Chapter 42. Sweetheart, Aloha

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There are only so many ways to describe sleet and rain hitting the windshield. Believe me, I wish it the storm would pass, too.

I kept the radio on for company, dumb enough to forget it would soon lose reception, becoming possessed by whatever entity played Hawaiian symphony music day-round.

The weather aside, this drive felt a lot like my first attempt to reach Peachbode, a few hours after I last saw Johan alive. The feeling occupying my whole being was one of excitement; not excitement over any particular outcome, but the possibility that I might end up getting whacked off. Sure, it sounded morbid. And sure, I'd come to regret the feeling when I stared death right in the face. But I imagined this was what it was like to go to war: when your life is at risk, there's at least the implication that your life is important.

At the time the radio signal began fading, I was more prepared for death in the event that everything went as planned, rather than if I messed up. But then again, what could possibly go wrong with my plan? Charlie knew I harbored incriminating information, information which, I was sure to spill at some point unless he seized this golden opportunity to kill me. Isaac would read my letter soon as his play finished and have the police arrest Charlie red-handed. In the off-chance, they'd need more proof he killed his family as well, the scrapbook in the basement and the head in the freezer was enough to go around. When the time would come for my parents to clean out my room, they'd find my notebook, in which I chronicled every last bit of my investigation.

I've mentioned it before: most of the time post-Charlie reveal was spent stuck in my thoughts; an emotional pregame, if you will. My plan became clear to me right away, I picked up the gun at Tavi's, set up my trap for Charlie at breakfast, bought my gift bag for Isaac, then I went back home. There was never any need to say goodbye to anyone, as I had been silently pulling myself away for weeks until there was little left of me in anyone's daily routine. But I was optimistic, more than I had been in months, maybe years, safe in the notion that: either I'd die, or I'd go back home and start fresh.

It was then that I thought of Johan.

His passing never bothered me much. I used to dream of it every time he made me uncomfortable, like when I was eleven, and he leaned down to let me in on his little secret: he always wanted a daughter. What would eventually become deep disdain for Johan Derrick was rooted in how deeply he wanted me to like him. It used to make me so angry, you have kids already, why don't you be nice to them instead?

Dad took me to Johan's outdoor dealership the sunny day I turned sixteen. Dad made sure I knew he didn't want to buy my first car from Johan, but if he didn't, we'd never hear the end of it.

Johan stepped out of his office in a gray linen-suit and a navy tie with tiny boats on it, his bare cranium reflected the sun as he handed us a clipboard with the contract for my brand new used 1979 Volvo 244.

"Can you believe little Marcia is old enough for her very own car?" He asked Dad, offering him a pen with his name on it.

"Yes, I do," Dad answered, rejective of Johan's attempts at being jovial. Every time it happened, Johan would pretend not to read the room, or the parking lot for that matter.

"You wouldn't usually get a beauty like this for your money," he so gallantly proclaimed, patting the top of my new car while looking right at me. "But for you, I'll shave some numbers off the additional Johan discount."

"That's really not necessary," Dad insisted, discreetly putting his hand on my shoulder.

"No need to be humble, I insist," he said, showing off his gapped teeth, whose resemblance to mine he had commented on only five minutes earlier. "I watched your girl grow up, I want only the best for her, as with my own kids."

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