33. I blame the death of David Bloom on...
I tried calling Nora that night. She didn't answer, so I left a message on her machine: "I feel awful about what happened. Look, there are no excuses. What I did was stupid. I've been playing that game my whole life. Without you, it's the one thing I have that makes me special, so I don't blame you for kicking me out. I'm sure you will do fine at graduation tomorrow. Congratulations on being valedictorian. I'm sorry I didn't get to hear you practice your speech yesterday. I'm sure it's great. I love you."
I felt a little better after that, but I still mined up deep veins of self-pity every time I let my mind wander. I told myself it would be better for Nora if I wasn't around; she didn't need me in her life. It was all for the best. I went to sleep feeling as depressed and lost as I ever had.
Sound and fury woke me at four in the morning. I rolled over and peered out my small window in time to see a car colliding with Mr. Gimble's trailer. Mass smashing mass, chassis splitting chassis in rapid action, gas splashing. Maniacal music of plate glass crashing, plastic cracking, both vehicles splitting apart, axles clashing. The car's remaining headlight rolled to a stop against a tree near the landlord's abandoned trailer. I jumped out of bed and was out the door in moments, running over the wet grass in bare feet to the car to see if anyone was injured.
Except, that was my car. The little blue box didn't deserve this: used as a weapon against Mr. Gimble's property, azure aluminum exterior peeled back like soda cans after target practice. I dashed around to the other side, jumping over the detached, torn bumper, but found no sign of life. The door was open and I searched the area, peering into the darkness. No trace of Emily or anyone else.
No sign of life inside the car, either, except for a pack of cigarettes on the floorboard of the driver's side. I took them, wondering if they were Emily's. Two cigs remained; and one had something written on it. Change is constant. Steven's calling card, left there to gloat. Typical.
"What the hell did you do?" Dad's voice was a brutal growl.
"Nothing. I was asleep, I just ran out here."
His eyes narrowed, arms folded, posture screaming disbelief.
"Seriously!" I demanded. "Look at my clothes, I don't even have shoes on. Besides, I haven't seen this car in months."
"You're lying, somehow," he said. "I'm gonna call the police and report this. But I know you're lying somehow. You told me it got stolen. Who is gonna steal a car then drive it back to the owner's property? You're guilty somehow." More accusations.
Well, partially true. I looked at Mr. Gimble's trailer, which was mostly empty since the landlord had gotten out of prison. A microwave had flown out, open and dirty with burnt-on sauces, cord dangling uselessly on the lawn—little box refrigerator, toaster, shelf full of silverware spread out on the grass. I didn't know where Mr. Gimble moved to after his apartment burned down, but no one had seen his fat face around Broadway since his arrest.
"Look at this shit!" Dad exclaimed, pulling the shattered remains of a liquor bottle from the car. "Are you drunk?"
I stared at him, exasperated. "Do I look drunk, dad? It's four in the morning. I was sleeping like five feet away from you all night."
We both stopped and stared into the broken remains of the landlord's trailer, one corner ripped completely off, exposing its torso like some desiccated road kill.
"Least it hit the right trailer," I said.
"You shut up," Dad accused, anger lacing his voice. "I know you had something to do with this, and I don't want to hear you making light of it."
YOU ARE READING
[sic]Mystery / Thriller
Six teens are devoted to a game with one rule: If a player gets tagged, they must change their life within the next fifteen minutes. The better the player, the bigger the change. One might give their car away, or punch the school bully. Another migh...