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Pins and Needles

Lunch is always a chaotic time in the ROTC Room. Especially on uniform days. Everybody is primping their uniforms, shoveling greasy cafeteria food into their gaping maws, and fighting to be heard over everybody else in the room. As always, I was sitting near Brandon, sharing his greasy cafeteria food and talking to JD.
“So I don’t know where my shirt stays went…” Brandon mentioned.
“I’m sorry. Shouldn’t there be some in supply?” I said between mouthfuls.
“They’re in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet. I’ll show you.” The two guys walk away, presumably to the Supply Room. Silently absorbed in my own thoughts, I observe the room. Kaylie and Dani are sitting next to each other, bent over a piece of paper. Suddenly Murphy walks in and starts making angry motions at Kaylie. I can only make out tidbits of what’s being said, but it sounds like he’s yelling at her for something. I glanced away, watching Curtis play his guitar, and when I looked back Kaylie and Dani had left, presumably to fix whatever problem was in Supply. Murphy was gone too. I cleaned up my mess and started writing my essay for my creative writing class when Brandon and JD came in, JD carrying a sword. A few minutes before lunch ended, Kaylie and Dani came back to get their stuff. The bell rang, and everybody who didn’t have ROTC next started picking up their belongings and cleaning up their messes. I was about to leave to go to the bathroom when Sierra ran through the door, breathless.
“Murphy’s dead!”

The hallway had been roped off, and everyone but the 6 of us had been sent home. Brandon, JD, Kaylie, Dani, Sierra and I were herded into the ROTC Room for questioning by Officer Montavo. He pulled JD and Kaylie out before getting to me.
“You.” He pointed at me. “Follow me.”
I followed him to the crime scene; Murphy’s body was lying in the middle of Supply, Smuckatelly, the proper-uniform-demonstration-dummy, laying across his legs, blood pooling where her head should be, a measuring tape draped around his neck. It was a gruesome sight. At least someone had the decency to close his eyes.
“Do you know what happened?” Montavo asked calmly.
“I…. I don’t know….” I tried to stifle my tears. “Brandon and JD left for Supply and and and…… a little while later Dani and Kaylie left and…..and they all came back before Sierra came….” Tears started streaming down my face, sobs racking my body.
“It’s alright,” Montavo consoled. “Did any of them have anything different when they came back?” I took a deep breath.
“Um….Brandon should have had shirt stays and….and JD had one of the swords…but those are in the armory….”
“Alright. Thank you. You can go back now, and please send Brandon when you get there,” Montavo nodded, gazing at the body. Slowly I walked back to the room, trying to contain my sobs. When I opened the door, I was bombarded by Sierra, who promptly started crying and snotting on my shirt. I stood there, trying to calm her down as much as calm myself down. Brandon just stood across the room, staring out the window, very unlike him. JD was sitting at a computer, typing away, while Dani and Kaylie sat silently next to each other. Kaylie looked up at me.
“How was it?”
“Montavo wants you, Brandon,” I sniffle, “He just asked me what I knew…..”
“Well what did you tell him?” She stood up and walked towards me, glaring at me. I’ve never seen her this angry about anything before.
“Just that you all left and came back,” I shudder. “What is your problem?”
“Nothing…” She walked back to her seat, took out some paper, and started to doodle. I got Sierra to calm down enough to take a seat, and Brandon walked in, unusually expressionless.
“I just…I can’t believe someone would do something like that….” Sierra whimpered.
“Maybe someone just wanted him gone,” Brandon replied stoically. This is so unlike him. I stood up and walked over to him, guiding him to the Staff Room attached to the ROTC Room. Quietly, I close the door.
“What’s going on?” I ask worriedly.
“What?”
“Something’s wrong. I mean more wrong than the fact that Murphy just died.”
“Nothing’s wrong.” He looked away from me. This is so unlike him; it has me worried.
“Ok….” I go to open the door, and he suddenly pulls me in for a deep kiss. This doesn’t make any sense. He pulls away and opens the door. Slowly, I follow him and observe the room. Kaylie is still drawing, and JD is still typing away. I walk over and sit down next to Kaylie and watch her draw. It’s a grisly picture; some faceless figure splayed across a dark floor, blood pooling by its head, entrails strewn down a small flight of stairs. “That’s…..cool” I whispered nervously. She grunted in reply, carefully blending the blood. Feeling awkward, I stand and walk over to Dani. “What’s going on with her?” I nod towards Kaylie.
“She’s working on, um, an AP Art concentration….”
“That’s kind of violent…”
“Her theme is destruction.”
“Oh…”
Just then Officer Montavo walked in with a man in a white lab coat. Montavo was holding a bag with something bloody in it.
“We’ve found the murder weapon,” he mentioned.
“What was it?” asked JD as he turned around to face the room.
“It was these pins.” He held the bag up, turning it around so we could all see the long, straight pins it contained. “They were punctured through his abdomen, right around his lungs.” I looked away; I didn’t need to see the things that had killed someone important to me. I glanced at Brandon standing across the room; he looked bored with the proceedings. Dani sat at the desk, hanging her head. Kaylie just kept on drawing. “We were wondering if any of you could identify them specifically.”
“There’s lots of pins in that room; we use them to hem pants,” I supply helpfully.
“Hm…” Montavo turned and whispered something to the man next to him. “This is Doctor Westerford. He is the doctor performing the autopsy on the body.” We all mumbled our greetings to the doctor. “Danielle. Can you come with us please?” She stood and nodded, following them out the door.
“What was that about?” I asked, sitting on the floor.
“No idea.” Brandon walked over to me and sat at the desk closest to me. I looked up and smiled weakly at him, hoping to get some emotion from him. He just stared at the wall behind me, as if it would magically burst into flames if he stared hard enough. Sighing, I look up just in time to see Dani walk in. Somehow she’s even more silent that usual.
“What happened, Dani?” JD turned and watched her walk across the room.
“Um, nothing…” she stated nervously. JD nodded solemnly and started pacing the room. Watching him made me restless, so I grabbed my book and started to read. It reminded me of this movie I watched the other night; this little boy went totally berserk and killed his parents. The boy didn’t have any reason to kill them, or so the police thought. That got me thinking; what if this was just an accident, like with the little boy? I mean no one in the room right now would openly kill anybody; JD practically adored Murphy, and Kaylie and Dani would never do anything like that. The only reason I could think of for Brandon to kill him was if he had done something to hurt me, but I hardly talked to Murphy anymore. Sighing, I laid my head on my knees. All this confusion was giving me a headache. Then Officer Montavo walked in again. He glanced around the room, and walked towards Kaylie, who was still doodling.
“That’s a…interesting picture.” She grunted her response, not looking up at him. “What’s it for?”
“Art class,” she replied, expressionless.
“Interesting…” Montavo stood up, and walked towards me. He knelt next to me. “Do you notice anybody acting…..differently?” he asked quietly.
“Um,” I shrugged, “Well its natural to act differently when someone you knew just died, isn’t it?”
“Perhaps. I meant extremely different. Extreme behavioral differences can be a sign of guilt.”
“Uh… not really?” I glanced at Kaylie and Brandon.
“Ok. Thank you.” Montavo stood up and walked over to Sierra, who was sitting at a desk towards the front of the room. He knelt and talked to her in hushed tones for a few minutes, then stood and walked to the teachers’ desk in the front of the room.
“We think we’ve determined who committed the murder of Murphy Ransier,” he addressed all of us. Kaylie looked up from her finished piece.
“Well?” she asked impatiently.
“We will have to take the person to the station.”
“Well duh! Who was it!” Kaylie stood up, dumping her colored pencils off the desk.
“Miss. Please calm down,” Montavo said calmly.
“No I will not calm down!” Kaylie yelled. “I could go to jail! Just because I was taking care of business! I just needed him to leave me alone! And now I’m a criminal!” All during her charade, she slowly approached Officer Montavo, a wild look in her eye.
“Miss. I need you to come with me.” He pulled out his handcuffs. Kaylie “went” quietly, ranting about how much Murphy had disrespected her the whole way.





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