Thursday 30 April – Saturday 2 May 2015
Twenty-four bodies were present and accounted for in Skylar’s class. Chatty students consumed by their own after school adventures the previous day were oblivious to the fact that one of their number was missing. An empty chair, a desk free from the daily needs of a young student, and Teddy Lange staring at the vacant spot caught the teacher’s eye.
‘THANK YOU!’ Skylar shouted. ‘Settle down. Does anyone know where Angus is today?’ The students responded to her request and quietened down. A single hand was slowly raised in the air.
‘Miss Marsh, I doubt that Angus’ll be in today. The cops were round his house practically all night.’
Skylar walked around the front of her desk and perched on the edge. ‘Why were the police at the Stewart’s last night?’
Teddy feigned hesitation and answered slowly. ‘It’s his brother, miss. He died yesterday. Fell into the river and drowned. That’s what my mother told me, and she spoke to Angus’ dad, so it must be true.’
A sly smile inched its way across Teddy’s face, and had Skylar not had her suspicions about the boy’s future direction, she might have missed the delight in his eyes as he relayed the information. There was no doubt about Teddy Lange hitting every critical marker. It was only a matter of time before he took the next step. In fact, with the death of Angus’ little brother, perhaps Teddy already had moved beyond the theoretical aspect of the markers. Setting the students to work on interpreting a scene each from Hamlet, Skylar made a note in her work diary to speak with the core staff who attended the weekly meetings to discuss the students. As Angus’ best friend, Teddy had to be a serious contender in the drowning death of the youngest Stewart child.
* * * * *
‘Preliminary examination of Michael Stewart’s body suggests that it is entirely possible that he was pushed into the river. See the faint bruising here?’ Carlsson pointed to the slight purpling of the boy’s skin just below his shoulder blades. She gestured in circling motion as she continued to speak. ‘It looks to me as if someone placed their hand right there, and then gave this young fellow quite a hard shove in the back. And before you ask, I’ll know more after I photograph it, however, it does appear as though it’s a medium sized hand. Maybe, maybe it’s another kid. As to anything else, detectives, you’ll have to wait until I’ve completed the autopsy, and written the official report. A few days at most.’ The medical examiner had anticipated every question that the detectives could have asked, leaving them stuck for words.
‘Well, I guess that just about covers it. Wouldn’t you agree, Forbes?’
‘Yes, Tyler, I do believe that I would agree.’
‘You two are like Heckle and Jeckle,’ Anna Carlsson laughed. ‘I never know whether to laugh at how absurdly comical you come across, or blown away by the sheer brilliance of your characters.’
Forbes adjusted his emerald green tie, pulled his shoulders back and puffed out his chest in a show of bravado.
‘Stick with being impressed by our sheer brilliance, because that’s what Tyler and I are. Brilliant to the core of our very existence.’
Tyler slapped him hard on the back, and Carlsson burst out laughing.
‘No, Forbes, you’re definitely absurdly comical,’ she replied. ‘Now get yourselves up to the observation room and let me do my work down here.’
* * * * *
Uneasy about the morning’s news and unable to relax, Skylar had ousted all but the core staff from the staff lounge. An impromptu meeting was in session, and Skylar had the floor.
‘Michael Stewart died yesterday after school. I know what you’re thinking: what does the death of an elementary school student have to do with us? Well, to begin with, he was the younger brother of Angus Stewart, and he is one of our students and therefore, of concern to us. Secondly, and more importantly, Angus’ best friend is Teddy Lange. Finally, when I asked my Literature class where Angus was this morning, it was Teddy who informed me of young Michael’s drowning, and believe me, he was revelling in it. I think we need to look at him immediately. No more wasting time, no waiting until next week’s meeting.’
‘We have a process for a reason, Skylar. If we didn’t, we’d be in these meetings all day, every day. You’ll have to wait until next week,’ the deputy head said.
‘You would say that, Dean. You’re protecting the little bastard and it has to stop. After all, we have this process for a reason. You are the one who had this process rolled out across every school district. How many times do you need to be reminded of this fact?’ Skylar snapped.
‘ENOUGH! Skylar, enough with this victimisation of my nephew. Do you have any proof whatsoever of his having anything to do with this boy’s death?’
She shook her head.
‘Then back the hell off. Until next week’s meeting, I do not, I repeat, I do not want to hear another word out of your mouth that concerns the critical markers in relation to Teddy.’ Dean took his cup of coffee and left the staff lounge.
Iris Stedman patted Skylar’s hand. ‘I’m sorry, Skylar, but Deputy Graham’s right. If you have no evidence of Teddy’s involvement in the death, then you need to wait until the next meeting. Just keep collecting your data, and don’t forget that you have a responsibility to many other students as well.’
As quickly as the meeting had been formed, it had disbanded. Alone in the staff lounge, Skylar sat defeated.
‘You want proof, Deputy? I’ll get you proof.’
Outside of the staff lounge, Teddy Lange peered in as he wandered through the hall on his way to his uncle’s office.
. . . To be continued . . .