j a m e s *uneditied*

A boy. A girl. A horrible truth. ----- The rape of men may come as a surprise to you. In this fictional documentation of a young high school senior named James Smith, you will learn the unfolding of a rape that will not just change the life of James, but also that of everyone around him.

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21. Chapter Sixteen

 

 

 Loftin

 

 Loftin was becoming one with the family. He had been over to their house and called them so many times they could almost anticipate his contact. It was sinister, knowing that James could only expect a call from a detective on his rape case. There was never any real good news – just updates on witnesses, who they could contact for a statement, trail arrangements and having to repeat his story to several different people.

 The only times when it wasn’t Loftin calling them it was someone else who had a few things to say to the family. The case had gotten out. Zack had practically shouted it from the rooftops after the day of the fight. James hadn’t heard the whole story Zack made up, but he knew it wasn’t pretty. Several times unknown callers got ahold of his personal cell phone. When he answered, it was nothing but nasty insults. Comments. About him and his family. How he was raised. He tried not to let it get to him.  Usually it was just some of the senior girls, other times it would be some people he never even met.

 He didn’t know what to do

 After a while he just stopped answering his phone unless it was Mom or Loftin. Ori barely called him – when she wanted to talk she would just come over. Chloe had disappeared after the fight. College, she had said. College and work. He believed her. She wasn’t always there when he went to work, though when she was it was a lot more comforting. She helped him when the usual customer started to harass him. Started to make comments. She flashed a look their way and recited the rules as if they were an age-old nursery rhyme; “If you harass anyone within the premises of the store or if you intentionally provoke the employees of the establishment we have the right to permanently ban you from this location.”

 It never worked. They started to lose customers. James knew he should feel grateful towards her but it almost felt as if she was fighting his battles for him. So he stopped letting her kick people out. He started to take it. It was fine, he said to reassure her.

 He was used to it.

 “Will you press charges against Mr. Zackary Harris?” Loftin asked. His voice was crackly. The background noise was loud. A radio playing some love song. A honk of a horn.

 “No.”

 Silence.

 “Are you sure?”

 “Yes.”
 Loftin didn’t ask why. He switched the topic.

 “Do you need a ride to school?”

 “No.”

 He didn’t need any more reasons to provoke people at school. Showing up in a cop car to scare them would just make it worse. Give them more ammo. Can’t take a few words, oh, boo-hoo, call the cops because he had his soft feelings.

 “I wish I didn’t make that report.”

 Then he wouldn’t have to deal with this.

 Silence.

 “I don’t.”

 

 The Christmas season was a drug. Two weeks off of not having to deal with the asylum lights and coffee breath doctors that stalked the hallways, they squeezed out every second of the holiday to make it count, and taking complete advantage of the overwhelming freedom of getting to eat anything you wanted, sleeping in till noon and creating the illusion that they had turned into kids again with presents from around their family.

 The same went for the adults; they didn’t have to deal with rambunctious kids and immature teens.  It was a dream inside a nightmare. Then the effects started to wear off as soon as the New Year clock hit eight thirty on the first day of January. Hungover and sick, they started to drift off back into reality, waiting for next year when the snow began to fall and the mechanical Santa’s cried an overly cheery HO HO HO in front of supermarkets, decorated with those blinding ugly green and red lights.

 It was a harsh cycle.

 They called it the comedown effect. “They” meaning the whole damn Drug Awareness team that comes to every high school and warns kids about the use of drugs. James saw the comedown effect of Christmas season first hand when he walked through the doors on Monday morning. Zombies roamed the hallways, bags hanging under their light-snatched eyes. He almost bumped into a senior who looked as if he was floating out of his body. When James collided into him by accident he could feel his skin was rubbery and cold.

 “Watch it, asshole,” the senior started to grumble, but when he looked into James’ face his expression changed, and without another insult or a sorry, he trotted back down the hallway. James scoffed. His fight wounds – wounds, were they? Just injuries? He didn’t know what to call them – hadn’t healed even though it had been about a week since the “fight”, or whatever. His eye was swollen and bruised, his Mom had put a bandage over it so he couldn’t see a thing from that eye, his lip had been stitched and the swelling on his cheek had gone down but purple splotches still dotted his skin. When he looked in the mirror that morning he couldn’t believe it was him. Nor could he believe that his best friend had done this to him.

 Scratch that.

 Ex-best friend.

 Ex-friend.

 He sounded like a middle schooler.

 But this wasn’t as bad as some of the other times. Seniors usually got into fights and most of the time it had always been one of them ending up in the hospital, or with a broken limb. This was child’s play compared to previous people. How come that senior seemed so…so…wary?

 It didn’t make any sense to him.

 “Holy shit.” Ori gasped when he walked into homeroom. James could feel the looks of some of the other students around him as they bore their eyes straight into his skull. He tried not to look at them, to pretend everything was fine. Ori made it difficult. He winced as she touched his cheek with the palm of her hand. She pulled away meekly but didn’t take her eyes off him.

 “Holy shit.”

 “Yeah, you should know. You were there.” James mumbled. He went through his normal routine. The teacher still hadn’t shown up for class. In one way he was grateful. He didn’t have to deal with the bombarding questions yet. In another, he wished she would walk through the door and get on with the class. He hated the way the rest of the class just stared at him. It felt almost like they knew.

 But they couldn’t have. Loftin promised complete discretion until they were able to have the case presented and ready. James knew that it would come out some time before the case went to trial. Hell, he was the one who asked for it. He was the one who wanted her to pay for her crimes.

 “Zack did this to you.”

 She was there. She saw it happen, now she knew the extent of it. It wasn’t even a question. He nodded, and his head throbbed. It even hurt to move his head.

 “So why the hell are you here?” Ori asked. She was starting to get mad. James didn’t blame her.

 “Because if I ditched school Zack would think I am a pussy or something.”

 “Dude, no, he’s the one being a pussy. He fucking jumped you at the diner.”

 “I know. Jesus, Ori, do you think that I forgot?”
 “Considering your face looks like you lost a battle with a bulldozer, I’d say it would be logical you lost some memory.”

 “Would be logical my ass, he didn’t hit me that hard.”

  She grunted.

 “So did you tell the police about it? Is Zack going to get arrested?”

 “No. Zack isn’t the one I made the complaint about, and the only rights that I have is that I’m just protected from Anna, not her shitty boyfriend.”

 Ori looked as if she was about to say something else, but at that moment the door to the classroom creaked open and Mac walked in. She barely glanced at James with a raised eyebrow, but didn’t ask any questions. She instead went straight to her lesson. James watched as Ori fumbled with her things. Behind her he could see bundles of cliques quietly whisper behind notebook papers and hands, giving him looks when they did. They only knew one side of the story, but it didn’t matter. He wasn’t the victim. He was the monster.

 After class ended what seemed like an eternity later, Ori joined him into walking to second period with him.

 “You know your class is on the other side of the school, right?” He asked as they descended the staircase. Ori shrugged.

 “I don’t care. You’re more important right now.”

 “Wow, I’m so touched.”

 She playfully punched him in the arm, and he faked pain, kneeling onto his knees before her.

 “Wow, you really are a pussy.” She giggles, grabbing onto his collar to hoist him up.

 “You’re so mean to me. I just got beat up and you’re now hurting my heart,” he clutched it. A passing group of girls greeted Ori. One of them latched onto her shoulder, whispering fiercely into her ear. Her eyes flickered towards James. Scared. She was scared. Of him. It didn’t make sense. James couldn’t really hear what they were saying but after a second Ori called her a bitch and shoved her away. The girl flipped Ori off, and the group disappeared down the corridor.

 “What did she want?” James asked her. Ori just shook her head in disgust.

 “She wanted to ask if I was free next Tuesday. Her brother has a crush on me.”

 James knew it was a lie. Her voice had that edge to it. He let it slip.

 “Well, that’s good, right? You’re so lonely-“

 “Shut up. I have Tony, remember?”

 “Has he even texted you?”

 She rocked back and forth on her heels, silent. James tried to raise his eyebrow questionly at her, but instead managed to make the bandage on his eye pop loudly from its hold on his skin. Ori snickered, trying to help him put the bandage back in place. Her hair tickled his nose. He snorted. They started to laugh. It felt good to laugh. Though, his insides hurt. He couldn’t remember the last time he laughed. Was that bad?

 “Oh shit,” he heard her stop, mumbling to herself. James looked up. On the opposite end of the hallway Zack was glaring at the two of them. His arm was around Anna. She tenderly soothed him, her lips painting his bruised cheek with dark red stains from her lipstick. Her nails raked across his hair. James could practically feel the scrape of her sharpened nails across his own scalp. His blood rushed across his skin like fiery heat. She didn’t look at him. She didn’t even acknowledge him. But she was talking to Zack, and Zack knew he was there.

 James turned away. He couldn’t watch it. He couldn’t stand it. His best friend was touching that girl, that thing, and he knew what he was doing. He knew the story behind it. The group that huddled around the two shot dirty looks his way. Again with the words behind their hands. 

 Zack told them. Zack told them his story. It wasn’t fair. Zack only knew one version of the story. He didn’t bother to ask for James’.

 “James.”

 That voice. Levi. He was standing close to them. His facial expression was that of a scared rabbit, and deepened when he saw James’ hand placed on her shoulder affectionately.

 “Is it true?”

 Of course he had heard. James was right – it had spread faster than the plague. James pushed out his chest and looked Levi straight in the eye.

 “What you heard and what really happened are two entirely different stories.” He said. His grip tightened on Ori’s shoulder.

 “Are you going to tell me the story where you think it really happened?”

 His knuckles turned white. He tried not to show how much Levi was starting to anger him. Of course, it came as no surprise. Loftin had originally said that they would not be able to handle the gossip that would start once the case had reached trial. But it wasn’t even then when they had started to hear about it. It was now. And it was so early. He wasn’t fully prepared.

 “Tony doesn’t think you’re telling the truth.” Levi said it as if it was the worst insult James could take. It wasn’t. He felt Ori tense up at the sound of his name.

 “Well you can tell Tony that I don’t give a damn what he thinks.” James snapped. Now he was griping Ori harder. He saw pain flash across her face, and so did Levi. When he took his hand off her, Levi moved so he was standing in front of Ori, as if to protect her. It made James almost scoff.

 “Are you trying to protect her from me?” James asked. Levi didn’t say anything. He was shaking, with fear or with something else, James didn’t know. He didn’t move. James did for him. He reached out to both of them.

 “Levi, seriously, cut the sh-“

 Levi shoved him. The sudden movement made James stumble back and fall onto his tailbone. The bruises throbbed painfully at the impact. James groaned, looking towards Levi with surprise. What the hell?

 “What the hell Levi!” Ori said. She darted out from behind him, coming to James’ aid. Levi took a hold of her arm. Gently. So to not hurt her.

 “Ori, stop, don’t help him up. He might hurt you.”

 Hurt Ori? Levi was convinced James would hurt Ori.

 “Hurt me? James would never hurt me!”

 She struggled against him.

 “Let me go, you’re the one hurting me.”

He didn’t. James rose to his feet unsteadily. The pain pulsed through his entire backside now.

 “Levi,” he started slowly. Levi looked to him. His shaking had stopped.

 “Levi, I did not hurt anybody-“

 “You attacked Zack! You attacked your best friend!”

 “No, I didn’t, Levi. Where did you hear that? From your friends? From Zack? An online post?”

 Levi went still. Ori took the opportunity to snatch her arm away.

 “Levi, James would never hurt anybody. I was at the diner that day and I saw what happened; Zack jumped James. It wasn’t the other way around.”

 “Well still,” Levi spat, “I know for a fact that James is trying to get back at Anna for not having sex with him at the party. Wanna know my resources? Anna. It was Anna who told me.”

 James opened his mouth to protest but Levi wasn’t done, “you embarrassed her at the party, you forced her to have sex with you when she didn’t want to, and now you’re the one who is claiming to be raped,” his laugh was poisonous. This wasn’t Levi, James realized. Anna had taken him too. Anna had taken all of them.

 “Men can’t be raped. Everyone knows you’re just doing this for attention and trying to get back at her-“

 “Levi, shut up! I’m not lying! She raped me! She hurt me! It’s unfair that you say men can’t be raped, why don’t you just shut the fuck up since you have never had sex before so you have to ride on the cocktails of seniors just to get girls to talk to you.”

 He didn’t know where that came from. He didn’t really care. He was furious. They were both furious. Flames seeped from their eyes as they glared at each other like rabid dogs.

 “Sure, insult me all you want, Smith,” he sneered, “I don’t care if you do. I care about other people, unlike you. I won’t let you hurt anybody else, especially someone as innocent as Ori just so you can play your sick games. I won’t have it.”

 “You won’t have it? Oh, so you won’t have it? I don’t give a flying fuck what you won’t have. You know what,” He took a step towards him, jabbing a finger into Levi’s chest, “try to protect Ori from me, take a whole army of douchebags and protect the female community when you see me coming, because apparently now I’m the one who should be contained, not Anna. Not that little whore you ruined my life. Not her shit-ass boyfriend who used to be my friend, now the person I remember because he punched my fucking face in, no, protect the girls from me. Protect them because you’re a shit head like everyone else. When the trial comes, you’ll see you’re fucking wrong.”

 Levi was scared. Levi was angry. Levi didn’t do anything except seethe, and clench his fists. James knew he wouldn’t hit. He couldn’t. With that, he turned on his heel and stomped away from him. He heard the scrape of Ori’s heels chase after him, but when he felt her hand on his arm, he pushed it away. He didn’t care anymore. He needed to focus now. He needed to get that whore behind bars, where she belonged with the rest of the worlds population of shit people.

 “Come on, Ori,” he heard Levi say behind him. Ori cursed him out for a few seconds, and then her own shoes stomped away down the other end of the corridor. He smiled.

 He still had Ori on his side.

 

 “Thank you, sir, have a good night.”

 The doors squeaked as they slid closed behind the guy. James let himself take a deep breath. He was lucky. This night he hadn’t seen anyone come to just pick on him.

No, not pick on him.

 Tear him to shreds.

Slice him.

Stab him.

Chop him up into little bits.

 Kill him.

He didn’t know how to answer back to them when they said things like that anymore, though he knew he didn’t want Chloe or Loftin try to protect him from them. They knew. They were going to keep at it, no matter what they did.

 “How are you holding up?”

 He turned. Chloe was leaning against her counter top, a smile playing on her lips. It was a pitying smile. He sighed.

 “Okay, I guess.”
 “Nobody has come in here looking for your head.” She said hopefully. That was Chloe talking. Optimistic. He wished he could take some of that optimism. Or have her lend it to him.

 “Yeah. I guess.”

 Silence. So much silence. He was so tired. He didn’t know how to deal with all this. He didn’t know how to respond anymore. He still had people on his side, but how did that count anymore? It was plain to see that even if the trail went through, and even if he won and even if Anna went to prison, he would still lose. He would lose because Anna didn’t just take away his virginity, she took away his best friend, his pride, and his own fucking personality. She took away everything and barely even knew her.

 It was such a cruel joke.

 “They’re vultures.”

 James didn’t look back at her as he shrugged. So much shrugging. Why so much shrugging?

 “They feed off of other people just for their enjoyment. It’s sick, but it’s what happens in the world.”

 “I wish it didn’t happen.”

 “Then we wouldn’t have any problems, and without any problems we wouldn’t know what true relief is.”

 She chuckled, “at least one good thing came out of this,” she said, walking around her counter over to him.

 “What’s that?”
 “You’ve become wiser.”

 He smiled. It was small, and it felt like it weighed a thousand pounds, but it made Chloe grin too. It felt good. Better than he had been when he was laughing with Ori. And now, when he looked at her, he saw how pale her skin was. The bags under her eyes. The way her irises still shone even through fatigue. The pink of her lips. The red tinge on her cheeks from the bite of the cold winds outside.

 “Get away from her!”

 Someone violently pushed him away from Chloe. His back hit his own counter, and for the second time that time he muttered a curse to himself as pain flooded the already tender spot on his flesh. When he looked towards Chloe he saw two guys and three other girls surrounding her like a barrier. The girls were speaking rapidly to Chloe like clucking hens, while the guys glared back at him with distaste. He recognized one of them to be Jordan.

 “Jesus, Cocoa, how could you be that close to him? You could’ve gotten hurt.” One of the girls said as she prodded Chloe for brusies. Chloe shrugged her off.

 “What? What are you talking about?” She asked. Another girl leaned in close to her neck.

 “He didn’t force himself on you, did he? He didn’t touch you? Did he put his hand under your shirt?”

 “Did he try to kiss you? Did you tell him no?”

 “Hold on, I’m gonna call the cops-“

 “Stop!”

 They all stopped talking.

 “Chloe, seriously, come on. He’s dangerous, why were you talking to him like that?” The other guy said as he leaned in close to her. Too close. James tensed and immediately Jordan was standing in front of him, his eyes rimmed with red hate.

 “Don’t you even think about getting close to her.” He seethed. James wanted to punch him, to kick him, to just get him out of the way so he could make that other guy move away from Chloe. But Jordan was bigger. James didn’t need another injury to add to this insult. Again, Chloe was fighting his battles for him. He was pathetic.

 “Shut up, Seth. Honestly, you’re all acting like a bunch of paranoid idiots.” She snapped. The girls started to squawk again and Chloe shot them all a look.

 “But Chloe, you obviously watch the news, right? And you’re on Twitter?” A girl asked. Chloe shook her head.

 “I know where you’re going with this, but no. Shut up, all of you. You have it all wrong.”

 “We have it all wrong?” Jordan said, whipping around to face his sister, “Chloe, you can’t be serious-“

 “Yes, I am. You all heard one story but I know the truth.”

 She faced James, her eyes softening. James swallowed.

 “It wasn’t his fault. She raped him. It was Anna who-“

 This time Jordan didn’t wait for her to finish before he shook his head frantically, turning around to James again. He grabbed him by the collar. He wasn’t that much bigger but James still had to tip his head up to look him in the eye.

 “What the hell, Smith?!” His breath was hot on his face, “what the hell did you tell my sister? Huh?! Why are you lying to her? Are you just trying to get into her pants?!”

 “Jordan, stop!-“

 “Shut up Chloe! This prick-head is lying to you just so he can have sex with you, and if you don’t agree he’s going to rape you,” he shook James, “isn’t that right? You’re going to do the same thing to my sister just like you didn’t to Anna!”

 “Shut up!”
 James swung at him, hitting him straight in the nose. Jordan dropped him to stumble back and the other guy tackled James to the ground. Fists started to fly, and James had a hard time seeing. It was deja-vu. He could taste blood, see it, feel it on his fists and his face, and the screaming. All the girls were screaming. But barely two seconds after he hit the ground it stopped. His eyes were open but he couldn’t see. He could hear them.

 “Stop it! Jordan! Stop it!”

 “Chloe, shit, what the fuc-“

“Marienne, go get something for Seth, his cheek is swelling-“

“Chloe don’t help him up-“

 Then she was on top of him. Just like Ori was. She wasn’t crying. Her eyes were glassy. She was patting his skin. He could see her hand. It was red with blood. His or someone else, he couldn’t be sure.

 “Chloe, what the hell are you doing-“

 “Leave me alone, Jordan.” She said it so calmly. James struggled to sit up. He could see Jordan cupping his nose, blood slowly streaming from his hand. Beside him the girls tended to the other guy, who held a frozen bags of peas to his eye. James didn’t remember hitting him. Jordan’s eyes flickered between the two. James saw his free hand twitch.

 “Chloe, step away from that guy, he’s dangerous-“

 “Then you are too.” Chloe retorted, not even looking towards him, “you came in here looking for me because you heard untrue gossip from one of your little friends.”

 His eyes boggled from his head.

 “Untrue gossip? Gossip? Do you call the news gossip?” He cried.

 “Yes, I do. I do because they don’t the story like I do. I thought you of all people would help me with James because you met him, and you know him, but instead you decide to believe some shit head reporter because it makes for a better story than the true one – that my friend was raped because of this girl. I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT, Jordan. I just don’t.”

 Jordan’s mouth gaped like a fish. So did everyone else. It was the first time James had heard Chloe ever curse, and by the reaction from the others, it seemed like the first time ever. Jordan stared at her for a few more seconds. She snapped her fingers. Without saying a word she motioned towards the door. Jordan understood it perfectly.

 “If you come home to tell us James hurt you, I’ll give you the relief of not saying I was right,” he hissed at her. They filed out of the store. Chloe helped James stand, being his structure as he wobbled. Blood pooled into his mouth. He tasted the copper on his lips.

 “You’re stitches broke.” She said. He licked the cut. It stung.

 “I know.”

 “We’ll have to take you to the hospital.”

 “I know.”

 She patted down the front of his Kroger uniform. He winced when she pressed too hard on his chest.

 “Oh, sorry,” She said softly. He gritted his teeth and forced a smile.

 “No….no, it’s okay. Just a bruise.”

 She looked up into his eyes. Hers were glassy and blue. Her cheeks were no longer red. Her lips were pink. Again with déjà vu. This time he hoped he wouldn’t interrupted again.

“Well…” she breathed, her breath smelling of mint, “C-come on, grab your things. I’ll close the store so we can go.”

 “Mh hm,” he mumbled. She was so close. He thanked Jordan for giving him a reason to be this close.

 “You don’t have to listen to them…” closer, “they…were…just” closer, “being…idiots…”

 “Chloe!”
 Damn it.

 The doors squeaked open to welcome a relatively large man. His cowboy hat bobbed on his pea-sized head as he bounded into the store, his thumbs hooked onto straps of overalls. James knew him immediately.

 Mr. Sanchez.

 The manager.

 “Chloe, James, why are ya trying to make love in my store?” He boomed. Chloe turned a deep shade of pomegranate, stuttering out an apology. Sanchez didn’t give her another look but instead stared at James.

 “Whoa, boy,” he whooped, snapping the overall straps, “ya look like ya just tussled with a bull. What the hell happened to yer face? Did you get into another of one of em’ fights?”

 James just nodded. Sanchez whistled, snapping a few more times.

 “If you don’t mind me asking, sir,” Chloe started, “might I ask why you are here so late? It’s Thursday, you know that, right?”

 “Yes I know that, girl. I just came for my jacket. Left it in the office.” He still eyed James, “Jamie boy, why don’t you come with me to go get it?”
 Chloe shared a look with him. The fun and games were over. Sanchez wasn’t laughing now.

 “Yes sir.”

 “Brilliant. Andale. Let’s go.”

 James had only ever been in the manager’s office twice. Once when he was first accepted for the job, back about two years ago, and then when Sanchez wanted to grab his coat and made James follow him. The room was filled to the brim with clouds of Old Spice after shave, and when the door opened James could see dust and dirt fly up into the air from the wind the door created. Wet heat hit him in the face like a truck.

 Sanchez didn’t grab his coat. He sat in his chair, thumbing the straps on his overalls. He nodded his head towards the seat across his desk. The only light that was on was that of the desk lamp. It gave a sinister look to Sanchez.

 “Now, James,” he started, “Imma gonna ask ya a question, n’ I wantcha to answer me honestly.”

 James nodded. Sanchez bit his lip.
 “Did you get into a fight here n the store?”

 For a moment James considered lying. If he said no then Sanchez would most likely drop it. They wouldn’t have to bother with it anymore. But Sanchez wasn’t stupid. He would look at the security feed if he even detected a hint of deception from James. He nodded.

 “Yes sir.”

 Sanchez sighed. He took his thumb from the strap, rubbing his chin. They didn’t say a word for a while. The smell of Old Spice had started to choke James.

 “Why?”

 Lie.

 “Because…”

Lie.

Think of something, he needed to think of something.

He wasn’t quick enough.

 “I know what happened the other couple of times some hooligans came in here. I talked to Chloe about it.” Sanchez said, “and I know that you’ve had a tough time with this whole thingy, but son, you can’t bring this to work. You need to deal with everything outside of here, y’hear?”

 “Sir, I can’t help it. These ‘hooligans’ followed me in here and no matter what I do I can’t make them stop. It’s like they’re hell bent on finding me or something.”

 Sanchez sighed. It wasn’t the sigh of him thinking, but more like a parent sighing because their kid wouldn’t admit to doing something wrong. What did James do wrong?

 “James, don’t you think it’s about time to stop this little charade?”

 Pause.

 “What?”

 James didn’t know what to say. He hoped that Sanchez was talking about something else. Anything but what James feared he was really referring to. He wiped his nose with the back of his hand. Blood stained his skin.

 “Don’t play dumb, son.” Sanchez warned, an edge to his tone. “Ya know exactly what I’m talking about. I wasn’t gonna bring it up but now you’ve brought this into work, and I can’t have that.”

 “Can’t have what?” James argued, rising from his seat. He sounded just like Levi. Sanchez had no idea what he was talking about.

 “Sir, with all due respect, but I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. What charade? Why am I playing dumb?”

 “I’m talking about the rape, James.”

 Of course. What else would he be talking about?”

 “What about it?”
 “About the fact that ya made this shit up. Now I understand it when ya want to get back at a woman but ya went too far with this one.”

 James’ mouth dropped open. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He bolted from his chair, letting it fall to the floor with a loud THUD.

 “What the hell is the matter with you people?!” He screamed, slamming his fists down onto the desk. “What the hell am I doing wrong in your eyes? Weren’t we taught back in middle school that rape can happen to anyone, at any time?! Wasn’t there this huge ass assembly that we were required to go to so we could learn how to protect ourselves?”

 “That was for the girls, Smith.” Sanchez said as he stood out of his chair. He loomed over James.

 “I don’t know what yer damage is, but men can’t get raped. It’s impossible to be raped by a woman.”

 James was silent.

 “Now ya can’t be bringing yer drama in here, so Imma gonna have to ask you to-“

 “You know what, fucking forget it.” James snapped before Sanchez finished. He ripped off his employee name tag, hurling it so it smacked Sanchez in the face, and stormed out of the office. He slammed the door shut behind him.  

“James, what happened?” Chloe asked, watching as he walked briskly past her. He didn’t answer her.

 “James, where are you going? James, answer me! James. JAMES!”

 The doors squeaked open. Frosty air chilled him to the bone, freezing the blood onto his face. His eye throbbed. His body hurt. All because some shit heads didn’t believe him. Men can’t be raped. Men can’t get hurt.

 He needed to make that bitch pay.

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