A Slow-Motion Suicide

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Chapter 17

Simon Dell won his next two campaigns for reelection as Middleton’s mayor, but his last term as mayor proved to be short-lived. Just a few months after the election, The Tri-City Times ran a piece on potential bribes and improper influence within the Middleton’s town government, focusing on the apparent siphoning of budgeted tax funds into the school department from other departments. In follow-up articles, the relationship between Mayor Dell and Superintendent of Schools Nick Carmichael was called into question. Dark rumors swirled around the powerful pair, and whispers were traded in the hallways of the town hall, the schools, the churches.

Mayor Dell voluntarily resigned as mayor, stating a desire to spend more time with his family. Shortly afterwards, his wife filed for divorce.

Teri Weaver was charged with the murder of her husband, Jim Weaver, but her attorney bargained with the county prosecutor’s officer to bring the charge down to voluntary manslaughter with a sentence of three years in prison. After some hesitation, Teri accepted the offered plea deal and served out her time at the county correctional facility.

Teri’s mother took guardianship of Bill and Chris Weaver during their mother’s imprisonment, and Catherine Banks generously offered her help by looking after Chris and Bill whenever possible.

When Nick Carmichael was promoted to Superintendent of Schools for the Middleton district, he was replaced as principal at Middleton Middle School by Gerald Klein, who took the job after much urging by his fellow teachers. Carmichael refused to resign his position as superintendent even after Mayor Dell had stepped down as mayor, and it took a vote of the town board to finally remove him.

Nick stayed in Middleton for a time, living off his savings and family inheritance, until a scathing letter to the editor was published in The Times by Dr. Elliot Maddox. The letter accused Carmichael of abusing his position of trust in the community and of corruption both personal and political. Carmichael left town shortly thereafter, and following the finalization of his divorce, former mayor Simon Dell also disappeared.

Rumors from years later, persistent but unconfirmed, claimed that Nick and Simon had been sighted living together in Salt Lake City and working for local political campaigns. They may, or may not, have also co-owned a small terrier named Eleanor Roosevelt.

Lee Chou quit his job in Middleton and moved with his daughter to San Francisco, which was, as he assured his daughter, located in California. They settled down in a neighborhood predominantly inhabited by Chinese-Americans and Chinese immigrants, and Suyin enjoyed playing with the many neighborhood children, riding on the city buses, and seeing her father happier than he’d been in a long time. While Chou never remarried and rarely dated, he quickly made friends in his new home and honed his dumpling-making skills with great success.

The Reverend Harry P. Hickory continued preaching at Faith Memorial Baptist Church until his dying day. On a Tuesday, he passed away peacefully in his sleep, at the age of forty-five, from an undiagnosed brain aneurysm. The departed reverend having no known family or next of kin, Catherine Banks took charge of making the funeral arrangements. She ensured that the entire sanctuary of the church was filled from floorboards to rafters with lavish flower arrangements, and reports held that the church choir had never sounded finer.

When the interim pastor came to shepherd Faith Memorial Baptist Church during this difficult time, he discovered some oddities in the church’s accounting books. He brought up his concerns with the deacons, and after some discussion—including spirited input from Catherine and a select few other church members—the interim pastor was politely informed his services were no longer required and invited to return to his home church.

Bill Weaver joined the Army right after graduating high school and never returned again to Middleton. He quickly developed a reputation among his comrades for bravery but never really got control of his violent temper—and he received a dishonorable discharge and jail time when he beat a fellow soldier half to death during a heated argument while off-duty, drinking at a local bar. Witnesses at the trial for both the prosecution and the defense freely admitted that “Old Billy always had a temper.”

Chris Weaver, inspired by his caring, compassionate principal, went into teaching. He taught algebra and trigonometry at Middleton High School for many years, and to thousands of students, before eventually retiring to Florida. He took up playing golf and was absolutely terrible at it.

Joe Carmichael became a key player on Middleton High’s football team and went on to earn a collegiate football scholarship. However, after two years of playing ball at the University of Michigan, he blew out his knee in a tackle gone wrong. Despite surgery and months of rehabilitation, Joe never played football again. His professional football dreams shattered, he dropped out of college in his junior year and returned to Middleton. His family found him a position as an entry-level teller at the regional bank owned by the Carmichael family, and he worked at the bank for the rest of his life, eventually retiring as vice-president of the local branch at age seventy.

Cyndi Pinkerton graduated salutatorian from Middleton High and majored in biochemistry at the University of Illinois. After graduating with honors, she went on to graduate school and then a seemingly promising career in pharmaceutical research. However, a few years into being an associate research scientist, Dr. Pinkerton grew concerned about certain of the company’s cost-saving initiatives, as well as the intense pressure to quickly produce marketable drugs from basic research. After leaving both her position and the field, Cyndi Pinkerton founded her own company, using loans financed through Joe Carmichael’s bank, and became quite successful in the production and marketing of perfumes biologically tailored to the individual wearer’s scent profile.

Stacey McIntire started the very first Gay and Straight Student Alliance at Middleton High School, overcoming considerable opposition from school administration and local parents, including Stacey’s own mother. After graduation, she attended classes at the local community college, earning an associate’s degree in Political Science, before moving to Queens and renting a studio apartment roughly the size of a Ford Escort. She rapidly became enmeshed in the local queer activist scene, working as a bookstore cashier to earn rent money, and began dating an anarcho-capitalist coworker who moonlighted as a talented burlesque dancer.

Gerald Klein instituted many popular reforms during his time as principal of Middleton Middle School, which resulted in better morale among both faculty and students. He also paid especially close attention to the development of the two Weaver brothers during the time they went to Middleton Middle and eventually became affectionately known to the boys as “Uncle Gerry.”

Just as it appeared that Klein was being fast-tracked to be the next Superintendent of Schools, the county police descended upon Middleton Middle School during the middle of a school day, and Principal Klein was led out of the building in handcuffs. Although the sexual assault and child molestation charges were eventually dropped, due to multiple victim-witnesses refusing to testify and withdrawing their complaints, Gerald Klein never did become district superintendent.

Eventually he retired as principal of the middle school with a full pension.

Catherine and Alan Banks divorced shortly after the arrest and release of Principal Klein. Alan remained in Middleton, opening a small electronics shop out of his garage, while Catherine moved back to the Northeast. Upon Teri Weaver’s release from prison, Alan helped her find a job and temporarily put her up at his home as she reintegrated into the community. A few years later, they were married in a quiet, simple ceremony at the county courthouse.

Back east, Catherine Banks reestablished herself in her old hometown in Connecticut and renewed her real estate license. She enjoyed as successful a career as she’d had before the move to Middleton, and she especially enjoyed finding the right houses for newlyweds and young families searching for their first homes. She did not remarry.

Robert J. Banks died shortly before the arrest of Gerald Klein. He was found in his bedroom early one morning, lying down on his bed and wearing a pair of earbuds, along with several empty bottles of pills on the nightstand. When the earbuds were gently removed from Robbie’s ears by responding emergency personnel, the silence in the room was broken by the Jimi Hendrix cover of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which had apparently been playing on repeat for hours.

Robbie’s cause of death was determined to be suicide. He was fifteen years old.
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