Drexton Cage Middle School Private Eye

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Teen Drama

Betty Ann and I stepped into the classroom where the Yearbook staff put together its annual tome of remembrance. I expected it to be like a newsroom in those old movies with lots of people running around, phones ringing, gruff old coots yelling, “Copy!” Stuff like that.

Instead we found about a dozen kids all working quietly at computers, lost in their own world. Most had their heads plugged into Iphones. It was quiet, organized and polite.

Athena came to our table and dropped a thick stack of computer printed pages. Athena’s real name was Daphne something Greek and unpronounceable. People got tired of stumbling over thirty-seven syllables of her last name and simply called her Athena.

“We’re just putting together this year’s yearbook. But here are all the class pictures. They’re already alphabetized so don’t screw up the order. And no eating or drinking in here. I don’t need our pages all Hershey smudged or covered in spilt Coke. And the pages don’t leave the room. Got it?” Daphne Spiliotopolususwhatever ran the yearbook staff like a military campaign.

“Sure,” I said, resisting the urge to salute.

Athena left us to go do something important. Probably polishing her bayonette.

“What are we looking for?” Betty Ann asked.

“Carmen Hardstone. I’ll look at faces, you search names.”

We began scanning the endless stream of pictures. Our school had four hundred thirty eight students. Study a lot faces in the same pose with the same background they all begin to look alike and my mind kinda shut down after the first few dozen. Every page I’d look away, take a few deep breaths, or get up and walk around then go back and look at the pictures.

An hour later we’d finished with printouts.

“Didn’t see her,” Betty Ann said.

“Me neither.”

“So now what?”

“We go backwards,” I said and pulled out last year’s yearbook. We went back four years, checking every name and every face.

“I didn’t see Carmen Hardstone anywhere,” Betty Ann said.

“Yeah.”

“Maybe she’s using a fake name?”

“Maybe. But I didn’t see her face either.”

“Which means what?”

“Means she doesn’t go to this school,” I said.

Betty Ann groaned. “Are you kidding me? Then how we suppose to find her? She could be anywhere.”

Yeah. “Don’t know,” I said. I didn’t like not knowing. But I was getting used to it.

Betty Ann slumped in her chair. She sighed heavily, the poster child for defeated teens everywhere. I knew how she felt. Carmen or whoever she was could be anywhere.

“Well, maybe she said something. Like a phrase or something that would tell us where she’s from,” Betty Ann offered.
“She used the word glory a lot.” I picked up the stacks of papers and moved towards the desk. Not cause I cared about cleaning up, but sometimes doing something mundane like mowing the lawn or homework clears my thoughts.

Betty Ann followed me. “Like Old Glory? Like the flag?”

I nodded dropping the books on the front counter. THUD! Ooops.

Daphne glared at me.

“Sorry,” I mouthed.

With Betty Ann on my heels, we walked out of the tomb that was the Yearbook office and into the empty halls.

“Old glory, huh. Well that’s a beginning,” Betty Ann said.

“A very good place to start,” I said, quoting Carmen. And it hit me. If I’d been a cartoon character the light bulb would have popped on over my head. “Of course!”

“Of course what? Why of course? Is it a good of course or a bad of course?” Betty Ann asked.

“Come on,” I said.

“Where are we going?”

“We need more drama.”

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