“It’s elementary my dear Watson!”
Det. Watson rolled his eyes. It was only the umpteenth time that he had heard that statement. “You know Sherlock never technically said that right?” He replied. “And besides, Watson was the doctor, remember?”
“Who made you the Sherlock expert?” Det. Schwan asked rhetorically, but Det. Watson responded anyway.
“Me, expert? Haha, yeah right.”
The two departed their vehicle and entered the police station. They walked by the reception window and Det. Schwan punched a code into a pin pad near an interior door. It beeped and the door clicked open. Down the hall and to the left was the office they shared. It was more of a glorified closet, but they each had their own desk and didn’t seem to mind the lack of space.
“Let’s see what we’ve got.” Det. Watson said. He re-read the notes he had taken at the scene. “The girl is fifteen years old.” That’s same age as my daughter. He thought. I wonder if they know each other.
“She was last seen at her home in Hazelton. She was asleep in her room when her parents went to bed, but when they awoke, she was gone. There were no signs of a struggle.”
“She could have just run away.” Det. Schwan added.
“Yes, but most kids are only gone for a few hours. This girl has been gone for twelve. We need to find her soon. The chances of finding her alive are getting slimmer by the hour.”
“I’m going to try her phone again.” Det. Schwan picked up her office phone, put it on speakerphone, and dialed. She had tried earlier, but it always went to voicemail.
“Hello?” A voice said.
“Hello?” Det. Schwan responded. “I am confused. I was looking for a Patricia Adler.”
“Oh. Yes. This is her phone.”
“Then, who is this?”
“I’m sorry. This is Miles Filmore. I just heard ringing from my bag. I mean, Patty must have left her phone in my classroom. With whom am I speaking?”
“Sir, this is Detective Lilian Schwan with the Hazelton Police. You are Patricia’s teacher?
“Yes. I teach Math, but she was also in detention with me after school.”
“What was she in detention for?”
“She got into an argument with another one of her peers in class. When I intervened she told me I could go f…well you know.”
“How long was she in detention?”
“She was there until 3:30. She took the late bus home.”
“You didn’t see her after that?”
“No ma’am.” “Pardon me, but why the twenty questions? What’s going on?”
“Patricia has gone missing.”
“We’re going to need to ask you some more questions.”
“I don’t know anything. I promise. She must have dropped her phone and it ended up in my bag.”
“What is your address sir?”
“It’s 14 Scottsdale Rd., Hazelton, and please call me Miles.”
“Okay Miles. Stay where you are. We are coming to you.”
Detectives Schwan and Watson ran out of the police station and sped towards Scottsdale Rd.
“Did he sound nervous to you?” Det. Watson asked.
“Yes. He did.” Det. Schwan replied.
“Something doesn’t add up. How would her phone appear in his bag?”
“That’s what we’re going to find out.”
Patty had been excited when Claire was actually nice to her for a change. Claire was popular, cool, and beautiful. Maybe getting into detention made you part of the “in crowd.” Patty and Claire were seated in chairs that had small flip up desks attached to them. Patty was adjacent to Claire. When Mr. Filmore wasn’t looking they would pass notes to each other. That was how Patty had received the invite, and it was a privilege to receive one to Claire’s party. Claire’s parents were out of town again, so Claire had the whole house to herself. When they left detention, Claire informed Patty that she would pick her up at 10:00 pm. Another advantage of having Claire as a friend was that she had a driver’s license! Patty knew her parents wouldn’t understand. She loved them dearly, but it was better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.
When Patty got home from school, she couldn’t find her phone. She asked her parents, but they hadn’t seen it. She tried to act normally and not make a huge fuss; otherwise, her parents would have become suspicious. Patty worried that Claire would not be able to contact her if something changed, but all Patty could do was wait. She ate dinner with her parents, and then retreated to her room. She looked through her closet for something perfect to wear. She had a hard time deciding because she thought she looked fat in almost everything. Finally, she picked a pair of perfectly ripped jeans and a low cut sparkly top. Her parents never let her wear makeup, so she applied it and decided that she would “not feel well” and go to bed early. After what felt like forever, Patty saw headlights in her window. Claire had made it! Patty slowly opened her window and climbed out. Good thing she had a bedroom on the first floor. She ran as best as she could in her heels and hopped into Claire’s BMW. Inside the car were two of Claire’s posse, Megan and Abigail.
“Hey guys.” Patty said.
“Hi Fa…Patty.” Claire responded. “You look amazing! Ready for some fun?”
“Thank you. You betcha.” Patty said.
The rest of the way, the girls gossiped about school. When they got to Claire’s house, Patty realized that there didn’t seem to be too much of a party happening.
“Are there more people coming?” She asked.
“Oh yes. They are in my favorite spot.” Claire said.
“Where’s that?” Patty inquired.
“It’s a surprise.”
Megan and Abigail snickered from the backset. Claire shot them both a look.
Claire’s house was a mansion compared to Patty’s. Claire had given Patty a tour, and Patty had gawked in almost every room. The house had hardwood floors and marble staircase. It also had five bedrooms on the second floor. The girls finished the tour in the kitchen. On the counter was vodka and bottles of mixed drinks.
“Drink up girls.” Claire said. She began pouring shots for everyone.
Patty was a rule follower and wasn’t going to drink until she was of legal age. Now, however, Patty couldn’t let her new found friends think she wasn’t cool, so she joined them. She did shots of vodka and had a bottle of something fruity. When she was finished, she could barely stand.
“Whoa, guys! I’m spinning!” She said.
“Somebody’s drunk.” Abigail said. Claire and Megan laughed.
“Now that we’re feeling good, the real party is out here.” Claire said.
“Where?” Patty said.
“Just follow me.”
All of the girls followed Claire behind the house and through the woods using only the bright moonlight as their guide. Patty stumbled along trying to keep up. They came upon a big, run down wooden barn that had been decorated with white lights.
“Ta da.” Claire gestured at the barn with her hands.
“I don’t see any people.” Patty said.
“I may have fibbed a little. It’s just us ladies. We are the par-tay.” Claire hooted. Claire slid open the barn door revealing a wide open space except for a pole squarely in the middle. The same white lights that were on the outside adorned the inside as well. The floor of the barn was dirt with stray bits of hay.
Patty couldn’t keep her eyes off the pole. “Is that a stripper pole?” She slurred.
“It’s not what you think. I do pole routines for exercise. Why don’t you give it a try Patty?”
Patty attempted to twirl around the pole, but she just fell over.
“Come on Patty try it again. Act like a real stripper. We want a show.”
Patty held on to the pole and spun around, laughing. Soon Patty couldn’t spin anymore and she vomited all over herself.
“Pathetic Patty. Can’t hold her liquor.” Megan goaded.
“Fatty Patty.” Abigail sneered.
“Fatty Patty. What are you going to do now?” Claire asked.
“I don’t know.” Patty groaned.
“Looks like you’ll have to take your clothes off.” Claire said.
“What do you mean?” Patty mumbled.
“You see we have this rule. If you get puke on yourself, you have to take your clothes off.” Megan added.
“I don’t want to.” Patty held back her tears.
“Aww poor Fatty Patty is a little baby.” Abigail said.
“I am not.”
“Too afraid to show us your fat, Fatty Patty?” Claire taunted.
The girls circled Patty and chanted “Fatty Patty, Fatty Patty, Fatty Patty.” Then they tackled her to the ground being careful not to get vomit on themselves. Patty couldn’t focus and was no match for the three of them. Before she knew it, her clothes were on the ground and she was tied to the stripper pole. They poked her and pinched her fat continuing their chant.
“Look Patty is a real stripper now!” Megan chortled, and Abigail and Claire giggled.
“This isn’t funny, guys. Let me go.” She struggled to get free, but she could barely keep from blacking out. Her cheeks were already red from the alcohol, but now they were an even deeper shade of crimson.
As Patty continued to struggle, Megan surveyed the scene. “What do we do now?”
Claire went over to the corner and beckoned for the other girls to follow. They huddled together. “Nothing.” Claire answered.
“What do you mean?” Abigail asked.
“We leave her.”
“We can’t leave her.” Abigail said.
“Oh, yes we can. I took precautions. Nobody will know it was us. Everyone will blame stupid Mr. Filmore. You see, first, I put Patty’s phone in Mr. Filmore’s bag. Then, I got the same icky perfume that she uses and sprayed her perfume on his coat. I also made sure that poor Patricia has been getting some unwanted attention from Mr. Filmore. At least that’s what everyone thinks anyway.”
“You set him up?” Abigail asked.
“You bet I did.”
“What’s going to happen to her?” Megan asked.
“She’ll find a way to free herself.”
“How can we be sure?” Abigail said. She hadn’t signed up for this. This had gone too far. Messing with Fatty Patty was one thing, but leaving her here?
“Don’t worry about her. “ Claire turned on her heel and walked over to Patty.
“Fatty Patty, this never happened. If you tell a single soul, you will be hurting more than you are now. Understand?”
Patty nodded. Claire walked toward the door of the barn.
“Wait. You can’t leave me.” Patty cried. “Megan! Abigail! Don’t be like Claire! Free me! You’ve had your fun. I won’t tell anyone.”
Megan and Abigail looked at Patty. A hint of remorse gleamed in their eyes, but out they went sliding the door behind them.
Det. Schwan and Det. Watson had arrived at Miles’ house. He led them inside.
“Can I offer you something to do drink detectives?”
“No, thank you.” They both responded.
As they walked into the house, Det. Schwan noticed a waft of perfume coming from a coat on the coat rack.
“Pardon me for being so frank, but do you have a girlfriend?” Det. Schwan asked.
“I thought I smelled perfume. That’s all.” Det. Schwan gave Det. Watson a knowing look. When they had searched Patricia’s room, they had found a bottle of perfume on her nightstand. The coat had the same smell.
“Oh that’s right. I am just as perplexed, but I noticed the smell too. Must have been one of the girls at school sprayed it too close or something.”
Det. Schwan nodded pretending she understood, but she knew he was being vague. “If you’ll excuse me for a moment, I need to make a phone call.” Det. Schwan walked outside onto the porch. She looked up the number to the school and dialed the principal. After confirming that Miles was a teacher there, the principal told Det. Schwan that there had been a complaint about Mr. Filmore. According to the principal, Claire Windham, a student in Mr. Filmore’s class, had witnessed Mr. Filmore be inappropriate with Patricia. Claire had told the principal that Mr. Filmore would hug Patricia or pat her on the shoulders and it made Claire uncomfortable. Mr. Filmore had even told Patricia that she had looked sexy in her skirt. Claire had thought that if she was uncomfortable, that Patricia must have been too, so she had reported the incident.
After her conversation with the principal, Det. Schwan pulled Det. Watson outside and told him what she had learned.
“I think we have enough to take him to the station.” Det. Watson said.
“It seems circumstantial at best.” Det. Schwan said.
“Maybe, but we’re running out of time. If this guy knows something, he’s not going to tell us unless we increase the pressure. I say we put bracelets on him.”
“It’s against my better judgment, but alright.” Det. Schwan conceded.
They went back inside. Miles was sitting on the couch. Det. Watson asked him to stand.
“I hate to do this Miles, but you are under arrest.” Det. Watson took Miles’ hands and slapped handcuffs on him.
“I didn’t do anything!” Miles cried.
“I’m done playing games.” Det. Watson responded. “Where is she?”
“I don’t know. I swear.”
“You do know, now tell me!”
“You have the wrong person.”
“You convinced Patricia to leave her house to see you.”
“No, I didn’t!”
Det. Schwan couldn’t help but think something wasn’t as it seemed. “Jim, maybe we have the wrong…”
“We’re running out of time Miles. Where is she?” As he said that, he had an epiphany. He lowered his voice. “Miles, was there anyone else in detention with Patricia?”
“Yes. A girl named Claire. Claire Windham.”
“Had she been the one fighting with Patricia?”
“Did the girls talk at all during detention?”
“They weren’t allowed to talk, but they were passing notes. They didn’t think I noticed, but I knew.”
“Do you know what the notes said?”
Det. Watson looked down at his phone. He had missed a call from his daughter. That’s when it hit him like a ton of bricks. He knew who was behind this. He told Det. Schwan to not to un-cuff Miles yet, and that he needed to check something. He had his daughter on the phone before he was even outside.
“Daddy!” She said.
“Abigail, what’s wrong, honey?”
“You love me right?”
“Of course, I do.”
Even if I did something awful?”
His stomach dropped. “It’s okay, sweetie, what did you do?
She then told him the whole story, and where to find Patricia. Det. Watson called reinforcements to meet him at the scene. When Det. Schwan, Det. Watson, and their crew arrived they immediately went to the barn. The cold and alcohol had gotten to Patricia, but she was alive. EMS took care of her, and after a few days in the hospital, she made a full recovery. The other girls were found in the house. Watching his daughter being cuffed killed him, but Det. Watson knew he couldn’t save her from this. The girls would have to face the consequences of their actions. The life that Det. Watson once knew was now over and a new life had taken hold. One that had become anything but elementary.