High School Soap Opera
It’s been a busy day, especially for a Sunday, so Jack and I go back to his place. We don’t want to think about anything, we don’t want to do anything. We just want to take a break. We sit together on the couch, and he puts on the TV. I wonder if they have soap operas here. Do they have the same television shows?
“Looks like perfect timing,” he says. “The next movie is starting in a couple minutes. You like comedies?”
“No,” I say sarcastically, poking his side. “My new boyfriend is a self-proclaimed goofy guy, but I can’t stand comedies.”
“Cheeky girl, okay. I see how it is.”
The movie starts, and it’s actually one I’ve heard of. Good, so at least if I start talking about actors and movies, he’ll know who I’m talking about. This movie has John Candy, who was a very funny man. He died a year before I was born, but my dad used to watch them with me. I haven’t seen this one, but ironically, it’s about a guy who writes for a soap opera and ends up becoming part of the show. In his case, when he types stuff on a typewriter, it starts to happen. I wonder if that would work for me… Probably not, though. I don’t write soap operas in my real life.
That’s the thing, as real as this feels, I can’t help but feel like it’s going to end. This can’t be real, it can’t be happening — I look at Jack — no matter how hard I wish it was. I wonder how long I’ll be here. Will I find out who killed Ambrosia? When I do get back home, will she still be dead? Or is this a dream, and I’ll wake up on Friday like nothing happened? Is Jack really on the show, and will I notice him after I get back? And if he’s really on the show and he gets a girlfriend, will I be jealous? Yes.
“Jack?” I ask. It’s time to tell him. I’m ready. I can’t let another minute go by living this lie. And anyway, despite his promise to have his friend make me an ID the other day, I still haven’t met this alleged friend, and I’m no closer to getting a fake ID. Which means any time I’m in the bar, a cop could come in and arrest me for not having proof that I’m old enough to be there… because I’m not, even if I did have ID.
“What’s up, Jenna?” This is it, here I go.
“I have to tell you-” I begin, but Jack’s cell phone rings, interrupting me and making me lose my nerve. He picks up his cell phone from the coffee table and looks at it. He pushes a button.
“Hello? … Nick, where are you?” He listens, then whispers to me, “He’s at the police station in a holding cell. They’re keeping him for 24 hours.” He switches the phone over to speaker mode.
“You there?” Nick asks.
“Yeah, you’re on speaker now. Jenna’s here. Is that okay?” There’s silence for a few seconds. “Nick?”
“Hi, Jenna.” He sounds uncomfortable.
“Hey,” I reply. “Are you okay? Can we bring you anything?”
“No, I’m not allowed visitors. They have me in a cell with Dolf, and Serenity is in the next room. I just wanted to let you know where I am. Jack, I don’t think they believe me. You have to help me clear my name somehow.”
“Did you tell them where you were last night?” Jack asks.
“It doesn’t matter. I can’t prove it.”
“You wanna know where I was?” Nick asks in exasperation. “I went to Serenity’s pastry shop that burned down. I wanted to see what she was arrested for, see how bad the damage is.” I feel like there’s something else that he wants to say, but that he’s holding back.
“What else?” I ask softly.
“Nothing,” Nick says, and I know he isn’t going to tell me no matter how much I pry. “That’s it. I went to her pastry shop, and the damage wasn’t as bad as I expected. The customer areas are ashes, and part of the kitchen, but other parts are just a little smoke damaged. The circuitry to the walk-in fridge must have broken, so there was nothing salvageable to eat in there. But Serenity’s office, aside from being ransacked, was pretty much intact… structurally, at least. I didn’t want to face anyone, so I slept there on the couch in her office. Someone stole the cushions, but it wasn’t the worst night’s sleep I’ve ever had.”
“Did you call Alexis? Did Serenity? Ugh, you probably should have called her before you even went to the police.” Jack slaps his forehead.
“Serenity called yesterday, but Alexis is out of town.” Out of town? Alexis hasn’t gone out of town since… ever.
“Did she say where she went?” Jack asks.
“She drove to her sister Kristina’s house up the coast.” Spruce Ridge is supposed to be near Chicago! There’s no coast! So now we’re back to the stupid beach scene opening credits?
“You’re just gonna leave me here?” I ask as Jack fills a duffel bag. He has decided to ride his motorcycle up the coast – because he has informed me that yes, Lake Michigan does have a coast (I still don’t think it should count as coastal if there is no ocean) to find Alexis and bring her back to town. I don’t know if he has any idea where Kristina lives, but in soap opera land, I anything is possible. He thinks he’ll find her surfing the waves in Milwaukee… who knew Wisconsin has waves?!
“I’ll be back as soon as I can. You have to stay here and keep an eye on things. Can you pick a lock?” he asks, stopping to look at me. “Maybe there’s something in Ambrosia’s house that will lead to the real killer.” I shake my head. He starts taking clothes out of the dresser. How long does he expect to be gone for, a month? “Can you hack into her computer? Maybe there’s a threatening Facebook message, or-”
“Wait… Can I hack into her computer? How am I going to get to her computer if I can’t pick a lock in the first place?”
“I know, sorry. I shouldn’t expect you to be a technological mastermind, you don’t even have a cell phone.” I bite my tongue. It’s not because I have a choice in the matter, I just didn’t have it when I got here. “But maybe she has a fake rock or something,” he suggests as a place where there might be a spare key hidden, and then I remember. It’s under the planter.
“I get what you’re saying, though. I’ll keep poking around, see if I can find anything. Maybe there’s something at the burned down pastry shop that can place Nick there at the time of the murder.”
“That’s good, I don’t think the police will even try to confirm his alibi. We’ll need evidence if we can’t find the killer.” He goes into the bathroom to get things like a toothbrush and shampoo.
“What about the bar? Trevor quit, Nick’s in jail. Without you there’s nobody to bartend. Can you really close it for a while?” I sit on the bed and watch as he comes back and puts a handful of things into the duffel bag.
“Jenna, how do you think I can have an entire house for just me?”
“I don’t need the money. The bar could be closed for a year and I’d still be able to pay all the expenses.”
“At your age?” I ask. He shrugs.
“My father had a lot more money than anyone expected. He left it to me in his will, along with the bar. And I’ve learned to be a smart investor.” He says it like it’s no big deal. Oh, by the way, I’m a gazillionaire, could you please pass the butter? Insert horrified look here. Then again, he’s (apparently) on a soap opera, and everybody on soap operas is rich. And if they’re not, then it’s a big deal that they’re poor, and usually the horror is that a young man with no money wants to date a young woman with a Legacy family, and her family thinks he just wants her money. Which he often does, until he realizes that she’s not just rich, but also gorgeous and funny and pretty and surprisingly proficient with a blade. Then, of course, he wants her for all those reasons and to piss off her parents.
I guess in our case this would be the opposite. I’m the girl with no money, staying in his house and eating his food, except that I had no idea that he is rich. I just needed a place to stay my first night here, and he offered. If I am stuck here, and if Nick doesn’t take the apartment above Otis and Amelia’s garage, maybe I could live there… Nick! We have to find a way to help him.
“Do you want me to put a sign up at the bar to say that it’s closed?” I ask. Not that I have any way to get there. Jack doesn’t have a car, just the motorcycle. Even if I could drive the bike, he’s going to be riding. Up the coast that apparently they have in Michigan.
“No, I’ll take care of that before I go.” Then, as if reading my mind, he tosses me a set of keys, and they land on the floor. I pick them up. “Otis drove Nick’s car back to the diner. I’ll drop you off on my way out of town, and you can use that to get around.” He zips the duffel bag closed. “Let’s go. I’ll drop you off before I go by the bar. I have to call Ramon and Gertrude and tell them not to come in.”
After Jack drops me off at the diner, I drive the car back to his house and use the extra key he gave me to get in. I have waited long enough to check Ambrosia’s phone. I press a button, but nothing happens. Of course it’s dead, why wouldn’t it be? I wonder if Jack has a charger for it. I look next to the couch, but his charger isn’t for the same phone. Now what? I could try to find a store to buy one, but I don’t want to go driving around a town I don’t know. I mean, I know the town, I just don’t know the roads. Soap opera scenes aren’t usually set in cars, unless it involves a kidnapping or a collision.
Well, I do know one place where I could find a charger for this phone. I just don’t know how to get there. I chuckle. Well, I do know how to get there, I just don’t know how to get in. Then I remember that I do know exactly how to get in. I drive to the bar, and when I get there, I’m relieved to see that the motorcycle isn’t there. I park in the back. It’s starting to get dark, and I’m glad for the privacy the night will provide.
I walk down the street. Without Jack, and knowing it’s been less than 24 hours since Ambrosia was shot on this exact street, I wish I had some kind of weapon to defend myself in case something happens. I listen carefully and keep a watchful eye on my surroundings. When I get to Ambrosia’s house, I get down and try to lift the planter. It’s heavier than it looks, but I manage to tilt it to the side, and when I slide my hand beneath it, I feel the key. I grab it, then let the planter go.
I look around while I’m still kneeling on the porch. It doesn’t look like anyone is watching me, so I stand up and put the key in the lock. For a minute I’m afraid it’s not going to turn, and I take a deep breath. Oh good, it’s turning. I open the door as little as possible and slide in, then close and lock it. I turn around, and with the light coming in through the windows, I see that the room seems to be untouched. I thought the police would have wanted to start the investigation in here, but I guess they haven’t been here. I wish I had thought to wear gloves. I’ll have to be very careful not to leave fingerprints behind.
The first thing I do is find her cell phone charger and plug it into the phone. As soon as I can, I turn on the phone. There are two voice mails, which I can’t get without her password, which I don’t know. I look at her text messages. Olivia, of course. I know she’s not the killer. John? I open that thread.
John wrote to Ambrosia last night. He said Olivia had gone straight to bed, but he wanted to talk to Ambrosia. He said that it was about what they talked about in her house the other day, which must mean when she drugged him and made him promise to sign over his half of the shares in Adaire’s company. She texted back to say she was leaving the bar, and she said she would meet him out on the street.
Oh my god. John killed Ambrosia so he wouldn’t have to sign over the shares after all! He probably tried to talk her out of their deal, and when she refused, she probably reminded him of the video. Or maybe she never told him about the video. Maybe she found another way to get him to do what she wanted. If he knew about the video, he would have stolen her computer, wouldn’t he? I go to Ambrosia’s computer. I turn it on and wait impatiently for the computer to reach the login screen.
“Hurry up, you stupid computer!” I say, even though I know it won’t do any good. Finally the login screen comes up. Luckily, I have seen this on the show, and I type in her password. Scout123. I think it was the name of her childhood pet or something. I’ve got to be able to find the video of her and John here somewhere.
There is a folder on the desktop called Blackmail. Are you kidding me? Soap operas are so ridiculous. I open the folder, and there is just one file, and it’s called Seducing John. Obviously. I play the video just to be sure, and it’s exactly what I saw on television the other day. I open a drawer and rummage around. Somehow, by miracle perhaps, there is a 16 gig flash drive, and I plug it in. There’s nothing on it, and I start copying the blackmail video onto the drive.
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