Jessie was still at home, not doing much. Not doing anything at all, really, just watching Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenburg movies in the same night until Cursed came on. Right now she was being stitched by a creepy psycho stalker guy while her comedian boyfriend was trying to get another college started in Chicago.
She sat on the couch, curled up with her two Labrador puppies, one Gold and one Black as her little brothers were upstairs, whispering and playing their videogame as they ate ice cream out of the carton and had water. Apparently, ice cream sent them to sleep pretty soon, that’s what Katie said, that at first they would want to play videogames, which is good, it’ll tire them up too, and then they’ll start to whisper and be all hush hush and then eventually, fall asleep.
It was all turning out alright, and Jessica was comfortable in a hoodie and some Old Navy pajama pants, spending her night on Facebook, and keeping up with the scores of the game there as she uploaded pic after pic, and tagging multiple people in them.
In one with cute little designs and different photos of this cute little anime kitty as she figured out who was who. She knew Katie was the one who loved taking naps, that was for sure, and that Stephanie was either The Dramatic One, The Fatty, The Gangster, The Hot One, The Party Animal, or The “Good Driver”.
In the end, Tracy was The Dramatic One, Annie was The Not So Innocent One, Jenna was The Hot One, Kevin was Misunderstood, Dre The “Good Driver”, Javi The Party Animal, Miguel the Evil Mastermind, Kristen would always be The Mushroom Lover, and Stephanie ended up to be The Gangster.
Maaz and Chris were working the same night, at the same place, but still, they only got to see each other for parts of the night. One of the few times they got to see each other, another delivery guy – or girl, interrupted them.
She was pretty hot, but to Maaz and Chris, she was hot for a black chick, with the ass and no breasts, and the mature, over grown and intelligence that her face held.
All of them looked fairly normal, and that was one of the reasons this was their profession, because Chris could wear hoodies and black pants all he wanted and no one would call him Emo – they would just call him nice looking for a pizza delivery guy. Maaz was the same way, with the black pants, though he wore a short sleeved over a long sleeved and looked pretty good, and was good looking enough to cheat on his girlfriend five times without her knowing, he didn’t have any reason or proof to expect that the reason Macenzie was talking to them was because of him.
Still, he flirted to the girl who wasn’t flirting, and in doing so, embarrassed himself more than he ever thought he could.
They talked for a good few minutes before Macenzie had to leave with her next delivery.
“Dude,” Maaz said as he elbowed Chris in the arm. “I think the new chick likes me,” he said with a greedy smile.
“Yes, the lesbian black chick has a thing for the Indian wannabe player, keep telling yourself that,” Chris said as he grabbed his next pizza.
“Dude, she’s rebounding,” Chris said, even though he’s taken advantage of many rebounding girls in his time, but the difference between these two types of players is that Maaz was a cocky asshole who thought every girl who looked at him with a light in her eyes and a cute smile wanted to be under him, when Chris was just laid back and chill about it, with his good looks, bad boy reputation, some girls just came his way.
Miguel and Alice found themselves riding in Alice’s white Jeep Commander, a nice and newer car as Alice drove them to her townhome that was five minutes away.
“This is a nice car,” Miguel said, falling deeper in love with her now that he knew she loved Jeeps as much as she did.
“Yeah, I like it – My dad decided to get it for me, you know, for compensation on being such an asshole all my life. My mom was real happy about that.”
Miguel nodded nervously, this was going fast – he wanted to know about her, but he didn’t want to have to fake cry and sympathize for her yet, that was a step eight months later from where they are now.
“Why was he such an asshole?”
“I think the better question is how,” Alice said, and Miguel felt even horrible and incredibly stupid in the passenger seat. “And the answer to that is because my mother was a cheating whore and he kicked both of us out, calling me a whore with her that night, and threw all of our shit out the window….. It’s not a pleasant memory, so I’d rather just leave it at that.”
“You don’t have to be like that, you know?”
“Like what?” She asked, not understanding yet as she paid attention to the road.
The car came to a stop in front of the light.
“I’m not cold,” she said, and then looked at Miguel, not for a second or flirty, but intensely. “I’m not cold. I’m not like my father. I’m not like my mother. Don’t call me a Mexican or a Jew or a Christian – let’s just leave it at that.”
“Well, can I at least call you Alice?”
That made her smile.
When they entered her townhome, it was dark and Alice dropped her keys on an end table by the door, flipping a switch a second later that brought light into the house, and she took a step forward and turned around to grab Miguel’s hand.
“Come on up,” she said as she turned around and lead him up the stairs, sneaking looks back at Miguel and giggling as they entered her room and she turned on the light. Her walls were a great contrast of pale purple compared to the hardcore Halloween and Day of the Dead decorations that surrounded the room. She had a shrine on her dresser that supported Buddha, Jesus Christ and various Voodoo gods.
“This is it,” she said, her back still to Miguel as he took it all in – it was a little scary to him, he didn’t think this sweet heart, girly girl who’s favorite color is purple and who drives a kickass Jeep would be into all of this Goth shit that was displayed in her room.
“It’s cool,” he said, afraid of that what he really thought would get him hurt if ever revealed.
“That’s cool of you,” Alice said, fisting her hands up into his shirt and pulling him to her. She kissed him on the lips, and to Miguel, it was a kiss of promise, but to Alice, it was the kiss of the fight, and leaning back into her mattress on the floor, she pulled Miguel with her so he was on top.
Kristen and Katie were nothing alike, as Katie drove Jenna and Stephanie home, she kept on thinking that she wanted to be home, swallowing down some Chunky Munky as she read some YA Supernatural Fiction with some pop music in the background, Kristen was hanging out with friends, numbing herself down by retelling the story over and over again and by getting involved in stories of other people’s gossip and drama.
They would never be good friends, but they would always have this night in common.
Katie had to stop at the gas station for some….. Gas.
Kristen had left the game with her friends Robert, Josh and Riley, and Riley was a girl. One of the few friends Katie thought was true, because Riley always got sucked into the world of drugs, rock and roll, and sex, but always preferred the quiet, winter life style. Neither of them wanted to grow up, take the ACT, go to college, or have to wear stupid glasses just to read. Soooo not attractive.
Jenna was texting no one with her phone, but she thought she was, and she was giggling at the dirty thoughts she thought she was sending to random guys as Stephanie laid sprawled out in the backseat, her legs spread out and her head out of sight of the guy on the other side who was a second away from taking a picture.
Katie turned around to see the guy walking to the car, his eyes on Stephanie’s…. crotch.
“Hey!” Katie yelled at him, catching his attention, but then she noticed the little kid, barely five years old, in the backseat of his car. “Your kid looks tired,” truly, the kid was looking curious at his father who was randomly approaching some other car. The guy’s expression became hard and he walked back to the car.
Walking away into the store, Katie looked behind her, a little bit nervous tonight with two drunken girls in her car. If she was a guy or a lesbian, or just Maaz or Annie, she would be thrilled.
Inside the store, Kristen was with Riley, Rob and Josh, all of them figuring out whether to get alcohol or not, because Kristen was pretty high, and when she was high, she was nervous. Rob had had one freaking smoke of the entire night, and Josh, who could get really plastered, was unusually sober, and Riley only did anything when confined inside of a familiar place with a familiar face.
Rob, the oldest of them all, who was twenty and not twenty one, bought the liquor, the milk, the cookies, frozen pizza, and of course, two cartons of cigarettes at the register. Katie was still at the back, grabbing a carton of milk, orange juice, and some chocolate milk powder for home, as well as a Snickers bar.
It was going to be a long night.
That was everyone who was in the store, Katie, Kristen, Rob, Josh, Riley and the Clerk, who’s name ended up to be Terry’s. Katie was on her way to the register where Kristen, Rob, Josh and Riley were when two guys in black hoodies and dark jeans came in, their hands in their pockets.
One second it was boring and tiring for Katie, and it was high and a little nerve whacking for Kristen to be lying, the next, Terry the Clerk had been shot because one of the Hoodies brought out his gun.
Everything moved in fast paced motion.
Katie ducked down and crawled away into the aisle, and the Second Hoodie aimed the gun right at her and then moved on, ran to the refrigerators, grabbed as many beers and drinks as he could as the First Hoodie, the Shooter of the Clerk was behind the register after jumping over, getting everything out of the cash register and a bunch of cigarette packs.
Everyone was ducking down, holding onto each other except Katie and Kristen.
Kristen’s phone started to ring, someone was calling her.
Scared and hands trembling, she reached into her pocket to grab it, actually answered and was able to say Help but the Second Hoodie took a shot at her and the bullet hit her shoulder, sending the phone falling down to the ground, and the Hoodies to get moving. They had already committed one murder.
Katie ran to Kristen real fast, almost tripping one of them on the process.
Josh was still in shock, but he took action and was dialing 911 now, and Rob was just…. Rob was just catatonic. He was a stoner – guitarist dude, he wasn’t real big on authority or responsibility, let alone blood…..
Katie was, though.
She tore off Kristen’s cardigan as Josh was on the phone and while Riley was crying.
“Yeah – we – ugh, the store just got robbed, it’s at the convenience store – where we’re at – it’s the – the one closest to Pasadena High, on the left – I’m sorry I can’t give you more – I’m only eighteen.”
Riley tried to take Katie’s hand but Katie flicked her hand away, Katie was tying the cardigan over the wound and trying to keep it from bleeding too much.
“You’re going to be fine, Kay,” Katie said, but Kristen looked out of it. “Hey, hey, Kay!” Katie screamed at her. “Come on, you’re going to be alright, just try to put on a cute face for the attractive paramedics, okay?”
At that, Kristen would have smiled.
Jessica got a nervous call from Katie on her cell phone during her movie marathon.
“Hey, you,” Jessica said at first before anything was said. “Want to come over and have a sleepover with me? That hottie is on the tele, baby – wow, did I really just do that?”
“Jess – you have to get down here, and Chris – and everyone! Okay, Kristen is in the hospital.”
“What?” Jessica screamed, leaning forward so her pillow fell to the ground and her ice cream too.
“I’m at Huntington, Jenna and Stephanie are with Riley in my car, Josh and Rob just left –“
“What the hell? Josh and Rob?”
“Yeah – yes, they were here and then they were just not and I already called Chris and he’s bringing Maaz and some chick, but I don’t know about Annie and Trey and I’m just – I’m really scared, Jess and I don’t want to be here alone. I don’t want to be the responsible one all the time.”
“It’s okay, sis, I’ll be there in a second,” Jess told her friend and ran to her car and then drove as fast as she could to get there.
Chris had heard Kristen and Hospital and already he was in his black Dodge Caliber with Maaz and surprisingly – Macenzie.
When Katie had called, it was just after ten, when the last deliveries were taken, which weren’t as much as there were before, and there was one other delivery guy who was already working, and Maaz and Macenzie were planning to hit a midnight movie, but instead, they all ended up in Chris’ car, on the way to the hospital.
Maaz was in the back, calling his mom to tell her what happened.
Macenzie looked at him once, muttered Momma’s Boy and was done with it.
There was an awkward silence for a while between Macenzie and Chris.
“So….. Mac?” Chris asked, he wasn’t sure what to call her.
“Cenz,” she said coldly, though she didn’t mean for it to be.
“Cenz…. Why are you going on a date with Maaz?”
“Shouldn’t your thoughts be on your friend?”
“I’m trying to keep my thoughts off my friend.”
“Yes, Cenz, and I don’t know….. I really don’t know.”
“Yeah, because the impression I got for you were more Peron than Swanegan.”
“Yeah, I don’t know what I am anymore – like, I can see myself go on a date with a guy – hanging out, seeing a movie, just hanging out but actually calling it a date, is just… Weird, it doesn’t feel right somehow, it just feels wrong, and even the thought of hooking up….”
“What was her name?”
“Lucinda Evanston, she was just a tease, nothing happened though.”
“So you don’t know?”
“I’m pretty sure I know.”
“We all are at one point.”
“What are you guys talking about?” Maaz asked from the back seat.
“Ugh….. Cars?” Macenzie said, saving herself from an explanation at any sorts. “Chris was just bragging about his Ford,” she said, but there was full sarcasm in there that Chris had not missed.
“This is a good car – it drives well, bitch.”
“Bitch? We ain’t to that stage yet, white boy,” Macenzie said, suddenly turning ghetto on him as her arm rested on the window part.
“Oh okay, you wanna go there? Well, what car do you have, nigger?”
“It means nothing to him,” Maaz said. “His step dad is black as hell – burnt as sausage, its shit. He has two older full blood black brothers and then a half black older brother, it’s just Chris’ life, he only talks white cause he –“
“Works with you?” Macenzie asked, sniping back at him. “White – black, there really isn’t a difference, Musli, oh, and I’m gay.”
Maaz didn’t say anything. The car was filled with awkward silence, and Maaz, Chris and Macenzie all wanted to say it, but it didn’t feel appropriate.
“So…. What kind of car do you drive?” Chris finally asked, it was the only thing he thought of to ask. “I mean – if you know about that sort of thing, I-I don’t know what you’re into or….. Anything,” he said with a sigh.
“Um, I drive a red 1998 Volkswagen Jetta GL.”
“Wow, you certainly did know that,” Chris said, amazed.
“Yeah, I like cars.”
“That’s my girl,” Maaz said from the backseat as he wrapped his arm around the chair and kissed Macenzie on the cheek, but she just turned her head and stared out the window.
“So you go to the city college?” Chris asked, afraid of what Maaz might say.
“Who says ‘city college’, dumbass,” Maaz said from the back.
“Yeah, I major in language – American Sign Language.”
“American Sign Language? It changes from place to place?” Chris asked, never noticing this before.
“Yeah, in Australia, the peace sign,” and Macenzie demonstrated the Universal symbol. “Means Fuck You, like our Finger, you know? If verbal language changes, then why not sign?”
“It’s still weird,” Chris said, all monotone now.
“It’s American,” Maaz said as he stared up from his phone.
“You’re not even that, Musli,” Chris said.
“Stop calling me that, bitch –“
“Bitch, stop being a Musli-“
“You’re seriously arguing over this?” Macenzie asked. “I’m just – I don’t know, my dad was Muslim, he was half black.”
Tracy and Annie rode in silence to the hospital.
They weren’t speaking.
Things had gone…. Differently, from planned.
It was just a comment from two snotty, preppy, big breasted blonde – brunette freaks in the school bathroom that had sent both of their faces flushed and bright red, like the color of Annie’s head, and a few insults back and forth for a while lead to Tracy and Annie kissing – and not a kiss on the cheek or the lips, but full out make out as the other two girls flipped them off and left.
“Suck Gay Pride, you losers.”
They didn’t want to talk about it.
Tracy had started it.
“Yeah, because we have pride for being gay, you can’t have pride for acting like it?”
“I don’t see you acting like it now,” and with that – Tracy had kissed Annie, and that kiss turned into something deeper much faster than those two preps could have gotten out of there – if they weren’t completely fascinated and disgusted at the same time.
Hence, the awkward silence.
At the hospital, Tracy gave Jessica a huge, comforting huge while Annie held Chris close, and then they all switched off, hugging each other, and then Jessica, Chris, Maaz and Mackenzie took their seats cluttered around Katie, who was very much catatonic now. Jessica brushed a strand of wet brown hair away from her face and brought her closer as Annie stood in her own corner, and Tracy stood at hers on the opposite end, trying to get to Miguel and Javi.
Miguel didn’t answer the first time, or the second, or the third, so she tried Javi, and he answered on the first ring, but he hung up abruptly, so she called Miguel back.
“Hey,” Miguel said on the other line, and Tracy imagined him just having sex and smoking a cigarette now, sitting on the bed in nothing, not even feeling weird about because he sounded so stoned right now. He was on a pussy high. “What’s up?” He asked coolly, playing the guy.
“Kristen does in the hospital, some random shooting at a 7-11 or whatev, either way, get you and your girls’ ass down here right now, and Terry was involved. He died.”
“Yeah – he was the reason it was involved, him and his stupid coke dealings,” Tracy said as she shamefully looked down at her shuffling feet.
“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” he said and hung up.
“I got to get to my friend,” Miguel said, staring back at Alice who laid on the mattress under the dark purple sheets. “She’s at the hospital.”
“Huntington?” Alice asked, already sitting up and putting on some unmentionables.
“Yeah – Yeah, I think so – I didn’t catch the name.”
“Okay, give me a second to get ready,” she said, pulling her hair back in a pony tail because it was so messy and then leaned forward to give Miguel a kiss on the cheek. “Get some clothes on,” she said, throwing his jeans at him.
“I need underwear first,” he said, a little freaked out at the thought.
“Real men don’t wear underwear,” Alice told him as she pulled on a purple tank top and then a black sweater.
“Real men aren’t afraid of snakes, but love spiders, and pet gerbils, and like staring at tanks of fish and playing the guitar and calling it a good day, but that’s me, and I’m pretty real, if I must say.”
Looking at herself in the mirror as she applied lip gloss, Alice thought he was more real than anything in her life at the moment.
Back at the hospital, Macenzie walked over to Annie, who was shuddering.
“I get like that, too,” she said, leaning against the wall with her, and Annie just looked at her. “I always get cold in the hospital, like I can feel the spirits of the dead walking in here.”
“I don’t really believe in that sort of thing,” Annie admitted.
“Then why are you freezing when everyone else is so warm?”
Annie didn’t have to have to think about that in order to get a snarky response.
“Maybe they’re just keeping it in better than me?”
“Maybe you have some cold spirits following you – a Grandmother, an Aunt, perhaps? Some woman who you looked up to more than your own mother, who you called home?” Annie only got colder. “Her name was Julia, right? Your Aunt Julia – you haven’t seen her since, but she’s not dead.”
“She – she has cancer,” Annie admitted. “She won’t let me see her, she won’t let anyone see her – she knows what happened to my mom after my grandma died. Everyone dies of cancer nowadays.”
“It’s okay,” Macenzie said, wrapping an arm around Annie’s shoulders. There was a good height challenge between them, Annie being five foot four, and Macenzie being five foot eight like Jessica, an inch shorter than Katie. She kissed the top of Annie’s head. “It’s okay.”
“How – how did you know all that?” Annie asked, shrugging Macenzie off.
“I – I read people well,” Macenzie told her. “Something I learned early on, with my father being deaf and all.”
“Oh,” Annie said, her face dropping. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, it taught me a lot of things I wouldn’t ever change, and you know – at least he couldn’t yell like normal dads when I – when I came out of the closet, but he got all silent when I went back in, and I guess that’s a good thing, with darkness comes silence, I guess.”
“Why in the hell would you go back in the closet?” Annie asked, and then she shot a glance at Tracy, who was talking to Javi’s voicemail for a second time.
“I don’t know – I guess I just couldn’t find the right girl,” and with that, Annie looked up at Macenzie with her sad brown eyes, and a promising future.
Jessica had called Kristen’s mother of course, it was a number Katie didn’t have, and Katie didn’t even know that Kristen didn’t have any older siblings, she was an only child. How weird is that?
Kristen didn’t even live with her mother – not all of the time, anyway, her mother lived in a stingy apartment building and her room was cramped and dark and lukewarm, but her grandparent’s home was all stuffy and cool and looked like nothing had been touched or breathed upon in their average setting house, and Kristen lived there with her two cousins, Jared, who had ADD and was twenty one, never actually home or living there, just had a place to crash if he needed to, and Quinn, who was twelve years old and who Kristen was really close to.
None of them had their phone number, all they had was a home phone number for Kristen, and every single one of them left a message – Chris, Maaz, Jessica, Tracy and Annie. Macenzie wanted to leave one, but felt it weird because she didn’t really know her.
Katie stood up and announced she was going to the vending machine to get something to eat, and Macenzie went with her, keeping her company and they somehow started off on the conversation of Wicca, a religion they both held dearly to their hearts, and how Macenzie could feel her Grandmothers and Aunt’s spirits at her side, warming her up, telling her those things about Annie, and that she was the one.
Miguel and Alice were just getting there, after a very much sober drive there. They walked into the group holding hands, when Kristen’s grandparents and Quinn were at the front desk, asking about their granddaughter.
“Hey,” Miguel said as Tracy gave him a not so quick hug when she first saw him. Alice, needing someone to hug, just took Annie into her arms and asked if Kristen was okay.
“Yeah, she’ll be fine, Katie stopped the bleeding and all when it happened, they just – took the bullet out and now she has to wear a – a – what’s it called that covers the shoulder or the arm? When it’s, like, broken, or something?”
“I have no idea,” Alice admitted. “Oh, a cast! I remember now – I-I had a broken ankle once, in the sixth grade, when my first boyfriend was teaching me how to rollerblade.”
“Oh, how old was he?”
“Sixteen,” she said with a smile. “After that – it’s all been downhill with these fragile bones of mine.”
“Trying having tendentious, arthritis in one finger, asthma, and allergies like no other and back problems.”
“I’m going to be a physical therapist one day, I’ll help you with that,” Alice said, and then gave Annie another hug, and then turned toward Tracy, hugging her too. Over Alice’s shoulder, Tracy and Annie met eye contact for the first time since they were in the bathroom, and Tracy just held stronger onto Alice.
Annie looked away, knowing nothing could be the same. Not between them, not anymore.
Kristen’s grandparents were there, now, and the doctor had somehow scented them out and knew they were family, informed them on what was going on in their own little private corner as Quinn took a seat next to Katie.
Katie, being all quiet and thoughtful now, ruffled his short, combed brown hair and nudged him in the arm.
“Your sis is going to be all right,” she said. “Nothing – not even a herd of mustangs – could keep her from her little Quinn,” she said, if anything but to lift his spirits.
He smiled faintly, and Katie got him to talk about his videogames a little bit, Jessica and Chris helped too, of course, but it took a while before he started to warm up.
“Uh, hello, everyone,” Mr. Richardson said, his wife, Margaret at his side. “I’m Mr. Richardson, I’m Kristen’s grandfather, and I – ugh, I think all of you should go home, this is a family affair and you could all use a good night’s rest.”
“What about me?” Quinn asked, and a surge of guilt ran through Katie, they couldn’t just leave him there.
“Quinn could come stay with me,” Jessica said, “I’m already babysitting my little brothers, he could sleep in my bed until you come pick me up – I live right a few streets away, you know, in the smaller, modest houses.”
“Our homes have no real diversity between them, and if Quinn would like that –“
“Yes, yes, yes, please – please don’t make me stay here,” Quinn pleaded, severely scared of hospitals.
“Have fun, Quinton,” Mrs. Richardson said, and everyone but Mr. and Mrs. Richardson departed.
Javi had been absent the entire night, and it wasn’t a mystery to anyone until Tracy and Annie couldn’t get a hold of him, they were both worried, and even asked the nurses at the hospital if he was there, told him his full name – Javier Renier Alejo, told him they’re description of tall, six foot, black hair, Hispanic, but there was nothing. He was gone.
When he disappeared, he didn’t mean to, he just meant to duck under the bleachers, and go give that stupid asshole who messed with Annie a good beating, and maybe, just maybe, key the asshole’s fucking car, but when he caught up with them, he was in the car, passed out, and two of his friends were going at it as the third one sat in the passenger’s seat. It was the passenger that noticed Javi.
He had gotten the attention of both of his friends, and then one of the friends left, driving off, leaving the fourth all alone.
His name was Chase.
“Hey!” Javi yelled out to him, but Chase’s eyes were already locked on him. “What the hell, man? You think you can come up to my joint, stir up shit with my girl –“
“If memory serves she was your girl’s girl.”
Javi gave Chase a black eye.
“Fuck you, Greg’s friend. I don’t want any more shit for tonight, so give your boy that message for me – join a church, ask God for forgiveness because the next girl he harasses won’t forget about it in five minutes because I wasn’t there to keep things from boiling up to the surface, tell him that I’ll gladly kill him if he ever breathes near Annie again. Breathes.”
“I perfectly understand,” Greg said, but his eyes were focused on the huge black Cadillac SRX coming their way. “You want a ride?” He asked Javi, not necessarily caring if Javi took it or not.
“Why the hell would I get a car with you – how could you possible get me to breathe such tainted air.”
Then the car pulled up next to them in the parking lot, and the passenger seat windows were rolled down, and the driver, a tall, slender, tanned, black haired, pretty face leaned over and told them, “Get in.”
That was what it took to get Javi in the same car as him, he was just curious, and he didn’t want to be left alone after Chase already got in the car, so he took a seat in the back, right next to a bull dog.
“His name is Vladimir,” the girl said, her voice smooth like crystal, rocky like the rain. “He’s had a tough night, being on the leash and all,” and from there, from that bull dog named Vladimir growling and glaring at him in that car ride, his night went downhill.
Before he knew it, or could say a word, really, they were at a rave, and he was just following Chase and Vampira, his nick name for the chick in the laced corset, dark skinny jeans and Mary Jane heels, trying not to turn into some glow in the dark walking glow stick or some gay guy’s fantasy, and after a long time of obedient following, he took hold of the girls belt strap on her jean and walking next to her in sync, walking into people on the way.
“Where are we going?” He screamed against all of the noise, and the girl looked at him bleakly for five seconds before she turned the corner and they were in the alley, and it was just him and the girl, Chase was nowhere to be seen – or he was just in the rave, getting a drink.
It seemed to be a silent exchange, all though some words were exchanged, Javi was sure of that, he just didn’t hear it, the door into the rave was still open for a second, of wild, raving techno music, and then it was shut closed, and the world was cold. He could hear it perfectly, their conversation, all stoic and soft, but what he really caught onto was how the dealer asked the girl, Amanda, how her father was, and then they exchanged the deal, the money and the bag of coke – coke?
If only it was the canned drink, because Javi could use one right now.
The girl, Amanda Vampira, walked away with her little zip loc baggy, already sniffing it off her compact mirror.
“Are you crazy? Do you know what that will do to you? To your whole system and shit – you’ll get fucking addicted.”
“What the – what the fuck did I get myself into?” Javi asked himself, and then turned back to Amanda, who wasn’t even staring at him, just stuffing it into her jean pocket. “You’re fucking crazy.”
“What’s new?” She asked, brushing her hair over her shoulder.
Silence loomed over their shoulder, and then Chase pulled up next to them in the huge black Cadillac SRX, and they both got in, and this time, Vladimir was on the other side, smiling happily.
Javi couldn’t keep it hidden that the dog freaked him out.
He also thought Vladimir was on drugs as well.
Silent in his seat, he didn’t notice when Chase inhaled the drug too, as he was driving, but he did notice when they ran a red light.
“Hey, man, slow it down –“ he didn’t. “Man, slow the fuck down – Slow the fuck down!” He screamed at Chase when he didn’t, but accelerated. Chase’s lips turned up into a smirk, and he started to speed up, now in the hundreds. “Fuck, get the fuck – Slow the fuck down, man!” Javi screamed, his arms wailing. “Wha- Amanda! Seriously, calm your boy, down!”
Amanda just smiled and turned away from him.
“You have your dog in the car! What, you’re just planning on killing yourself tonight? Because, if so, I’ll take him and roll right out of here –“but instead, he reached into his pocket for his phone, but with a single motion, Amanda had Chase slowing the car down, now they were in the seventies….. Sixties….. Fifties….. Thirty five.
Javi tried to text Tracy, but for some reason, it was just sent to his outbox, he didn’t know that.
“Just take me home,” he breathed, avenging a girl who had forgotten about her night already really wasn’t worth it after almost getting killed him. “Please,” he said, looking out the window.
“Please? Look who has manners,” Amanda said, and Chase teased him by hitting on the gas, and when he saw the expression of Javi’s face in the back, he slowed back down with a delighted smirk on his lips.
“Just take me home,” Javi said, pronouncing each word slowly and carefully as he said them.
“Sounds like he wants to go home,” Chase said, sounding confused. “Hell, you couldn’t take me home even for a million bucks.”
“So what? You guys are just runaways?”
At this, Amanda snickered.
“Okay, you know what, you guys don’t need to take me home, just drop me off at the corner, and I’ll find my own way back, okay?”
They passed the corner, the curb, every sidewalk.
“Fuck you two,” Javi said. “Let me out. Now.”
Laughing in sync with each other, they pulled into the gas station, and the car unlocked, and Javi bolted from the car, looking back twice to see that Amanda and Chase really didn’t care. He went into the convenience store and saw his good friend, Terry, behind the cash register.
“Hey, man, what’s up?” He asked, both of them acknowledging each other’s hellos as they clasped hands and fist pumped.
“Nothing much,” Terry said. “Just a boring old night,” he said, and then stiffened up, cold, as Amanda and Chase walked in together. Javi looked behind his shoulder as Chase went to the back, to the bathrooms, and as Amanda grabbed herself an energy drink.
“Those two scare me,” Javi said, getting chills up his spine.
“Darkness entwined,” Terry said. “The demons and ghosts my mother warned me about, amen,” he said and took a pack of cigarettes off the counter. “This is for you, man, on the house.”
“Thanks,” Javi said and gave the guy five bucks. “No change, man.”
“Oh, yes, because I could use a tip of twenty eight cents, you’re a real generous Mexican, Javier.”
“You know it,” Javi said, resting his elbows on the counter. “Got a ride tonight? Maybe I can hang out here until you get off,” he wondered.
“Maybe,” Terry said, but he was cold again as Amanda approached them with her can of Monster, her Zingers, and bag of Pretzels. He ran them all up, gave her the amount, and Chase was just now walking out of the bathroom.
“So, Terry,” Amanda said. “You’re behind,” she told him matter of factly.
“Yeah, I-I’ve been real busy, just school work and with my mom –“
“I don’t take excuses.”
Just like Ms. Bugielski, Javi thought to himself, but still, he watched the scene with intense curiosity and worrisome, he didn’t want anything to happen to his friend. He could see Terry’s Rosemary under his shirt.
“Everything okay?” Chase asked as he took his stance next to Amanda.
“Yes, just reminding old Terrance here of his errands,” she said coolly, as if she was made out of ice and the official pimp herself, but then she took out a P3AT pistol and left it on the counter. “He understands what he has to do,” she said and straightened her shoulders, walking out, and added.
With a short, terrified glance between them, Javi decided he should stay with Terry, make sure everything was safe, and Terry shared his fears, he didn’t want to die, he had a mother to take care of, and even though she was crazy a Mexican Catholic, she had no one but him.
“I think I should put that away,” Javi said, but he didn’t do anything. He didn’t move.
“I think I’m starting to be against guns and drugs,” Terry told him. “Life is becoming a shit hole I can’t get myself out of – and I have to, I-I can’t be like Gino, man. I can’t end up like him, just – empty. I have a mother, I have a God to think about, and my eye sight isn’t even that good, but I know something is better than this life I got going.”
“Maybe you should ditch work, get in your green car and head off – I’ll go with you, and help take care of your mom.”
“It’s not like there’s anything here for me, anyways, I’m friends with Miguel, Tracy, Annie, and Stephanie, really, besides you, and I can’t stand to hang out with them when they’re drunk, moping around, and fantasizing about the other. It’s all getting a little too weird.”
“Can’t wait for college, huh?”
“I wish I had your shoes, man – except, I wish I didn’t,” and they went back to staring at the gun. “Ugh,” Javi sighed as he reached into his pocket. “What the – Where the hell did my cell go?”
“She probably picked it,” Terry said, and went back to staring at the cash register. “It’s what she does – makes a quick buck, or just a little petty thievery, even though her dad’s rich as hell.”
“What the fuck – that’s my cell phone!”
“She’ll give it back to you,” Terry said, locking eyes with Javi, and then reconsidered. “Maybe, maybe you’ll find it in the morning on your porch step, or even on your dresser, she just wants to know if you called the cops or texted anyone. It’ll be cool, don’t worry, man,” though behind those eyes, there was a silent, hidden message that told him to worry.
Then the phone started to ring, and it turned out to be Terry’s mom, so Javi took it upon himself to go into the Men’s bathroom and clean himself up a little bit, splashing the warm water on his face and then drying it off with the paper towels, and then he saw the sign that Chase had left on the bathroom stall when he was in here, it was written in dark, red lipstick.
THOSE WHO SURVIVE RISH THEY DIDN’T
The dude misspelled ‘wish’ and thought he was cool, but Javi took it as it was and rushed out of the bathroom, and Terry was off the phone, selling a pack of cigarettes and some orange juice to a customer – can you believe it? – As Javi turned in circles, looking everywhere around him, but he couldn’t see the huge black Cadillac SRX anywhere, nor Vampira or Chase.
Either way, he ran up to the counter and begged for Terry’s keys.
“Keys, man,” Javi said, looking out the windows as he tapped his fingers on the counter.
“Dude, I gotta get home after this –“
“Keys!” Javi said, screaming at him.
“I don’t know what you’re on!”
“Look, I smoked some weed, drank some before, but – but give me your goddamn fucking keys! That bastard and bitch are out there somewhere and they’re going to kill someone!”
“What the hell?” Terry asked, confused more than ever now, so Javi led him to the bathroom and showed him the stall, causing Terry to open every single one of them and even check the Styrofoam ceilings for anything as Javi looked under the sink.
“Nothing here, man,” Javi told him as they walked out. Terry didn’t say anything. “Shouldn’t we call the cops or something, man?”
“No,” Terry said. “No involving the cops,” he said and kept on walking.
“They might as well kill you if you don’t!”
“I don’t care!” Terry screamed, turning around to face Javi. “I mean – I do care, I care a lot about living and dying, okay, I have a mother to take care of, a life to fight for, and I don’t want to die – but no cops, alright?”
“You have weed on you, don’t you?”
Terry didn’t say anything.
“Not just that,” and with that, Terry walked behind the counter, took the gun and checked the magazine before stuffing it in the back of his jeans.
“Shit, man, you got caught up in their shit? Are you fucking serious? Are you insane – you stupid motherfucker!”
“Hey! I do what I have to do.”
So Javi did what he had to do, after a while, when Terry had to help someone pick up the remnants of a purse that fell to the ground, Javi helped too, and in doing so, took the gun out of Terry’s back and left the store.
It took Terry a minute before realizing his friend had left, and taken that with him, and that wouldn’t have bothered him so much if Javi had remembered to take the magazine with him.
Javi didn’t want to back to the rave, he didn’t like that place. He didn’t know where else to go through, but he remembered the pit bull more than anything, so he drove to the dog park, where, sure as hell, Amanda would never be, and then he remembered she was rich, she was Goth – she would let her dog crap on grave sites and dead bodies, without any respect at all, so he drove to the nearest cemetery he knew, and there, in the dark, was the huge black Cadillac SRX.
He walked the cemetery for a long time, the gun in the back of his jeans, and his hand over it, and he kept on spinning around, looking for them, looking for that dog, looking for Chase’s blue hoodie and Vampira’s Hispanic skin.
Then he felt a cold hand on his hand, covering the gun.
“Looking for someone?” Amanda asked, and took the gun from him. “Hmm…. Interesting that he would let you take this,” she said and stood in front of him, holding it in her hands, and then popped it open. “No magazine,” Javi didn’t change expression, his only thoughts were Shit, I Should Have Known. “Lucky me,” she said and pointed it at Javi’s forehead. “Boom,” she whispered and then stepped closer. Too close for comfort. “Every play scares tactics?” She asked, her voice still cold, heartless, and not at all playful.
“I’ve seen the show,” Javi admitted.
A wicked smile brightened up Amanda’s face.
“Where’s your boy?”
“Where I want him to be,” Amanda said, and started walking away.
Javi just followed.
Amanda didn’t look over her shoulder once to see if he was following, she kept on walking, for what seemed like forever in Javi’s mind, to him, it would be the longest walk he would ever take, without the knowledge of where he was going, when he was going to get there, or what was going to meet him. He didn’t know what to expect – he just knew there would be no angels.
There, he was wrong.
Amanda stopped short, standing next to another girl, who had the same, long, straight black hair, but she was pale, in a light blue, thick strapped dress that went to her knees, and lighter colored Mary Jane’s.
Javi wondered if they could be sisters.
Chase stood in between them in the end.
“Each of us has a wooden shape behind our backs, hidden in our hands, may you guess right, you may live tonight,” the pale one said.
“What’s going on?” Javi asked, certain he stepped onto the set of some student filmed movie, with the Goth, the Sloth, and the Angel – who was not so angelic.
No one spoke.
“Who are you?”
A shot fired, and Javi fell to the ground.
Still, no one spoke.
“I-I thought I wasn’t going to die if I guessed right,” he choked in surprise. He was bleeding, and his hand did not stop it enough, his jeans were getting soaked. “Don’t tell me I’m going to be a paraplegic for the rest of my life because I ignored your stupid rules…. Gah, that hurts. Okay, I’ll play your game if you answer me one question; is my friend going to be alright? Will you leave Terry alone if I play this game?”
No one answered.
“Then kill me now,” Javi told them, he looked the Angel right in the eye, who stared at Chase, and then Javi’s eyes grew to Amanda, who held the gun.
Eyes filled with some dark emotion and relentlessness, the Angel spoke.
“Which question would you like answered?”
“Huh – what? Oh – right, yeah. Will you leave Terry alone if I play this game? Is he safe?”
“Which question would you like answered?”
“Is he safe?” He pleaded.
Sighing a breath of relief, he spoke.
“The triangle, Vampira holds the triangle,” and with that, he died.
Seven to midnight.