CHAPTER 36

Livingston High School principal Amory Reid was dressed in Haggar slacks, an off-white short-sleeve dress shirt made of material flimsy enough to highlight the wife-beater tee beneath it, and thick-soled black shoes that might have been vinyl. Even when his tie was loosened, it looked as though it were strangling him.

“The school is, of course, very concerned.”

Reid’s hands were folded on his desk. On one hand he wore a college ring with a football insignia on it. He had uttered the line as though he’d been rehearsing in front of a mirror.

Myron sat on the right, Claire on the left. She was still dazed from the confirmation that her daughter, the one she knew and loved and trusted, had been pregnant for the past three months. At the same time there was a feeling akin to relief. It made sense. It explained recent behavior. It might provide an explanation for what had been, so far, inexplicable.

“You can, of course, check her locker,” the principal informed them. “I have a master key to all the locks.”

“We also want to talk to two of your teachers,” Claire said, “and a student.”

His eyes narrowed. He looked toward Myron, then back to Claire. “Which teachers?”

“Harry Davis and Drew Van Dyne,” Myron said.

“Mr. Van Dyne is already gone for the day. He leaves on Tuesdays at two p.m.”

“And Mr. Davis?”

Reid checked a schedule. “He’s in room B-202.”

Myron knew exactly where that was. After all these years. The halls were still lettered from A to E. Rooms beginning with 1 were on the first floor, 2 on the second floor. He remembered one exasperated teacher telling a tardy student that he wouldn’t know his E hall from his — get this — his A hall.

“I can see if I can pull Mr. D out of class. May I ask why you want to talk to these teachers?”

Claire and Myron exchanged a glance. Claire said, “We’d rather not say at this time.”

He accepted that. His job was political. If he knew something, he’d have to report it. Ignorance, for a little while, might just be bliss. Myron had nothing big on either teacher yet, just innuendo. Until he had more, there was no reason to inform the school principal.

“We’d also like to talk to Randy Wolf,” Claire said.

“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.”

“Why not?”

“Off school grounds, you can do whatever you want. But here, I would need to get parental permission.”

“Why?”

“That’s the rules.”

“If a kid is caught cutting class, you can talk to them.”

“I can, yes. But you can’t. And this isn’t a case of cutting class.” Reid shifted his gaze. “Furthermore, I’m a little confused why you, Mr. Bolitar, are here.”

“He’s my representative,” Claire said.

“I understand that. But that doesn’t give him much standing in terms of talking to a student — or, for that matter, a teacher. I can’t make Mr. Davis talk to you either, but I can at least bring him into this office. He’s an adult. I can’t do that with Randy Wolf.”

They started down the corridor to Aimee’s locker.

“There is one more thing,” Amory Reid said.

“What’s that?”

“I’m not sure it relates, but Aimee got into a bit of trouble recently.”

They stopped. Claire said, “How?”

“She was caught in the guidance office, using a computer.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Neither did we. One of the guidance counselors found her in there. She was printing out a transcript. Turns out it was just her own.”

Myron thought about that. “Aren’t those computers password-protected?”

“They are.”

“So how did she get in?”

Reid spoke a little too carefully. “We’re not sure. But the theory is, someone in the administration made an error.”

“An error how?”

“Someone may have forgotten to sign out.”

“In other words, they were still logged on so she could gain access?”

“It’s a theory, yes.”

Pretty dumb one, Myron thought.

“Why wasn’t I informed?” Claire asked.

“It wasn’t really that big a deal.”

“Breaking into school transcripts isn’t a big deal?”

“She was printing out her own. Aimee, as you know, was an excellent student. She has never gotten in trouble before. We decided to let her go with a stern warning.”

And save yourself some embarrassment, Myron thought. It wouldn’t pay to let it out that a student had managed to break into the school computer system. More sweeping under the rug.

They arrived at the locker. Amory Reid used his master key to unlock it. When he opened the door, they all stood back for a moment. Myron was the first to step forward. Aimee’s locker was frighteningly personal. Photographs similar to the ones he’d seen in her room adorned the metallic surface. Again no Randy. There were images of her favorite guitar players. On one hanger was a black Green Day American Idiot tour T-shirt; on the other, a New York Liberty sweat-shirt. Aimee’s textbooks were piled on the bottom, covered in protective sleeves. There were hair ties on the top shelf, a brush, a mirror. Claire touched them tenderly.

But there was nothing in here that seemed to help. No smoking gun, no giant sign reading THIS WAY TO FINDING AIMEE.

Myron felt lost and empty, and staring into the locker, at something so Aimee — it just made her absence that much more obscene.

The mood was broken when Reid’s mobile phone buzzed. He picked it up, listened for a moment, and then he hung up.

“I found someone to cover Mr. Davis’s class. He’s waiting for you in the office.”

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