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Big Boned


Page 45




"Someone shot him," I say.
"Exactly."
"But what makes you think it was Reverend Mark that did the shooting? How did he even know you were meeting with Dr. Veatch?"
Jamie winces. And not because she's accidentally bitten down on a cherry pit.
"I made the mistake of trying to get some of the other girls in the choir to go with me to report him. I mean, he was doing it to all of us. I figured if we all went together, we'd have a stronger case. You know how hard it is to prove these kinds of things. The problem was, the other girls, they-"
"Some of them liked what he was doing?" I volunteer, when she hesitates.
"Exactly," Jamie says. "Or they didn't think he was doing anything wrong, or believe it really was on purpose, and said that I was making a mountain out of a molehill." Jamie takes an even bigger than normal heap of crumble, and stuffs it into her mouth. "Who knows? Maybe I was."
"Jamie," I say. "You weren't. If it made you uncomfortable, you were right to say something to someone."
"Maybe," Jamie says, swallowing. "I don't know. Anyway. One of the girls got so mad when she found out what I was doing, she warned Reverend Mark about it."
"God," I say. I'd have killed that girl. I admire Jamie for her restraint in not doing so.
"I know. He took me aside after our rehearsal the night before last and tried to talk to me about it. He made a joke out of it, saying he's just a big friendly guy and doesn't always know what he's doing with his hands. It was so… gross."
I take a matching heap of crumble, and shove it into my own mouth. "You should have said you're the same way, then 'accidentally' put your hand put down his pants," I say.
"Yeah, but he'd have liked that," Jamie reminds me.
"True."
"When he figured out I wasn't buying it, he started going on about how my lodging a complaint was going to ruin his career, and that he would promise to do better if I just wouldn't go to Dr. Veatch. That's when I told him it was too late-that Dr. Veatch already knew, and that soon the whole college would. After that, Reverend Mark got really quiet, and said I could go. So then when I got to your office the next morning and Dr. Veatch was dead-"
"You assumed Reverend Mark had silenced him forever," I say. "And that you were destined to be his next victim."
"Exactly," Jamie says, thoughtfully scraping the sides of the dish with her spoon so there'll be no crust to have to scour before loading into the dishwasher. I join her. I can see it's going to take our combined, united efforts to finish this crumble. I mean, bring down Reverend Mark.
"I want you to come back to the city with me, and tell everything you just told me to a detective friend of mine," I say. "You don't have to worry about Reverend Mark going after you-if he's the real killer, I mean. Detective Canavan won't let that happen.I won't let that happen."
"How are you going to do that?" Jamie wants to know.
"Easy," I say, "I'll make him persona non grata in Fischer Hall. So you'll be safe there."
"I don't know," Jamie says, chewing crystallized bits of sugary crust.
"Jamie, seriously. What alternative do you have? You're going to stay here in Rock Ridge for the rest of your life, with your mom and dad? Gavin's going back to the city with us. Don't you want to hang out with him?"
One of Jamie's eyebrows goes up, as do the corners of her now cherry-stained mouth.
"Well. Yeah," she admits, slowly. "I guess. He's sweet. And so understanding. There aren't a lot of guys who'd sit and listen to a girl carry on like a crazy person the way I was doing last night… Well, I guess that makes sense, on account of his mom being a gynecologist, and all."
I try not to say anything. I mean, it's none of my business, really.
"Do you… " Jamie looks at me with her blue eyes very wide. "Do you think… do you think he wants to hang out with me?"
I can't help rolling my own blue eyes. "Uh, yeah, Jamie, I do. Besides, when your mom gets home and finds out what we did to her crumble,she 's going to kill you for sure. So you're safer back in the city anyway."
Jamie's grin broadens. "Okay. Let me take a shower and grab my stuff."
"Deal," I say, and lean back in my chair.
When she's gone, I surreptitiously undo the top button to my jeans. Because the truth is, even though I matched her spoonful for spoonful, I can't keep up with these kids the way I used to. I really can't.
It's depressing, but true.
16
No use putting rose petals on my bed
That's not the way you'll win me
Take back that box from Tiffany
All I want's an ice cream sundae
"Chocolate Lover"
Written by Heather Wells
The snarling inflatable rat is gone from the front of Fisher Hall by the time we pull up after our visit to the Sixth Precinct. The protesters have moved themselves (and their rat) to the library, where they can probably get more attention anyway, since that's where President Allington's offices are.
Fortunately, the news vans have moved along with them, so Cooper easily finds a place to pull over and let us all out.
Still, even though Gavin's the one who caused all the trouble by spending the night in jail, my arm is the one Cooper snags as I'm getting out of his car.
"Hold on a minute," he says, as the kids tumble out onto the sidewalk. He waits until they're safely inside the building and out of earshot before asking, "So you're gonna PNG Halstead. Then what are you going do?"
It seems to me that my making Mark Halstead persona non grata in Fischer Hall is about the only wrist slapping the good reverend is going to receive. Detective Canavan had seemed less than impressed by Jamie's story, but said he'd "look into Halstead's whereabouts" the morning of Dr. Veatch's murder. This had seemed to satisfy Jamie…
But not me. I could tell Detective Canavan felt as if they already had their killer and was going to do about as much looking into Halstead's whereabouts the morning of Dr. Veatch's murder as the college had done looking into Mark Halstead's previous employment record. Which, I knew, was nil.