“Look we’re a campus paper. We print a Purity Quiz and write up what’s going on at the pub and cover the sports teams. Maybe we do a story about the council elections, we don’t really have the resources to go after a professor,” the editor said sitting forward in his chair.
Brooke jabbed her finger in his direction, “None of the local papers will touch it.”
“All the more reason we shouldn’t. We can’t handle a libel suit and all of the women who accused him recanted and said they made it up,” the editor replied.
Brooke shook her head, turning towards the door, “I’m going to bring you an airtight story and you’re going to print it.”
She left before he could offer a rebuttal.
How five different women, none connected, had accused Professor Wagstaff of sexual harassment and then recanted all at once was a mystery. Why would five women, students and another professor, lie? Why would they recant if they weren’t lying?
Brooke’s first interview was with the female professor who had brought the initial allegation. Finding the woman in her office Brooke asked what had happened.
“Professor Wagstaff is a fine man,” the raven haired professor said, “and I regret all the trouble I caused.”
Brooke noticed that as the Professor spoke her voice dropped into a monotone when she answered any questions about Wagstaff. Each reply seemed canned and were just as banal as the first.
Next Brooke talked to the only one of the students still at the school. Similarly the student had nothing to say but prepared answers delivered in a disaffected monotone.
“Professor Wagstaff is a fine man,” the student assured Brooke.
“So I hear,” she said as she put away her notebook.
Still lacking evidence Brooke figured she’d try to rattle him and go direct to the accused for a quote. Maybe if he figured she knew something Wagstaff would slip up.
He was not in his office so with an assist from the phone book she found his odd-campus housing. An Uber ride later and she was on his front porch.
When the door opened a young man, only about ten years older than Brooke herself, answered. “Can I help you?” he asked.
“I’m looking for Professor Wagstaff,” Brooke said, “I’m Brooke.”
“He’s out right now. I’m his TA, can I help you?” he asked. The he noticed the notepad in her hand, “Oh you’re the reporter asking about him and the unpleasantness.”
“How did you know?” Brooke asked.
The TA stepped away from the door, “You weren’t exactly subtle. Come in. You can wait for him if you want.”
“The accusations are pretty damning,” Brooke said.
“Recanted accusations,” he said.
“Well someone might be changing their story again,” she said, bluffing.
That caused the young man to look interested but then he smiled and shook his head.
“This part first will be interesting,” he said mostly to himself.
“What part?” Brooke asked.
“The Professor will be back soon. Why don’t you sit down and I’ll tell you a few things,” the man said.
Brooke did, but flipped open her notebook and brought her pen to the page. The TA smiled at that.
“Professor Wagstaff is a great man. Very clever in most ways. Driven and dedicated to his research. He is getting closer to curing cancer than anyone ever has. My mother died of cancer, so it’s important to me that he does his work uninterrupted. But he is still a man and has needs. He just isn’t that good at dealing with women. He can be forward or offish,” he explained, “And while it would be great if he could socialize better his work comes first. And I couldn’t let anything interrupt his work.”
Brooke frowned, “So he did sexually harass those women?”
“Yes. Oh and so much more. He really isn’t a good person. But a cure for cancer, could save millions of lives,” the TA said, “So I helped clean up the mess. To keep him on track. If he got fired because he couldn’t keep his cock in his pants… it would be a waste.”
Forget the student paper, Brooke was already planning on talking to a TV station for this story. It was incredible.
“So you paid off the victims?”
“I’m a TA where would I get the money? No see I just talked with them. Each one of them. I explained how important it was to listen and relax. I explained how it would feel to focus on my voice and listen to me. You want this story so badly Brooke so listen carefully to what I told them.”
Brooke did want the story. She listened carefully.
“I told them to relax. Focus. And listen. I told them that each word I said would help them pay closer attention and each breath they took would relax them more deeply. Now Brooke it’s important to pay attention you want to get this story right. Need to listen and relax to make sure you quote me perfectly.”
Brooke nodded, her eyes blinking heavily.
“And as they listened to me, relaxing deeply, they felt sleepier and sleepier. Their bodies relaxed. They focused and listened. Listen closely. Brooke. Listen and relax. Get the scoop Brooke, listen to my voice and focus. Relax.”
Brooke’s mouth hung open as her arms fell to her sides. The chair she was seated in seemed deep as if she were sinking down into it. Her eyes blinked and her head wobbled.
“Pay close attention to this next part Brooke,” the nice man said, “you want your story. I’m going to give it to you.”
Brooke smiled as her eyes slid shut and she listened carefully.
The editor shrugged, “‘Professor Wagstaff is a Fine Man’ isn’t the headline I expected you to bring me but whatever. We have a great review of the new Marvel movie for the issue so it’s not like anyone will read this article anyway. I’m just glad we won’t be sued.”
Brooke grinned, “Told you I would get to the bottom of it.”
The editor rolled his eyes as she left. Brooke headed to the dorms. Her new boyfriend was waiting. Once there she entered his room, kissing the cute TA on the lips as she began to strip.
“I submitted the article master. Now everyone will know that Professor Wagstaff is a fine man,” she said.
The TA cupped a breast, “I’m glad I kept you for myself. He might be a fine man but you’re a fine piece of ass.”