Previously on WTW: Another body is found and some Fred & Daphne drama!
"So I have no idea what the prom situation is," Chloe Harrison was complaining into her ridiculously nice cell phone. She was sprawled out across her bed as if I weren't in the room, waiting for her to finish up her phone call.
"I mean, obviously I'm going with Alex. And you're still on with Justin?"
This was ridiculous. Her mother was paying me by the hour to be here, and Chloe seemed to have absolutely no regard for that. Sure, in the past, I had always just completed her assignments for her- it seemed easier than trying to actually get information through her superficial skull- but I had been planning on changing that today. If Daphne could go it herself, then Chloe could too. The girl wasn't always going to have someone to do her homework for her, I was trying to do her a favor and teach her how to write a halfway decent essay.
"And who even knows what's going on with Daphne anymore. I mean, I get that she's getting freaky with Hotty Lacrosse Star, but has she totally forgotten that Prom is like, just around the corner? If she's going to get him to ask her, then she needs to get on with it, because time is ticking and guys are getting snatched up!"
So these two knew about Fred and Daphne too. That was interesting. When Daphne had told me, she'd acted like it was some state secret. Didn't she know that in telling even one of her friends, it was practically guaranteed to get around? I knew how girls like this were.
"Right? And she's spending, like, all her time with him, too! How many guys are going to be interested in taking her when she hasn't been out in ages!" Right, as if there was actually a guy that Daphne Blake didn't have a shot in getting.
"Whatever. Did you get your dress? We're all wearing black, right?"
This conversation didn't sound like it was going to be wrapping up anytime soon, and I did have to eventually be home. I'd forgotten to feed the damn pig this morning, and Mom probably hadn't thought of doing it when she'd gotten home. Maybe I could just start on the outline of the assignment? That wouldn't be the same as writing it for Chloe, it would just be a way for me to spend time and hopefully have her finish the thing before midnight.
"Well just tell Justin to get a grey tux. Hell, I'll call him myself and tell him."
Another phone call? Had she totally forgotten about me? I shifted a little in my seat at her desk, hoping to make enough noise to draw her attention. It worked, and she glanced my way. Her mouthing 'what?' with an annoyed expression was not the result I had wanted, though.
"Huh? Sorry Jess I missed that, my tutor's here. No, I can talk, why? Oh, don't worry about her, its fine."
Alright then. So she definitely wouldn't be doing any work on her own. I couldn't say I was overly surprised. I'd given it a shot; some people just couldn't handle anything except being coddled. Whatever, it wouldn't be on my head when this girl couldn't function in society later on.
"Well we were supposed to have the after-party at Daphne's, but now we'll probably have to change that with her dad back."
So Daphne's father was strict? I suppose that made sense. He was a politician- it probably wouldn't do well for his image to have his underage daughter throwing wild parties.
"I know! He's just so intense and creepy," Chloe continued chattering. "I mean of course I love Daph, but her dad is seriously weird. Too serious, but you know what I'm talking about!"
Chloe Harrison, one of Daphne's supposed best friends, though that Walter Blake was creepy? Too intense? Weird? That was a serious red flag.
When that woman, the mother of the living victim, had mentioned Mr. Blake, I'd sort of written it off. He was Daphne's father, and a prominent local politician at that. Sure politics wasn't the cleanest of games, but sordid affairs weren't quite the same thing as murders. Plus, Walter Blake had been in Washington for two out of the three murders, so he had a pretty solid alibi.
But the man was rich, I could clearly see that whenever I went over to Daphne's house. There was plenty of money in the Blake pocketbook, more than enough to hire someone to do any dirty work that needed doing. If someone as rich as Walter Blake wanted someone to be quieted forever, then I had no doubts that he could get it done.
Had I overlooked something vital? Was there a serious suspect to be found in Walter Blake? Shit, I needed to get home and look into this.
And feed the turtle, right. Couldn't forget that again.
"Where are you going?" Chloe spoke, and I didn't bother looking up at her. Maybe Jess was going on an exotic summer vacation.
"Tutor Girl. Velma, whatever, where do you think you're going?"
Oh, so she was talking to me. I stopped packing up for a moment to look at her standing akimbo in front of me. "I'm going home."
"We're not done here."
"I am. I have stuff to do, and I need to get home."
"You have stuff to do here too. I have an English essay due Friday."
"I outlined something for you. You can use it do complete the assignment if you want."
"Um, no. I want you to do what I'm freaking paying you to do, and write the whole damn thing, just like you've always done."
"I'm pretty sure you can write your own essay, Chloe. The words in the outline aren't too big, don't worry." I don't know where the snarky attitude came from, but I all of a sudden found myself incapable of backing down from her. Her angry expression didn't really scare me, there wasn't much she could do to me.
"Okay, you need to watch what you say, tutor girl. But I'm going to be nice and not take that as an insult."
"Do whatever you want- I'm going home."
"Like hell you are. We've had this arrangement for over a year and all of a sudden you're refusing to be a part of it? Walk out that door and I'll just find someone else to write this thing for me."
The past two years at Deacon Hill just sort of exploded out of me in that moment, "Find someone else, then! You know, being tutored is a sign that you can take initiative and want to succeed in life. Hiring someone to do all of your assignments for you is just taking the easy way out of things, and its just a sign of what's going to come your way in life. You're just going to take the easy route. And sure, your money allows you to do that right now, but one day things are going to be different. And it might behoove you to try and change and learn how to buckle down and get things done."
"You bitch! You think I'm such a slacker? I have dyslexia. Ever heard of it? It means that to write the damn essay that I need to keep my parents off my back, I would be up all freaking night. So yeah, I take the easy way, but I'm not some idiot socialite like you seem to think I am!"
Dyslexia? "Wha- I didn't-"
"I know you didn't. No one does. They just I'm stupid, or 'street smart', or whatever they want to label it. But I don't need some holier than thou attitude from you, because you don't know what the hell you're talking about."
"Uh, listen, Chloe-"
"Whatever. Go, I'll find someone else to do it."
"Sorry? Yeah, sure. You meant you said, tutor girl. But maybe next time you'll stop judging someone for the fact that they have more money than you and at least let them open their mouths before you've made a decision on who they are as a person. Now go."
So I went. As I climbed into my car, which was parked next to Chloe's brand new BMW, I tried to reflect on what she had said. Did I judge the people at Deacon Hill too quickly? Maybe. It was possible. I was sort of blinded by the obvious differences between myself and those around me; I didn't take the time to look for the similarities.
But, the other kids at Deacon Hill did the same thing. They knew I wasn't like them, and they left me to my own devices. I didn't do anything to them that they didn't do to me. Hell, I was just being a normal teenager, making snap judgments.
I pulled out of her driveway and headed home, telling myself that I would think about it later. I had other things on my mind.
"Hey, can I come over? I need to talk to you, it's about the case."
"Oh, okay? Sure, no one's home right now. Come on over," he answered.
With that positive response, I hopped off of my bed, patted the pig in farewell, and headed out the door. Mom was flipping through a big book of astrological signs, so I knew she wouldn't be missing me. And this was important. I had been stewing over this whole Walter Blake thing for two days, and now I needed to act on it.
It was a quick journey over to Shaggy's home- one that I had completed time and time again when we were children. Back in elementary school, while his mother was still around and before he'd fallen off of the academic track, we'd been pretty good friends. But then we grew up a little and the discovery of cooties barred boys and girls from really being friends anymore. By the time we'd mastered the cootie shot, things had changed. I'd figured it would be forever, especially when I transferred to Deacon Hill. But this whole mystery had brought us back together. Funny how that worked out.
I knocked on the door, and he shouted for me to just come in. So I opened the door and was met with an apprehensive looking Scooby. Well, maybe met wasn't the right word. The dog was actually peeking out at me from the little coffee table, but he was so big that the little thing wasn't doing anything to block his body from me.
"Hiya Scooby," I knelt down and put my hand out to him. When Shaggy, or Norville as he had been then, and I were friends, Scooby hadn't been around yet. In fact, the dog had only seen me once or twice before. Poor thing didn't know me from Adam.
"You hungry?" Shaggy appeared, almost out of thin air, startling me. "We probably have some food still. I haven't run to the store in a few days but..."
"I'm okay, thanks."
"Okay," he hopped up onto one of the kitchen counters, facing me. "So what's up? And why aren't you telling the others about it?"
"I just- I don't know if the other two should hear this."
He looked confused. "If its about the case then they should hear it. Hell, the whole thing is Freddie's dream-child."
"I know, it just- its not actually evidence or anything. It's just this hunch that I have, and I don't think either of them is really going to like it."
"A hunch? About what?"
"A prime suspect."
He'd been leaning back on the counter before this, his body language screaming that he didn't really care what was being said. But at my words his leaned forward and laced his fingers between his knees. "Who?"
I had to take a deep breath before getting it out, "Walter Blake."
"Wait- like Daphne's dad? That Walter Blake?"
"Well, then," he leaned back, putting his still laced fingers behind his head. "That definitely explains why you didn't want to tell Daphne this. Not sure I understand why it had to be kept from Fred, though."
Because Fred and Daphne are probably a thing, and he most likely wouldn't be able to keep it from her, I wanted to say. But even if Daphne's friends were blabbing about her and Fred, I had a feeling that it was supposed to be a secret. So instead I said, "Fred's so involved in this. Like you said, it's his dream-child. If I gave him a name, he would run with it no questions asked. And I'm not even close to being sure about this. I want to be sure before I tell him."
"Makes sense. But why Walter Blake?"
"He just- he keeps popping up, you know? We keep hearing his name, and from all accounts he isn't a very good guy. And his has a motive, which is more than anyone else we could name."
Shaggy didn't respond for a while. He just pursed his lips and looked deep in thought. Then, after a moment, he nodded slightly. "Yeah, I guess. And motive's pretty important, in the long run. At least, its important on CSI."
"You watch CSI?"
He shrugged, "Since we started this, I've caught a few episodes. It's on when I wake up on the days when I don't have to go to school, so."
Internally, I sighed a little bit. Norville Rodgers had been my friend, someone who went to school with me and lived in the same Trailer Park. But Shaggy? He was an entirely different person. His skipping school and everpresent nonchalant attitude were just two things that were different. Different from Norville, and different from me. Hopefully we'd be able to be real friends again, but we'd have to find some similarities between us first.
"Name?" the mean-looking blonde woman barked at me. Well, woof woof, bitch.
"Shaggy Rodgers," I answered, just as sharply.
"I don't have a 'Shaggy' on this list," she sneered.
"Then just check for Rodgers." Duh.
"I have a Norville Rodgers."
"I thought you said Shaggy?"
Cripes, was this woman for real? "It's a nickname." As if some parent would have actually named me Shaggy.
"Well, if you're still planning on interning here with the Blake campaign, then you're going to have to go by Norville. This is a professional establishment, and we don't condone the use of ridiculous monikers." Moniker? Seriously? What had been shoved up this woman's ass? And who the hell could I call to get it out, seriously.
"Alright. Norville Rodgers, then."
"Right this way," she sniffed before storming off much faster than was strictly necessary.
I couldn't believe that I was stuck doing shit for this case, again. If it wasn't a pawn shop or being lost in a school, it was volunteering at a damn campaign headquarters. Velma had insisted that we needed to get a first-hand experience of Walter Blake himself, and this was her brilliant plan for doing it. Of course she wouldn't have done it herself, she was much too busy. Granted, the only volunteer times were during the school day and she wasn't the type to skip, but still. It was always me saving the day.
"You're going to be addressing envelopes, which will be used to send out candidate information to Walter Blake's constituents," Prissy Penelope informed me. "The information is in the computer, but Mr. Blake feels that having the address hand-written gives off a better sense of how much he cares for the voters."
But he wasn't the one writing the addresses down, I wanted to point out. But that wasn't why I was there. I was there to shut up and try to get a front row look at our suspect.
"I'll leave you to it," she sniffed, before turning and walking away.
Well, I certainly seemed to be in for a fun day.
I couldn't believe I was back here. Again.
It was day three of addressing envelopes, and I was pretty sure that I was losing my mind. Because I'd come back. Willingly. That's right, after the first day, Velma had given me a very nice and clean out- saying that I didn't have to go back if I didn't want to. And I should have, could have easily, told her that I didn't want to, and that would have been the end of it. Why hadn't I told her that? Because I was an idiot, apparently. I'd told her that I'd keep at it until I saw Blake. Damn me and my helpfulness.
Writing random addresses on envelopes for six hours a day for three days was ridiculously boring- who knew? Oh, other than everyone.
"Mr. Blake is coming in today, so try to be on your best behavior," Prissy Penelope came over and snapped at me. Right, because so far I'd just been the picture of unruly behavior.
But still, this was good news. "Does he come around often."
"We're a very important aspect of Mr. Blake's campaign, Norville," she sneered at me. "Of course he recognizes this and comes around to show his appreciation as much as he is able with his incredibly busy schedule. He is a state senator, you know."
"Right." How stupid did I look to this woman?
She stomped off, and I didn't really have anything better to do before Walt showed up, so I went back to addressing the damn envelopes. It wasn't until a whole other hour passed that the man finally decided to grace us with his presence.
"Thank you all for taking the time out of you're busy lives to assist me with this," he grinned that politician smile- the one that both made him seem genuine and made you question his sincerity. "Really, you all are what makes my re-election possible. From the bottom of my heart, thank you."
There was a smattering of applause, the majority of which coming from Prissy Penelope herself. Figures.
"Now, I do have to speak to my associate, Mr. Idiomora for a moment, is there a place that we can do that? Privately?"
Prissy Penelope was all too happy to bring Mr. Blake and the man that he had walked in with towards a small meeting room at the back of the center. That was it? That was all that I was going to get from Walter Blake? No way, that shit was not worth three days of writing and a hand cramped this bad. Nope, I was getting in and listening to that conversation. I had to.
It wasn't that hard to eavesdrop, looking back on it. It probably should have taken a lot more effort on my part to get into that conversation. Maybe Mr. Blake needed to invest in some more secure locations for his skeevy meetings, because all I had to do was stand at the water cooler that was conveniently located near the door of the meeting room and I could hear every word.
"They're posing a serious problem for me! Do you think its good to have protests against me in my own home town?"
"Its a relatively low-key event, sir. They're hardly making contact with anyone, in the grand scheme of things they're hardly important."
"How about I say what is important? These vermin are taking to the streets, spreading filth about me, and I won't have it. Do you hear me?"
"Loud and clear, sir."
"If the press catches wind of this, it could easily be disastrous for my career. And I will not stand for that."
"Good. So you'll do what needs to be done?"
"I'll take care of it sir."
Prissy Penelope had chosen that moment to shout, "Norville! You still have plenty of blank envelopes to fill, I'm sure! Get back to it!"
So I didn't really have a chance to hear any more, but what I had heard was enough, at least to me. And hopefully it would make Velma happy too. Happy enough to involve Fred, which would effectively keep me out of it from here on out.
Maybe Walter Blake was the killer, maybe he wasn't. But one thing was sure: he wasn't a good guy.
Thanks for reading, everyone. Smooches for all of you!