I caught up with Darcy Summers in the frozen aisle of West Side Market. She was laying low next to the instant waffles. A group of students seeking shelter from the night air were hanging out nearby.
The last of the three possible culprits, Darcy’s name had come up in my conversation with suspect number one, Tanya. Half of the school would tell you Darcy was a stand-up girl, but there’d been talk on the street of her roommate’s encounters with a hot new TA. It wasn’t too hard to imagine Darcy’s annoyance driving her to the edge of insanity … and to the edge of the law.
Darcy was the kind of girl who always got what she wanted, and didn’t care what it took to get it. She didn’t mind dipping into daddy’s trust fund, she came from a world of glitz and glamor and she’d definitely been to the wrong side of the tracks.
She was a crafty one, too, a real brainiac. Rumor had it Darcy had been involved with the lucrative university-wide essay-writing business that had been shut down in December. With such auspicious ties to the university’s world of underground crime, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d had a hand in tonight’s festivities.
“Now what are you doing hanging out around here?” I asked.
“Just thought I’d get myself a snack while we wait,” she replied.
“Alright if I wait with you? I’ve got a few questions I was hoping you could help me answer.”
Darcy’s eyes narrowed. But other than that, she gave away nothing. I could already tell this was gonna be a tough one to break. But not too tough for me — I could break a suspect made of bulletproof glass.
“I guess so.”
We left the ruckus in the freezer aisle behind and slipped into a dark corner by the cleaning supplies. I flipped open my notepad. Time to crack the case open.
“What were you up to all night? Know anything about the fire alarm?” I asked.
“No. I was just hanging out in my room I guess,” she responded, turning to examine the Lysol wipes.
“Really? Because Tanya placed you and Ned at the scene of the crime a couple of seconds after it happened. She said you looked suspicious.”
Darcy drew her silky bathrobe tighter around herself, as if protecting herself from my suspicion. Unfortunately for her, it only made me all the more sure she was exactly the broad I was looking for.
“I know your roommate’s been seeing a new guy recently,” I said. “And I know she was in the building tonight. I saw her in the fire drill line just a couple of minutes ago.”
She was getting a little shifty-eyed. I pressed harder: “And Ned, Tanya and I … we heard a pretty suspicious sound coming from the floor near your room. Sounded like porn. A real head-scratcher.”
I could tell she was hiding something. The world is so filled with lies and deceit, I’d developed a sense for the stuff. And I could have seen hers from a mile away.
“Listen, I don’t know what all the noise was about, but all of this is sounding pretty bad for you. So why don’t you just tell me what was really going on tonight?”
“Okay, okay. I’ll tell you the whole story.”
Here’s what happened. Darcy’s roommate Emma had violated their roommate agreement for the third time that month by bringing TA Fred over after 11.
“He’s the TA of my class, too. That’s how they met. She came to bring me my ID so I could get into the academic building one day, and the rest is history. Anyway. I’m not bitter or anything, but I did know him first. And it’s so embarrassing.”
After a couple of hours of pacing through the hallway, Darcy saw a kid throwing up a couple doors down and decided it was time to wrap things up. But when she knocked on the door, Emma ignored her, and she could hear Emma and Fred still going at it through the wall.
I shuddered. Gross.
“Anyway, I’ve been under a lot of pressure lately since my business went under. My grades have been slipping too.”
So the rumors were true.
She went on—
With Emma and Fred’s encounter going later and later into the night, Darcy decided to take shelter in her friend’s room. Then the fire alarm went off.
She stopped her story there, but I could tell there was something she was keeping to herself.
“And that’s it?” I asked. She nodded. “Anything to say about what you were doing talking to Ned and Tanya right as the alarm was pulled?”
“Nope,” she replied. She checked her phone. “I’ve got someone on the inside that says they can let me back into my room now. Gotta go!”
“Wait—” I started, but she was already gone. Disappeared into the night like the sly cat she was.
It seemed like all of the suspects had holes in their stories. As I followed Darcy out of the supermarket, I began to get a clearer picture of what had happened. Tanya, Ned and Darcy. The fire alarm. The party, the candle fire and the TA in the bedroom. I was finally putting all of the pieces together…
Email Amelie Brooks at [email protected]