Larla Schnutter and the Mystery of the English Major

It isn’t easy walking the walking paths of St. Olaf, knowing what I know. That there are things many of us don’t understand – can’t understand – don’t want to understand. That there are (probably) ghosts centuries old haunting this very campus. I, Larla Schnutter, vow to uncover the spooky secrets this college (probably) has to offer, using my detective skills, my girlish gumption and the 500 words allotted me in this newspaper. I, Larla Schnutter, am the paranormal investigator this seedy town has been waiting for. The ghost whisperer Northfield didn’t even know it needed.

. . .

The lanky pale boyman sporting raccoon rings of black eyeliner scribbled into his journal. Every Thursday night, he and all his limbs spill over to Hilleboe Chapel, where he will remain until dawn writing appallingly poor haikus. Who is this little boy? Why are his limbs so long? Is he getting enough sleep? Do they really allow goths in college?

A few strands of long raven hair fell into his face as he scribbled with angst-fueled fingers.

Only a few pews away, if the manboy had only sat up a little straighter, he would have noticed a girl-like figure curled up on the floor … watching him.

. . .

I, Larla, did not intend to be curled up on the floor of Hilleboe Chapel that fateful Thursday night, but when the vampire boy walked in (at the usual time), I had nowhere to turn but down. The other nights I hid in the back of the chapel, able to observe the nocturnal poet-in-residence without his knowledge. Now, there I was in the fetal position, wondering if I could somehow shimmy out of the room unnoticed.

The answer:

I couldn’t.

. . .

Kermit Schindler is his name. An English major with no particular skills besides perhaps having insomnia. And applying eyeliner. How do I know this? Well, when I indeed attempted to shimmy while simultaneously dragging my typewriter with me, I accidentally slammed my forehead into a pew and yowled.

“Ohmygodwhoisthere?” Kermit shouted in an impressive stage whisper.

“Larla. Larla Schnutter,” I said as I stood up.

“The paranormal investigator?”

I froze. “How did you know?”

“I get all your emails … And I don’t know how to unsubscribe from mailing lists.”

“Don’t flatter me, Kermit,” I shot back. “I know what you are and I know what you’ve been doing.”

I dug into the pockets of my trench coat and pulled out all the pages of terrible haikus he wrote, then tucked them into the pages of the chapel’s bible.

“Wait, how do you know my name?”

“Facebook.”

Kermit shook his head. “Why are you here?”

“To uncover the truth.” I took a step closer to the shadow-dweller. “With skin as pale as yours, I doubt you’ve ever seen the sun.”

Kermit frowned. “I’m Lebanese.”

“Kermit, do you drink the blood of innocents?”

“What?”

“You heard me, you rotten scoundrel! Do you terrorize innocents with your nighttime vampire antics?”

“Look, lady, I just have insomnia and I like coming here to get some writing done. I’m not a vampire and I don’t drink the blood of innocents!”

“Then why are your haikus so frickin’ spooky?” I countered, looking him in the eye.

Kermit sighed tiredly. “They aren’t even haikus, okay? I just like writing words and sometimes they’re spooky. That doesn’t make me some Halloween monster, does it?”

Not haikus?

“Well, that would explain the shoddy structure,” I said thoughtfully. I took a seat next to him. “Let me level with you, Kermit. Even if you were a human, I would have approached you. I need a partner. Someone bold, someone savvy. I can’t do this investigative business all on my lonesome. Too dangerous.”

Kermit massaged his furrowed brow. “I’m seriously not a vampire.”

“What, then? An elf – no, a witch?”

“No.”

“I’ve always meant to study Wicca. This works out perfectly! Will you be my right hand boyman, Kermit?”

“What.”

“I can see it now,” I say, getting excited. “Larla Schnutter and Kermit Schindler, Paranormal Investigators-at-large.”

“I’m way too tired for this.”

I grab Kermit by the shoulders. “We’ll be the case-cracking duo of the century!” I stand up. “I’m gonna go design our business cards. Don’t worry, I’ll email you the drafts.” I grabbed my typewriter and darted back to Mohn. Kermit couldn’t fool me. No humans are goth anymore.

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