Hello readers. Thank you for following my series to this chapter, and I appreciate all of the emails I’ve received since Chapter 1. It is nice to know that people actually read my stuff, even though it’s laden with mistakes, especially in the tenses. I wonder how long will it take before I can actually write something without a single mistake.
Comments and criticisms desired at:
Enjoy the 5th chapter of this series.
Riley Reynolds: Latino/italian male, senior, quarterback.
Gerard Painter: White male, senior, runner/cyclist.
Simon McNaught: White male, senior, gymnast.
Daniel Hastings: Black male, senior, long distance runner.
Genevieve Lee: White female, junior, swimmer.
Kelly Pratt: White female, senior, math geek.
Aaron Xiang: Asian male, junior, theatre star.
I went over my notes for about the hundredth time. What do we all have in common? Right now, all I could see was that we were all students of Green High. If anything, this new list of names which I had copied from the detectives yesterday only made things worse. At least before this I could narrow down to male jocks and athletes.
I took a deep breath. Okay, so those bastards don’t discriminate. Both genders and a variety of skin colours were all eligible. But the list did have a pattern; most of the names were athletes or jocks. Six out of eight to be precise. There must be something in common we all share with the math geek and the theatre star.
I flipped the year book to the Drama club. Aaron Xiang had a cute face and an athletic body, at least I assumed he did. The muscles in his arms and the way his shirt rests on his chest suggested he did.
I thought maybe the bastards liked muscular bodies, but then I remembered Kelly Pratt in Math club. She was tall and overweight, which made her stood out among her skinny fellow club mates in that picture.
“Ger! You’re going to be late for school!” I heard my brother yell from the kitchen.
“Yes mum,” I rolled my eyes and yelled back.
I had liked it better when Sam wasn’t on work leave. I knew that he took the leave to be around me, and I had always wanted my brother to be home more often, but now that he actually was on leave, he had been nagging me like a mother.
I slammed the year book shut and put it into my drawer. I had spent most of the night going through that book to find out more about the names in the list. I may be tired and sleepy now, but it was worth it. I was not a huge fan of sleeping — if I could I wouldn’t sleep at all. Unfortunately, I did sleep for about two hours some time before 4 a.m. I tried to not think about that.
I flipped open my wallet and looked at the picture of Pat. It was a photo of him grinning with his gold medal last year. The picture was actually from a page in the year book, but I had cut it out for my wallet. After a moment, I put my wallet away and walked out of my room before Sam starts yelling again.
“What did you make?” I asked Sam as I dropped my bag on the chair next to me.
“Baked green peppers stuffed with risotto on napoletana sauce and sliced eggplants.”
“You know how good it smells, don’t you?” I said as I took a bite.
“If this is about me opening a restaurant again, forget it,” Sam laughed.
On second thought, it was much better that Sam took work leave. His breakfast had just risen to a whole new level. Damn. I swallowed my first bite of his breakfast. I can deal with a lot more nagging if I get to eat like this everyday.
When I finished wolfing down my breakfast like a starved animal, Sam dropped his bike lock’s key on the table.
I looked up at him questioningly. “I’m not taking your bike, Sam.”
“Then how are you getting to school? Surely you’re not walking?”
I reached into my bag beside me and pulled out my sneakers.
Sam laughed aloud. “Oh, right, you’re not walking. You’re running.”
“Why not? I have PE on my first period and coach wants me to run more often,” I grinned at my brother like it was the best idea ever.
Okay, definitely not the best idea ever. While I was running alone in the streets, I couldn’t help feeling like I was being followed. But each time I looked back, there was no one there. Wait, there was once when there actually was someone, and just as I was about to start panicking, I realised it was only a woman running her morning jog.
I shook my head as I ran the soap over my chest and my back. Was my brother actually right when he told my shrink that I was paranoid?
“Did you run to school today?” Bass asked. I didn’t realise that my curly–haired friend had entered the shower next to me.
“Yeah, was it that obvious?”
“You were sweating before we started, of course it’s obvious,” he laughed.
I smiled. “What about my running? Was I slower than usual?”
“No, you were still fucking fast. But running isn’t what you should be worrying about — you should be cycling faster!”
I laughed. “You’re only saying that because you’re the fastest cyclist in the whole damn state.”
Bass grinned. “Wow, really? That fast?” he asked in mock shock. Of course the bastard knew that he was the fastest in the state; he won all of the competitions last year. Well okay, he hasn’t officially competed for the state yet, but sometimes you just know it when you see a legend in the making.
“Shut up,” I said and smiled instead.
He chuckled at that. “That explains why I have nicer quads,” he challenged as he flexed his legs.
I felt myself colouring. That guy has absolutely no sense of modesty — he was practically drawing my attention to his large swinging tool. “Well, I have a nicer ass,” I retorted.
Bass had always loved showing off his muscles to everyone who would look, naked or not. Well, the guy’s quite the sex god, so I guess he’s allowed. I heard that girls would kill each other just to get him in bed. And girls who actually did get him in bed loved boasting about his ‘size’ and ‘strength’. For some reason I found myself curious about how Bass would look like when he’s hard.
Shaking my head, I turned off the shower and walked to my locker. Why should I care how the curly–haired sex god walking beside me would look like naked and hard?
Some time later, while we were putting on our clothes, I noticed a skinny kid being pushed around by Jared (the guy whom I had beaten up yesterday) on the other side of the locker room. I wondered briefly if I should remind the bully about yesterday.
“You used tell me how much you hated the quarterback because he was a bully,” my curly–haired friend said suddenly.
I knew where he was going with this. I quickly tied my shoelaces and zipped up my bag
“And then yesterday, all the sudden you’re buds with the guy? What did I miss?”
“I’ll go check on Julie — she’ll get mad if we make her wait,” I said and walked out of the locker room without waiting for him.
As I expected, she was outside tapping her feet as if we were an hour late.
“Took longer than usual to get each other off?” she said when she saw me. She had once joked that we always took so long to shower because Bass and I were actually having sex in the locker room.
“Well, I can’t help it,” piped in Bass as he walked out. “Gary just tastes so good.”
They laughed at their joke as I rolled my eyes at them. They got to be the crudest pair in the school.
“Where are you going?” Bass asked questioningly when he saw me walking away. “Cafeteria’s this way.”
“I’m not having breakfast today — you guys go ahead,” I told them and continued to walk as they looked at each other.
We usually have breakfast on Thursday mornings after PE, which was a free period for all of us (including Pat). But today, I had two important clubs to visit.
When I walked into the theatre, the first thing I noticed was how busy it was. I considered stepping back out into the hallway to double–check the time. Was it really 9 a.m.?
“Behind you!” someone suddenly warned.
I spun around and saw three men carrying a huge tree prop. I quickly stepped aside into the seats to let them through.
“Are you the replacement?” said someone else bitterly on my other side.
I turned to that voice and saw a handsome blond guy staring venomously at me. “No, I’m looking for someone who knows Aaron Xiang,” I replied.
Just as I thought that his staring couldn’t get more venomous, it did. “That idiot of a coward? He disappears one week before the opening and he only became more popular? Unbelievable.”
I wondered if I should tell him that their star actor was dead. But before I could come to a decision, he kept on talking.
“What’s so good about that chink anyway? He can’t act for shit. Maybe he finally accepted his asian limitations and chickened out.”
“Hey, you don’t have to be rude.”
“Why? We should never have let those chinks in. Maybe someone did us a favour and deported him back to whatever jungle he came from.”
I was ready to explode at his comments, but someone beat me to it.
“Henry!” a girl slapped him in the back of his head. “Get your ass back on stage!”
“Bitch,” he muttered as he walked away.
When he was far enough, I looked at her. “I think you just saved his life,” I told her simply.
“I’m sorry about him. He’s not usually like that. But when it comes to Aaron, he’s a first class jerk.”
“Because Aaron’s asian?”
“Because Aaron’s the prodigy of the drama club.”
I crossed my arms. “And that justifies his rude remarks?”
“As I said. First class jerk.”
I nodded. “Anyway, I’m looking for someone to talk to about Aaron.”
She looked at me curiously. “The police were here yesterday asking about him as well. Do you know if he’s okay?”
I hesitated. “I don’t know,” I answered finally. It was not my responsibility to bring them the bad news.
“Our director is going crazy — the opening is tonight and we have a lead actress who can’t dance and a lead actor whom no one had seen since Friday.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I told her. It really did sound like a bad situation. “Did you know Aaron well?”
“It depends on what you mean. We’ve been friends ever since he joined the club last year.”
“Does he play any sports, or associate with anything that has to do with sports?”
“Aaron? No, I don’t think he does. Why?”
“He looked really buff in the yearbook.”
“Oh, that. He does a lot of heavy lifting in his parent’s store.”
I thought for a moment about what to ask next. “What kind of person is he?”
She smiled to herself. “Aaron’s a really talented actor; When I first saw him act, it was like the ground around him transformed with him. Suddenly he’s no longer Aaron Xiang, but he’s the manifestation of a someone who was supposed to be dead centuries ago.”
“Wow, when you put it that way, he does sound incredibly talented.”
She nodded enthusiastically. “And he’s completely oblivious to it. Everyone loves him because he’s so decent and funny,” she said. “Except for that guy you just met,” she added quickly.
“Aaron sounds like a nice guy.”
“He really is. I just hope nothing bad happened to him. Anyway, I have to get back on stage — my part is coming up. It was nice meeting you!”
With that she hurried back on the stage where a middle–aged woman was screaming instructions at the top of her lungs. That must be the director, I thought.
I sighed to myself as I walked out of the theatre. I wasn’t sure what I was trying to do, and I wasn’t even sure if what I had just done was useful. I looked at the clock on the hallway. Damn, time for my Physics period. I’ll have to do the Math club after lunch.
“So where did you go?” asked Julie.
“I had something to do earlier,” I said simply. We had History together just before lunch.
“You’re not gonna tell me, are you?”
I didn’t answer as we kept walking towards the cafeteria. I couldn’t stop thinking about the police detectives. They would be questioning my friends today.
“I know something happened, Gary. Why won’t you tell me what’s wrong?” she asked frustratingly.
“What makes you think something happened?” I asked.
“You want me to show you my list? Your best friend’s gone to Canada and you didn’t bother telling us until we asked. You got into a fight as if you’re one of those trouble kids. And today you just walked off—”
“Okay, okay, I get it,” I interrupted as we walked into the cafeteria. Bass was already waiting for us, and the police detectives weren’t anywhere in sight.
“Well, I’m just saying I think we deserve to know what’s been going on in your life,” she said as we grabbed our trays.
I couldn’t say anything in return. I wasn’t sure how to tell her that I never want to talk about it.
“What’s up, guys?” my curly–haired friend asked as we set our trays down. “Something happened?”
“Bassie, answer this,” Julie asked instead. “Does Gary seem normal to you?”
He looked at me for a moment. “No, but it’s expected — Pat and Gary had been friends forever.”
She shook her head. “I think there’s more to the story.”
“Well, you have been acting a little strange, Gary. Like running to school instead of cycling here,” agreed Bass.
“You ran here today? That would explain the sweating. What’s wrong with the bike?”
“Why is it so strange that I didn’t cycle?” I asked them roughly.
They raised their eyebrows at me. Damn them.
“My bike broke down yesterday,” I told them.
“What? How?” asked Bass, bewildered. “Your bike’s fucking tough.”
Damn cyclists, I thought. Then I noticed Riley looking over at us. I found myself hoping he would come over and help me out again.
“See, I knew it. Something’s going on, and you’re not telling us about it,” Julie crossed her arms and said.
Suddenly, someone slammed his hands on the table in front of me, surprising all of us. I turned and looked up at the face.
He was furious. “Why did you lie about Pat?” he demanded.
My heart stopped. I felt my world falling apart. I couldn’t say anything.
“Archie, what’s up man,” Bass asked nervously. I could see Riley and Ruth standing near our table with trays in their hands, afraid to approach us.
“That fucker lied to us!” he yelled. “I called Pat because I thought they might have left a forwarding number—”
I felt the colour draining from my face. So this was it. I cast my eyes down on the table in front of me. I couldn’t look at anyone right now.
“His mum picked up the phone,” he spat. “And guessed what she told me. Pat’s dead!”
I heard Ruth gasp and the cafeteria became silent.
“Is that true, Gary?” I heard Julie ask softly.
“His mum already made funeral arrangements—look at me you fucker!” Archie snapped. I could see his hands shaking on the table.
“Hey, go easy on him!” Bass defended me.
“Why should I? We’re Pat’s friends too. The fucker had no right to lie to us like that! All the bullshit about Pat moving. Canada by ass!”
“Did it have anything to do with the recent news?” Julie asked suddenly.
I didn’t answer.
“You mean... the one with the cannibals?” Bass questioned, picking up on what she was implying.
No one said a thing for awhile. Then Archie removed his hands from the table. “Is it true, Gary? Was Pat a victim?” I heard him ask softly.
When I didn’t answer, Archie cussed and walked out of the cafeteria.
“Gary,” I heard Julie say. “Gary, I’m so sorry.”
I shook my head.
“Why didn’t you tell us, man. We would have been there for you,” Bass told me.
We remained silent like that for awhile. When I finally looked up, I noticed that Riley and Ruth had decided to sit on the table next to ours. It was then I noticed there were tears in my eyes. I cussed silently as I wiped them with my hands.
Then I saw Archie walk back in. He looked at me for a minute before slowly coming over and sat opposite of me.
“I can’t believe he’s gone,” he muttered. His eyes were a little red.
“I’m sorry I lied,” I told him.
He nodded, accepting my apology. “I’m sorry too. For flying off the handle like that.”
“I deserved that.”
We continued to eat in silence after that. The students in the cafeteria had started talking again, although this time I was sure it was about Pat. When we were halfway through our lunch, I saw Eric and the other detective walk into the cafeteria.
“Excuse me,” Eric said has he held out his wallet. “Are you friends of Patrick Herrington?”
My friends looked at each other and nodded.
“We hope you won’t mind answering a few questions about Patrick.”
“Go ahead,” Julie said.
The detectives sat at our table. “When was the last time you saw him?”
“During bonfire on Saturday,” Julie answered first.
“Same,” agreed my curly–haired friend.
To my surprise, Archie hesitated when the detectives looked at him. “After the bonfire, about midnight, in my house.”
I whipped my head around and looked at the green–eyed swimmer. Pat was at his house after the bonfire?
“What was he doing in your house?” Eric asked as he pulled out his notebook and pen.
He hesitated again. “He had a— uh, a disagreement, with someone, and he was upset. He sometimes comes to my house when he’s upset.”
“And who is this person he had a disagreement with?”
I felt my heart lurch a little. It had to be me. How much did Archie know about us?
“That’s not important,” the green–eyed swimmer said quickly as he glanced at me.
Eric looked at him. “Everything’s important. Now who is this person?” he asked more forcefully.
Archie stammered a little, obviously conflicted with what he was asked to give up.
“It was me.”
The detectives looked at me for a second. They nodded and turned back to Archie. “So what time did he leave your house?”
“I think it was about twelve or one midnight. You can ask my sister — she was watching the TV in the living room when he left.”
Eric and his partner asked us a couple more questions before they left the cafeteria. I was looking at Archie the whole time; while they were questioning us and even after they were gone. Did Pat tell him why we had fought that night? I felt my face draining of colour. Did Archie know that Pat and I had sex that morning?
“Nothing really happened to your cousin last weekend, did it?” I heard Ruth say suddenly.
I looked over at their table and saw Riley shifting uncomfortably in his seat under the gaze of his girlfriend. The way she was looking at him was making me nervous.
“The papers said there were two survivors,” Ruth continued slowly. “I’ve been wondering why you and Gary are suddenly buddies.”
Shit. I turned back to my friends and noticed that Julie’s eyes had widened in shock, while Archie and Bass were slowly coming to the realisation of what she was implying.
“I guess you all figured out why I wasn’t in school earlier this week,” I said after a while.
They didn’t respond to that.
After a moment of silence, Julie started scooping her peas and potatoes onto my plate. “Have these — I’ll have your chicken,” she said.
I knocked while looking at the huge printed sign clumsily pinned on the door. I was surprised when Ruth opened the door.
“Gary,” she was as surprised as I was. “I’m so sorry about lunch today — I hadn’t meant to out you like that.”
“It’s fine, really. What are you doing here?” I asked, quickly changing the subject.
“I’m a member of the Math club — had been since I came to this school,” she invited me into the room. The atmosphere in this club was a lot more relaxed compared to the theatre.
“Do you know someone named Kelly Pratt?”
“Yes, big girl,” Ruth commented. “What about her?”
“Do you know if she played sports or had any association with sports?”
She raised her eyebrow questioningly. “You’ve seen the girl, haven’t you?”
I guess it was a negative. “Never mind. What kind of person was she?”
“Kelly? Well, she wasn’t the most popular girl in the club, but she doesn’t get in anyone’s way.”
“Anything out of the ordinary about her?”
“Other than she eats three times the amount you athletes eat? No.”
I nodded disappointedly. I had absolutely no clue where to go next from here. The list of names doesn’t seem to lead to anything useful. Dammit.
“Was she a victim?” Ruth asked suddenly.
“Not so loud,” I whispered and looked around us.
“It’s okay, the entire club already made the connection yesterday. We knew even before the detectives questioned us.”
I guess being geeks has its advantages. “This club is so different from the Drama club,” I commented.
She suddenly looked at me sadly. “So Aaron was a victim too? Such a shame, he was such a good actor.”
I mentally kicked myself for letting that one slip. How did she figure that one out so fast? “For someone who’s only been here for a month you seem to know more people than I do.”
“Different crowds. You know the jocks and athletes, while I know the mathematics and drama geeks.”
I nodded in agreement. Riley was right — this girl was too damn smart. “Are you part of the play tonight?”
“No, I don’t act, but I do love watching. It’s a shame Riley doesn’t. I don’t think I’ll watch tonight — not with Lisa on an injured foot and Aaron out of the play.”
“Yeah, the whole club was panicking when I was there,” I agreed. “Anyway, I should leave now.”
She nodded and waved at me as I walked out of the room. To my surprise, when I turned, I bumped into Riley.
“Hey,” the quarterback greeted in surprise. “What are you doing here?”
He raised his eyebrows questioningly at me.
“Okay, fine, I was asking about Kelly Pratt,” I told him. “One of the victims,” I added quickly when his expression didn’t change.
“Are you, like, investigating?”
“Yeah, I thought I could find some sort of pattern in the victims list.”
“So that you can find out more about our abductors.”
“Which hopefully leads to me finding those bastards.”
“And then you can avenge your friend.”
I opened my mouth and shut them again, stunned. He understood me. I wasn’t sure which I was more surprised by — that, or the fact that I hadn’t bothered to hide anything from the quarterback.
“What do you have so far?” he asked.
I opened my bag and pulled out the list with eight names. “This list. But I can’t figure out what we all have in common.”
He looked over the list for a moment. “You mind if I copy this?”
“Just take it — I have another one at home.”
He nodded. “By the way, McNaught was the other guy in the cell with me back there. I don’t know if that helps.”
“Thanks.” I wasn’t sure if it was useful, but any information was welcomed at that point. “Anyway, I gotta run — I don’t want Sam to worry.”
“Are you in a hurry? I can give you a lift if you want.”
“Aren’t you meeting Ruth?”
He looked at the door of the Math club for a moment. “I’ll call her later.”
“Sam, we have a guest!” I yelled as I opened the door to our apartment.
Sometimes we walk around the house in our boxers, so whenever we bring someone home, the first thing we’ll do was to warn the other.
“Something smells good,” Riley commented. He had come up with me because he needed to use the toilet.
“Thanks, I’m trying something new for dinner,” my brother appeared with a ladle in his hands. “Come on in.”
“And I’m Samuel. Nice to meet you.”
When Riley was done with his business in the toilet and was about to leave, my brother stopped him.
“Why don’t you stay for dinner? I think I’ve cooked too much.”
“I don’t want to impose—”
“It would be such a waste to throw out the extras,” Sam sighed.
I had to hold back my laughter when I saw Riley took another sniff at the aroma and licked his lips. My can’t believe my brother was enticing my friends with his cooking. “I suppose it would be a waste,” he gave in.
Sam beamed at that and went back to the pot. “Ger—”
“Yes mum, I’ll lay out the table,” I interrupted, knowing exactly what he was about to say.
Sam threw the table cloth at me. I caught it and threw it back at him. Then we started throwing things back and forth at each other as we laughed.
“Okay, okay, quit it, there’s a live fire here,” my brother said finally in between laughter. Then he looked at Riley apologetically. “I’m sorry you had to see that — we’re usually a lot more civilised.”
“No, no, I like this,” the quarterback laughed.
Sam grinned. “Feels like home huh?”
Riley’s smile faded for a split second, but he put them back on again. “Sure does.”
I took him around the house and showed him our rooms. “Not that big a house, but it’s nice and cozy.”
I could see that he was curious about something. He hesitated for a bit, but then he asked anyway. “Your parents don’t live with you?”
“They died five years ago,” said Sam.
“Six,” I corrected.
“Something like that.”
“Oh,” Riley looked uncomfortable. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean—”
“Don’t worry, it was a long time ago,” my brother interrupted. “Take a seat, the food’s almost ready.”
The quarterback sat by the kitchen table. “How did they—I mean, what happened?”
“Dad was caught in a lab fire, and mum killed herself later that day,” Sam told him.
“It was a car accident!”
“The police ruled it as suicide, Ger.”
“Mum wouldn’t leave us.”
We stared at each other for a moment. “We shouldn’t talk about this anyway. It was five years ago,” Sam said and grinned, breaking the awkward moment.
“Six,” I asserted with a smile. “You really should take Math classes.”
“Why? I have my brother to do that for me,” he ruffled my hair. Then he turned and looked at Riley for a moment, and he laughed. “The look on your face says you still have questions. What is it?”
The quarterback coloured a little. “Am I really that transparent?”
“Don’t worry,” I told Riley. “My brother works with lawyers; he picked up a thing or two about reading faces.”
“I work for lawyers, Ger, not with. So, the question you’ve been dying to ask. Spit it.”
Riley grinned and hesitated. “How old were you when, you know, when your parents died?”
“I was close to sixteen at that time. Ger was only twelve. I was still in Green High back then.”
“You won’t believe it now,” I grinned. “But Sam used to be cool and popular back then — he used to come home drunk every other night.”
Sam slapped my head. “Stop exaggerating! I only came home drunk twice.”
Riley laughed at us. “So what happened after that?”
I shivered at the memory. “They sent us to foster care. Separated.”
“Yeah, but that was when Sam became my hero.”
“Really, what did you do?” he asked my brother curiously.
Sam shook his head at me. “I got myself emancipated at sixteen, then I hired a lawyer and got Ger out of foster care.”
I rolled my eyes. “There’s a lot more to that story. Sam dropped out of high school during foster care and took a full time job in McDonalds. That was how he got himself emancipated — he showed the judge he could support himself financially.”
“You dropped out of high school?”
My brother shrugged. “They shouldn’t have separated us.”
“Then, you won’t believe what Sam did — he sold our dad’s car and our parents’ house so that he had the cash to hire a lawyer and contested for my custody.”
Riley’s eyes widened. “Wow, I didn’t know you could do all that at sixteen.”
“You can if you’re emancipated,” Sam explained. “Inherited assets are frozen if you’re a minor. But emancipation gives you access to them, on top of a couple of other things.”
“But wait, here’s my favourite part,” I said excitedly. “Sam’s case was a losing case from the start. He barely had the income to support himself working at McDonalds, and he only managed to scrape together enough money to hire the cheapest lawyer he can find. There was no way a judge would give Sam custodial over me.”
“So how did he get it in the end?”
“Sam knew about his odds, but he still went ahead, and he had a plan. He actually prepared all the documents he needed for the case before he hired the lawyer. Then, when he first met the lawyer, he told the lawyer, ‘here’s what you should say in court if you want to win my case’!”
“You didn’t!” Riley howled in laughter.
“Oh yes I did,” my brother grinned. “Luckily for me, he may be a new lawyer when I hired him, but he was a cunning lawyer. He was so impressed with my legal documentation skills that he hired me on the spot as his legal secretary. Suddenly, I found my financial position tripled from what it was, and that was one of the main reasons why I won the case.”
“Wow, that’s some story.”
“I know. Sometimes I wonder if he had hired me just to win the case. But, I’m still working for him today, so I guess he was genuinely impressed,” Sam laughed. “Now our law firm has a couple of lawyers, and I’ve always been their one and only legal secretary.”
“Sam should’ve been promoted to a lawyer a long time ago though,” I said. “My brother’s a genius; he helps the lawyers with all their cases.”
“It’s not that simple Ger — I don’t have the qualifications for it. I didn’t even graduate high school for god’s sake.”
And whose fault is that, I thought bitterly.
“Wait,” Riley said. “So you’ve been supporting Gary and yourself with your own money? Your parents left you guys nothing?”
“Well, they did leave the car and the house and everything in it. But they didn’t really have much saved up. I think they were planning to do it as–we–go or something, because I have no idea how they plan on paying for our colleges.”
I rolled my eyes at that. “Sam, I told you — don’t worry about my college. I swear I’m getting the scholarship.”
Then our house phone rang. “I’ll get it,” my brother announced as he stood up and answered the phone. He then turned to us. “I need to take this in my room,” he said apologetically.
After my brother closed his room door, Riley looked at me with understanding in his eyes. “So that’s why you’re the top in all of your classes.”
“Well, that, and also because I’ve inherited the same genius genes my brother had,” I claimed cheekily. “Both my parents were government biochemists,” I told him proudly.
“Ahh, so you have unfair advantage,” the quarterback mused. When I raised my eyebrows at him, he explained. “I’ve been trying to beat you in Chemistry and Biology for ages.”
I laughed. “The principal’s kid is claiming unfair advantage over the orphan?” I teased.
His eyes widened and he punched me in the shoulder. “Now that’s low!” he laughed with me. “I see that someone has no problem playing his ‘orphan card’.”
I chuckled. “People are usually uncomfortable with how Sam and I joke about being orphans. You’ll get used to it, don’t worry.”
Then my brother opened his room door and walked over to us with apprehension on his face. “Ger, it’s for you,” he handed me the phone.
“Who is it?” I asked my brother. But he didn’t answer. I put the phone to my ear. “Hello?”
“Hello, Gary,” I heard a woman’s voice.
My heart sank a little. “Mrs Herrington.”
“It’s good to hear from you again, dear. How has my second son been? No wait, don’t answer that. We need to get together and talk in person.”
I wasn’t sure what to say. I wasn’t sure if I was looking forward to meet her to talk about Pat.
“I’m calling to tell you that I’ve made arrangements for Patrick’s funeral. It’s next weekend. Your brother has the details. You will come, won’t you?”
“Of course I will, Mrs Herrington.”
“Thank you, dear. I’ll see you next week.”
“I’ll see you too.”
With that, she hung up. Mrs Herrington had tried to sound cheerful, but I knew how much it had hurt her that Pat was gone. That was why I had agreed to go to the funeral even though I didn’t want to.
“Well, I guess I should go now,” Riley declared.
For some reason I wanted him to stay. “I’ll walk you out,” I told him instead.
“It’s fine, I know the way. Thanks for dinner, Sam. I don’t think I’ve had anything so good before.”
“You’re welcome — and come again next time,” my brother told him.
“I guess I’ll see you in school, Gary,” he extended his hand to me.
I showed him the bandages on my hand apologetically.
“Oh, damn, sorry. How’s your hand, by the way?”
“It’s healing. The bruises on your face went away pretty quickly,” I observed.
“Well, they were only bruises — I get a lot of them in football. I didn’t even need to see a doctor for them. Might as well; our school doctor is really quite incompetent,” he commented suddenly.
“Dr Helena?” I chuckled. “I knew it. Cute doctors aren’t real doctors!”
He laughed. “Wait, we have a cute female doctor now? Maybe I should be a little more careless in football tomorrow.”
I shook my head and smiled. With that, we said our good byes and Riley left our apartment. It was then it suddenly hit me. “He didn’t know about Dr Helena,” I said aloud to myself.
Sam turned and looked at me questioningly. “What’s wrong with that?”
I organised my thoughts for a moment. “And she asked for the staff toilets,” I said suddenly.
“Dr Helena — she didn’t know where the staff toilets were. Not only that, her nurse didn’t know where the patient records were,” I felt things connecting in my head. I can’t believe I didn’t notice this before.
“What are you saying?”
“It means she’s damn new in school. She only started working in our school—”
“—right after that incident,” Sam finished, understanding where I was going. “Are you saying she’s connected to that incident?”
“Maybe. It’s too much of a coincidence.”
“But why would she start working in your school after that incident? Shouldn’t she be running away instead?”
I thought for a moment. “You’re right. It wasn’t her.”
My brother’s a genius. It all makes so much sense now.
“It was the doctor before her.”