In this chapter: Garrison has listened to the voice of the school and has come up with a new ruling, just to make things worse for David and his legion of supporters. Miss Howard continues to campaign and protest to bring Edward back, dwelling on her past life as an example to convince Garrison to change his mind, which she goes to ends to try and solve the crisis. Garrison comes over to have a word with David, which ends in a rather nasty situation.
Following the events discussed yesterday between Miss Howard and George, the first thing that Miss Howard decided that needed to be done in terms of David was a meeting held between herself and Mr Garrison, expressing her concern for his welfare and also to try and convince the stern fellow to bring Edward back. All the students were out of Ashbury house by eight-thirty and her form class wouldn’t start until eight-forty-five, that morning being an assembly.
Mr Garrison was in his office from seven-thirty, checking up on errands before the next school day began. Since the revolution of ‘not hiding’ began at least a week ago, he was finding the students more challenging to handle. Locking his office and walking around the square to the staircase, he noticed some of the lads who supported the pair with some of the girls that were over from St Anne’s, whey they were kissing in the corridor, Garrison bellowing at them for breaking the rules. Continuing on, he found the sixth-formers to be doing as they wished and the lads who were together were also having intimate moments, not caring that he was approaching them and telling them to quit it. He approached two year 10 lads who were kissing whilst waiting for their form tutor to arrive.
“Oliver and Joshua, quit it!!” Both turned to him but neither listened to his orders, both resuming seconds after. With Garrison agitated, he bellowed at the students along the corridor. “All of you downstairs now! It’s a full school assembly!” Then they were listening, the students passing on the word further up the corridor as they made their way to the ground floor.
Walking into the assembly hall to deliver a short notice to the students and staff, his main intention being to discuss and find out why many were cutting chapel services. When attending there for the Sunday morning and evening services, only half of the students and staff decided to attend. He knew that only a few minorities of the students and staff weren’t Christian, and therefore wouldn’t attend anyway, but from his view on the rest of them, they had no excuse.
Garrison called upon a new rule whilst in the assembly, something to his own advantage. He was part of the way through his speech when he announced the new rule, the students listening for once. “Students. I can see following the departure of Edward McArthur that many of you, regardless of whether you did or didn’t speak to him, have shown outrage following the circumstances of his expulsion. What Edward did was a bad thing, an unnatural thing that shouldn’t be allowed.” David was about to stand but George kept him quiet, allowing Garrison to continue. “So as a result of your actions, I will come to the following agreement. As of today, I will give you your freedom to love anyone you wish and also be able to express your love at all times providing that your grades are kept up.” Some got hopeful but David knew there was a catch to this. “That is if you’re heterosexual, but any form of homosexuality is banned. If I find anyone participating in any act, you will be expelled.” Most of the students were chatting amongst themselves and debating the matter. Robbie Carter of Year 10 was the first to stand. “That means at least a good 10% of the students will be expelled.”
“Exactly, if you want your place you should know your place.”
Then David got up. “We are not inferior to you and we should be treated as equals. The more you expel the more likely chance you’ll get fired from your poor leadership.”
“Sit down Chamberlain.”
Oliver Lewisham, who Garrison had caught upstairs then spoke. “Exactly! If you’re expelling a good number of students then the education department are going to want to know why. Since they are being expelled for no proper reason then they’re going to fire you because of your poor decisions.”
George took stand and continued where Oliver left off. “Either you let us continue the way we are and bring Edward or you expel us all! That’s something you can’t do!”
“I can’t let this sickness continue.”
Owen Gardiner stood and chanted back. “It’s not sickness, it’s who we are! We don’t choose our preferences, it comes natural to us. I can’t help it I’m in love with Tim.” Owen then grasped Timmy Daniels’ hand and entwined their fingers together.
David continued. “Fine, if you’re going to place this rule in then we walk out!”
Mr Garrison bellowed at his protesting students. “You can’t do that.”
“You want a bet?”
“The rule stands as of now!” David eyed Mr Garrison and winked. He then rose out of his chair, the students on his row making way for him to come by. George followed Edward and his legion of supporters done the same, dismissing themselves from the assembly hall.
Following their own dismissal, the students continued on to class for the time being. Miss Howard sent the remainder of her form out and then climbed the two floors to Garrison’s office and waited until he arrived. Putting on a brave face, he dealt with her as he opened up.
“Andrew, may I have a word?”
“Of course.” She trailed behind Garrison into his room and took a chair opposite, placing her files onto the chair next to her. “What can I for you?”
“It follows this morning’s assembly on your new rule.”
“Oh, let me guess, you don’t agree?”
“Of course I don’t agree. People should be allowed the freedom to live their own life the way they want. Look, it’s not as if we’re living in the early 20th century anymore where if you were caught you went to prison. Times have changed since then and we have to get used it, whether we like it or not. It’s not illegal anymore and people are allowed to love whoever they wish. I’m saying that this is my opinion and we all have a right to have our own and as headmaster it’s your decisions for rules on what you think will make the school better, not mine, but all I’m saying is I don’t think it was fair expelling Edward, especially when he’d done nought wrong.”
“Edward’s expulsion was an example to everyone that it’s filthy to think of love like that.”
“Love is love Andrew. I can see your point, but they’re just going to protest even further. The way it’s going they’re going to take this as far as Downing Street. My main point, because I have more than one, is that without Edward, have you seen for yourself how ill David is? How lonely he is? That’s what happens when you tear people that close apart. I know that because I’ve been there.”
“That wasn’t my doing Grace. I never separated you and your love apart.”
“No you didn’t, my parents did because we came from different ends of society. I came from an upper class background and Harry come from a lower end. Have I ever married or loved another? No, because we were inseparable. Of course he died in the Vietnam War when we were younger, having to serve under the Australian army being called up. I’m doing this because I don’t find it fair, especially when they’re so young. Please, not for me, but for David and every other student, bring him back? Tell him you’re sorry and that you make a mistake.”
Garrison, however unfair it was, wouldn’t give in. “No.”
“Fine.” Grace collected her things from the chair and walked out. Getting so far towards the door, Garrison had an idea of what Grace was exactly going to do. “And if you’re thinking about bringing his parents in then you better not or you’re fired.”
“Who said it was the parents? Remember who got David here in the first place.”
“Exactly. Robert Holmes is an MP under the education department and if he finds out you’re done for.”
“If you do this then you’re fired. Last warning.” Nothing was mentioned as Grace left the room and went for the reception.
Easing herself down the two sets of stairs, she went to the reception, where the receptionist was typing. Noticing her, she cast her eyes off the typewriter and focused them on the other, fingers hovering over the keys.
“Grace? Can I help you?”
“Edie, I need you to find David Chamberlain’s file. It’s urgent.”
“Why? Grace? What’s wrong?”
“I need his parents’ contact details.”
“You know only the headmaster does that?”
“Unless you want to find him dead tomorrow morning I suggest you help me. Yeah, and Garrison won’t do it so it’s up to us to get him some help because if he dies then we’re all done for.” Realising that this was a serious and urgent matter, Edie jumped to attention and unlocked the door to the reception office. “Come in.” Grace followed suit and Edie went to the back to search through the files.
“11.” Finding herself in the Year 11 filing cabinet, she worked her way through the C-section. “Got it! It’s going to cost you a bit to call international.”
“I know, but it’s worth it.” Edie handed the file over and Grace went through it. She located the family’s details and dialled the number. With the phone ringing, Edie placed the file away and joined Grace, another picking the phone up on the receiver end.
“Hello. Peter Chamberlain speaking, who is this?”
“My name is Grace Howard from Hounslow. Your son David is a student here in Year 11…” Peter went straight to questioning, Peter not in a very happy mood.
“What has he done this time?”
Grace remained calm as she spoke to a concerned Peter, Edie curious as to what was being said. “Well, we’re in a very sticky situation at the moment. I suppose you don’t know about David’s interview on national television?”
“No, we don’t see any British footage here. Why?”
“Can you give me a moment?”
“Of course.” Grace silenced the phone for a minute and asked Edie to fetch David from his class. “Which one?”
“History classroom, opposite the library.” Edie slipped out of the room and Grace continued on the phone.
“Sorry about that. It’s just that it was reported on television about that David was in a relationship with a friend of his. His friend has been excluded from the school because of it. His name was Edward McArthur. Your son is better at explaining than I am.”
“Relationship as in relationship? He’s in a gay relationship?”
“And his boyfriend I suppose I should say has been excluded because of it?”
“The problem is that when you sent David here, he weren’t eating or socialising with anyone. Through their friendship and developing relationship, David was becoming much healthier, eating more and socialising more, something you wanted out of your son. He wasn’t violent, but kind, caring and polite. He always took part in group discussions and was very cheerful and talkative. Since his expulsion, he’s a broken man, and his eating and socialising habits have gone back to square one. He doesn’t talk and slowly he’s becoming weaker. I thought maybe you could help us, knowing him better than we do.” At that moment, David walked into the reception, Edie behind him.
“Phone call for you. It’s your dad. You need to tell him the truth about you and Edward. If you want him back, then you need to talk.” David took the phone from Miss Howard.
“David. I’ve heard about what’s happened. Would you like to explain?”
“Dad. I know I never told you but I’m in love with Edward.”
“And the rules are that we couldn’t date people, it wasn’t allowed, which I think is unfair. Everyone else is dating in secret, or as of today openly the likes of me and others. We kept ours in secret and they found out whilst I was in that competition. We’ve got the footage recorded for you to watch if you don’t believe me. Because we were dating, Edward is no longer here.”
“How long have you been together?”
“Nearly two months.”
“I see. I thought you were with that Jasmine though before you left?”
“Dad I lied, not entirely though. I was with someone when I came home late. It wasn’t a girl though, it was Jason. That’s whom I kissed in the park, that’s who I was kissing on the morning I left. I never told you the full truth because I was scared that you wouldn’t accept me as your son.”
“I see. So you’re not into women?”
“No. And the only reason we were caught is because I got into a sticky mess. My dance partner Anne was in love with me, and Edgar – another student from my year was tantalising Edward and I over our relationship, where at the time I denied it. Anne found out about us and demanded to know. That’s where they found out. Dad, can you get Robert to deal with it please?”
“I’ll do my best. When’s your concert son?”
“We’ll try and make it. Got to go though.”
“Wait! So you’ll still accept me for who I am regardless in my interest for men?”
“Of course. You’re my son; I can’t give up on you, even if we have our disputes.” David’s face uplifted into a grin, making Miss Howard and Edie also happy.
“Now off you go.” The line went dead and David put the phone down.
“What did he say?”
“He’s going to try and connect through to uncle. We might expect a phone call from him within the next few days. He still accepts me as his son as well.”
“Oh that’s brilliant! Now back to class young man.”
Later in the day after school when David was back up in his room practising, the bolt as usual slid across to prevent intruders from his sanity, there was a knock at the door, no safe word being called. David dropped his violin and bow onto the bed and moved his books to the desk so that no one tripped over. Sliding the bolt across, David weary to as to who it was, David opened the door to find Mr Garrison behind it.
With the door partly open, David presented himself as he held on to the handle. “David. I need a word. Can you come downstairs?”
“I don’t go downstairs unless I’m more or less forced to. Can we talk up here?” Garrison had an idea that David wouldn’t come down, and so made a compromise.
“Are you alone?”
David’s reply contained no sarcasm in, but sadness and admittance. “I’m always alone.” David pushed the door back and allowed Mr Garrison to come in. Mr Garrison took the desk chair as David placed his violin stand to one side, followed by packing his violin case. He then closed the door and locked it, returning to Edward’s bed. Mr Garrison’s eyes wondered across the room, taking note of the mess, as well as Edward’s bed.
“This room could do with a clean. Does George Crofts always allow you to use his bed?”
David would only give short replies, showing that he wasn’t in any mood to be spoken to. “I like the way it is, and this isn’t George’s bed.”
“I always presumed that George took Edward’s bed when he left, and you remained in your own.”
“No. He was meant to, but I refused to give it up. I may sound selfish, but it was something I couldn’t do. The scent of Edward was all I had to keep me sane, along with the few other items that he left behind that we share. I was too upset, and this is how it stands.” David dropped his reasons and got straight to the point. “What is it you want to speak to me about?”
“I just wanted to see how you were doing. Miss Howard tells me you’ve been very quiet lately and that you won’t eat.”
“I eat when I need to and I don’t see the point in talking to people unless I have to.” Garrison remembered that this was exactly how David spoke when he first joined. He also noted on how this was the talk he got from when students first joined, but for someone who had been there a while, this was unusual.
“Remember what I told you, just eat little bits.”
“I don’t need to. If I need something then I’ll go and get it. I haven’t eaten today because I didn’t feel hungry.” Mr Garrison came up with other plans, trying to get David’s mind off food.
“I was wondering. I’m going to a gala ball come next Saturday. My niece Amelia – she’s about your age and could do with some company there. I thought you might…” David knew exactly what direction Garrison was going into and so retorted back.
“If you’re trying to hook me up with her or any other girl then save your tongue. I’m with Edward, and no girl is going to stop me from breaking up with him just for your benefit!!”
“I see, but if you think about it, Edward for all we know could have moved on from fate, and you need to as well…”
“Don’t think you can try that one on me either! I know Edward and I know he’d never do that. Even if he had, I won’t love another.” David’s voice crumbled as the odd tear fell. “I love him with all my heart and I can’t let go. I told you this and I’ll stick to it. If you don’t bring him back, then I’ll go myself.”
“I think you’ve said enough. Now get out!” Mr Garrison didn’t move an inch. “I said out!” Garrison got up and bellowed at him. “Don’t you dare tell me what to do you worthless scum!” David was livid and used his strength to push him into the wall, using his steel ruler as a weapon. “I’m through with this school and most of all I’m through with you! It’s about time you showed respect for all your students regardless of who are they are and what their preferences are!” Mr Garrison pushed David back into the bed, grabbed the ruler off him and belted him with it, shouting insults at him. Through the violence, David lost his balance and tripped, sending him to the floor. “The sooner you’re back in the city with your none-hope parents and your vermin of a boyfriend the better.” Mr Garrison dropped the ruler, undone the bolt and left the room, leaving Miss Howard to deal with the mess.
George went up to the room and found him on the floor. Getting him onto the bed, he dealt with the head wound. Unfortunately, neither he nor Miss Howard got to ask how David ended up on the floor or noticed the other wounds. David never ate that day. Later on in the night, David collapsed.