The Untold Story Of A High School Hall Monitor | Teen Ink

The Untold Story Of A High School Hall Monitor

January 13, 2011
By imjustagirl, Monument, Colorado
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imjustagirl, Monument, Colorado
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Favorite Quote:
"When the rich wage war it's the poor who die." -Linkin Park

I open the school’s heavy metal doors. They make a loud squeak that echoes past the security guards’ posts, the metal detectors, all the way through the hall. Everyone looks at me as I walk in. They all stare like I’m some kind of freak and I give them my usual glare in response. I’m not an animal. I’m a person. Treat me with respect and I’ll show you what a real friend is like. I sigh bitterly and let Mr. Faulker, one of the security guards, look through my bag. There’s the usual stuff. Pencils, notebooks, textbooks, CD player, erasers. I don’t carry lip gloss or a phone with me like most girls my age do. I can’t afford any of those things. I can’t afford to seem petty or weak. My dad always told me that the people who show their weaknesses are actually strong. But I don’t think that’s true anymore. Now that he’s dead, nothing he said before seems true. I feel the tears start to form as I think about him, so I wipe the expression off of my face and throw my bag into my locker. It makes a loud thud and I curse myself for being so loud today. It’s just a normal day. September 25th. No big deal. It would also have been his forty-seventh birthday. I slam my locker shut and cringe at the noise it makes. My ears are ringing and I wonder if it’s because of how fresh my cuts are that all the noises seem amplified by a hundred times. The blood oozing out of my flesh always seems to sharpen my senses. I turn to face the window, but someone catches my eye before I can finish the move. “Shay,” he calls out, and my blood starts pumping even faster as he approaches me. I turn to walk, or run, away. “Shay!” I stop and clench my teeth. It’s Lucas. My stepdad. “Why are you here!” I hiss at him through tight lips. He glares at me, just like everyone else does. “You forgot your lunch.” He holds up a brown paper bag that looks soggy and seems to drip some kind of liquid. I cringe away. “I think I’ll buy today.” “Don’t!” he yells, and I flinch away when he raises his hand like he’s going to slap me. It wouldn’t be the first time. He sighs and glues a calm look on his face even though he knows I see through it. “Don’t... be unappreciative, Shay. I went to all this time making your lunch and bringing it to you. You will eat it.” “Fine,” I whisper, terrified. I hate him when he’s like this, and that’s most of the time. I take the paper bag from him timidly. He shoves it at me as I reach for it and all two of its contents spill to the floor. There’s an applesauce cup and a single piece of ham. Some lunch. “Great,” he says as I shrug. “Go buy your own f*ing lunch then, Shay.” I bite my lip to keep all the words I want to say in, and I’m happy he storms away as fast as he does. I don’t know how long I can hold back what I want to shout at him. I kneel down onto the floor and stare at the ‘lunch’ for a few seconds. The ham’s no good. It wasn’t even in a bag and now it’s been all over the floor. I see what the other kids do on this floor. I’ll pass on the Chlamydia today, thanks. The applesauce, however, can be saved. So I reach to pick it up and take it back to my locker, but a hand kicks it out of my reach. I look up to see River Mason wearing that retarded grin standing over me. He’s smirking like he just did some kind of amazing practical joke. Really? You kicked an applesauce cup away from a girl whose stepdad hits her around when he has a tough day at work. You should feel so accomplished. I glare at him resentfully. Leave it to River to make your life hell when you’ve already had a shitty start to a day. He laughs and walks away, his crew following him. I sigh and bite my lip. I hope the tears don’t come. Crying at school is just asking for someone to ridicule you for the rest of your high school years. I’m all the way at the deserted end of the hall. I’m one of the only Juniors with a locker down here. Most are Seniors that don’t come to class in the morning ‘cause they pulled the right strings to get a free period this time of day. I crawl over to the wall and put my head in my hands. I thrust my head against it, hoping that maybe it’ll stop the ringing in my ears or maybe even knock me out so I can go home. A warm hand touches my shoulder and I look up without really seeing. It’s Ben. “Shay,” he whispers, sinking down to my level against the wall. He puts his arm around me and I bury my head in his chest. He strokes my back and pulls the hair out of my face. “What’d he want?” “He brought my lunch.” I point to the ripped bag by my side and Ben just stares defiantly. “Why can’t you just tell someone about him?” he asks. I sigh. We’ve had this conversation a thousand times before. “Because, Ben… He’ll go after Sarah.” Sarah is my little sister. She’s only eleven. Lucas usually leaves her alone, and I want to keep it that way. He saves his anger for me and my mother. Ben sighs and gives me that look. That pleading, desperate look that makes me almost want to give in and break down. “Please, Shay,” he whispers agonizingly, “let me help…” I squeeze my eyes shut and try to tune him out. You can’t tell anyone. He’ll hurt her. He’ll hurt her. “I can’t, Ben,” I choke out, wiping my eye before the tear can fall down my cheek. Ben takes in a deep breath and hits his head against the wall, too. He looks down on me with dead eyes. He knows I’ll never tell anyone about Lucas. He knows I’ll lie for as long as it takes for Sarah to be safe. “Let me see your arms,” he commands, and I timidly roll up my sleeves. There are scars from months ago still on my skin, and more fresh ones. There are the ones from this morning, the gashes in my arms. He looks at them and gasps a little as he takes them in. “Oh, Shay,” he groans, pushing my hands back into my lap and putting his head in between his knees. He looks like he’s going to puke. “God, Shay.” I stare at him desperately, wishing he could understand the reasons why I do what I do. But I know he’ll never get it. He’s normal. “I’m sorry,” I whisper. He closes his eyes and then opens them again. They’re blank and emotionless when he speaks next. “Sorry enough to stop?” he asks, so soft it’s not even a whisper. I pause and bite my tongue. The pain sharpens my senses again. “You know I can’t do that.” Ben hits his head against the wall again and this time it makes a loud thud. I cringe as I hear it. It’s like I can hear his brain rattling around, dangerously close to coming unhinged. That thought terrifies me. Ben can’t die. Ben is my sanity. Besides Sarah… he’s my life. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing really romantic between Ben and me. He’s my best friend. He’s the only person I feel I can truly trust, and if he ever left… I don’t know what I’d do. If Sarah weren’t there to protect, I might just get it over with and kill myself. But I remember there’s a big difference between putting a few scars on your skin and slicing clean through your wrists. We sit there quietly for a few more minutes. Ben has Study Hall and I have a free period, so neither of us has a class we have to actually be there for. He puts his arm around me again and I lean into his body another time. It feels like it’s been hours later when I hear the bell ring, signaling the end of first period. Forty-five minutes seems to last like forty-five hours. We both jump as a group of Seniors crowd around us to get to their lockers. Ben helps me up and I lean on him most of the way to my locker. “Are you ‘gonna be okay?” he asks, soft enough that the Seniors next to us can’t hear. I think it over for a few seconds. If I stay here, I’ll have to go through six more hours of lectures on subjects I already know everything about. I’m a straight A student. My teachers don’t care if I miss school because I always make up the work. Being a bad student is the one thing Lucas can’t try to punish me for. “No,” I whisper. “I’m not.” Ben puts his arm comfortingly around me and I sigh at his embrace. We’re quiet for a few more seconds. He wraps his hand around my waist gently, careful not to accidentally touch the cuts on my hands, and leads me forward towards the office. “Where are we going, Ben?” “I’m taking you home, Shay. You’re right. You’re not okay.” I sigh again, this time relieved. If there is a God, I thank him for Ben. “Thanks, Ben.” He smiles a little but it doesn’t touch his eyes. I know that he hates that he even has to take me home. I know that I’m a burden to him. It seems like we’re always a burden to the people we love. “Is she alright?” the school nurse asks Ben, talking about me. “She isn’t feeling well,” Ben answers, and the nurse looks convinced. Quite frankly I do feel like I could puke, so it doesn’t even seem like a lie. “I’m just going to take her home, if that’s alright.” The nurse looks me over for a second, and after I lose my balance and stumble a little she agrees that I should be at home resting. “Make sure you sign her out so we can fix the attendance. She won’t get a full day of absence, just her last six periods.” One of the ladies that works in our school’s office hands Ben a clipboard and it doesn’t surprise me that he uses the wrong name. Everyone thinks we’re related, even the people in the office. They all think he’s my brother. He signs his name Benjamin Willer and the woman doesn’t take another glance at the paper. They all honestly think we’re siblings. How strange it seems when I imagine if that were true. Ben tugs me along out the front door – it’s odd how it doesn’t make the loud shuddering noise when he opens it. It doesn’t make any noise at all – and puts me in the passenger seat of his car. I’m quiet while I buckle my seatbelt and wait for him to sit behind the wheel. He laughs as he sits down and I stare at him in confusion. “Come on, you didn’t really think I was going to take you home, did you?” he laughs, and I can’t help but grin back. “Where else are we ‘gonna go?” I reply, but it comes out funny because I’m smiling so wide. “The pier?” he suggests, and I shrug. “Sounds fine to me,” I agree, and he smiles big again. “Awesome,” he replies, and shifts the car into Drive. “We can get some lunch too. I don’t feel like going to school today, either.” I smile and roll my eyes. Ben is an even better student than I am. The only days he misses school are when… when I need him. He pulls out of the parking lot towards the pier, our favorite spot. The school is only five or ten minutes away from the beach and we like to take advantage of that whenever we can. Ben turns up the radio while we drive and some heavy metal song comes on the station. He notices me looking at him funny and remembers that I don’t like that kind of music, so he changes it to a pop station. I look at him funny again. I don’t like pop either. We both laugh as he gives up and just turns the radio off. I smile and give an embarrassed laugh when he sighs dramatically like I’m making the car ride difficult. Which I kind of am. But it’s still funny. I look out the window to see the sunlight reflecting off of the ocean’s waves. Our water may not be the warmest, but it sure is the prettiest. He gets a good parking spot near the sidewalk and we get out. I remember that I don’t have a bathing suit and am thankful I wore shorts today. They go down to my knees to cover the bruises Lucas gave me, but… I should still be able to go in the water. I remember Lucas and then start to think about my dad again, but I wipe the sadness off my face as Ben walks over towards me. He’s like my own personal sunshine on a cloudy day. I don’t want him to worry about me anymore than he already does. As we walk along the beach, we talk about all the things we’ve already talked about before. We talk about Sarah, about Lucas, about my mom. Ben asks once again why I can’t just tell someone, and I give him my usual answer. “Because he’ll hurt Sarah,” I say, for what feels like the millionth time. “How do you know that? How do you know they won’t catch him and throw him in jail?” Ben asks defiantly. “He’ll lie. Mom will lie. So will Sarah. He says that if we try to tell someone he’ll just hurt us more. The worst part is that we know he can get away with it, too.” Ben lets out an angry gust of air and clenches his mouth shut. I can see that this thought pisses him off as much as it does for me. “Damn him!” he shouts, and I’m happy the beach is almost empty so no one can hear him yelling. “This isn’t right! Damn it!” Ben kicks a trashcan over and it flies across the beach. He was lucky. It had just been emptied. I feel my lip quiver and I fight back the tears again. Why can’t my mother feel like he does? Why is it that she can just sit and watch while he takes his anger out on the both of us? “Ben,” I say, taking his hands in mine and forcing him to look at me. “Ben, calm down. Please.” He’s panting loudly and the seagulls are squawking at us, telling us to shut up and stop screaming. After a few seconds his breathing slows and he looks at me with that painful expression again. His words echo in my head and I fight to keep them out. “It isn’t right, Shay. It isn’t right.”

I stare at myself in the mirror. My normal, beautiful face and body stares back at me. But this time it’s wearing clothes. “Ayla, come on. You’ll be late for work,” my mom calls up the stairs after I splash some water on my face. I’m lucky to get my mom’s clear skin. The only makeup I have to put on is concealer that covers the dark circles under my eyes I get from not sleeping enough. The rest Mickey, my manager, puts on for me. I absolutely despise Mickey. “I’m coming, Mom,” I shout back down, dabbing on the skin-colored glue across the bottom of my eyes. I grab a jacket – not that I’ll need it where I work – and hurry down the stairs. She’s right. I am late. My show starts at nine and it’s eight fifty now. “Bye, Mom.” I hug her from behind and leave through the front door before she can reply. I don’t have time to talk. I shove my keys in the ignition to my mom’s old Honda and tear down the street. No one is out on the roads or outside. I’m pretty sure I’ll be safe speeding a little. It only takes me a few minutes to get to where I work at the speed I'm going. The neon ‘HAL’S’ sign greets me as I walk in, like it always does, but now it has a more sinister feel to it. Now I understand what really goes on inside this bar. “Ayla, you’re late!” Mickey says, hurrying me into the dressing – which is ironic because all we do is undress in there – room and hands me a costume. Because I’m a minor, it’s illegal for me to strip completely naked. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still use me. Because I volunteered for this job and don’t get completely undressed, not to mention the fact that I’m only seventeen but can pass for twenty, everything is legal. But I only ‘volunteered’ because I had to. I first found out I needed to get a job five months ago. My dad had been gone for a while still. He left when I was four, but he always sent a check in the mail – that is, until he got incarcerated for drug possession. Now he can’t send us much of anything. Without his money, we’re good as broke. But now I can make five hundred dollars a night at Hal’s, depending on how good the men are feeling and how much they decide to tip. That’s more than enough to keep us going. Mom doesn’t know about what I do here. She thinks I’m a waitress who wears a cute outfit that covers my entire body and hardly shows any skin. I don’t tell her, because I know she’ll force me to quit. I don’t know what we’d do if we didn’t have my money coming in. Mickey throws me into a small room with a curtain so I can get dressed. Tonight it’s a leather pair of underwear with a skimpy cloth top. It doesn’t go past the lower part of my chest, but it covers everything important and apparently that’s good enough for the state to be legal. I sigh and look at myself in the mirror, desperately wishing the girl I saw a few minutes ago could be enough for the men that pay money to see us. But I know it never will be. A girl in a t-shirt and jeans wouldn’t draw in a crowd. “Showtime!” Mickey shouts just before the music starts blasting. I know that’s my cue. I find my place in line behind the twelve or so girls with their partners in front of me. The girls wear the same costume I do, except they have long leather pants on instead of the provocative underwear I have on. The guys wear leather vests and pants. I hate them at that moment for being the luckier ones. Mickey pops up behind me and gives me his signature stare. He looks me over, up and down, and when he finally deems me sl***y enough, pushes me out into the fluorescent lights with a tap on the butt. I can’t help but squint a little as my eyes adjust, but by now I know the routine. Walk up the stage, strike a few poses. Walk around some more and do more poses. Dance with all the girls’ partners in a sexy way. Let the men call to me and try to flirt with me. Pretend to listen. Pretend to care. I never smile while I do this, because I hate it. With all my heart, I hate it. But it’s what I have to do to survive. Thankfully, Mickey says that if I don’t smile, it adds to how alluring I am for the creepy men that pay to watch us dance. The music stops abruptly and we all end in our final positions. I’m bent down across one of the guys’ laps, who’s probably somewhere in his mid-twenties, in the pose Mickey likes to call, ‘stretching dragon.’ I don’t know what that means, but I’m kind of thankful I don’t. The lights drop for exactly ten seconds, which is supposed to be enough for us to all get offstage. But it never is. At almost every show, I’m the last one in line to get back in and I’m left to do my own little private show. Alone. Most of the time I just give them my fake sexy smile and wave, and then go back behind the curtain. But there are nights like this when I really need the extra cash that a private showing can bring. I look up at Mickey in the sound booth above the stage and motion for him to play my track. He choreographed a dance for me to do, one that I hate, but I have to do it or else it means we might not eat tomorrow. I prance around the stage and touch the cheeks of some of the men sitting in the front rows, just to get extra tips. The dance ends with me blowing a kiss into the audience of old men who probably can’t even have erections anymore. But I don’t care about that kind of thing. Leave that to the prostitutes down the hall or the actual strippers. I’m just the warm up. How warmed up I get them, I’ll never know. Not that I’d ever want to. Mickey gives me a big thumbs-up from the sound booth so I just nod in response. As I walk backstage, no one says anything to me. It’s like no one even knows I’m there. None of them know anything about me, not that I’m only seventeen or that I’m only doing this because I have to. Sure, some of the guys hit on me, but I always turn them down. After the tenth rejection or ignored phone call, they all just stop trying. “Great job, sweetheart,” Mickey coos, stroking my shoulder. I stare back emotionlessly. Sure, I hate when he touches me, but there’s nothing I can do about it if I want to keep my job. After all, everything he does is apparently legal. “Here’s your pay for tonight.” He hands me an envelope of cash and I stare at it desperately. It’s thick tonight, thicker than usual. It’s full of the thing my family so desperately needs. “Thanks, Mickey. See you tomorrow.” I wave halfheartedly and shove the envelope in my bag. I take it with me into the closet where I get dressed, just to be safe. Some of these people are even more desperate for cash than I am. I hurry to get my normal clothes back on and then race back out before I can be stopped by anyone. I’m not in the mood to talk. I’m never in the mood to talk to one of them. I glare at the light-up sign as I walk out. For me it’s like the sign of the devil. I throw my bag in the backseat of the Honda and slam my door shut after I sit down. I bang my head against the steering wheel for a few seconds and eventually just let the tears flow. I hate my job. But it’s something I have to do. I wipe my eyes off with my shirt and check my face in the mirror. I look fine, absolutely normal. I don’t look like a girl who was just three-quarters-naked for men four times her age. My mom greets me as I enter through the door. “Hi, honey, how was work?” she asks, giving me a hug. “Fine,” I lie, as usual. “The customers were really generous today in tips.” I set the envelope down on the table and let her open it. Together, we count out the money. I’m shocked when I discover it’s just over two thousand dollars. “How on earth did you make this much in one night?” she asks, and she sounds incredibly suspicious. I wonder what her first thought is. Selling drugs, maybe? I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure it’s not anywhere near what I really do for a living these days. “This was for two weeks, Mom,” I lie, rolling my eyes to add to the normal teenager façade. She laughs a little and apologizes for how forgetful she can be. I shrug it off after making a joke that maybe she should get some Alzheimer’s medication. As usual, I get to keep half of what I make. Which is usually only a couple hundred bucks, at the most. Tonight is incredibly rare. I ask my mom how much money we need this month, and how much she’s made. It’s almost always the first question I ask her when I bring out the money. It’s like we have a system. “I made just under three thousand this month.” I smile. That’s more than enough to cover our usual expenses. “So does that mean we’ll be alright this time?” I ask, sounding hopeful. There are some months where I have to beg to get extra shows because we’re so close to being evicted. Looks like this month won’t be one of those, thankfully. “It does,” she grins, and we squeeze each other tightly. My mom stares at me for a few seconds and then smiles while her eyes get all teary again. Mine stay completely dry the entire time she speaks. “You have no idea how much I appreciate this, Ayla. I don’t think we’d be able to get by without your job.” “It’s no problem,” I whisper. “I do what I have to do.” My mom smiles a little still and then gives me another hug. “Goodnight, Aye. I’ll see you in the morning.” I quietly mumble a goodnight and begin my climb up the stairs.

It all started with a pass. Or the lack of one, I guess you could say. I was on my way to the boys’ restroom – looking for River Mason, a football playing jock that couldn’t put two and two together – because he’d spent twenty minutes in there and Mrs. Baker, our biology teacher, needed someone to ‘check up on him.’ I reluctantly raised my hand – after all, if I wanted to be on Principal Miller’s ‘A’ List I needed to show the initiative. So there I was, walking down the hall. Without a pass. “Hey!” a woman’s voice shouted from down the hallway. “What’re you doing outside of your class?” I slammed on the brakes and sifted through my pockets. A gum wrapper and a nickel, but no hall pass that would legalize my little exodus to the boys’ bathroom. No. No, please no. Would this go on my permanent record? Mr. Miller wouldn’t want people who got caught ‘skipping’ class on his ‘A’ Team, would he? I turned around and tried not to look as terrified as I felt. And then sighed with relief. It was Mrs. Miller, the principal’s wife and the nicest secretary in the entire school. She would understand my story. She would believe. “Hello, Mrs. Miller,” I said as I smiled my most kiss-ass smile. “Oh, hello Mr. Asker! I didn’t realize it was you.” She laughed wholeheartedly and grinned back at me. Her smile was like wildfire. It caused everything in the room to light up. “I’m just going to the restroom, but I didn’t get a pass…” I shrugged and tried to look as innocent as possible. “Oh, that’s no problem, sweetheart! I know you’re an honest kid. Speaking of that, my husband wants to see you in his office. So after you… do your business, come down and see him, okay?” “Okay,” I said, smiling falsely. Inside I was terrified. Was I in trouble? Was he angry that I’d been helping him catch the kids that rigged their lockers to open after one turn of the knob? Did he think I was a snitch? I bit down on my tongue hard and tried to calm myself down. I’d make his ‘A’ Team. I knew I would. After a few seconds of that, I found the boys’ bathroom. But there was no River Mason. I looked down the hall. Nothing. He wasn’t back at class – I would’ve passed him. It was obvious. He was skipping. My first thought was to tell Mr. Miller. That would’ve been a surefire way to get on his ‘A’ Team, if he wanted a good snitch. But if he didn’t want one… Would he want me on his team of honored hall monitors, aka the ‘A’ Team? Before I could realize it I was at his door, my hands brushing the handle. My stomach did back flips as I made my fingers into a fist to knock. What should I do? Should I tell him about River or not bring it up? Did he already think I was a snitch and would telling him about River just make it worse? My head spun and it felt like my brain was working on overdrive trying to decide. I knocked on his door and immediately felt the cold air overwhelm me. “Ah, Mr. Asker, just who I was looking for.” Mr. Miller smiled in that creepy way of his, and looked me up and down. I must’ve been white as a ghost – after all he had nearly collided with me since I knocked at the exact same time he opened the door – because he asked, “Are you feeling alright, son?” I couldn’t find any words in my throat so I just nodded blankly. It was like my vocabulary had vanished underneath the surprise. “Well, Marcus, take a seat. I’d like to talk to you.” “About what, sir?” I asked, regaining my voice, as I sat down. “About a few things actually.” He reached into a drawer in his desk and pulled out a few sheets of colorful paper. I soon realized they were photographs of students that attended my school. “Do you recognize any of these people?” He held up three medium-sized pictures, two girls and one boy. The boy I recognized immediately. River Mason. One girl, tall and skinny with dark brown hair that was almost black, I didn’t recognize, but the other I did. It was Ayla Masterson. How could I not know her? She was the girl every guy dreamed about at night. “Yes, sir, the boy is River Mason and the girl with the blonde hair is Ayla Masterson. I don’t know who the second girl is, though,” I responded, confused. It seemed strange, staring at their pictures like I was some kind of undercover detective instead of just a high school student. “Her name is Shay Willer. There’ve been some suspicions of an abusive relationship between her and her boyfriend, Benjamin Chast.” “That’s terrible,” I mumbled, still completely in the dark. “No offense, sir, but what does this have to do with me?” He paused and looked at the pictures for a few more seconds. “Everything.” Of course, this answered none of my questions, so I did the only thing I knew how to do when I was confused – I played dumb. “Excuse me?” “Look, Marcus,” Mr. Miller sighed. “All three of these people are on my ‘Watch’ List. Do you know what that is?” I shook my head no. “It’s my list of students that both the faculty and I have noticed are… strange. As if something is going on with them. These three students worry us.” “Okay… Sorry, sir, but I still don’t follow?” Mr. Miller nodded slowly like he understood, so I smiled a tentative smile in response. “I have a special job for you, Marcus. I know that you’re particularly… good at uncovering the rule-breakers at this school. I need you to work your magic and tell me what is wrong with these kids. Befriend them. Let them confide in you. I don’t care what you do. Just find out what we need to know.” “What is it that we need to know, sir?” “People have reported seeing Ayla Masterson entering HAL’S Bar at late hours. We care about our students and hope that they won’t take as bad a path as prostitution, at least this early in their life.” I couldn’t even try to hide my disbelief. “She’s… a prostitute?” I gasped, realizing too late that I’d said that out loud. “That’s what I want you to find out. I hope not, but often enough people aren’t what they seem, son.” I took in a deep breath and tried to picture it. Sure, Ayla was beautiful and popular, but she wasn’t stuck up, or even a s**t. She treated everyone nicely, even me, the biggest nerd in school. I was the kid that got shoved into lockers every day. Literally. “Wow, sir. I wouldn’t expect that from her, but I can find out the truth.” “Good. Now you already know about the second girl, Shay, and her potentially abusive boyfriend. All I need you to do there is allow her to trust you. Find out who it is that is injuring her like this. Learn about her. Learn about her past.” I raised my eyebrows a little. What was I, a resident stalker? “Um, sure, sir, I can do that.” He nodded intensely and my eyes widened slightly. This wasn’t the kind of job I was expecting. Hall Monitor, sure. But private detective? “Then the boy, River Mason, he’s trickier. I’ve been hearing complaints that he’s been extremely aggressive lately, and it’s hard not to notice how much… bulk he’s put on this past year. You can see his muscles growing right in front of you.” “So you’re worried he’s using some type of steroid?” I confirmed curiously. “Exactly. And if he is, we want him off them now. This is a strictly no tolerance drug school, and we can’t have an influential kid like him putting off that kind of message. It should be easy. All you have to do is catch him taking the drugs. Of course, we can’t place any accusations without reasonable evidence. That’s why we need you.” I just stared for a few seconds, taking everything in. I wasn’t going to be part of the ‘A’ Team. I was going to work alone on an intense, top secret mission that could potentially ruin three students’ lives. I felt… invigorated. This was my dream. I knew I was a snitch – hey, why deny it? – and this was finally my chance to prove that I was more than that. I could help them. I could do it. “So, what do you say, Marcus?” he grinned, sticking out his hand to shake mine. “Are we a team?” I paused for a split, minute second, and then finally shook his hand. “Yes, sir. We’re a team.”

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