High School Soap Opera
The next morning is Sunday, and Jack takes me out to Amelia’s, a local mom and pop diner, for brunch. This place is owned and run by Spruce Ridge’s matriarch and patriarch, who have been on since the show began thirty years ago. I’m excited to meet them, even though technically I know all about them. But they don’t know me, and I am really excited, and it’s so hard not to show my emotion. I’m actually glad to sit behind Jack on the motorcycle – I’m getting used to it – because I can smile and be ridiculously giddy and he can’t even hear me because we have helmets on and the engine is loud.
Last night, after Nick left the kitchen in a rush, he told Jack he had to get out of there. He left the Stargazer Lounge but refused to tell Jack where he was going. If it wasn’t so late, I’d guess he went to the shooting range. He’s always liked going there when he needs to get his mind off of something, or when he needs to get out his anger in a healthy way.
Meanwhile, Olivia didn’t even stay very long anyway. She did have the one glass of Pinot Grigio that Ambrosia ordered for her, but then she and John left. I told Lukas that basically Nick said he still loves her, but she said she doesn’t remember him and that he needs to let go. Then she walked away. I didn’t tell anyone what happened next.
What happened next, which I can’t tell a soul, is that the show’s big heartthrob, now heartbroken and probably delirious, kissed me. If you had told me 48 hours ago that the following night I would get to kiss the guy I’ve been drooling over for four years, I would have been ecstatic. But I really like Jack, and I want Nick to get back together with Olivia somehow, and the kiss didn’t mean anything to either of us except confusion and guilt.
Walking into Amelia’s is surreal, like when I (magically teleported?) into the bar Friday afternoon… I’m sure I didn’t magically teleport, but how the F did I get here? And why the F can’t I even think that word here, are my thoughts subject to FCC regulations too? I’ve seen everything here before, although it’s not quite as brightly lit as it is on TV. The red and white gingham curtains are the same ones that have been on the windows for decades, up close I can see that they have faded a bit. The tables are a little wobbly, which I never noticed. But even seeing Amelia’s as a real place doesn’t tarnish it in my mind.
We sit at a table near a window, and Amelia herself comes over. “Hi, Jack!” He stands and she gives him a big hug. “Who’s your pretty friend here?”
“I’m Jenna,” I say. “I’m new in town.” O.M.G. I’m talking to Amelia Webster!
“Nice to meet you, darling,” she says, then she hugs me too.
“So, you’re Amelia?” I ask, still playing it cool, even though on the inside I’m like a kid coming down the stairs on Christmas and seeing all the presents from Santa Claus.
“Also known as Grandma to some of us younger folk in town.” I raise my eyebrows, and he laughs. “No, we’re not related.” I’ve never heard anyone call her that.
“I never had kids of my own,” she says, “so I adopted anyone who needs me.” One of her early storylines was a terrible illness that left her unable to have children. It was before she married Otis, before they knew each other, and she kept it a secret from him for a long time because she was afraid it would push him away. On the contrary, it brought them closer together when she finally told him. “What can I get you guys this morning?” she asks.
“Skim milk,” I say.
“I’ll have a glass of orange juice,” Jack says. “Please.”
“Sure.” She smiles at me, then I think she winks at Jack as she’s leaving.
“Did she just wink at you?” I ask.
“I don’t know, did she?” he asks, trying to act coy.
“Oh my god, did you call and tell her we were coming?” He shrugs, but he’s smirking. “What do you have planned?” He doesn’t tell me anything. Instead, he picks up the menu and hands it to me. I’ve seen the show, I know what they serve… But I can’t tell him that. This is getting frustrating. If I’m stuck here and never get home, will I have to keep living a lie? Or will telling the truth leave me free to find the way home? I put the menu to the side, and he gives me a questioning look. “Don’t worry, I’ll figure it out. You know, they do have brunch where I come from.”
“You still haven’t told me where exactly that is,” he says. “You came to town with nothing – no luggage, no wallet, no bank account… How did you get into the bar without ID? I mean, what’s your story?”
Luckily I don’t have to answer. Olivia walks in, crying hysterically. Amelia comes out of the kitchen with our drinks, but then she sees Olivia and stops. Jack runs over and takes the glasses, as if to tell her that she should talk to Olivia, we can wait. She clearly needs that motherly comfort right now.
Amelia takes Olivia to a table not far from ours and sits with her, holding her and stroking her forehead. It takes a while before Olivia has stopped crying enough to talk.
“Ambrosia,” she says, her voice shaking. “She’s… dead.”
“Ambrosia? But I just saw her yesterday, she looked fine.” Amelia starts to cry, and Jack looks stunned. I get up and Jack doesn’t even ask where I’m going. I peek my head in the kitchen and there’s Otis at the grill. This is no time to go fangirl on him.
“You’d better come out here,” I say. “Bad news.” He turns off the heat and follows me out. When he sees Amelia and Olivia, he quickly strides over to them and sits down next to Olivia.
“Who would want to kill her?” Olivia asks. “I can’t even…” Then she’s sobbing again. Otis puts his hand on her knee.
“It’s Ambrosia. Somebody shot her last night,” Amelia explains. Otis is caring but stoic, always calm in the worst situations.
“I’m so sorry to hear that,” he says in his faintly Irish accent. “What happened?”
“I don’t know. She was still at the bar when John and I left last night. I went straight to bed, I was so exhausted from talking to Nick the night before.” Amelia gasps. Olivia nods. “Yeah, he’s back in town. It was tiring, hearing him say all this stuff about how he still loves me, but I don’t remember that part of my life and I love John. When I got home, I went to bed and fell asleep almost immediately. This morning I got a call from the police saying that her body was found on the sidewalk near her house. She had me in her phone as her Emergency Contact.”
“Do they have a suspect?” Otis asks.
“I don’t know. I answered a few questions, but I couldn’t be much help.”
“She left the bar about a half hour after you did,” I say. “About 10pm.” Everyone looks at me, and for a second I wish I didn’t say anything. But I’m here, I’m in the world of my favorite soap opera, and I don’t want to be a nameless side character like Jack anymore. I want to be part of the action. “I was your waitress,” I tell Olivia. She doesn’t seem to remember me, which is not surprising.
“Did you talk to her before she left? The medical examiner said she died at about 10:15, and she lives near the bar. She was walking home. She must not have even gotten into her house when…” I look at Jack. He looks like he’s trying to do math in his head, the way he’s concentrating.
“Not really,” I say. “It’s good that she was walking, though. She had two more drinks, on top of the one before you got there and two while you were there.”
“Was she completely wasted? I hope she didn’t try fighting someone trying to steal her purse or something.” She takes a deep breath, trying to steady herself.
“No,” I say, and it’s true. “She looked like the kind of woman who can handle her liquor.” Not that I have much basis for comparison. “And before you ask, no, I didn’t see her arguing with anyone, and I didn’t notice anyone following her out the door. I wish I could tell you more, but that’s all I know.”
“That’s okay, it’s more than I knew. Will you go to the police station and tell them what you just told me? Maybe it will help their investigation…”
An hour later, I find myself talking to Officer Rodriguez again, this time at the police station. I want to ask about Serenity and Dolf, but I promised I would tell the police what I know about Ambrosia, so that’s my priority. I was hoping I wouldn’t be brought into one of those questioning rooms you see on TV with the one-way mirrors and nothing but two metal chairs on opposite sides of a metal table. I’m relieved to find myself sitting across from Rodriguez at his desk. He types something on the computer, then watches the screen for a few seconds, then he types again and waits. Finally he looks at me.”
“I’m going to type up some notes, but before you go I’m gonna need you to write out a statement and sign it for me. The statement should contain everything you tell me, no more and no less. Do you agree to this procedure?” I nod” “Good. So what can you tell me about the death of Ambrosia Lange?”
“I don’t know about her death, but I can tell you about events leading up to her death.” I wonder if I should tell him about her fight with Nick. I don’t want him to be a suspect, but since I am not watching Spruce Ridge anymore but living it, I don’t know who killed her. For all I know, which I really hate to admit, it could have been him. “You arrested Serenity Harrington yesterday at the hospital. Her brother Nick had come back to town, and he was upset when he came to work at the bar last night. When Ambrosia saw Nick, they fought about why he was back in town, and he accidentally mentioned Serenity’s arrest loud enough that everyone in the bar could hear him.”
“Was that a physical fight, or verbal?” he asks. “I need you to be as specific as possible.”
“It was verbal, they didn’t touch each other.” Except for when she kissed him, but Rodriguez doesn’t need to know that. I’m sure the fight is incriminating enough.
“And how did he act after the fight? Was he still very angry?”
“He was, but that was a while before her death. After the fight, she called his ex-girlfriend Olivia and invited her to the bar. I overheard the call, because I was her waitress and I was waiting to take her order. I knew that Olivia was Nick’s ex-girlfriend, and I thought he would want to know that she was coming. So I told Jack, since he is Nick’s cousin, and Jack told Nick that Ambrosia had called Olivia and invited her to the bar. I think Ambrosia wanted Nick to see Olivia with her new boyfriend, John. Nick and Olivia ended up getting into an argument, and he stormed out of the bar. Olivia and John left about 15 minutes later, and Ambrosia left about a half hour after them.”
“It sounds like Nick was pretty angry when he left the bar, especially after all those fights.” I hate this! I can’t say it’s not how it sounds, because it is exactly how it sounds. Even if I told Rodriguez that Nick kissed me, which I am not going to say, that would only add fuel to the fire. “Can you think of anyone else who might have had a motive to kill Ambrosia?”
“No, I say, but then I think about how Ambrosia drugged John and tricked him into agreeing to sign over his shares of Adaire’s company. “Well, maybe…” Rodriguez looks at me expectantly, but I don’t know what to say. How could I possibly know about that? I wasn’t there, and this is real – I can’t say I watched it on television. “No, no I can’t think of anyone else. But for the record, I don’t think that Nick killed her. I know this sounds like he’s the obvious suspect, but I believe he’s innocent.”
“‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is a nice fairy tale they tell you so you can sleep at night, kid. In the real world, if we have reasonable cause to believe Nick did it, and going by your statement I think we do, we can find him and take him in for questioning regarding the investigation. And even without evidence, we can hold him for up to 24 hours before we are required to release him.” He reaches for the phone.
“But that’s not fair!” I protest, standing up and slamming my hand onto the desk. “He’s innocent, I promise you.” Rodriquez has one hand on the phone, but he doesn’t pick up and dial just yet.
“Listen, kid,” he begins, and I wish he would stop calling me that, it’s degrading. “Life’s not fair. Were you with Mr. Harrington between the hours of 9 and 11pm?” He stares me down, and I look down. I can’t lie to the police. I wish I had kept my mouth shut at Amelia’s. I wish I had never come here. I wish I hadn’t mentioned Nick at all. I should have stuck with what I told Olivia, no more and no less.
“Well…” I try to stall, but what can I say? “No, I wasn’t with him at that time, but-”
“Then you can’t provide him with an alibi, and I have to bring him in.” He picks up the phone and punches in three numbers. It must be an extension within the department. “Put out an APB on a Mr. Nick Harrington. We have his picture in the database from a murder case about 6-9 months back… yeah, some guy was trying to drown Nick’s girlfriend,” Rodriguez snarls, and I feel like if I was on TV the background noise would be a foreboding dun dun DUN!
“No…” I whisper. But it’s too late. The damage has been done.
“So Nick shot him.”
I’ve decided to post my NaNoWriMo novel on my blog this year, chapter by chapter. I hope you enjoy it! And remember, this is all about having fun and writing a whole lot in a short period of time, so please don’t give me “corrections.” I’m not planning on going for publication anyway. Start at the beginning: Chapter One