PREVIOUSLY: A violin was broken, and both Laurie and Chartreuse explained what they knew… from their perspective.
PART 74a: LEADING TONE
“Corry broke the violin,” Megan Falls said simply. She sat down, smoothing out her long skirt. “You won’t hear that from the other three of course, because they’re in their own little clique. In fact, my account is likely to be the only truly unbiased view you’re going to get… since I don’t particularly care what happens to them.”
“That strikes me as a bit pessimistic,” Mr. Hunt mused.
Megan shrugged, levelly meeting his gaze. “It’s simply the truth of the situation. Now, where did you want to start? When Julie first brought the violin in, or with Laurie’s klutz routine?”
“How about you tell me why you were in the music room in the first place,” the principal suggested.
“Oh, that? Well, I AM in the band,” Megan sighed, leaning back in her chair. “As such, I came by to talk to Mrs. Willis about one of our pieces. After classes. It was during our discussion that she was paged away, on account of the donated violin in the office. I said I’d wait around for her to come back, she agreed and added that if Corry came by, I was to let him know his USB drive was on her podium, if he needed it. That they could always talk about the contents tomorrow.”
Mr. Hunt nodded. “All right. So then Corry and his friends showed up, and you said…”
“Hey, Corry. Sorry, but Mrs. Willis can’t talk with you now. She had to see someone about a violin. She did mention that this was on the music podium for you though.” Megan held up the USB drive.
Corry made some random retort, after which Megan cut to the chase by asking about a favour, but all Corry could think about was his dumb band recordings. He made a grab for the device.
“Concerned? Didn’t you make a backup?” the dark haired girl sighed, moving quickly out of his range. That made their whole situation awkward, as what she wanted to explain with regards to Kim Carpenter could look like blackmail. Nevertheless, she broached the topic, and Corry grudgingly accepted the conversational shift.
“Kim is in the chess club,” Megan continued, with exaggerated patience. “They’re having a tournament next week, and I owe her, so I’d like for Kim to do well. If you catch my drift.”
“This is outrageous,” Corry protested, as Laurie and Chartreuse began mumbling to each other.
Megan shook her head. “Look, I’m not saying she has to win. Simply hint to your people that she should be in the top three. It’s about time I flexed SOME authority, and she’s a devout follower of mine. Is this really so inconvenient?”
“Okay, like, listen Megan,” Chartreuse randomly put in, stepping forwards. “It is, you know, totally not cool for Corry to, like, do stuff like this, or some junk.”
“Oh come ON,” Megan fired back. “Kim deserves a shot. Now, how long am I going to be holding this device?”
“Thanks, I’ll take it,” Julie remarked, entering the room behind Megan and plucking the USB drive from her hands.
Megan jumped as Julie continued past her to set a violin down on the teacher’s large central podium. “Next person to see Mrs. Willis, could they tell her the violin’s arrived?” the long haired brunette asked. “She was supposed to be picking it up from the office but I guess she got sidetracked. So I said I could bring it here.”
Megan paused. “Why DID Julie end up with the violin anyway, Mr. Hunt?”
The principal interlaced his fingers. “Mrs. Willis was apparently delayed in getting to the office by a matter of some importance with a colleague. The person donating the violin had to depart, and rather than leave the instrument with the secretaries, as the office was closing soon, he preferred to give it to a reliable student who would come directly to the music room. Namely Miss LaMille.”
Megan tapped her finger against her lips. “Hm. I suppose I’d assumed it was something of that sort,” she said noncommittally. “Anyway, after JULIE got there…”
Megan looked from Julie to Corry and folded her arms. “Oh, of course. The two of you together, I should have guessed.”
She watched as Julie flashed a weak smile, handed Corry’s USB drive back to him, and then leaned in to whisper something in his ear. “Hey!” Megan shouted, hoping to break up the scheming. “Whether you have the recordings or not, Kim will be disappointed if things don’t go the way I’ve indicated!”
“Betting!” Chartreuse said, again randomly tossing in nonsense. She kept on yammering more inane stuff, and being more caught off guard by the interjection than anything else, Megan couldn’t disguise her surprise as she looked back at the pink haired girl. Were people seriously at the point of wagering on her abilities?
“Well, what’s wrong with some friends making a wager?” Megan challenged, refusing to back down. Chartreuse seemed puzzled as to how to answer, which is when Julie stepped back from Corry.
“I can’t stay, it’s probably best to leave you all to your own devices,” Corry’s partner-in-crime decided. She then turned to look at Megan. “I’m not his significant other, all right?”
Megan paused, but ultimately gave Julie a slight nod of acceptance at her desire to be seen as separate from the redhead. With that, the brunette left the room, and Megan stepped forwards.
“Corry, please,” she began. “Don’t make me break out the big guns here or anything.” She paused, realizing belatedly that she didn’t really have a big gun plan, and thus glanced quickly all about the room for inspiration.
Laurie cleared her throat. “Um, Megan, maybe Corry could help you if you call the betting off, though I can’t see how he’d be of use since he doesn’t play chess even though you’re right he must know people who do and I’m a little confused here at what you want me to do even assuming I should be helping you out now…”
“Oh, we’re, you know, totally witless!” Chartreuse cut in. “And, like, completely on, you know, Corry’s side!”
Corry had spoken also, but it was hard to hear him along with everybody else. “HEY!” Megan broke back in. As everyone quieted down, she looked to Chartreuse first. “Are you saying you would even lie for him?”
That seemed to make Chartreuse stop and think, so Megan took a few steps towards Corry. “As for you,” she started – but got no further as her raised heel caught on the carpet, and she stumbled.
“Uh oh!” Corry said, reflexively moving in to catch her. He smacked his arm into the podium even as Megan grabbed a music stand for stabilization. She held up a hand to keep Corry at bay, but before she could speak again, Laurie was jumping forwards and babbling about the violin.
Megan watched in surprise as Corry’s sister literally tripped into the huge music podium, grabbing at the instrument. “Is your sister… okay?” Megan muttered.
“Yeah, don’t involve me in things with my sister around!” Corry said back to her, coldly. However, as they spoke, their eyes were on Laurie’s antics.
“I’ve so totally got ya and such!” Chartreuse was shouting, jumping to catch Laurie as the girl seemed about to pull the podium down with her, violin and all. Fortunately, Chartreuse was able to grab the violin away and set it on the ground before it got tangled up in the whole mess. She even more or less stabilized Laurie’s fall.
That’s when, hoping to regain her control of the situation, Megan took the opportunity to reach out and jab Corry lightly in the chest.
“Okay, Corry, about Kim…”
“Hey, don’t shove me!” Corry exaggerated, stepping back… falling towards the ground… and grabbing for Megan, yanking her down on top of him.
“What ARE you DOING?” Megan shrieked, trying to twist out of his grip. However, both them and the podium were on the ground before she was able to pull her arm back. Megan quickly scooted to the side, out of Corry’s lap, and Corry rolled up onto one knee… and the violin the redhead had landed on let out a feeble twang as one of it’s strings popped loose.
“Oooh, NO!” Laurie gasped as both she and Chartreuse got their first good look at the damage. The body of the instrument itself seemed beyond repair – and of course, Corry had managed to put Megan into a physical position that made her seem at fault. No doubt for the benefit of Mrs. Willis, who entered moments later.
“Brilliant,” Megan said sarcastically to Corry. “What do we do now?”
“So,” Megan concluded, leaning forwards in her chair. “Since neither Chartreuse or Laurie got a good view, I’m guessing they either blamed me, or tried to act as if it was an accident. Corry’s testimony? That’s sure to blame me too, as he’ll claim I was the one who actually landed on the violin, courtesy of his ridiculous manhandling. But really, what happens now if you go with majority rules?”
Megan smiled, hooking some hair back behind her ear. “Let me present the likely scenario. I unjustly lose face to Corry in public. My many friends urge retaliation. Things escalate, school politics erupt, and you end up with a big mess on your hands! I’m also hardly in a position to be able to afford replacing the violin all by myself, so you’d be hearing from my parents too. Now, let’s compare that to putting the blame on Corry, where it belongs. He won’t DARE retaliate against me. Trust me on that one.”
The dark haired girl brought her closed hand down on the arm of the chair. “Heck, even if you don’t blame Corry, it’s his silly friends who put the violin on the floor in the first place. So I’m not the one who’s at fault here! Surely you see that now!”
Mr. Hunt remained silent for another few moments. “Are you done?” he said at last.
He wagered it was his cold expression more than the words that helped Megan realize she had overreached. She presumably had to force herself not to flinch, making a show of smoothing her dress again. “Yes, thank you.”
“Then you may go, and send in Corry,” the principal concluded. “I’ll advise you of my final decision tomorrow morning. See to it that nothing ‘escalates’ in the interim.”
“So,” Mr. Hunt began, after a few moments of meeting Corry’s gaze in silence. “Who do you believe was at fault for the property damage?”
Corry frowned, then shifted in his seat to lean against the arm of the chair. “With all due respect, sir… the fact that you don’t seem sure of my answer after three prior accounts confirm for me that this situation is, ah, complicated. In light of that, I’d prefer to tell you the story from my own point of view. After that, you can decide on the answer for yourself.”
A pause, and then the principal nodded slowly. “All right, Mr. Veniti. Begin with your arrival in the music room.”
NEXT: The Mediant; Corry wraps it up. Thoughts on Megan?