A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
|Previously: "Motel Hell"
You stumble backward into the motel room, and the girl stumbles in with you. She giggles, but once she's in the room she lets go of you and looks around.
She starts by going over to the bed and studying the baggies of weed spread over it.
"So is this your stuff?" she asks. She hefts a baggie and puts it to her nose. "Oh my God." She gives you a wondering look, but otherwise doesn't seem shocked. She wanders into the back part of the room, flicking on a light and looking briefly into the bathroom. Then she comes back over to regard you with a much calmer gaze.
She's a small red-head with milky skin, like Kim, but the resemblance ends there. Where Kim has a pert alertness, like a chipmunk or a squirrel, this girl moves with the slinky grace of a cat or a mongoose. She's dressed in a thin, tight t-shirt that looks glued to her boobs, and her shorts are very short indeed. She wears flip-flops, and her hair, which she wears long, drizzles over her shoulders and down her back. Her green eyes are hooded, with a glint of leering mischief in them.
Your tongue and throat have been frozen all this time, so it's up to her to begin a proper a conversation. "Do we know each other?" she asks.
"Uh ... I don't think so."
"Well, you're acting like we do." She lets her eyes rake the room again. "Like, you haven't told me your name."
"Uh, my name's Will," you squeak. "Will Prescott."
"I'm Melanie Saxon." She gives you a slow look up and down. "Kim said she thought we'd hit it off."
Melanie says nothing, but drops onto the foot of the bed with a little bounce. Her shoulders sag as she gives you another look up and down. "You're not much of a talker, are you?"
"I— Kim just didn't tell me about you!"
"Oh." She glances over the bags of weed in a rather bored way. "Well, she told me you needed some help. So I said I'd help. Kim's always looking for little ways of helping people out, I guess she thought—" She bites her lip. "Well, I guess I don't really know what she thought. This is kind of a surprise, to be honest." She peers up at you. "Is this your stuff?"
"No!" You shift anxiously from foot to foot. "Um, I guess I'm helping her out too."
"Really. Well, then, I guess we could get started. Get to know each other while we work." She looks up at you from under expectantly cocked eyebrows.
Your feet feel glued to the floor, and your head reels when you do take a step forward. You fall onto the bed next to her, and stiffen as your shoulder bumps into hers. Melanie leans lightly against you. Your neck creaks as you glance over at her from the corner of your eye. Neither of you says anything for a very long moment.
Then, with a very tired sigh, Melanie reaches over to pluck up the sheet of instructions that Kim left behind. "What's this?" she asks.
"It's, um, how we're— I'm— we're supposed to divide the, uh, the stuff up."
"So do you want to get to work on that?" She's beginning to sound irritated, so you shrug and nod. "Okay then. Jesus, you're a live one," she mutters. She twists around and picks up a handful of baggies.
* * * * *
You can hardly believe what you're doing, but you've nothing else to do, so you do it: You sort out, weigh, separate, and rebag a couple of pounds of weed. At first you and Melanie work mechanically, with her reading off numbers to you and you reading them back off the scales. But the work seems to warm the air between you. Or, maybe more accurately, the work thaws your frozen shock at being thrust into this room, with this merchandise, with this girl. Eventually, you loosen up enough to carry on a conversation.
Her name, as she told you, is Melanie Saxon, and she also goes to Westside. Have you ever seen her before? Maybe, in passing. Has she ever seen you before? She doesn't think she has. And none of the friends she mentions are names that you really know. She lives in a trailer park with her mom, and she plays the glockenspiel in the marching band, and she's mostly taking Personal Growth classes, like Parenting and Food Preparation and Personal Financial Literacy class. She asks about you, so you tell her about your classes and friends and living situation.
And then she asks you about your girlfriends. You stammer that you had one. Over the summer. More of a "hanging out" kind of thing, you shamefacedly admit.
"I hung out with a guy over the summer too," she says. "He turned out to be a real shit, but it was fun. We hung out in the hammock next to my trailer."
"He was really cute and it was fun. You look a lot like him. That's probably why Kim thought we'd hit it off. Like, maybe she thinks you're Eric's good twin?"
You gulp. "Yeah?"
"You ever do it in a hammock?"
"Do what in a hammock?" you ask.
"It," she says matter-factly. "Screw," she adds when you stare blankly back at her. "Did you and the girl you hung out with ever screw in a hammock?"
Your jaw drops, and you can only shake your head.
"Well, that's what me and Eric did all summer. We screwed in the hammock in the yard next to my trailer. He worried about getting a sunburn on his ass cheeks." She cocks her head again to give you a long look. "You look a lot like Eric, but you sure don't act like him. He can't talk two minutes to a girl without trying to get into her panties." She seals up the baggie she's been filling, and with a felt-tip marker she writes the weight on it.
You swallow. "Well, I, um—"
"Yeah, I can tell. You don't have to say anything, Will," she says. "I can tell. I'll tell Kim after we go that it's not going to work out between us."
You almost fall over in a faint.
* * * * *
It's not long after that Kim interrupts the awkward silence with a knock at the door. She puts her head into the room without waiting for a reply. "Are you decent?" she asks with a dimpled smile. "Oh, look at my two busy little elves," she says after letting herself in and closing the door behind her. "You're almost done. Good. It's time for you to get home, Will.
"Now then," she continues as you gape at her, "you're going to come out with me again tomorrow after school. I'll be waiting at your teacher's classroom with another note. You need to make some deliveries for me up at the college. Also, some of this stuff has to be rolled up. You ever roll a joint before?" You shake your head. "Then I guess I'll have to get the morons to do it for you. And I guess you don't want to keep this stuff at your place, right?" Again your shake your head. "Then you sure as fuck better have a place you can stash it overnight. Do you?"
You shake your head again, but when Kim's frown deepens you remember the old elementary school close to your house, and correct yourself with a croaked affirmative.
"Good," she says. "Stow the stuff for tonight, pick it up in the morning, and take it to school. Go find David Kirkham—you know him, right?—and tell him you've got the shit. He'll tell you where to meet to parcel it out. Oh, fuck. Right." She picks up the three biggest baggies—gallon-sized bags packed with weed—and sets them aside. "Don't take these to school tomorrow, we'll have to go out to your place and pick them up afterward. And don't—!" She shoves a sharp fingernail in your face and gives you a fierce frown. "Don't you fucking mention to anyone that you've got these too." She indicates the baggies she separated out. "As far as Kirkham and everyone else is concerned, the shit you're taking to school is all the shit you've got. Okay?"
You nod, and Kim turns sweetness and light again. "Oh, thanks so much for helping me out, Will!" she simpers. "I know this seems like a really funky fundraiser for the school council, but we've got this, like, giant deficit you wouldn't believe that we have to cover! You don't want to know." She titters.
Then her tone turns very dark and cold. "And you better fucking not want to know, cocksucker. Remember that."
* * * * *
You're in a state of shock when you get home, and are actually glad that your dad confiscated your cell phone and turned off the wifi, otherwise you might talk about the day's events with someone, and you're pretty sure that you shouldn't. You don't know why you're scared of Kim Walsh—she's a small thing who probably wouldn't be able to punch out a house cat, let alone you, and you're pretty sure she would be in a shitload of trouble if you told the school administration (or her father) what she had you doing. But it's just so goddam weird that you have a feeling no one would believe you.
You also worry that you'd tell it to the wrong person. Like, if Kim Walsh is doing stuff with weed, what kind of shit are the other seemingly clean-cut kids getting up to?
So it's not exactly a welcome development when your dad knocks at your door and hands you your phone. "It's Caleb," he tells you gruffly. "He wants to get together to work on math with you." He raises an eyebrow. "You do it here, in the dining room, and you let me check your work when you're done, and I'll let you."
You put your phone to your ear. "Hey man," you say.
"Hey," Caleb honks. "So, your dad says it's okay if we come over for a study session."
"Me and Kendra. We were talking and, uh, yeah, we think we'd like to make it a study trio."
That's all for now.