Justin

Justin

"That lying, no good, son of a monkey-loving bitch!" Jhondie yelled as she came through my front door.  Not a good entrance to hear.  I hoped she wasn't referring to me.  It takes a lot to make Jhondie use four-letter words, but when she did, you could tell she hung around soldiers when she was a kid.

She came into the den and threw herself in the recliner.  She was pissed as hell, and I was reviewing what I had done in the last month.  Nothing that would make her act like this.  At least nothing my male mind could interpret as deserving this kind of anger.

"Bad day?" I asked a little cautiously.  She glared at me.

"I was going to go home and get the car so I could come over, right?" she started to explain.  "And then Kyle asks me if he could give me a ride home.  So I tell him I'm going to a friend's house, and he says he'll take me.  So, we're driving and we're almost here, and he drops it on me.  He got back with Haille.  He's taking her to the Prom Saturday.  So sorry he has to cancel, but he never wanted to go with me.  He wanted to get Haille to come back, but he thought she might not, and then Mr. Cool wouldn't have a date.  So he asked me because he knew Mark was about to, and just in case Haille didn't go with him, he'd have a date."  She punched the arm of the chair lightly.  "Stupid bastard jerk!"

I would never admit it to a soul, but you had to admire the guy.  Talk about covering your bases.  I'll grant it was a pretty sleazy thing to do, dumping a girl five days before her Senior Prom, but he'd done some pretty good planning.  This was why I was so glad I was out of high school.  I hated all of the high school dynamics that meant absolutely nothing the minute you came home from the graduation parties.  I knew Jhondie was still part of them, and this was upsetting her, but it was a little funny too.  Sometimes she was so mature, and then other times she would suddenly be seventeen again.

I could only suppose she wasn't in the mood today to work.  That's what she was here to do, but if Jhondie wasn't in the mood, nothing was going to get her to do something she didn't want.  Brent Lake's body had been found washed up on the beach in Santa Monica, so our attention had been focused on the list Jhondie had found in the safe the night we kind of met.  We weren't worried about Lake.  It was obvious his boss had taken him out of the picture.  EO was also more concerned about the list.

Eye's Only.  Talk about getting the surprise of a lifetime.  I check my e-mail and there's a question from him through the scrambled address if I have a web camera.  I told him that I did.  Weird.  He tells me to be there at a certain time.  So I am, and then someone takes control of my computer, and then red, white and blue vertical lines with a pair of eyes in the middle.  Jhondie was with me, and we both were picking ourselves off the floor in utter shock.  I told him that Jhondie was my partner, but we didn't give names.  He was cool with that.  He told us he was pleased with what we'd done, and he'd be getting in contact with us like this more often.  We told him about the list, and he said to concentrate on that more than Lake.  The living people committing the crimes were more important than dead criminals.

But Jhondie wasn't in the mood to work, and that was obvious.  The last unknown name on her list was Tillman.  He was involved with shipping, but shipping what?  Was he receiving or sending?  We were looking for more information, but finding this guy was hard.  I was starting to think Tillman wasn't his real name.  Dink couldn't find anything on him, and that was very strange.

"So," I said carefully.  "You planning on killing him or her?"

"Both," she growled.  "I probably won't go."  She sounded so pitiful.  "I'll just spend Saturday night with you and kick some bad guy butt.  That'll cheer me up."

I could work with that.  A Jhondie in the mood to kick some bad guy butt was a very good Jhondie for this kind of work indeed.

Jhondie

I was dreading school Tuesday.  I knew what everyone would be talking about.  You know what the worst thing about a scandal is?  You don't know whom you can trust suddenly.  Are your friends talking behind your back?  Those two teachers in the hall, are they talking about you?  Is the whole school laughing because you got played?  I was tempted to not come in at all for the rest of my life, but that wouldn't solve anything.  Then I thought maybe I would just beat the holy hell out of Haille and Kyle.  That would also make me feel better, but it wouldn't solve things either.

I was sitting in my Lit class reading the play we were discussing, "A Midsummer Night's Dream".  If it got any cuter I was going to puke.  Of course until yesterday I enjoyed the play, but I wasn't in the mood for cute fairy tricks today.  People were staring at me and I was about to scream or deck someone.  Maybe I would beat up Kyle.  Having him get the crap kicked out of him by a girl in front of all his friends would ruin his ego for life.  There was no way Haille would get her pictures taken with someone who was still swollen from a righteous beating.  This sucked.

"I heard what happened," Tasha said to be before class started.  She was dripping with saccharine pity.  You know what I mean, the kind where they're really trying not to laugh.  I knew she was one of those wanna-be's that hung around on the edges of Haille's orbit.  She wasn't cool enough to be part of the inner circle, but if she had something interesting, she might get invited to a party.  "I can't believe Kyle played you like that," she continued.  I could see the evil gleam in her eyes.  "Men are such jerks sometimes."

I looked at her, getting ready to give her a retort she'd never forget, but then inspiration struck right then and there.  "Played?" I said, looking confused.  "Please, Tasha, everyone know what was really happening."  At least, nobody would admit to being out of the loop and not knowing.  I went back to my book.  "Me and Kyle both got what we wanted, that's not getting played."

"You weren't going to go with Kyle?" she asked, to shocked to fake being all cool.

"Kyle over Justin?" I replied.  "Hardly!  Justin was being such a jerk about going; you know how college guys are.  He said we'd go to some frat's kegger instead, and Haille was misbehaving so Kyle and me got both our significant other to heel.  Of course Justin was all, baby I'm sorry after the first week, but I had to keep playing cause Kyle just couldn't get Haille to come begging, but now she did so I can get back to my real man."  I went back to my book.  With her mouth flopped wide open, Tasha looked like a guppy.  The bell rang, and class started.  I was feeling so much better.

If Justin didn't go along with this after all I'd done for him, I'd kill him.  The minute I showed up at Prom on his arm I would be totally vindicated.  Not that it really mattered with a month left before graduation, but it was that moment that would count.

As the day went on, I could tell the rumor was spreading wildly.  I saw Haille and she glared daggers at me.  Her bragging rights over getting Kyle to ditch his date for her were so gone.  Now she looked like she'd begged him and was all pitiful looking.  Life was wonderful.  She'd have to still go with him or else everyone would think I was right about them.  She would have a miserable time.  They had a good chance of being the Prom King and Queen.  All I needed was to get Justin to go.  If he didn't, he'd be in traction.

Cheryl came up to me before the last class.  She was the one friend I knew I could count on.  One of Haille's friends, Michelle, was walking by, and Cheryl practically chirped just a little too loud, "I am SO glad it's out about you and Kyle!"  Michelle immediately stopped at the water fountain.  I could see the mischievousness in Cheryl's eyes.  She'd noticed too.  I'd called her last night and she offered to help me castrate Kyle.  I told her I'd think of something better to do to him.  Now she knew what it was.

"Tyler was starting to get worried we were really all four going to have to go to Kyle's party," she continued.  "I told him you were going with Justin so he'd have another post-grad guy to talk to, but you know how men are!" We were supposed to be a foursome for dinner and after Prom.  Kyle was giving a party in the hotel in Santa Monica where the dance was actually being held.  Mommy and Daddy had rented him a suite. 

Cheryl and Tyler weren't crazy about the idea, but Cheryl was coming to make sure if there was trouble, I could get out.  Tyler was going along with it.  He'd actually changed a great deal in the last couple of months since he'd gotten out of the hospital.  He'd gotten off of the drugs, and started to appreciate Cheryl, and treat her right.  She wanted to go to the East coast after graduating and maybe going to school out there in a year or so, and Tyler was going to go with her.  I hoped it would work out between them.

"You and Justin are such a cute couple," she said.  Haille's friend was going to drown if she didn't lay off the water in a second.  "So, how are you going to do your hair?"  As soon as she thought the conversation was hitting mundane topics, Michelle left.

"So, what's up with that?" Cheryl asked in a low tone.  "Justin really going with you?"

"I've got to talk to him," I whispered back.  "I'm going to see him tonight but I know he'll go.  I'll just have to be real nice."

She grinned at me.  "Yeah, traditional Prom night kind of nice."

I slugged her shoulder playfully.  "We're just friends, remember?  He's cute, but he doesn't think of me like that."  We were partners, friends, but nothing else.  I could do things he couldn't, and that's why he like me being there so much.  It was cool having him to talk to and stuff like that, but that was it.

We went to class, and I felt so much better.  Rumors could be our friend sometimes.  Cheryl had to stay after school, so I walked home alone.  I got a few blocks away and turned the corner, and there was Kyle waiting for me.

"What do you think you're doing?" he snarled at me as soon as I got near.

"Walking home," I retorted.

"I mean all the garbage you're spreading around school.  Haille thinks it's true."  Oh he did not want to play the victim with me.

"You want to borrow fifty cents so you can call someone who cares?" I replied coolly.

He grabbed my arm, jerking me close.  "You're going to tell everyone that you made this Justin guy up," he growled, trying to intimidate me.  I couldn't really do what I wanted.  That would be a bit noticeable that I wasn't exactly the girl next door.  But I did have a few tricks.  With my free hand I simply reached under his arm and grabbed a pressure point high on his side.

He let go of me and turned an interesting shade of gray.  I squeezed harder, and he couldn't even scream, he just hit his knees.  I smiled sweetly.  "Whose house do you think you dropped me off at yesterday?" I asked.  He made a squeak as a reply.  This particular hold hurt like hell.  It was one of Lydecker's favorites.  "Haille is your problem.  You touch me again, and I will make this look like a sweet dream."  I let him go and sauntered off.  He was still on his knees.  Life was sweet again.