I picked up the scent at a shattered glass window in a stairwell door on the top floor. It’s the kind of glass that is embedded with wires to prevent it from breaking into a million pieces. Safety glass, they call it.
There was a fist-sized hole in the window and two razor-edged triangles dangled from the exposed wires like Christmas ornaments. More glass chunks lay on the other side of the door amidst a dusting of smaller particles.
The trail began with a cloudy red spray over the glass wreckage on the floor and then grew into bigger drops out in the hall. The heavy dollops looked like rubies spilled from the bag of a fleeing bandit.
We followed the rubies until we came across a large smear on the wall with thin red lines flowing downward. We continued tracking and were led to a solitary dark pool in the middle of the hall. He must have stopped here in a fit of panic, I thought.
“He must have turned around here,” said an assistant principal, referring to the end of the trail. We turned around and followed it back in the other direction until I noticed that the assistant principal had disappeared. It’s a classic move in a crisis at Patriot High. I was on my own.
That’s when the calls started coming in over the radio.
“Blood in the basement!”
Need a custodian on the second floor!”
I couldn’t get a transmission in edgewise. But I didn’t need really help following a bunch of blood down the stairs. The only question was where it would lead.
So when the trail came to an end, deep in the depths of the building, and I finally lifted my nose off the floor and came face to face with the object of my pursuit, I quickly took measure of my surroundings. Where was I?
I had been half expecting to find some quasi-modo, huddled under a trap-door, desperately trying to stash a sack of blood-spattered cash or murder weapon. So I was more than a little disappointed to discover that I was just in the nurse’s office (duh), staring at just another dumbass with a bandaged hand.
Back upstairs, Dave asked me, “So, does this keep our streak alive?” He was referring to the fact that we’d had violence in the building every day for the last two months.
“Absolutely,” I responded. “He was trying to punch someone and he missed and hit the window instead. But that definitely still counts. The streak is alive.”
There’s always a silver lining.