Quality Time

Quality Time
by Ellie Dauber © 2017

A tale of rape, its awful aftermath, and, perhaps, Justice.

Quality Time
by Ellie Dauber © 2017

Brenda Horner snuggled down into an overstuffed chair in one of the “quiet” rooms set up for study groups in the Taite College Student Center. Not quiet tonight, though; the music from the Term’s End Mixer came right through the wall, though it was much softer here than in the room where the band was actually playing. Something didn’t seem quite right to her, but she decided that it was just the beer. To be exact, the one – or two, maybe – more beers than she should have drunk this evening.

She’d left the party to give her head a chance clear, but things were still… fuzzy. ‘Might as well head back to the dorm – and bed,’ she told herself. ‘There’s nobody special waiting for me in there.” She glanced over at the door to the auditorium where the dancing was. ‘And the last thing I need when I start cramming for my finals tomorrow is a hangover.’

It was the walk of no more than ten steps until she was outside. It was a warm spring night. The sky was clear with a few stars that were visible through the haze of lights from the surrounding buildings. A light breeze carried scents from the formal garden over by the Biological Sciences Buildings. She decided to walk back to her dorm by way of the garden. ‘It’s not the quickest way, but I’ll be spending too much time inside the next few days, hitting the books. A little fresh air’ll be a nice change. Besides, I-I love flowers… don’t I?’

‘No,’ she answered herself. ‘I never had much use for… for... flowers. No, that… that’s not right. I’ve loved them since I was a little… a little girl?’

She shook her head in confusion. “Must’ve had more beers than I thought.” She frowned. “Or somebody put something in one of them.” She sat down on the steps of the building, hoping to clear the jumble of her mind.

“Smells nice, doesn’t it?” Brenda looked up at the sound of the oddly familiar male voice. The boy was tall – six two, she knew somehow – and slender, wearing jeans and a gray Taite Athletic Department T-shirt. He gave her a sort of half-smile as he offered her his hand.

He smiled. She’d always liked that sort of a smile, boyish it was, happy-go-lucky. Always? She shrugged. “Yeah, I guess.” Who was this guy? Why did he look so familiar?

“You know, the garden extends around the side of the building. There’s a bench towards the back. We can sit and just… smell the flowers, if you’d like.” He offered his hand. “I’m <…..>, by the way.”

Brenda knew he had just given his name, but, for some reason, she hadn’t understood what he’d said. It was a nice name, though. She knew that. “Brenda,” she answered, shaking his hand. She rose and took his arm, as they walked towards the building.

They sat down on some steps, a delivery entrance, which was most of the way to the rear of the building. He sat next to her, very close, and put an arm around her waist. She looked around. The curve of the hedge around the building hid them from view for anyone walking by the lane she’d been on. Not a good situation. “I-I have to go,” she said, trying not to sound nervous.

“No, you don’t,” he said in a confident tone. “Besides, we just got here.” He moved even closer. “We need some time to… to get to know each other. “ It was a line that always worked—and how did she know that?

Or know what he was going to do next, when he suddenly pulled her to him and kissed her.

It was strange… wrong. She never – did she? “No!” She broke the kiss and tried to push him away.

“You damned tease.” He was strong, much stronger than her. But how could that be? She was an athlete, a strong, forceful… girl?”

He kissed her again. Hard; trying to force his tongue between her lips. His arm was still around her waist, holding her so she couldn’t get free – couldn’t run. The other hand slipped up under her blouse and began group at her breast. She squirmed, frantically trying to escape.

“Not comfortable, baby?” He leered. His hand came out from under her blouse and grabbed her wrist. He stood up, pulled her to her feet. Then he gave a sudden, firm yank on her arm. She stumbled and fell to the grass.

In an instant, he was on top of her. His weight held Brenda in place, while his hand yanked at her short skirt – oh, Lord, why had she worn such an odd garment? He pulled it far up her thighs. He reached beneath it and found her panties – panties? He plucked the flimsy thing from her, exposing her privates. Somehow, he had opened his own pants. Something hard and so very male pressed against her yielding flesh. She was not aroused, and it hurt going into her.

“Oh, yeah, baby.” He didn’t care. She loved it. He knew she did. And she knew what he thought she knew. He began to pump, groaning, ignoring her screams of passion – or were they screams for help?

Help came. He wasn’t on top of her any more. Three boys, students that she didn’t know, were holding, while he twisted and turned and cursed, trying to break free. A fourth boy took off his t-shirt and draped it over her for modesty.

A few more people appeared. One of them was a campus rent-a-cop. He handcuffed the would-be rapist, led him to a nearby car marked “Security” under the Taite College logo, and locked him in the back. A few female students, some of them surprisingly cute in Brenda’s mind, formed a circle around her. She got to her feet as best she could and rearranged her clothes for public view. Then two of the women offered to help her back to her dorm.

“Be better not to go there yet,” the rent-a-cop told her. “Not till they check you out at the med center.” He used his phone to call for a second car to take her there. She wanted to argue, to just head for the safety of her room, but he insisted; so did the two women, who had offered to go to the dorm with her. They, all three, wound up in the back of the second car headed for the campus medical center.

The driver of the second car was a matronly woman in her mid forties, as best as Brenda could tell. She waited while Brenda discovered the joy – didn’t she know before this? – of a gynecologic exam. The female intern explained every step as she “took evidence of what that bastard did.”

The driver took the three girls back to their dorm. Brenda promised to go to Campus Security the next morning to file a report – and press charges. The two other girls knew Brenda; they lived on the same floor as her, but their names were lost to her; on the tip of her tongue as they say. They told her that she could talk to them anytime she needed to and hugged her goodnight.

She undressed, giving some thought to throwing away the damned miniskirt and panties. Then a warm shower to help with the soreness in her muscles from fighting to break free. She went back to her dorm room and changed into a pair of light green, cotton pajamas. They weren’t anywhere near sexy, which is why she chose them. She slipped into bed and turned out the light on her desk.

And froze in panic. Dark! Too dark! She clicked the light back on and lay, shivering, in her bed. When she finally fell asleep, more than an hour later, the light was still on.

It stayed on during the times she awoke in fright from nightmares. They were all the same. All him and what he had done to her. Reliving it was as bad as the original experience.

* * * * *

It was a very tired and very nervous young woman who went to classes the next morning. Her hair was uncombed, and she wore almost no make-up. Instead of a short skirt, shorts, or jeans that the other female students wore, she was dressed in a loose pair of sweat pants and an oversized top that all but hid her figure.

She wasn’t taking any chances that somebody might think of her as attractive.

The story was out, but in a hundred different versions, and, in many of these, it was her fault. She was asking for it, the way she was dressed. She was drunk. She has passed out – from liquor or rugs, take your choice -- and she’d screamed “rape!” when he found her and tried to help. She had seduced him. She had tried to seduce him, but he was a good boy, and she faked the whole thing to get back at him.

The boy was popular, a good student and the captain of the swim team. He had many supporters.

Brenda stayed in her room as much as possible, talking to no one she didn’t have to. Her schoolwork suffered. It felt to her like every male – student or faculty – was looking at her. Staring at her. Undressing her with their eyes. Raping her in their minds.

The trial – evidentiary hearing, actually – was torture. He had loads of character witnesses. Friends from the swim team told what a right guy and a good leader he was. Professors reported on his academic success. And several women – righteous babes all, she caught herself thinking – swore that he was a gentleman who would never – force himself on a girl. A couple suggested – at best, hinted – that his prowess as a lover was such that he hardly had to prey on an unwilling partner. A boy she’d dated once before she broke up with him for being “creepy” testified that she was “a horny bitch who just couldn’t get enough.” Odd, since she’d never gone beyond letting him kiss her on the cheek.

Finally, the boy’s father, wearing the pin of the Taite Alumni Boosters, spoke. One earned the boosters’ pin by donating at least 25 thousand a year to the school. The man admitted that his boy was, perhaps, a bit rambunctious, but did the hearing committee want to ruin his son’s life: expel him from school, perhaps even send him to jail, for a few minutes allegedly improper behavior?

The committee didn’t. He was found guilty, but just barely, and sentenced to a six month suspension (that included the three months of summer break) and a year of probation. The father thanked the committee for its fine judgment, assuring them that there would be no repetition of the incident. That evening, in private, he thanked the chair of the committee, the chairman of the political science department. In a more personal way, a check for one thousand dollars to help fund the research for book the professor was working on.

Brenda Horner was given a “Pass” in most of her courses. She did manage to take two final exams some week later, and she almost got the grade her professor expected her to get in one of them. She barely passed the other. She was spending more time in counseling at the Taite University Women’s Center than she did studying.

Then she met Dr. Anandha Sheppard, a professor of anthropology – or something – at the Women’s Center.

* * * * *

Hecate Wroth glanced through the Plexiglas window of the holding tank. Hecate – “Cat” to her friends -- was a junior in the Anthropology/Magic Department at Taite. She was tall with a trim, athletic body and jet-black hair that was now tied in a ponytail by a sea-green scarf that her current boyfriend said matched her eyes.

“So that’s Brent Horner,” she said rather smugly. “Where do his parents think he is?”

Dr. Sheppard smiled at Cat. “Spending his summer probation snorkeling with friends in the Florida Keys; one of our people sends irregular but glowing letters home telling them all the fun he’s having.” The Eurasian woman ran her fingers through her long, light brown hair. “He was easy enough to catch.”

“And to process, I expect.”

“Indeed.” She rose and joined Cat at the window. Inside the tank, Brent Horner lay, tied to a hospital bed. His eyes were tightly closed, though his face was convulsed in terror. He pulled at the bands holding him in place, desperate to escape.

“Once we had Mr. Horner securely in place, we brought in his victim. The poor thing was in a state of exhaustion from her experiences. It was a simple enough spell to transfer her memories of the entire experience to him. She remembers what happened, the horror of the rape and the horror of the aftermath, but it’s like something she read or heard about, not something she actually had to suffer through. I’m told that she’s almost back to being the perky co-ed that she was the day before it all happened.”

“What about him?”

“It’s hard to tell. The experiences repeat in his mind about every sixteen hours – time compression in a dream state.”

“I read your paper on that last fall.”

“Yes; and the results of this ‘experiment’ will make an excellent follow-up. He’ll be ‘Brenda’ Horner, reliving that rape and what followed almost fifty times before we release him. It should be interesting to see the sort of person Brent Horner is after all that.”

* * * * *

Inside the holding tank, a sort of magical CD re-set itself to begin another replay.

Brenda Horner snuggled down into an overstuffed chair in one of the “quiet” rooms set up for study groups in the Taite College Student Center. Not quiet tonight, though; the music from the Term’s End Mixer came right through the wall, though it was much softer here than in the room where the band was actually playing. Something didn’t seem quite right to her, but she decided that it was just the beer. To be exact, the one – or two, maybe – more beers than she should have drunk this evening.

And so on and so on and so on...

* * * * *

Author’s note: This story is based on the case of Brock Turner who escaped a severe sentence for rape because his father argued that his life shouldn’t be ruined for twenty minutes of bad behavior. I disagree.

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