A few minutes later, we were ready to begin. I stood near the door, in a position where I could observe everybody. Ron stood next to me. Audrey had ignored Dan's obvious desire to take her place behind the desk, so he stood between the desk and the door. Corey and Phoebe sat in the front row of desks, at the far end from the Golden, near the window.
Ms. Tumolo stood near the back of the room, as if none of this really involved her. She hadn't wanted to come, and she and Dan had argued about it in the hall, but she'd lost.
"We're going to thrash this thing out," Dan said, "and find out what happened and who was responsible. And that may take a while, which is fine. Other things can wait."
I closed the door and pulled down the shade over the glass panel.
"Now," he continued, "I'm going to outline my understanding of the sequence of events, then we'll see where I'm right or wrong. The test was supposed to start promptly at eleven. The Golden were waiting here, Corey was in the next room, and Phoebe was late. The plan was that Corey, Phoebe, and Will would take the test in the first room, Sharon would be in this room, and Craig would be in the third room.
"Audrey had left the test forms, and the answer sheet, on her desk, and she came to see what was causing the delay. When she found out we were going to wait a few minutes to see if Phoebe would arrive, she stepped out to..."
I was about to provide a suitable euphemism, but Audrey said sharply, "I had to pee!"
"Exactly," Dan continued. "And I went to see if Phoebe had forgotten about the test and had gone to her regular class instead."
"So, Corey was alone in the first room, and the Golden were in here?" I asked.
"And I was in my office," Ms. Tumolo said, adding a bit to emphasis to the possessive pronoun. "With the door closed. I was working."
"By the time I returned," Dan continued, "Audrey was back, and Phoebe was here, and we were going to start. Audrey went to her office and found that the answers were missing. We did a thorough search of these two classrooms, and found nothing. Then we searched the students, and found nothing there either. I searched Corey, and Audrey searched Phoebe, and ..." his voice trailed off.
"Who searched the Golden?" I asked.
He glanced at them (they were impassive, as usual). "We offered to divide them by gender..." Dan began.
"But by then they'd already stripped off," Audrey said.