“This is the sun. Think of me. We are together in  the sun.”

This is the end of  the story of Theo, Dev and the Cherry Street School, called  THE STORY OF DEV.

They came for Bobby Danforth and his friends during the school day, Sergeant Ellingwood and three officers.

Jacob pulled Theo out of the  crowd of silent students huddled along  the sidewalk to the side wall and said he had been told by his parents that the authorities were going  to make a display of Bobby’s detainment.

“There was a big discussion at city hall about this,” Jacob said. “The family has allies, but the police chief said he would resign if nothing  was done this time, as did Sgt. Ellingwood and Mr. Younger. The family promised they would handle it, but the chief took them into the back room alone and played them part of Dev’s tape.”

“Howdja  know that?”

“My father’s on the town council, so he was there.”


Jacob blinked away tears and took a deep breath.

“There were twenty-two.” He took several halting breaths, eyes wide staring at the ground.  “Twenty-two kids, Theo. Beatings, thefts, threats, and sexual assaults.” His voice gained weight.  “Including me.”

“I thought there was something, but…”

“It was a year ago.”

“You don’t have to tell me, Jacob.”

“But I do. I’ve already told my therapist, my parents, the police, and I thought I should tell you because you made me stronger.”

“No…I just,”

“The three of them. They cornered me behind the library and put their hands in my pants and made me kneel in front of Bobby…”

Jacob turned to face the school wall, his head in his arms, shoulders shaking,   and wailed.

All Theo could do was put a hand on his friend’s shoulder and say, “I’m so sorry.”


The bricks were wet and cold. The sun had yet to poke above a tree line still shrouded in the mist of a morning shower.

In a while, Theo thought. One shot, the only shot. From the front, over the fire escape, across the rear door with no footholds, along the playground side, hanging in mid-air, then the last turn to the front door, a quick jump to the ground.


The wall crawl.

Of course, no one would be there to see it, not even Jacob, whose mother grounded him after learning about the betting scheme.

He pulled Dev’s  letter from his pocket. He had been carrying for weeks.

“I think you knew I was leaving,” she wrote. “If I saw you, I maybe would have stayed or just made this harder. I’ll hitch  a ride on a truck making a produce run to Buffalo, where I’ll take a bus to New Mexico.  I have an open invitation  to stay at the home of my mother’s brother, a tribal leader. We are the people of the sun, T. There was too much darkness. I needed to get back to the sun, back to my home. You are in the light I see each morning  when I look to the east. I will always see you. T.”

At the bottom of the page she had drawn a spiral with radiating spikes.

“This is the sun. Think of me. We are together in  the sun.”

He leaned his head back against the cold stone wall and for the first time since he read that letter, he smiled. Dev’s warmth filled him.

He pushed away from the wall and crawled up the side of the fire escape. At the top, he looped his left arm around the frame and leaned out as far as he could. He pulled a nail  from his back pocket and scratched away at a brick until he had carved, “Dev. Sun girl.”

He crawled down and walked to the front of the school.

One last wall crawl. For Jacob. For Dev.

He glanced up at the three-story building. It no longer seemed so large and foreboding, and he no longer felt small. He jumped to the top of the cement foundation and slipped his fingers between the bricks. “Got this.”

As he maneuvered around the corners, he replayed the  report he gave Mrs. Adams’ class on the Louisiana Purchase.

“Before I begin, I want to thank my friend Jacob Sheridan for his help with the historic research of all of your names. His family name was Swartz, and was changed to avoid harassment. Many of your family names changed, too. The handout explains what we found. We all were someone else, and there’s no reason to hide from it. My name is Theophile. You know me as Theo because I was ashamed to use my real name. You can call me ‘T-ao.’ My family is from Louisiana. We are French and my last name is pronounced ‘Du-boi.’ This report is about the girl who gave me the courage to use my real name. Her name is Andrea Duarte. This is the story of Dev.”

About michaelstephendaigle

I have been writing most of my life. I am the author of the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. "The Swamps of Jersey (2014); "A Game Called Dead" (2016) -- a Runner-Up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Author Contest; and "The Weight of Living" (2017) -- First Place winner for Mysteries in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards Contest.
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