How To Help A Friend (part two)

JP with Cindy and LSP
Takes place on Minion Day

Once she was seated Courtney took a breath. "Ok. Conner and I found out for certain that Doug is blackmailing her. We got Mel to confirm it and tell us what he has on her. At her last school, a lot of rumors were circulated about her that mostly weren't true but made her the target of the entire school. The way Mel explained it was she started getting noticed by guys, older guys when she was 11. She liked the attention they gave her. So, when the girls at her first school started targeting her because the boys liked her she started cutting class and going to parties, that she admits she shouldn't have been at.

Her parents thought moving her to an all-girls school would help but some of the girls from her first school knew some of the girls from the all-girls school and they talked about her. Not only did the girls in her second school run with the rumors, but they also made up more. It got worse when she got tutoring from one of the male teachers at her school and the other girls spread a rumor that the teacher and she were having an affair. Mel said it was at that point the bullying escalated. They started not only targeting her in school and online but on the street. She said one day a group of girls pulled her into an alleyway and threatened her and her family."

Courtney took a breath then continued. "She had been talking online with a guy who, she thought, was 16. When she told him what had happened he invited her to come to New York and stay with him. Of course, he wasn't 16. He was in his 20's. She said that he was usually too drunk or stoned to pay attention to her and she got away from him after a few weeks. Mel admits that she shouldn't have trusted him or run away but it was a mistake. She called home and her parents came and got her. After that, she was homeschooled with a tutor until they figured out what to do. Her parents let her come here as sort of a last chance. If she doesn't do well here they've talked about sending her to one of those schools for troubled teens which sounds pretty bad and I don't think she belongs in." Courtney leaned back in the chair a little. "Mel said that the rumors mostly weren't true. She did go to parties but never did drugs. She flirted with guys but didn't do much else and she kept it to guys that weren't taken. And of course, nothing happened between her and the teacher. She also said Doug said if she changed schools he'd just release the info wherever she goes. If she tells anyone,like the officials here or her family, he'll release it to the school. She's scared of going back to a situation where most of the school hates her. She's scared of being sent to a school for troubled teens. Sakura was supposed to be her fresh start and Doug yanked that away from her. She is convinced that the only way to get away from him is to find something worse on Doug. I don't think it matters how bad we think it would actually be to have that information released. Mel has a perception that it would be horrible."

Dante took in every detail, making quick mental notes. "What is something Doug hates more than anything?" Dante asked. "Like what could we defuse a rumor about to get him to act irrationally." Dante steepled his fingers tapping his lips. "If we could start a rumor that derailed his power trip. Make his social standing crash, and burn."

Dawn thought for a moment, "That would be hard to do. I think we'd need actual proof, wouldn't we? I mean considering his standing in the school. I don't know what would break that without proof. Maybe, a rumor he was doing something against the football team?"

Courtney spoke up, "Well, I do know Carter is working on trying to get something on him." She then added. "It might not be such a stretch to get people to believe something related to Doug's gambling." Everyone knew about the poker games that the football team had. "Carter mentioned that Doug always wants to bet a lot at the poker games and he usually gets mad when he loses."

Dante shook his head, "Unless someone could cause him a massive lose and get proof it wouldn't mean too much. Plus that's risky since none of us are of legal gambling age." he added. "No, I was thinking of something that isn't true. Something that we could spread like wildfire and his denying it would only concrete it as more true."

Dante noticed their faces. "I know I don't usually go for the 'evil' method but Doug needs to learn his lesson and for people like him the ways of teaching that lesson are fairly limited. Usually limited to them suffering the same as what they caused."
"What kind of rumor would work for that?" Dawn asked "We'd have to be careful it's something that won't fall back on Mel.

Courtney agreed, then said to Dante, "You have any ideas of what might work for that?"

Dante shook his head. "I don't know enough about him to know where to start," he said. "But a rumor beats my original idea, that could snowball faster."

Dawn said, "Well, the only things he cares about are money, status, and football. If we could figure out a rumor that lost his status with the football players that would be one of the worst things we could do, in his mind."

As they were thinking, Courtney got a text message. Her face fell slightly and after texting back and forth for a moment, she looked up. " That was Carter. He said that Doug is planning on taking Melissa to a hotel next weekend. " Courtney took a breath. "Doug apparently told Mel he'd take her before the dance and then again the next day and they'd be back before curfew. " Courtney looked concerned. "We can't let that happen. Who knows what he'll do to her at a hotel."

"Blackmail might not be the best course of action," he said. "Do you have proof of the hotel thing?" Dante asked. "Like could we have some sort of evidence," he asked. "I know, I know we shouldn't go above Mel on this but..." Dante rubbed the back of his neck. "We are just kids." he finally said. "We can't do all this one our own. We might need adults on this one," he said. "Because the only other way I see it going is I stomp him so bad he can't go to the hotel."

Courtney texted something, it took a moment for the response, "Carter says he has the text message that Doug sent to Mel, saying he got them a room." She paused, "I really don't want Mel to get into trouble over this. If nothing changes by Tuesday I'm pretty sure I can talk to Carter about taking the information to the administration. He's just as worried about this as the rest of us. Doug gets out of restriction, Monday at the end of classes. Mel will be with me on the shopping trip. So, Tuesday morning, we have until then."

Dawn then added, "I can stop it no matter what happens. My parents would never allow him to take a girl to a hotel. All I really have to do is tell them. If they block it from happening there'll be nothing he can do."

With that, the bell rang, and they all needed to get to other places. Courtney said she'd fill in Conner, Dawn would fill in Zander and by next Tues they would know what they needed to do.

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