threw it hard against the wall above the low bookcase, glass and ink splattering all over.
"Frederick!" Correll looked shocked, hitting a button on the intercom. "That is quite enough! You will leave this school immediately!"
"Fuck you!" Ricky yelled back, hitting the brass bankers' lamp standing on the desk, sending it to the floor as the deputy headmaster stormed into the office.
"Father Palmer, will you please escort Stark von Linden out of the school? He is suspended until further notice," Correll explained, his voice shaking.
Ricky quickly spun around, facing Palmer, and pointed a finger at him. "Don't you fucking touch me!"
"Get out," Palmer said sternly, holding the door to the front office open. Ricky was fuming with anger as he bent down and grabbed his bag from the floor, heading to the door. "You better find yourself an alibi, or this will be the end of your education," Father Palmer said in a low voice as Ricky passed and slammed the door shut behind him.
"Fuck you!" Ricky yelled at the closed door, kicking it. When he turned, he was met by the surprised look of not only Adrianna, but also Amelia York sitting in one of the big brown armchairs.
Ricky groaned with frustration. "Great. Just, fucking great." One of the two biggest gossip queens of the entire school had just overheard everything. "I swear, if you tell anyone about this," Ricky threatened in a low voice, pointing at Amelia.
"Then what?" she dared conceitedly, crossing her arms over her chest. "You're gonna rape me too?"
Ricky was standing over her before he knew it, his face an inch from hers. "I did not fucking rape her," he snarled through clenched teeth.
Amelia squirmed under him, feeling threatened. "Get out of my face."
"Frederick," Adrianna had gotten to her feet, "I think you better leave now," she advised as Palmer exited the headmaster's office, his hands covered with blue ink.
Ricky stood up straight, meeting Palmer's gaze. "I'm already fucking gone," he spat and headed for the door to the hallway, slamming it up.
Father Palmer followed Ricky as he made his way to the exit, aggressively tearing down notes and posters hanging on the walls in the hallways. Ripping and crumbling them up before throwing them on the floor along the way. Palmer said nothing; he merely stayed a few steps back, making sure Ricky was off school grounds before he closed the door and went back inside, shaking his head with a sigh.
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