On the road, Vanessa called her boss, explaining that she was stopping at the school to talk to the coach and administrators about Wendy. She hadn’t scheduled the appointment, wanting to catch them off guard. Something was going on there, and she intended to find out what. If Coach Bullock had been having an affair with Wendy, he might have done the same with other girls. Or boys. She wasn’t discounting that possibility. Most pedophiles preferred one gender or the other, but some were multi-purpose perverts. Bullock probably didn’t see himself as a pedophile, because the girls were teenagers, but he was still a predator. She wouldn’t tolerate that.
As she turned into the campus, the saw a bus taking students to the small, satellite college campus down the road. She’d forgotten that Aiden said Wendy had done dual enrollment. Making a note to talk to those people, too, she headed to the office. The receptionist didn’t balk when she flashed her badge. She put the call in to the principal and Coach Bullock. That would do for a start. She was a little surprised to have the school security officer, Mendez, arrive first.
“I’ll take you to the gym. Coach Bullock has class. I’ll watch the kids while you talk.”
“And Principal Harkness?”
“He’ll get there. He’s in a meeting.” He shrugged, rolling his eyes.
“He’s avoiding me.”
“Would he do that?” He winked at her.
They knew one another from the police force. He had taken the security officer position when he was injured on the job. Still a young man, he hadn’t wanted to quit entirely, and had found a good fit here.
“What do you think of Bullock?”
“Nessa, I really shouldn’t….”
She showed him the photo of Bullock touching Wendy’s ass. He pressed his lips together, rolling his eyes away.
“You aren’t surprised.”
“No. Disgusted, but not surprised.”
“He still doing that?”
“Not around me. I’ve heard rumors, but I can’t catch him at it. I approach students, but they won’t talk to me.”
“Is it just touching?”
“Not from what I’ve heard.”
“Rape?” she asked very quietly.
“Depends on how you define it. It’s sick and perverted, but supposedly consensual. Though how it can be when they’re mostly under eighteen, I don’t know. None of them will talk.”
“Maybe Wendy was going to.”
He stopped walking, moving to face her, stepping closer. “I’ve heard rumors, again, can’t prove anything, that there were some girls who were planning to come forward and talk.”
“Three? Four? Some have graduated, some still here. They were talking about a lawsuit. One of them got knocked up, and he paid for an abortion. It’s all hearsay, but I think it holds validity. I just can’t find the truth by myself. These kids don’t talk to me, except to tease or be insulting.”
Vanessa couldn’t help thinking that this might be what Aiden knew, and was keeping to himself. Perhaps she could enlist his help. Did she dare? Following Mendez, she asked a few more questions about his family, his job and made chitchat.
When they got to the door, he turned to her, with his hand on the bar. “What aren’t you telling me, Detective Weinstein?”
“I can’t talk about it here,” she said quietly. “When are you done here?”
“Around three—ish. I usually hang around until four. Why?”
“Come by the station when you’re through. We’ll talk.”
“You got it.” He opened the doors to the gym.
The smell of sweaty bodies assailed her. Taking a step back, she had to regroup.
“Something you aren’t telling me?” Mendez asked. “Like a tiny Weinstein on the way?
“How did you guess? I don’t really even show yet.”
“I have four kids, Nessa. I know the signs. Let me bring him to you.” Taking a step forward, he waved, whistling sharply.
Coach Bullock’s head snapped around. He’d been eyeing the girls playing basketball. Vanessa’s sharp eyes didn’t miss that. Nodding, he jogged across the floor. He was still fairly fit, though he was a solidly built man. He didn’t strike Vanessa as a golfer, more of a wrestler or football player. Mendez introduced them and invited them to step outside. Vanessa nodded her thanks. Bullock looked miffed, but followed her out. She could feel his eyes on her, and felt distinctly grubby as a result.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes