Ask Me Extra: The Killer’s POV

This is a never before released EXTRA for Ask Me — it’s not a preview or a continuation, but a companion to the story (though I would recommend reading it AFTER you have read the novel as it will very clearly give some things away). This is the story as told from the killer’s point of view. I hope you enjoy it and it gives you a bit more insight into the story. For background, a reduced form of these snippets originally separated the days in the original manuscript but the final novel only included two.

Sunday

Let’s be honest. I hit him on purpose. I was driving and half-listening to her, once again yammering on and on and on about how I should apply myself more in school and how I should try harder with my dad and how, I don’t know, I hadn’t mentioned how cute her new skirt was or some stupid shit like that. And there he was, some old Cuban guy, walking along the edge of the road in the middle of the night. Eight ball, corner pocket. I found myself wondering if that would shut her up. Spur of the moment, but that’s how some of my best decisions have always been made. I barely had to swerve to hit him.

One satisfying thump, a squishy bump as the back tire went over him, and that was it. I kept driving, but she didn’t shut up at all. Instead she started screaming. He hadn’t even screamed and he was the one who’d been hit.

“Oh my God, oh my God! You just hit that guy! You have to stop! Turn around! Oh my God! Do you think he’s okay?”

I slowed down and looked in the rear view mirror. It was dark, but the moon was out. He wasn’t even twitching. “Pretty sure he’s dead,” I said and stepped on the gas again. “No reason to stop.”

That actually shut her up. For about a minute. “We can’t just leave him there. We have to tell someone. We should call the police.”

“Why?” I asked. “They can’t do anything for him.” I was regretting it now. Not the hitting him part, that had actually been the biggest rush I’d had in ages. I could still feel the adrenalin running through my body. I felt more alive than I had in months. I shouldn’t have done it with her in the car though. Now she was never going to shut up.

She was quiet for a few peaceful moments, huddled over against the passenger’s side door. Staring at me.

“You hit him on purpose, didn’t you?”

Monday

I’d lucked out that I’d been driving Jade’s car when I hit the guy, though she probably didn’t see it that way. It was her own fault anyway. She didn’t like to drive. I always did all the driving when we went anywhere, not that I’d have let her take the wheel anyway.

I’d run the car through the drive-thru car wash twice Sunday night before I took her home, with her freaking out on me the entire time. I told her no one would ever know. She’d hit a deer by accident six months ago and I’d hit the guy in roughly the same spot. I couldn’t even tell whether he’d made the dent worse or not. He hadn’t been very big. The deer had probably outweighed him by fifty pounds or more.

But Jade and her big mouth were worrying me. She was quiet as I drove her home from school in my car. She was refusing to get into her own car. Said she couldn’t bear to drive it. She’d have to get over that quick or people would figure out something was up.

Her eyes were red-rimmed from crying and I could see a glob of dried snot on her shirt. Disgusting. I’d overheard Delilah saying Jade had spent almost the entire day in the girl’s bathroom. Crying like a baby. She needed to get that out of her system too. Fast. Or else.

“I’ve been thinking,” she said. I almost cracked the obvious joke, but I held back. It was time for a delicate hand here. “This girl, she said—”

“What girl?”

“Aria. You know, that junior girl with the long hair. The one that’s always wearing old-fashioned dresses and saying the strangest things. I’m sure you’ve seen her. Anyway, I, um, ran into her today.”

It was bad enough she talked to that loudmouth Delilah. Now she was randomly confiding in the school weirdo? Great. I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel. She’d promised she hadn’t told Delilah anything, but at this rate, soon the whole school would know something had happened if they hadn’t already figured it out. If I was lucky, maybe they’d just think she’d gotten in some kind of lover’s quarrel with me or Alex. That could work, actually. Maybe if I said something to him, pushed his buttons…he had a temper, especially where I was concerned. Didn’t think I had Jade’s best interest at heart.

“Anyway, she said something about how the damage was already done and what I chose now would just determine the extent.” Jade was looking out the window. I reached over and held her hand, curling my fingers around hers. She was big on hand holding.

“Oh?” I said encouragingly. I didn’t like the sound of that. Did the girl actually know something about what happened somehow? Or was she just guessing? It seemed like a bizarre thing to say.

“I didn’t tell her anything,” said Jade defensively. I squeezed her hand as I pulled into her driveway and parked the car. “I said I had a crisis, that’s all. That’s all I told Delilah, too.” I mmhmmed in response, letting her take it as she would.

“I just don’t know. I know you said it was an accident and everything.” She let out another whiny sob. “It’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have distracted you while you were driving.” Ah, at least the guilt I’d implanted seemed to be working. “But we can tell that to the police. That man’s family deserves to know what happened. It’s not right.” She squeezed my hand and turned away from the window to look at me. “We have to tell,” she said, her eyes searching mine.

“Okay,” I said and squeezed her hand again. “I’ll pick you up tonight and we’ll go, okay? I just have a few things I need to do first.” She relaxed back into her seat, happy now that I’d solved her existential problem.

Obviously, I was going to have to take care of this situation. She wasn’t going to keep quiet. No fake love spat was going to cover this up. It was time to do something drastic. Final. The or else.

She gave me a watery smile and got out of the car. I smiled back, my mind already turning over the possibilities. I turned on the radio as I pulled away and hummed along, planning. Maybe this was a blessing in disguise. A project.

Tuesday

How pathetic. It took Jade’s mother a phone call from Delilah to figure out her daughter was missing. I always knew her mom was a bitch, just like mine. No tears from her either, not that I could see, but that would have messed up her makeup in public.

She probably came with the police during school hours for the added attention. Just the kind of thing Jade would have done. Always has…had…to be the center of attention. Everyone must know Jade was gone by now. I had wondered how long it would take, how long it would be before people missed her. If it weren’t for Delilah, who knows?

It didn’t matter anyway. I wasn’t going to lose any sleep over it. I’d made sure to leave no clues behind and who knew how long it would take them to find her body. The woods were big and Jade…well, she was small and quiet now.

My mom wouldn’t have made the big public show, though, not like Jade’s mom. That wasn’t her style. She was like me. Or, I guess, I’m like her. Like mother, like son.

Ha, maybe I should send her over to talk to Jade’s mom and give her some advice on how to deal. After all, she knows what it’s like to lose a child too. Well, not really lose a child. That makes it sound like an accident. It was no accident when my little sister died. I was there. I saw it.

I was almost six. I remember exactly because it was just two weeks before my birthday when they brought my new baby sister home from the hospital. Sharing my birthday with some squalling brat was not my idea of a good present. It was supposed to be my time.

Mom wasn’t happy either.

Later, they diagnosed her with post partum depression. Then after the baby died, with chronic depression. Really, I think she just figured out that she didn’t need Jenny. She already had me. And the brat never stopped crying.

They didn’t charge Mom with murder, though. They thought the depression was brought on by Jenny’s “crib death,” better known as SIDS. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

It was sudden, all right. Suddenly brought on by a pillow.

We shared a room, me and the crier, which meant I was seeing more of mom than I’d seen in a while. So I wasn’t surprised when she came in late one night. I pretended to sleep, so I wouldn’t have to help. Mom has always relied on me to be the man of the family. It’s not like she could trust in Dad.

I knew right away something was different. She went right to the crib and stood there. Not picking her up or saying anything or trying to give her a bottle or a pacifier. Just staring.

That’s when I shut my eyes.

At first, I heard crying.  But it was muffled. I opened my eyes and sat up so I could get a better look. I couldn’t help it.

Mom was holding a pillow over the baby’s face.

I was young, but I wasn’t stupid. Dad had given me a big speech about what not to do to the baby and putting a pillow over her head was definitely something you weren’t supposed to do.

I don’t think Mom even noticed I was watching, at least not at first. I watched Jenny’s little purple booties.  They were kicking and then the movements slowed and then, she was still. But Mom held the pillow there for another few moments.

Then she dropped the pillow on the floor and left the room.

Did she look at me, sitting there? I like to think that she did, that she gave me a little nod on the way out, but maybe my memory has added that little detail. Maybe it’s wishful thinking. I am the one she chose to keep, even though it’s not like Mom and I are best buddies or anything. We know how to stay out of each other’s way.

Still, what I learned, that most important lesson, was that it’s all about control. Always take control of the situation. If something’s not how you want it, fix it.

I waited a few minutes and then got out of bed to poke at Jenny, lying there all still and quiet and smelling of pee and milk. Her eyes were open, so I closed them. Then I picked up the pillow and took it to bed with me. I still have it.

Wednesday

I threw the knife in the middle of the lake after wiping it for prints, making sure no one was around to see me first. I’d taken every precaution I could think of. All those years of watching TV were finally coming in useful.

It was a shame to get rid of the knife, really. I’d lifted it from a fisherman’s pickup truck not that long ago and it had a really pretty pearl handle. But I wasn’t stupid. Don’t keep souvenirs or trophies. They were always catching people that way on TV. You had to be smart. Think things through. Prepare. Always be in control of the situation.

I’d borrowed a pair of Alex’s shoes from the school locker room before I’d taken Jade out in the woods to kill her. They were way too big, but I’d made it work and stuck them back in his locker bright and early Tuesday before school. I’d even driven her out in the woods in my dad’s car. He hadn’t even noticed I’d borrowed it when I got back, which wasn’t surprising. I’d gone so far as to burn the clothes I wore to kill her in an abandoned hunting cabin, making sure every bit was gone. Probably overkill, but better safe than sorry. I had given myself an alibi by making a point to my dad about how much homework I had and sneaking out my bedroom window. Called Tank on my cell phone and chatted with him while Jade crawled away from me, bleeding all over the place, and complained about the homework to him too. Once they found her and figured out the time of death, there’d be no question.

It couldn’t be me. Not that anyone would ever imagine it was anyway.

Thursday

I don’t understand how so many people have latched on to me as a possible murder suspect. They love me. Well, they loved me. Jade’s other boy-toy is under the gun too, and I’ve tried to encourage that, dropping hints and insinuations to anyone that will listen. I’m sure things will go back to normal soon. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s just a temporary annoyance.

I need to tie up any loose ends, make sure I haven’t missed something incriminating. I ingratiated myself to that girl Aria today. It wasn’t hard. She’s so obviously starved for a kind word, like some raggedy stray dog, beaten down by the fellow inmates of this institution of idiots.

I just have to make sure she really doesn’t know anything. Jade insisted until the bitter end that she’d told no one anything and Delilah does seem clueless, if annoying as usual. Delilah’s obviously still half in love with me, so I think Jade was telling the truth. But Aria, there’s something strange about her. She looks at me like she knows something, like she can see through me. Like she knows something.

I’m really regretting throwing that knife away now. It felt so good in my hand. So solid and real and it cut through skin like butter. I’ll have to buy another one.

Friday

I can’t stop thinking about the feel of the blade as it sunk deep into Jade. Her gasp of surprise. And the sound of the slick skid-thump of the car running over that guy. I’ve dreamed about one or the other every night, waking up with my heart thundering in my chest. I wished I could live it all again, now that I know. I would have drawn the experiences out longer, making them last. I’ve taken to walking in the woods to try and recapture the feeling, but it isn’t enough. I don’t dare go near where I killed Jade. Not yet. God, how I want to, but I’m not stupid. Have to think, not feel. Maybe after the police have abandoned it.

I think I’ve been building toward this my whole life. Everything led up to here. Every little thing.

I remember every death I’ve caused, even counting stuff like ants and beetles or those bizarre little ant-lions, filling in their funnel shaped holes in the sand when I was really small. But the real beginning was when I killed that cat of Mrs. Elmore’s when I was eight.

The stupid thing was always coming in our back yard to do his business, like it was his own personal litter box. Mom had complained to Mrs. Elmore, but the old bat never did anything about it, just smiled and said “cats would be cats” like that was an excuse. You couldn’t go back there without stepping in cat shit or breathing in that acrid cat piss smell. It was disgusting.

One weekend I decided to take care of the problem. The way Mom would.  Why not?  She’d chosen me for a reason; I was like her.  I got things done. I was smart and careful and I knew what mattered.

The cat didn’t like me, but it did like tuna. I got a big bucket ready with some water and a piece of plywood to put over the top of it, lured it to me with the tuna, and got it in the bucket with only a few scratches.

I timed it. It only took a little over a minute for it to all be over. Less time than Mom held that pillow over Jenny’s face.

Dumb animal. It never saw it coming. A lot like Jade and that guy, I guess. They’re all stupid animals, really.

I buried it in the backyard under the oak tree after I cut it open and took a look inside to see what it looked like. I waited to see if Mom would notice that the cat didn’t pee in the yard anymore, but she never said anything. No one ever knew, just like no one has ever figured out that I’m the one who kills all the mangy stray dogs around town. Just like no one will ever know it was me that killed Jade.

People are stupid. They only see what they want to see, even the police. They’ve talked with me twice now and they all think I’m quite the upstanding guy.

Saturday

Sounds really idiotic, but today truly is the first day of the rest of my life. I had my suspicions about Aria, but even in my wildest dreams I never would have imagined what she could do. She is the key. If I play my cards right, there’s no limits to how far we could go.  Everything has been a sign, ever since I was a kid.  I see it now.  I see that Mom was right.  She never had to tell me because she showed me. Take control of your own destiny.

But I really do need to be careful and watch out. I let myself go a little too much, maybe revealed too much too soon. But at least Aria was the only witness and she only sees what she wants to, just like everyone else. She’s so tied up in the truth that she can’t recognize a lie when it’s right in front of her. A few well-planned questions and I can have her thinking whatever I want her to.

After I’ve got her where I want her, when she really needs me, maybe I’ll let her in on it. We could be partners in this. She knows how horrible people really are. She’s got to. And if she doesn’t already, a few questions in the right direction and she’ll see. Everyone’s got dirty little secrets and I can show that to her.

Sunday

The funeral service was, perhaps, a mistake but there was no getting around it. We had to make an appearance and there was no way I was going to let Aria loose around a bunch of people on her own. I was able to make her wait outside long enough that we got a spot near the door.

I made sure Alex saw us together too so I could rub his face in it. Gave him a nice big wink while I was carrying her out the door

I hadn’t really expected the fainting thing, but it worked out okay. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s worth it, however annoying she can be. If I can keep her under control and guide her along…I’ll always be one step ahead of everyone.

And she’s relying on me more and more every day.

Monday

I wound the knot a little bit tighter around Aria. Gave her my old iPod. You’d think no one had ever given her anything before, she’s so ridiculously appreciative of everything. She is a puppy. No, actually, more like a kitten lost in a thunderstorm, all big wounded eyes. She doesn’t realize what she’s got, what she is! The possibilities!

But I’ve got enough ambition and plans for the two of us.

I’ve found another knife. I was at a store over in Daleford picking something up for dad and there was this hunting shop right next door. I’d forgotten about it. He used to take me to it when I was younger. It was where he got all his gear.

Pearl-handled, just like the other one, with a really nice weight to it. Serrated edge. Told the guy it was a present for my dad, like I’d ever give that bastard anything. Gave him a whole long story about how Dad and I go hunting together. Male bonding. We haven’t been out in the woods together since I was ten, maybe twelve and he’s never taken me out hunting with him, even when I asked. Said he doesn’t think it’s for me. Too violent or something stupid. Probably doesn’t want to be shown up.

I hid the new knife under my mattress. It’s probably my imagination, but I feel like I can feel it while I’m lying on my bed. Like the Princess and the Pea or something like that, but without the happily ever after.

And this story is going to end happily ever after, at least for me. Aria is going to help me pin all of this on Alex. I was right to steal his shoes from the locker room.  Of course I was. It’s all going to work out so well. It must be kismet. Fate. That’s what brought me and Aria together.

Tuesday

Shelley. It was time to pay her a visit.

My whole body had felt itchy since the fight, like my skin was too tight for my body. I wanted to punch someone, feel my fist sink deep into flesh, stopping only at the bone and maybe not even there. To be honest, I’d been feeling like this since I’d killed Jade. It had been such an adrenalin rush. Way better than the so-called runner’s high or any sports metaphor I could think of. Better than when I’d run the guy over.

Alive, that’s the only way I can think to really describe it. I’d finally felt alive. And I wanted that feeling again. Bad.

This morning had made it worse. I ached all over, inside and out. It was probably stupid to go for Shelley on the same day as the fight, but I couldn’t wait any more. On the plus side, the police wouldn’t expect it. Though, seriously, after having talked with them a few times now…they weren’t going to figure it out. I’d been careful setting up my alibi, even more so than last time. I’d set it all up. It was amazing what you could do with a little technological know-how. Right about the time I was going to meet Shellie under the bleachers, my computer would be sending out a couple of emails and I’d be leaving a voice mail on that one cop’s work voice mail…the one taking a vacation day for his anniversary. There was no way he’d be at his desk. Thank you, Officer Pete, for sharing that tidbit where I could hear you. It always pays to pay attention.

I put my shiny new knife and a pair of gloves in my backpack and climbed out my window. Shelley was a perfect choice. I’d never liked her and she’d been making Aria’s life hell lately. She was a waste of space, even if she did have a ready mouth.

A vile mouth, too. I’d never cared what she had to say in public about me. Trashing other people was her hobby, probably to make up for her own crap life. But she’d always been available for a little slap and tickle when I wanted it. It had been beyond easy to get her to agree to meet me for a little rendezvous in her favorite spot. It had always killed her that I was going out with Jade.

Funny how things work out.

Wednesday

I ended the call and threw my phone down on my bed.

Jesus. What a clusterfuck. Was Aria was more trouble than she was worth? No, you couldn’t buy what she could do. It was worth it, if she could learn to keep her mouth shut. I’d teach her. But first I had to clean up her mess.

Time, dammit. There wasn’t enough time. It had to be tonight. That big mouth Delilah was going to talk to the police tomorrow morning and then they’d know about Aria and then they’d be questioning her and then…the wrong question at the wrong time and it was all over. I had to shut up Delilah and I had to keep them from questioning Aria. How? How?

There was only one way to do it. I’d have to wrap everything up in a nice big bright red bow for the police so they had no reason to talk to her. Something definitive, final.

Obviously, Delilah was going to have to die. There wasn’t any other way to completely shut her mouth. But I couldn’t just kill her like I had with Shelley or Jade. There’d just be more questions and the police would still come for Aria.

I paced back and forth in my room. There had to be something that would work. I picked up a picture of Jade and I from last year’s prom and stared at it.

We looked happy. It was another lie, of course. We’d fought about something stupid and then she’d gotten drunk and thrown up out the car window, her puke covering the side of the car. She wasn’t much of a drinker, but I’d been handing them to her all night hoping it would keep her quiet. I’d wound up dumping her on Delilah. Then I’d found Shelley and had some fun with her under the bleachers. She’d reminded me of that right before I’d killed her. Too bad I couldn’t leave behind any biological evidence for the police to find. In the end, I’d only screwed her one way, not the other.

I threw the picture back down. Think, Will, think.

Okay. I had to make it look like Alex had done it. He had to be there. Caught red-handed.

But wait, why stop there? Why not just kill him too? Then he can’t argue about it. Make it more than circumstantial.

My heart began to race just thinking about it. Yes. Like a murder suicide thing. Or a suicide pact. What if…what if there was a note? Let’s say…he ran over the Cuban guy, then he killed Jade to shut her up about it. Delilah found out? Or…what if they’d been secretly dating, him and Delilah? That would make it even worse, even more of a backstabbing cunt thing to do. Shelley…who cares about Shelley. Everyone knows Shelley’d been a bitch to Alex. Of course, she was a bitch to everyone. I’d done a public service killing her. But say maybe she knew about him and Delilah…yes. That would have given him even another reason to have killed her!

Besides the satisfaction of seeing her bleed out. It’s too bad he wasn’t there to see it. I honestly think he’d have appreciated it. I’d just done to her what other people wanted to do.

Okay. So. How to do it? Knife? Gun? Could I find a gun in time? Might be nice, but too loud, though. And CSI had stuff about powder burns and things like that. Gun residue. Maybe threaten him with it? Uncle Devon had one, didn’t he?

Wait, think, Will, think. Alex is one big bastard. I hadn’t fought back on purpose at school, since I wanted him to look guilty and all that, but let’s face it, he’s bigger than I am. He’s an effing horse. Even in an uneven fight there’d be a good chance that he could take me out or at least rough me up and how am I supposed to control Delilah too and kill her all at the same time?

There’s got to be a way.

I kept pacing. I heard Dad turn on the TV in his bedroom. He’d be out cold in five minutes. Mom was staying overnight in Ft. Lauderdale. It would be easy to get out of the house unseen. But what do I do?

WAIT. A horse.  Alex is a fucking horse. Last summer, I’d helped out Uncle Devon. He was a vet. I’d thought I’d get to help put down some animals or something but I’d wound up just cataloging crap for him and stuff like that. There was this one time, though, I’d helped him tranq a horse. Some forelock thing? I didn’t remember what it was. But I do remember how fast that effing horse went down when Uncle Devon gave him the shot right in the neck, in that big bulging vein.

And crazy Uncle D, who’d been a frat hound in college, he’d told me all about how some people shoot up with the same stuff used in horse tranquilizers. Special K or something. You have to be careful or it’ll kill you, but a decent sized dose can knock you out and give you some crazy-ass dreams…

That could work. That could work for both of them. Delilah was a skinny bitch and she wouldn’t need much, but Alex…well, honestly, I wasn’t too worried about killing him anyway, since that was the point. As long as I could make it look like he’d done it himself, it would be okay. I bet Alex’s uncle probably had stuff on his farm and there’s always Miami and Ft. Lauderdale nearby. You can get anything there if you know where to look.

I let out a laugh and then made myself shut up. Can’t start acting like a freaking loon and I didn’t want to disturb the old man and his bass fishing program.

It’s got to be showier than that, though. Delilah’s got a sense of the dramatic. If she came up with some kind of suicide plan, you’d be damn sure it wouldn’t be so tame as an overdose. No, she’d want a gesture. And I don’t know exactly how much I’d need to give them, anyway. Can’t have them coming out of it and telling tales.

Then I had it. Alex and that crappy huge Chevy Suburban he had. The thing stank up the parking lot every time he drove in, belching exhaust. Wouldn’t that be some kind of sweet justice, if his own truck killed him?

Right. First things first. I went to my dresser and dug around in my underwear drawer. I’d kept a set of Uncle Devon’s keys from last summer. I’d told him I’d lost them, but I’d kept them instead. Hadn’t had any real plans or anything, but you never know when things will come in handy.

I picked up my cell phone, feeling much better now that I had a plan. I called Delilah, told her I had to talk to her about Aria, tonight. That I was worried. Blah, blah, blah. She was all understanding and agreeable, even concerned. What the hell. She barely even knew Aria. Whatever, it was going to work out. Maybe it was good Aria’d fainted at the funeral after all.

The harder one would be Alex, but if I set up things right I could get the surprise on him…

I looked up his number in the school directory and called him.

“Hello?”

“Hey, man, this is…”

“I know who it is. What the hell are you calling me for?”

I sighed. “Look, I’m only calling because of Aria. I know you’ve got a soft spot for her.”

“You stay the fuck away from Aria.”

What did he care anyway? Aria was mine. I’d bet she’s never given him the time of day. I bet he had no idea she was the one who’d called the police on him. All the better. Alex had a serious knight in shining armor complex. He’d been pushing Jade to give me up completely. Looking back, I should have let him have the whiny bitch, but hey, hindsight and all that.

I gave a low, evil chuckle, sure it would get right on his nerves. “Make me,” I said. “Meet me at the lake in an hour. Or something might happen to precious sweet little Aria.”

I hung up the phone. He’d be there. I knew he would. He was so predictable.

###

 

I ran by my Uncle’s practice and picked up a syringe and a glass bottle of the tranquilizer and some other supplies. One stop shop. He had a shed out back full of exactly what I needed. Duct tape, plastic tubing. I was tempted to grab a hacksaw but it really needed to be bloodless tonight. Pity.

When I got close to Delilah’s house, I stopped to get ready. I pulled some clear plastic disposable gloves on. Then I pushed the needle through the rubber topper of the bottle and drew out a few cc’s of it for her. She was small and I couldn’t imagine it would take much to knock her out cold.

It would be good to try it out on her first anyway, since I could overpower her in other ways if I needed to. I’d only get one chance with Alex.

Delilah was waiting for me down the block from her house. She gave me a little wave and hopped in. I’d told her not to wake her parents. She was an expert at sneaking out anyway, just like Jade and Shelley. Bunch of little sluts. I had no doubt they wouldn’t have a clue she was gone until morning.

“I’m so glad you called,” she said, pulling the seat belt on. “I’m worried about Aria too.”

“Yeah?” I said. I waited until she was buckled in and then jabbed her in the arm with the needle.

“Ow! What the hell was that?” She rubbed her arm and looked accusingly at me. “Will, what did you…”

Her eyes went a little unfocused and she stretched out a hand towards the dashboard to steady herself. No shit, this was some fast-acting stuff. I hoped I hadn’t given her too much. Well, I guess it really didn’t matter. As long as she didn’t make a mess in my car.

A few more minutes and she was slumped over against the door. I checked the pulse on her neck and felt it flutter against my fingertips. Perfect. The only freaky thing was that her eyes were still open and staring, but unseeing. I thought about closing them for a second, but it was kind of cool, like a Living Dead kind of thing.

I pulled the bottle out of my pocket and drew over 5 cc’s this time. Alex was huge and I wasn’t going to take any chances.

Now to set the stage.

I drove to the lake. Alex shouldn’t arrive for at least twenty or thirty minutes, but I wasn’t going to count on him being right on time. I parked over on the farthest side of the parking lot, where it was darkest. I went around the car and got Delilah. She wasn’t huge, but she was a dead weight and I had to struggle a bit to get her out. Her head hit the car door. She’d probably have a bruise tomorrow. Wait, did the dead bruise? Eh, who cared.

I let her feet drag on the ground and pulled her about five feet or so from the car, then arranged her on the ground, half in a puddle.

“Tsk-tsk,” I said to her. “Don’t you look a mess.” I moved an arm so it was flung over her head. “And you don’t look much like Aria either.” It was dark. Would it matter? She had a hoodie on, so I pulled it over her head so that none of her dark hair peeked out and turned her face toward the wood. She was wearing jeans and Aria never wore those, but maybe he wouldn’t notice. I just needed him distracted long enough to jab him with a needle anyway.

Now I had to wait. I hid behind my car. If I peaked around the bumper, I could see Delilah. She wasn’t moving. The little bit of rain that was left was slowly dampening her clothes and shrinking them to her skin.

Alex didn’t make me wait long. His truck came roaring into the parking lot ten minutes later. Early. Figures. He slowed to a crawl as his lights picked up my car and Delilah’s body. I didn’t dare breathe. I crouched down as low as I could, keeping my feet and arms behind the tire. He was probably staring at her body, hoping she’d move, but I wasn’t going to take a chance.

He stopped his truck a few spaces away, shutting off his engine but leaving his headlights on. They lit the area around Delilah. Fuck. That would make it harder. I held tight to the syringe and waited. I heard the creak of his truck door opening, then the slam. Gravel crunched as he went up to Delilah.

“Aria?” he said softly. “Are you okay?”

He was being entirely too cautious. I had hoped he’d rush up. I chanced a peek around the car. He’d reached Delilah and was bending down to look at her. It was now or never.

I ran, not saying anything, the syringe held out in front of me like a tiny little sword. He was backlit by the headlights and I couldn’t make out his face, but I heard him give a shout of surprise when he noticed me coming. He started to stand up, but by then I was on him. I lowered my left shoulder and rammed right into him like a fucking fullback. He fell over and I dug my knees into his arms to hold him still, fumbling with the needle for a minute, but then I had it set and I plunged it into his neck, just like my uncle had with the horse. He shoved me and I fell off of him and rolled back over onto my hands and knees and then onto my feet. He was too late anyway. I stuck the needle in my pocket after checking it. There was a little left in there, but quite a bit had gone in.

Alex was swearing a blue streak. He rolled over too and got up to a sitting position.

“What the hell,” he said. I could only see a shadow where his face should be. I stood up and walked around so that he’d be the one staring into the lights. He tried to get up, but it was hitting him hard now. He managed to get a hand up to his neck.

This was where a movie villain would start their monologue, telling the brave hero all the whys and wherefores and aren’t-you-screwed, you’re already dead. . Me, I just smiled and put a foot to his shoulder and pushed him over. This one wasn’t going to end like a movie. This time, the bad guy was going to get away with it. That’s how real life worked.

###

I parked Alex’s monster of a Chevy as close to him as I could get it. It was a bitch to get him to it. He was an effing horse, indeed. I was pretty pissed off by the time I finally got him up into it and shoved behind the steering wheel.

Then my phone rang. I looked at the Caller ID. Aria. Jesus, she was so needy,  even worse than Jade.

“Aria,” I said, answering it quickly. No one was around, but the ring sounded so loud out here in the woods. “Is something wrong?”

“Not yet,” she answered. I almost laughed. “Will, Alex is going after someone again tonight.”

“Are you sure?” Who’d asked her something? What did she know?

“Only of the water…Water is like life.”

“The lake,” I said, not thinking. Damn it. I’ve got to watch myself. But at least it didn’t really sound like she knew anything.

“I don’t know, but I have to do something,” she said, “After what happened with Shelley…”

“Aria,” I said, shoving at Alex as he nearly fell out of his vehicle on top of me for the third mother-loving time, “Just stop. Would you do something for me?” I really didn’t have time for this right now. I was a little too fucking busy taking care of our future.

“I would do almost anything for you,” she said with a little gasp.

Yeah, yeah, lovely.

“Good,” I said. “Stay home. Stay safe. You’ve told me everything I need to know.  I’ll take care of it. I’ll talk to you in the morning like we planned.” I slammed the door so Alex would stay put for a minute. He began a slow fall toward the center of the seat, hanging up on the gearshift. Jesus. I did not have time for this. I hung up.

I stuck the phone in my pocket and went to Delilah, grabbing her under the arms. I’d smooth the gravel out in a minute. I started dragging her over to the passenger’s side of Alex’s car, and then my damn phone rang again. It had to be Aria. I ignored it. Once this was all over, I’d have to teach her some lessons in patience and listening.

Delilah was easier to get into the Chevy, thank God. I arranged her in the passenger seat and used her own hand to push the seat belt buckle in. I set to wiping all the surfaces down with a rag I had in the back of my car. Then I reconsidered, as I looked at the dust that picked up. Wouldn’t it be suspicious if everything were completely clean of fingerprints? I picked up Alex’s hand and pressed his fingers around the inside of the car in different places. Not perfect, but with the note and everything, they probably weren’t going to be going crazy with forensics anyway.

I shut both doors after I was satisfied they looked natural enough. Then I used the duct tape to attach the tubing from the exhaust pipe to the window behind Alex so it wouldn’t be in the way. I gave silent thanks to Uncle D for having enough tubing. Alex’s Chevy was long, but I had enough to make it with a few feet to spare. Once it was all taped, I opened Alex’s door carefully and leaned across him. I grabbed his hand and used it to turn the key. The engine sprang to life with a dull roar. It was a freaking tank, just like Alex.

I smiled as I caught a whiff of exhaust coming out of the tube I’d attached to the window. Then I glanced at Alex’s gas gauge.

“Crap!” He was practically sitting on empty. There was no way there was enough gas in there to produce enough carbon monoxide to fill that monster Chevy up and kill them. I looked at my watch. I’d have to go get some more gas. And a gas can. Unless…I opened up the back of Alex’s suburban. Yes! He had a gas can back there. Empty, damn him, but at least there was a can, along with a whole crapload of other stuff. Rakes, garden hoses, a lawnmower. I remembered someone saying something about him cutting some lawns for extra cash. No wonder he drove this huge thing.

I grabbed the can and closed the tailgate, making sure the window in the back was closed all the way. It had rattled a bit when I’d slammed it shut. There was a hairline crack on one edge but hopefully it wasn’t big enough to let out much of the carbon monoxide. It’d have to fill up the front of the Chevy first, anyway, before it got to the back.

Might as well set everything else up so that I could just get back, fill the tank, and get the hell out. I stuffed the note I’d made into Alex’s pocket, took one last look, and locked all the doors. I wouldn’t need to get into the cab again. I’d checked the gas cap and I didn’t need a key or anything. The Chevy was so old, the gas tank was open for the world.

I took some branches and scraped over the ground where I’d dragged them until it was relatively smooth. The rain was still coming down, so hopefully that would help to.

I threw the gas can in my car and it landed on Delilah’s backpack and bounced off. Dammit. I’d figure out what to do with it later. I shouldn’t have locked the doors on Alex’s Chevy already after all. I was being my own worst enemy. Can’t be sloppy like this in the future. Well, I’d have Aria and I’d never let things get this out of hand again. I just had to get us out of this mess and we’d be home free.

Thursday

It’s out there now. Everyone knows the truth. Well, not the truth, exactly, because the truth is a fluid thing, isn’t it? There’s no black and white, not really, no matter what Aria thinks.

I’m not sure how she managed it, how she was able to lie to me, to tell me right to my face that Alex and Delilah were dead when they weren’t. Had she ever lied to me before? How much was true? She’d even said she loved me and I believed her.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt a little. How could she not see what I was trying to show her? And how could she lie, when I was finally telling her the truth? How could she be so blind about what I was offering her? I was going to give her everything she wanted.

The worse part was that horse tranquilizer. I’m not sure how much she managed to get into me, but I said too much to the cops. It’s not my fault. I was in pain, drugged up, and still in shock over her betrayal. That’s what it was. A betrayal.

It doesn’t matter, though.  I’ve already talked to my lawyer – that’s one thing Dad is good for, anyway. One of his frat brothers is a real shark and works for the largest firm down in Miami. All I’ve got to do now is play my cards right and keep my head on straight.

I can get out of this. I always do.

And then she’ll be sorry.