Home > We Know It Was You (Strange Truth #1)

We Know It Was You (Strange Truth #1)
Author: Maggie Thrash


 

For Mr. Wayne Parker, a genius

 

 

It was very God-like, the thing she was doing.

And that meant it couldn’t be bad, right? If God was good, then anything done in imitation of God was also good. That’s what she reminded herself as she stared into the mascot’s bulging plastic eyes.

“You know what you have to do,” she said. “Trust your body; follow your mind.”

There was no reply. The mascot stood motionless under the locker room’s dingy fluorescent lights.

“Can you hear me?” She snapped her fingers and raised her voice. “Nod if you can hear me.”

The huge plastic wildcat head slumped forward on its shoulders, apparently nodding.

“All right, then . . . ,” she said, uncertain how to wrap things up. “Bye.” She gave the mascot a small wave and started walking toward the door. Then she turned back.

“You know . . . I wish this weren’t the end. Do you believe me when I say that?”

But instead of waiting for an answer, she turned her eyes away and left.

 

 

Friday

The football field, 8:55 p.m.

Gerard Cole was in love with the Montague twins, and not for the same dumb reason as everyone else. Obviously they were hot, their two mind-blowing bodies mirroring the perfection of each other. But they were also the nicest girls at Winship Academy. They were nice to everyone, even Gerard.

Angie Montague waved to him from the sidelines, where all the cheerleaders were stretching and drinking pink Gatorade. Gerard waved back, aware that a huge dumb grin was probably taking over his whole face. Being a water boy may have lacked prestige, but it more than made up for it in proximity to cheerleaders. In one month Gerard had talked to more girls than he had in his entire life. But the only ones he cared about were the twins.

They were both on the squad, but Angie was the real cheerleader. Brittany was the mascot. She spent every game stuffed inside an immense wildcat suit. It seemed like a crime to hide such a beautiful person inside an ugly, smelly costume, but Brittany never complained. She actually liked being the mascot. She always said it made her feel like “a big, cuddly stuffed animal.” The twins looked so much alike that this was the only time Gerard could ever tell them apart: Brittany was the one with the enormous, toothy cat head. He didn’t like thinking of them as individuals, though. He was always relieved at the end of the games when Brittany emerged from the mascot suit, unrecognizable from her sister once again.

Gerard looked around, expecting to find Brittany bouncing around, doing her usual routine. Instead, he saw her on the bench by herself. She was just sitting there, the bulbous wildcat head drooping a little on her shoulders. Gerard squinted, noticing the bulging nose and comically huge eyes, which suddenly didn’t seem so comical. They seemed . . . Gerard didn’t know what. A little weird. He looked around. No one else had noticed Brittany’s uncharacteristic lack of energy. He shrugged to himself and turned his eyes back to Angie—lovely Angie, with her bright smile and white-and-blue pom-poms.

The pep band, 9:05 p.m.

The problem wasn’t a lack of mysteries. Mysteries were everywhere, and Benny Flax knew this to be true. The problem was a lack of people who cared.

Most of the clubs at Winship Academy were stupid and based on either the consolidation of social power (School Spirit Club, the Young Republicans) or the padding of college applications with bogus interests (Nature Club, History of Barbeque Club). Benny had to fulfill the after-school activity requirement somehow, so he’d started his own club, a mystery-solving club that he called, unimaginatively, Mystery Club. He’d always been interested in puzzles and games and documentaries about unsolved crimes. What wasn’t interesting about a mystery? Every day, someone, somewhere, was getting away with something. How did they do it? What really happened? Questions like these consumed him.

When he’d founded the club, he’d expected to be inundated with inquiries about all the unexplained stuff that happened all the time. Who’s been sending dick pics to my private e-mail? Who stole my lunch card and charged thirty cinnamon rolls? Who wrote SKANKY YANKEE on the new girl’s locker? There was always something weird going on at Winship, but people just accepted the unknowns in their lives; they shrugged and moved on. It wasn’t like in the movies where the detective sits back and desperate people throng him with their problems. Benny had quickly realized that if he wanted to solve life’s mysteries, he’d have to find them himself, and no one would actually thank him for it.

We sound really awful, Benny thought, trying to sync his flute melody with the severely off-tempo snare drum. Their conductor, Mr. Choi, hadn’t even bothered to show up to the game, which meant the marching band sounded even worse than usual. The frazzled assistant was shouting, “Halftime! Don’t leave your instruments on the ground, please! They’ll get stolen. Right, Scooby?”

Benny looked up, embarrassed. Were even teachers calling him Scooby now? He hated that nickname. It was infantilizing and undermined the legitimacy of Mystery Club. He gritted his teeth. “Right . . . ,” he managed.

Last year Shelly Jenner’s French horn had been stolen from the band room. Benny had jumped on the case immediately, not that Shelly had asked him to. In fact, she’d seemed kind of embarrassed by Benny’s interest and said she’d rather just buy a new horn than make a big deal of it. But Benny persisted and ultimately caught the thief—a moronic eighth grader who thought he could melt the horn down to gold. Benny hoped, after this, that people would finally start to take Mystery Club seriously. But the only change was that now everyone called him Scooby-Doo.

Benny shouldn’t have been surprised. He’d always been, if not quite ostracized, vaguely dismissed by his classmates. He was one of few Jews in a school where 90 percent of the student body were members of FCA, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Most Jews in Atlanta sent their kids to the Jewish Academy or to Pace, which had more diversity and a better reputation for tolerance. But Winship had offered the best scholarship, so Winship was his cross to bear. And while he didn’t particularly covet a place among their popular ranks, being called Scooby-Doo was annoying. People already treated him like a kid because he didn’t have a car; he didn’t need a nickname from a little kids’ cartoon on top of that. Besides, Fred and Velma were the ones who actually solved mysteries on that show. Scooby was just a foolish nuisance who compulsively snacked and freaked out at the slightest provocation.

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