“Evan, this is Roger.”
“How’s it going? Where are you?”
“I’m at home. Listen, I’m going to have to use a sick day today.”
“Not really. It’s a long story. David got beat up pretty bad yesterday at school. In school,” Roger said.
“Well, hell. Sorry to hear that. Don’t worry about anything. I’ve got you covered.”
“Thanks, Evan. Sorry about this.”
“No worries. It’s the slow season anyway. You take care of your family. Take time next week if you need to. It’s a short week, anyway, with Thanksgiving.” For a second-generation business owner, Evan was liberal with time off.
“Thanks. I might have to. There’ll probably be lawyers involved."
“Oh, that sucks. What happened?” asked Evan.
“Like I said, it’s a long story. Apparently, some political class got out of hand. A bunch of kids jumped David, and the principal stood by and let them beat on him. Put him in the hospital with a concussion and a bunch of cuts and bruises.”
“That’s crazy. Wow. Yeah, get lawyered up. What did the police say?”
“That’s strange, too. I have to call the sergeant in a minute. They seem to be afraid to cross the teachers' union,” Roger said.
“God almighty. Those unions stick together, don’t they? We need a union for businesses,” Evan said. Roger thought Isn’t the chamber of commerce your union? but he didn’t say it. Instead, he said, “Yeah. The whole day was weird. I’m sorry I didn’t call you yesterday. By the time they discharged David, it was late."
“Hey, don’t mention it. You did the right thing,” said Evan. “Tell Natalie I’m sorry. David, too. You take care of that family, Roger. Work will be here when you get back.”
“Thanks, Evan. I’ll let you go now.”
“Yep. Take care, buddy.”
Roger looked at his phone. Nine-thirty. He looked at the list he’d scribbled down last night:
Call Sgt. Franklin
Call Jack Murphy
Natalie was taking care of calls to the doctors. She also called the school to tell them David would not be in. Roger was afraid he’d lose it if he heard “that bitch’s” voice. He couldn’t remember Nancy Flanders’ name, only “that bitch.”
Something was bothering Roger, but he couldn’t exactly describe the irritation. Something gnawing at his mind just out of consciousness. He figured it was the incomplete checklist, so I dialed Franklin’s number.
“Sergeant Mike Franklin.”
“Sergeant, Roger Thompson.”
“Good morning, Mr. Thompson. How can I help you?”
“I’m wondering if you’ve filed charges against any of the kids or the principal.”
Franklin paused. “The case is still under investigation, Mr. Thompson. I have no further updates. I expect it will be turned over to a detective today.”
“Really? It seems pretty obvious to me. A principal stood by while seven or eight kids beat up my son. And my son says a teacher triggered the whole incident by calling him a racist in class. She accused him of hate crimes.”
Franklin paused again. Six months, he thought to himself. “Listen, Mr. Thompson, you should probably get a lawyer.”
“I did,” Roger interrupted. “He should be calling you today.”
“I’ll wait for the call,” said Franklin.
“Sergeant, this is Jack Murphy. I’m an attorney representing the Thompson family regarding an incident that took place at Briarhaven Elementary School yesterday. Mr. Roger Thompson gave me your card.”
“Yes. How can I help you?”
“I’d like to see the police reports from the incident.
“There’s juveniles involved. A judge will have to grant you permission to see the records.”
“Okay. So maybe I can get your take. You don’t have to mention any names. Just the facts as you know them.”
Franklin looked around. Everyone in the room was busy with something else. “What did Mr. Thompson tell you?”
“He said a group of boys beat up his son, David, at school. The principal witnessed the beating and did nothing to intervene.”
Sergeant Franklin considered his response. “Can I get your number? I’ll call you if I have any information I can disclose.”
“Sure,” said Jack. He gave the sergeant his number.
“Thank you, sir. I’ll be in touch.”
Mike Franklin sat back in his chair and looked out the window. “Six months to retirement,” he said under his breath. “Six fucking months.”
Franklin pulled out a notepad and his personal cell phone. He tapped out a text message, sent it, and put the phone and notepad back in his pockets. Next, he stood up and walked to a table containing stacks of manila folders. He pulled the top folder off one of the stacks and opened it. He removed a few sheets of paper, walked to a copier, and set the pages in the feeder. He pressed a button and the copier sprang to life.
to be continued
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.