The rest of History went without further incident, although I’m positive Mr. Wood kept his eye on me. Some times your reputation works in your favor, sometimes it doesn’t. Thankfully, the bell rang as I was getting all morbid.
As I crossed the halls, I saw Todd McArthur was back in school. This surprised me for a couple of reasons, the main one being that he had been Casey’s boyfriend. Sure, he wasn’t around on Friday, but that I expected. Dad always told me the first thing the police do with a suspicious death is look at the boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/delete as applicable. I’d just figured Todd as being away from school for a couple of days more.
Todd was a jock. One of the more successful jocks of Neptune High, in that he was actually serious about what he did and didn’t just wear the letter jacket for the hell of it. Casey the cheerleader (I did mention that, right? Because Casey certainly had the habit of mentioning it) and he made one of the more golden couples of Neptune High, though mainly on the sports side. I knew them to talk to back before my fall from social grace. Now, neither of them would give me a word.
Well, Casey had an excuse now, being dead.
Todd looked upset, though something still seemed off. Admittedly, I was drawing on my fairly limited experience of grief, but it was almost like he was trying too hard. I saw all the commiserating looks he received and the soft touches of sympathy from his friends, acquaintances and random passing staff members as he walked through the halls.
I moved him a few notches up my mental must-look-into list, and headed off to apply more pressure to Wallace. If he even thought about giving me a hard time over Todd’s file….
As I rounded a corner, I bumped into Jennifer Johnson, aka "JJ" as she wants to be known. JLo has a lot to answer for. Anyhow, I literally bumped into her, as her eyes were firmly fixed ahead of me. She glanced at me, thought about saying something rude, and just hurried off instead. See, reputations do work for you sometimes.
Just out of sheer nosiness and curiosity, I turned to see just who or what she was intent on following. It turned out to be Todd McArthur.
Interesting. Casey was the jealous type, and hadn’t let any single female within meters of Todd. JJ had been one of the more recent victims of Casey’s public screaming matches. Like everyone else in Neptune High, I’d just written that off as Casey being paranoid.
The rest of school dragged by. After a quick forage through the clippings file at the student newspaper, Wallace was duly leaned on. The little weasel wouldn’t promise me anything until I declared he was a veritable Sex God out loud to the next passing person. I reminded him about my taser, and made vague insinuations about picking my moment carefully. Like the next time he was talking to Georgia, to pluck one example completely out of thin air.
I hate to keep using the taser card, but sidekicks must be abused regularly. Otherwise they start wanting their own gig. With a warm glow of accomplishment, I drove over to Weevil’s neighbourhood.
Weevil’s desire in life seems to be Professional Lovable Biker with Heart of Gold.
Or at least that's the side that he shows to me. Apart from a slight tendency to go off on me if I seem to be presuming on him, we’re solid. Mutual deals have suited us in the past, and of course his beloved grandmother adores me for getting him out of jail that one time.
I stared at his bald head and moustache for a while when I got there and tried to imagine him with a goatee. Then tried to imagine Robin Wood with that moustache and leather jacket.
Thankfully, Eli "Weevil" Navarro broke me out of this with a well timed “Hello? Earth to Mars?”
“Yup,” I said, “That’s one I’ve never heard before. In all my short existence on this wonderful world of ours, no-one has ever, once, come up with that line.”
“You’re the one looking for me, Mars,” he reminded me, stiffly folding his arms.
I shrugged. “True enough, Weevil. You know about Casey Drake, of course.”
He just looked at me. Okaaaaaay.
I pulled out the photo clipping from the school newspaper library. Couple of months back, they’d sent me out to take a few general photos of the school. Mainly before and after pictures for the great graffiti clean-up, but I remembered taking a few of the parking lot. This photo had Casey’s car in it.
“Ever see this car around, Weevil?” I asked. “Would have been a little out of place in this area. Just wondered if it stuck in your memory.”
He grinned suddenly. “Yeah, we don’t get many pink cars over here. I remember seeing it parked over by the gym on Goddard and Seventh a couple of times coming back from auto class. Me and the boys did wonder about taking it for a little ride, but somebody had already ticketed it by then.”
Interesting. One of the things Casey had boasted about last fall was the brand new home gym her father had installed. She had made sure everyone at school knew that she could do all her exercise at home, in comfort, in air conditioning. If she was in this neighbourhood, then it definitely wasn’t to use the facilities.
Neptune doesn’t do ghettos, but this was probably the closest we got to one. Low quality housing, crammed together, and mainly occupied by people employed by the rich half of Neptune. Not to mention the occasional bad ass biker woman living next door.
Weevil winced slightly as Estelle’s voice rose in a shrill shriek from outside. We had one of those shared moments of perfect understanding and went out on the porch to watch the fireworks together.
Weevil’s neighbours were known to Dad from back when he was the local Sheriff. Part of the reason why I never mentioned my visits to Weevil. Still, I remembered growing up listening to Dad talking about his day at work to Mom – when she was still around, that was. Estelle Diaz was a name he’d mentioned several times. Car theft, shoplifting, credit card fraud, drunk and disorderly – you name it, she’d probably been arrested for it.
Fortunately for her, she had Cliff McCormack, shyster extraordinaire, on her side. Dad used to come home, and swear at the sheer volume of ways Cliff had found to get her charges dropped. Eventually, though, her luck ran out, and she’d been sent to Stockton for two years.
She got released from prison a couple of months back; she’d moved right back to Neptune and back into her old housing. It made coming down to Weevil’s more interesting than before – she had a temper that could erupt any moment, no fear of anyone or anything, and a reputation for kicking asses. Personally, I was learning more of the interesting Spanish words from just hanging around.
And Dad? If by some strange co-incidence you’re reading this, then technically, I was
studying Spanish. Therefore, I cannot be grounded. Or at the very least, I have a good chance on appeal.
Anyway, Estelle’s current target was sitting on a rather nice motorbike at the front of Estelle’s place. It had to be nice, because Weevil whistled softly. Probably at the bike, but who can tell for certain with Weevil? Estelle was swearing her head off at the rider, who was all wrapped up in leathers and a black helmet. Most of it went by pretty fast, but I managed to follow the basic flow: how dare this new rider park their bike where Estelle would leave hers. This was her spot and no damn puta would dare stay there if he knew what was good for him.
The rider pulled her helmet off and shook out her long, dark, curly hair.
“Faith!” exclaimed Estelle, and immediately shut up. In fact, she took a step backwards. I blinked. Weevil blinked. Most of the watching neighbourhood blinked.
This definitely wasn’t how it was supposed to go.
“Puta?” enquired Faith, raising an eyebrow.
“I... I... did not mean you, of course,” stuttered Estelle, losing cool points by the syllable. “I didn’t realise it was you, Faith. I’m sorry.”
Another first in what was turning out to be a very odd week. Luckily, Dad was back tonight, though there was no chance he’d believe me. Estelle Diaz said sorry?
“Got a cig?” asked Faith, getting off her motorcycle in a flowing motion, leathers creaking. The neighbourhood held its breath again. Estelle never shared.
“Keep the pack,” Estelle said, throwing it over. And the crowd would have gone wild, if a) they didn’t want to miss a thing, and b) Estelle wouldn't be looking for someone to take her frustrations out on later. No sense in drawing attention to yourself, after all.
Me? I moved forward to get a better look.
Faith unzipped her leather jacket to show a grey T-shirt underneath it, with what looked like some sort of message hand written on it. Sticking a cigarette in her mouth, she just looked at Estelle. “Lighter?”
Estelle nodded and tossed that over too. By now the sheer volume of surprises had rendered the watchers incapable of surprise.
“Just passing through, and decided to stay a while. That cool?” she said, taking a deep draw. “See the sights, that sort of shit.” For some reason, I could just feel her looking at me and Weevil through her hair. “Scenery seems pretty nice from where I’m standing right now.”
And with an almost predatory gait, she crossed over to Estelle, and urged her inside. “Let’s catch up on old times, yeah?” she said, almost purring. Estelle just swallowed and went inside.
Weevil let out a soft breath. I remembered to breathe. Faith flicked her eyes around the people watching one more time. “Don’t touch the bike,” she announced to all and sundry, and flicked the now-smoked cigarette butt up in the air.
It landed at my feet. I looked at it, then looked back up at her. “Be seeing you,” she winked, and went indoors.
Now that’s an entrance.
End part two