Lightning Never Strikes Twice

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artymon I\/
Dwarf Thief
Posts: 458
Joined: Thu 9th Feb 2012
Location: Beyond time and space

Lightning Never Strikes Twice

Post by artymon I\/ » Sun 22nd Apr 2018

Not much to say about this one......sort of inspired by a random comment from a park worker at Universal. Enjoy, this's actually not very obscene or offensive. Just random and unexplained, as per usual :)

~~~


It had been senior year in highschool - or so he'd tell the kids. You'd think such a momentous day would forever be implanted on the mind the same as if it had been engraved with a chisel and hammer.
Truth was, the mind slipped up, occasionally it forgot the little details, but never the bigger picture, what was supposed to be important. He knew it was one of those events – senior, sophomore, high school, college - the time when summer beckoned to the freespirits that still dwelled within the adult sized adolescents. Though they were sneakily changing to the former with shocking rapidity.
It was one of those events where students and the cool faculty fellows got together for a final leap and weep deal. (Leaping for joy that the year has ended and weeping for the friends they’ll likely never see again.)
He could remember what he was wearing (that was easy), what she was wearing (that was easier), what she smelled like (sweet and intoxicating with a spice of danger).
The past few days had been a wild torrent of tests and trials differing in degrees of difficulty. Or to cut aside the alliterative absurdities, they'd been equally busy dealing with end of year silliness that resulted in them not being able to see much of the other.
This affected him more than he was aware it would. Still, he was as much at fault as he wanted to push it on her. He could've picked the phone up and sent a message, but he had once or twice and her replies then had been vaguely distant, but not impersonal.
So seeing her there at the yearbook signing brought about a bountiful pack of elation that bounced in his stomach. Would that be desperate if he immediately ran over to her like every other guy seemed to be?
Maybe.
Would he care?
Maybe.
He was still fresh off the prideful wagon of not being head over heels for anyone, or at least not being hung up....
Maybe she didn't feel....
Ah but that was a thought, a toe down a path he'd prefer remain abandoned.
So when he saw her slide through the crowded auditorium he was reasonably confident she wasn't headed towards him.
Reasonably confident enough that he moved nary a muscle to smooth his wild mane.
His heart wasn't in the least and proceeded to trip hammer inside him, pumping blood that overcharged his body with energy, so much energy he had to do something else he might spontaneously sprout rocket feet and blast a hole through the auditorium.
"Hey handsome, where've you been hiding?" she asked him, her voice a silken purr.
The heart, so eager a minute ago, froze the blood flow, preventing the brain from composing anything wittier than in your bed, baby.
Damn damn damnit.
Come on.
"Locked away in a deep, dark, dank hole where I was bound, blindfolded, earstoppled and gagged."
"Mm, sounds like a fun Friday night," she snickered. "Nice shirt," she added, flicking her flame blue eyes up and down his being.
For a moment he glanced down having forgotten what he was wearing, nearly convinced he may have forgotten proper attire altogether.
Past few days’ worth of exams really had been strenuous.
But no, his t-shirt and jeans remained where they were. The jeans had acquired that much coveted ‘rugged’ look, well-worn in, but not worn out. By contrast, the shirt was kept in pristine shape, a simple white t-shirt begging any that read it to save the clocktower – a reprint of a flyer from their favorite movie, Back to the Future.
"Thanks, you look...."
Wow did she look incredible. But to just say as much or more wouldn't fully capture the spark his eyes caught. It couldn't accurately describe how so simple a set of garments could accent the features Aphrodite instilled upon the woman before him.
Also attired in tastefully torn jeans, hers held a smoothness to them, like the smooth cheeks of a baby, but they didn’t appear new or stiff. Her shirt was a custom cut Guns n Roses shirt that nicely complimented her trim figure.
Those four dot fellows at the end of his statement couldn’t have more than filled the space of a second and a few Plancks, but felt like a miniature eternity of getting lost in her being.
He didn’t quite mind that.
“I know,” she said, carelessly waving away his wordless compliment.
And he was near certain she probably did know exactly what he was thinking. She seemed to have a knack for reading minds as effortlessly as any trained Legilimens.
She would have told him his eyes said it all, the raw emotion that dripped off them, like a hungry animal that’s spotted a most succulent meal.
You wouldn’t mind him devouring you, her inner voice plied, ever striving to play inner demon.
Not a bit, she returned. She played well with her inner demons.
Pointedly, she curiously cast her gaze left and right.
“Where’s your book?” she inquired.
“Ah….” Guiltily he scratched the back of his head to cadge time. She’d suss it out one way or another. “Well…it kind of got stuck in Nikki’s locker.”
Arching an eyebrow, Roxanne appeared casually interested.
“Oh? How did such a thing happen?”
Nathan almost would have preferred if she had narrowed her eyes in a glare of jealous suspicion and demanded to know why.
Instead she sounded aloof, almost toeing on the line of being amused. Later, he would realize that was the equivalent to her narrowing her eyes in a burning glare. The aloof amusement signified Roxanne expected a damn good show, that he had better have an exceptional reason and that she was going to relish in watching him squirm for a suitable answer.
Downtrodden, Nathan shrugs.
“Well….it was towards the end of class in chemistry and Nikki had asked to sign it, I was slightly distracted by the Bunsen burner – ”
“I’ll bet,” Roxanne noted, the amusement daring to curl the edge of her lip.
Nonchalantly, Nathan affords a smirk, spreading his arms.
“What can I say, it’s the last time I’ll probably ever get to play with one.”
“You mean, before you upgrade to a flamethrower?”
Excitedly, his eyes dazzled like diamonds.
“Oohhh, by Surtr’s flaming sword….you know me too well, cherie.”
Maybe not well enough.
From a nearby table, Roxanne picked up a Sharpie marker.
“In lieu of your yearbook, how about I sign your shirt?” she proposed, twirling the marker betwixt her fingers.
Nathan’s eyes grow to a diameter similar to a dinner plate.
If it were anyone else, he’d make a mad dash for the nearest exit, safely shielding his shirt from harm under a hoodie.
But…
Roxanne was different. No use denying, he’d downright give her the shirt straight off his back if she asked.
“Well…if you insist, Miss, please do,” he obliged, turning.
Setting a hand on his shoulder, Roxanne uncapped the permanent marker and went to work.
“So how did your book get stuck in her locker?” Roxanne pressed, keeping her tone casual, cool. If any emotion were to flavor her voice, it would only appear as an eagerness to hear a good story.
Scrunching his face as though wringing a sponge for a suitable answer, Nathan offered, “Well...I was doing an experiment with the final review papers and that bottle of sanitizer Henness keeps on her desk….and….ah…my, ahem, experiment may have gotten a tad out of hand and caused a slight disruption to the class…basically Nikki sort of unintentionally stole my book.”
Roxanne raised an eyebrow.
“Mm, unintentionally,” she repeated, the faintest trace of a scoff riding the italicized intonation.
Satisfied with her irrevocably inked impressions, Roxanne capped the Sharpie and faced Nathan again.
Smoothing his face, Nathan wore a blank look.
“What, you think she took it on purpose?”
Offering him a look of pure pity, Roxanne’s tone is not so sympathetic.
“I’m thinking that Nikki has wanted something a little more substantial than your yearbook. I’m thinking it’s not a coincidence she wound up being your lab partner.”
Only here does she expose a fraction of the fury dwelling within and lace her words with a hint of a bite.
Nathan of course is mostly oblivious.
“Ah well, that’s because the other guy was disintegrated.”
“Yes, after she dumped that acid on him.”
Wincing at the image, Nathan shuddered. In the back of his mind, he began adding two and two.
“You saying she did that on purpose?”
Nonchalantly, Roxy shrugged.
“You didn’t seem to mind cozying up next to her.”
The crack opens further.
A pair of guys from their Language Arts class pass by and smirk at Nate and Roxy.
“I mean, it was either her or that Chinese transfer who smelled like he escaped the fish factory.”
Under her breath, Roxanne muttered an obscenity.
“What?”
Boldly she bore a fierce look in his eye.
“You heard me.”
Indeed, Nathan had.
Why was it people insisted to have such things repeated? Most likely the line is something out of character from the speaker’s standard dialogue, or to delve deeper, perhaps it forces the listener to reconsider facts and feelings they had formed for the speaker.
At last he saw the crack, the controlled flush of jealousy – not that he recognized it as such at first. He saw it as anger, but at what? At him? What’d he do?
Anger, naturally, tends to spawn more anger, not unlike a fire that feeds on itself.
Thus, irrationally, Nathan narrows his eyes, placing his hands on his hips.
“Yeah, well what about you and Roque?!”
Was he daring to challenge her? Oh this wouldn’t end well…for him.
Those gas burner blue eyes flared, nearly flooding.
“What about me and Roque?”
Roque was a Spanish lad that had transferred over only this year. Hailing from Barcelona, Roque had been put on the map of every lass’s wet dream. With a dark complexion, a rich voice, and an otherworldly being of culture and class, it wasn’t hard to see why all the girls flocked to him.
Most of the female teachers and professors seemed smitten by the lad as well. Roxanne had been kind enough to tell an unwilling Nathan things she had overheard them say in the ladies’ facilities.
Naturally aware of his devilish charisma and clout, Roque seemed impervious to the wiles most of the local women imposed upon him. Instead he seemed to form a connection straightaway with Roxanne upon discovering her (partial) Spanish roots.
“What’s wrong with all the other chicks from Mexico?” Nathan growled once, annoyed when Roxanne told him this.
She was only able to make a look of pity, unable to find the heart to explain the difference between Mexicans and Spaniards.
Wearing an accusing pout, Nathan glares back.
“Seems like anytime he’s around – which is a lot, he totally third wheeled us the other day – you both start rapid fire speaking in Spanish and leave me in the dust.”
As though she had been slapped, Roxanne regards Nathan with a look of shock.
“Is that what you think…?”
Too caught up in his own torrent of torment to notice Roxy’s acute anguish, Nathan blazed on.
“People say you two make a cute couple – that you even alliterate, ‘Rocky and Roxy.’ Tommy even made some stupid song – ”
“Since when do you care what he thinks? Or any of them?”
Those blue eyes, earlier invoking images of flames, now had turned to ice.
At last sensing he had been barking around the wrong tree, Nathan relents, feeling stupid. He opens his mouth, uncertain what to say.
Unwilling to entertain his theatrics any further, Roxanne holds up a hand.
“Forget about it.” Shaking her head, she blazes past him, muttering vehemently, “Putain de merde.”
Turning, Nathan blinks, almost able to visibly track the smoldering path of wrath left in the lass’s wake, hardly noticing another pair of students that had been staring at his back, smirking behind their hands.
Naturally, Nathan knows only one recourse of action: to immediately give chase.
Exiting the gymnasium, he tracked her down the hall, taking a jog or two to match her powerwalk.
“Wait, where’re you going?”
Expecting a fuming response, Nathan winced in anticipation
“To get your book back of course,” she briskly stated in a tone that suggested such a question was silly to ask.
Rounding a corner, she strides with the pride of a lioness, self-assured in her monarchy status in the jungle.
“Er…I’m not sure….Nikki…is here today,” he lamely said, cautious that the mere mention of the other girl’s name would set Roxy off again.
Bien.” Roxanne intoned in a manner that gave Nathan a chill. “We won’t need her.”
Passing the empty classrooms, Nathan peeked through the windows, recalling what classes had been in what rooms with what teachers and classmates, going over the memories.
That fountain was where Matthew Misouski had vomited, there was the row of lockers that had gotten bent from that infamous fight, that was the women’s bathroom he and Roxanne had ducked into once when on the run from an angry teacher that found his sandwich had been stolen.
That was among one of the many places in the school where he had fallen in love with Roxanne, as corny and concerning as that sounded, falling in love in a bathroom. But undeniably, something had clicked when they huddled inside, catching the other’s eye, foxing smirks and holding back uncontrollable gales of snickers.
Another twist in the corridor brought them to Nikki’s locker.
Blankly, Nathan stared between it and Roxy, uncertain what to do.
When in doubt, make a joke.
“You don’t happen to have Mr. Bensen’s master key, do you?” he asked.
Spinning the lock wheel thrice clockwise, Roxanne shook her head.
“No. Do you have a paperclip?”
Patting his pockets, he dug one from his back pocket. It was leftover from a grappling hook project he had been working on in a fit of boredom at having to entertain yet another of Mr. Lentz’s ‘educational’ films.
“Excellent,” Roxy purred, bending the sturdy metal and feeding it into the lock.
Quizzically, Nathan watched, wondering where she had learned such a trick. Usually picking a lock was something you only saw in the movies. And curse them for making it look so easy! Like just any yahoo with even –
Carefully twisting the lock wheel, Roxy maneuvered her makeshift picks, smirking at what had to have been a familiar click.
“Be a dear Natey and pull the latch?”
“Um…okay.”
This was trickier than it looked, being how Roxanne was positioned in front of the locker, Nathan had to slip his hand under her arms to engage the latch without disturbing her positioning.
The latch clicked and the door swung open, much to Nathan’s astonishment.
“How the hairy helicopter do you know how to pick a lock?”
“How couldn’t I?” Roxy retorted, pleased by his awestruck expression.
At a loss for words, he simply shook his head, as Roxy rooted around in the cracked locker, withdrawing a familiar book.
“It really bothered you she had my book, I take it?” he said at last, accepting the book from her.
Roxy paused, so accustomed to always having an aloof double entendre in the wings.
“Let’s just say you might not be the only one who doesn’t like alliterations,” she teased, knowing that made her appear
(not weak)
as though she cared. Which she did, as dangerous as that was.
Attachments were the equivalent of strings that could be pulled…either by that which had attached itself to her or by other, sinister forces.
“Well, regardless, thank you, cherie,” he declared. His fingers went to dig out the Sharpie, instead bumping into a plastic case, reminding him. “By the way…I’ve got something for you.”
Interested, she inclines her head.
“Oh?”
“Mm.”
From his pocket he withdrew a cassette tape. The cover was blue with a gold fleur-de-lis decorated in a grunge ‘punk’ style. Tuesday had helped draw the cover as, in her words, he was as useless as tits on a bull when it came to drawing.
The music on the tape was all Nathan’s selection.
Roxy cocks an eye, accepting the tape.
“You know, I’d have to check, but I’m fairly certain I don’t have a Walkman.”
“Ah, lucky for you, I happen to have one in my car,” he cheerfully informed.
Roxanne smirks, knowing exactly where he was headed. Didn’t he think he was smooth?
“Lucky me indeed. So you expect we’ll just sit in your car in the lot and take a listen?”
Making a half shrug, Nathan suggested, “We could take a drive, if you like.”
“Oh?” she said, which was most likely Roxannian for: I like where this is going, continue.
“Perhaps we could procure refreshments and take a voyage to the beach?” God, the words sounded silly, but they were the sort Colin spoke with and they apparently wooed Tuesday and Roxy.
As they seemed to now…
“Then what do you propose to do once there?” Roxy purred, slipping her arms around Nathan.
Reeling her in, he leans close to her ear, “I’ll tell you when we get there,” he promises in a soft whisper.
Drawing back, they share a mellow kiss, the earlier insecurities melted away as effectively forgotten as the names of those that had instigated the insecurities.
As he embraced her, he felt a hard, rectangular object in her front jeans pocket. For a moment he was duped into believing it was her cell phone…until he saw her phone’s midnight blue case protruding from her back pocket.
Quizzically he cocks his head at her, nodding his eyes down at the conspicuous, if baleful, bulge and with a hint of hesitation, she digs a hand in her pocket and retrieves a black leather case that she unzips revealing a full set of professional grade lock picks.
Dumbstruck, Nathan offers Roxanne his best perplexed expression, which was nothing to sneeze at.
Despite appearances, the lines sharply draw themselves to Nathan.
“You were going to break in regardless, weren’t you?” he inquired.
Not answering, the French-Spanish lass haughtily zips her set back up.
Still processing the implications of her possession of the picks, Nathan is only able to ponder them a moment before footfalls echo down the hall.
Sounding like thunder, Roxy snaps her head towards the marching, a perceptible change overtakes her. Nathan notes a sort of….stiffening, not unlike an animal perking its head and twitching its ears to perceive a dangerous threat.
It’s not until she hears the voices that she takes Nathan by arm and quickly drags him down the hall.
No discernable words could be garnered from the voices aside from the suggestion of an accent, thus Nathan was at a loss for Roxanne’s urgency to vacate the area.
“What’s wrong?” he asks, keeping his voice low enough not to be heard.
“Ah…faculty,” Roxy smoothly tells him in a voice of vanilla. “Can’t get caught wandering around the halls, else they’ll take away my Valedictorian.”
At first, pulled along by the primal thrill of adventure and instinct, Nathan thoughtlessly accepts this and follows. Though with each step, he pokes another hole in Roxy’s fragile fabrication.
After all, this was Roxanne, the Queen of obfuscation and seduction; since when did she get scared or back out of a fight? For as long as the sun could rise, she could talk Death into giving her one more day.
So what was blowing up her skirt?
Must be something big.
If it’s got her worried, best bet is keep going and don’t look back, he rationalized.
Still, he was rather impressed at the swift pace Roxanne was able to maintain – in heels no less! This from the same chick who just last week claimed her menstrual pain was too great to allow her to compete in a running course their PE coach had mandated on them by the State’s orders.
The marching seemed to draw closer – or was that just the thundering of Nathan’s heart?
As they wove the corridors, they came around to a hall where a set of double doors leading to the outside beckoned.
Feeling a blast of elation, Nathan rationalized faculty or not, they couldn’t touch them outside or prove it had been he and Roxy wandering the halls. They were going to make it, hah!
Roxy suddenly turned off towards a set of restrooms.
Motioning, she directed him over, then removed one of her heels and tossed it towards the double doors, letting it clatter to the floor.
Dumbly, Nathan stood there a minute wondering what the heck she was up to, what were they just going to wait it out in the bathrooms…?
He made to go in the male’s restroom, but Roxy shook her head and pulled him into the women’s.
Inside, the stalls were empty. The automated lights had gone on unfortunately, triggered by their movements. But the hall lights had gone on as well, thus their pursuers shouldn’t notice the slice of light escaping under the door crack.
On the counter, a pair of lackluster daisies in a cheap vase strived to provide ambiance.
“Good call, the guy’s room always smells horrible,” Nathan quickly quipped in a quiet voice.
Raising a finger to her lips, Roxy shook her head once. Nathan frowned. What the hell was going on? When would he get some answers?
Placing an ear to the door, Roxy concentrated hard, listening. Then, apparently satisfied, she reinforced the unspoken rule of silence with the finger to her lips and beckoned him further back in the bathroom, to a stall intended for handicapped people.
On the wall above the stall, a frosted window further sought to improve the monotone ambiance with a patch of natural light.
It’s the window that’s interested Roxanne. She nods to it and indicates a desire to be picked up.
Bending his legs, Nathan sank to allow Roxy to clamber on his shoulders. Lifting her, he’s sorely tempted to construct a Back to the Future joke somehow relating to the story of the flux capacitor’s birth.
Then again, now might not be the best time for laughing if they were playing the Silent Game.
Which is why he goes right along anyway, silently filling the few seconds as Roxy works to jimmy the window open.
Hey, isn’t this where Doc came up with the flux capacitor? Or perhaps Hey, y’think if one of us fell in here we’d be receive a revelation to build a time machine?
This sets off his mind into dorky theories.
What if falling off the toilet only inspired magnum opus indigenous to the individual faller? As in, the people that fall and hit their heads are inspired to build or create something extraordinary and revolutionary, but no one’s creation is the same?
Through lightening quick connecting thoughts, he thinks of his clocktower shirt, recalling Roxy had written on it.
Curious, he glances back at the mirror, craning his neck to achieve the proper angle.
Feeling her mule move, Roxy lays a hand on Nathan’s head, silently imploring him to be still while she worked.
Roxanne’s legs tightened, sensing she was closing in on that satisfying sensation of clearing a lock. Then her picks smoothly swung the lock, freeing the frosty window.
As she pushed the window open, the hinges on the top, worn from time and disuse decided it was time to retire and promptly fell away from the frame, allowing the window pane to free fall.
With the speedy movements of a spider, Nathan snagged the window by its corner, surprised by his own actions. Usually he was terrible when activities demanded excellent hand eye coordination and lightning fast reflexes.
Ah well, even a blind squirrel gets lucky.
He glances, wondering where the heck to put it as his movement is dampered by carrying Roxanne. He’s just about to hand it back to Roxy when he catches a vague reflection in the glass. It’s dull, but he can see the room behind them and specifically the bathroom stall’s personal mirror presenting a somewhat hazy view of their backs.
On his shirt, he spies the curly handwriting of Roxanne and pauses to read it:

I love you! xoxo

As though struck by something fierce, Nathan fell into a daze, and he passes the window to Roxy who accepts their prize and tosses it through the now vacant window slot.
She did care.
Of course she does, you idiot.
Smirking stupidly, he offers his support as Roxanne lithely slinks through the empty window slot.
Following with not quite the same grace, he manages to pull himself out, feeling like an intoxicated Spider-Man.
Only as he’s clambering out the rabbit hole does the significance of the property damage occur to Nathan.
Now the faculty would for sure be upset if they caught their valedictorian vandalizing windows and reverse burglarizing the school. Before they easily may have slapped her wrist at most. Now though…this felt like a line was being crossed.
Which lead him to wonder, why?
No time to ponder though, from the hall, he heard the voices growing louder, a heated wrath emanating from them. Whoever was chasing them sounded upset. Faculty wouldn’t be this mad. Annoyed, sure. But angry? Unlikely.
Just who were they…
“Come on!” Roxy hissed, surprising Nathan again. As much of a minx she was, she never hissed.
Making a quick ‘come here’ gesture, she directs him around the corner (opposite of where the end hall double doors would’ve let out, Nathan notes) and into the parking lot.
It wasn’t necessarily a malicious or angry hiss, or at least no malevolence was directed at him personally.
The clichéd horror and psychological trope is that you don’t fully know someone until you’ve seen their barest layer of fear peeled back and exposed.
While Roxanne was a long ways from being labeled as quaking in her heels horrified, Nathan felt as though a toe had gone in such a direction.
Heading over to the parked cars, she grips his hand, not in a ‘friends and lovers’ fashion, more in a manner evocative of being at a grocery store and hearing over the loudspeaker, “Attention K-Mart shoppers…will the parent of Bradley please come collect your child…before Satan does” then quickly grabbing the hand of your own child or friend in fear of them being next.
“Get down,” she ordered, ducking behind a green minivan.
Following suit, he half bent, attempting to peer through the tinted glass and see their pursuers, until Roxanne jerked him down by the neck of his shirt.
“Stay low,” she murmured…only to copy his exact movement of deftly peeking up.
“What the hell is going on?” he asked, miming her soft tone.
Only shaking her head, she indicates for them to move back, forsaking the minivan for a tired looking station wagon.
“Did you park in the back?” she asks in a more hopeful tone than she’d have preferred.
Infamously known for being overtly fanatical about his parking spots, Nathan had a series of parking spots specifically chosen to meet his parking needs.
Ideally, he sought a spot that held shade and safety. By ‘safety,’ he would elaborate as a spot that was far enough away from other cars and people that there bore no chance of the vehicle experiencing duress.
He didn’t mind the extra walk, comparing it to a prisoner’s last walk of freedom before being escorted in to the electric chair, or in this case, being locked in a concrete building for eight solid hours.
In a poetic trance, he was able to take in the riches of nature, from the beautiful leaves of a tree dancing to the song of birds to the shimmer of heat rising off the parking lot asphalt…
Tuesday was not so enchanted on the odd day or two she had hitched a ride with him.
“Why can’t you just park by the actual building, like a normal person!”
Roxanne’s tone was just hopeful enough that Nathan picked up on it and was crestfallen to report, “No….I had to park in Charlie today.”
Further evidence of his peculiar parking process could be found in the series of designated spots he had deemed safe. Alpha was his primary spot, an area in the last row of the parking lot in a corner area that received a generous amount of shade, yet shed minimal leaves on the car itself.
Tuesday had been kind enough to point out that such spots presented a different manner of security risk: car thieves.
Yeah, but if someone steals my car, I can find them and steal it back, John Wick style,” Nathan countered when Tuesday mentioned this.
Charlie was the closest he dared park, even Tuesday had deemed the spot acceptable
Roxanne had usually seemed indifferent to Nathan’s parking mania. However he had known her long enough he could follow her logic from tone alone, feeling a pang of pride. She had been hoping he parked in the back so they could make a sneaky getaway.
Why they needed to sneak away was beyond him.
“That’s alright,” Roxy said. “Just stay close.”
Following her lead, they retreated back from the station wagon to a white Honda and so on, making their way to the last row of cars.
As far as Nathan could tell, no one seemed to be following them.
Could be their earlier pursuers had lost their scent or they were looping around for a sneak attack.
Roxanne wasn’t taking chances, slipping back a row, she slid between two cars, keeping her head below the cars’ windows.
Heat from the pavement rose in lazy tendrils, bouncing off the various vehicles’ metal, giving Nathan the impression of an oven. Summer was here in full force.
He wanted to ask what the deal was, how far they had to slink around until she deemed it a safe distance. Was there even need for concern or was Roxy playing some sort of prank or joke?
In a flash, he pictured Roxy throwing her heel as a distraction. No…whatever this was, it had to be fairly serious, she wouldn’t just throw away her shoes…especially not if she planned to traverse the parking lot.
They pass his car and he starts to ask if she wants or needs to borrow it, she silences him with one of those damned nails, manicured to perfection.
Upon reaching the final row of cars, he expectantly raised his eyebrows at her.
Well?
With hardly a break between modes, Roxy the Sneaker changed shift to Roxy the Rapscallion, testing every car door in the back row.
Pulling the car handle of a Buick, it fails to yield her entry and she moves down to the next car, a white Toyota Corolla, circa nineteen ninety something.
In the time it took to furrow his brow, Nathan was already able to make lightning fast associations: Asked about a car…trying to open car doors….she’s trying to find a getaway car.
This stumped him.
Yet another line being crossed.
This had escalated just slightly beyond getting caught in the school’s halls vandalizing a locker at best. Now they were close to committing an indisputable crime.
He figured it wouldn’t be worth it to say anything until they were away. Obviously Roxanne didn’t feel safe and wasn’t going to open up until she felt they were.
Still…
“My car isn’t too far away…sure you don’t want….”
She pauses long enough in her search that Nathan can tell she’s considering it, but ultimately shakes her head once.
“It’s too close…and if they’ve caught on, it’ll be more dangerous to go back.”
“‘They’?” he repeats, incredulous. “Who’s ‘they’?”
Spared from answering, Roxanne tries the handle of a late model Ford and to her surprise as much as Nathan’s, the driver door yields to her.
She starts to climb in, but Nathan grabs her arm, doing his best to channel one of her penetrating gazes in hopes of inducing an honest answer from her.
“Wait. You’ve got to tell me what’s going on.”
Anxious, Roxanne’s face dips into an expression of pain, injured at the idea of keeping her friend in the dark.
“I will,” she promised, setting her gas burner blue eyes on his. “Do you trust me until then?”
“Well you haven’t steered me wrong yet, Cherie,” Nathan notes with a suggestively sardonic shrug, climbing into the passenger seat.
Quickly closing her door, Roxy snaps the locks in place and Nathan pats the tops of his thighs, lost.
“So….what do we do now? Think he left his keys in the sun visor?”
His joking was to cover his nerves. This was beyond weird or unusual. Or at least what he was accustomed to being defined as Roxanne level ‘Weird and Unusual.’
“Unlikely,” she answered, though she humors him and flips the visor anyway, only modestly dismayed to find it unoccupied.
Keys helped, but they were like that fishing quote: Give a girl a key and she’ll drive for a day, teach her to hotwire an automobile and she’ll ride forever.
“So what ne-h –” Next was the word that hadn’t quite made it off Nathan’s tongue as he became distracted watching Roxanne proceed to reach under the dash and pull strands of cables out.
Morbidly intrigued, Nathan feels he ought to be taking notes.
From her zippered case, Roxy removes a nail clipper and uses it to partially strip several wires, then in a fluid motion taps them together until they arch and turn the engine over. The vague theory he knew was to use the battery wire to engage the starter wire. What wire was what and the exact science exceeded his range of knowledge. Roxy seemed to know what she was doing.
Twisting the wires together, Roxanne loops them out of the way and gives a cursory look around. The parking lot was fairly dead; the signing at the gymnasium would conclude in a little less than half an hour, then the place would be a hive of activity….the better to hide their departure.
Still, time was of the essence. Thus, Roxy backed out of the spot, shifted to drive and tore out of the parking lot, tires screaming.
Watching the academic building shrink behind them with rapid ferocity, Nathan felt the opportunity for saying anything smart, stupid, snarky, or otherwise was similarly dissipating.
It wasn’t until they were on a back road overlooking the ocean from a high cliff that Nathan found his words come back to him, unable to shake the odd feeling of a story starting.
“So…I saw what you wrote on the back of my shirt,” he said, his voice casual, still processing their abrupt departure.
Back in control, Roxanne glanced over from the road, making a simple shrug that was so much more and flashed a subtle cat’s grin.
“It was missing it.”
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The last step in any journey may be the first step of an even greater adventure.
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