Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2257464-The-Great-Candy-Heist
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Crime/Gangster · #2257464
A children's whodunit for a little fun...
“I know someone in this room did it,” said Ms. Elita, her beige heels clacking definitively with each languid step she took along the tile floor. Her voluminous skirt shifted with the sway of her ample hips. “And if you want to leave this classroom to go anywhere other than the detention room, one of you is going to tell me who it was.”

Roy, Gwen, and Terrance traded wide-eyed glances before returning their quivering gazes to their teacher.

“It wasn’t me,” said Gwen, batting her lashes innocently, ginger curls bouncing lightly on her narrow shoulders. She attempted to smile but her thin, quivering lips were unable to pull it off convincingly. Instead, it came out as a sort of pained expression.

“I’m not so sure about that,” said Mr. Elita, pausing mid-pace to tap her index finger on her lips thoughtfully. “Often, the first one to object is the guilty party.”

Gwen’s jaw dropped, her eyes darting nervously to either side before settling on the crowd of students huddled just outside the open classroom doorway to watch the proceedings. The girl’s lips began to form a word, but before she spoke, she evidently thought the better of it, snapping her mouth shut before reaching out to tap her fingers nervously on the worn plastic surface of her desk.

“Well, I have no idea who did it,” said Roy, following his statement with a furtive look first to one side where Terrance ignored his questioning gaze, then the other. Gwen’s eyes narrowed suspiciously at him as his focus landed on her.

“You don’t, do you...” Ms. Elita intoned in a lilting voice, her dark, penetrating eyes shifting toward Roy. Her irises seemed to zero in on the boy, boring a hole into the center student’s creased forehead, his eyebrows rising in shock.

“Well, I definitely didn’t do it,” said Terrance, crossing his arms over his chest definitively. When Ms. Elita’s unblinking, hawklike gaze found him, a bead of perspiration appeared at his temple, the only outward sign of nervousness he displayed.

“As I said, it was someone in this room,” the teacher repeated, her piercing eyes moving slowly across the row of seated students. “And I see no other students here except you.”

“Is it really so bad?” asked Gwen in a quiet, halting whisper. “I mean, no one was hurt or anything…”

Ms. Elita’s predatory eyes found the young girl once again, her slender neck swooping like that of a vulture. The pretty teacher’s eyes glimmered with smoldering intensity. “Not hurt? Not hurt?! Gwen, I’ll have you know that the early release of Halloween candy cannot be tolerated! What prize do I have to give for the winner of the best costume contest?”

As Gwen withered under Ms. Elita’s contemptuous gaze, Roy spoke. “Maybe you could give away the Poirot costume?” Roy’s finger shook as it unfurled to point out the shrink-wrapped package that lay atop the teacher’s desk. Inside the clear plastic were a neatly folded stack of black and white clothes topped by a curling adhesive mustache.

“Silence!” cried Ms. Elita, the vehemence of her shrill voice stiffening the spines of all three students simultaneously. “What sense,” she continued in a quiet hiss, “does it make to give a costume as a prize for the best costume?”

“Oh, no! You’re right, Ms. Elita! It doesn’t make any sense at all!” cried Gwen desperately. She swallowed hard, looking as if she were on the verge of tears.

“This is crazy,” huffed Terrance. “I’m leaving.”

As the boy tucked his feet beneath him, twisting to rise from his desk, Ms. Elita zoomed forward to block his escape, her willowy arms planting a hand to either side of him. She leaned forward until her nose was a scant inch from that of her student. “You may leave when and only when I excuse you. Is that understood, Mr. Ticklewick?”

“Yeah,” said her student, attempting to look defiant but clearly cowed.

Stepping back, Ms. Elita whirled suddenly, launching a long, slender finger at Gwen. “You! Approach the whiteboard and draw a map of the classroom as it was arranged just before the crime was committed.

Gwen’s head lurched back, every muscle in her face seeming to tense at once. But she quickly gathered herself, scurrying to comply with Ms. Elita’s demand. She hustled to the board, tugging the lid from a marker and setting it to the board. Its dizzying fumes swayed her already wobbly knees. A rapid series of anguished-sounding squeaks and squawks later, a detailed map of the classroom was drawn on the board. The ginger-haired girl turned to face her teacher with tremulous puppy eyes, the bottom of the stubby red marker tapping nervously against her palm.

Ms. Elita surveyed the drawing, her lips drawing thin as she nodded her approval. “Good work, Ms. Garrison. I believe that your depiction of the scene of the crime is quite apt.”

The corners of Gwen’s lips twitched upward in a fleeting smile, her shoulders slumping in obvious relief. She quickly tensed again, however, as Ms. Elita strode swiftly up to her, swiping the marker from the girl’s trembling grasp. The woman slammed the tip of the pen to the board, drawing several emphatic circles around the location of the candy where it had been at the time⁠—sitting upon her desk.

”That is where the candy was located when recess began. Are we in agreement?” Gwen and Roy nodded eagerly. Terrance sat stoically, his arms still crossed.

“Mr. Ticklewick?” the teacher prodded, frowning as she stared at him. “Do you disagree?”

“No,” admitted the boy sullenly.

“Then I must ask you to participate when I next ask a question, lest I simply decide, from your lack of cooperation alone, that you’re the fiend who relinquished the candy for premature consumption.”

A look of concern flickered briefly across the boy’s features before his petulant scowl returned.

“Mr. Roundington? To the board,” Ms. Elita announced. “Ms. Garrison, back to your seat.”

Gwen ran back to her desk, her pink dress billowing behind her as Roy slowly rose. The boy walked to the front of the room as if he were on his way to the gallows.

“Now diagram each student’s position when you returned from recess,” the teacher clucked, putting a finger to her lips thoughtfully once again.

Roy’s brows furrowed as he uncapped the green marker. He drew three small circles at the doorway. The rest of the class, watching from that very position, tittered in amusement.

Ms. Elita frowned. “Really, Mr. Roundington? The doorway? All three of you at once? I sincerely doubt that is what happened at the end of recess. Mr. Ticklewick, in particular, has a tendency to return from outside as late as possible.”

The stiff-legged boy shot his instructor a fearful look before his eyes darted to the two other suspects for confirmation. Terrance responded with a roll of his eyes, apparently unwilling to confirm Ms. Elita’s suspicions.

Gwen, however, squirmed uncomfortably in her seat. “Actually, I came back inside a little early. When recess ended, I think I was there. Right near Ms. Elita’s desk.”

The teacher’s head snapped to the side, her dark chocolate eyes glimmering as they bore down on the timid girl. Gwen looked downright miserable, unable to meet her teacher’s intense gaze. Roy found the eraser, rubbing out the circle at the doorway with the G inside, recreating it just before the desk on the map.

“But I didn’t take the candy! I swear!” Gwen’s soft denial quavered, her subsequent swallow audible over the dead silence of the room. “When I got back from recess, it was already gone!”

Terrance began to laugh. “Gwen, no one could ever believe you took the damn candy. You’re so terrified of breaking a rule that you would have passed out even thinking about taking it.”

Gwen’s eyes, shimmering with nascent tears, ventured a glance at Ms. Elita to see whether she agreed. The teacher’s chin bobbed almost imperceptibly as she agreed with Terrance’s assessment. “Quite right, Mr. Ticklewick. Still, her proximity to the prior location of the candy upon the return of the class makes her a viable suspect by virtue of circumstance alone.”

The teacher’s wary eyes shifted to land on Terrance. “So where were you at the end of recess.”

“Still on the playground,” he shot back, expression smug. “You already said I have a tendency to push my time outside a little past the limit.”

“That would be in character. Quite convenient, really,” Ms. Elita agreed, before frowning. “It would prove the perfect cover for a clandestine trip into the school for a candy robbery. You are the most likely student, personality-wise, according to your classmates, to have attempted the heist. Why else do you think that you are among the suspects in the room?”

Terrance didn’t seem outwardly phased by the accusation, save for the tiniest quiver at the corner of his lips. “You can’t prove anything.”

Ms. Elita raised an eyebrow.

“You can’t! Because I didn’t do it!”

His teacher glowered at him for a long moment before returning her suspicious eyes to the student at the whiteboard. “Mr. Roundington? You often play soccer with Mr. Ticklewick at recess, do you not?”

Roy nodded vigorously. “I do!”

“Did you play with him during this particular recess?”

“I did!”

“Did Mr. Ticklewick disappear from the field of play at any point during today’s activities?”

Roy paused, considering, before shaking his head. “I don’t think so.”

Ms. Elita’s head swiveled suddenly to face him, her eyes hard as her gaze landed on him. “Did you disappear inside at any point during the soccer game?”

“I… no!” Roy protested emphatically. He looked suddenly panic-stricken.

His teacher’s eyes shot back to Terrance’s narrowed gaze. “Is that true, Mr. Ticklewick?”

The smug boy pursed his lips, watching Roy’s silently pleading eyes as he strained to remember. After a moment of thought, however, the seated boy nodded. “Yeah, I don’t remember him leaving the field.”

Their teacher let out a breath before leveling Gwen once more with a withering gaze. “So our only other suspect, however unlikely, must have been the culprit. Correct, gentlemen?”

Both boys turned to regard Gwen with surprised eyes.

“But I didn’t!” Gwen shrieked, looking absolutely horrified. Her knuckles went white as they clutched at the edges of her desk.

Ms. Elita smiled wickedly. “No, you didn’t.”

Both boys joined Gwen in turning their incredulous faces toward their teacher. “But,” Roy protested, “who else could have done it?!”

Their teacher’s lips parted in a broad smile. She reached into the pockets of her long skirt and withdrew two heaping handfuls of candy.

Gwen gasped. Roy blinked. Terrance began to laugh. “I knew your hips looked wider than normal!”

“Well, it’s too bad that you didn’t voice your suspicions, Mr. Ticklewick. If you had, you might have won the Poirot costume,” said Ms. Elita with a mischievous wink. “As it is, I get to keep the costume for another year.”

“Fortunately,” she continued, waving the rest of the class back inside the room as she dumped the candy back into the orange plastic bowl on her desk. “Every student will get three pieces of candy as a consolation prize, with the remainder going to the winner of the best costume prize.”

“That wasn’t really fair, Ms. Elita,” Terrance, the corners of his mouth twitching upward as his teacher reached him with the bowl of candy. He stared at his teacher admiringly as he ferreted an extra piece of candy. “Making us think it was one of us.”

Ms. Elita shrugged, her hand flashing out to catch Terrance’s wrist, fingers nimbly robbing him of his extra prize. “Oh, it was quite fair, I think. I did say that the guilty party was someone inside the room, after all.”

1,998 words
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