Guilt makes us confess when we don’t want to. Guilt can also get us into deeper trouble. Enjoy Part 2 of A Dangerous Game. Thanks.
MONICA ARRIVED IN THE parking lot of her daughter’s school at seven-thirty a.m. She wanted to get there before Bruce got there. She was too late. Bruce’s Prius was already parked in the principal’s parking space in front of the school.
If she hurried, she would catch him before the rest of the school staff rolled in, she thought. She checked her watch and groaned. She considered not confronting him about what they did last night. Maybe she could wait until tomorrow and do it. Time was getting away from her.
She had wanted to be in her office before eight. She and her team were working on a liability lawsuit for one of their clients. The client was a manufacturing company. This was one of the top five hundred largest companies in the country. She was the lead attorney. She would argue their innocence. The trial was in six days. A lot had to be done. That convinced her.
She had to handle this today. Her husband could not get the kids ready for school two days in a row. He had meetings this week too.
Monica got out and locked her SUV. She walked fast to the school’s front door. She pulled on the handle. It was locked.
She turned around and scanned the parking lot. Empty parked cars were in it. Someone should drive up soon, she thought. Everyone could not be in already.
She turned around and looked through the window in the door. Someone was coming down the hall. The glass in the door distorted the person coming. She could not see if it was a man or a woman. It was just a figure that she could make out.
She stepped back as the person opened the door. A serious-looking and stoic woman in a flowered dress had opened it. It was Mrs. Dale. She was in her mid-forties. Her body was hard looking. It was that demeanor that made her an excellent assistant principal. Rumors were she would probably be promoted soon and given her own school.
Mrs. Dale gave Monica an inquisitive look. Monica was known as a tough and unshakable litigator. But Mrs. Dale’s presence and no-nonsense attitude even made her a bit uncomfortable. She would be a badass litigator, Monica thought.
“Mrs. Dale, you may not remember me,” Monica said. “But I’m Monica Jansen. My daughter attends here. She is Terra Jansen.”
Mrs. Dale squinted. Her face relaxed after a few seconds. “Yes, Mrs. Jansen,” Mrs. Dale said. “How can I help you?”
“I hate to ask you this,” Monica said. “But I need to see Mr. Teal.” Monica spoke quickly before Mrs. Dale could tell her that it was not school hours. She was not allowed in the building. “I know the policy. But this is very urgent. I know you hear that a lot. But I’m serious. I’ll even wait here, if you can just get Mr. Teal to come and talk with me for two minutes. That’s all I need. Please.”
Mrs. Dale sighed. This did happen a lot with parents. Everything was urgent. Normally, it was because their kid received a bad grade due to their actions. The parents, in hopes of having that grade changed, went begging to Mr. Teal for him to override the teacher. Mr. Teal’s standard answer was no. He would tell them the teacher had to rule the classroom. If not, the teacher would lose all authority over their classes.
“It’s not about my daughter,” Monica pleaded. “He’ll want to know this before anyone else does. I promise you. I need to let him know this.”
Mrs. Dale paused in silence at Monica’s statement. She looked around and outside. “Mrs. Jansen, let me escort you to his office,” Mrs. Dale said. She opened the door wider to let Monica in.
They walked down the hallway with a purpose.
“I love your dress,” Monica said. “That’s not a line because you’re helping me. I really like it. It looks great on you.” Mrs. Dale thanked her. “My clothes never fit that well. Then again, my body isn’t as fit as yours. Are you a runner?”
“I do jog twice a week,” Mrs. Dale said. “And, I lift weights. These kids will wear you down if you’re not prepared.” She gave Monica a semi-smile, without really smiling. “But, I have to be honest. I have a good tailor. You look like you have one too. Great suit.” Monica noticed that even Mrs. Dale’s compliment was to the point.
Monica was wearing a dark blue pantsuit. “She’s okay,” Monica said. “But I’d like your tailor’s name if you don’t mind sharing.” She told her she would give her the name on her way out. They were at Mr. Teal’s door. “Thank you.”
“I’m going to let you introduce yourself on this one,” Mrs. Dale said. Monica thanked her. “Don’t mention it.” Monica nodded. “Seriously, don’t mention it.” She gave Monica another smile that was not really a smile.
Monica stood outside Mr. Teal’s door and knocked.
He looked up from his desk. “Come in,” Mr. Teal said. Monica opened the door. He had already stood. When he saw Monica he went to the front of his desk and pulled a chair away from it for her. “Please, have a seat, Mrs. Jansen.”
Monica remembered he had one of the best memories for names and events. The man seemed not to forget anything. There was no way he could forget last night, Monica thought. She was also impressed with how his calm personality had returned. There was no sign of his aggressive personality from last night. Talk about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. She wanted to laugh. But she stopped herself.
“How can I help you?” Mr. Teal asked.
Monica was not sure how to start. “Do you mind closing the door?” she asked. He nodded and closed it. Then he sat behind his desk. He wore green slacks with a brown shirt and tie and sportscoat. He was not lean, but more of a granola body. She even liked his half-grown beard. He was kind of cute, boyish. That was one of the things she liked about him. “Are we good?” she asked.
“Pardon me?” he asked.
Monica was hoping he was not going to play games. The game was over. They both knew the secret. “Are we good with everything?” she asked.
He pursed his lips and paused. His eyes opened wide. “Yes,” he said. “You mean Terra. Absolutely. Her teacher, Mrs. Parker, is going to call you today. The makeup test is no problem. Terra didn’t tell Mrs. Parker that she was sick all week. And, the weekend before the test she was up all night. I commend Terra for trying to follow through. She should’ve let us know she was sick. She’s a great student. So, as I’ve said, we’re good.”
Monica swallowed. Something was not right. She stared at him. Her mouth was dry. “Uh,” Monica said. “Um.”
“Mrs. Jansen, are you okay?” he asked. He had gotten out of his chair and went to her. “Mrs. Jansen?”
Monica sighed. “I’m sorry,” she said. She was shaky. “I feel like a fool. We are okay. I’m so sorry…I wasted your time. I hate being one of those parents. I just feel so foolish. Barging in on your day like this. Thank you.” She stood. “Thank you for meeting with me.”
“And you’re okay?” he asked. “You look a little pale.”
“Yes,” she said. She checked her watch. “I need to get to work and let you do your work. Thank you again.” She shook his hand hard. “You have a nice day.”
“You, too,” he said.
Monica rushed out of his office and down the hallway. She was close to breaking out in a run. How stupid, she thought. What was she thinking? The man last night. His body…It was bigger. His arms. His chest. The way he held her. He was a bigger man. Possibly twenty pounds bigger. He did not have a beard. His face was smooth. Unbelievable.
The school’s front door was in sight. She felt ill and sped up. She needed to get to her car. The air outside would help her recover. She pushed the door open and rushed out.
Her phone dinged in her purse. It was a text. She took it out quickly and looked at it.
What are you doing? How are you this morning? You’re wild!
She ran toward her car. Her heel went sideways and off her foot. She left it and ran to the back of her car and threw up violently.
Monica was ready to put her mistake behind her. Then, she finds out her mistake was not with whom she thought. Or, was it?
Thank you for stopping by.
I’ll see you tomorrow.