The three friends walk leisurely across the beautiful gothic campus in the direction of Bulldogs, the college's pizza/sub shop. As they ambled across the perfectly manicured lawn, the trio rambled through a numerous amount of strategies, setting out to find the best plan that would top all of their scams combined.
"I say we give her a little "When Harry Met Sally" action." Alice said as she strolled along the campus with her friends, her hands buried deep into her coat pockets.
Alice bought into our little shenanigans the beginning of our sophomore year. Many people believe she marches to a beat of a different drummer … but that's not entirely true. Alice … Well, she's just crazy. I remember fondly the first time she pulled off a scheme; she did it completely on her own. And from that point forward I knew we were going to be great friends and even better manipulators of our GPA'sLooking back on it know, what she did was completely risky, yet so fucking awesome. She didn't necessarily cheat the test, quite the contrary. She did study her ass off and she did sit through the mandatory two hours. Her little con came towards the end of the extremely hard biology test.
I remember listening to her telling me later that afternoon, with much satisfaction on how she got one over on her Professor. The smile on her face when she came bursting through the door to our room is something I will never forget. Nether will I forget the story she proceeded to tell me... "I don't want you to worry about finishing the exam. No one ever does." Professor Nelson had said as he lent over the hard oak desk, his hands, palm flat on the smooth surface. "That's the way I designed it, so just finish writing whenever you … Time's up!" He had quickly yelled as he slammed his hands down on the table, startling a few students in the front row in the process.
Alice said she had looked up from the essay she was furiously writing at this point, made quick eye contact with the Professor and resumed to quickly write down as much information as possible. She then heard him call out "Okay, that's it. Time's up. Close your books, stop writing. Come forward with your papers immediately."She knew that the statements where directed at her but didn't care. She had almost completed the last question of the test; an unanticipated essay, in which she only had one paragraph left and it would be complete. She was determined to ace this essay, after all she was an English major and this exam, and the final grade it provides could determine which classes she could get into the following semester."Everybody in the back. Everybody all the way in the back." Professor Nelson had then hollered, pointing a finger directly at her. "You. Yes, you in the red sweatshirt. Little Red Riding Hood." She looked up again when he had called her that, her red sweatshirt, hoodie pulled up over her head hiding her features did make her resemble the cult classic character. She said she had then ran the tips of her right fingers across the bottom of her throat, starting at the base of her neck and ending at her chin. According to her it was the Italian symbol for "go fuck yourself" which she had picked up from her mother when she was young. She knew that would push his buttons … like it often pushed her dad's. Professor Nelson was officially livid. "Congratulations." He had said, a cruel smirk adorning the corners of his lips. "You just got an "F." Come on up."She said it was then that she got the idea to do what she did next. However, I wasn't so certain. From the beginning of her story I had the feeling she had this whole scheme carefully planned out. However, when it comes to Alice you can never be to certain. She's is the wildcard in our group after all.
"There's always one in every crowd who doesn't believe me." Professor Nelson had then boasted to the crowd of students walking towards him to hand in their booklet. She then told me that Professor Nelson redirected his attention back to her, his anger still evident at her insolent behavior. "You can stop writing, ma'am. I don't care if you have the cure for cancer. It's fruitless. You will not pass.
Satisfied that her test was finally complete, Alice had said she closed her book, removed the sunglasses resting on her desk, placed them on her face, and walked towards her professor with an air of cockiness she didn't know she had. She said as she slammed the test down on the table, a smirk on her own lips, the professor congratulated her for failing the test in a mocking tone. Laughing at his bluntness, she lowered her shades and stared right into the older man's pale grey eyes, humor in her own voice as she asked "Do you even know my name?""No, I don't know your name." Professor Nelson had then replied back mordantly as his head lightly shook from side to side. "No, you don't." Alice mimicked with a relieved chuckle, her left hand shooting forward and placing her test packet on the stack of already neatly stacked tests while her right hand started to mix that booklets together so Professor Nelson wouldn't be able to tell who's test was who's.Before anyone could even contemplate stopping her, she tossed a handful of the booklets in the air and then dashed for the door, Professor Nelson shouting after her as she ran. "What's your name?" Professor Nelson had yelled as he watched her retreating form, in complete bewilderment at what just took place. "What's your name?!"As she had recanted the story to me I couldn't help but burst out in laughter. Alice acting like a rebel at that point in time was something I never would have predicted. But since that day, I can't picture her any other way … tough, surly, and rude.
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Shane inquired as she casted her eyes sideways, looking through a puff of smoke wafting out of her mouth, to stare at the blonde.
"Well, it's like this." Alice said simply, closing her eyes as the smoke blew into her face. "We make it so that Jenny gets in with her. They become friends … totally innocuous. Then, after a month or so, she tells Carmen that she loves her. Better yet, that she's "in" love with her."
"Good plan." Mark chirped, wagging his right index finger at Alice. "That might actually work."
"It most definitely fucking will!" Alice said boisterously, removing her hands from her pocket and flailing them around energetically. "Listen. Sure, she'll be freaked out at first, what with Jenny being such a fucking wack-job. But they're already friends at this point. And Jenny keeps working on Carmen. After a while, Carmen's going to be thinking to herself, "What am I fighting for? It's not so bad having someone tell me they love me all the time."
Pulling the cigarette from her mouth, Shane casts a disgusted look towards Alice.
"That's the dumbest fucking plan I've ever heard."
"It's not dumb," Alice protested as she repositioned her hands back into her jacket pockets. "It's good."
"No, we're not doing that plan." Shane growled out as she brought the cigarette back to her lips, taking a long hard drag before flicking the butt of the cigarette away. "We need to do some research. We need to actually get to know our target somewhat before we just sick this psycho on her."
"What's so wrong with this plan, Shane?" Mark inquired. "It is minimal effort on our part and it gets the freak the girl … possibly. Either way, we did our part. We wipe our hands clean and we don't have to worry about shit until after graduation."
"Guy's we're a team," Shane said as she stopped walking, causing Alice and Mark to turn around and look at her. "Back me up here, huh. Let's just go with a different plan, okay."
"Just promise me this has nothing to do with the girl." Mark said as he cocked his head to the side, his jaw squared and unconsciously flexing the bruxism muscle.
"Hey, this has nothing to do with the girl." Shane said with a sly smile as her dark green, penetrating irises stared intently into her friend's eyes.
Mark and Alice shared a look, their foreheads crinkling as they digested Shane's words. "Don't you fuckin' "Seed of Doubt" us, man." They both simultaneously declared, their hands waving back and forth in front of Shane's face in disapproval.
I'm not an evil, lying genius. I just happen to know a technique. I call it "The Seed of Doubt". My motto, "Say it, repeat it, believe it" it works all the time. I developed this my sophomore year of high school. Sixteen years old and already deep in shit … I never knew just how good I was at lying till I discovered the "Seed of Doubt" principle. It started this one day at the mall. I remember it very clearly because I was there with this magnificent piece of arm candy … I think her name might have been Paige. Never the less, she wasn't the one I needed to lie to. The person this technique was created for was the girl I happened to be dating at the time, Molly, who just happened to step out of a clothing store with two of her friends as I stood approximately twenty feet away. I knew she saw me because she had this look about her; it was a mixture between horror and heartbreak. Quickly spinning, I pivoted Paige in the opposite direction, pointing her away from Molly and her vastly paling complexion. I continued on with my date with Paige as if nothing had even happened, playing it cool and making a mental note to swing by Molly's place later on that night.And I made good of my word, stopping by her house a little passed ten, making small talk with her parents before politely asking to speak with their daughter. Apparently they knew little of what happened, if anything at all, because they were more than eager to point me in the direction of their daughter's bedroom ... as if I didn't already know where it was. Without knocking, I brazenly walked into Molly's room, a mischievous glint in my eye as I notice straight away that she is on the verge of tears. Before I could say anything, she beat me to it."I saw you with that girl." She said threw hiccups, her face red and blotchy from hours of crying as she stared me down. "I saw you with your arm around her."I know I must have looked guilty as hell. My hands were beginning to fidget nervously in front of me, as I dug dirt out from under my fingernails. I guess I didn't know what to say. And I know it sounds kind of stupid at first. But that's when I realized you never know what people are willing to believe until you look them straight in the eye and tell them a bald-faced lie.Placing my hands in the front pockets of my torn, washed out jeans, I took a few steps closer to her. I tilted my head down and to the side, letting it hang low so that my chin is almost touching my chest as my hair dangled down across my glistening green eyes as I look up at her. "It wasn't me." I whispered out."What?" I remember Molly asking back in disbelief, her body completely shaking."It wasn't me." I had repeated as I took another step closer to her."What do you mean it wasn't you?" Molly had then asked me bitterly, her eyes ablaze in what I would only classify as pure hatred. "I saw you. I saw you with her.""It wasn't me." I repeated to her for a third time as I lifted my head. As my hair swept back into its normal resting place, my scorching green eyes penetrated her more subdued green, instantly shifting something inside of her."You're trying to tell me, that I didn't see you this morning, at the mall, with some ugly slut?" Molly asked exasperated, truly not sure how to argue her point any further.
"It wasn't me." I said to her, dropping my voice low, making it even smokier than normal. "I don't know who or what you saw, but it wasn't me." I removed my right hand from where it was nestled in my pocket, brought it up to her face and gently brushed her hair back behind her ear in a loving gesture, letting my thumb linger on her skin longer than needed. "You know I'd never cheat on you, baby."Molly tried desperately to shake off this incongruence, but it's too late: the seed of doubt has taken hold. She looked up at me... for a really long time. But I show her absolute confidence. For added emphasis, I take her hand in mine, and look straight into her red-rimmed eyes as I slowly start to lean into her. With the purest, most sincere face imaginable, I whisper to her before I capture her lips, "It wasn't me."
A lie repeated often enough creates a seed of doubt in people's minds. It helps if they want to believe you, but either way, people are afraid of confrontation. They'd rather ignore what's right in front of their own eyes and accept some bizarre, warped reality than call you a liar.
Holding up her index fingers on both hands, pointing them skywards, "This has nothing... to do... with the girl." She repeated again, slower, her intoxicating green eyes still locked onto them.
Alice stared at her intensely, her right eyebrow corked high as she pondered Shane's statement. Finally relenting, breaking the intense eye contact with Shane, "Okay. I'll buy it."
I don't know why I just did that. I guess I'm the "lie" to Alice's cheat and Mark's steal. I've always been kind of deceitful. People say I've got an honest face, but you tell someone that and you're just asking for trouble.
"Thanks, Al." Shane said with a smirk as she threw an arm around Alice's shoulder, the duo resuming their walking towards the pizza shop. "I got a job for you, Al. You'll start tomorrow."
Turing her head over her right shoulder, Shane called out to Mark who was still standing put. "Mark, come on. I know you're still in."
"Fuck." Mark grumbled as he kicked an imaginary rock on the ground before turning around and sprinting towards his friends.
Ten minutes later, the three friends walk up to the grey counter inside Bulldog's pizza/sub shop. The man behind the counter, wearing the mandatory Khaki slacks, blue polo shirt and beige visor, was of average build and talked with a lisp. It's not an effeminate lisp either; it's the kind you get from jamming a chuck of metal through your tongue.
"Yeth?" The bleach blonde sub maker asked, a piece of his piercing sticking out between his teeth as he talked.
"Foot-long Italian combo with all the fixings, but hold the cheese." Mark rattled off to the worker as he read the board behind the counter. The sign consisted of three columns: breads, cheeses, and fixing's. For some reason, cheeses are not in the "fixing" column, but instead have been deemed worthy of their own column.
"No cheeth?" The young man asked a puzzled look on his face.
"No, hold the cheese." Mark replied haughtily, not understanding what was so hard about his order.
The platinum haired boy smiled broadly, the green top to his tongue piercing showing through his parted teeth. He savored the moment, then, with the pride that a college education just can't buy you, "If there's no cheeth, then how can it be all the fixins?"
Mark looked at him dumbfounded, aggravation clear on his face. He casts his glance at the sign, then back at the sub maker who was still smiling at him. He's about to say something, when Shane interrupts from behind him. "We also need two cheesesteaks with everything on them."
Placing her hands on Mark shoulder, she directs him away from the counter, pushing him towards the cashier where Alice was already waiting with their altered stamp cards.
With a tightlipped smirk, Alice handed over a stamp covered card to Shane and Mark each. Shane looked down at the card, taking in the flawless detail of the Bulldog shaped stamp that Alice applied to the cards a mere twenty minutes prior. Quickly running her thumb over the newly applied stamps, satisfied that it didn't smudge, she handed the forged card over to the cashier.
"How you kids get so many stamps?" The women asked skeptically as she stared at their cards, eight Bulldog shaped stamps adorning each one of their club cards.
"We eat a lot of subs." Shane said instinctively, offering the women a genuine smile.
The Cashier paused, looked at Shane's innocent face, and then finally accepted the cards.
"Alright," she said as she printed out a recite with their order numbers on it. Handing over the recite, along with three new club cards, "You're sub should be ready soon."
"Thanks," Shane replied, giving the women a quirked smile before walking off to a table near the self-serve soda fountain.
At the table, Mark and Shane are deeply engrossed in an important conversation, their hands animatedly flailing about as they discussed a possible plan to carry out to get Carmen to fall for Jenny, while Alice halfheartedly paid attention. Out of the corner of her eye, Alice noticed the cute tennis played she's been crushing on over at the register, and turned to look at her.
"No, I'm telling you Shane, she'll never go for that!" Mark protested as he vigorously shook his head no. "Your plan is too obviously based on a lie."
"We'll fuck, Mark." Shane huffed out as she removed her pack of cigarettes from the inside pocket of her jacket. Removing one of the sticks, she rolled it between her thumb and forefinger, the movement instantly soothing her. "This isn't really my forte. I'm use to making girls fall in love with me. Not making them fall in love with someone else. "
"Well you know what Shane, you're the one who got us into this fucking mess," Mark sneered as he glared at Shane. "And you're the one who fucking agreed to this shit."
Alice drifted even further away from the conversation as she basked in the beauty of the brunette standing only a few feet away from her. The woman stood at the counter, her left arm propped up against the countertop; the muscles in her arm, well defined, supported her weight while her right hand held onto a plastic container containing a salad. Continuing to stare, soaking in every ounce of the other woman's presence, Alice's breath caught in her throat when her eyes locked on the coco brown of the tennis players. Quickly looking away, a slight blush started to rise up her neck at having been caught ogling her crush by none other than the girl herself.
"You've got to go up to her and right off the bat establish it as a sexual relationship" Mark objected as he took a bite out of his sub. "All I'm saying is Jenny goes up to Carmen and compliments her on her body. Alice what do you think?"
"Uhmm?" Alice faltered, shaking her head as she snapped out of the little daze she was in. "I'm not sure."
"I guess. I don't know. Maybe," Shane said as she continued to fidget with her cigarette, desperate to light the stick and inhale its deep toxic chemicals.
Slowly turning her head, Alice looked back at the girl still standing at the counter and lightly smiled, the corner of her lips curling upwards. The brunette held eye contact for a few seconds but doesn't smile back. Instead, she took her sandwich, turned away, and walked out the door. As if she'd been punched in the stomach, Alice's smile gradually fades.
"You ever have that dream where we all get caught and we get expelled and our parents are there saying how much we disappointed them?" Alice suddenly asked as she turned back around in her chair, her voice sad and defeated.
Shane and Mark share a look, not knowing where Alice's question manifested from.
"Well, yeah." Mark spoke up, a playful smirk on his face as he looked at Alice's somber one. "But in my dream, the FBI shows up and recruits me to be an operative and I'm like doing some hot spy chick in Brazil, so like, you know, it's got a happy ending."
"I don't want to get kicked out of school, guys." Alice replied honestly, her voice laced with distress.
"We're not going to," Shane said, her head ducking down to make eye contact with Alice. "I swear, we're not."
"If we're really going to do this," Alice said, looking back up and right into Shane's hauntingly beautiful eyes, "we need to do it right. No goofing off. No slacking. And enough of this just talking shit. So, Shane, I want to know right now, what is your plan to get us through this shit?"
"Like I said early, I got a job for you to do tomorrow. Both of you," Shane recanted as she leant forward, her elbows resting on the table as she lifted the cigarette to her mouth, just the taste of the tobacco on her lips instantly soothing her nerves. "Look, I have a plan. But before we do anything, what we really need to do is a little research first."
"What kind of research?" Mark inquired as he leant back in his chair, his legs displayed out in front of him, crossed at the ankles.
"I'm going to pay our dear friend Carmen a visit tomorrow during class." Shane said, the cigarette dangling from her chapped lips as she spoke. "Alice I need you to find out where her she lives. Where she grew up. Childhood friends, allergies, likes and dislikes. The normal stuff. And Mark," she casted her eyes away from the sulking blonde to the dark haired male, "you up for a little recon?"
Mark shrugged his shoulders slowly, indifferently. "Why not."
"Good," Shane said, smiling around the cigarette. "It's settled."