the school murder case (part twenty-nine)

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As the students trailed out, Jan said, "Ms. Tumolo, could you stay for a moment?"

She paused and turned, and then she said to James, "I'll meet you all back in the classroom."

He nodded and left, following the others, and she came back and sat with us. She regarded us in silence, waiting, her face expressionless.

"Ms. Tumolo, since this will apparently be an ongoing process, I wanted to ask what you thought about how this was resolved, so far."

"Do you want the truth?"

Jan nodded. "Always," she said quietly.

Ms. Tumolo nodded. "I must admit that I think you handled Roger in the right way. He's not a criminal, he's just troubled. I knew that already, though I had no idea how bad it was." She turned to Pete. "In my opinion, though, it should be up to you. You were the victim, or you were supposed to be, and, if you think he should be punished, then he should be punished. It's a shame that he wanted to end his life, but there's no excuse for trying to do it by killing you."

Pete smiled and lit a cigarette. "Jan knows me. I don't see any reason to lock him up."

Ms. Tumolo watched him for a minute, waiting to see if he'd say more, then she said, "No, I don't suppose you would, would you? This is what does bother me. Quite a bit. Do you want to hear the truth?"

He smiled as he exhaled smoke. "Under the circumstances, it would be awkward for me to say no. Please go ahead."

She turned back to face my employer. "It does bother me that his girlfriend or whatever the hell she is–"

"Assuming you're talking about Katherine – starling – then she is my girlfriend," Pete said quietly.

She nodded, not looking at him. "It bothers me that she's walking around free as a bird. Roger isn't a criminal, but she is, and a lunatic, too. Is he going to tell her about this? Is she going to come down and shoot my students?"

"I will tell her," Pete said firmly, before Jan could reply (though I think she would have deferred to him in any case), "and she will not come here, not to shoot people or for any other reason."

Ms. Tumolo stood up and said to Jan, "Well, if anything does happen, you'll be responsible."

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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