Thursday, February 20, 2014
Mia ran up the stairs to Olivia's house. She slammed her finger repeatedly against the buzzer. After a couple minutes, she sighed and craned her head around the bushes by the front door. No cars.
"It's movie night and I'm picking the movie."
The video store was just a block away. Mia took two deep breaths and took off in a dash in that direction.
"Dragons…. Dragons… Babes… and Dragons…. Babes Riding Dragons…." Elias said as he browsed through the movies in the fantasy section of the video store.
The door of the place flew open and Mia looked around with intent.
"Mia? Are you okay?" Elias asked with genuine concern at the stern look at her face.
"Is…" was all that Mia could get out before having to stop to catch her breath.
"Did you see Olivia here?"
Elias shook his head and asked, "Are you sure that you're okay?"
Mia took a few more breaths while nodding.
"Thanks. I've been looking for her and I can't find her. She said something about a movie night and thought that she might be here."
"Nope, I've been here for the last half-hour and I haven't seen hide-nor-hair of her."
"Alright." Mia said as she got herself ready to walk out of the door. Before she left, she took one last look at the movie that Elias had in his hand.
"I've seen that one. It's pretty cool."
As Mia ran out of the door, Elias looked down at the movie and shrugged before taking it to the counter. Once outside, she looked around. Something caught her eye as a nice car pulled up to that nasty building on the corner that had been sitting empty for who-knows how long.
Another car pulled up and parallel-parked in front of the building. Of all the people, it was Kenton that got out of the passenger seat as Charmaine got out. Mia couldn't make out anything that he was saying except for "rent a video".
Mia froze. Charmaine nodded and entered the front door of the building as Kenton came across the street and greeted her with a smile.
Kenton stopped and tilted his head in confusion.
"Are you okay? I mean, after earlier…"
Mia just glared at him.
Oh, he wasn't going to get away with this. With a growl, Mia tried to grab Kenton and slam him against the wall of the video store. With him being almost one year older and nine inches taller, she was only able to grab Kenton's shirt and move him slightly.
"Look… I'm sorry… if there's anything…" Kenton said in pure confusion at what just happened.
"I know what you did."
Kenton was even more confused. Did Mia get a nasty bump on her noggin from earlier?
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"You're right. You're not good at poetry."
Kenton's eyes widened. He knew where this was going. Mia and Olivia were like peanut butter and jelly. He should have seen this coming but didn't.
"Do you have anything to say?" Mia asked as she let go of his shirt.
"How did you know?"
"Your folder had the same kind of glitter that the valentine had. The same kind of makeup that your mom likes to wear."
Kenton's eyes darted back and forth. He wouldn't have the guts to admit this to Olivia, not in a million years, he was torn between Mia figuring this out being a good thing or a bad thing.
"Does she know?"
"Maybe she does." Mia said as she crossed her arms and pouted, just as Olivia liked to do.
"Does she? Mia?"
Mia sighed and replied "No."
Kenton sighed and relaxed against the building. "So, what did she think of it?"
"She carries it around everywhere she goes. She would probably marry you. Or, knowing that it was you, I dunno."
Before the conversation could continue, the door to the video store opened and Elias walked out with several movies in a bag.
"Did you rent the movie?" Mia excitedly asked. Elias smiled and give her a "thumbs-up" before walking away.
"You know, at one time I thought that he was the one who did it."
"At least he's free for you."
Both kids awkwardly laughed at that joke. Mia didn't know Kenton very well, but the gauntlet was thrown down: if Kenton gets his way, Mia will have to accept this to continue to be friends with Olivia.
Charmaine opened the door to the seemingly abandoned restaurant as her phone chimed. She looked down at the message and sighed.
"Hey, I'm looking at the building right now. I think we're good to go. Bring the check tomorrow and we'll finish this."
This was getting to be sad. Andrea wasn't trying to make her lies believable anymore. Charmaine was at the building and there was no sign of Andrea. Charmaine took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She was doing the right thing. She just was.
Friday, February 21, 2014
"And that settles it. We'll use gray watercolor paint instead of the metallic paint! That'll do for now! Good morning! Good morning!" Mr. Baltimore crooned as the drama club started to disband.
"Hey, did you enjoy that movie?" Mia said as she rested her hand on Elias's shoulder. Elias awkwardly blushed and nodded before taking off.
"That… was weird." Olivia said as Elias sped around the corner. "It's kind of funny. He gets so flustered around girls." Mia said with a smirk, finding the behavior just as much adorable as it was hilarious.
"I'm heading off to class. See you at lunch?"
Kenton gave Mia a look as he passed them. After making sure that Olivia didn't notice, Mia took off for Kenton's locker.
"You need to tell her. Today." She said as she slid up next to him to get that message loud-and-clear.
"Do I have to?"
"Do you want me to?"
Kenton sighed and closed the locker before walking off without a word.
The first four periods of the day went by too fast. Normally, Kenton would love the opportunity to go to the cafeteria to get some grub before shooting some hoops outside, but today he was dreading the lunch bell.
The bell rang and the students filed into the cafeteria. Kenton grabbed his lunch and looked over at the table that Mia and Olivia would take part in. Completely full. Unfortunately, Mia noticed Kenton looking their way and used the opportunity to glare at him.
After barely touching his lunch, Kenton went to the hallway next to the door. He looked out of the window. He had to do something. Mia looked like she was hell-bent on carrying out her threat. Maybe it would be better coming from her? Maybe it would be better if he "manned-up" and did it. Kenton shook his head. He didn't know what to do.
"Mia said that you wanted to talk to me?"
Kenton's brain crashed. Either Mia was going to tell her, or she wasn't. This wasn't a possibility that Kenton was planning for. He didn't know what to do. His mental train was derailed.
"Kenton? Hello?" Olivia said as she waved her hand in front of his face.
It was all about courage. It took a lot of courage on that day when he put that valentine in her locker. He needed to tap into that. At this point, Mia knew, and Olivia knew that something was up. At the worst, it was going to be awkward and dramatic. There was no graceful way out. That left one way…
"I did it." Kenton said quietly. Olivia blinked.
"I put the note in your locker."
"You… Uh… Wow…
Silence. Nothing but silence. Kenton didn't turn around to face her. Throughout this "conversation", he never once made eye-contact with her.
"I'm sorry…" was all that Kenton could say before opening the door and walking out. It was nothing but silence behind him. He knew that this wasn't going well.
Meanwhile, Charmaine paced back and forth in her house. She took a sick day from the school to take care of this "deal". She took a deep breath as she heard rapid footsteps coming up the stairs. To be polite, Charmaine opened the door to be surprised as Kenton walked past her.
"Uh, okay, sweetie."
Her words went unheard as she heard the door slam behind her. Normally, she would be trying to figure out what was wrong and then dragging his behind back to school, but she had other fish to try.
A knock at the door informed Charmaine that its time. Or rather, the end of Andrea's.
"Come on in, girl!" Charmaine said with a smile as Andrea walked in and sat down on the couch.
"Do you have the check made out?" she asked, almost coming off as over-enthusiastic.
"I did something a little better. Check it." Charmaine said as she pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to Andrea.
Andrea read the note in front of her. Charmaine, somehow, used the money that she was supposed to give to Andrea to set up the lease for the building.
"Charmaine… how… why?"
"Well, girl, I wanted to take some of the stress off of you!"
Andrea stammered a bit. How did Charmaine get the property manager on board with her credit alone?
"How… how did you…?"
"Well, I want the best for us. Why should we settle for less money when we could have more to work with! I've been working on getting us a small-business loan to help us think big. Now that everything has come through, I went ahead and used the loan to get the building."
"You went behind my back? What happened to me overseeing the business?"
"I wanted to help, so I did."
"I see… that you put the lease in your name."
Charmaine just looked at her soon-to-be ex-friend and smiled.
"I have to thank you, Andrea. You gave me the ability to start dreaming big, to get off my butt and get things done…"
Andrea could only look at the floor, like a scolded puppy.
"But if you think that I'm going to sit back and let you embezzle my work into the ground, you've got another thing coming." Charmaine said as Andrea looked up in guilty shock.
"Charmaine… what are you talking about?"
"You know that text on Friday? I was signing the papers in the very building that you said that you were looking at. The property manager has never even heard of you."
"Okay, so I lied about that. Where do you get 'embezzlement' from?"
"Where were all these lies going, Andrea? I've known you for many, many years. I know that you don't lie out of laziness. I know that you had something planned. If you're lying to me now, how can I trust you in the future?"
"…I don't know…"
Charmaine walked up to the front door and opened it.
"Get out. I'm serious. I'm going to continue dreaming big and you're not going to stop me. If you come on my property, either here or the restaurant, I will have you arrested."
Andrea, without saying another word, got up and walked out of the door with what little dignity that she had left.
Charmaine slammed the door shut and sat down on the couch. Kenton opened the door and poked his head out.
"You okay, mom?"
Charmaine looked up and was able to smile through the tears in her eyes.
"I am now, baby."
Kenton knew exactly what was going on. He knew that Andrea was the devil and that Charmaine had stopped her from turning their world into a living hell.
"Now, about you coming home from school…"
Later that night, Andrea stomped around her apartment and fumed. It was all gone. Twenty-five grand right down the toilet. Her plans were foiled. After a few growls and more stomping, she was greeted with a heavy knock on her door.
"Hi. I'm going to have to ask you to keep it down. There's been some complaints." Her landlord said. She could only respond by shoving the man out of the way and storming off towards the parking lot.
She got into her car and slammed the transmission into gear. With a squeal of the tires, she took off down Panther street.
That disgusting building that was represented Charmaine's dream didn't look any different. It was still dilapidated and still disgusting. Andrea whipped the car into the alley going next to the building and parked in the empty space by the service door.
She reached up for the door and turned the handle. Yes, it was locked. With a primal scream she grabbed a cinder block and slammed it into the doorknob. Seeing that a broken doorknob doesn't necessarily guarantee entry to the building, she took that same block and threw it through one of the windows on the side of the building.
She felt her leg get scratched by a piece of glass as she entered the dining room. The room, as it stood, wasn't pretty, but if anyone who could make it look great, it would be Charmaine. That fact made Andrea sick to her stomach.
The lack of an alarm beeping signified that Charmaine didn't take the time to invest in an alarm system. She went through the trouble of having the power and the water turned on but forgot one of the most important parts of the business. Andrea cackled with insanity as she pushed open the door to the kitchen. What was she going to do? She could torch the place, but that would be too obvious.
She had something else in mind. She looked around the kitchen and, in the storeroom, she found a few construction tools. The earlier owners tried to make a few "do-it-yourself" renovations before the bank took the building and left the tools behind in the heat of the moment.
With a grunt, Andrea took a hammer and slammed it into a small pipe running through the storeroom. Water started gushing out and soaked the newer wood that was installed in the room.
Andrea ran back into the kitchen and knocked the faucet off a small sink dedicated to hand washing. She was soaked, but she didn't care. She giggled like a schoolgirl as she crawled under the dishwashing sink and busted open the pipes below to cause a spray.
She continued to laugh as she left dents in the kitchen equipment and busted the glass in the ovens. She went to the compressors of the walk-in cooler and gave them some of her "love".
"Dream on, Charmaine." She calmly said before jumping out of the window she entered. As her car peeled out on the asphalt and took off down Panther street, the water started to overtake the floors of the kitchen and was seeping into the carpeted dining room. The wood in the storeroom was soaked and water started to seep down into the basement of the building.