“I’ve really got to go, now,” the ten year old boy said anxiously.
Ms. Tristano sighed, “Okay, take the pass and come straight back.”
The boy shuffled past the staring eyes of his classmates and out of the classroom, down two flights of stairs towards the basement where the boy’s lavatory was located. He dragged his hand along the heavily oiled wooden banister, making a high-pitched squeaking sound as he descended. Just outside of the bathroom door he stopped and looked around.
The muffled sounds of singing came from behind a door to one of the classrooms. He was alone in the hallway. No one knew he was there.
He didn’t go into the bathroom.
Instead he walked beneath the stairwell of the south wing and peeked into the window of the side door to the chapel. No one was there either. He went in.
Behind the altar and to the right of the sacristy was a small door that opened into the boiler room and the fifth-grader slid inside. It was very cold on this December 1st of 1958 and the heat from the boilers felt good on his flesh. He paced around for a minute rubbing his hands.
When he was sufficiently warmed, the boy walked down a few steps on the north side of the room and opened the heavy oak door that led into another stairwell. The girl’s lavatory was there. He wanted to take a look but another urge, stronger, overcame him. Right by the door to the bathroom was a large cardboard trash bin, full of paper.
It was irresistible.
He was alone...
By the time that Ms. Tristano pulled the alarm, Our Lady of the Angels was filled with super-heated gas and smoke. Ninety-two children and three nuns would perish in the inferno.