Missing Mister Wingfield: Part 4

This is an early draft of the first chapter of the novel Missing Mr. Wingfield, available now.

Standish smirked, gave a curt nod, and directed her attention to her window. Tracy looked now, too. School buses were lining up in a neat row outside. The doors to two of them opened and the drivers, one male and one female, stepped out. They chatted amiably, the woman offering the man a stick of gum.

“Years ago,” said Standish, “they would have been smoking.”

“Nasty habit,” said Tracy. “Killed my great-grandfather.”

“Do you know what kind of chemicals they put in chewing gum, Miss Silver? Or in those Diet Cokes you guzzle like they’re going out of style?”

She knews what I drink at lunch? thought Tracy.

Standish pulled a manila folder from a wire rack stuffed with the things and plucked a form from it, one of those nasty triplicate things, the yellow form bound for home, the pink for the teacher who filed the complaint, the white for Tracy’s permanent record.

As Standish began to write, Tracy gave an ahem.


“Just so it’s clear, I had no idea Brian was going commando today.”

“Commando?” said Standish.

“Commando,” said Tracy. “You know: sans underpants.”

Standish grinned, shook her head. “I’ve never heard that term.”

“My mothers let me watch too many Friends reruns as a kid.”

Standish finished writing, then handed the form over to Tracy to read.

“The surprise announcement of Mister Meltzer’s penis did not factor into your punishment,” she said.

Tracy nodded, took the lone pen from the Reese’s cup—you couldn’t sign these things in pencil, right?—and signed. “One day’s suspension seems fair,” she said.

“Take the day, do some thinking,” said Standish. “Maybe re-read that play again.”

“You think I missed something?” said Tracy.

Standish bit her thumb and considered Tracy for a moment.

“I did,” said Tracy, “didn’t I?”

“Are you aware of Mister Meltzer’s home situation, Miss Silver?”

Tracy nodded. “Lives with his mom,” she said, “which, if I can say, makes his behavior even more—”

Standish raised a finger and Tracy shut herself up.

“It’s not just the Lauras of the world who are missing their old man,” said Standish. “It’s the Toms, too.”

Tracy nodded again, tore off the bottom copy of the form, and then folded it into a square. She stuffed that into the front pocket of her jeans.

Standish said, “We’ll see you in a couple of days then.”

“Yes,” said Tracy, rising and heading for the door, her punishment heavy in her pocket, but even heavier on her mind.

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