“I know you think I’m here because of ulterior motives,”
she began, “like Dex hired me to come here or something ridiculous, but just know it’s not true. Natural y he knows I am here, or that I was going to try and see you, but it was all my idea. I’ve been real y worried-”
“You’ve said that. And you obviously don’t need to be.
Look at me, I’m fine.”
She nodded. “I know. You look…good.”
I could have sworn there was a slight hesitation before “good.”
“Wel , I just got out the shower,” I protested.
“You look fine, Perry.”
Ah, downgraded from Category Good to Category Fine.
What was next? Category OK?
“I wanted to see how you were handling things.”
I opened my mouth to say something but she continued.
“Come on, we both know what Dex did was a terrible, terrible thing. When I found out, I was livid for weeks. I knew how he felt about you-”
The anger built up in my abdomen again and caught the edges of my chest.
“Felt about me?”
“Yes. I mean, he didn’t mean to hurt you. He meant to hurt himself.”
I sprang to my feet, knocking the chair backward.
“I hope he fucking did hurt himself! Look, I don’t care about what Dex did and why he did it. OK? That’s in the past here. We were both to blame. I shouldn’t have been so stupid and I shouldn’t have believed for one minute that he thought of me more as more than a friend.”
“But he does.”
“Bul shit! Friends don’t fuck each other over. Or fuck each other and then fuck each other over!”
“I know, I know, but he’s a messed-up little bugger and he made a terrible mistake.”
I took a step closer to her and wagged my finger in her face. “Are you defending him? Did you think you could come here, to my house, to my life, and start defending him? Fuck you, too.”
She reached for my hand but I snatched it out of her way and glared at her. She gave me a steady look.
“I am not defending him,” she said with forced calm.
“Dex is an idiot and he has his issues. I just thought you‘d like to know that he lost the most out of this.”
My mouth dropped open and I let out a gasp.
“Let me finish!” she raised her hands. “Let me finish before you kick my bottom. I didn’t come here to tel you about Dex or try to make you feel sorry for him. I’m just tel ing you the truth, even if it’s the truth you don’t want to hear or want to believe. What happened, even though it was his fault, destroyed him total y. He was so far gone-”
“Rebecca!” I howled at her, the madness fil ing my face with heat. “I said I don’t care! I know Dex is stil your friend and that’s fine, but it’s all over. The show. Whatever thing we had going on. Even you and me. I have a new life now. I have a new job, I have new friends and I have new dreams.
You say you were worried about me; well all I can say is that I’m fine. I wasn’t fine for a while there, but I am now. It’s over. OK?”
She looked down at her immaculately manicured nails. I was breathing hard and starting to feel faint again. I felt bad for blowing up at her but she should have known just what she was walking into when she showed up here.
“OK,” she said, then sighed. She looked around the room again, avoiding my eyes. “I’l get going.”
She got up and made her way for the door. A small part of me wanted her to stay, to tel me more about how miserable Dex was and about how far he’d fal en. But that was the part of me that stil cried over love songs sung by a bug-eyed pianist and I was pretty good at burying her needs and wants.
She opened the door and was about to step out when I cal ed out after her. Something had been bugging me for the past few months, something I had no way of finding out.
She paused, her hand on the door, and looked at me with hopeful, glittering eyes.
“Did Dex ever say anything to you about the EVP tapes?”
“EVP tapes?” She shook her head, her bob swinging back and forth. “No. What are those?”
I sighed, disappointed. “We record sounds of what’s going on around us when we do our shoots. I…I had listened to one of the tapes and there was some pretty important stuff on it. But Dex wouldn’t have had a chance to listen to it until after I…left.”
“Oh. Sorry. Dex hasn’t mentioned anything about it to me.”
I sucked on my lip and thought things over. “Do you know who Declan O’Shea is?”
“No. Is that Dex?”
“I’m not too sure,” I said honestly. In the recording that Creepy Clown Lady (or Pippa, as she introduced herself as) had left, she had told me to ask my parents who Declan O’Shea was. I did about a week after I arrived home, when I finally calmed down enough to talk without sobbing or punching things. I asked my father, anyway, since he has a greater memory and he’s a lot smarter than my mom. He seemed surprised that I asked but he said he had no idea.
Then of course he wanted to know why I was asking. I couldn’t very well say “well there’s this old lady who looks like a clown. I think she’s dead. Anyway, she said you’d know,” so I just said I had heard the name mentioned once and wasn’t sure if he was a friend of the family’s or not.
Regardless, Declan O’Shea was definitely not a friend of the family.
“I could ask Dex for you, if you want,” she said in a small voice.
The thought of that made my heart race and a strange heat creep up the back of my neck.
“No, that’s OK. I’m sure it wasn’t important anyway. You know how ghosts are.”
“Sure…” she said uncertainly. Then she smiled. “I’m glad you’re doing OK, Perry. I real y am. I hope we’l meet again one day.”
I nodded absently as she gave me a short wave with her dainty fingers and left my room. I heard her go down the stairs and shut the front door behind her. Then the car started up noisily and seconds later, Rebecca was gone and out of my life again. Perhaps forever.
I sank to my knees and felt tiny prickles of moisture stinging the corners of my eyes.
I didn’t know how I felt, but I felt…alone.
“You need a friend?” Ada asked. I looked up. She was standing at the doorway, looking down at me with pity, or maybe it was affection. “And not a forced friend either.”
I smiled grateful y as Ada sat down on the ground beside me and enveloped me in a much-needed hug.
“Death! Death! It’s all about death! Satan inside, ripping out of my skin!” screamed the eyebrow-less lead singer for this metal band cal ed Eat the Goat or something like that.
I was standing in the far back of a gritty, jam-packed club with Ash, watching the band perform. It was the first act of the lineup and if it was any indication of the talent that was to fol ow, I needed to drink a lot more beer. I was only on my first one and it wasn’t making them sound any better.
“May I?” Ash asked me, holding out his hand for my drink. Though Ash had handsome features and was tal , lanky and carried himself with an air of maturity, he was stil only 20 and wasn’t all owed to buy any booze. So he pilfered mine most of the time. I didn’t mind, though. He’d been good to me so far.
“Sure,” I said, and handed him my cup, looking around the dark venue to see if any narcs were watching. all I saw were headbanging bald guys in denim vests and cargo shorts.
Ash took a big sip, relishing it with a smile. Draft beer in plastic cups tasted a lot better when you were underage.
He handed it back to me considerably emptier and said, “I thought with a name like Eat the Goat, these guys would be hel of a lot better. They are pretty gnarly.”
“Gnarly as in good?”
“Gnarly as in terrible. Sorry for dragging you out here.”
I shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. Thanks for inviting me.
Though, I would have thought the rest of the crew would have showed up.”
The lead singer went into a piercing wail, giving Jim Gil ette a run for his money. I put my free hand over my ear.
“Mikeala is closing tonight,” Ash shouted over the noise, which was somehow increasing, “and everyone else was smart enough to stay away. You’re real y my only friend who likes this type of music!”
I snorted. “I don’t like thi s type of music. I like good music.”
We turned our attention back to the stage as the guitarist blasted out a generic solo.
“What did you do today, anyway?” he asked conversational y, eying my beer like a hungry dog. I took a sip and handed it to him again.
“Not much. I went for a jog. Then ran into someone I didn’t want to see.”
“Ooooh,” he said with wag of his eyebrows.
“She’s a girl.”
“No, she has a girlfriend.”
I laughed and punched Ash in his arm, causing the beer I laughed and punched Ash in his arm, causing the beer to spil out sideways and onto his skate shoes. He looked down with acute disappointment, probably more for his lost beer than his shoes.
“Wel , I guess that’s a sign to get another one,” I said, and turned to make my way to the bar.
His face lit up. “Get two this time!”
“Yeah, yeah.” I waved at him and walked over to the bar near the side. With the concrete floors and the bar, which consisted of fold-up tables and drinks kept in camping coolers, the whole venue had this “let’s throw a party in my parents’ basement” kind of vibe.
Of course, when the music is bad, the drink line is longer. There were five people in front of me and the ordering was going slow. I tapped my combat boots impatiently and was adjusting my Mastodon shirt when the dread-locked girl in front of me turned around and gave me the eye.
“Nice shirt,” she said. I couldn’t tel if she was being sarcastic or not. Her voice was very low, almost manly. Her eyes were red.
Not because she’d been crying but her actual irises were red.
She was wearing vibrant red contacts with streaks of gold in them. They were beautiful but deadly-looking and sent a shiver down the back of my spine.
“Thank you,” I said, my voice trembling slightly. I was suddenly very afraid and I didn’t know why. They were contacts, right?
She smiled, her red lips spreading slowly, until I saw all of her teeth.
Her very misshapen, sharp, dagger-like teeth.
Aside from the lipstick, she had the exact grin of a shark.
My eyes widened. A stabbing feeling erupted from my stomach.
She continued smiling. A whiff of that foul, rotten smel that plagued the Port-Town bathroom came back and swirled around her, creating a wave of nausea throughout my body.
Then she took her eyes off of me, looked past my shoulder and smiled again. A tal , beefy man with long hair and a pentagram shirt walked up to her and put his arm around her shoulder.
“Hey babe,” he said. “Stil wating?”
She nodded and they both turned around so I was staring at the back of their heads as they chatted to each other about how crappy the band was.