She went over to the water cooler and filled the coffee pot, and then after pouring the water into the coffee maker, carefully spooned out eight teaspoons of hazelnut coffee. That was all she was making - she didn't care. Only five teachers had actually chipped in for the beans and the filters, the others helped themselves to a generous cup and swore that they would throw in fifty cents when they had the change. They never did.

Miss Pinkerton grabbed her coffee mug, opened the small refrigerator and poured a little milk at the bottom of her cup. While the coffee brewed, she went to the ladies room.

The cubicle was chilly, and as she sat on the ice cold toilet bowl, studying the chipped tiles and wondering if the dirt in the corner were mouse turds or something worse, she told herself - two more years, two more years and then she'd be able to retire, move to the small sleepy town in Maine, and live with her younger sister, be an grand aunt to her nephew's babies.

She washed her hands with frigid water and headed back to the faculty room. She was half way down the corridor when she noticed that the door to the teachers' lounge was wide open - even though she had shut it tightly. Another teacher must have come in. She hoped it wasn't Julia Hopwood, the second grade teacher. Mrs. Hopwood behaved in a most inappropriate manner, she was past forty and still wearing brightly colored mini skirts, her bulletin boards were always one season behind and her classroom was noisy and disorganized.

And she was always complaining.

But Miss Pinkerton soon discovered that it wasn't Mrs. Hopwood who had left the door open, it wasn't anyone, at least anyone whom she could see.

Except - except Miss Pinkerton could tell that her coffee mug had been moved.

Now some other teacher might not have noticed if her cup had been moved a millimeter to the right or left but Miss Pinkerton was a very precise woman and she knew exactly where she had left the mug, in her usual place, at the head of the long, narrow table. And now it was several spots down.

It was rather concerning and a wee bit ominous.

Nevertheless, she could hardly face the angry, rambunctious mob that was her seventh grade class without her breakfast so she reached inside her Lillian Vernon tote and removed her seven grain bread which had been smoothed with natural peanut butter. And she poured herself a large helping of coffee. (There was no need to stir it, the milk on the bottom mixed instantly.)

Except the coffee had a peculiar aftertaste, rather metallic. At first Miss Pinkerton suspected that the milk had gone sour, so she actually opened the refrigerator and took a whiff. But no, it seemed quite all right and the expiration date was several days away.

Marianna Heusler © 2007 •  Home •  Sitemap •  Contact