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Hooks

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“The scent of slaughter, some believe, can linger in a place for years.” Almost like the smell of freshly cut grass. Though not fresh anymore, the scent stays until it wears it’s welcome. It’s the thoughts and beliefs that linger. Once an unorthodox action takes place, an aura stays there for eternity.


Ronald, unlike most young men that I’ve taught, was oddly enough, a clown. Which I do mean in the literal sense; he, in fact, dressed up as a clown and got paid to go to children’s birthday parties. It was that very fact that I always found very unsettling about him. He, also unlike a lot of the other teenage males that I have taught through out the years, was quiet. He never spoke unless spoken to by an authority figure. “Respectful and into his schooling” is how the other teacher described him. I described him as creepy.

“Ron?”
“It’s Ronald.” He said, on the first day of school, freshman year.
“Sorry, son. I’ll try to remember that next time.”


With a quick, almost invisible, role of the eyes, the year started. “Off with a bang,” is how I like to put it. Not only did the year start that day, but, two student were shot dead that very day in the halls of our little high school. James L. Palmer High School, known for it’s renditions of classic Broadway musicals, was made up of students from a small town. Students, that never did anything wrong, that always were polite and kind. It was rare at James L. Palmer to have to do any type of discipline.


When those two students were shot, as expected, there was frenzy. Students were horrified from what they had seen. No one had found those two kids until the third period bell went off, and the halls were quickly filled with babbling students. Screams ripped through the heart of the school. There was terror running through the veins of every student, teacher, and faculty there that day.


There was no evidence of who would have done this horrible crime. There was no DNA found, no witnesses, and, because there was never a need for them, no camera footage. The perpetrator, who shot down two of the school’s most popular students, had not been found. The police were as shocked as anyone else who heard of the crime. What were they supposed to do? Was it one of the students? If so how do they know which one, and how do they allow school to continue until they find the criminal. It could have been anyone. With no evidence, and a school, who more than anything wanted to get back to normal, the police had no other choice; school would go on.


The proceeding two weeks were gloomy. What were teens to do? They had never faced such trauma. I, just as every other teacher in the school was trying to do, was trying to get everything as it was. Smiling kids was a thing of the past. Not only were these kids scared for their lives, they were not open to learning as they were before. Being a 9th and 10th grade English teacher, I tried to use literature to help these kids through it. I had them read short stories about how other people triumph though death.


It seemed to be working for a while until, only a month after the first shooting, there was another. This time, it was three science teachers who teach 11th grade chemistry. Again, the lack of evidence was un-parallel to any other crime the police of Frankston County had ever seen. There was no trace of a weapon, or any leads. I, being the one who found these three dead teachers in the teacher’s room, had to take a week off of work. I could not deal with all of this death. The vision of blood and guts everywhere was haunting me every time I closed my eyes. About, two or three days after I found those teachers, I got a knock on my door. It was Roland; standing tall, proud, and looking ready to fight.

“Roland what are you doing here?”
“I came to see if you were okay, Mrs. Rens.” There was a sense of sarcasm and pure hatred in his voice.
“You can’t be here without your parents consent. Please go.” I was trying more than anything to get him to leave; he was starting to scare me.
“NO!!!” he screamed as if i was his worst enemy.


It was then and there that I knew, Roland had something to do with those crimes. No one had ever spoke to me that way. I was not about to let this punk kid start. He had fury in is face. For some untold reason, he had come here. Was it to kill me? I had no other options; I slammed the door in his face, locked it, and dialed 911. By the time the police got to my house, Roland was nowhere to be found. They checked his house, everywhere people usually see him, even at the school.


The police eventually came to the conclusion that I was just shaken by the deaths I had uncovered. That I imagined Roland’s tone and anger. Maybe they were right. Roland had never showed any sort of anger or hate towards anyone, why start with me?


A year passed; almost to the day, when another shooting happened. This time, it was more of a massacre. Every student, parent, grandparent, teacher, faculty member, and child who went to the talent show that night, was machine-gunned down. Every single person was gone; a lifeless form sitting in the theater, dead; everyone, except for me. I wondered to myself why for years. Of course I was suspected for the murders, and found “guilty” for every murder that had happened in that school over that year. I was accountable for 136 deaths, none of which were by my hand.


I’ve been locked up in prison for 7 years now, the first of my life sentence. I know who it was. It was Roland. He confessed it to me in one of the many times he visited me. Why he visits me, is unknown. I for one assume that it is just to tease me. That he got away with countless murders while I’m locked up in here for calling him Ron on the first day of freshman year. I was prosecuted, I’m guessing, just because I was the only one alive that day, the only person in the auditorium when everyone was murdered. Besides having no alibi, I think it was just because the police wanted to be able to say that they solved the unsolvable case.





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