I have revised, revised, revised! And now the plot is in place and ready to be delivered. *hopes its a good enough reason why I haven't been updating*...
Also I am not a big expert on New York considering the closest I've been are movies like Spider-Man and crime shows. But I really did look into it. =P
And I appreciate the reviews, I know this book isn't Twilight popular...(won't say anything about THAT.) But I really like it and was inspired to take Evie's already messed up life, to even more messed up places! Hehe, not really, well you'll see. =)
After Florida, we had settled into a daily routine. We went on as if nothing had changed. Joe went to work, I went to school and Mom stayed home with Grandma Glad. Though we all knew nothing was like it had been before, we never spoke of it. There was a change in the house, even if we couldn't see it.
I had changed too.
Gone was the naïve girl from Queens who dreamt of wearing lipstick and smoking. I had lipstick on that was as red as blood, and I hated the smell of smoke. A year to numb my heart and another to harden it. That's what I had believed.
I finished smoothing out my skirt and pinned the last of my hair back. I slipped into my bootie heels and grabbed my book bag, ready for a new day with new lies because I was the new Evelyn Spooner. The one with the broken-heart and pretty dresses.
Going downstairs was like going to a prison. I felt the air change as I entered the kitchen, seeing Mom at the stove making pancakes. I never seemed to have much of an appetite when she was around. Joe was seated at the table, a newspaper in his hands and his eyes never leaving the words. He didn't even glance my way as I sat down; the normal routine at our house ever since he had discovered his precious money had disappeared that day. Joe blew steam at me for a good few days, with Mom defending me and making him angrier. In truth, I don't think she cared at all one way or another. Grandma Glad had turned to stone after that, speaking to me only when necessary. Joe finally shut it about the money and eventually pretended it had never existed. After a long sentence of curfew and jail time in my room, I was off the hook like a poisonous fish the fisherman just wanted to throw back in the water.
"I can't believe how grown up you're becoming." Mom said quietly as she set my plate before me. She looked at me now, her eyes soft. "You know, you'll be eighteen in a few weeks."
That's right, I thought. Old enough to make a life of my own. That's what I kept telling myself to get through the monotone life I now lived. I just had to keep this up until my birthday, when I could use my money to go to college and leave them all behind to live my own life. A life free of lies and deceit.
"You want to do anything special for your big day?" Joe managed from where he sat. He didn't look up.
"I'm not getting married, Joe. It's a birthday. We all have one." I took a sip of my milk. "If you think hard enough you'll realize you have one too."
Mom snapped her head my way, her blonde waves tumbling on her shoulders. Joe set down his paper and looked at me. Really looked at me. He was about to say something when Mom jumped up to get a cup of coffee.
"Have some coffee, honey." She handed the cup to Joe. "And don't mind Evie, she's just sour about her test today. Right, Evie?"
I got up, slinging my bag over my shoulder. "Sure."
Waving to the couple I used to admire, I headed to school, where more false politeness awaited.
As I walked up to the front gates of the school, with kids whizzing by on each side, I saw Margie standing with two other girls from our grade. She eyed me and smiled slightly, waving me over. Even after how I acted toward her when I first came back, she managed to stay polite with me. We weren't friends, and I knew we'd never had what we lost. But I couldn't shut her out completely.
"Hiya, Evie." She greeted real prettily as I walked up. I could see all of them look me over. "Say, you look real swell."
"Thanks." I replied curtly. Margie had changed a bit in two years. Her face had always been pretty, but now she had a matureness that wasn't there before, a sort of sultry look that could've been in the movies. When she walked down the halls, boys turned to look. Sometimes I heard girls whisper about her, but I rarely paid attention to things like that anymore.
"Those shoes," Gloria Pillson sighed. "Absolute perfect plumb."
The other girl, Donna Clarkson, took my hand. "Brother, look at those nails."
Gloria's blonde head bent low to study them. "Red as her lips. Gosh, Evie you always look so pretty."
I met Margie's eyes, and there was something there that I couldn't name. A kind of understanding. It was as if she saw something in me and didn't know what to say. I had seen that look somewhere before, in my Mom's eyes when I had wore that lovely dress joe was set against. I felt a pang remembering how he had looked at me too.
"You really do look swell." Margie half-smiled, a little too gently for me to answer back.
I only smiled, because it was all I could give her now.
"Come on," Donna said, smoothing her ginger curls. "We'll be late for class."
And so they went, elbows hooked together like they could take the world and I could've laughed at their hopefulness. With all their smart talk and confidence, they were still only girls dependent on their fantasies.
I had started working at the local drive-in right after my 17th birthday. Before that I had a small job at the pool of the local Flushing YMCA. It was a good subway ride away from my house, but it was worth the money I saved. With this new job I had hoped to save enough to go to college and move away. It was all I ever tried to think about. So I put on my light blue uniform dress and matching hat, ready for another day of serving families and couples their milkshakes and hamburgers.
The subway ride to Richmond Ave was not bad and I made it in no time. Glancing up at the bright sign that read Drive-In Theatre, I adjusted my cap and hair. There were already people arriving for the first showing, though it wouldn't begin until about an hour. Mostly families came to the first showing, eating and enjoying themselves in a way my family hadn't done in a long time. When the drive-in first opened, Joe had wanted to take us. I said I had homework and Mom said she didn't feel "up to it". Joe never brought it up again, but I went the very next day to ask about a job.
"Hi, Evie." Betty Doyle waved to me as I entered the small cafeteria building where the movie-goers grabbed some food before their movie. It was empty now, with only a handful of people arriving at the front entrance.
"How are you, Betty?" I asked politely, tying my apron around my waist and joining her behind the counter.
"Happy as a clown." She replied, sounding anything but. She flipped a loose strand of dark hair from her face. "But if I were you, I'd be feeling worse."
I looked at her snarky grin. "Somehow I don't like the way you say that."
Everyone said Betty looked like Jennifer Jones in Portrait of Jenny. Dark and mysterious. I couldn't agree more, especially when she was standing in front of me with a clever smile and bright eyes.
"Tonight you have frontline duty."
We called it frontline duty when we had to go out during the movie and offer snacks to the movie-goers. We carried a tray of candy, popcorn and chocolate bars and went walking around until someone waved us down. It was the least coveted job, and every employee tried to avoid it.
"Oh joy. " I sighed. "Must be my lucky night."
About halfway through my shift I was called over to a car filled with boys. They looked a bit older than me, as if they were just out of high school. They snapped their fingers and hooted. I hated movie-goers who did that. It made me feel like a monkey doing tricks for them. With my tray of snacks and a smile that would make penicillin wince, I strode over to them.
"What can I do for you tonight?" I asked sweetly.
There were five of them, all leaning out the open windows of their shiny Cadillac. I could've whistled at the sleek blue thing, but one of them whistled instead. I saw by the way they watched me approach that it wasn't directed at the car.
The blond in the back gave me a look over. "Well hello Miss Car Hop, you look peachy this evening. Doesn't she look peachy, Buddy?"
His friend next to him glanced at me. "What a dilly. Say, you rationed Miss Car Hop?"
I was about as irritated as I could get without blowing my cool. Asking if I was going steady with someone was not only inappropriate but rude. I managed to hold my smile. I knew straight off they were bad business. The dark jackets and slicked hair told me so. The driver was watching the movie, oblivious to me.
"I'm sorry; I'm only here to help you. Is there something you would like?"
"I'll take one of those red candies you got there." The blonde piped up, reaching over.
The driver, apparently annoyed at our interruption, finally turned my way and surprise washed over me because I realized it was Jimmy Huggett. Tall and lean, and last I remembered eighteen. He looked at me with curious blue eyes, half in shadow. I hadn't seen him in a long time, the last time being on the porch of his house one afternoon last summer as I walked with Ruthie to the corner drugstore. He was with his dad it looked like, and had hardly glanced our way. Seeing him up close only amplified his looks.
"Hey fat-head," the blonde smacked his friends hand from grabbing the box of candy. "You gotta say please first. What's the matter with you?"
"Sorry dad." He mimicked a small boy, wide eyed and innocent. Then he turned to me. "May I please have a box, Miss Car Hop? I promise I'll be good."
I handed it to him, impatient and unimpressed. They had a nice car, but I knew better. "Just a reminder for you nice folks, we don't tolerate misbehaving here. This is a clean joint."
They gobbled that one up alright.
"Oh sure, Miss. We're all honest to goodness boys here, right fellas? I hardly ever get caught up with the fuzz and I only been in the can twice."
"Three times." One of the others corrected jokingly with a snort.
I tapped my foot as they jostled back and forth. They took the longest time deciding what to order and then they changed it back again. I knew they were ragging on me for sport, because what else do boys like them do? My hands were cold, the movie was almost over and I had enough.
"Look pal," I pointed to the blonde, the seemingly leader of the group. "And all you tough guys. I have a job to do. More importantly I don't want to waste my time hanging around the likes of you. So order up and I can have you out of my Lustre Crème shampooed hair for the rest of the night. Does that sound peachy?"
They stared at me like I grew a second head, but Jimmy Huggett only smirked. Those blue eyes were unreadable, and they made my heart pound a bit faster than normal. If only I could've seen what was really behind them.
"Hey don't snap your cap, sweetheart. Their just fooling around."
I felt my cheeks warm up at his casual way of calling me 'sweetheart'. Boy, he really was a heel, like Margie used to say.
"Say, what's your name, anyways?" His voice was smooth, but there was an edge to it I had never heard before. It wasn't like his voice from a time that seemed so long ago and yet so clear in my mind. No, it was tougher. Silk and leather.
Evie Spooner, I thought. Remember? The plain little girl you used to pass by on the street without a glance? The one whose parents killed someone.
But aloud all I said was, "Evelyn."
"You look familiar." His blonde friend spoke up. He had a candy bar stuffed in his mouth. "Don't she look familiar, fellas?"
Jimmy was looking at me, I could see from the corner of my eye. It gave me goose bumps, his stare. What was with him anyway? Margie had told me enough stories about him to keep me far from his presence, and yet here I was. It took all the energy in me to stay there and do my job, even as my feet shifted impatiently beneath me.
"You're from Queens." I glanced at Jimmy, noticing the realization in his eyes. "You're the little friend of what's-her-name with the big…"
"No." I cut off, well aware what his next words were going to be, although I had a feeling he was planning on me interrupting him. His eyes danced with mischief at being so crude. "I'm not her little friend."
"No harm meant, sweetheart." He grinned. "I just remember seeing you two a few times passing my house from Church."
"Yeah, not that he ever goes himself, the sinner. They can't even make him go to school." The blonde nudged Jimmy forcefully, the sarcasm barely hinted at in his teasing tone. I could vaguely remember Jimmy at school, but apparently he did still attend. Margie hadn't been there to fill me in on the latest news from our classmates and I was not interested to pay attention myself. The only real friend I had there was Ruthie…
"Oh shut it, Roy." The others all said in unison, but they were laughing.
"You're no saint either." One lanky boy joked.
Jimmy didn't stop eyeing me and I smiled. "All done, then? I really have to get back to work."
And away from you goof-offs, I thought as I kept the polite smile in place. They had all gone back to joking around and watching the movie. They waved me away with barely acceptable thank-you's.
"Yeah, we're all set, sweetheart." Jimmy leaned over and placed something in my apron pocket. I was too slow to pull away and he was already back in his seat smiling. "Maybe we'll see you around sometime, Evelyn from Queens."
Yeah sure, my mind responded as I left, feeling inside my pocket. I took out the roll of money and stared at it for a long time. It was more than what some other costumers had ever given me. It wasn't usual for movie-goers to tip me, but some occasionally did. What he had given me was too much.
If I had any sense I would've walked right back up to him and gave it back. I would've told him 'thanks but I don't take money from strangers who are up to no good' and left him there without ever seeing him again. But I didn't. I felt a sense of freedom with that money. I could already see the way out of Queens and the start of my new life. I couldn't have had any idea of what else I was taking when I stuffed that wad of green back into my pocket and continued on with a newfound bounce and determination in my step. I had no clue that my new life had actually begun that night.
And it wouldn't be anything like I had planned.
The night I returned home from work I had put the money in the bottom compartment of my wooden jewelry box, along with the rest I had been saving. Mom had given it to me last Christmas. It was pretty, with separate spaces for rings and bracelets and necklaces. It was also were I kept my future. I folded the money neatly and closed the lid, sliding the box back in the corner of my undergarment drawer.
In the morning I smiled as I opened the drawer, picturing the money nestled snuggly beneath. It was my ticket to freedom, my way of leaving this life behind. It made me dress for school rapidly, sliding on my nylons with ease and combing my hair so it shined extra bright. I even gave my parents a good morning as I bounded down the stairs. Joe didn't look up but he hesitated as he replied. Mom's smile was unsure but she served me more sausage than I asked for. Grandma Glad was still asleep.
At school I let Margie walk alongside me to lunch. She even invited me to sit with her. I declined, not bothering to wait as she tried to persuade me. She seemed keen on getting me back to her old friend, as if she still thought I could be the girl I was before, only with the appearance I had now. But over the past two years the part of me no one saw had changed along with the part they did.
Ruthie waited for me on the bench by the large tree we normally sat at. Jeff McCafferty was sitting beside her laughing at something she said. He didn't normally eat with us, but sometimes he managed to get away from the baseball team and join us. As I walked up to them I remembered that I once had a crush on Jeff. He had grown taller and his shoulders had broadened. He was one of the best players on the team, the best pitcher. His parents were proud when he helped bring home the championship trophy. They still didn't know he was in love with Ruthie.
"Hi-de-ho, Evie." Ruthie laughed as she saw me. She scoot her slender frame over, making room for me on the bench. The tree shielded us from the sun, and I could see Ruthie's eyes sparling. "Jeff is being rather ridiculous today, so don't mind him."
I turned to him, watching as he grinned. "Oh? What sort of talk is this, Jeff?"
"The happy kind." He shrugged it off cryptically. But he was never one for secrets. "I'm trying to persuade Miss Kalman here to wear my jacket."
I hadn't expected that. Ruthie wearing his letterman jacket was a sign of going steady. His parents didn't even know he was sweet on her. They probably didn't even know he spoke to her outside of class.
"That's something." I managed. It wasn't a subject we brought up, and I was never sure if they ever spoke of it alone. It seemed they did. After all, how could they not? His parents wouldn't be jumping for joy when they found out he was dating a Jewish girl.
"I told him it didn't matter." Ruthie looked at me, eyes questioning. "It doesn't matter if I wear a pin or jacket or even a neon sign that says 'I am going steady with Jeff McCafferty'."
We laughed at that. But underneath we knew why it really did matter. Jeff belonged to a swell Irish Catholic family. Ruthie didn't. Girls swarmed around Jeff, some of them his parents would approve of. Ruthie told me once that her mother kept trying to set her up with nice Jewish boys, sons of family friends and such. She could only hold them off for so long.
I once thought it was romantic to fall in love with someone you weren't supposed to. But after Florida, I knew there were no happy endings for those kinds of love stories. It was something I reminded myself was best not brought up, even in thought.
"Well, I'm thirsty." I declared, holding up my empty drink. As much as I cared about Ruthie and even Jeff, I couldn't be around that kind of affection. Sitting between them was like sitting between Guinevere and Lancelot. "I'm going to get a drink of water."
There was a gentle breeze and I headed down to the grassy area half-hidden beside the English building. It was a place no one went, with a big tree creating shade against the bright sun. I leaned against the tree, closing my eyes and breathing in the crisp air. I thought it was going to be so easy, forgetting about him. Reading and writing and studying everything in the book didn't help keep my mind from wandering to him. He was gone, but he still held so much power over me. I tried to block his face from my mind, his smile so easy.
I jumped at the voice, my thoughts interrupted. Leaning casually against the niche of the English Building, smoking like it was no big thing was Jimmy Hugget. His hair was slicked back, but a strand fell in front of his blue eyes.
"Did I scare you?" He took one long drag on his cigarette before stomping it out.
I held onto the tree. "Only as much as you scare others."
He looked at me again, from heeled foot to pinned head. He laughed. "You're not going to run away are you? Snitch on me?"
It was then that I realized he had skipped class. Not that I was surprised. His books were nowhere in sight and he smirked as I studied him.
"Why would I do that?" I asked, turning to look at the others eating lunch and laughing.
"Because you can, sweetheart."
"Oh boy, you are tough aren't you?" I let the sarcasm drip from my tongue like a wet coat of Revlon would drip from my nails.
"Apparently not like I thought." He looked at me. "But you're not what you think you are either, Evelyn Spooner."
"Oh sure, Jim." I stood to leave, but something about the way he kept his eyes on me kept me immobile. As if he hadn't dismissed me yet. And why should he? Who did he think he was anyway?
He straightened, walking toward me. "And why the crocodile tears?"
"I'm not crying." I responded with an almost defensive tone, so that he merely smiled like he proved his point. In fact, I was slightly embarrassed when I realized how close to tears I had been before he approached me. Had he been there the whole time watching? I mentally scolded myself at being so exposed. Hadn't I learned anything? Of course I did, it was just I hadn't dealt with anyone like him before. Not since…
"Not on the outside at least." He replied, bringing me back to Earth. "But I know when a person's feeling pretty blue, and let me tell you baby; you're the darkest shade of it."
I realized then how close he was. I could smell cars, leather and some unique smell that was all him. His eyes had spots of dark in them I realized, like seaweed in a deep blue ocean. When he blinked, I did too.
"I always thought I was a kind of tan color." I managed to reply. Cool, I thought. Be cool and distant.
"You know what, Evelyn?" Jimmy Huggett took out another cigarette. "You're really something. Maybe I'll see you around."
He hesitated as he glanced back at me, his face still. And then he smirked and lit the cigarette, blowing smoke as he walked, no sauntered, away. He had that kind of slow, cool walk. A few girls giggled as he passed, hiding behind their friends because the dangerous Jimmy Huggett went by.
But I didn't have any more time to think about it because the bell for class rang and I headed back to Ruthie and Jeff to grab my books. They walked with me to my locker, and as we approached I saw the back of Jimmy's dark jacket in front of my locker, but he was facing the opposite direction. Ruthie and Jeff were busy with their own conversation and before I knew it his lean figure was gone in the sea of kids crowding the halls.
He was probably just there by coincidence. He couldn't even know my locker number. I felt foolish for the fluttering in my heart and said bye to the only two friends I had at the moment, turning the lock to get the books for my next class. When the small door opened, a small paper swayed to the floor near my feet. I usually kept my locker neat and tidy, but maybe it was my notes that fell from one of my books.
I bent down to pick it up, and unfolded it to see what subject it was to stick it back in the corresponding textbook.
Perjury is a crime.
I knew those words. I had lived those words.
I crumpled the paper up quickly, heart hammering. There were a few kids scrambling to class, none of them paying any attention to me. I looked at the wrinkled scrap in my hand, the words black and bold in a handwriting that was stiff.
Perjury is a crime.
Yes, it was. But I didn't need to take notes to remind me of that. The last bell warned me to get to class, and I stuffed the note in my English book. I slammed my locker, my strides sure and swift even if my insides were turning. A note in my locker was supposed to mean a secret admirer, an important message from a girlfriend that would become a giggling conversation over the phone at night. Most likely about a cute boy or upcoming dance.
A note in my locker was not supposed to bring those memories back.
A note in my locker, a note like this, was not even supposed to be there.
I stopped before the door to my class and huffed in frustration and nerves. I was two minutes late. The door was closed. And the note in my book slipped out again, landing gently on the hall floor.
So why is the note in Evie's locker? dun-dun.
and who slipped it in? dun-dun!
we shall see. =)