The detectives arrived at the high school by three. The police wandered all over the place. The principal and staff hid in the office, and one black girl sat off in a corner and did not appear to want to talk to anyone. Julie Tam, already there, said it was disgusting. The girl’s body had been cut to pieces. The endocrine system showed damage, but that was not all. Everything looked damaged, and it looked like the organs were surgically removed.
“It appears she was dissected. Half of her is missing,” Julie said. “And she may have been alive while they were doing it.”
“Like someone wanted to play with the individual pieces. What do you think?” Ashish turned to Lisa and Julie did as well. Both had long since learned to trust the detective’s intuition.
“I think we just got really complicated,” Lisa said. “It appears as if we have two murderers, and I think they are both university related.” Ashish and Julie eyed each other while Lisa paused to feel things out. “I think we need to find that hundred and seven year old woman.”
Ashish spoke to Julie. “Don’t look at me. I trust Lisa’s suspicious instinct.”
Lisa got stopped en-route by Principal Wearing. “For the record, the security at this school is top notch. No one could have come on the campus without someone seeing them.”
“Are you saying you think this was done by someone on your staff?”
Principal Wearing thought about that and quickly shook his head. That was not what he meant. He pointed at the girl who sat still and watched everything. She appeared calm, her backpack in the seat to her right, her hood pulled over her head, but there seemed to be a nervous something in the girls’ tapping toes and fingers, and that suggested something other than calm. “It is kids like LeBaidu you need to look at. She has three brothers and every one of them is no good. Don’t be fooled just because they are children. You might be surprised what some children are into these days.”
Lisa kept her mouth shut. She could not believe a person with such a low view of children became a high school principal. “I’ll watch this one, okay?” She turned her back on the man and walked casually to the girl. Principal Wearing retreated to his office.
“Mind if I sit down and talk for a minute?”
The girl said nothing. She just turned her head, like she did not care.
Lisa sat. “They tell me you found the body. Would you care to tell me how you did that?”
“You wouldn’t believe me.”
Lisa pretended to squirm in her seat. They were in a row of seats that were individually bolted to the floor, and they were cheap plastic seats, but not entirely uncomfortable. Still, there was a point to be made. “I’m sorry, just give me a minute to get comfortable.” Lisa stood and grabbed her seat. She ripped it right up from the floor, bolts and all and rammed it back down in the same spot. It would eventually fall without being bolted in. “Better,” she said to the wide-eyed girl. “I can believe a lot of things. Why don’t you try me? Let’s start with names. I’m Lisa Schromer.”
“Latasha. Latasha LeBaidu.”
“My family moved here from New Orleans after Katrina.”
Latasha paused and drew her knees up to her chin, put her feet on the chair and her chin on her knees. She was a tall and lanky girl. “I felt it,” she said. “They tell me my great-grandmother used to feel things. A lot of people in New Orleans say they can feel things.”
“This isn’t the first time. I felt it all day. It took until the last bell to figure out where the bad feeling was coming from. That is all. I can’t explain it more than that.”
“And you opened the locker yourself?”
“Well, it was stuck so I had to yank it open.”
“It was locked.”
Latasha grinned ever so slightly. “Yeah, I guess it was.”
“So tell me.” Lisa actually got comfortable then. “When was the last time you beat up one of the boys?”
An hour later, Ashish expressed his surprise. “Another one? How many of you are there?”
“There are maybe three billion women in this world. One in a million may be apocryphal, but you do the math.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. She is only fifteen, but it is strong enough in her so I am sure. She is elect, and she has had a tough road up to this point. Her mother had a baby at sixteen. Latasha has three older brothers and a younger brother and sister, and those six kids were fathered by four different fathers. She does not have the money and says she does not have the grades for college, but she also said she would like police work. Maybe we could help her out, do you think?”
“I think we could use all of you called women in police work.”
“You got a soccer game on Friday,” Ashish reminded her.
“I’ll have to ask Emily to watch Friday,” she said, as her phone rang. “Husband or one of the kids?” she asked.
“Um, one of the kids,” Ashish said.
“Oh, hello dear,” Lisa spoke into the phone, stuck out her hand and wiggled her fingers. “No, I’ll be home soon. Take out would be fine.” Ashish guessed wrong. He lost the standing bet. He frowned, pulled out a dollar, and placed it in Lisa’s palm.