“Oh, there it is.”
Robin looked up from her seat on the bench to see a familiar face, but didn’t have a name to attach to it.
“My glove. Thought I’d lost it.”
He could have been as old as her Grandpa, but he was just the guy who took care of the grounds around the high school.
“Oh. Okay.” She reached over to pick up the brown, leather glove.
“I’ve got it.” He sounded nervous or maybe mad.
“Hey, I was just handing it to you.” Now she felt insulted. Who did he think he was, anyway? She was just trying to be nice.
“No, it’s not you. Sorry.” He quickly retrieved his hand wear and donned it. “I dig in the dirt all the time. You probably don’t want to touch that.”
“Yeah. I guess you’re right.” She looked down at where the glove had been sitting. The paint on the metal seat where the glove had been looked discolored.
“Maybe you shouldn’t wear that. Look what happened.”
“Yeah, that’s why I didn’t want you to touch it.”
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine as long as I have these.” He held up his hands which were both covered now.”
“You’re the gardener around here, right? I mean, I see you all the time.”
“Dexter Brock, at your service.” He had a winning smile but there was something about his eyes that was scary.
“Robin Vaughn. Nice to meet you.”
“It’s cold out and that metal bench can’t be comfortable.”
“I’m waiting for my boyfriend.”
“The wrestler, right?”
She was surprised he knew, and it must have shown on her face.
“It’s hard for me not to notice what goes on around here.”
“I guess so. Yes, it’s cold. He’s supposed to meet me here after practice.”
“Tell you what. Why don’t you wait for him over by the door. I’ve got to clean off this bench.”
She got up but didn’t move away. “What’s with the glove? I mean, what was on it that changed the paint on the bench?”
“I must have been working with some chemical fertilizer that doesn’t agree with it.”
He was obviously lying, which told her he didn’t want her to ask any more questions.
“Okay. Well, see you around.”
“Sure, Robin. Bye.”
She walked over to the main doors of the gym, but kept looking at what Dexter was doing. He left for a while, and when he came back, he had a toolbox with him. Still wearing gloves, he opened the chest and took out a squirt bottle and some rags, then went to work on the bench. It took just a few minutes, and when he was done, he pulled a thick, plastic bag out of the box and slipped the used rags inside. Robin could see there was a pair of gloves already inside. Were they the ones he had on before?
She jumped. “Dammit, Bobby. Don’t sneak up behind me.” She slugged his chest as he laughed.
“Ready to go?”
“Not yet. What do you know about him?” She nodded in Dexter’s direction. He was closing his toolbox, apparently oblivious to being observed.
“Old Man Brock? Keeps to himself. Been the gardener around here for years. Why?”
“He gives me the creeps, that’s why.”
“Guess you don’t want to hear about the rumors, then.”
“They’re just stories older kids passed around when I was little. Like I said, Brock’s been around here forever.”
“Let’s go.” Robin started walking toward the parking lot prompting Bobby to follow.
“My aunt used to go here years ago. She told me none of the students wanted to be around Brock.”
“They said he was a murderer. Killed his wife for cheating on him or something. Buried her body in a field. Put some sort of chemical on her body so it wouldn’t be found, you know, by stinking.”
“That’s disgusting. I said he gave me the creeps, not that I thought he was a killer.”
“That’s not all. Every once in a while, a student goes missing. Never heard from again. They say it’s because they got too curious about Brock, tried to find out if the stories were true.”
“Stop trying to scare me.”
Bobby laughed again. “Oh, come on, Robin. You have no sense of humor.”
They were at his car now. He unlocked the passenger door for her.
“Just take me home.”
Realizing she really was scared, his tone changed abruptly. “Sure, Robin. It’s okay. I was just messing around.”
Robin got in the car and looked out the back window. Dexter Brock was standing at the edge of the parking lot watching them. The gloves he had on were different from the ones she saw before. Why was he staring at them?
Bobby started the car and put it in gear. The radio started blaring out part of a news story before he changed the station.
"Authorities are still searching for sixteen-year-old Curtis Long, a student at Cameron High School, who disappeared last week."
“Wait. Turn that back on.”
“Why, Robin? Curt just ran away. He’ll turn up in a week or two. His old man is such a jerk.”
“Curt works for the school paper.”
“Yeah. So what?” Bobby turned left onto Maple Drive.
“I know his girlfriend. She said he wanted to do a story on the different people who work at the school…starting with the gardener.”
My story evolved as I was writing it, and I wasn’t sure which direction it would take until I finished.
I did look up articles such as Why NOT to use Quicklime to Dispose of a Corpse and The Amazing Uses of Quicklime You Probably Didn’t Know. No, it’s not like in those old murder mystery movies, but I’m writing this just for giggles.