High School Soap Opera
I want to look for evidence that Nick was at the pastry shop last night, but I don’t know how to get there. I go back to Jack’s house to drop off Ambrosia’s phone and the flash drive, and I find his laptop. Damn, I don’t know his password! Okay, think Jenna. What do you know about him? I try StargazerLounge, but it doesn’t work. Neither do Stargazer, TreasureIsland, or Jenna – it was worth a shot. I think back to all the conversations we’ve had this weekend and try a few more. After about five minutes, the login screen finally accepts a password: Dinosaurbasket726. I close my eyes and mouth the words thank you.
First I plug in the flash drive and play the video. It works, which is a relief. I was afraid it might not have saved properly. I am about to do a web search for the pastry shop to get directions when the phone rings. I cross the room to the phone and pick up, hoping it’s Jack.
“Hello?” There’s silence from the other end. “Hello? Jack?”
“It’s me.” I can hardly recognize the voice, he sounds like he’s dying.
“Nick? What happened?”
“Jack,” he says, almost choking on the word.
“He went to find Alexis. What happened?” He’s scaring me.
“The preliminary ballistics report came back.” Already? “They matched the pattern on the bullet that killed Ambrosia to the bullet that killed Raul. They were shot from the same gun.” My stomach tightens. They don’t care. Like any soap opera police department, Spruce Ridge is full of corrupt cops. Rodriguez just wants to see Nick pay for killing Raul.
“I think I know who’s framing you,” I say. “I just need a little more time to get solid proof.”
“Really?” he asks, finally warming up to me. “You’re really helping me, even after the terrible thing I did last night?” We still haven’t gotten a chance to talk about it. No wonder he’s been so awkward around me! Then again, I haven’t been able to get my mind off it too long myself.
“Nick, you were in a really dark place. I know it’s only gotten worse, but that’s irrelevant. You and Olivia belong together, and I don’t think one kiss when you were mentally a wreck should ruin that.”
“You and I just met. How could you possibly know that Olivia and I belong together?” There is really no way to tell him the whole truth without him thinking I’m crazy, and maybe I am but I don’t want him to think that of me.
“I have seen you and Olivia around town for years,” I say, and it’s half true. Well, technically it’s completely true, but it implies that I’ve been in Spruce Ridge when I saw them together. “I’ve been rooting for you.”
“What about John?” he asks. I bite my tongue so I don’t react. “You don’t think she belongs with him?” I don’t want to tell him that John killed Ambrosia, because I don’t need him saying anything to the police that will get either of us into trouble.
“John was there when she was feeling so much pressure from you and everybody else to remember a time she just can’t. Her brain broke, and all that she heard was that she should just be fixed. As if it was a switch she could turn on and off at will. John understood that she couldn’t control her memories, and he accepted that. At a time when everyone else was telling her that she was wrong, John helped her to accept herself. She needed him. But believe me, she doesn’t need him anymore. She needs you to rescue her from him, she just doesn’t know it.”
“I never thought about it like that,” he says slowly, like he’s still thinking it over.
“That’s what she was trying to do last night. She wanted you to see her through her eyes, not your own.” He’s silent again for a minute, but this time I’m patient. I wait until he is ready to speak.
“Seriously though, Jenna… How do you know all of this?” But I can’t tell him. Even if I were to detail his whole life, and those of everyone around him, nobody will ever believe me.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“I have to go,” he says abruptly.
“Sit tight. I’m working on getting you out, and if I take too long, maybe Jack and Alexis will be back soon enough to get you out on bail or something.”
“There is no bail. They think I killed someone.”
“I will fix this, you just have to give me some time, and trust me. I know what I’m doing.” Do I really? I haven’t thought this through. I know I need to confront John. The video and the text messages aren’t enough to convict him. Now that I know John somehow got Nick’s gun, I have to try to make John confess.
I don’t know how else to get in touch with John, so I pick up Ambrosia’s phone and go to the text message window. Reading the final messages between the two of them, this time knowing that he somehow managed to obtain Nick’s gun, infuriates me. I want to say something that will chill him to the bone, but the only thing I can think to type is I know you killed me. After I send that, I wait for a response.
I don’t have a plan, gotta have a plan… I know I have to get John to confess to the murder. I also have to record it somehow. He’s not stupid enough to confirm it by text, I realize. We’ll have to meet somewhere. Not at the bar or at Jack’s. He’ll think Jack is hiding, but could come out any second to tackle him. I still haven’t checked the pastry shop for anything that can concretely place Nick there during the murder, so I should go there and ask John to meet me there. Meanwhile, I’ll look for clues.
I take Ambrosia’s phone with me, hoping the battery is charged enough to record John’s confession. I close my eyes and think. Where is the pastry shop? Every time Serenity went there she drove, so it can’t be within walking distance of her apartment. But Nick walked there from the bar. That at least gives me some parameters. What else? Serenity delivered pies to Amelia’s for Thanksgiving, and she walked from the shop. So it’s in walking distance of the bar and Amelia’s. I drive to the bar and park in the back again.
I do my best to guess at the pastry shop’s location. It takes longer than I expected, but at last I recognize the little shopping center. The pastry shop was its own building, so the other stores weren’t damaged in the fire, but it’s Sunday night and it’s dark out and the stores are all closed. I get a bad feeling, like I shouldn’t be out here alone, but I ignore it. Nick is in jail, and I have to do whatever I can to get him out.
I look around. Everything in the public area of the shop is burned to the floor, ash and rubble all around. I try to step as carefully as I can. I continue to the counter, which is surprisingly still standing, though it is in shambles. The further I go, the less damage I see. Amazingly, Nick was right. Despite it being clearly looted, when I look in the office it hardly looks like there was a fire here. The kitchen also appears less affected than I anticipated. Dolf, the idiot that he is, must have started the fire in the front of the building instead of in the kitchen where the heat elements are. I return to the office and send John another text message. This one says, Meet me where you and Olivia had your first date. There’s no way he’ll have forgotten that. I put the phone in my pocket.
I don’t know what I hope to find here. It’s not like there’s a camera here, right? Or is there? Didn’t Serenity install cameras after the cash went missing from the register two months ago? I don’t know if John is coming, or how long he’ll take to get here, so I try to search as quickly as I can. If only I could remember the scene when the cameras were being installed. I stand behind the desk. Serenity was standing here. She was talking to Trevor, who was… I try to visualize the scene. He was standing on a ladder… above the door!
I look over the frame of the doorway. There’s a tiny flashing red light! The camera is still there, and it wasn’t damaged in the fire! Forget the phone, if I can get John to confess here, then I’ll just need to access the camera’s feed is, and it should have both John’s confession, and proof that Nick was here, and nowhere near the scene of the crime! Now that I think about it, Serenity watched Dolf set the fire from her computer, at home, in her apartment. As long as electronically everything is still properly connected, and as long as her computer is turned on, the video cameras should still be recording.
If John got the text message when I sent it, then by now he has probably made an excuse to leave Olivia. Maybe she’s already asleep, or maybe she’s too depressed and crazy to know the difference. I try to figure out how long it will take to get here. Is Olivia still with Amelia? Or had John taken her home? I don’t know the town well enough to figure it out, though. I got lost coming here, and I don’t even know how far it is from the bar.
I get another bad feeling, a tingly sensation running up my spine. I should have waited until morning. I should have waited until Jack was home and could back me up. I should have went looking for Candace, or Otis, or maybe even Dolf. No wait, Dolf is in jail. Well, anybody would be fine, as long as I had someone else with me. But it’s too late now. John has to be on his way. I wish I could have seen the look on his face when he saw the first text message I sent. He probably froze like a statue. If I ever do get home, I wonder if everything I’m experiencing will have been on Spruce Ridge. I would love to relive this, watching myself like any other character on the show.
I hear something rustling, and it’s getting closer. It has to be John. I didn’t hear his car – he probably hoped to sneak up on me without alerting me to his presence. Too late, I think. I’ve got your number. He’s coming slowly, and I have enough time before he reaches the office to wonder if we’ll exchange snappy banter that soap opera characters have when there is a verbal power struggle, or if I’ll be stuck with whatever my own brain thinks up. Remember, you can’t let him leave until he has explicitly confessed to the murder.
He opens the door, and I’m ready for him. I am leaning back in the chair with my feet on the desk, crossed at the ankles. His jaw drops. “Not who you were expecting to see here?” I ask. “Well, let me just remind you: Ambrosia’s dead.”
“So what,” he says, regaining his composure, “you think I had something to do with it?” He stands in front of the desk with his arms crossed. In blue jeans and a black leather jacket, he looks a lot like Jason Morgan, Sonny’s right hand man on General Hospital.
“Would you be here if you weren’t involved?” I ask. He raises his eye brow and tilts his head to say touché.
“So what’s your game, little girl? Trying to play ball with the grown-ups is dangerous, don’t you know that? You should probably run along home and we can both forget this ever happened.”
“Nick is in jail,” I say tersely, taking my feet off the desk and slamming my hands on the desktop, “for a crime he didn’t commit. I want justice.” John laughs. He just stands there and laughs at me, like I’m a two year old demanding her mother to let her have one more cookie simply because she wants it. I clench my hands into fists.
“Relax, little girl. This doesn’t have to be a problem. Like I said, you just go home, and I don’t have to hurt you.” He reaches behind him and takes a gun that was tucked into his jeans, under the leather jacket. It’s Nick’s gun, I’m certain. My eyes flicker up to the blinking red light when John turns to close the door. This is going exactly as I need it to go.
“You think I’m scared of that thing?” I ask. Now it’s my turn to laugh, and John’s face turns red. He points it at me, but that doesn’t frighten me either. “That’s Nick’s gun, right? The one that was used to shoot Raul. The same one that the police confirmed was used to kill Ambrosia last night. You don’t have to tell me, I know it is.”
“And so what if it is? You think I won’t shoot you? If I really did kill Ambrosia like you say, why wouldn’t I kill you?” Really?
“Really?” I ask in confused shock. “I mean… Really? Do I really need to spell this out for you?” He doesn’t look so sure of himself anymore. He is really that stupid. “Nick’s in jail, genius. Or hadn’t you heard? So I’m pretty sure that if you kill me and the police find my body with a bullet in it, and the bullet fits the pattern and they can prove it’s from the same gun that killed Ambrosia… Do you see where this is going? Nick will be exonerated because he couldn’t kill me from jail. Killing me would prove that someone stole his gun, and then he can’t be held responsible for Ambrosia’s death. So even if the police don’t catch you, Nick is alive and kicking, and a free man. You kill me… you lose anyway.”
“Ah ha!” He comes right up next to me, and since the desk is in the corner against the wall, and he’s blocking the one exit, I’m trapped without an escape. “What a clever girl you are! But I don’t have to kill you to get you out of the way. I can just do this.” He raises the gun above his head, and it feels like he’s moving slow and fast at the same time. He lowers the gun, I feel a blinding pain on the side of the head, and then everything goes dark.
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