Assistant principal Vadner was still questioning Gil about the lunch sack.
I was still under the bleacher, watching, and hoping Gil didn’t spill the beans.
Gil spotted me, and I gave him the cut-throat sign. He looked back at Vadner.
Gil was strong, but Vadner was stronger. And if my plan was going to work, then I needed to get out in front of this.
“How did you get in here?” Vadner asked him.
Gil tried to say something, but he choked.
“That door,” Vadner said, pointing behind Gil, “it was locked. Did someone let you in?”
Gil was doing his best not to look over at me.
“I…,” he started.
“Okay,” Vadner said, patting the air. “Where is she?”
“I…,” Gil said again.
I knew this wouldn’t last much longer. So I decided to do the only normal thing left.
After all, the whole fire-in-the-gym was just a diversion. Most importantly, I needed Vadner to be anywhere but in his office.
I moved quickly under the bleachers, using the other door. The one everyone — the teachers, the big yellow-clad fireman, and Vadner had all come through. It was propped open, so it made no sound. I slipped under the yellow tape and back into the empty halls.
The bell must have rung, because the halls were empty.
So far so good.
I started walking and then stopped.
I was going to need more time. I figure Gil could give me two minutes. Three tops. And that wasn’t enough.
So, I did the only other normal thing.
At the next little red box on the wall, I reached up, flipped open the cover, and grabbed the handle — putting my other hand over my ear, braced for the screech.
What I didn’t count on was who had just seen me do every bit of that.