Home > Big Boned (Heather Wells #3)(7)

Big Boned (Heather Wells #3)(7)
Meg Cabot

“You have to admit,” Sarah says, as if she were reading my mind. “He was kind of a dick.”

“A big enough dick to get shot?” I demand. “I don’t think so.”

“What about that whole paper thing?” Sarah wants to know.

“He didn’t want me borrowing paper from another office!” I yell. “That’s just being a boss!”

“You don’t have to yell,” Sarah says. “And it’s typical of you not to see how, through petty bureaucratic nitpicking, Veatch was micro-managing instead of looking into the broader issues that need addressing—such as the college’s disdain for the basic human needs of its hardest working employees.”

“I don’t know if I’d call myself one of New York College’s hardest working employees,” I say modestly. I mean, I don’t, technically, receive free meals as part of my employment package. I basically just steal them…

“I’m not talking about you,” Sarah snaps. “I’m talking about teaching, research, and graduate assistants like myself, who are being denied employer-paid health care, workload protection, child care benefits, grievance resolution procedures, and other workplace rights by an uncaring administration!”

“Oh,” I say. I can’t help noticing that the desk I’m sitting at—the one with the computer on it—is very messy, littered with scribbled-on Post-it notes, unidentifiable food crumbs, and coffee-mug ring stains. I don’t remember the student government leaving this place such a mess when they moved out, but maybe they did. I’m going to have to ask the housekeeping staff to clean it, or we’ll get mice for sure. If Owen were to have seen this desk, I know he’d have shaken his head, sadly. Owen was a bit of a neat freak, as exemplified by the time he asked me how I could possibly find something on my own desk, prompting me to sweep everything into a bottom drawer when he wasn’t looking.

Problem solved.

Maybe Sarah is right. Maybe Owen chose to focus on dumb stuff, like messy desks, so he didn’t have to pay attention to big stuff. Like that someone wanted him dead.

“The fact is,” Sarah goes on, “if the president’s office continues to fail to allow us to unionize—or even give us a space in which to meet—and sign our current contract, we will strike, and other local unions won’t want to cross our picket lines, meaning that campus-wide, there will be no custodial or janitorial services; no garbage pickup; and no protection service. We’ll see how long it takes President Allington to realize how important we are when he’s picking through trash bags piled waist-high in order to get into his office.”

“Um,” I say. “Okay.”

“And don’t think that Dr. Veatch didn’t know about any of this,” Sarah says. “We told him, point-blank, that if he didn’t relay our demands to the president’s office, this is what would happen.”

I blink at her. “That he’d get shot in the head?”

Sarah rolls her eyes. “No. That we’d strike. Dr. Veatch knew it. And yet they allowed another deadline for signing our contract to pass at midnight last night. Well, now they’re going to have to face the consequences of their actions.”

“Wait. So you think Dr. Veatch got shot by someone in your organization? Because he wasn’t paying enough attention to your demands?”

Sarah lets out a little scream. “Heather! Of course not! The GSC doesn’t believe in violence!”

“Oh.” I blink at her some more. “Well,” I say, finally. “In light of the fact that the ombudsman was apparently murdered this morning, do you think you can get the, um—”

“Graduate Student Collective,” she says. “We call ourselves the GSC for short.”

“Yeah. Okay. Well, maybe, since the guy you normally go through to talk to the president’s office is DEAD, you could chill for a day, until we figure out who did this, and why?”

Sarah shakes her head at me sadly, her long hair brushing her elbows. She’s wearing her finest no-nonsense “Graduate Student Collective” chic, which consists of overalls over a black leotard, paired with combat boots, wire-rimmed glasses, no makeup, and a serious case of the frizzies.

“Don’t you see, Heather? That’s what they want. How are we to know the president’s office didn’t orchestrate Dr. Veatch’s murder themselves in order to delay our striking, knowing, as they must, how big a wrench our striking is going to throw in their daily operations?”

“Sarah,” I say, reaching up to rub my temples. I can feel the beginnings of a headache coming on. “No one from the president’s office shot Dr. Veatch. That is a totally ridiculous suggestion.”

“As ridiculous as your suggesting one of us did it?” Sarah tosses her hair. “That’s just their cover, you know,” she adds darkly. “Don’t you see? Everyone’s going to dismiss the idea as ridiculous. Which is exactly how they might manage to get away with it. You know, if they did it. Which I’m not saying they did.”

“Who did what?” A tall, pale young man appears in the doorway, wearing the requisite messenger bag—also commonly referred to as a murse—and long, unkempt dread-locks of the male version of a New York College graduate student. I recognize him from pictures in the campus newspaper—and a brief introduction one afternoon in front of the library while he and Sarah were picketing—as Sebastian Blumenthal, the head of the Graduate Student Collective, or GSC.

And, if my superpowers don’t mistake me, the apple of Sarah’s eye.

“And what’s with all the cops down the hall?” he wants to know. “Somebody leave a body part on the elevator again?”

I glare at him. It’s absurd how quickly news travels around this place. “That was just a prank.”

“Hey, I’m not the one who didn’t realize it was a prosthetic and called nine-one-one,” Sebastian says. “So what’s going on?”

“Somebody shot Dr. Veatch,” Sarah informs him, matter-of-factly.

“No shit?” Sebastian swings his murse onto the couch—seized from a student’s room and confiscated, since non-fire-retardant furniture isn’t allowed in New York College residence halls—beside her. “Gut shot?”

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