[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 15
“Mom! I’m going out for a while.” June actually had no intention of going further than her neighbor’s yard, but her mom didn’t need to know that. She had Madonna playing in her Sony Walkman and before she could hear her mother’s reply she had put the headphones on and was out the door.
“…Living in a material world and I am a material girl.” With the headphones on June was certain she sounded exactly like Madonna. She didn’t turn to the right to go immediately to her destination. Instead she turned to the left and went next door to her friend’s house. Tonight they were going to find out for sure what happened.
Her friend Jennifer Gomez bounded out the door even before June could take a step up the walkway. She was dressed in a puffy mini skirt in black with a hot pink top with torn off sleeves. Her hair was teased and hair sprayed so high June wanted to warn her to stay away from any matches.
“Like, this is going to be so totally cool. I love that little jacket. It must have been murder to get those sleeves rolled up like that.” Jennifer had recently seen the movie Valley Girl and was using every phrase possible from the movie as well as the style.
June wasn’t going to be distracted by talk of clothes even though she was proud to have finally rolled up the sleeves on her dad’s hound’s-tooth checked blazer. “Jen, can you believe it. I actually saw where she kept the keys. I think I can snag it if you can distract her.”
“Really? Like, no way. That is like so totally awesome.”
They walked down the block away from their target. June wanted to approach the house on the side opposite their own houses.
“So do you think there’s like bodies and stuff in the garage?”
“I don’t know, but I’ve got my dad’s Polaroid in my purse and if there is, we’ll get pictures of it.”
“I’m, like, so totally excited.”
June put her headphones on. The Valley Girl talk was already getting old. She was able to tune out the inane babble of her friend only until she heard her say…
“So, like, June, do you totally think that she, like killed them?”
June took off her headphones. “That’s what my parents say. They’ve been living on this block all my life. They say the husband disappeared first. Then, a few years later, the son. The police investigated, but never found any bodies or anything so both cases were eventually dropped. They say she refused to let anyone into the garage and the police, seeing how grief stricken she was, didn’t push for a search warrant. They searched the house and everything, but never found a trace of violence.
“Dang. So like twenty years ago she killed her husband and ten years ago she killed her son?” Math was never one of Jennifer’s strong suits.
“Aren’t those bodies going to be, like, all dead and nasty and stuff?”
“We just need one picture. That’s it. Then we can go to the police and finally everyone will know the truth.”
“So you’re going to have the little old lady arrested?”
“She’s not that old and if she’s a killer, I don’t want to live next door to her another day.”
June had enough of all the rumors at school. Even though she was seventeen now she was still teased about living next door to a killer like it was some sort of disease that would rub off on her. Boys never asked her out on dates. Other girls, except Jen, had shunned her at school. Enough was enough. She was going to get proof one way or the other that Old Woman Elsa was or was not a killer.
The two had gone all the way around the block. They were approaching the house. The killer’s house. The house where one woman lived alone with the memory of what happened to her husband and son. The woman who would be found guilty or absolved before the night was over.
“You remember what to do?” June asked Jennifer.
“Like so totally. I give you time to get to the back door, then I ring the front door bell. You grab the key and I run around the back.”
“She moves really slowly, so give her lots of time.”
“So, like, do you think she hurt herself killing them or something?”
“Jen, just get ready. I’m going.”
Jen brightened up. It really bothered June that her best friend had gone from acting so smart to acting like a total ditz after seeing one movie. She was never going to be like that. No way.
The back of the house was dark. The only light came from the kitchen. There, just as June had suspected, was Old Woman Elsa. Just like she was every night she was sitting at the small table sipping tea.
Elsa’s head popped up as if she was surprised. June hadn’t heard it, but Jen must’ve rung the door bell. Slowly Elsa got up and started walking toward the front room. This was the chance June had been waiting for.
She rushed toward the back door. Night after night from her bedroom window she’d watched Elsa come to the back door and grab a key. June’s heart raced as she touched the door knob. This was just a little old lady. Surely she couldn’t kill her or her friend. Right? She was old and slow. She kept telling herself this over and over as she turned the knob and pushed the door ever so slightly open. She paused just long enough to listen.
June pushed the door open and saw next to the back door hanging on the wall a wooden box. June opened it. It was full of keys. Dozens. Which one was the right one? She didn’t have time for this. The old woman was sure to be at the front door by now and possibly heading back. June liked having a head and all she could think about was Elsa cutting it off and hiding the body in the garage.
“You’re it!” The keys each had a sliver of tape over a smaller sliver of paper with letters. One said garage. She swiped the key, closed the box, slipped out the back door and closed it quietly behind her.
Jen startled her as both pushed in behind the same bush in the back yard.
“How’d it go?”
“I got it.”
“That totally rocks. Now what do we do?”
“We’ve got to wait for her to go to bed. Then we can go into the garage.”
“Look, there’s, like, no way I’m going in that garage.”
“That’s fine. I can do it myself. Look, she’s back. We need to keep our voices down.”
Jennifer lowered her voice to a whisper. “I’m going to go back home. Just being in her yard is giving me the creeps.”
“Jen, you can’t leave me here.”
“I so totally can. You only wanted me to help you get that key. You got it. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to sit here in a bush all night in my new outfit waiting for Old Woman Elsa to realize you took it and come out here and kill us. I’m sorry.”
Jen got up and left. June was crestfallen. Her best friend had bailed on her at the worst possible time. Just up and left leaving her high and dry. That was so uncool.
There was no way June was going to leave though. She was here for one reason and she was determined even if her friend wasn’t. Jen had been teased some, but being so much prettier and bubblier she had been able to shrug most of it off. June wasn’t so lucky and this was her only hope of salvation from the torment.
Elsa was at the sink. She must be washing the dishes.- Elsa was washing the dishes and soon she would be getting ready for bed. Weeks of watching and planning and it was all coming to this moment.
The lights in the kitchen went out. June took long deep breaths. Her heart raced. She counted to twenty knowing that that was about how long it would take her to shuffle across the kitchen and out of sight. She could almost taste it. June pulled her father’s Polaroid camera from her purse. Her plan was to snap a few quick pictures and run. That was the plan. It was so simple.
Am I counting too fast? Too slow? No, I’ll wait just another moment longer. Oh please just get out of the kitchen.
June had lost count. After one more deep breath she rushed over to the garage door. The key wiggled in her hand, or was it her hand that was wiggling? It took several tries before she was finally able to put the key into the lock.
What if she came outside right now? Don’t think about it. Just get the door open and get inside the garage. That’s all you have to do. Just get it open.
The key turned and June opened the door.
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