Custodians may save the world from space/underworld invaders, recalcitrant teachers, and bossy bosses, but sometimes they have to deal with darker dangers, like humans. A good custodian is trusted by both faculty and students.
This is temporarily the last of the Custodian stories.
The Custodian 4
From a large family group gathered in a park across the street after school, a little girl, maybe eight years old, wearing a red skirt and a yellow top, wanders unnoticed onto the grounds of Grace Glass Elementary school.
The Custodian, wearing his usual khakis and well-filled T-shirt, had just begun his Friday afternoon rounds. He checked for trash in each classroom and emptied it into his roller trash cart. He noticed the girl as she casually walked down a narrow grass strip inspecting the flowers. For several classrooms he kept an eye on her. He also noticed that nobody else was around.
“Would you come to my office, please. We have a minor emergency.”
The Custodian scanned the area. Still nobody around. He continued to walk toward the little girl.
* * *
An hour later a group of adults, – including The Custodian, the principal, a handsome Hispanic woman, two uniform cops, a detective, and several teachers, have an intense discussion outside the main office.
Not bothering to hide his skepticism, the detective, a solidly built man with some experience on him his face, said to the Custodian, “You say you sent the girl Sandra back to her family before you went to the principal’s office.”
The Custodian nodded.
“But nobody witnessed you doing that, did they?” The Custodian shook his head with slow, confident movements. “So you could have taken her.” The detective tried to stare down the taller Custodian, but had to turn away from the man’s intensely calm gaze.
“Detective,” the principle said. “If the Custodian says he sent her back and he didn’t take her, then he did and he didn’t.”
Between the casual intimidation of the Custodian’s steady gaze that came from his natural being, and the principal’s hard eyed total confidence in him, the detective didn’t stand a chance of taking that line of questioning anywhere. Not quite ready to accept the Custodian’s innocence, he said, “Okay, search the school. Look into every room, closet, cabinet, nook and cranny.
As the group dispersed, the Detective held back one of the uniformed officers. “Keep an eye on that custodian. I don’t trust him.”
As the group dispersed the Custodian looked like he was searching, but he really watched the other searchers. Seeing what he thought he’d see, he slipped into a door marked IDF. Inside he moved quietly past gray electric breaker boxes and computer equipment. In the back of the room, hidden behind a mass of blue computer network wiring he found a plywood sheet that appeared to be screwed to the wall. It wasn’t.
He entered a narrow space littered with dusty broken chairs and playground equipment. Water pipes ran along the rough block wall. A light switch did nothing. With a small flashlight the Custodian made his way to a rusty file cabinet. Behind the cabinet, more plumbing, and the girl.
Legs taped together, hands tied around a vertical pipe, mouth taped, Sandra whimpered, wide eyes filled with fear.
The Custodian knelt beside her, put a finger to his lips for quiet.
* * *
Five minutes later he brushed back a strand of blonde hair and gently caressed her cheek with the back of his fingers. She gave him a shaky smile and nodded. Freed from her bonds, flashlight and a bottle of water beside her, she hugged knees to chest and watched him go. Before he swung the file cabinet in place he gave her a one finger salute. She returned it as the dark closed in around her.
* * *
Sometime later Sandra heard footsteps crunch in the outer space. She wrapped the tape around her legs, pressed the piece of tape to her mouth and put her hands behind the pipe. Heart pounding, barely able to breathe, with total trust in The Custodian, she waited.
The cabinet grated on the concrete as it opened. A flashlight blinded her. Behind the light a dark figure approached. A man knelt beside her. She jumped when he spoke.
“Come on, Sweetheart. I’m your daddy now and I’m going to take you home. It’s way past your bedtime.”
She jerked her hands free as he reached for her.
“Ah. I got here just in time, didn’t I. We’ll save your punishment until you’re home.”
He lifted her in his arms. Holding her tight, he carried her through the dark to the outside door. He paused, listened, slowly opened the door and peeked out, scanning the area. He stepped out. A fist smacked his jaw.
The Custodian caught Sandra as the man dropped. In his arms, she smiles, not afraid at all.
* * *
Sandra’s father hugged her in his arms.
“Your daughter is very brave,” the principal told him.
“Yes she is,” he said. “But I don’t like that she had to wait in the dark so long.”
“We knew where she was, but not who put her there. We had to wait until he came for her. “
“It was okay, Daddy. The Custodian said I’d be alright.”
The father’s expression showed his skepticism, but he nodded his thanks and walked away.
Over his shoulder, Sandra, gave The Custodian a one finger wave.
He returned the wave and turned to finish his rounds.
Trust your custodian.
Soul Retrievers – Click here for E-book Pre-order links. Delivered July 10.
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Blood Justice – Click here to read a sample and find buy links.
Blood on the Water – Click here to read a sample and find buy links.
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