Chapter 5: Twenty-One Jump Street
"My body's 21 but my mind is ageless,
My memory is M.I.A.
Livin' overdrive to the point of excess,
Wake up in the evening use the night as day
Stopped lookin' for the people that are gonna save me
You can still try
Living like a woman since I was a baby,
And everyone I know has told me a lie."
The room was large and cold. The metal walls echoed every sound and amplified it back at the two people seated on either side of the table in the center. A single bulb hung from the ceiling and cast its harsh glare on the top of their heads, casting stark shadows that hid their expressions.
Agent Cryler leaned back in his chair and interlaced his fingers behind his head. His large hook shaped nose threw a long dark shadow across his lips. His dark pinprick eyes glared at Georgio Milan across the table.
Georgio (known as Gio among his friends) squirmed uncomfortably in his seat. His first week at school hadn't been going very well. Maria and he were on bad terms after the fiasco at lunch, she was positive that he was cheating on her, of which he wasn't, and now he was sitting in an interrogation office talking about some dead girls that he barely knew. "Really, Mr. Cryler, that's all I know about Sasha."
Cryler closed his eyes and didn't say anything for a long time. His chest slowly rose and lowered in the rhythm of his breaths. Gio leaned heavily on his elbows and intertwined his fingers. He had answered all the questions about Sasha and Rachel. He was tired, and he was cranky. He wanted to go home and lay on his bed and listen to his i-pod on full volume until his ears bled.
"How about Karen Windham?" Cryler leaned forward again and looked Gio square in the face. Gio smiled weakly back and opened his mouth in a hanging "O". But before he could make a single sound the door behind Cryler creaked open.
"Max," A woman poked her head in. Cryler glared back at her, but when she persisted he got up and walked out into the hall with her.
"What is it Claire?" Max Cryler asked, not bothering to hide his annoyance. She tossed her auburn hair over her shoulder and returned his glare.
"The detective from L.A.P.D. is here." She stated curtly. He glanced down the row of desks that lined the room and his eyes fell on a woman leaning against his own desk near the far window. He smiled at Claire and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Thank you, would you mind taking care of Mr. Milan?" He patted her shoulder in a weak attempt to fix the contempt that he had spoken with to her before.
"Yeah, whatever." She opened up the door to the interview room and disappeared. He made his way across the room to his desk.
"Agent Max Cryler." He offered his hand to the guest. She took it and shook it firmly, but not too exuberantly. "You must be Charlotte Harrington."
"I see you can read." She quipped rather sarcastically. Only then did he realize that she had a large "Hi My Name Is: Charlotte Harrington" badge on. He instantly took a liking to her; he liked a girl with some spunk.
He sat at his desk and pulled her file out of the mess that was scattered across it. Opening it slowly he glanced only briefly at the picture of the woman with curly dark hair that framed a heart shaped face spackled with freckles. The woman in the picture was standing in front of him after all, staring down at him intently. He looked up at her with a grin plastered on his face.
"Graduated top of your class from the police academy. Blew the roof off of a major crime ring on your first case in Los Angeles. You have amazing credentials for someone fresh on the field. That is why we chose you for this investigation." Cryler folded his hands in front of him. His features were much softer when not under the unsettling glare of the interview room lighting.
"Or because I look like a high school student?" Charlotte snapped.
"Well that too," He pulled out another folder and opened it on top of hers. "The case is a tricky one, but revolves around this North Heights Preparatory School for the Gifted. You see, Sunday before the first day of school a car crashes into the Black Party with two girls in it."
Charlotte held up her slender, long-fingered hand. "Wait, what's 'the Black Party?'"
"Oh, just this keg party the students have every year the day before school. We normally turn a blind eye to it, unless it gets too rowdy. 'Let the kids have their fun' as I always say.
"So anyway, in the car are this Sasha Ngyuen and Rachel Rainquess." Cryler flashed two polaroids of the bodies; blue lipped and ashen faced. "Apparently this wasn't an accident either. Sasha, the one driving, was shot in the abdomen."
"By Rachel?" Charlotte asked.
"We're not sure. The entrance and exit wounds state that it could have been the person in the passenger seat, or just someone standing at the passenger side window. (And why someone would shoot the driver of the car they were riding in doesn't make sense to me.) We weren't able to recover the murder weapon either."
"So the crash killed Rachel then?"
"Yes," He outlined some red scars on the photograph with his finger. "Airbags didn't deploy in the vehicle. She cracked her head against the dashboard here and here, then sliced it against the door frame here. She was dead before the car landed in the pool."
"So we have two potential homicides and no murder weapon?"
"Three." Cryler cut in.
"Three, when they performed the autopsy on Sasha's body it turned out that she was pregnant. Two months along at least. Nobody knew, not even her parents. Or at least no one is letting on that they knew. This crowd is tough because they would rather keep up appearances then help figure out a murder, you know?"
"No I don't."
"Er... Right. So then, on Monday (the first day of school) at the White Dance, this formal mixer they always have on the first day of school," he explained before she could interrupt, "Karen Windham apparently committed suicide in the bathroom. She was the mother of Blake Windham who went to school with the other two girls.
"Don't worry we I. the gun and it was registered under her name, she carried it for protection or something, and it didn't match the bullet we found in Sasha's car."
"Wait, wait, wait. Going back to the first two: who is the father of the baby?"
Cryler's eyes widened. He shuffled through the files uselessly; he realized the mistake they had made. "Uh... we didn't get a blood sample from it." Charlotte shook her head in disbelief. It was all she could think to do.
"How could you not have? No one thought it might be important to find out the father as a person of interest?!" Her voice was growing louder and louder. "Are all the people on this case incompetent?" She snapped at him, literally snapped at him with her fingers and everything.
"I'm sorry if we aren't accustomed to such high profile cases. The worst we normally get here are shoplifters." Cryler growled, he decided that he didn't like her spunk anymore.
"Whatever," Charlotte backed off. "So what exactly am I doing?"
"Okay, because we can't get a straight story from anyone we are going to plant you in the school. We need you to infiltrate the cliques that Sasha and Rachel were seen in, and maybe get a truthful story out of the students. Keep your eyes peeled for anything suspicious. The teachers are suspects too. The only one who knows you are a plant is the principal, Mister Adam Wutherland.
"Though I would be careful of his daughter, an Aligra Wutherland, she came back from New York the night that all this started." He handed Charlotte a beige folder filled with paper. "Here's your schedule, the persons-of-interest list, your student I.D. and anything else you might need." Max Cryler stood up and walked around the desk to stand next to her.
"We need you to blend in with these kids, but be careful. Do not be caught doing illegal activities with them, even if they are legal for you. That includes: drugs, drinking, smoking and especially sex."
"I know how to do my job." Charlotte stated. She flipped through the folder and then tucked it under one shoulder. She turned on her heel and started walking away from him.
"Oh, and Charlotte- try not to get killed."
The famed arches of North Heights Prep drew into view over the tops of the cars that lined the parking lot. Charlotte was surprised by the grandeur of it all. It was a really high end school. She slowly edged her Volvo S40 into a spot between a Bentley and a dark gray Lexus.
A tall black boy was stepping out of the Lexus. He was wearing a pair of faded and torn jeans (they were faded and torn in that oh-so-pricey way) and a black print tee with a cross on it. He popped his trunk and pulled out a brown backpack.
Charlotte quickly grabbed her shoulder bag and hopped out of her own car. She walked over to cut the boy off.
"Uh... hello?" she asked in a faux-cute voice. She batted her eye lashes and smiled sheepishly up at him.
Ryland looked down at her a little surprised. What was with this girl? He had never seen her before and she seemed a little too spruced up for school. "Can I help you?" He cocked his head to the side.
Charlotte had to admit he was cute, but she couldn't think such thoughts she must be at least five years older than him. "I'm new to school, I was wondering if you could help me find my first period class. I'm Char by the way. Charlotte." Her dark auburn curls bounced on her cashmere draped shoulders. Her sweater covered a very short pleated skirt which showed a lot of leg.
"Well, I'm Ryland, I'd love to show you, love." He took a deft step around her and started to walk up the steps to the courtyard. She turned and followed him, her high heels clacking noisily on the steps. She had to pause momentarily to take in the mass of bodies that were gathered in the courtyard. There was so much going on; it looked like a bazaar out of some ancient town. There were tables set up from recruiting club members, for purchasing homecoming tickets. Somewhere she could hear the drum line playing. Cliques of kids swarmed everywhere gathering and dispersing like single cell organisms.
High school had changed a lot since she had been.
"Are you alright?" Ryland asked, walking back to her on the top step. She nodded slowly then smiled at him again.
"Sorry, my last school wasn't th-this big." She explained coolly. Ryland nodded his head but didn't believe a word of it.
"So what school did you come from?" He asked.
"Hey! Ry my man!" The two of them turned to see a group of six people walking over to them. The one in lead, a boy with shaggy blonde hair and a goofy smile, was waving outrageously big to Ryland. Lined up behind him were a glam team of beautiful people. First was a broad shouldered boy with a ruggishly handsome face and cold eyes, standing next to him was a thin girl with jet hair that fell in gorgeous locks down her shoulders. Directly behind the blonde were two blonde girls. To his left a model with great curves and wavy blonde hair and soft features. To his right was a thin tan girl with strawberry blonde hair that blended with her skin tone. Finally was a tall boy that slouched and dressed way too well to be straight.
"Who's your friend?" The handsome one with the cold eyes asked. He smiled at her. A quick curl of his lips that sent shivers down her spine.
"This is Char, she just moved here." Ryland introduced his tone flat and bored. "This is Lindell, but you'll probably end up calling him Lin. That's Blake (Cake), Aligra (Ali), Kyle (Ky), Samantha (Sam), and David (Dave)." He motioned to each in turn.
Charlotte felt her mouth curving into a grin. This was half the names on her list all right here in front of her. She was going to have an easier time of this than she thought. She held out a hand to Lindell.
"Pleased to meet you, Lin." Bless her lucky stars.
"Oh no, the pleasure is all mine." Lin leaned forward and kissed her hand. His ice like eyes reached up to hers. She felt her face flush.
"And here we go." Ryland sighed.