"Marko got into a scuffle with Ben Ritchie in the hall
yesterday," Jan says carefully. "He called Ben's girlfriend a
"Not smart," Bill Sims murmurs.
Marko Bakic is six-foot-two and lean as a sapling; Ben
Ritchie is five-foot-six and built like a cast-iron stove, just
like his father, who played football with Drew and me more than
twenty years ago.
Jan says, "Ben shoved Marko into the wall and told him to
apologize. Marko told Ben to kiss his ass."
"So what happened?" asks Sims, his eyes shining. This is a
lot more interesting than routine school board business.
Clearly put off by the juvenile relish in Bill's face, Jan
says, "Ben put Marko in a choke hold and mashed his head against
the floor until he apologized. Ben embarrassed Marko in front of
a lot of people."
"Sounds like our Croatian hippie got what he deserved."
"Be that as it may," Jan says icily, "after Ben let Marko up,
Marko told Ben he was going to kill him. Two other students
"Macho bullshit," says Sims. "Bakic trying to save face."
"Was it?" asks Jan. "When Ben asked Marko how he was going to
do that, Marko said he had a gun in his car."
Sims sighs heavily. "Did he? Have a gun, I mean."
"No one knows. I didn't hear about this until after school.
Frankly, I think the students were too afraid to tell me about
"Afraid of what you'd do?"
"No. Afraid of Marko. Several students say he does carry a
gun sometimes. But no one would admit to seeing it on school
"Did you talk to the Wilsons?" Holden Smith asks from the
Bill Sims snorts in contempt. "What for?"
The Wilsons are the family that agreed to feed and house
Marko for two semesters. Jack Wilson is a retired academic, and
Marko seems to have him completely snowed.
Jan Chancellor watches Holden expectantly. She's a good
headmistress, although she dislikes direct confrontations, which
can't be avoided in a job like hers. Her face looks pale beneath
her sleek, black bob, and her nerves seem stretched to the
breaking point. They must be, to bring her to this point of
"I move that we enter executive session," she says, meaning
that no minutes will be taken from this point forward.
"Second," I agree.
Jan gives me a quick look of gratitude. "As you all know,
this is merely the latest in a long line of disruptive
incidents. There's a clear pattern here, and I'm worried that
something irreparable is going to happen. If it does -- and if
it can be demonstrated that we were aware of this pattern --
then St. Stephen's and every member of the board will be exposed
to massive lawsuits."
Holden sighs wearily from the door. "Jan, this was a serious
incident, no doubt. And sorting it out is going to be a pain in
the ass. But Kate Townsend's death is going to be a major shock
to every student and family at this school. I can call a special
meeting later in the week to deal with Marko, but Kate is the
priority right now."
Research shows that 90% of Americans value public libraries(Dec 11 2013) According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, about 90% of Americans aged 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an...