The operator picked up on the first ring, “911, what’s your emergency?”
“This is Mr. Rogers” he paused for the snicker that he often heard when people immediately equated his name with the lovable Mr. Rogers of Public Television fame. This time it didn’t come and he continued. “I’m the custodian at Edgemont Elementary School and I think we may have someone in the building.”
On the other end he could hear typing as the woman alerted the police. “Ok sir. There is a patrol unit in route now. When they arrive can you let them in?”
“Yes ma’am. I’ll go to the front door now.”
“Sir, will you stay on the line with me until they arrive?”
“Ok.” She could tell that he was walking and for several minutes he didn’t speak. “I’m at the front door.”
“Mr. Rogers the unit should be pulling into the school at any moment. Do you see any lights?”
“Not yet. Oh wait yes I see two police cars pulling in. Wow, that was fast.” He watched as they pulled right to the front of the school and left the lights on. “They are here can I hang up with you now?”
“Yes, sir.” With her blessing he ended the call and slid the cell phone into his back pocket.
He opened the door so they would know where to come. “Thank you for coming so quickly.” The officers entered the building kicking snow off their shoes and blowing on their hands to warm them up.
The weather had been brutal since Christmas, little over a week ago. Before the middle of December it had been a warm fall and even warmer winter. The day that school let out for the holidays the temperature dropped from the 50’s to near zero and had hovered there ever since. It even brought a Christmas Eve snow that blanketed the city in four inches of white. The system had moved on but the frigid temperatures seemed to be there to stay.
“Dispatch reported that you thought there may be someone in the building?”
“Yes. I had just left for the night when I realized I left my phone. I came back inside and as I did I heard something in the gym. I went inside and there was a basketball rolling across the floor and one of the back doors slammed shut. I immediately called you guys.” The two officers opened the gym door and Mr. Rogers followed. The officers didn’t turn on any lights but pulled out their flashlights.
“Is this light always on?” The taller officer asked, indicating the light over the middle of the court.
“Yes, its one of the safety lights.” After sweeping the gym they headed the back door that Mr. Rogers had heard close. As they were about to go outside and check the perimeter of the building, the shorter younger officer noticed that there was a light on in the locker room. “Mr. Rogers is there usually a light on in there?” Pointing to the door leading to the girls’ locker room.
“No that should be dark.”
The two officers headed that way. “You stay out here, just in case.” They both made sure their weapons were ready, but playing basketball in an empty school didn’t really sound like they were dealing with a criminal, but more than likely kids.
Inside the locker room there was a square of lockers, then to the left a row of showers and two restroom stalls. To the right a storage area. They checked the showers and restroom stalls first they turned to the storage area.
All the P.E. Equipment was locked up in a large chain link cage. The taller officer pulled on the door and found it unlocked. Opening the door slowly they both stepped inside.
Walking through rows of hula-hoops, cones, rolling cages of basketballs, dodge balls, and soccer balls they made their way through the labyrinth of school age fun. Toward the back they found a shelf full of scooters. The smaller officer couldn’t resist. “You know in school these were my favorite thing to do.” He lifted one up.
The taller officer was also quite a bit older, “What in the world did you do with them?”
“You sit on them and roll around. My favorite was to play hockey sitting on them.”
“We didn’t have any of that stuff when I was in school. It was just a ball and a hoop, or a bat and a ball.” He commented while the other officer placed the scooter back on the shelf. Toward the very back there were a lot of boxes. The younger officer scooted a few to the side and noticed something. “Sir, I think we have a problem.” The older officer turned to look. There hidden behind the boxes was a mat laid out, a plastic shopping bag of clothes, a small black coat and a purple backpack.
“Go get the custodian.” The younger officer immediately complied.
As Mr. Rogers came back he asked, “Did you find something?”
The older officer pointed and Mr. Rogers respond “Oh my.” The younger officer opened the small backpack and inside there was a name written.
“I need to call the principal and let her know about this.”