Teen Drives 15 Miles To Drop Off Trash Until Officer Follows Her
She’d been frequenting that abandoned dumpster all semester long, sneaking behind the faculty at lunchtime to empty the contents of a wet, seemingly bloody, brown paper bag. The principal was worried sick when he followed her.
He could swear he’d heard her cry as she opened the dumpster. He hurried to it the moment she walked away. But he couldn’t call the authorities fast enough after he saw what was inside.
Moving Up The Ranks
But for Mr. Johnson, this was supposed to be the perfect job. After working for decades as a Biology teacher in Miami, he’d finally qualified for a principal position.
The state moved him to a different school in Jackson, Wyoming, where his expertise would be tested. Mr. Johnson had been confident he could handle anything this fresh experience threw at him. But he had no idea what he was getting himself into.
A Dream Worth Chasing
He’d always dreamed of being a school principal. He started teaching while still in his early twenties, and now as a forty-five-year-old dad, he saw it as the perfect time to pursue the opportunity.
He’d worked under several principals in his career, each of who left him with valuable knowledge on what to do when he finally joined their ranks. Mr. Johnson didn’t know that being a principal wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
His promotion and transfer landed him at Brookfield High School in the heart of Jackson Hole Valley. Students from all over Jackson’s metropolitan area attended the school, most hoping Mr. Johnson would guide them to a better future.
But others wanted nothing to do with education. They were rowdy and unruly, always causing trouble for him and his faculty. But he’d soon find out they were the least of his problems.
By the time Mr. Johnson realized the girl was dropping things into the abandoned dumpster daily, he’d been at the school for two years.
He thought he’d seen everything being a principal could show him. He’d stopped fights between students, presented accolades to valedictorians, and even taken some time to play an instrument or two alongside the school band. What more could the school possibly throw his way?
The Mystery Girl
Well, this girl had seemingly shown up out of nowhere. In a school of fifteen hundred students, Mr. Johnson knew every face that frequented the halls.
But his mind couldn’t place this girl, no matter how hard he tried. He approached one of his teachers to ask about her. The answer would birth a worry in him that would never ebb away.
A Challenging Life
“Linzie McMahon,” one of his teachers said. She revealed that Linzie, a senior at their school, had been struggling with a lot of things in life.
Her parents had just gotten divorced, with her mom winning custody of Linzie and her little brother, Jeff, who was in middle school. But that wasn’t the scary part.
Right after the divorce, Linzie’s ex-convict uncle moved in with them. That’s when Linzie’s behavior took a nosedive.
“She’d been a ray of sunshine before everything that happened to her family,” the teacher lamented while shaking her head. She explained how Linzie was usually lively in and out of class. “Now she’s just a husk of her former self.”
Keeping An Eye On Her
Her words bore deep into Mr. Johnson, who started monitoring the student. He’d dealt with these situations before and knew just how delicate they were.
Although he could only theorize what was happening to Linzie, he knew it all stemmed from her experiences at home. He wondered what was the best way to approach the matter.
The most logical solution would be to call Linzie’s mom for a conversation. After all, she was the legal guardian and was directly involved in ensuring Linzie’s personal and educational well-being.
But this would be a gamble on Mr. Johnson’s part. What if Linzie’s problem stemmed directly from her mom? Calling the woman in would undoubtedly worsen the matter.
Talking To Her
Mr. Johnson decided to hold off first until he had enough to go on. He ‘accidentally’ bumped into Linzie in the hallway, stopping her for a minute of conversation.
He realized that although withdrawn, Linzie was articulate and sharp. But she seemed to have a lot on her mind and kept looking over Mr. Johnson’s shoulder as if she needed to be somewhere.
“Are you in a hurry?” Mr. Johnson asked with a smile, although his brows drew close. “No,” Linzie answered, a clear lie. Mr. Johnson didn’t turn around to look at what had seemingly snared her attention.
Instead, he wished her a good day, asking her to come to him if she ever needed help with anything. If only he knew what was happening behind the scenes.
Mr. Johnson’s conversation with Linzie was enough to convince him that something was wrong. The girl was quiet and reserved but could barely stand still while talking to Mr. Johnson.
She looked like she was running late for something even though it was lunchtime, and she had a free period afterward. What was she trying to hide?
A curious Mr. Johnson started his research on Linzie. The first place he went was the cafeteria. In the twenty-four months he’d been here, he’d learned that the most informed group in the school were the cooks and servers.
Everyone knew they were avid gossipers. That aside, they knew everything about everyone in town, regardless of whether they were affiliated with the school.
The Right Questions
Mr. Johnson asked a few questions about Linzie, learning that her uncle had served a twenty-year sentence before finally tasting freedom.
His release had perfectly coincided with Linzie’s parents’ divorce. Although many around the school theorized that the divorce was the main reason why Linzie was changed, the cooks maintained that it was her uncle.
Mr. Johnson left the cafeteria, knowing he needed to meet Linzie’s mom at least. He could mask it as a routine teacher-parent call and use it to study her behavior.
He’d always been a good judge of character. The moment he’d feel like Linzie’s mom was hiding something crucial, he’d call the authorities on her.
In A Hurry
He was about to make the call when he spied Linzie moving across the hall with her bag clutched tightly. She was in a hurry as always, although today it seemed like she couldn’t walk fast enough.
Mr. Johnson watched as she exited the school and hurried to the back of the parking lot where an abandoned dumpster stood. Carefully, she opened it and dumped the contents of her bag inside.
A One-Time Thing
Looking satisfied, she walked away. She seemed more relieved now and even cracked a smile as she hurried back into the school building.
Mr. Johnson watched all this from his office window. He didn’t think much of a student taking the trash out, although he was concerned about Linzie using an abandoned dumpster. He thought it would be a one-time thing when it happened again.
Calling Her Mom
A few weeks had passed when it happened. Mr. Johnson had already called Linzie’s mother about her daughter’s withdrawn behavior, and the woman promised to be a better mom.
She explained how every responsibility in the house fell on her after her divorce. This ranged from paying bills to taking care of house chores. It was so much that she’d forgotten to be a mom to her kids. But did Mr. Johnson believe it?
I’ll Do Better
The woman’s story seemed believable. She looked like she hadn’t slept in a while. She was also distraught when she heard that her home situation hurt Linzie’s school life.
She promised to be better, and true enough, Linzie’s behavior changed through the following days. She started smiling more, spending time with other students, and interacting with the teachers. This caused Mr. Johnson to think everything was back to normal.
Back At It Again
A few weeks passed, and Mr. Johnson had already forgotten about the dumpster incident. But he caught Linzie hurrying out again at lunchtime through his office window.
She was carrying a brown paper bag like the first time, walking frantically as she cut through the sea of students. With care, she went to the dumpster and poured its contents inside.
Go After Her
Like before, Mr. Johnson didn’t think much of it. He was still glad he’d helped her focus more in school. But each day, she would slip away to the abandoned dumpster at the edge of the school and empty her bag inside.
Mr. Johnson grew curious and decided to follow her one day. He couldn’t help but wonder what she might be hiding in the bag as he trailed her. Was it something dangerous or illegal?
Linzie tossed a few items from her brown paper bag into the dumpster. She looked inside the massive metal box, worry flashing across her face before she stepped back with wide eyes.
Mr. Johnson watched from a distance, waiting for her to leave before he approached the dumpster. As he got closer, he noticed something moving inside. It was dark inside, and he couldn’t quite make out what was in there.
Should He Ignore It?
He hesitated for a moment, wondering if he should investigate. Maybe whatever Linzie was dumping into the bin wasn’t that bad. But then he heard a low growl.
Cold fear rushed through him, but he still moved closer. He knew he had to get to the bottom of this mystery. He approached the dumpster cautiously and slowly opened the lid.
Big, Black, And Mean
Suddenly, a large black bear leaped out of the dumpster with a roar, startling Mr. Johnson, who stumbled backward with a yell.
He’d never seen bears in person. The closest he’d been to ever touching one was in a zoo back in Miami. He knew he was about to lose a limb or, worse, his life.
We’re Both Scared Here, Pal
Mr. Johnson was stunned. But the bear looked just as surprised as he was and quickly took off into the woods behind the school.
The principal picked himself up from the tarmac, his heart pounding, the air in his lungs hot as it scorched its way around his body. Did he just survive an encounter with a black bear?
Calling The Authorities
Mr. Johnson immediately called the local wildlife authorities to report the bear sighting. While waiting for them to arrive, he realized that he had been so focused on Linzie and her brown paper bag that he hadn’t even considered the possibility of wild animals lurking inside.
When the authorities arrived, they searched the area and found no sign of the bear. They advised Mr. Johnson to keep an eye out for it and ensure that the dumpster was always securely shut.
What’s In The Bag?
As Mr. Johnson returned to his office, he wondered what Linzie had been putting in the dumpster daily. He remembered the first day he’d seen her do it and realized this had been going on for a while.
Whatever it was, it had attracted a black bear to the school grounds, which was certainly not something he had ever anticipated.
The next day, Mr. Johnson called Linzie into his office and asked her about the brown paper bag. Linzie looked nervous but eventually opened up and explained everything.
She had been putting food scraps in the bag to take home and compost. She didn’t have a compost bin at home because her uncle had repurposed their dumpster into a storage bin. So, she had been using the abandoned dumpster as a temporary solution.
The Next Step
Mr. Johnson was relieved to hear that there was no danger involved, but he made sure to remind Linzie about the importance of proper waste disposal and not attracting wild animals.
As for the abandoned dumpster, the school immediately secured it with a lock. It was in everyone’s interest to prevent any future visits from curious wildlife.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.