Chapter 26: Goodbye school and everything between
When the police arrived, they kept asking Cindy who had shot Bradley, but Cindy said she had no idea. She played innocent and it worked. The police tried to wiggle everything out of her though, asking what sort of clothes the culprit was wearing, but she said it was too dark to tell. The officer in charge then pointed out how there was a street lamp close to where she thought Bradley was shot, but Cindy said that she was too frightened to notice. By this time, Bradley was in an ambulance being driven off to Sunnybrook Hospital. After a while, the police let Cindy go back to her babysitting, thinking that maybe they would have a better time with the victim. Cindy had told them though about how Bradley had threatened her with a knife, so they had two cases on their hands.
When the police went down to forensics, they discovered three sets of fingerprints: Bradley’s and his father’s. Mike had worn gloves because it had been a chilly evening. Bradley had taken his father’s gun and was going to use it on Cindy before he dropped it. The gun was a Browning 9-mm pistol and licensed to his father. His father was in the military and had just come back from Afghanistan. Bradley had known where his father kept the pistol because he had watched him put it away the night he came back, undetected. He even knew the combination to the safe. His father had arrived home the night before the shooting so Bradley had taken the handgun that night, knowing how to retrieve it, and crept out of the house silently. He had picked up the kitchen knife as another weapon, just in case. He wasn’t really sure what he was doing or how he was going to attempt it. All he knew was that he was going to hurt Mike in some way. He hadn’t really thought of killing Cindy. Just to give her a few lacerations here and there, just to scare Mike. But he hadn’t planned it through because he hadn’t worn a mask or anything to shield hiMs..elf.
He was also lucky that he had found Cindy because he knew where her house was as he had followed Mike and his girlfriend a few times unnoticed, but he wasn’t sure how he would get her out of the house. He wanted to be as stealthy as possible. It was pure chance that he saw Cindy walking to another house, so he grabbed her from behind. The problem was that the Browning had been in his pants’ right back pocket at the time and when he quickly rushed up to Cindy, it fell out. That’s when Cindy turned around, but Bradley was strong and able to hold her in place.
None of this did Bradley tell the police when they showed up beside his hospital bed. His story was that Cindy had threatened him with the knife and that Mike had stolen the gun from his house. The two were planning to ambush him. The police weren’t convinced though. Judging by the small red gash that Bradley had created when he pressed the lacerated edge into Cindy’s throat made them believe that it couldn’t have been Cindy who was the threat. Also, the build of the boy made them believe that a skinny girl like Cindy couldn’t have easily controlled Bradley. But of course, their investigation was far from complete. Their next destination was Barkley Middle School where they would hopefully be able to gather more information on Cindy and Bradley.
Once they questioned the teachers, they learned that Bradley had a history of abuse with his peers. Though none of the teachers had ever witnessed the physical act; they had only gotten complaints from students and parents about the bully. Some, though, took a while to come forth and very few incidents had really reached the principal’s office.
The principal was whom they visited next. They asked Ms.. Charles about Bradley’s violent behaviour and were told that the only serious incident that had occurred involved Michael Roberts. New thoughts surfaced in the officers’ heads as they left.
As the cops were gathering information for their investigation, Cindy was sitting in English class worrying about Mike. Where was he? He never appeared in the first period. She placed her books on Mike’s desk when she realized she didn’t have a book to read for the 15 minutes of reading. It was English class and she needed a book and Mike had always been her supplier. She instead went over to her friend Christopher Lang and asked him. Christopher nodded and reached into his bag. He handed her the first book of the Lord of the Rings series, The Fellowship of the Ring. When Cindy sat down again, she opened the book and began to read. It was quite tedious reading the book, as it seemed to contain more walking than a plot. However, even if she believed all to be unnecessary text, she continued reading until Ms... Rond said,
“O.K. class, put away your novels and get out your First Stone books.” There was a bit of shuffling and soon blue books appeared on the desks. “Good.”
“Now, since we’ve just started these books, I would like you all to read Chapter One and write a summary on it for tomorrow.” The class began to groan. However, in just about a minute, paper and pens were in front of the students and they began reading the chapter. After the bell rang for second period, the class piled up their belongings and headed for Math.
Mr. Crad was handing out an integer test. When Cindy took her seat, she looked across at Ian who was two rows down. He was concentrated on the test in front of him and didn’t seem to show any signs of anxiety. Maybe he doesn’t know what happened, Cindy thought as she too began answering the questions. She finished when 15 minutes were still left for the period to end, so she completed her English homework.
The third period was Tutorial, which was run by Ms... Rond. It was a class that allowed the students to complete any homework they wished. The school had arranged it to give extra class time for students to complete certain assignments. Cindy had brought with her some Science homework, which she hadn’t finished from last night. When it was completed, she helped Ms... Rond sort out the folders for her class until the bell rang.
Lunch didn’t really interest Cindy and her friends noticed this. She seemed very preoccupied about something and when they asked her about it, Cindy told them about Mike.
“So do you think he’ll be caught?” Rebecca asked once Cindy was finished.
“I’m not sure,” said Cindy. “I never told them it was him.” Her eyes trailed to the table in front of her where Ian sat eating all alone. She went over to him.
“Did you hear about Mike?”
“No,” Ian replied as he took another bite of his ham sandwich. “What happened, did a hobo shoot him? Then he would be humiliated and wiped off the face of the earth.”
Cindy winced at the word “shoot”.
“Wow, what did Mike do to you?” asked Cindy noticing Ian’s stale tone.
“Nothing, it’s just that Mike and me had a big fight.” He didn’t explain why.
“Oh, you know, boy stuff.” Cindy knew he was hiding something. Whatever had happened had really wrecked their friendship so she decided not to dwell into it. She instead told Ian what happened to Mike.
While school was going on, Mike was having a difficult time settling in. He had slept very uncomfortably on the bench in front of the SilverCity at Yonge and Eglinton the whole night and he was freezing. His shivering kept him awake even as he folded his arMs.., wore gloves, and zipped up his coat to his neck. Eventually, he did fall asleep.
When he woke up, it was almost the afternoon and Mike headed into the Subway a block away from his resting spot. He took out his black leather wallet and found he had only $10. When he opened the door of the Subway, the smell of fresh subs meandered through his nasal passage and stimulated his senses. He took a deep breath and sighed. He walked up to the counter and ordered.
“One pizza combo, please.” The cashier tried to prevent from plugging his nose. Mike’s breath stank. Many customers had brought morning breath to the counter or just had bad breath all together but the stench still smelt more putrid than the other customers he’d encountered. “One pizza combo please,” Mike said again noticing that the man wasn’t cashing in his order. He held up the 10-dollar bill to show he had enough.
“Sorry,” he quickly apologised. “What kind of bread would you like?”
“Italian herb and cheese.”
“ Six-inch or footlong?”
“And would you like that toasted?”
Mike went down the aisle of toppings, choosing the ones he wanted after the man had placed the cheese, tomato sauce, and pepperoni on his bread. “I’ll have cucumbers, pickles, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and sub sauce.” The man listened as he placed each item on the bread neatly.
“Will that be all?”
Mike nodded. The man cut the footlong sub into two halves and placed it in the small oven toaster. As the sub heated, he went to the cash register and punched in Mike’s order.
“That’ll be six seventy-two.” He took the purple bill out of Mike’s hand. “Thank you.” He opened up the cash register. “Three twenty-eight is your change.” The change jingled in Mike’s hand as he received it. The man placed a ‘to-go’ cup on the counter as Mike chose a bag of regular Miss Vickie’s chips and placed them on the counter beside the cup. Once the sub was toasted, the man asked, “For here or to go?”
The man wrapped up his sandwich and placed it on a green tray underneath a thin piece of paper that contained nutrition facts. “Lids and straws are right behind you.”
“Thanks.” Mike found a table that only had two chairs and placed his tray on the table. He picked up his cup and filled it up with ice and asked the cashier if he’d fill it up with tap water.
Once Mike had his cup of water, he sat down and ate his sandwich. He loved when Subway toasted it; all the toppings just melted in his mouth with the cheese and tomato sauce. He enjoyed the sandwich so much that he took small bites to savour it. Then just in front of him, he saw a teenage couple holding hands and smiling. Mike picked up his water, shoved the rest of his sub into his mouth, and left.
After school, Cindy stayed 15 extra minutes to fix her locker. Her stupid locker shelves had fallen once again and this time everything had fallen out.
“How much longer are you going to take?” Rebecca asked impatiently. “You’ve been fixing that stupid locker for over an hour now.”
“I’m done,” said Cindy as she picked up the last book and put it on the shelf. She must have hit the locker shelf too hard because everything fell out again. “Shit.” She stuffed everything back inside, slammed her locker door, and locked it. “Let’s go.” She grabbed her backpack and walked outside. But when she was just outside the door, she realized she had forgotten her French textbook so she went back inside.