Remember Me(9)

By: Ashlee Mallory

Marie shook her head. “They said it’s been there a while, from the looks of it. One of the guys spotted a shoe in the dirt, and when he went to pull it out, he saw there was a whole skeleton down there. They’ve stopped everything until the police tell them otherwise. Jeremy is meeting with the officers outside, so maybe we’ll know more soon.”

Allie crooked her head to look out the window. But there wasn’t much to see other than the flashing of lights out front. A few more teachers swept into the crowd already gathered in the office looking for answers, and soon the room was abuzz with the news.

“I’m going to head back upstairs, ladies,” Sam said after a moment. “Thanks for this.” He waved the folder Allie’d given him earlier. She nodded and watched him go. Might as well head back to her classroom, as well. After all, school still had to go on.

And she’d also have a better view from her classroom window on the second floor.

But after forty minutes of trying to get a glimpse of anything interesting, Allie gave up. They hadn’t moved anything looking like a body. Just a lot of people crouching around on the ground, taking samples and pictures. Not even close to a scene from Bones or CSI.

Half an hour later, her next class started, and she got back on topic.

It wasn’t until after the last bell of the day that she and the other teachers were able to gather in the lounge to discuss the news in detail. People milled from the coffee pot to the windows and back to the tables. It was a full house. Even Sam stuck around. Being a true-crime writer, this kind of stuff must be right up his alley. He leaned against the wall between the table where Jon Cavin, the school’s Latin teacher, and Señoras Sanchez and Pena were engrossed in conjecture and the adjoining table where Allie, Claire, Brother Luther, and Janine were sitting.

“Poor soul,” Brother Luther murmured as if saying a prayer. “Probably some unfortunate transient who fell asleep and froze to death.”

“I’m betting it was gang related,” Janine offered, her eyes gleaming. “Maybe a drug deal gone wrong. They offed the guy, then buried the body.”

“I doubt drug dealers would’ve taken the time,” Claire said. “The body was buried, not left for discovery. It’s probably something far more nefarious.”

Allie had to agree with her. Why bury a body unless you wanted to hide it for as long as possible? Heck. It would still be buried if the centennial committee hadn’t approved the proposal for the peace gardens. Which had been a near thing, after the initial reaction people had when it was first announced. Fortunately, Allie, who’d come up with the idea, had the foresight to get the chairwoman of the committee, Meredith Sanders, on board—mainly by letting her consider the idea hers. Only Meredith would have had the tenacity and bullheadedness to drive the proposal home.

Jeremy came in with another man who identified himself as Detective Johnson with the Salt Lake City Police Department. Probably a few years older than Allie, the detective was attractive with sandy brown hair and compassionate blue eyes. Janine looked like she might swoon at any second.

“We were able to salvage some identification from a wallet found near the body,” Detective Johnson said, keeping his gaze on the faces in the room. “Before the media makes the announcement, we thought you should know the name since, if the ID is correct, some of you may have known him.”

A few chairs creaked as people fidgeted. He was certainly taking his time giving the name.

“The identification was for a Jackson Archibald Williams. He taught English here nearly fifteen years ago.”

The sudden quiet in the room was deafening. Allie’s ears buzzed, and she took in some deep breaths.

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