"Pete," Jan said, turning to face him, "I must speak frankly."
He nodded. "I understand." It was pretty clear that he had some idea what she was going to say.
"Pete has two roommates," she said carefully. "One is Daphne, and the other is starling. starling clearly cares very deeply about Pete, and in the past she has killed to protect his life. If Pete was murdered, the logical assumption would be that she would get her revenge on whoever was responsible. How did Roger expect to get away with it, when he was the only person who could have poisoned the cup of soda? I don't think he did. I think he was counting on not getting away with it. I think he wanted to die."
Pete sighed and ran his fingers through his long hair. "It would not, I admit, be the first time somebody tried to commit suicide using Katherine." He shook his head.
"So," she continued after a moment, "I had a theory which accounted for all the available facts. Roger wanted to commit suicide, but didn't have the nerve to do it himself. He poisoned the soda, which only he was in a position to do, but Pete doesn't drink soda. He couldn't poison the coffee, because we all came into the kitchen to pour our own. Then he decided to drink the poisoned soda himself, to end his life that way, but he lost his nerve and only drank half, then he displayed exaggerated symptoms so that he'd get help. It all fit, but I had no evidence."
"So, you goaded him into panic," Ms. Tumolo said.
She nodded. "Exactly. That was why I had Marshall move away from the door. To give him a clear field."
There was a moment of uneasy silence, before James asked the inevitable next question.
"What happens next?"
"To some extent, that's going to be up to you, all of you, including Roger and Carol. Nobody is going to come and arrest him, at least not now." She leaned back in her chair. "Ms. Tumolo, with your permission, I'd like to assign your class some homework." The teacher nodded. "This is going to be due the day after tomorrow at nine a.m. You know Roger, all of you, and I'm sure at least some of you will have an idea about why this happened. My assignment to all of you, including Roger and Carol, is to think about this, and talk about it, and make a recommendation, a real one, about what should be done, both about this specific situation and in order to alleviate the condition or conditions which might have led to it, whatever you think they might have been."
"So," she said, "we will be back, the day after tomorrow, first thing in the morning. I look forward to hearing what you will come up with. And, if I think it's wrong or inadequate, I'll say so, but you will get a chance to argue for your position. I'm also going to see if Ray Stone can come with me. I'm sure he'll have something to contribute."
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