This is part two of a Catholic High story, as my friend Jack Wingfield (a fictitious name for a real person) told it to me. Other names have been changed as well.
In homeroom that morning, a Friday, we were antsy, partly because the weekend was so close, but mostly because we hadn’t heard anymore about the library books. Then the intercom popped.
“Alright boys, I’ll make this short but not so sweet. No one turned himself in yesterday so I guess I wasn’t clear on that point. Because you made me wait another day, I’m going to double the punishment, but you still have a way out of this. Come to me before the last bell rings and everything that happens to you over this misdeed will be temporary. You do know what the opposite of temporary is, I’m assuming. Trust me, it’s not what you or your parents want. Now, I am scheduled to fly to Philadelphia tonight to spend the weekend with my sister. Do not mess up those plans for me because I’m not going anywhere until I know who did this.”
The microphone popped and we all sat in stunned silence. You could hear it in his voice. He wasn’t fooling around.
I saw Blaylock in the hallway; he looked a little pale.
“What do you think?” I asked him.
“He’s getting mad,” Blaylock said. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard him quite like this, and I’ve heard him when he was pretty mad.”
I kept walking, watching the faces of the other students strolling by. Most of them looked pretty serious; and of course there were some who looked to be enjoying it all. Most of those were the one’s who were regularly in Father’s doghouse. They were relieved because, at least for a short while, the heat wasn’t on them.
Later that day I looked up at the clock in my last period. Then I looked over at Father Tucci, the Algebra teacher, and caught him watching the clock as well. It was one minute before the last bell.
Then the intercom made its loud pop and we heard the voice from above.
“Boys, please keep your seat after the bell rings, I have something to say to you all.”
The second hand moved and with thirty seconds to go I wondered if Father finally had his culprit; if the pressure had become too much and the poor schmuck had confessed while blubbering like a baby and begging for his worthless life.
The bell jolted me out of my trance and the intercom popped once more.
“So that’s how it’s going to be. Well all right then. I have told Mrs. Miller to call the airport and cancel my flight. I also have a gentleman who will be here in the morning who is a handwriting expert for the FBI in Little Rock. He says it will take him most of the weekend but he assures me he can match the writing in the library books to the boy who wrote them. You see, we save much of what you write while you are here, and we have solid samples from every boy in this school.”
Wow, I thought, if this was one of Father’s famous bluffs, it was the best he’d ever come up with. He had me so scared I began to wonder if I was the one he was looking for. Perhaps I had somehow blocked the dirty deed from my memory. That would explain why no one had turned himself in yet.
“Just one more thing before I dismiss you. And this is to one of you and you know who you are. Even though I don’t know yet, I will find out by Sunday night who you are, one way or the other. If I do not find out by your coming to me like a man, and confessing, but rather from the FBI, then I’m going to come and get you first thing Monday morning, and drag you from your desk. That is all.”
The intercom popped off. Ralph Winston, who sat behind me, poked me in the back. I jumped and he whispered. “I wonder where he’ll drag him to?”
To be continued
Jay Edwards is editor-in-chief of the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.