The air of the small, cramped office carried that distinct, unmistakable heavy scent of sex. Mostly sweat, but with the undertone of other that no one could ever mistake for anything else. Chord Lefèvre was all too familiar with that smell. He was a teenage boy after all. He practically lived in it.
Chord wiggled his hips so he could tug his skin-tight skinny jeans up his legs, silently cursing the growing ridiculousness of men’s fashion, and buttoned the fly. His bleached bangs damp with sweat stuck to his forehead. He swept them back in as casual a motion as he could, trying to play it cool as he leaned back against the painted cinderblock wall beside the office door. This was the moment. Things had to be handled delicately.
Behind the lone cracked and chipped wood desk, his creep of a high school photography teacher sat in an ancient office chair that creaked with every laboured breath. Seriously, that chair had needed to be replaced six years ago. But his teacher’s short-sleeved plaid dress shirt untucked, and his fly still open. Gross. Like this entire experience hadn’t already been ick.
His forty-seven-year-old teacher, a supposedly happily married man, was still struggling to suck down air after the strenuous activities he’d barely participated in. Chord had done most of the hard work. Not that that was any shock. And it had been hard.
Try acting interested when your partner, who was old enough to be your dad, looked like a potato with a small dick. Mr. Dickhead Creepy McCreeperson wasn’t exactly the most energetic or young teacher at the school. There were hints of salt and pepper in the hair around his ears, and he sported a small potbelly. Not large enough to spill over his slacks when they were buttoned, but enough to warrant two extra inches on his waist measurement, as if he cared enough to eat decently, but not enough to hit the gym or do a couple of sit-ups. Diet was probably more in his wife’s hands than anything.
The tiny office was bare. Chord couldn’t see a single student photo or piece of artwork on the walls. Not even a framed degree or certificate to say he had the qualifications to teach. Just a dead potted plant in the corner on a spindly table, the bare minimum of Staples office supplies, and a small gold-framed photo of the teacher’s two daughters. The frame had been consciously laid face down on the desk from the moment Chord asked if they could maybe come to an agreement.
Chord knew one of daughters. Not personally. She was a grade younger, and he vaguely recalled signing the cracked cover of a CD for her two years ago after the release of his band’s first album. The members of Static Shadow themselves had very little creative input in recording that album. It hadn’t really gone anywhere, and their first label had dropped them. That had proved to be foolish for the record company in the long run.
“So…” Chord’s attention finally rested on the sweat beading on his teacher’s thick, bushy moustache. He chewed on his lower lip and averted his gaze while his tongue played with one of the silver rings of his snake bites.
“Your extra credit assignment was completed satisfactorily,” the teacher finally wheezed. Chord barely managed to keep from rolling his eyes at the line that sounded like it belonged in a cheesy, low budget porno. “Eighty-two percent.”
The teacher shifted back in his seat, fumbling to zip his fly. “Your attendance is spotty. You goof around in class-”
Chord snorted. “Doesn’t mean I haven’t done the work.”
The teacher stopped tucking in the hem of his shirt and stared at Chord. “You haven’t. That’s why you’re here.”
“Please. Lecture me on the finer points of morality,” Chord drawled with a dismissive wave of his left hand, a hint of his French-Canadian accent slipping through. He reached for the bulbous doorknob. “Eighty-seven.”
Before the teacher could protest, Chord slipped out the door. Through the narrowing crack, he caught sight of the teacher picking up the gold frame on his desk. He set the photo down, and was carefully adjusting the angle as Chord securely shut the door behind him.
Chord wrinkled his nose. He should report him. It had been all too easy to slyly suggest he could make up the grade another way, but with his band about to go on tour, a new album in the works, and a few auditions around the corner, he didn’t need the scandal. Maybe an anonymous tip. Chord hadn’t considered himself a child in a long time, but he’d hate to see some poor kid get hurt.
The office was located inside one of the school’s art rooms. Originally, it had been one of two dark rooms, so it had no windows looking in like most offices. Unlike the small office, the classroom was decorated with students’ work and prints of famous photographs and paintings. Papier mâché models and sculptures hung from a web of strings overhead. Chord almost regretted not taking an actual art course. It looked kinda fun. Visual art had never been his forte, but most of the artwork looked like crap, and he could do that. Oh well, too late. Graduation was around the corner anyway.
Fishing his iPod out of the pocket of his dark purple, sleeveless hoodie, Chord shoved the earbuds into his ears and cranked up his music. Not his own music. That would be a new level of narcissism that Chord wasn’t quite willing to reach, yet. The world wasn’t ready for another Kanye. One was already too much.
Hands buried deep in his pockets, he vacated the empty art classroom, black Converse sneakers squeaking on the dirty floor, and weaved through the throng of students wandering aimlessly during the lunch break. Several tried to approach him. Usually, a single girl backed by a swarm of giggling friends urging her forward.
Chord was cute. Or so he had been told over and over again. He rocked stylish bleached white-blond hair with pink tips swept forward like rolling waves and held in place by a battalion of hair product. Well, not right now. He needed to make a pit stop to fix that. His jaw was sharp, not overly masculine, and his dark eyes were lined with black eyeliner applied with the skill that most girls envied. As the frontman for Static Shadow, it was his job to be attractive. Kian and Tan sure as hell weren’t going to expend the effort.
K through 7, Chord had been that boy every class had. The one with gel spiked hair, and an adorably sweet face; the one every girl had a crush on. Unfortunately, he lacked the social skills to live up to the hype. All awkward silence and no small talk. Social anxiety does that.
It wasn’t until high school that Chord really understood his place when he mastered the art of sarcasm and well-placed silence. It almost made him cool. The band helped too.
Eyes glued to the floor, Chord barreled forward through the lunch crowd until he reached his destination. A gust of stale air hit him when he hauled open the heavy door to the auditorium. The drama students were on stage for last-minute rehearsals this year’s disasterpiece – Hairspray. More than once, the teachers and students had insisted that he absolutely needed to audition for the character of Link. Like he had the time.
A quick glance around told Chord that no one paid him any mind. He ducked into the costume room filled with the rejected fashion of years gone by and climbed the ladder at the far end of the room before a member of the stagecraft class caught him sneaking into the sanctuary above. If he was right, and he was certain he was, he wouldn’t be alone.