Jorge Martinez was gone.
Issues with Abe’s nose were resolved for the most part by the next day, a Friday, and when he got to first period Algebra, Jorge was absent so Abe asked his table if they’d seen him. Yesterday was still fresh in his mind.
Unfortunately, Lisa Lawless sat at Abe’s table. She talked non-stop. So did Jorge. Normally. “Jorge withdrew. Family problems. Custody issue is what I heard. Dad lives in Montana or something and he had to go back with him. Probably wanted to. He was like so angry about being here.”
She would keep rattling on if Mr. Z hadn’t started things. Abe was curious about the coincidence. Jorge was gone. The office people had talked about building a scaffold. Mr. Borland said he was as good as gone. The idea of the office doing this was so ludicrous, Abe couldn’t possibly talk with anyone about it. Not even his best friend, Ray Medina. Not yet.
Exactly one week later, Abe’s nose decided to have a relapse and he found himself again in the health room. Mr. Borland came back in the office and it felt like deja vu for Abe.
“I think it will work. I’ve tried it out and I think a body could swing from that rope with no problem,” Mr. Borland said.
“What about the base? Will that hold?” Mrs. Jensen asked.
“That’s easy. Concrete. It will be just fine. I tried it out too. It will be a cheap solution until we get to next year’s budget.”
Abe tuned in again. How in the world could the office have two conversations, a week apart, talking about hanging someone?
“Can that stand up to shoe’s kicking at it?” Mrs. Green asked.
Abe imagined someone with concrete around their feet so they would fall harder from the gallows. He winced. He had to stop thinking like this. It was an absurd idea that (A) couldn’t be pulled off in the modern world of law enforcement and (B) could never be pulled off at a school. The next thing he would hear, he was sure, was that the school sponsored a prison ship like they used in the 1800s. Yeah. Right.
“Sure. It works better than straight cinder blocks. I’ve used the same mold before as an anchor. It will be strong enough to withstand the kicking and still hold. You could send someone to the bottom of a lake with it.”
Just then Matt Lawson barged into the office yelling obscenities.
Mrs. Jensen looked over at Mr. Borland. “You could send anyone?”
Abe’s eyebrows shot up and he sucked in a breath involuntarily.
Within a week, Matt Lawson had been suspended. The word around school was that he wasn’t coming back. At lunch, Abe saw the school janitor bring in two cinder blocks with a foot of heavy rope between them. He couldn’t resist asking.
“Mr. Aimes, what are those for?”
“Ask too many questions, Abe, and you might find out. Are you sure you want that?” His smile was as disarming as his words were terrifying. “What if I told you we used these to sink naughty kids to the bottom of a pond?”
“Naw. I’m just kiddin’,” Mr. Aimes said. “But it could be a good way to take care of serious problems.” He winked and crossed the cafeteria with the blocks in tow.