Seconds Away Page 50

I had to do something, and the answer was suddenly obvious.

Scarface’s gun.

It was in his back pocket. If I could just reach . . .

Sunglasses saw what I was going to do. He smiled down at me and lined up for another kick, one that would probably finish me off, but suddenly the air was shattered by the sound of an alarm.

“Lockdown!” a voice over the loudspeaker intoned. “Lockdown . . . Lockdown!”

Ema! That was why she had rolled into the classroom—to hit the panic button Spoon had told us about. The distraction was all I needed. With one last grunt I reached over and grabbed the gun from Scarface’s back pocket. I pulled for it, but it wouldn’t come out. Sunglasses looked back over at me. He reeled back for another kick, but it wasn’t in time.

I freed the gun and pointed it at him. “Freeze!”

Sunglasses stopped and slowly put his hands above his head. I crawled away, keeping the gun on him, making sure I was far enough from Scarface too.

The loudspeaker kept going: “Lockdown . . . Lockdown . . .”

Ema ran back out into the hallway and knelt down next to Spoon.

“Spoon? Arthur?” Her voice was a tearful plea. She cradled his head. “Talk to me, okay? Please?”

She was crying. I was crying. But Spoon didn’t move.

I could hear sirens approaching in the distance. I turned and looked at Scarface and Sunglasses. Part of me hoped that they would make a move, because I wanted to shoot them for what they’d done.

They must have seen my face and knew. Neither moved.

I looked over at Ema. “Is he . . . ?”

“I don’t know, Mickey. I don’t know.”

Chapter 39

I don’t know how many hours passed.

When the cops showed, they surrounded me and told me to put down the gun. I did. The rest was just a murky haze. Sunglasses and Scarface were cuffed. Paramedics rushed over to Spoon. Ema sat, cradling his head, trying to stop the flow of blood. I ran toward him too because for a moment, a very brief moment, I feared one of the paramedics would be the sandy-haired paramedic who took away my father. I feared that he would wheel Spoon out of there and I’d never see him again.

“Mickey, what have you done?”

That voice, I knew, came from deep inside of me. I had been warned, hadn’t I? Detective Waters had told me in no uncertain terms not to get involved, but I hadn’t listened. It would have been one thing to put my life at risk. But look what I had done to Spoon.

I don’t think I will ever forgive myself.

I don’t know how many cops showed up. I remember the flashing lights from a long line of emergency vehicles slicing through the still night air. For the next several hours—I cannot tell you how many—I answered questions. I kept asking only one in return, over and over:

How is he?

But they wouldn’t tell me about Spoon’s condition.

For the most part, I told the truth, but when they asked, “How did you guys get into the school?” I lied and said, “I forced open the door.”

“Kid,” the cop said to me in a grave voice, “breaking into the school is the least of your friend’s problems.”

Several officers came in and out, including Chief Taylor and even Detective Waters. The mood of the officers swung between pissed and pleased—pissed because we had been foolhardy and gotten Spoon shot; pleased because we had cracked the case of who shot Mrs. Caldwell and Rachel. Two hardened criminals had been apprehended and were going to jail for a long time. The surveillance cameras would see to that, plus the guns they used were Smith & Wesson .38s—the same kind used to shoot Mrs. Caldwell and Rachel.

At some point, Uncle Myron showed up. He took on the dual roles of panicked guardian and attorney. He immediately told me to stop talking to the police. But I waved him off. They needed to know. So instead Myron sat next to me and listened too.

The last person to interrogate me was Detective Waters. When he finished, I said, “Does this help your other case?”

“What case?”

“Mr. Caldwell. He’s a drug dealer, right?”

Detective Waters glanced at Myron, then back at me. “That isn’t your concern.”

“Are you going to arrest him?”

“On what charge?”

I stared at him. “I just told you. The stuff in that gym bag—”

“What about it?”

“It came from his house.”

“Do you have any proof? How are we going to prove any of that stuff belonged to Henry Caldwell? Maybe if you’d left it there and told us about it, maybe something could have been done. But now?”

He shook his head and walked out the door.

By the time Ema and I met up in the hospital waiting room, the sun was up. Uncle Myron and Angelica Wyatt had wanted to take us home, but we were not about to abandon Spoon. We sat in the waiting room. Ema and I were in one corner. Angelica Wyatt, decked out in sunglasses and a head scarf for disguise, and Myron kept their distance.

“Wow,” Ema said to me.


Her eyes were tinged with red from tears and exhaustion. I imagined that I looked the same.

“He’s going to be fine,” I said.

“He better be,” Ema said, “or I’m going to kill him.”

A few minutes later, I saw a thin black woman wander into the waiting room zombielike, looking worse than we ever could. It was Spoon’s mother. We had never met, but I had seen her hug her son when I dropped him at his house. The devastation was written all over her face. Her eyes had that thousand-yard stare you sometimes see in war documentaries.

I looked at Ema. Ema took a deep breath and nodded. We rose together and started toward Spoon’s mother. It seemed to take forever to reach her, like the more we walked, the farther she moved away from us.

When we finally arrived in front of her, Mrs. Spindel had her head down. We didn’t know what to say, so we just stood there, waiting. A few seconds later, she looked up at me and when she saw who it was, a shadow fell across her face.

“You’re Mickey,” she said. “And you’re Ema.”

We both nodded.

“What are you doing here?”

“We just wanted to know how Spoon—I mean, Arthur—is doing.”

She looked at Ema and then back to me. “He’s . . . he’s not good.”

It was like my heart was on the top of a long staircase and someone shoved it off.

“He’s out of surgery, but the doctors . . . they don’t know.”

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