"Is there a problem, ladies?"
"Carly is a St. Dymphna problem."
"Help Carly, or, at least, stay out of her way and see you sent to, well, I have my dreams; or, help you to prevent Carly from being a right pain."
"She's not from St. Dymphna."
Basketball Night in Canada
Chapter 13 - Home Opener
"You did what?" Caitlin paced around the seated Autumn. She stopped mid-stride to focus her ire on Skye. "And you let her? Do either of you know what could have happened? Wheeler or his girl could have seen you and called the police."
"Autumn needed me there, Cait," Skye said. "We weren't seen."
"We also got info for you."
Caitlin whirled back to Autumn. "If I wanted information, I'd tell you to get it."
Anger clouded Autumn's expression. "You've been on our backs to look for who is trying to shut us down, a task not made any easier seeing that everyone in Oshawa wants to see us gone."
"By going back to a place that we know is a trap. Good thinking, Autumn."
Over on her bed, Laura lowered her poetry text. "That's how you use sarcasm."
Without turning to look at the offender, Caitlin said, "Not helping, Laura."
"Cait, where else should we have been?" Skye spread her arms to take in the entire dorm. "Here? We're on a deadline. The team's next game is Friday. We weren't any closer to find out who the problem is when you left for the coffee shop."
Caitlin sat down, rubbing her hand on her forehead. "Look," she said have releasing a long breath, "we can't run around without a plan."
"I couldn't wait for you to return," Autumn said. "Wheeler or his girl figured out that I hacked their security feed. If I hadn't gone with Skye, we would never have found out about our girl."
Skye smirked. "And you wouldn't have heard her when she got zapped."
Caitlin glanced from Autumn to Skye and back. "Zapped?"
"Booby trap." Autumn put on an innocent expression. "Doesn't matter. What does is that we found out who our mystery guest is. My hack included taking a picture of whoever it was trying to shut me down."
"And an electrical shock," Caitlin added. "Well?"
"Skye noticed the big clue, that her uniform didn't fit. That meant she had to get it from somewhere else and that she's clueless on what the uniform means here. She's not a local, or wasn't a local, so I started--"
Caitlin held up a hand to cut off Autumn. "The point?"
"Mystery Girl has a name. Alexandra Fichetti, born in Whitby, went to Port Perry Secondary there. Parents divorced when she was a kid. Her mother moved in with Wheeler last year, but Alexandra stayed with her father to finish her year at Port Perry before moving here."
Laura climbed over her bed to get closer to her roommates without leaving the comfort of the bed. "Wait, as in Marco 'The Fish' Fichetti?"
Skye looked over at Laura. "'The Fish'?"
"I never made up the nickname."
"No, Anthony Fichetti," Autumn answered. "Works in Toronto at one of the banks. Who the hell is Marco Fichetti?"
"Ah, no one, really." Laura returned to her text book. "Forget I said anything."
"Why didn't they just call him 'Marco Polo'?"
"Because 'Marco Polo' Ramirez already had that nickname."
"Autumn, as much fun it is to learn about Laura's connection to the Toronto underworld, can we please get back on topic?" Caitlin tossed her hair back. "Laura, I'm sure Vamsi would love to hear more about your interesting life before you came here."
"Right. Anyway." Autumn cleared her throat. "Alexandra Fichetti moved to Oshawa in time for the new school year. She started at Oshawa Western in September, though the trail goes cold there. You know, because no one uses computers here in town."
Skye nodded. "We play Western Collegiate here Friday."
"I doubt Ms Fichetti will be in attendance for the game," Caitlin said. "How did she get the St. Dymphna uniform?"
Autumn shrugged. "I'm still working that out, Caitlin."
"Who supplies the school with their uniforms?" Laura asked. "Who supplies ours, for that matter?"
"We get ours tailored through an alumna," Caitlin answered. "St. Dymphna has never said who supplies theirs, though I suspect the Church is involved at some point."
Laura nodded as she took in the information. "What happens to the old uniforms? The younger girls must grow out of them a few times before graduating." She snapped her fingers. "And what are you going to do to yours after you leave?"
"Who is going to buy a used uniform?"
"I can think of a few places that would happily buy them. Some of the dancers I know would pay for one if it fit them."
Skye turned to stare at her roommate. "You mean, like that one, Ginger?"
"Oh, good point!" Autumn looked down at her uniform. "I forgot that some guys fetishize school uniforms, especially Catholic ones."
Caitlin shut her eyes tight. "Can we please not go down this sordid road?"
"Let's leave the creeptastic elements out for now?" Skye added.
Laura set aside her textbook again. "Whitby isn't that far. I had to pass through it to get here."
Caitlin shook her head no. "We'd tip our hand to anyone watching."
"Does anyone know someone from there?"
"Alyssa had family there," Skye said, "but we have no idea where she is now."
"Nothing we can do about that now," Autumn said.
Caitlin jotted down some notes in her book. "I think I have something. Skye, ask Coach Cherry if she's looked into the refs for Friday's game. She probably has and I suspect that new refs are being shuffled in. We're at a dead end until we either see a connection between Carly and Ms Fichetti or rule it out. That means getting information from Verity, but whatever we get we'll need to verify." The redhead got to her feet to pace around the room as she talked. "Carly's from Ottawa, but I don't have enough data about her roommates. Unlike the Academy, St. Dymphna only draws in girls from within Ontario." Caitlin paused to take a breath. "Friday's game is going to be clean, at least from the ref's view. No one's interfering. Wheeler and Ms Fichetti are compromised. If they're used again, it'll be as a pawn sacrifice."
Laura held up a hand. "You're going back to chess metaphors now?"
"I am." The red-haired girl sat down on her bed. "Poker is a game. Chess?" An evil grin appeared on Caitlin's expression. "Chess is war."
Friday's basketball game saw the stands sparsely attended, with all the girls watching wearing the Academy's red and grey uniform. Laura picked her way through the stands to a seat near the centre line. The Gephardt Phoenix were on the gym floor going through their warmup routine. Skye had the team run a pattern of passing and shooting while Coach Cherry met with her counterpart from Oshawa Western Collegiate and the refs.
A burst of noise caught Laura's attention. She looked over her shoulder to see a contingent of Jennifers enter, led by Jenn. The mob swarmed over the seats, making their way to sit beside Laura. "Hi there!" Jenn said.
"Fancy seeing you here," Laura said. "I didn't know you were into basketball."
"I didn't know you were." Jenn smirked. "I was hoping to find you."
"You were looking for me?"
"Not any more. I found you. I just wanted to let you know that you're an honourary Jennifer, one of us." Jenn slapped Laura on the back. "Welcome to being a new student."
Laura felt her cheeks growing warm. "Thanks. I think."
"Hey, it's the least we can do for a senior who bothers to learn who we are." Jenn looked down at the gym floor. "Has the game started?"
"Not yet. The coaches are doing last minute stuff. At least this game should be fair."
"That's no fun."
Laura spotted Caitlin and Autumn entering the stands and waved. "Hi, guys!"
Jenn joined in on the waving. "Found her again."
Caitlin levelled a glare at the younger girl. "Thank you." The redhead sat down as the Jennifers ran off. "Are you encouraging them?"
"I don't think they need my encouragement."
Autumn shuddered before taking a seat. "Evil little brats."
"You just don't like them," Laura accused.
"They don't like me!"
Caitlin sighed. "Ladies, focus, please. We have a basketball game to watch."
"It hasn't started yet." Laura stuck her tongue out at the red-haired girl.
"Do you really think something is going to happen?" Autumn asked.
"No, but I want to make sure that the game is settled by the players, not some outsider." Caitlin smoothed out her skirt. "I have money riding on this game."
"I am shocked - shocked! - that there is gambling in this establishment." Vamsi sat down beside Caitlin.
Caitlin stared at the newcomer. "You're the one who took my bet."
"You've never seen Casablanca?" Vamsi leaned over. "I can get you a copy. It's set during the Second World War in Morocco."
Intrigued, Caitlin focused her attention on Vamsi. "A war movie?"
"Add it to my order." Caitlin returned her attention to the basketball game, about to start. "Go, Phoenix!"
The referee blew his whistle and tossed the basketball up. Skye used her height to tip the ball to Felicia who passed to Rachel. The three kept the ball away from the Oshawa Western Owls, moving the ball up court before Skye ran for a lay-up shot to score.
The game was a terse affair afterwards. The Owls came back with their own basket on the next play. The two teams kept the score close, neither able to run away with the game. Fouls occurred, but if there was any retaliation, the girls involved were subtle enough to not make it apparent. Up in the stands, Caitlin scrutinize movement along the Owls' bench, waiting to see if any of the Oshawa Western players tried to do anything untoward the Academy's bench. At the end of the game, though, the Gephardt Academy Phoenix won by three points in a close game.
Autumn stood up, cheering, as the final buzzer sounded. "Yes!" She looked over to her classmates. "Okay, now what?"
"What do you mean, 'Now what?'" Laura asked.
"I've never seen the team get this far into a season."
"They play another team, then another and another." Laura shook her head in dismay.
Vamsi laughed. "You have to excuse us, Laura. We're in unfamiliar territory, not being suspended for the season after the first game."
Caitlin got to her feet. "We keep an eye out at the next game, just in case."
"You do that." Vamsi stood up, then stretched. "I have people to see. Oh, Laura, have you opened the envelope yet, the one Mr. Baker gave you?"
Laura sighed. "Can't people forget about it? No, I haven't and I'm not. It's for Megan. And tell Fawna to stop sending her bird in to steal it. It's in someplace no one would expect."
"Just asking. I have a pool going for when it gets opened, too. No one from your dorm is allowed in it." Vamsi nodded at Caitlin. "Certain elements might try to influence the decision."
"Certain elements have tried and have failed to look inside."
Caitlin rolled her eyes. "Certain elements know when you're talking about her."
"Then certain elements can stay out of my things or at least fold them up neatly again when she's done rummaging."
Caitlin blushed, her cheeks a deep red on her pale complexion. "Oh."
Laura got up. "I'm going to go poison myself. Anyone want to join me in the caf? I hear the special is mystery meat, where the mystery isn't what the meat is, but if it's really meat."
"You make it sound so appetizing." Autumn joined Laura. "I'm in."
"Pass," Vamsi said. "I don't eat anything unless I know what it is. I have to head downtown anyway, so I'll grab something there. I'll take requests now."
"I am in the mood for ice cream," Caitlin said.
Vamsi took out a notebook and wrote in it. "One carton chocolate ice cream."
"I never said the flavour."
"Oh?" Vamsi raised an eyebrow. "Everytime you've asked for ice cream, it's been chocolate. You even convinced Skye once that she wanted that flavour. Are you telling me you don't want chocolate?"
Autumn squealed. "Oh, yes, chocolate ice cream. That's be perfect for dessert. And breakfast. And even lunch."
Caitlin sighed. "A tub of chocolate ice cream."
Vamsi added a note. "Oh, and Laura? If you find out what's in the envelope, I'd love to know. At least I'd be able to see who won the pool."
Laura nodded. "If Megan tells me."
Shortly before noon on Saturday, Laura walked up the Academy's laneway to the main gate. As she walked, several young girls, their uniforms' lustre diminished from the dirt streaks on them, fell into step behind her. Joining Laura at the head of the small parade, Jenn fell into step without a problem. "Going somewhere?" the young girl asked.
"Meeting my tutor," Laura answered. "I need to pass English."
"Harsh. So, did you remember the envelope?"
Laura stopped dead in the middle of the lane. "You, too?"
Jenn came to a halt, as did her fellow Jennifers. "I only heard about it because the other seniors tried to recruit me and mine to steal it from you. When I heard it was you, I said no. They couldn't bribe us enough. You're one of us."
"Oh." Feeling abashed, Laura resumed her trek to the main gate. "Sorry. Can you believe who crazy some of my classmates got just because I got something from the English teacher?"
"Hormones. What can you do?" Jenn walked closer beside Laura. "Where did you keep the envelope?"
Laura looked around. "The bottom of Autumn's underwear drawer. She has so many socks that she'd never have found it."
"You can't tell her, though."
"Not even if she bribed me with chocolate."
The group of girls reached the gate. On the other side, Megan leaned against her car, an older hatchback. She waved to Laura. Laura turned to the Jennifers. "Thanks for the escort."
"Anytime." Jenn turned to face her fellow Jennifers. "Okay, all of you, to the showers, now!"
Once Laura left the grounds, Megan said, "Making friends?"
Laura shrugged. "I guess." She pulled the envelope for Megan out of her book bag. "Mr. Baker gave me this for you."
"What's in it?" Megan asked as she received the envelope.
"I don't know. I never opened it."
"No, really, what's in it?" Megan tore open the letter.
"Really, I never opened it. It's yours, not mine, and you went here. You'd know if I'd done anything to it. Best not to piss off the one person who can help me, right?"
Megan read Mr. Baker's note. "He's letting me know what to get you to focus on. He's giving up on getting you to write poetry."
"No more poetry?" Laura's eyes widened. "Really?"
Megan laughed. "Psych! No, he wants you to write one proper poem before I start you on the next part of the class."
"You are an evil woman." Laura glowered at her tutor.
"I went here. It's a given." Megan opened the passenger door. "Let's go get lunch while I figure out how to teach you to poem properly."