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Blood & Bourbon

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Story Two, Victoria III

“I wish things had turned out differently. But heads were goin’ to roll after what happened…”
Diana Flores


Monday afternoon, 31 August 2015

GM: Monday rolls around. Anna meets Sylvia outside McGehee, dressed in nicer work clothes. She grouses about feeling fatter, but says getting to sleep in was nice.

She looks sad to be back at her now-former workplace, but heads in with her ‘lawyer.’

Sylvia’s seen the school in passing, a few times she’s been in the Garden District. It looks the same as any other picturesque home in the neighborhood. It’s surrounded by the same historic Antebellum and Victorian mansions, the same pristine gardens, and the same thick canopy of live oaks, evergreens, and willows that keeps the district as green as its namesake. The only giveaway that Anna has reached the school is how long the property’s cast-iron fence stretches.

Unlike other schools, whose sprawling complexes of buildings are obvious from afar, McGehee seems to have been worked into the historic neighborhood as unobtrusively as possible. The only giveaways as to its presence, besides the longer fence and the half-visible tops of a slide and jungle gym, is the presence of two gates into the property rather than just one. A red canopy over the left entrance reads in white font, Louise S. McGehee—Founded 1912—Honor, Service, Leadership.


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The Bradish Johnson House, which serves at the school’s main building, resembles a preserved historic house more than an office where one expects to find school administration at work. Balconies extend underneath the second-story windows, while benches and tables are set out across the carefully manicured lawn. They look like good spots for the home’s residents to sit down at and enjoy a glass of sweet tea to cool off a hot afternoon. The ‘office’ itself is built in the Greek Revival style popular throughout many other homes Anna has seen in the Garden District, with tall Corinthian pillars and uniform white paint.

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At 1 PM there’s a lot of girls sitting around the greenery eating lunch. A few wave hi to “Miss Perry.” Some remark on not seeing her today. Anna smiles and waves back, but declines to answer why.

GM: The pair head to a conference room in the Bradish Johnson House. They’re ‘greeted’ there by Headmistress Strong, a woman in her later middle years with prominent lines around her neck and cheeks. Her dark blonde hair is cut relatively short, and she wears a white skirtsuit with a pearl necklace, matching earrings, and low-rimmed glasses.

“I’m so glad we could all make it,” she smiles at them.

Her smile looks the way it sounded over the phone. Unfailingly polite, but without warmth towards either of the two.

There’s also a middle-aged man in a darker suit who Sylvia can only presume to be an attorney. He and Strong say they are prepared to extend Anna two weeks’ salary for her severance. One week per year she’s worked at the school, which they consider generous, seeing as Anna had not yearned tenure at McGehee, and is not entitled to severance. Anna is also required to sign an agreement that she will not file suit against McGehee or publicly speak about the circumstances of her firing.

Victoria: Sylvia dresses her very best, her outfit just as in place ‘representing’ Anna in McGehee as it would be presenting a case before the Supreme Court. She keeps Anna moving despite the inquisitive students, ensuring she carries the frigidly professional air of someone billing by the hour who wants to ensure value is received by their client.

“Lovely,” she answers the headmistress, a curtly formal smile on her lips.

“Ms. Perry is amicable to a legal agreement formalizing her silence in the circumstances of her firing, so long as you agree to present any future prospects she may have the highest recommendation possible. You’ll find your reasoning for why she was let go, and relay how dearly you wish you could have kept her under employment.”

She takes a breath.

“Further, she’ll accept no less than four weeks of severance. Surely, the sum is a trifle for the deep coffers of such a renowned academy.”

GM: “I am not in the habit of telling lies to fellow employers,” Headmistress Strong replies to Sylvia’s first demand with the same impeccable smile.

Anna keeps her face composed.

But Sylvia can see in her eyes how much those words sting.

The four negotiate back and forth. Strong only wants to give two weeks’ severance. Her mind is clearly made up, and she’s confident with the school’s lawyer present. Sylvia pushes anyway. The headmistress pushes back. Anna does her best to self-advocate, too.

In the end, the headmistress says she will agree to three weeks’ severance, and no more. She will not provide any job references to Anna.

Victoria: Sylvia isn’t content with the outcome, but pushing this too far is set to lose them everything.

“Mrs. Strong, the notion that Anna was in any way culpable for what happened is—to put it simply—laughable. She received every necessary approval for her students to visit the LaLaurie home. You providing a recommendation for her wouldn’t not only _not_be a lie; it would be due diligence. That said, I see that you won’t be budging, and neither of this want to see the cheery light of a courtroom. We’ll take your three weeks.”

GM: “Splendid,” smiles the headmistress.

The school’s lawyer produces an official-looking agreement. Anna and Sylvia read it over. It’s full of legalese, but looks like it does what Strong said: Anna waives her right to file suit against the school and is under a gag about the circumstances of her firing.

Anna signs her name. The headmistress offers her that same warmthless PR smile.

“I wish you well in your future endeavors, Miss Perry.”

Anna doesn’t reply.

Victoria: Neither does Sylvia. She does, however, shake their hands.

She guides Anna out the door, taking a copy of the document, saying nothing at all. Not a word. It isn’t until they reach Sylvia’s car that she finally reaches out and rubs Anna’s shoulder.

“We got more than they were going to give. That’s something, considering I’m not actually your fucking lawyer!

GM: Anna looks glum as they depart the building. She puts on a smiling face for the students she recognizes, though there aren’t many. It looks as if classes have resumed.

Sylvia’s excitement, though, manages to make her smile again.

“You’re right. We got three weeks of pay, when you’re not even a lawyer. That is something…”

Victoria: Sylvia is a veritable star of excitement, grinning ear to ear.

“They were never going to give you anything on the legal front, and my bluff would’ve been called if we tried! But hey, a bit of cash is something, right? Come on. Lunch. Celebration. I’m buying. You’re drinking. Yes, more. Yes, we’re getting an appetizer. Yes, we’re getting dessert. No, you don’t have a say. No, I won’t accept complaining.”

GM: Anna smiles wider at Sylvia’s plans for the celebratory lunch. Her friend’s enthusiasm is truly infectious.

Plus, it’s not like she has a say. Sylvia said so.

“Yes, mistress,” she replies in that same sing-song voice as last night.

She glances back at the school.

“I need to pick up my things, still.”

“But…” she sighs, “…I really don’t want to. I don’t want people to see me leaving with a box, in the middle of the school day. Would you mind…?”

Victoria: She shakes her head.

“Not at all, as long as they’ll let me into the building. Where are your things?”

GM: “It’s not locked,” says Anna, “you should be able to just wander in.”

“And it’s the building we just went into,” she says. She provides a room number on the second floor.

Victoria: “All right, all right. Wait here. Don’t go wandering off.”


Monday afternoon, 31 August 2015

Victoria: Sylvia leaves the car keys with Anna just in case, hops out, and walks back to the building they just left. Sylvia is cautious, trying to avoid running into the headmistress and her lawyer again, lest they ask questions.

GM: Sylvia hasn’t been to Anna’s classroom before. She might not be sure what she expected, but the room is completely empty and bare of personality. There’s no posters or pictures or anything. Just the absolute essentials of chairs and desks, and a computer on the teacher’s desk, which is also empty. There’s a post-it on the computer that reads,

Holding onto your things in my office! Wasn’t sure how fast they were going to clean out your room. Swing by anytime. I’m so sorry…
—Diana


Victoria: Sylvia reads the note and pockets it. Of course retrieving Anna’s things isn’t simple, but at the very least they haven’t been thrown out.

She pokes her head out the door, listening for nearby activity, then walks down the hallway in search of a teacher not in class with students.

GM: There aren’t many of those, but she hears crying as she passes a restroom.

Victoria: She listens for a moment.

GM: She hears more crying. The voice sounds higher-pitched and young.

Victoria: Sylvia enters, her voice soothing.

“Hey… you okay?”

GM: She sees a short and thin pair of legs from under one of the stalls.

“Wh… who’re you?” asks a girl’s voice, immediately wary.

Sniffs continue to sound past the stall door.

Victoria: “Just a kind passerby who heard someone in need. You okay?”

GM: There’s a pause, marked by further sniffling, and then the voice resumes crying.

“No. No. I’m n… not.”

Victoria: “Why don’t you come out? I’m not going to hurt you. My name’s Sylvia.”

GM: There’s a pause, then the door opens. The girl on the other side looks around middle school age. She’s thin, with plain and mousy facial features, and messy neck-length black hair. She has a red pimple on her right cheek, and her eyes are also red and puffy from crying. She’s dressed in the school uniform of white blouse and plaid green skirt.

She looks up at Sylvia warily.

Victoria: She offers the girl a somber, sympathetic smile.

“Looks like you’re not having a great day either.”

Either.

“Do you want to share what happened? I’m not going to be around to judge, but I might leave you with a nugget of advice.”

GM: The girl takes that in, then starts crying again.

“She w-was my f-friend, and she’s g-gone…”

Victoria: “She’s… gone? Who’s gone, dear? What’s your name?”

GM: “An-d-d I wasn’t n-nice to h-her…”

“M-Miran-da…”

Victoria: “Where did Miranda go?”

GM: That question makes the girl cry harder.

“I’M M-Miran-d-da, I’m M-Mir-an-da, wh-at are y-you, stupi…”

Victoria: Sylvia shakes her head, unable to prevent the smile. “I thought you meant Miranda was your friend. Where did your friend go?”

She wants to hug her—to stroke her hair, and give her all the little, light physical reassurances one gives those they care for—but knows better than to do that to a stranger in a school.

GM: Miranda looks very lonely standing and crying in the middle of the cold bathroom.

“I h-hate it h-here, I h-hate it… they’re all g-gonna blame, m-me…”

Victoria: “Shhh… Sweetie, no one will blame you. Where did your friend go?”

GM: “Y-YES TH-THEY ARE,” Miranda yells, “th-they’re all in the h-hospi…!”

Victoria: Oh. The news.

“Honey, that’s not your fault. It’s simply not.”

A pause.

“Why don’t you ask your mom to take you to visit them? You can bring them something to make them feel better!”

GM: Miranda cries even louder.

“I’m n-n-n-ever gon-n-na s-see my-y mom ag-gain…!”

Victoria: Oh. Maybe the wrong choice.

“What about your dad?”

GM: “My dad t-t-took me a-w-way…”

“He t-took me h-here, I do-on’t wan-na be h-here, I wan-na go h-home…”

Victoria: “Shhh… It’s okay, it’s okay. Let it out.”

The drive to hug her is driving her crazy, but the last thing she wants is a lawsuit. She can see it in the headlines now.

‘Local Dominatrix Found Practicing On Underage Girls’

No thanks, NOLA.

“Where is home?”

GM: Miranda lets it out. She looks little cheered. She looks absolutely miserable.

“Ch-Chic-ag… m-my mom h-hates me… sh-she d-doesn’t, wh-when I c-call…”

Victoria: “Your mother doesn’t hate you,” she croons. “She could never hate you. Sometimes… You have to move places we don’t want to, but you’ll have a good life here. This is a great school.”

She has to bite back bile.

GM: Miranda looks completely unassured and continues crying.

Victoria: She offers the girl a hand, and if taken, guides her out of the bathroom.

“Come here. Ms. Perry’s classroom is empty, and I don’t imagine they’ll be taking it over today. It’ll give you a private place to sit, talk, and let it out.”

GM: Miranda looks at the hand for a moment, then desperately latches on. Sylvia’s reminded of that first hug with her mom. Not even caring what Mary was saying or whether she was lying, just wanting that contact.

“I d-don’t want an-nyone to see me l-like…” says Miranda, slowing as Sylvia starts to leave.

Victoria: “Shhh… wait here just a moment.”

She keeps her hand, leaning out to check the hallway.

GM: It looks empty.

Victoria: “Quickly now, dear. There’s no one there if you hurry.”

GM: Miranda hurries, covering her face with a hand. Her cheeks are red.

Victoria: She guides Miranda across the hall, back to Anna’s classroom, pulling out her phone as she does.

Dealing w upset student. Miranda? Yours? May need.

GM: Don’t have a Miranda, what do you need?

Take as long as you need with her!

Victoria: Idk. She was crying. Felt right.

GM: Poor girl!

Sylvia finds texting with one hand to be quite cumbersome.

Victoria: She slips her phone away, shutting the door behind them and finding a pair of seats.

“Come here,” she offers, both arms out. “You don’t have to talk. You don’t have to explain. Just take a hug if you want and let it out.”

GM: Miranda takes the hug and bawls into Sylvia’s chest. She makes out bits and pieces about hospitals, jail, hating it here, wishing her mom would take her back, being a terrible friend, not hanging out, messing up everything, and doing nothing right.

Victoria: As productive as she’s sure the girl’s rambling is supposed to be, she knows what it’s like to be in that place. The most valuable thing she can give is this hug, and the knowledge that someone in this world cares.

GM: Miranda finally pulls away once her tears are spent, dabbing at her eyes.

Victoria: “I’m sorry that you’re going through what you are, Miranda. Life is hard, even so young.”

Sylvia pauses.

“Your friends will be okay. The doctors are giving them the best care. The parents of kids here? They’ll take nothing less.”

GM: “No she won’t,” Miranda says miserably. “My dad says she’s going to jail.”

“Even if she wakes up.”

Victoria: She cups her cheek with a hand, stroking with her thumb.

“The thing about this world? You’ve got to keep the faith that it’ll get better, and do what you can to make it that way. Doesn’t matter if that faith is in God, or your friends, or yourself. Your friend is probably scared right now, right? Just like you. Maybe… There’s something you can do for her?”

GM: “Weren’t you listening? She’s in a coma,” Miranda says, voice equal parts flat and glum.

“My dad says she’s taking the fall.”

Victoria: “And how will she feel when she wakes up if she knows that you came to see her anyway? They say you can still hear, in a coma.”

GM: “My dad says I can’t.”

Victoria: She offers her a more sympathetic look.

“He’s protecting you.”

GM: Miranda doesn’t respond to that.

Victoria: She returns to silence for a long minute.

“Shitty Monday for both of us,” she muses to no one in particular.

GM: “I guess,” says Miranda.

Victoria: She pats her back.

“I know I’m spouting what probably sounds like bullshit. It’s true, though. Just try and find the positive point in things, and make it brighter.”

GM: Miranda gives her a dull look.

“That’s stupid.”

Victoria: You’re stupid, you little cunt.

“Maybe, but when you’re surrounded by shit, it’ll keep you sane.”

Maybe she’ll play her Gameboy later. It still works, two visits to the repair shop later.

GM: Miranda wipes her eye.

“I should g-go.”

Victoria: “Chin up.”

Who the fuck says that anymore?

Omw.

GM: Miranda pushes open the classroom door and leaves.

Victoria: Wait. I still need your shit. Where is Diana’s room?

GM: Anna asks why she’s asking, but provides a room number in the Fine Arts Building.

How’d things go with the student?

Victoria: Eh. Not planning kids anytime soon.

Sylvie leaves the building, looking for signs for the Fine Arts Building.

GM: I’d love ‘em, but I’m a teacher.

She finds none, though there is a map on the first floor. It’s adjacent to the building she’s in.

Victoria: Lovely. She follows the map to the building next door, looking for the room number Anna mentioned.

Why’s you being a teacher mean you can’t have kids?

GM: Oh didn’t mean that lol. I’d love to have kids

I meant that’s no surprise from me. Dunno who goes into teaching if they don’t like kids

Victoria: People who like making kids miserable? Seems to be popular in public schooling.

GM: Eh that has a lot more to do with systemic problems. Teachers on the ground usually want to do what they can to help

Overhead, the school bell rings. Girls start leaving classrooms.

Victoria: She’s still looking for the room number.

GM: There’s a lot of chattering students to navigate through, but she finds it soon enough in the next building.

Victoria: With the students no longer a worry about interrupting, she knocks on the door and peeks in.

“Diana?”

GM: The classroom inside is a wide open space with a mirror along one of the walls. No one’s around, though there’s an open door to what looks like a smaller office space.

“Is someone there?” calls a woman’s voice from it.

Victoria: “Mhmmm,” she calls back.

“I’m here for Ms. Perry’s things. Don’t worry—she’s in my car. Not going to toss them.”

GM: “Can you come inside, please? It’s a bad idea for me to get up right now,” calls the woman.

Victoria: She enters the room, looking around.

GM: There’s not far to look around. It’s a standard office room with a desk and computer. There’s lots of childrens’ pictures on the desk, pink decor, and variously ballet- and cat-themed posters. The woman sitting behind the desk looks in her 40s and wears her age well, with a toned figure, vibrant complexion, and sandy blonde hair in a bob cut. She’s dressed in a floral-printed white dress, pearl earrings, and pink heels.

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“I have a bum leg that’s actin’ up,” the woman offers by way of explanation, rubbing her thigh. “I don’t think I caught your name, Miss…?”

Victoria: “St. George,” she answers. “Sylvia St. George. I won’t bother you long; just long enough to carry out Anna’s things. I can get her on the phone if you want to verify I’m not stealing.”

GM: “Oh! No, that’s fine. I doubt anyone would go to this much trouble, or really any trouble, to steal her breath mints and aspirin,” Diana chuckles, nodding towards a box at the foot of her desk. “Are you a friend of hers?”

Victoria: She nods, holding her hand out to shake.

“Since college, yeah! There’s no one like Anna in the world.”

She glances to the door, ensuring no one else popped in behind her.

“Do you believe her? That she’s innocent?”

GM: Diana shakes Sylvia’s hand back. Like most women’s handshakes, it’s a soft shake, not like the dominatrix’s.

“Yes, she’s a wonderful teacher,” Diana smiles, not without sadness. “A lot of the staff here are goin’ to miss her.”

Victoria: “Yeah… I didn’t come here expecting much to change, nor for the headmistress to admit any wrongdoing. I know how life works around places like this,” she says, gesturing vaguely about.

Rich people, she means. How life might be different if she were born to a family with money. She might even have been kept, even if she wasn’t desired.

GM: “I wish things had turned out differently,” Diana says, the sadness on her face deepening. “But heads were goin’ to roll after what happened… the girls’ mom and grandpa were on the Board of Trustees, after all.”

“I hope she goes back into teaching. I really do. There are so many kids whose lives would be enriched by havin’ her as an educator. There’s so much burnout in this profession…”

Victoria: “Me too. I’ll take care of Anna for a while. As long as while as she needs. She’ll need other friends, though, if she’s to be the best she can.”

Sylvia takes the box in hand.

“So call her, would you?”

GM: “I’m glad she has you,” says Diana. “I can’t imagine how this must feel after callin’ off her engagement… I’m sure you know all about that.”

“And I’ll be sure to!” she nods at Sylvia’s question. “I’d figured she was goin’ to stop by today.”

Victoria: “Yeah, I was the first person she called…” Sylvie laments. “Oooh, the things I wanted to do to that man for what he did to her!”

She turns to leave for the door, but pauses, turning back on heel.

“Hey, Diana… you and her must have a fairly good relationship if you thought to save her things, and I care for her more than anyone else in the world. Is there any more advice you have? I don’t know the first thing about helping her find another job, and I’m not going to leave her to do it alone.”

GM: Diana pauses for a moment, then says slowly,

“I would not hold out a lot of hope there. At least at a good school.”

Victoria: Sylvia’s lips fall to a morose line.

“I tried to secure a recommendation to avoid that…”

“I won’t ask you to provide one. Not at the cost of your job.”

GM: Headmistress Strong seemed a lot more willing to pay out extra than provide a recommendation.

“Oh. Of course she can use me for a reference, it’s the least I can do,” says Diana.

“It just… probably won’t be enough, here. I’m only a teacher.”

Victoria: “Maybe. It might also get you fired, if the headmistress hears.”

She shrugs.

“I have other ideas, but…”

They both know that there isn’t much hope for Anna in the teaching industry. With the sweep of a single girl’s hand casting mistakes about, so many lives are ruined.

“Call her soon, please. She’ll appreciate it.”

She turns to leave.

GM: “I don’t think it’d get me fired,” says Diana. “It’s just that, against…”

She trails off.

“Would it be welcome if I brought cookies, to her house?” she asks. “Or would just a call be better, you think?”

Victoria: She nods vigorously.

“Cookies would be lovely.”

More for Sylvia.

GM: “Satisfyin’ a sweet tooth rarely isn’t,” Diana chuckles. “All right, you have a good day, now!”

Victoria: She curls her fingers after Diana, and turns to leave. Back to the car!

GM: The box is full of a teacher’s probably typical supplies. Post-it notes, aspirin bottle, USB drive, tampons, deodorant, hand sanitizer, headphones, non-perishable snacks, a change of clothes, umbrella, some spare cash, blank birthday card, tissues, paper towels, breath mints, water bottle, phone charger, pens and pencils, folder marked ‘happy folder’ with a smiley face on it.

All the little things on needs one needs to make oneself at home at work, tidily packed away in a cardboard box to cart out when you’re fired.

Victoria: She manages to hold the box on one arm, flipping open the ‘happy folder’ as she walks.

GM: It’s full of cards and handwritten letters. Many of them start with some variation of ‘thanks’ or ‘congratulations.’ They read as if they’re from former students or parents of students.

Victoria: “Poor Anna…”

She shakes her head, and continues back to the car.

GM: Anna’s waiting in the car, scrolling through her phone. She accepts the box with a sad look.

“Thanks.”

She looks at it, sniffs, then takes out one of the tissues to dab her nose and eyes.

Victoria: She smiles an answer, but remains silent otherwise. She opens the door to the back seat, setting the box inside.

GM: Anna’s tearing up a bit as she reaches for another tissue.

“I’m really gonna m-miss it. It was such a great place to work. My kids and co-workers were s-so nice.”

Victoria: She pulls Anna into a tight hug, crushing the life out of her, and the sadness with it.

“I know, Anna. I know.”

She runs her fingers through her hair.

“I know, and you’ll mourn, but you’ll find something new to love.”

GM: “I h-hope so,” says Anna, returning Sylvia’s embrace. “I really do…”

The hug may not crush all of the sadness out.

But it gets some out.


Saturday night, 5 September 2015, PM

Victoria: Much to Sylvia’s displeasure, she can’t shirk her business entirely to pass the days with Anna, but each day and night—once clients have been catered to—she returns to Anna’s place carrying some new meal, snack, or other novel car accident for both their weight and health.

Just shy of a week later, the pair sit in Anna’s apartment shortly after sundown. This Saturday night, Sylvia seems to have learned a lesson, as the two are munching on a simple salad. No dressing. No croutons. No cheese. Just lettuce, sliced tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers. It’s bland, but a refreshing break from their hedonistic culinary adventures the rest of the week.

Sylvia sets her fork down.

“Anna…”

GM: They could use bland. Anna says she feels fatter. Those extra chocolate chip browned butter cookies Diana brought over were delicious, and made her tear up over how someone at McGehee really cared, but they didn’t help make her feel less fat.

Anna’s filed for unemployment. She kind of hasn’t felt like job hunting right now.

“Yeah?” she asks, munching on the bland fare.

Victoria: Anna knows that Sylvia will care for her without a job. Sylvia knows that Anna won’t allow it. Neither of them broach the subject.

“We agreed not to take anything around your forced exit to court, and I don’t intend to break that. I don’t want to let that be the end. I want to understand what happened.”

GM: “They can take me to court, if we try to do that,” says Anna. “But okay… what do you want to know?”

Victoria: Over the next hour, Sylvia asks her exactly what happened that led to the tragedy at and after the LaLaurie House. She has Anna trace the origins of the project, the paths they followed to ensure they had the right to be on the property, the reports on what happened at the property, what she knows of the wounds, what she’s heard from the girls, and what she knows of what happened at the police station.

GM: Anna tells her everything about the class project and Amelie Savard’s time at McGehee.

Amelie and Yvette Devillers were the ones on the project. The LaLaurie House was owned by Whitney Hancock Bank after Rick Towers lost it. Yvette was friends with Sarah Whitney, who asked her grandfather Layman (the retired CEO for Whitney Hancock) to get her friends into the house. Lyman asked an executive at the bank, who arranged for Amelie and Yvette to be given a tour and have the house to themselves for a night. The Devillers family signed an agreement making them liable for any damages to the historic property.

Anna is less sure of exactly what happened at the LaLaurie House the night everything went wrong. That was a Friday night and the school fired her on Sunday. She didn’t have any contact with the girls’ families. She knows as much from the news as Sylvia does.

From what the news says, the girls were arrested for causing damages to the property, then shot at the police station by Richard Gettis after their parents showed up to spring them out. Sarah Whitney and Amelie Savard are both in comas.

Mitchel Lowenstein, one of the parents’ lawyers, of course, is dead.

“They did lie about the number of girls, at the minimum,” sighs Anna. “It was supposed to be just Amelie and Yvette. And they turned it into this giant slumber party with a bunch more girls…”

Anna has heard nothing from the girls. She’s talked with some of her co-workers. Amelie Savard, she’s heard, has been expelled from McGehee.

Another name that’s big in the news is the Malveaux family’s. Caroline Malveaux, daughter of Senator Nathan Malveaux, is celebrated for having administered life-saving first aid to the shot girls at the police station.

Victoria: Sylvia listens coolly.

The LaLaurie House earns her interest immediately, as Anna’s tales of history often do. She can be enthralling when the teacher loses herself regaling a subject.

Sylvia asks for more detail on the history of the home, once the transition of ownership and details of permissions attained are finished.

She’s sympathetic when Anna explains she isn’t sure what happened, but doesn’t press further. She was there with her, and doesn’t want to open a still-fresh wound.

Once all is said and done, Sylvia tries to put the whole story together.

“They were shot after being arrested?”

It doesn’t make sense; not if the officers at the station are of a sound mind. She’s questioned that before, but shooting underage girls? It doesn’t add up.

“I don’t get it. Was he upset that they were being broken free? He of all people should know that the world isn’t fair, but they’re underage. It isn’t like some monkey robbed Grandma Beth and was marched out of prison unscuffed by a man in a clean suit.”

Sylvia is in disbelief.

“It doesn’t make sense that an officer would shoot someone in custody, with lawyers and parents in the room. They’re brazen, and they’re corrupt, but this? It’s career suicide and actual suicide. He won’t see a day outside prison once they get him, if they let him live at all.”

She shakes her head.

“They’re blessed that Ms. Malveaux was there to save them.”

GM: “Yes, they were,” Anna nods. “I don’t know what to tell you, as far as the police… I don’t know why one of them would do something like that. He must have been crazy!”

Victoria: “I wonder if he’s still in the… you don’t think the police are protecting him, do you? Do you think they’re in on it?”

Sylvia leans back into the couch, pressing her hands to her face, then running her fingers through her hair.

“Stupid girls. Why would they damage the house? I wonder if they were drinking.”

GM: “A bunch of teen girls all having a slumber party in haunted house together?” Anna says. She sounds more sad than wry. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”

“I don’t see why the police would protect one crazy detective, though… the Whitney and Devillers families have a lot of money.”

“And they must be out for blood, after this.”

Victoria: “I wouldn’t be surprised if they families had him caught off the books, and he’s in pieces in a basement somewhere.”

GM: Anna manages a smile. “I don’t think that’s how it usually works.”

Victoria: “If you had all the resources in the world, and your daughter was in critical condition because one cop had a tantrum… wouldn’t you?”

Maybe. Maybe not. Sylvia would.

GM: “I hope not. I’d just want to make the police catch him and throw the book at him.”

Victoria: She glances to the door. Locked. Good.

GM: Anna glances at it after her.

Victoria: “You don’t think you’ll get pulled into this whole mess, do you? You’ve been through enough. I can’t see them blaming you further, but I can see them trying.”

GM: Anna looks slightly worried. “Pulled in how?”

Victoria: “I don’t know.”

She reaches over, rubbing her knee.

“I wouldn’t worry about it.”

Best not to concern her further.

GM: “Oh. I heard back from the Ursuline Academy. No openings, which wasn’t a surprise.”

Anna gives a glum look.

“They also said I shouldn’t bother applying for next year.”

Victoria: Sylvia’s lips turn up in one corner, a somberly sympathetic smile.

“Anna…”

GM: She sighs and leans back against the couch.

“I know. There’s other schools.”

Victoria: “There are, and if not…”

The subject neither wants to broach. Sylvia won’t let her fall.


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