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 Category:  Mystery and Crime Fiction
  Posted: October 17, 2020      Views: 22
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Chapter 16 of the book Pewter's Homecoming
Marcy talks with Jeff and meets Andrew.
"Chapter 6 - Before Homecoming" by teols2016
Five years later, a closed homicide gets a second look.

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.

Five Years Ago:

Marcy looked up to see Jeff approaching her table in the school library. By now, she'd learned he was Jeff Edwards and he was a left tackle on the school's football team, The Pewter High Falcons.

"Hey," Jeff said, setting his bag down on a chair across the table from her. "You busy?"

"A little," Marcy said, holding up the book, To Kill a Mocking Bird, she'd been reading. "I gotta finish this chapter for English this afternoon."

Jeff nodded but sat down anyway. Marcy tried to focus on her book to indicate she didn't want to talk. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the small, skinny custodian putting a new plastic bag into the trash can by the library's main doors.

"How's that book?" Jeff asked, gesturing towards it.

"It's interesting," Marcy replied. "You ever read it?"

"Kind of. I can never really get into these things."

"I like it," Marcy said, hoping this would indicate she wanted to be left alone.

"I'm more a science guy."

He wasn't getting it.

"You're from Eagle Pass, right?" he asked.

Marcy nodded.

"I got a cousin who lives out there," Jeff said. "Billy Gardener. You know him?"

Marcy shook her head, turning a page in her book. Jeff seemed desperate to try and make conversation. He also seemed a bit nervous. She could tell because that was usually her role in student interactions. His fidgeting was a dead giveaway.

"He lives in Carrizo Springs," Jeff continued. "You know it?"

"Not really," Marcy said. She'd heard of the town and knew it was somewhere near Eagle Pass, but she couldn't pinpoint its location on a map to save her life.

"I've never been out there," Jeff said. "My cousin and his family came to visit us a few times, but I've never been out there."

Marcy managed to get through another page in To Kill a Mockingbird. This boy seemed unwilling or unable to take a hint.

"Eagle Pass is on the border with Mexico, right?" Jeff asked. "You have a problem with immigrants there?"

"No," Marcy said. She didn't have a problem with immigrants.

"We're just a bit further north here in Pewter," Jeff continued. "But who'd want to come here, anyway?"

Marcy wanted to point out she and her parents chose to come here but was spared when the bell rang. Packing up her books, she noticed several people watching her and Jeff. A few were smiling. Without a word, Marcy fled the library.

* * *

Never more grateful to hear the last bell of the day, Marcy left her Computer Science class and ducked into the first bathroom she found. Locking herself in a stall, she stuffed her backpack into a far corner, put the toilet lid down, and sat on it with her legs hugged against her chest. She did not want to be found.

Rumors were already spreading about her time with Jeff in the library just hours ago. She'd heard them in her last two classes. No one had spoken to her about it yet, but it would only be a matter of time.

She'd recognized how Jeff's rambling and somewhat insensitive statements suggested he was nervous. She feared he might have been working up to asking her to the Homecoming Dance. Marcy did not know how she could have turned him down. Worse, she couldn't figure out how she could have endured going with him and what that might have meant.

Marcy knew it wasn't Jeff's fault. She just wasn't interested. She did not know how to tell him or anyone else.

Tears welled up in Marcy's eyes and she buried her face in her knees. She wished she could talk to someone. But history suggested they wouldn't understand. She couldn't lose what little she'd gained here, especially Lily. Seeing that girl made each day worth it.

Marcy jumped when she heard a knock on the bathroom door. It then creaked open. She sat, frozen on the toilet.

"Hello!" a voice, a man's voice, called. "Anybody in here?"

Marcy's heart raced. She didn't want to be found. Why was a man asking if anyone was in here? Was there some sort of hook-up in the works and she was in the way? Her mind raced as she tried to figure out what to do.

She heard the man come inside and begin humming. Seeing the gray pantleg and the mop through the opening under the stall's door, Marcy realized it was one of the custodians. He was just cleaning.

Knowing she'd better leave, Marcy took a deep breath and stood up. Grabbing her backpack, she unlocked the stall door.

"Oh," the man said, surprised. It was the small, skinny, bald, African American custodian, holding the mop. Marcy had seen him around school plenty of times.

"I'm sorry," he said, backing towards the door. "I thought you weren't here. I called out like I'm supposed to."

"It's okay," Marcy assured him. "I'm leaving."

She thought the guy might be slow or something.

"I'm not supposed to be here if you are," the man said, almost at the door now. "Mr. Ericson said ..."

"It's okay," Marcy repeated. "I'm leaving."

The man studied her.

"Are you okay?" he asked. "You're crying."

Marcy wasn't crying anymore, but she realized she had tear streaks on her cheeks.

"You should wash your face," the man said. "My mama always told me to do that after she helped me feel better when I cried."

"Thanks," Marcy said. "I'll do that."

The man moved towards the door again as she stepped towards the sink.

"You don't have to go," she said, quickly splashing water on her face and wiping it with a paper towel.

The man stood, frozen by the door with his mop in his hand. Finally, he reached out with his free hand and grabbed the trash bin, sliding it closer to her.

"Thanks," Marcy said, tossing the used paper towel into it.

The custodian nodded as he slid the trash can back into place.

"Bye," Marcy said.

He didn't say anything as she left the bathroom. He just stared after her as she walked out.

The book continues with Chapter 6 - After Homecoming. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.
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