The Elect 2, part 4 of 4: Latasha

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.ac julie 2

“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.”

ab high school hall“See what else you can find out,” Lisa told Julie. “I’m going to talk to the girl.”

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.

“What?” The girl spoke first and it was not a pleasant sound.ac latasha 1a

“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.”

“LeBaidu?”

“My family moved here from New Orleans after Katrina.”

ac latasha 9“Well, Latasha. How about you tell me how you found the body.”

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.”

“But you?”

“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?”

Latasha’s grin widened until it took up a good portion of her face. “Yesterday. I didn’t like the way Bobby Thompson was looking at me.”a high school 2

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.”

a trenton police 7Lisa shook her head. “It doesn’t work that way. But now I think we have to watch the high school for a few days.”

“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.

The Elect 2, part 2 of 4: Feedback

Maria got some feedback from Julie Tam in the medical examiner’s office just before Tuesday biology class. There was beer in the boys bodies, and also heightened activity in the endocrine system, just as Doctor Zimmer suggested. Unfortunately, Julie had not yet faxed the details. Maria suggested the idea that someone might be trying to create super soldiers. Emily did not buy it, exactly. She sensed that might be true, but not the whole story.

“But the Colonel that was there in the offices,” Maria protested.

“Circumstantial. Could be Zimmer’s brother-in-law for all we know.”

Maria nodded half-heartedly. She did not speak further since Ms Granger came in ready to begin the ab lecture hall 1class.

After class, they went to the front together and caught Ms Granger while she put the days assignments in her briefcase. Maria took the front and Emily tried to fade into the background, but it did not work. Ms Granger had no interest in the papers Maria held out and turned on Emily instead.

“I heard you destroyed a fraternity house.”

“Sorry to disappoint. It was already broken when I got there.”

“I also heard you almost killed three boys.”

“You mean the ones they have locked up downtown accused of murder?”

Ms Granger frowned, but by then Professor Hilde had dragged his useless legs and feet up to the table and he seemed more than happy to look at Maria’s papers. “Zimmer mentioned something about this,” he spoke as he read.

Ms Granger tried a different tactic. “Your last paper was a “C” paper because it was spectacularly average.”

ab lecture hall 6“I am doing my best and I am sure I will do better next time.”

“Not likely.” Ms Granger finished packing. “Nursing is a good goal. You would never make it in medical school.” That was the nicest thing Ms Granger ever said to Emily. “Professor?” The woman turned toward the door.

“I’ll be along shortly,” the professor said, as he finished reading. Ms Granger stomped out and Emily let go of the breath she held.

“What are your thoughts?” Maria asked.

“I think I would like to read the information you get on those boys from the fraternity house when you get it. I cannot imagine how this must work. You see, glands are self-stimulating and self-regulating. No known agent can cause the stimulation you describe and I bet you will find in those boys. A week ago I would have laughed and said impossible, but now?” He handed back the papers.

“So you think it is the endocrine system?” Maria asked.

“Can’t be anything else.”

Emily butted in. “Maria suggested someone might be trying to build super soldiers.”ac hilde 1

The professor nodded. “A reasonable suggestion from what little I can tell. We do not know what he, she or they might have in mind. Meanwhile, keep me informed, will you? I will be glad to offer any suggestions in return.” He turned and the girls watched him shuffle his way slowly out the door.

“He seems so nice, especially compared to Ms Granger,” Maria said and added, “or Doctor Zimmer.”

“Why couldn’t he be our teacher?” Emily griped.

###

Wednesday afternoon found the detectives in the same room where they had questioned Emily. Jimmy Chee and his lawyer just left and the detectives needed time to think. They had nothing against these boys. The medical information was clear. The boys had such heightened endorphins, adrenaline and other ingredients they could not possibly have known what they were doing.

“Slim comfort for the families of the two boys that got killed,” Ashish said from his spot by the dirty window.

ac ashish 3Lisa shook her head. “At least we can keep them in an institution for a while as a precaution against the condition returning. I am more concerned about that condition breaking out elsewhere. No word on our missing person?”

Ashish shook his head in response. “Look, there were three or more murders early in the semester and now we have an idea of what they were after, but there haven’t been any since.”

“Means nothing. They may be waiting for things to cool off. They may have gotten all they wanted. They may have the formula right or nearly right and just need some test subjects. They may be able to synthesize what they need by now.”

“I get it,” Ashish interrupted. “But why would they want a hundred and seven year old woman?”

“That doesn’t make sense to me, but I’m no endocrine expert, and Julie can’t explain it either.”ac lisa a1

Ashish pulled out his handkerchief and honked his nose while Lisa paced. “I sometimes wonder if Julie is telling us everything she knows,” Ashish said.

Lisa stopped still. After a moment, she started to pace again. “No. I think she just wants to be careful and make sure that what she does reveal is factual.”

“Seems to me we are working on hunches right now, not facts. Maybe we need to ask her for her hunches.”

Lisa began to nod when her phone rang. “Home?” She got it from her pocket. “No. Hello. What? We’ll be right there.”

a high school 6“The university?” Ashish wondered as they stepped to the door.

“No, the high school next door to the university.”