327: Radical Thinking

on December 8, 2008 in Book 12

In Which Mackenzie Knocks Sooni Up

After my bath, I decided to be responsible… instead of jumping into the ethernet and immersing myself in the fascinating history of Enwich before it was Enwich, I worked on filling out the questionnaire. Two had returned by this point, and while I did that she sorted the rest of her jelly beans, folded her underwear, and did her homework.

I focused on the easy questions first… meaning the ones asking me to identify people rather than the ones that asked me to show how I’d been hurt. Even though we’d gone over them so I knew what kind of answers were needed, I was still a lot more afraid of screwing those ones up. I knew the pages weren’t going to be ripped out of my hands and given directly over to the school’s lawyers the instant I laid down my pen, but given how official and important the papers were I couldn’t quite convince myself that there wasn’t a level of failure so complete that attaining it would result in the instant nullification of my case.

I figured it would be easy enough to start with the safe ones, and then move on to the more intimidating ones. I was half right… it was easy enough to start. The “moving on” part was giving me some problems.

Once I was out of things to write myself, the scratching of Two’s pencil on paper started to threaten to get on my nerves. When she started to hum, I decided it was time to get out of the room. I could take my mirror to the lounge and get started there.

I was no sooner out the door when I ran into the last person I ever expected to see on my floor: the R.A., Kiersta.

“Hey… new mirror?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s not mine, though. It’s a loaner.”

“Oh, okay, um… because I kind of need you to pay for that TV you broke?” she said. “So we can get a new one?”

“Oh, okay, um… because Sooni actually broke it?” I said. I was feeling frustrated enough to actually be a little mouthy on purpose. Besides, it was freaking Kiersta. It took an all-out magical brawl to stir her to action. She was the queen of minimal effort. “And you said you’d get it replaced out of the funds and we could pay it back?”

“Yeah, but now they’re telling me there aren’t any funds,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“They’re saying all the money has already been committed,” she said. “No money for TVs, no money for dorm breakfasts, nothing… there’s no raiding the piggy bank, because it’s empty. Wait, can I say that?”

“What?”

“‘Piggy bank’,” she said. “Is that offensive?”

“Why would that be offensive?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “To orcs, maybe? Because they kind of look like pigs? I’m trying to be sensitive here! Meet me halfway, okay?”

I would have loved to tell her to fuck off, or just turn around and go back into my room, but Kiersta’s cluelessness about race relations didn’t change the fact that something was seriously wrong.

It was one thing that our dorm had been blessed with a decades-old, likely secondhand TV to begin with. It wasn’t all flat and sleek looking, but it had worked. I could understand the rationale behind not replacing it just because it was old, as long as it still got the job done.

But we paid the same fees every other student did… I had to imagine that if a TV got trashed in another dorm, they’d be able to scrounge up money for another one.

“Okay, but what am I supposed to do about that, Kiersta? You’re the resident adviser,” I said. “I’m just a resident. I’ve got enough going on…”

“But you’re the one who’s like on top of all this stuff!” she said.

“Kiersta, I’m not on top of anything,” I said. “I don’t even sleep on the top bunk.”

“But you’re friends with like, all the radicals and activists and stuff, right?” she said. “You sued the school. You know how to get things done.”

“Kiersta, I’m in the process of starting arbitration with the school,” I said.

“But you’ve got a lawyer and stuff, right?” she said.

“Yes, but starting arbitration is about as far away from ‘getting things done’ as you can be while you’re still actually doing something,” I said. “It’s more like ‘getting things started’… hence that word, ‘starting’.”

She didn’t answer. I don’t think she had actually heard me. She was just staring at me with what I can only describe as the face of an expectant, sleep-deprived chipmunk.

Kiersta had always had that quality of really awful, pep squad-style phoniness that can never truly be faked… like she was the kind of person who could tell you that she was “super excited” to be somewhere and mean it. A whole month of hiding in her room from the scary monster kids had ground her innate enthusiasm and optimism into the ground, but it was still in there somewhere, and it… for reasons probably only known to some obscure god of group cheers… expected me of all people to have the answer to this hideous unfairness right the fuck now.

Why? Because I’d got my face on the news, I guess… that and the rumor mill had been enough to build me up into the enemy of authority and the status quo, or something.

I sighed. Lee had warned against burdening down a pretty strong case by piling on every little perceived injustice. We hoped a settlement might give us some leverage to get this sort of thing redressed, but that wasn’t the sort of answer Kiersta was looking for.

Also, I was pretty sure Lee didn’t want me going around saying something that sounded like, “Yeah, we’re going to sue them and make them do this and this”… especially not to somebody who was technically a university employee.

“Okay… look, excuse me for a minute here, okay?” I said. I wasn’t in a position to champion the cause of Harlowe residents in front of the larger university… but I knew somebody who was.

“But what are you going to do?” Kiersta asked.

“This isn’t my job,” I said. I turned, took a couple steps forward, and knocked on Sooni’s door. “It’s our student senator’s.”

Sooni opened the door. The light in her room was dim, like candlelight but without all the flicker. She was dressed in a purple robe, with her hair up in a wrap, and her face was covered with some kind of spa treatment mask stuff that had a distinct, unpleasant, and vaguely familiar aroma. More pleasant was the sound of music which wafted past her… something stringy, kind of like a dulcimer.

“Hello?” she said, squinting against the harsher light of the hallway.

“Hi,” I said. “Uh, we kind of have to talk, if you aren’t busy.”

“Yes,” she said, nodding. “I want you to know, Miss Mackenzie, that you will have a special place in my heart, and that our time together has meant so much to me, but that is a part of my life that is over now. I have moved past it, and so must you, no matter how much it hurts.”

“Um… okay,” I said.

She reached up her hand and gave me a little pat on the head.

“Did you just pat me on the head?” I asked… not because there was any doubt in my mind on that score, but because I was having a hard time believing anybody… even Sooni… would actually consciously have done that.

“Um… mmm hmm,” she said, nodding. “Please excuse me. I have to go wash my hand.”

She shut the door.

I knocked on it again.

She opened it almost immediately, but this time the smile was gone.

What?” she asked brusquely.

“Sooni, Kiersta says there’s no money to replace that TV we… you… broke,” I said. “We’ve got to do something about that.”

“I’ve told you I don’t have any money available right now,” she said, whispering… almost hissing.

“Okay, so we’ll have to work on coming up with some,” I said. “But there’s a bigger issue here that needs to be raised: the funds for Harlowe. Did the school not allocate them? Did they blow them on the catering? Did somebody siphon them off? We need to find out.”

“How?”

“You’re our floor rep,” I said.

She stared at me blankly, her big black eyes slowly blinking.

“In the student senate?” I said. “Remember? The election we had? You called me a pussy eating lesbian pussy eater and then we all laughed and had a good time?”

“Oh! I’m done with that,” she said. “I’m working on dresses now. Please excuse me. I’m very busy.”

She closed the door again.

I knocked on the door again.

“Have you started working on the weavesite yet?” she asked as she opened it.

“What? I… Sooni, I told you I needed to think about that,” I said. “I’ve got a lot…”

She stomped her sandaled foot.

“You know, that’s your problem, Mackenzie… no follow-through!”

“What do you mean, no follow-through?” I asked. “You fought tooth and nail to get elected, you dragged me through the mud, and then when you were elected you did all those interviews and got your face in the paper…”

“Yeah, but… that didn’t work,” she said.

“In what sense?” I asked. “You got a front page thing devoted to how awesome you are.”

“Yes, but… Father did not give me any more money,” she said. “So now I’m making dresses… like you said I should.”

Like I said she should. This conversation was just going to get more and more fun, I could tell.

“Sooni, you have a responsibility… I mean, I conceded partly because I thought you would want to do the best job possible,” I said. “You can’t just turn your back…”

“But it didn’t work,” she said.

“Sooni, look… maybe you ran for the wrong reason, but…”

“If I did then I shouldn’t have to be senator anymore, should I?” she said, and she closed the door on me again.

“Damn it!” I said.

“I told you she wasn’t the best person for the job,” Two said, through our door. “I said…”

“Yes, Two, you were right,” I said. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“So… what do we do now?” Kiersta asked.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Well, you have to come up with something,” Kiersta said.

“I guess maybe if we let everybody know that we’re getting screwed on funding because of the meal thing, they might kick up a big enough fuss… I mean, the Leightons seem to be in favor of the sandwiches and things but would they be if they knew it was keeping them from getting a new TV? Or that they were missing out on things that other humans get in the other dorms because of it?”

“Yeah… um… okay,” Kiersta said.

“That’s probably not going to change anything right away, though,” I said, thinking as I spoke. “Probably the money’s already budgeted for the semester, if not the year, and the school might just hope that everything blows over if they ignore it. Which it might. I guess short term, we could try to look for some other funding… that would solve the immediate problem and if there’s some publicity maybe it would shame the university into action. I mean, Weyland Hall’s got brand-new furniture and fancy TVs and stuff that’s paid for by a wealthy alumnus, but I can’t really see any former Harlowites putting up gold just to get their names up on the wall…”

I couldn’t see any former Harlowites doing that, no… but then, I didn’t know any former Harlowites.

“Mack?” Kiersta said. “Mackenzie? Are you okay? You just kind of stopped talking… and now you’re staring at me.”

“It’s okay, she does that,” Two said loudly from inside our room. “She’s looking at your breasts.”

“I’m not looking at… I was thinking,” I said. “Excuse me one more time,” I said to Kiersta, turning and heading for another door.

“What are you doing?” Kiersta asked.

“Something really stupid, that I will probably regret for a very long time.”

“She does that, too,” Two said.


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3 Responses to “327: Radical Thinking”

  1. pedestrian says:

    frequently, thats why our Mack is the heroine.

    Current score: 7
  2. Anthony says:

    …oh no. Who dows Mackenzie know who has literally more gold than she knows what to do with? o_0

    Current score: 6
  3. Jechtael says:

    “Why would that be offensive?”
    “I don’t know,” she said. “To orcs, maybe? Because they kind of look like pigs? I’m trying to be sensitive here!”

    “It looks like ‘not being racist’ is the new ‘racist’.” -Jeff Winger

    Man, Two, you don’t even KNOW where Mackenzie is looking. And even though she’s sometimes facing a woman’s chest when she does that doesn’t mean she’s ALWAYS getting titstracted. She’s short and she hangs around tall women! It happens! (Hell, I’m tall and I hang around short people and that’s STILL the side I’m taking. It just happens. …wait, cleavage is a thing that other people sometimes show off, so I could be seen as having a dog in this race. Drat. Never mind, move along, nothing to see here.)

    Current score: 0