Black Magic - Chapter 4

 

Chapter 4

 

 

            Monday afternoon, when I arrived at the mall to go to work, I was riding high after the previous weekend.  Bret had called me Saturday and Sunday after I had gotten off work, and we had grown a lot closer after those last two conversations.  By the time I had gotten to school on Monday it seemed that everyone had assumed we were dating exclusively.  I was just fine with that, content to let the masses think what they wanted.  Bret seemed to take a lot of pride in the whole thing, and he would make it a point to be seen with me at every opportunity.  His excuse was that he didn’t want any of the other guys to get any ideas, but I thought that was a bunch of bull.  Bret didn’t seem to be the jealous type.  Being jealous was usually a sign of insecurity, and I serious doubt he was that insecure with himself.  I thought it was just that he wanted to be with me, and I didn’t mind that either. 

            After having been at school for a week, I had started to get a lot more comfortable with the people.  One could even say that I had started to make friends with some of these people.  People would speak to me in halls and smile, and it quite different from the first day.  Now I was aware that you never really knew what people actually thought.  They all could have been cursing my very existence when I wasn’t around, but if that was the case they wouldn’t dare do it too my face.  In Advance Biology, Blaine made me give him the details of what it was like to go out with the stud of the school.  Those were his words not mine.  He asked tons of questions, maybe too many, and I didn’t mind rehashing it all.  I eagerly told him everything he wanted to know, and then some.  At lunch, I didn’t have to tell much because everyone at our table had already known everything.   Angel and I had discussed things at work over the weekend, and I’m sure Bret had filled Caleb in on everything.  Angel was so happy and giddy.  By the way she was acting; it was like she was going out with Bret and not me.  Caleb, again, looked unreadable.  He was cordial enough, but man sometimes he could be a real downer.  It seemed everyone else at the table was happy about what had happened except him.  Add the fact that I had even done well on Friday’s English test, and it was great way to start out the week, and I was hoping that it was only going to get better.     

That all changed when I had actually started work.  The supervisor had called in sick leaving me in charge, and it took forever to get someone to agree to come in to work.  I could understand if it was a Friday or Saturday.  Who would want to come in and work those days, but on a Monday?  Not so much.   The guy who did come in just had an attitude the whole entire night.  I couldn’t blame him for that, but working with people like that was already chore.  Add the fact that every customer that came into the store had an issue about something or another made the night almost unbearable.  Working in retail was hard enough that I had decided long ago that this wasn’t something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.     

Needless to say that when I jumped into my car to drive home, I was seriously beat.  I’ve had nights like this before, and it’s funny how a bad night at work can seriously ruin what had been an otherwise good day.  It was apparently so late that when I left that my car was only one in the parking lot.  Glancing at the clock, it was a little after eleven, and I wasn’t going to be getting a lot of sleep when I got home.  True to form, the roads were empty as usual this time of night, and I saw only a few passing cars.     I checked my gas gauge while driving and noticed that I only had about a quarter of a tank of gas left, and I made a stop at the gas station that was about half way between Rancho Ruiz and Spring Hill.  It was a gas station that I had been too many times, and the gas was probably a little cheaper than it was in the town where I lived, however not by much.  The station it self was pretty big and had about ten pumps and a mini-mart.  I had always wondered why a gas station this big was out here in the middle of nowhere.  It could not be making that much money because not many cars used this road, especially at this time of night.  There were no other cars in the station when I arrived, just as I had expected.  I had spent a couple of minutes inside the store talking to the cashier.  It was the same young girl that was usually working when I stopped by, and over the last few months we had talked to each other quite a bit, even though we didn’t know each others names.  Then funny thing had happened when I was leaving the store to actually go pump the gas into my Beamer.  Some guy had actually walked into the store.  Even though I never see anyone at this gas station when I come here at night, a guy walking into a gas station mini-mart was not exactly funny or otherwise out of the ordinary.  It was the fact that it was like I had seen him somewhere before, and as much as I racked my brain, I couldn’t figure out a reason why he was so familiar to me.  He smiled as he walked past, but I didn’t return it.  I was too tired and just wanted to fill up the tank and get home.    Filling up the tank took a big bite out of my purse.  Sixty Bucks to fill up the tank in my car.  That was unreal.  A SUV I could understand, but a BMW car, not so much.  Thank God it wasn’t an American car in the fact that it actually got decent gas mileage.  After I finished filling up the tank, I jumped back into the car and got on the road for the last part of my drive back home.  There were still no cars on the road, and I was having a hard time trying to stay awake.  It was not fun to look at basically nothing but the two yellow lines in the middle of the road for miles.  I didn’t know how the truck drivers did it. 

I couldn’t get over the smoothness of the drive.  It must have been the car.  That was another reason why I was having trouble staying awake.  However, I wouldn’t have that trouble for long.  I had started to have trouble just steering.  This car had power steering, so I knew that something had to be wrong, and I became even more convinced of that when I noticed that the back driver’s side of the car was lower than the rest.  It had to be a flat tire.  As annoying and time consuming this was, it was nothing that I couldn’t handle.  As much as my parents didn’t like me driving this late at night by myself, my dad made sure that I would be able to handle any out of the ordinary occurrence.  In other words, I had been taught how to change a tire.  I pulled over onto the shoulder and got out of the car.  The road was extremely well kept, and the shoulder was huge.  I had parked the car entirely on the shoulder without any of the car being on the road or in the sand.  Walking back to the trunk, which I had propped open before I got of the car, I noticed how still the night was.  I couldn’t even hear crickets.  Are there crickets in the desert?  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  Even though I could see a lot of stars, there wasn’t a whole lot of moonlight.  The only lights were from my own car.  I had left on the lights so that passing cars could see me.  It was actually kind of creepy.  I could see for miles in either direction, and that didn’t provide a lot of comfort.  I couldn’t expect a lot of that while I’m changing a tire in the middle of the night on a desert road. 

I found the jack in the place where it should have been, in a compartment in the right side of the trunk.  Luckily, I didn’t have to read the instructions that were on the inside of the compartment lid.  With the very little light, that would have a little difficult.    I went ahead to place the jack in the place I needed.  The tire it self didn’t look that bad.  It must have just gone flat.  At least I didn’t drive on it long enough to damage the wheel.  While I was placing the jack, I had noticed a pair of headlights heading towards me.  That would have been the first vehicle I had seen on the road since I started my drive home.  It would have been welcome, however, this particular vehicle had its high beams on, and it was doing a number on my eyes.  The lights were so bright that I had to stop trying to place the jack and cover my eyes.  The lights were kind of high also which meant that it had to be a truck of some type, probably a pickup truck.  As the truck got closer, the driver turned off the high beams, much to my relief.   I went back to work getting the jack situated, and after I was done I noticed that the truck had stopped and parked about twenty feet behind my car. 

Whoever was driving the truck got out of the car and walked towards me.  I didn’t even look up.  I was too busy lifting up the back end of the car with the jack.  He, it was a guy, didn’t say anything until he was right next to me. 

“Do you need some help?” He asked.  I still didn’t look up, but kept working.

“No.” I answered.  “I think I can handle it.”

“Come on a pretty girl like you shouldn’t be out here changing a tire.”  Okay, that annoyed me.  Did he think that just because I’m a girl that I shouldn’t be working on cars?  This was the twenty-first century.  There was no reason that I shouldn’t be able to change a tire.  I finally turned and looked at him, and I instantly recognized him as the guy that I had seen at the gas station.  He was kind of cute, even though there was something about him that made me pause.  The thought that I had seen him before hadn’t went away, and I still couldn’t figure out where.  It wasn’t like I knew that many people here, so I figured that I should had figured it out by then.  He looked a little too old to be in high school, so I guessed that I didn’t know him from school. He looked like he was about twenty-five, and was a little taller than me, but not by much.  He had brown hair that was cut kind of short and was a little greasy.  I guess he doesn’t wash his hair when he showers.  I don’t know why.  Maybe he doesn’t believe in the awesomeness of having clean hair.  He was also a little on the scruffy side.  He was pretty compact.  In other words, he was in really good shape.  He knelt down beside me. 

“Let me do it,” he said.  “I can probably get it done a little faster, and you might get to wherever you’re going a little earlier.” 

I finally swallowed my pride and let him take over.  To be honest with the greasy hair and such, he looked like he had changed quite a few tires in his life.  He didn’t say much while he worked, and he was very efficient.  He had the tire changed, the car lowered, and jack removed in what had to have been less than twenty minutes.  I had to admit that it was impressive.  He even carried the jack back to my trunk, not that he had to carry it a great distance.  He handed it back to me after I lifted the lid to the trunk, and I casually put the jack back where it belonged. 

“You know,” this guy started to say as I resituated the few things I had in the trunk.  “A pretty girl like you shouldn’t be driving out on a deserted road at this time of night.”

“What are you, my dad?” I asked him.  “I’m very adept at taking care of myself.”

“I would hope so.  You never know what can happen or what crazy person you might run into.”    

As annoying as he has been since he initially showed, his ability to actually be annoying wasn’t the problem here.  There was a certain type of creepiness about the way that last sentence came out.  It made my skin crawl.  However, I tried to act normal. 

As I started to close the trunk I said, “I hope you are not talking about yourself.”

He laughed, and that did nothing to ease the feeling of complete dread that had come over me about a minute earlier.  I closed the trunk, and before I could even turn to thank this guy for helping me, he grabbed my arm and spun me around to face him and he wasn’t at all gentle about it.

“What are you doing?” I asked.  I was surprisingly calm even though I shouldn’t have been.  It was a little weird, but I had absolutely no fear. 

“I’ve always liked girls like you,” he said totally ignoring my question.  I tried to push him off of me with my free hand, but it was a feeble attempt.  With him being as big as he was, there was no way I was going to be able to get him off of me.  He grabbed my other hand, but he had shifted his weight enough that I could easily push him backwards, however he didn’t let go of my hands.  The result being that he was able to pull me off of the trunk on my car.  We wrestled around for a while, but I was totally over matched.  This guy was way too strong.  He was able to force me down on the ground, and he lay down on top of me pressing all of weight on me on to the concrete.  That wasn’t exactly comfortable, and add in the fact that I could smell his breath; the situation was quickly becoming unbearable.  His breath smelled of a mixture of alcohol and rotting food.  Did this guy brush his teeth?  It was disgusting.  However, I was still calm. 

“What?” he said mockingly.  “Going somewhere?”  He was having way too much fun with this, and I was going to have to change that whenever I got the opportunity.  Surprisingly, I got my chance pretty quickly.  He was using one hand to hold both of my wrists above my head, all the while breathing his rancid breath in my face.  He used his free hand to basically feel me up in areas his hand had no place touching.  I continued to struggle ridiculously.

“Very nice,” he said.  Then he shifted his weight.  I would have thought that normally this wouldn’t make a difference.  However, he loosened his grip just enough that I was able to wrestle my left hand free, and before he could react, I hit him the face.  I was lucky because even though I didn’t hit him cleanly, I hit him hard enough that it stunned him, and that was enough for me land and even better punch.  This was enough to get him to let go of my other hand.  It also shifted his weight, and I used that to push him off of me.  He landed on his back, but he had recovered pretty quickly, but not fast enough.  I was up and past him before he had even got to his feet.  I had the thought of jumping into my car and driving off.  However, there was one problem with that plan.  I noticed that I didn’t have my keys in my hand anymore.  I must have dropped them, and turning around and stopping just short of the middle of the street confirmed my fears.  My keys were lying on the ground next to Mr. Halitosis.  He picked them up off the ground, and I stared at them as he taunted me by shaking them. 

“Forgetting something?” he asked and then he let out the most obnoxious laugh.  At first when dealing with this guy I was just annoyed and wanted to get away from him.  Now, he was actually starting to piss me off.  Not that I was actually going to try to beat him up or anything.  He was way too big and strong.  He continued, “You could use some lovin’, and I’m just the man fulfill your needs, especially since you seem to like rich, white guys, who are totally out of your league.”

That last statement was so ridiculous that I couldn’t help but to laugh.  Here I was standing in the middle of some desert road laughing at some crazy dude who just tried to violate me.  I couldn’t think of anything more pathetic.  That, however, didn’t stop me from poking fun at him.

“I have some advice for you,” I said.  “Try investing in some Listerine and Head and Shoulders.  It might even be worth it.  That way, girls will come to you instead.”

“Bitch.  I’m going to kill you.”  Why did I always have to antagonize the crazy people?  A knife had appeared in his hand out nowhere, and he dropped my keys on the ground.  I didn’t even see him pull it out because I was too interested in the fact the guy dropped the one thing that I would need to drive off.  He quickly ran toward me, but I was easily able to side step him, moving a step to my right so he was just harmlessly pass by.  I even went one step further, sticking out my left foot so that he ended tripping over it.  With him totally off balance and heading face first into the concrete, I, not so gently, shoved him to speed up the process.   The knife he had harmlessly landed on the ground.  I quickly ran and picked up my keys, all the while I was able to hear him get back on his feet and run towards me again.   

I was really getting tired of this, and as I started to stand up after picking up my keys, I felt something stir from within.  It was as if all of the anger, annoyance, and frustration from having to deal with this jackass had sent to me to a state of rage that I had never felt before.  I could feel it like a rush of energy running from my toes to behind my eyeballs.  I didn’t feel god-like.  That would be blasphemous, but I did have a feeling of invincibility, a feeling that I could do anything, and boy did it feel good.  This must have been what people were talking about when they say that a person who was high on say LSD or PCP ends up killing themselves by jumping out of windows thinking they could fly.  What happened next was out of this world.  In one fluid, quick movement, I stood, turned, and fired off a shot of something out of my hand which was pointed towards him.  I could feel that energy that had built up only a few seconds before leave my body like a cannon shot.  The feeling of invincibility, however, remained, and the force of the recoil of that blast knocked me backwards a couple of feet and unto my butt.  I would have thought that something that took that much energy would have been a lot bigger, but all I saw was a softball sized ball of flames, heading toward the guy at an alarmingly fast speed.  If that confused me, I wouldn’t stay that way for long because as soon as the ball of fire hit its target it grew astronomically, totally engulfing the guy, and everything in its path-which was basically nothing, while carrying him about twenty feet.  The guy let out a monstrous scream that I was sure only I could hear since there was nothing around for miles.  Then, just as quickly as all this happened, the massive ball of fire disappeared as if it had never existed.  I half expected the crazy dude to still be there coming after me, and I had imagined everything that had happened before that.  If that had been the case, I would have been in real trouble.   However, he was gone and the only thing that was the road besides the two vehicles and me was something dark lying on the road.  An uncharacteristic breeze passed gave me a whiff of burnt flesh, and a partial realization of what just happened came immediately.  

I quickly got into my car and drove off while still having that intoxicating feeling of drunken invincibility.  I felt powerful right then, and I enjoyed everything of what just happened, even as I still questioned the validity of it.  I didn’t know how I did it, or even how I knew to do it.  It all was an impulsive reaction, but, damn, it was awesome.  I had never had a feeling like that in my life, and I didn’t want it to go away.  However, I wouldn’t get my wish, because after about five minutes of driving, the feeling started to wear off.  As soon as I felt normal, the partial realization that I had earlier had become a whole one, and it made me vomit in my mouth a little, I was so horrified by it. 

I had just killed someone.  I was a murderer, and would end up dead in ten years from lethal injection at the age of twenty-seven.  I had totally done something that went against everything I stood for and every value that I was taught by my parents.  To make matters worse, I wanted to do it again.  I knew I had to be able to do it again just from the fact that I was able to do it in the first place, and I would have given anything at that moment to figure out how to do it.  Then after a couple of more minutes, I started to shake.  My hands were trembling, and it was all I could do to keep myself from running off the road.  Then again, if I did, I wouldn’t have to worry about the consequences for blowing a dude with bad breath and greasy hair to smithereens.  This had to have been what withdrawal felt like for people who were physically addicted to drugs.  The shaking didn’t stop when I pulled into the driveway, or when I finally climbed into bed.  I fell asleep shaking and thinking of fire. 

 

 

 

****

I didn’t wake up until the alarm almost drove me out of my mind.  I sat up and looked around a little disoriented.  It always seemed to happen that way when my alarm wakes me up, and usually it’s because that alarm usually scares me half to death.  I had awakened from another weird dream this time, but I wasn’t left with that feeling of dread that I had after the last one.  I was still feeling horrible because of what had happened the night before, so it wasn’t like I had gotten off easy.  The weird part was that in the dream I was still doing these extraordinary things that had nothing to do with fire.  I was doing all kind of crazy stuff.  I’m talking freezing palm trees, knocking down trees by causing tornadoes, and producing lightning strikes that hit multiple targets with five bolts simultaneously.  At least I didn’t kill anyone.  The pure power that I held in that dream was just unreal.  I did all of these things without fear, and wielded it like I was a professional.  If I hadn’t done what I had done the previous night, I probably would have thought that this was just some crazy dream.  Now, I wasn’t so sure.

I showered and dressed quickly, and was downstairs before anyone else.  I wasn’t in the mood to speak anyone, but I didn’t get away with that.  My mom wouldn’t allow it, so I spent the whole time during breakfast trying to look happy and by the time I left for school, I wasn’t sure if I had actually gotten away with it.  My parents have always been good about seeing through that kind of stuff.  I was sure that I would hear about it later on in the day.  I was still in a crappy mood when I got to school, went straight to English class, and sat down with out speaking to anyone.  If Bret actually showed up to class, I didn’t notice.  I was too much into my own head.  I guess that would happen when you kill a guy.  The problem wasn’t just that I had killed a guy, but it was how I did it.  Well killing a guy is a very big problem.  How was I able to do that?  I mean that was not logical, and I hated not having a sensible explanation for things.  By the time I got to Advance Biology, I gave up trying to think of a good explanation for what had happened, even though it continued to be bothersome.  My thoughts then turned to what I was going to tell the police what happened when they stopped by my house, which was inevitable at that point.   I wasn’t even sure what exactly I was supposed to tell them.  I was sure telling them that I barbequed some guy I didn’t even know by shooting fire out of my hand will go over very well.   Talk about spending my life locked up in some insane asylum.  Even worse, I could end up as some military weapons experiment.  I saw the movie Firestarter, and I refused to let that happen.  I guess that meant that I was going to have to lie.  It’s funny how when you commit a crime, you have to do a lot more unethical things just to get away with it.  That takes a person who was especially cold, which was something that I would like to think I wasn’t. 

We were doing some kind of lab in class, and I was thanking God that Blaine was not dumb.  He basically took over and did everything while I sat and sulked. 

“Rough night?” Blaine asked.  We were supposed to be dissecting cats, and he already had the thing opened up. 

“Well, I can’t say that I enjoyed it.”

“What?  You and Bret are on the rocks already? That was quick.  I would have at least given you a couple of months.”

“Who said that my night had anything to do with Bret?”

Blaine wasn’t having it.  “Please.  A girl doesn’t sit there sulking unless they are having man problems.”

“And what makes you such an expert?”

“Um, I’m gay.  Man problems?  I think I can relate.”

I couldn’t help laugh, and besides he had a point. It was probably a fair assessment that he has more experience with man problems than I ever have.  I decided to let him keep thinking that Bret and I were having some kind of problem.  I didn’t want to have to tell him the truth, but I didn’t want to lie him either. 

“I’m just tired.”  That, of course, was an understatement.  I didn’t even know how I was able to stay awake for most of the morning. 

“Okay.” 

Thankfully he dropped it because I’ve never been good at making up stuff anyway.  We went back to dissecting the feline and I actually put up an impressive act of being interested in what we were doing.  Lunch, however, was a totally different story

  “What is going on with you today?” Angel asked when she met me after class.

“What do you mean?” I asked her. 

“You’re acting all strange,” she explained.  “You are never this quiet.”

“This is the first time you’ve seen me all day,” I protested.  “How could you even come to such a conclusion?”  We got our lunch and sat at the same table where we usually sat.  Caleb showed up a minute later.  Where was Bret? He wasn’t anywhere around.

“You can’t deny that you are acting different,” Angel said.  “It’s written all over your face.”

“Okay, whatever.”

“It’s true,” Angel said.  “You don’t have that shine on your face that you’ve had the last week.”

“Something is different. That’s for sure.”  That came from Caleb, who had finally decided to speak.  I look at him, and there was something different about him.  He looked, should I say better.  I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but there was definitely something different going on with him too and it wasn’t a bad thing.  It had to be the hair.  I think he cut it, and it showed off more of his face.  He must have been one of those guys that long hair didn’t agree with. 

 “Maybe things aren’t going so well with you and Bret,” he continued.

“Why is everyone saying that?” I was clearly exasperated.  I was starting to get tired of everyone else being all in my business.  I knew that it was something that is common in high school, but still I was starting to get over not having any privacy.

“Well,” Angel started.  “Rumor has it that you haven’t spoken to him all day.”

“So what?  That is supposed to mean what exactly?”

“He’s not here.” Caleb leaned forward and looked at me directly in the eyes.  That was the first time since I had met him that he had every done that.  His eyes were an intense blue, and I could barely stand his gaze.  It must have been that his hair was shorter made his eyes more noticeable.  He continued, “And since he’s always around you at every opportunity, what else could it be?”

“It could be that I haven’t seen him all day.”  Now as much as I didn’t really care what everyone else in this place thought, but these two were as close to friends that I had in this school.  I was really trying to avoid lying to them needlessly.  I was going to be doing enough of that as it was.

“Well, he is here today,” Angel said.  “Or at least he was.  I don’t think I have even talked to him at all today.  He doesn’t have that many friends.”

“Wait. I thought he was supposed to be one of the most popular guys in school the way everyone talks about him.”

“Being popular doesn’t mean you have a lot of friends,” Caleb said.  “You’re pretty popular too, but you don’t have a lot of friends.”

If it wasn’t for the fact that was a true statement, I would have taken offense to that.  Besides, I couldn’t be that popular, I’ve only been at this school for a week.  I don’t even know ninety percent of these people.  However, I didn’t really care to get an answer, so I continued on.  “Well for the record, he hasn’t exactly gone out of his way to speak to me today.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Angel asked.  I was surprised that the two of them were really pushing this issue.

“Well maybe you guys should ask him what is going on.”  I looked at the two of them as I said this so that no mistake could be made that I was talking to both of them.  “As far as I know nothing has changed since yesterday.  Geez, you guys are acting like we actually are married and live in the same house, and not having only met a week ago.”

“Maybe, you two shouldn’t act like a married couple if you don’t want people to treat you like one.”  Caleb had the goofiest grin on his face when he said that.  Someone had surely changed his tune over the last day.  He was a lot more fun to be around when he wasn’t sulking and trying to purposely look like he didn’t care.

“Oh, shut up,” Angel said.  “Like you don’t have territorial issues.”

 “What?” Caleb asked.  “I’m just protecting my investment.”

“Protecting your investment?” Angel said incredulously.  She then lightly hit him in the head.  It was obvious that she thought he was joking.  However, I wasn’t sure he actually was.  He certainly didn’t sound like it.  I guess he was going to be a good actor.  I hope he doesn’t get any parts that require him to use a southern accent.  I didn’t worry too much because if he really wasn’t joking, I’m sure that Angel would put him in his place quickly. 

Their fake fighting didn’t stop until the end of lunch, and I was pretty glad when it was over.  Sometimes during the last week I wondered about those two.  They act more like siblings than any thing else.  After a while I got tired of it, or maybe that was because I was more like a walking zombie at that point in the day. 

            “You know,” I said to Angel as we left the cafeteria.  “I wouldn’t have actually told him if anything was wrong between the Bret and me.”

“I’m sure you weren’t,” Angel replied.  “Caleb would have just gone and ran his mouth.”  She never stopped walking and didn’t even look at me.  “It does seem like something is bothering you, though.”

“Girl, I’m just tired.”  I then filled her in on everything that happened the night before up to getting the flat, and didn’t tell her anything afterwards.

“Well that is a sensible explanation,” she responded.  “It doesn’t really change how it looks.”

“Like I can help that,” I said.  “Here’s an idea.  How about everyone just mind their own damn business?”

“Please, you know as well as I do that isn’t going to happen.  That is usually what happens to popular people.”

“Yeah, I noticed,” I sighed.  “If you weren’t around, I’d feel like the token black person from those teen movies in the late nineties.  You know the only person who seems to have any common sense.”

“I don’t think you can claim that title.”

I stopped walking and looked at her.  “And why not?”

Angel didn’t miss a beat in her answer.  “You don’t have the right body parts.  That person is always a dude.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.  “What are you saying that I have no common sense?”

“Of course not.”  Angel paused.  “But, you should really stop with the racial pity party.”

“Racial pity party?”  I couldn’t believe that she said that.  She always seems to have something crazy coming out of mouth.

“Look I’m just saying enjoy it.  The most well liked guy in school is hot for you, and no one, except maybe Kendra and no one cares what she thinks anyway, is even the least bit jealous of you.  It’s not some huge conspiracy.  Don’t you think that it could be because you are likeable?”

“Isn’t a week a little quick to be saying that I’m on that level?”

“Not really.  Look at me.  Everyone thought I was a bitch at first.”

“I still think you’re a bitch,” I said as we entered class.  “I still like you because you actually own up to your bitchiness.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she replied laughing as we walked into class.  I was glad she thought that was funny, even though I wasn’t at all joking. 

 

 

The first thing I did when I got home was take a nap.  Those two hours were needed because I almost fell asleep on my way home.  Then after waking, I went to my normal routine.  I felt a lot better, at least physically, after waking up, and I spent my daily run going over the recent events.  I couldn’t get what happened the previous night out of my mind, and the basic problems were three things.  The first was that I had actually killed someone, and even though I was justifiably horrified by that, it was even more horrifying that I was starting to get over it.  It was like I was starting to accept that I had done it, which brought up my second problem.  How in the hell did that happen?  I wasn’t even sure of how I had done it.  I certainly didn’t even think having fire burst of my hands and burning a guy to a burnt crisp.  I had done it on impulse.  There was no logical information as to why I was capable of doing anything like that.  The third problem basically had to do with what happened next.  I had no clue.  Obviously, I was going to have to answer to what I had done.  That I wasn’t even sure what the hell I was going to say didn’t help matters.  I didn’t come up with any good ideas while I was running, which was a time when I usually come up with my craziest ideas and insights but now, however, not so much. 

When I got home, I just decided to forget about it, for at least a while.  I took a nice long bath.  If I had done this with my mom at home, she would have ripped me a new one.  Wasting water, or doing anything that was considered wasteful, was not allowed in this house.  Mom liked to complain about the bills, even though it was well known that we more than could afford it.  I thought it was a requirement to be a mom is to nag about the small stuff.  After all I had gone through to try to forget the night before, it wasn’t long before the situation again hit me squarely in the face.  After I got out of the shower and gotten dressed I had a surprise visitor.  Well, it wasn’t really a surprise, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon.  It had been less than twenty-four hours after what happened, so the knock on my door was a little surprising.  When I opened the door I found a guy wearing a pretty nice suit standing with hits hand out like he was about to ring the doorbell.   He was pretty young, probably Mexican, and looked good in a suit. He promptly smiled.

“Hello.  My name is Detective Hector Solorio, and I was looking for Valerie Robinson.”  He flashed his credentials like a television cop.

“That would be me. What can I do for you?”

“I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions.”

“Uh, okay.”  I invited him inside and we went into the living room.  He turned down my offer of something to drink, and got right down to business.  Apparently he went to my school to try and talk to me there, but of course I had left for the day.  Thank god that plan of his didn’t work.  I don’t if I would have been able to live that down. 

“I was wondering if you knew a guy named Scott Roberts,” Detective Solorio asked. 

I was clueless.  I had never heard of that person and I told the detective as much.    If he was the guy from last night, then at least I didn’t have to lie about that.

“Well his truck was found on Aleskar Road,” Solorio said.  “A road which I’m sure you know quite well.  His remains were found totally burned.  He was burned so badly that the only way to identify him was by his dental records.”

He watched me closely for my reaction while he said this, and even though I visually cringed as he said it, that was all that he got.  Sure, I was a little mortified that I had actually done that.  It was almost unbelievable.   However, I didn’t know who this guy was, so it wasn’t like I was supposed to be very upset by this. 

“That’s horrible,” I said.  I was very convincing.  It wasn’t very difficult considering that I had yet to actually lie.  “But I don’t understand why that would bring you here.  As I said before, I have no clue who he is.”

“Sure, I’ll get to that in a moment.”  He wasn’t accusatory when he spoke, but he hadn’t really told me anything either.  I wasn’t sure as to whether he actually suspected me of anything or not.  “The problem was that there was no sign or evidence that he was remotely suicidal.  There was also no evidence of anyone being in the area.  His truck hadn’t been touched and he was the only person who had been in it.  All we had was his remains across the street from his truck and the vehicle itself.  Now after we identified him, I talked to the gas station attendant who worked at the station between here and Rancho Ruiz.  She recognized Scott immediately after I showed her a picture of him.”  He handed me a photo of him and as I expected, it was they guy from last night, and the guy actually cleaned up pretty well.  Toothpaste and shampoo can work wonders.   

“I saw him in the gas station last night,” I said.  “I never spoke to him though.  After I had paid for the gas, I passed by him as I walked outside to pump my gas.” Again there was no need to lie, and I was starting to wonder where he was going with this.  He obviously doesn’t suspect me of anything.  The fact that he actually told me that there was no evidence that I was even there, which was crazy as it was, gave me that impression.  He must have been fishing for information. 

“That’s what she said,” the detective confirmed.  “Here is the funny part.  He obvious had a lot of interest in you.  Basically he asked her a lot of questions about you which she thought were a little weird and one of the main reasons why she remembered it.  He had asked her questions about how often you come to the store and at what times.”

I was shocked by this.  Then again, who wouldn’t be?  Obviously, what happened last night was not some random encounter with a crazy person.  This guy Scott actually had some semblance of a plan.  I was surprised that he actually had it in him.  He hadn’t given me much reason to have confidence in his intelligence.

“We watched the surveillance tape,” Solorio continued.  “And it basically confirmed what she said.  In addition to that he actually watched you leave the station, but he left fifteen minutes after you.”

“I’m confused.  Why are you telling me this?” 

He probably even didn’t know.  I thought it was because he was fishing for information, but it wasn’t because he was incompetent.  He was assigned a really weird case here, and I really wasn’t going to help him in any way, shape, or form.  How was he going to figure out this one?   He’s got a burnt up body with no evidence of any kind of foul play, and the one person who can help him wasn’t actually being very helpful.  Then while just grasping at straws, he ends up with information that seems kind of fishy. 

“Well, to be honest” the detective started.  “The fact that he’s obviously interested in a person he obviously didn’t know before he was killed is a little unsettling.  I’m trying to find out as much about him as I can.  Usually, that brings me to a suspect.”

“Well I’m sorry that I can’t really help you.”  I was feeling a little sorry for him, but only a little bit.  I was determined not to tell him anything more than I already did.  I didn’t know Scott except for me turning him into charcoal the previous night. 

Solorio stood and walked toward me.  “Well, I don’t want to keep you.” Then, I definitely knew that I wasn’t a suspect.  There wasn’t anyway I should have gotten off with questioning that easy.  I stood up. 

“Let me walk you out.” 

I walked him over to the door and before he stepped outside he handed me one of his cards.  “Well if you have any questions or anything else that you might want to tell me, just give me a call anytime.”

Then he was in his car and gone.  He must have been really desperate for some kind of a lead.  I’m sure that he thought that he was getting no where by coming here.  It was too bad that he was actually closer to the truth then he thought, and it was a little disconcerting that he was quick to give up so much information.  I would have thought he would have held those cards close, and the fact that he didn’t made me almost certain that I wasn’t a suspect.  However, that could change at any moment, so relaxing was not an option.  I still took a seat on the couch in the living room, a place I was going to make sure I vacated before my parents came home.  I ran through my head what just happened and the only thing that really stood out was the fact that this dude, Scott, followed me from the gas station.  I couldn’t imagine what would have happened if he followed me all the way home, however after thinking about it a little more, I came to the conclusion that he was too far back to actually follow me home.  Well that was unless he drove like a maniac, and the fact he was kind of unstable made that a possibility.  At least in my mind he was.  I went to the kitchen and made something to eat, basically returning to my after school routine.  However my mind was still on all the things that had happened in the last few hours.  I had no idea what was going to happen next.


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ajodom
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Synopsis
The night that changed her life forever.
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