A biography, grossly exaggerated and highly embellished.
Conrad Coenen stared out the floor to ceiling windows, through the haggard uneven lines of blinds tainted yellow. The sky was dark and the rain pattered against the glass. There seemed to be an ocean in the heavens for the rain hadn't stopped it's relentless downpour in days.
"Conrad," the Chief grunted, addressing him as he ambled through the door, coffee in hand.
"Sir," Conrad stood up.
"Have a seat son.. I've got news for you and it's gonna be a shocker." The Chief looked at him soberly. "The state committees' decided you gotta be relocated -that much I'm sure you saw comin'. But then somethin' interesting came up."
Taking a swig of steaming coffee, Chief Donnelley leaned back in his chair and stared out at the rain for a moment before continuing.
"See, we don't usually do it this way but considering the circumstances and the coincidence of you having a Bachelor of English, the board saw it as a good opportunity. For you and us."
Conrad was bewildered. What did a Bachelor of English have to do with being a cop.
"You've heard about all that drug trafficking going on up in Canada, ya?" Conrad nodded. Unbelievable volumes of drug trafficking to and from California being traced all the way back to Canada but there were no leads. It was a mystery that seemed to be open to the world. It was a huge topic.
"What about it?"
"Well.. the investigators up there think they've finally got a lead. They managed to trace it back to an all girls private school in Vancouver. Can you believe it? A private school, they think kids, girls, are runnin' that operation." Donnelley scoffed. "Anyway, the board wants to place you undercover in the school. They just so happen to be in need of an English teacher."
Conrad stared at the Chief.
"So, you're telling me, not only am I being relocated. I'm going to be undercover… in Canada …teaching English in an all girls private school?"
The Chief let out a chuckle, "That's right, son."
Conrad leaned over with his head in his hands and let out a sigh. Donnelley returned the sigh.
"Look, consider yourself lucky you didn't get suspended for eternity after the stunt you pulled." Donnelley shook his head. Happy he was not sentenced to any time, Conrad still didn't care to hear about it anymore. Donnelley knew this.
"It'll be good for you to get away for a while. You just broke up with Kim, ya?" Kim. The closest you could get to the most average person ever, Conrad thought to himself. Glad that was over.
"Either way, you're goin' or findin' another career. Up to you." The Chief looked over at him, waiting for an answer.
"Yea," Conrad replied with a mild grimace, "I'll take it."
The classroom was bare. Usually when a new teacher moves in they bring an assortment of tell tale posters, pictures of family on the desk, knick knacks, maybe a plant or two. The only thing that differentiated the room from a vacant one was the word "English" scribbled on the board in blue chalk and the name in slightly smaller font below it: "Mr. Coenen". No hints, Mia thought.
Mia was feeling especially alert today. No brain fog, no cravings, nothing was nagging at the corners of her mind, and the prospect of a new teacher for her favourite subject was exciting. She sat back and enjoyed the simple pleasure of dreaming up who this Mr. Coenen could be. The bell rang. The group of snotty preparatory girls also known as her friends lingering around her drifted to their seats close by, some mumbling last snippets of gossip. Mia's day dream broke off when she caught the last bit.
"I heard he used to be an officer of the law," Kiely smirked. Noticing Mia's reaction she laughed a practiced laugh, "I saw those eyes Mia." Then a voice addressed the class. Mia turned, prepared to let reality blow out the candle of her fantasy. There was no small snickers or fake coughs, there was no sound from the female students at all. Every set of painted eyes was transfixed on the one set of deep blue.
"Welcome to English." He said, sweeping the class with one look. "I am Mr. Coenen, I'll be your teacher for this year. Lets do the attendance quickly and then we can get acquainted."
Mia stared at the smooth, dark, chocolate brown hair combed over to the side of a very handsome face. Her eyes moved down the casual button down shirt to the perfectly fitted grey pants and then back to the deep blue eyes staring into hers as she heard him call her name.
"Mia Snow?" Yes, she mouthed the word.
"Present." She looked down, blushing. The platinum blonde of the group, Mackenzie, gaped at her in mock amazement from the desk diagonal to hers.
Mr. Coenen finished reading the last name on the attendance list and then placed the sheet of paper behind him on his desk.
"So I guess I'll tell you a bit about myself." He started. "I just moved from Chicago, Illinois a month ago. That's where I grew up. This is my first year teaching so all of you should feel honoured." Here he stopped and smiled at everyone. A few students chuckled and there was one high pitched giggle. Kiely raised her hand.
"Is it true you used to be a cop?" She said smugly looking directly at Mia. Mia noticed a look of remorse flit across Mr. Coenen's face for a split second.
"That's true." he said, his face composed again, "I was part of the Chicago Police Department for a few years."
Kiely began to ask another question but he cut her off and invited her to share something about herself which she more than willingly consented to. He did so similarly with the rest of the students until the bell rang which stopped him from getting to Mia. As soon as they were out in the hall Kiely cooed at Mia.
"Oooh Mia, he's saving you for last." She teased. Mia rolled her eyes at her obnoxious friend, suppressing a smile because she had thought the same thing.
"He's gorgeous." She said, all her friends mmmm'd in agreement. Mia stopped at her locker, the group separated, Kiely stayed by her side.
"I'm out." She said plainly. Mia sighed. She took a blue package of what looked like gum from another shoulder bag in her locker and handed it to Kiely. Blue was Percocet. There were five other colours.
"You shouldn't be taking them every day Kiely." Mia scolded.
"Ok mom." Kiely retorted as she placed a crumpled bill in Mia's hand then turned and left.
Mia walked through the empty school. It was only the first day and the hallways were already littered with random papers and food wrappers. She had stayed until the library closed, as usual, and took her time slowly waltzing through the halls. Learning anything and everything was her only escape from the reality she had to face everyday. She sold drugs to her peers. She took comfort knowing she didn't have much of a choice in the matter, at least. Coming from a family of five brothers, all big time, silver polished criminals, she was like a puppet to them. She was the face of their organization whether she wanted to be or not. She scrolled through the messages on her phone and ignored all but one from her youngest brother offering her a ride. She liked him the most, his position in the family was similar to hers. She walked out the back doors into a deserted lane and waited.
Immersed in an article she was reading from her phone she barely noticed the SUV pull up in front of her. She looked up as three unpleasant looking men came out and walked towards her. Under her panic she thought how stereotypical this seemed. Remembering the doors were locked on the outside she dismissed the idea of running back into the school and instead stood there, focusing on keeping her composure.
"Hi Mia." He had stone cold eyes and a small, cruel smile on the corners of his lips. Clearly the leader of this trio. "Your big brothers leave you all alone like this?" He tsked, slowly shaking his head. It was obvious this man was not here to speak to her so she kept her mouth shut. He came closer, too close and she backed up a step. That was the signal. The other two came at her, shoving her to the ground, dumping the contents of her bag on top of her, and oddly enough, removing her shoes and throwing them across the court yard a good 60 ft. Mia watched her flats bounce off into the distance just as the doors behind her swung open. Within seconds the awful trio had jumped in their vehicle and sped off, leaving Mia on the ground not bothering to get up.
"Mia?" She looked up to see Mr. Coenen looking down at her. She was barely able to mouth a word before she burst into tears. He pulled her up slowly, contents of her purse falling off of her. She continued to sob as he cleaned up the mess around her.
"I called the police," he said softly. Mia groaned, her sobbing subsiding. He looked at her quizzically.
"I appreciate that, but I'll have to leave before they get here." She said picking up her phone. She sighed, one corner of the screen was in a million pieces.
"Why is that?" He asked, kindly. She looked up at his face which reflected genuine concern. Looking down she replied.
"The police are not fond of the name 'Snow'. Believe me, they will hardly be helpful in my case." She expected to hear his protests but instead he looked thoughtfully for a moment in the distance. Taking a car key out of his jacket pocket he handed it to her.
"Here, thats my car over there," he pointed to a Range Rover parked near the building. "Go sit in the back, I'll grab your shoes and talk to the cops when they show up." Mia must've looked stunned because after a moment he turned her towards the car and gave her a gentle push. Quickly taking a hold of herself she did as he said and was grateful to be behind the blackened windows sinking down against comfortable leather. Where was her brother, she thought. Despite her concern, she felt quite safe and relished in the feeling. Just then her battered phone rang and she looked down seeing 'Mayor Snow' on the call display. Her oldest brother. Something really bad had happened, and it wasn't what she had just experienced. She ignored the call. They couldn't get at her right now. Then realizing this she quickly turned her phone off, removed the battery and stuffed both in her purse.
The police were here now, the squad car sat parallel with it's lights still flashing. Mia sat as low down as she could despite the windows being completely black from the outside and watched Coenen calmly explaining something to the officer standing there. He looked very much at ease, she thought. Sooner than she thought possible, the officer shook his hand, and getting into the squad car, promptly drove off. She watched mesmerized as Coenen casually walked across the courtyard to where her shoes landed, a few feet apart from each other. Then turned and walked toward the vehicle. Panicking about her appearance she quickly found her mirror and using her sweater sleeve brushed the running mascara off her face. He slid into the drivers seat and turned around to face her.
"Feeling better?" He asked, smiling at her.
"Yea," she said, blushing from his gaze. She didn't know what else to say so she just smiled; it was a natural smile.
"You're more than welcome to hop in the front, unless you want to stay back there. From what I hear you're a wanted girl." She looked at him wide eyed, was he serious?
"I'm kidding," he said, laughing, "Sorry..", he looked at her sincerely, "I make stupid jokes." Mia still had no idea what to say.
"Oh, thats ok, humour is my reaction most of the time." She blurted out, adding, "Except when I'm like, you know, this." She gestured towards herself.
"Anyway, I will accept that invitation to the front." She hopped out of the car and back in as gracefully as possible. He put her flats down by her feet for her.
"So where am I taking you?" He asked her. She looked away dispirited. He noticed and quickly changed his question.
"Would you like me to find someone you can talk to?" He peered into her face.
"Um-" she started but looked away from him out the window. What was she expecting, she asked herself, he was probably already breaking a million rules just having her in his car right now.
"You can just drop me off at the Starbucks at 11th and Granville." She rummaged around in her bag to make sure she had her wallet.
"Alright," he said, somewhat resigned. They passed 35th. 34th. Red light at 33rd.
"You know your way around here pretty good already?" Mia broke the silence.
"Yea I studied a map." He grinned at her. He had the most adorable dimples on both cheeks. Mia looked away and tried to stop smiling. 30th. 29th.
"So did you live in Chicago all your life?" She asked him, all of a sudden bubbly in conversation.
"Yep, that's where I grew up. I've traveled quite a bit but I always found my way back there." He slowed down in expectation for a yellow light.
"Are you going to find your way back this time?" She asked him softly, glad the spotlight was not on her. She watched as the same look of remorse she'd seen earlier that day passed on his face.
"I think I'm going to be here for a while this time." She remembered Kiely's smug face.
"Are you ever going to be a cop again?" Blushing, she realized she was asking personal questions. "I'm sorry, I'm being nosy." He looked at her. She couldn't believe how captivating he was.
"I don't mind. I most likely will never be a cop again." He answered. He pulled up in front of the Starbucks and put the car into park but didn't turn it off.
"Just so you know, I'm not about to forget what happened today, I know that wasn't a random assault. I'm trusting you to get some help for yourself." Mia unbuckled her seatbelt.
"Ok." She said.
"If you don't know where to go for help then come and speak to me, I'll be in the classroom at 7:30 every morning."
"Ok, thank you Mr. Coenen."
"You can call me Conrad."
"Thank you, Conrad." Mia didn't trust the feeling inside of her. It felt too nice.
"You're welcome, Mia." Much too nice.