Where's Mrs. Adair?

Reads: 145  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Donna Adair is beloved history teacher at Boulder High School in Seattle, Washington. When she is reported missing four days before graduation and her car was found abandoned off a nearby hiking trail the following day, two senior students Charlee Randall and Sam Gibson are left scratching their heads in confusion with a newly acquired five-thousand dollars stashed away.

Chapter 1: Parked Car

The tea kettle screaming on the stove was the first thing I heard when I walked in. Mrs. Adair’s earl gray was mouth watering when it wasn’t burnt—and Mrs. Adair never let her earl gray burn.

“Donna, are you there?” I called out, taking the kettle off the burner and turning off the stove. There was no response. The house was quiet, the television wasn’t even playing the Sunday morning news. I noticed two cups besides the potholder Mrs. Adair had already set out for her hot kettle. I had popped in unannounced and there was no way Donna would have known to prepare a second cup—unless she was already expecting other company. I called out for Donna again with silence being my only response.

I set the box of doughnuts on the kitchen counter, along with a thank you card; a gift for the last four years as my teacher before I graduated in four days.

From the kitchen, I slowly made my way through the archway into her living room. Her curtains were still drawn closed, the only light peeking through the small window on her back door. A small but firm ‘meow!’ startled me as I stood absentmindedly in the middle of the room, trying to make sense of the oddities. It was Jester, a fluffy white and gray maine coon cat owned by Mrs. Adair, greeting my arrival by circling himself around my feet.

“Hello, Jester, where’s Donna?” I chimed as I knelt down to scratch between Jester’s ears. He meowed again and waltzed back into the kitchen. I followed the feline, having nothing else to do as I waited for Mrs. Adair. Perhaps she was still getting ready for the morning before her company arrived?

Jester meowed again—this time sitting down in front of his food and water bowls. Both were empty. “Are you trying to get another breakfast, Jest? This is why you’re such a handsome chunk of a man.”

I filled Jester’s water dish and tried not to let the weird feeling get to me as I waited for the bowl to fill. First the tea kettle,  the undrawn curtains, and Jester’s empty bowls… something didn’t feel right. I placed his water bowl down and returned to the tea kettle and removed the lid; nearly all of the water had been boiled out. I gently set the lid back on, staring blankly ahead of me. The kettle had to have been boiling for hours for all the water to evaporate on a low heat.

Lastly, I checked Donna’s garage through the backyard’s entrance, which was also empty. Maybe she had an appointment she forgot about… on a Sunday morning? I returned inside and locked the backdoor behind me. I filled Jester’s food dish and left a note for Donna saying I had fed him breakfast.

I locked Donna’s front door on the way out, only realizing as I did so that the door had been unlocked when I arrived. Mrs. Adair is only in her early fifties, there’s no way she could be losing it that early, right? I tried to laugh it off as I drove away from her home, just thankful I had popped in to turn off the stove for her. She must’ve been in a rush to leave, but she’s definitely going to hear all about her ditsy antics later.

My phone rang in my jacket pocket as I was stopped at a light. It was Jade.

“Hey, what’s up?” I answered the phone.

“Not much, just a little hungover… really needing a sandwich.” said Jade.

“I thought you were babysitting for your aunt last night?” I laughed.

Jade groaned. “I was supposed to—but Kim’s date like, ghosted her, so she canceled on needing a babysitter. So, I went to Vic’s party instead. Oh—did you know Kent stole Hannah’s car at Frank’s party Friday night? Like they got into a drunken fight about god knows what and he stole her keys at some point and then her car to get back at her! So, he drives it over to the park like a couple blocks away… You know that park, right?”

“Mhm.”

“Yeah, so he drives over to Crest Park and leaves her car in the middle of the fucking park. She went home with Sabrina so she didn’t even realize her car was gone until she gets a call from her Mom at six-thirty in the morning because cops showed up to their house to tell them her car was in the middle of the fucking park!” continues Jade. We’re both trying to contain our laughter from the second she said he left the car in the middle of the park. Jade could barely even get the words out before she burst into laughter. “Dude, when I saw her story of her car in the middle of the park and she panned over to the family playing on the swingset, I lost it.”

“Oh my god, where does Kent come up with this shit?” My stomach hurt from laughing. The level of petty that Kent Linden took things to when someone did him wrong was always a momentous event.

There was a time about a year and a half ago, also at Frank’s party, when Kent had a girlfriend named Alexa. She transferred to our school during junior year and only stayed for the school year before her family moved again. During her year at Boulder High School, Alexa had all the boys swooning for her but she only liked Kent. However, Kent still had a tendency to get jealous of the other guys who tried to flirt with his girlfriend and when people didn’t listen to his first warning, he was quick with revenge in the wildest manner. One incident he unleashed the biggest bag of crickets he could buy from a pet store into some guy's car, while another time he called the school and pretended to be another student’s parent stating there was an emergency just to make the straight A student have to leave class during a very important test and flunk.

But what the hell could Hannah have done to make Kent go as far as putting her car in the middle of Crest Park?

“I have no clue…” says Jade, who’s still trying to calm her laughter, too.

“Okay, well, I can pick you up in fifteen minutes?” I offer.

“For?” she asks.

duh’ tone.

“Oh, right! Okay! See you soon, Char!” She chimes.

We ate at our favorite diner and I dropped Jade off for her afternoon shift at the coffee shop. I didn’t tell her about what I noticed at Mrs. Adair’s house this morning. Jade doesn’t even know Mrs. Adair and I speak outside of History class, much less essentially business partners, you could say. Jade could tell something was bothering me but I couldn’t tell her what. I felt like a horrible friend for not being able to be open with her about such a small thing. There was one person I could talk to but what would I say? ‘Hey, I noticed Mrs. Adair forgot to feed her cat and might’ve nearly burnt her house down leaving a stove on. Do you know anything about that?’. 

Plus, as far as I knew, Mrs. Adair and Sam weren’t as close as she and I were. We frequently had dinners together and I watched her cat when she occasionally had to go out of town for family stuff.

Before I was even five minutes away from Jade’s work, I got another call. But this time it was from Hannah. “Hey? What’s up?” I said, unsure of what she could be calling about but I had the biggest smile on my face just thinking about the story Jade had told me earlier. Hannah and I didn’t talk much, she ran more in Sam’s circle, so getting a call from her was a little out of the ordinary. I slowed to a stop with traffic around me as the light turned yellow and then red.

“Hey, Charlee! Are you busy? I have a bunch of graduation money and I’m like, really stressed out right now.” says Hannah without missing a beat.

Technically I wasn’t busy at all. I had finished everything I had planned for today… which was bringing Mrs. Adair some doughnuts and an impromptu brunch with Jade. I already had my backpack foolishly in my trunk so I had no reason to pass up the offer. “Not really, um, where are you at?” I ask.

“I’m at home, I can text you the address! Thanks so much, Charlee, you’re a lifesaver!” She boasts and we hang up. A few minutes later my phone dings with a text from Hannah with her address. It was only five minutes away, anyway.

I had never been to Hannah’s house and had no reason to until now. Hannah and Jade had been close friends since elementary school but ended up in different social circles when they got older. They still talked and invited each other out to do things but they just weren’t as close as they were when they were younger. I parked on the street and walked up her steep driveway. The front door was a big glass door framed with metal railings with a curly design on the outside. I rang the doorbell and took a few steps back on the porch, securing the backpack strap on my shoulder.

A tall man in a robe and boxers with a beer in hand answered the door. “You here for Hannah?”

I nodded.

He moved out of the way and pointed to the big staircase to his right, letting the front door shut behind us. “She’s up there.”

I made my way up the steps, not sure where I’m supposed to go from here. I hear a door open from somewhere upstairs and Hannah’s voice shouts out to me. I hurried my pace and turned down the hallway to where I thought she was at.

“Charlee!” Her head pokes out from a room at the end of the hallway. She invites me into the room and shuts the door behind us. It was her bedroom; to my surprise, it wasn’t what I would expect it to look like. Not that I ever really thought about what her room would look like—because that would be weird—but Hannah always appears very clean cut, ever since elementary school. Let's just say her room was anything but that. “Thanks so much for coming, I’ve had such a long weekend—oh my god.”

She plopped on her bed and I took refuge on her white computer chair so I wasn’t awkwardly standing. “Of course, no problem.” I placed my backpack down in front of me. “Was Sam busy or something?”

Hannah sighs and leans back on the bed while rolling her eyes. “Sam’s an idiot. I’m not talking to him right now.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at her statement. “What’d he do?”

“He’s a boy and he’s an idiot.”

Maybe it was better that I didn't push the topic.

“So, how much are you thinking?”

“As much as you can give me for two hundred?”

I emptied out the first gallon sized bag of what was left over from Frank’s party on Friday night and reached for the second full bag. When I began to pick up the second bag, I noticed a third bag in the bottom. When Mrs. Adair gave us our backpacks on Friday, she only said there were two bags and not to worry about repayment. Once the second bag was out, I could clearly see stacks of hundred dollar bills in the third bag. I think I stopped breathing and tried not to make it obvious I felt like I was going to burst into flames with how hot I got from the rush of anxiety seeing so much money sitting in my backpack.

“Wow, that’s so much.” Hannah gasped. My eyes darted up from the money, breathing halting before I realized she was only talking about the gallon sized bag of weed.

“Yeah, gotta be prepared all the time, you know?” I tried to joke but nothing about what was going through my head was a joke..

I gave Hannah what she wanted, got the cash, and left as fast as I could. In the front pocket of the backpack, I grabbed out the burner phone that Donna had gotten us. The automated voice answered and told me the number I’m trying to contact is no longer in service.

“What the fuck is going on?” I said aloud as I sat in my car, still parked outside of Hannah’s house. With the backpack on my passenger seat, I headed home and pushed the backpack as far under my bed as I could as soon as I got home. I stood back on my feet and took a few deep breaths before I realized I needed to do something. I grabbed the bag back out from under the bed and retrieved the phone. I called Sam’s unnamed contact.

I thought he wasn’t going to answer but on the fourth ring, Sam picked up. “Hello?” He whispers.

“Hey, um, have you heard from D today?” I speak quietly back.

“No, I haven’t spoken to her since Friday. Why?” whispers Sam.

“I haven’t been able to get a hold of her today. Her stove was left on and she forgot to feed Jester when I went by this morning.” I try to explain to him.

“Who’s Jester?” he asks.

I couldn’t help but roll my eyes, of course he questions the most pointless part of what I said. “Jester is her cat, dude. Anyway, did you look in the backpack when she gave it to you?”

“No, she said there were two bags, I believed her, why?” his whisper disappears and he returns to his normal tone, confused by the question. Maybe Hannah was onto something. I was starting to think that I should’ve just kept the concern to myself.

“Just look in the bag and tell me what you see, Sam.” I say sternly.

“Okay, jeez. I don’t think D’s going to try to pull a fast one on us.” says Sam. I can hear him walking around and a bag unzips. A few minutes later I hear, “What the fuck?”

“So, you got it too?”

“If you’re talking about the wads of fucking cash then yeah, I got it, too.” his tone returns to a whisper, but more angry and hushed this time. “What the hell is this?”

“I was wondering the same thing.” I sighed.

A muffled knock and voice could be heard in the background of Sam’s line. He said a quick goodbye and hung up the phone. I tried calling Mrs. Adair on the burner phone again and received the same automated message; ‘the number you are trying to reach is no longer in service—please try again later’.

The only thing I could do was wait for Donna to call back. I’m sure she would call as soon as she returned home and saw the note but I couldn’t help but allow myself to worry about her. We had grown close over the last few years and the thought of moving away to University and leaving her behind was bittersweet. One day I was doubting if I was making the right decision by attending the University I had picked out and Donna’s response stuck with me; ‘trains can go on forever, but as the passenger you have to know when to get off at your stop so you can get to where you need to be.’

The rest of my day was spent lazily watching whatever video I could find on the internet that peaked my interest in the slightest. Around six in the evening, I began straightening up the house before my Grandmother arrived back home later tonight. While I was doing dishes, Jade called and we chatted about anything and everything for nearly two hours before we got off the phone to turn in for the night.

Monday meant three days until graduation. The halls were filled with laughter and ecstatic energy. Most of the seniors didn’t have any classwork left before our school days ended so our class periods were planned to be filled with nothing but whatever we wanted. For once I didn’t entirely dread coming to school.

First period was a lot of talking amongst peers—probably the most we had done in this class the entire year. Since it was our first hour of the day we were normally still waking up but today it was like a lightswitch had been flipped on. I shared the class with Frank, the guy who threw the party last Friday. He sat two seats ahead of me in the row to my right and didn’t know the concept of an inside voice so it wasn’t hard to hear what Frank and his friends were chatting about as I mindlessly scrolled back and forth through various apps on my phone. It mainly had to do with the party and thereafter.

The reminder of Frank’s weekend went like this: since police got involved with Hannah’s car, she gave them an entire story of her entire night leading up to her car ending up in the park and accidentally snitched on Frank in the process.  The cops subsequently contacted Frank’s parents about the huge party their son had thrown, paired with underage drinking, and they had to fly home early from their Arizona trip. When they inquired about where Frank got the alcohol from, he initially tried to convince the officers that he had paid some homeless man outside a Total Wine to no luck before eventually turning over his fake Ohio driver’s license. When all was said and done, they gave Frank a two hundred and fifty dollar fine as well as twenty five hours of mandatory community service for the fake identification since they didn’t physically see him consume any alcohol to get him for that, too.

Second period began the same as the last—wasting my phone's battery—until an incoming announcement dinged over the speakers. Our morning announcements already played and we weren’t expecting anything else. My thumb hovered over my phone screen as I looked up to the little speaker at the top corner of the wall.

“Attention students of Boulder High School—this is your principle, Mr. Greeves.” He took a step back from the intercom but we could still hear as he cleared his throat and shuffled papers around. Students exchanged confused looks as we waited to hear what he had to say next. “This is hard for me to announce to you all given the end of the school year is mere days away but it has been brought to my attention that one of our teachers—Mrs. Adair—has been reported missing by local authorities. During this time, we ask students to remain calm and refrain from spreading false information amongst peers while we wait for an update. Resources are going to be available in the library for any students or fellow teachers who would like to speak with a counselor. We will be having a substitute teacher for Mrs. Adair in her absence until further notice. Thank you.”

My gut felt like a sinking ship rocking in the waves as he began to speak and sunk to the bottom when he mentioned Mrs. Adair. Part of me knew something was amiss yet I still couldn’t believe it. As the class erupted into conversation about Mrs. Adair, I rushed to see if there were any articles written yet; I needed to know if there was more information but the news appeared too fresh for any media coverage yet.

A student in class was talking about how they had Mrs. Adair for their first period and she never showed up to class so a few students went to the office to report it, surprised at the news that she was declared missing.

Wanna grab burgers after school?”

I’m down.”

One thing Mrs. Adair instilled into us was being inconspicuous towards our peers and most importantly each other. We can’t exactly whip out our burner cell while we’re in school so on the rare occasion we do speak with each other on our own devices, we prefer to keep it somewhat ominous. Not that we did much talking in the first place; I’ve seen Sam maybe five times since winter break and mostly in passing. I can’t remember the last time we spoke until I called him about the backpack yesterday.

The day went by agonizingly slow. While every part of me wanted to just leave and go find her myself, I ultimately decided it wouldn’t benefit anyone in the end. When lunch time arrived I convinced Jade to grab a quick coffee off-campus before our next class rolled around. I needed a getaway but was only reminded Jade was still in the unknown about everything going on. When I feel like I just need to vent about the last couple days… I’m not able to do so. For the past two years, I had essentially been leading a double life, but if you think about it, so was Mrs. Adair. She has a professional decent paying job as a high school history teacher yet she’s wrapped up in whatever this is with her own students.

By the time we got back to school, Jade had found an article that had been posted about Mrs. Adair. She showed me the headline titled ‘Missing Seattle High School Teacher’ with her most recent school portrait photo posted under, the same one that was printed on the name tag she wore every day. Her blonde curly that she normally pulls back into a claw clip was hanging just below her shoulders and her brown wire-framed glasses sat high on her nose and framed her face perfectly.

Jade pulled her phone back to her face and scrolled down to see more of the article. She read for a couple seconds before reading it aloud for me, too. “Students of Donna Adair had alerted school officials when she never showed up for class. School officials quickly tried to contact Mrs. Adair then contacted local authorities requesting a wellness check when they could not get in touch with their well-loved employee who never missed a day of work. When police arrived at Adair’s residence, they quickly realized Donna and her silver Honda CR-V were not home. After speaking with neighbors of Mrs. Adair, police learned she had not been back at the residence since she was seen leaving Saturday evening.” read Jade. “That’s sad, I hope everything is alright with her.”

me too’ was the only thing I could manage to say in response to her statement and not alert Jade to my real feelings about the matter. With five minutes left until class, I returned to my space in the parking lot and we gathered our various bags and drinks from the car. We shared the same class after lunch so we walked inside together, this was the one time in our school day that our conversation didn’t have to be cut short to part ways for different classes. “Oh, can you still give me a ride home today?” asked Jade.

I squeezed my eyes shut with a groan as soon as she said it and Jade immediately started jokingly accusing me of forgetting. It’s not that I forgot but as soon as Sam had texted me, my other plans seemed to escape me. “No, it’s fine. Just meet me at my locker after school?” I say,

My class after lunch went fast, luckily somewhat able to shake off the heaviness of the day while I discussed summer plans and various other things with my friends in class. When sixth period came around my nerves became relentless. Walking into the classroom and seeing an elderly man instead of Mrs. Adair standing in front of the chalkboard was unsettling to say the least. He began the class with a small introduction on himself, a retired history professor named Mr. Adelman, knowing his duty for the next few days was essentially to babysit us and make sure we don’t get into any trouble since we didn’t have any actual work that needed to be done. A few students were interested in hearing more about the University he had worked for and they started their own conversation and Mr. Adelman gave the class to talk as they pleased.

The bell rang and I practically ran out of the class. Jade was already waiting for me at my locker, so I set my few miscellaneous things I had been taking from class to class; a thick spiral notebook, a pen, and a small back which contained various spare make-up products and more writing utensils. All my textbooks had already been returned to the library so my drop-off load was lighter than normal. I traded out my mini-backpack for my purse that was stored in my locker and we headed out of the school back into the parking lot. We would only be doing this two more times before we walked the stage in our cap and gowns.

I sent Sam a text message letting him know I had to drive Jade home and would be a little late for our burger meet up. During the ride to drop her off, Jade’s number one goal was to get me to go to another one of Vic’s parties tonight. I tried to get out of it but she wasn’t letting go of it until I said yes. So, I said yes. And sped off as soon as I saw she got inside safely.

The best burgers in the city was a little spot in the sketchiest part of downtown. I had to park two blocks down the road and accidentally bumped into Sam as we walked down to the burger joint. We acknowledged each others’ presence but didn’t say a word aloud until we ordered our burgers and sat down while we waited for our food to be ready.

We picked a table away from the other patrons, tucked in a corner against a window and a wall. Sam placed the little yellow table marker labeled ‘36’ on the end of the table. It reminded me of those numbering devices they use for crime scene photos. Sam was busily typing away at his phone as soon as we got seated. I could hear his phone vibrate multiple times with incoming notifications.

“Sorry…” Sam apologizes without breaking the vacant stare to his phone. “Hannah has been blowing up my phone all weekend.”

was mad at Sam but I didn’t know what it was about.

He sighs and finishes his text before setting his phone down in front of him—which immediately went off again to his dismay. He tiredly rubbed his face and ran a hand through his hair. In a hushed tone, he goes on to tell me the dilemma between them. “I don’t know, dude. She’s convinced that I sold Kent something besides weed that made him manic or something and that’s why he put her car in the park—like that doesn’t even make sense to me.”

“Well, did you?” I asked.

“No! Do you think I’m an idiot?” He asked. I don’t think I could answer that question with genuine honesty to him or I would be lying to myself.

“Why does Hannah think you did that then?”

thing. She liked them and assumed it was a normal thing I had since I was already dealing the other shit, you know? It was a one-off thing I just had during a rough time and she got upset when I didn’t have more to give her. I guess Kent mentioned he had taken something and she just assumed I gave it to him because of that.” He tried to be as quiet as he could while he spoke. A public place was really the worst place to be having any conversation like this. It didn’t matter if we were across the room from anyone—we were still in the same room as them nonetheless.

Hannah’s bitter resentment toward Sam was starting to make a little bit more sense. I had a feeling there was probably more to it than just his inability to supply her with what she wanted. The idea of Hannah and Sam having a little fling was comical.

“You and Hannah dated?” I giggled.

He groaned and squeezed his eyes shut. “Don’t do this, Charlee.”

We finally hear our number called and Sam rushes to get away from the conversation to pick up the food for us. We didn’t say anything as we munched on our burgers but didn’t mind the silence. After we finished our food, I suggested we drive by Mrs. Adair’s home to scope things out. I opted to drive since Sam had only been to her home one time over a year ago and couldn’t remember where she lived.

Coming up the road to turn onto Mrs. Adair’s street, we could already see two police cars parked at the corner of the street. No words were exchanged as we drove past her street, peering down the road at the collection of police cars parked in front of her house. “Do you think they’ll find anything that’ll trace back to us?” Sam asks.

“No, she doesn’t keep the weed or any cash at home—I know that much.” I responded. She was too good about making sure every track was covered in her day-to-day life. Donna meticulously made sure everything was done thoroughly—she even expected it of her students when it came to classwork and wouldn’t accept anything less. “If they ask, we play dumb. She’s just our history teacher.”

Sam nodded his head in agreement and I just hoped he meant it. If she could trust him enough with something so big, I guess I could, too.

When I got back home, I saw a big red envelope under the stack of smaller white ones. I kicked my shoes off and dropped my bag to run over and tear it open. I think I forgot to breathe until I got a papercut on my finger from how fast I was trying to open it and shouted various curse words at the pain. Inside the envelope was my acceptance letter to the University I had been dreaming about attending for years. My grades are the reason I was accepted but my ability to pay for the tuition is due to my side work with Mrs. Adair.

I stashed the letter in my room and got ready to meet up with Jade for the party. According to Jade, it was supposed to be a small party. My definition of a small party was five to ten people while Jade’s ranged from five to thirty. You never know what you were going to be walking into when she invites you out somewhere.

A sweatshirt and black jeans would have to do for tonight. I certainly didn’t have the energy for more besides the bare minimum right now. The main reason I had even convinced myself to go in the first place is because I knew it would be good for me to get my mind off things rather than just sit and sulk with anxiety alone all night.

When I grabbed the backpack out from under my bed I quickly remembered all the cash hidden in the bottom and couldn’t bring that with me for a multitude of reasons. I had to do something with it but I didn’t have time for that now, so I took it out and stashed it in an old backpack I haven’t used in years that was still laying on the top shelf of my closet until I knew what to do with the money. I know enough from all the crime shows I’ve seen not to deposit the money into my bank account but I’d be raising red flags if I suddenly had new items.

I took a deep breath and tried to relax my nerves as I sat on my bed to tie my shoelaces. I kept trying to reassure myself that everything would be fine.

Everything would be fine, right?

 


Submitted: November 30, 2022

© Copyright 2023 kophe. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

zilka.44

Great story, my only critique is that it had such an abrupt ending.

Tue, December 6th, 2022 3:52pm

Author
Reply

Thank you! These are only rough drafts pre-editing and I’m still looking for some fillers for the initial plot so that’s why it’s kinda abrupt :^)

Mon, December 19th, 2022 10:47am

Facebook Comments

More Mystery and Crime Short Stories

Other Content by kophe

Short Story / Mystery and Crime