For those who haven’t already read them, you can find links to the previous chapters here:
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9
Chapters 10 and 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22
I saw Shawna at the other end of the hall twice throughout the day, but just waved. I wanted to go to her, to say something, but I really didn’t know what to say. I wanted to tell her she made a mistake with Matt, but she had to already know that. And part of me wanted to tell her exactly how I felt, but I couldn’t do that until I completed my deal with Lucifer. It wouldn’t be fair to drag her into that. And besides, I told myself, the whole thing was almost over.
When the final bell rang, releasing us from the last class of the day, I almost felt relieved that I hadn’t been forced to talk to Shawna but as I made my way across the parking lot I realized my luck had run out.
“Hey,” I said. “You look good.”
I don’t know why I said that, other than the fact that she did look really good. She was standing between my bike and Weed’s Chevette, wearing another skirt, this time a jean one. I had to force myself to keep my eyes on her face.
“You too,” she replied.
We just stood there for a minute, both trying to figure out what to say when Weed finally walked up and saved us from our self imposed awkwardness.
“Matt’s not here to give you a ride home?” He asked with all the tact of Denis Leary doing stand up.
“Ah, yeah,” Shawna said. “About that…uh…you won’t be seeing him around any more.”
Weed and I turned towards each other and the look on his face said he was thinking the same thing I was.
“What’d you do, bury his dead body in the backyard?”
Shawna paused for a second, then a mischievous look replaced the shock on her face.
“You know I’m much too smart for that,” she replied, “I buried his body behind your shed.”
Everything went dead silent, then the three of us burst out laughing at the same time. For a moment it was great feeling like everything was back to normal, but I knew nothing could really be normal until I completed my last assignment. I thought about reaching out and touching her, just to prove to myself that she wasn’t my final target. But I couldn’t do it. I knew she wasn’t capable of doing anything to put her on my list, but I also knew she wasn’t perfect. At some point she probably had done something she wouldn’t want me to know about, and I didn’t want to chance seeing that, whatever it might be. Doing so would feel like an invasion of her privacy.
“Seriously, though, I could actually use a ride home,” Shawna said.
“Of course,” I replied, before I’d given it any thought.
“Actually,” she replied, her eyes darting from Weed to me, and then back again. “I was hoping to get a ride from you, Weed.”
“Ouch,” I said.
“No, it’s not about you. I really do want a ride from you, and I’ll definitely take you up on that some day, but I don’t think this jean skirt and the bike are such a good mix.”
She was right, and I knew it, but I still felt a little rejected.
“Of course I can give you a ride,” Weed said, saving me once again from the awkward moment. “And you’re in luck, I just cleaned her out.”
“This is cleaned out?” She asked, throwing a pile of car magazines, two fast food bags and beat up Trapper Keeper from the front seat to the back.
”Yeah, there’s nothing but the necessities in there now.”
“Maybe I should have taken the chance of flashing everyone on your bike,” she said to me, just before finally climbing into Weed’s car.
“I’ll drop her off, safe and sound, then meet you at my place?” Weed asked.
As much as I wanted to follow behind them, I couldn’t come up with any good reason I would need to go that way at all.
“Sure thing,” I said before slipping on my helmet.
A few minutes later I pulled into Weed’s empty driveway, still trying to figure out some reason that I could have trailed behind Weed and Shawna. Not that I didn’t trust him, I knew he’d get her home fine. And I knew nothing was ever going to happen between them. But with things seeming to return to normal, I just wasn’t quite ready to not be near her. But being next to my car again helped that feeling a little.
I half expected Lucifer to respond with some snide remark. I was a little surprised when I didn’t hear his voice, but even more surprised at how disappointed I was that I hadn’t. I’m sure a lot of it was just the fact that I wanted to be done with the whole thing. One more assignment was all that was keeping everything from completely returning to normal, or at least as close to normal as things could be. I mean, I’d already killed four people, and so I wasn’t really looking forward to killing a fifth. Even though they deserved it, that was something I was going to have to live with. But putting it all behind me would be a start, and I was so close.
“Don’t you want to tell me who my last assignment is?” I asked.
I got no reply except for my own words echoing off the garage walls.
Slipping into the driver’s seat I tried again, this time directing my words to the radio. Not because I really thought Lucifer was possessing it, but it was as good a place to talk to as any.
“You like to play these games, but didn’t expect me to do this well, huh? You thought I’d break when I found out Finkenbine was number four didn’t you? But it didn’t happen, now did it? And it won’t. We made a deal, and I’ll stick with it. Will you?”
My anger rose with each word, but so did my determination. That’s when I realized I wasn’t talking for Lucifer’s benefit, but for mine. Not knowing my last assignment was driving me crazy, but maybe that was his goal. That thought was more than enough to solidify my determination.
“That’s just pitiful.”
I jumped at Weed’s voice, and nearly hit my head on the car roof.
“You’ll be back in the driver seat in no time,” he continued, “but we really should finish her before you start pretending to drive again.”
The goofy look on his face made me laugh.
“Shut up. I had to find something to do while you were off trying to hit on Shawna.”
It was his turn to laugh.
“Oh no, I don’t want anything to do with that mess.”
“I didn’t mean it like that, just that I’ve seen how messed up she’s got you so I’ll stick to my prep school girls.”
“Don’t forget the imaginary ones in the magazines beneath your bed.”
“How could I ever forget them?” He replied. “As a matter of fact, I think I’ll leave you down here to fantasize about Pamela while I go upstairs…”
“Don’t even think about it,” I said, climbing out of my car.
“Fine, then can we get started down here?”
“I was just waiting on your slow ass.”
“Slow? The Chevette is still warmed up. You want to go head to head around the block?”
I could see the gleam in his eye and knew he meant it. I also knew that the KZ really didn’t stand a chance against the Chevette.
“How about we just get started?”
There was a hint of disappointment on his face, but then he grabbed his mechanix gloves, cranked up the music and we got to work.
Friday passed like most Friday’s do, way too slow. Weed slept through every class, and I struggled to keep myself awake, but the normalcy of everything felt good. Shawna was taking the SATs the next day so she was too preoccupied with studying to interact much with us, but even that felt normal. The only thing that didn’t feel quite normal was the nagging itch in the back of my mind, wondering who was next.