The creaking doors swished open and a silence permeated the waiting area as two figures seemed to eerily materialize from nowhere behind the frosted glass doors.
S’ eyes met with those of her partner in crime for the first time in days; this was the first time they’d met since the “incident” took place. As S’ newly deemed co-defendant, J knew she should not be there for the release of her friend from custody, but could not help herself. And, upon the swishing sound, J walked directly toward the figures of a cranky, uptight police officer and her best friend.
“Are you good?”
J whispered as she fumbled with the tangle of keys she nervously clung to. A jingling sound resounded in the vault-like building.
“I’m fucking lovely.”
The monotoned statement was followed by a tight shutting of S’ jaw. Then, S hastily added,
The officer irritatedly shuffled through a closely guarded stack of documents and handed S some paperwork before saying rather pompously:
“Here’s your court date and miscellaneous information regarding your bail bond, etcetera… don’t screw it up.”
S snatched the pages from the policeman with a sniff of disgust and rolled her eyes exaggeratedly.
And with that, the noisily chatting women exited the building into the dusky evening outside.
“Maybe we should have thought that through a lil’ better, huh?”
J shuffled through the paperwork as S sped the beat up old truck through the city towards the comfort of the outskirts.
“Give me a light.”
S muttered through the cigarette hanging between her lips. J sparked her lighter and S puffed and inhaled deeply, rolling down the crank window with her free hand.
“It was very well thought out.”
The shorter woman calmly lowered her voice as she inhaled and exhaled the cigarette smoke in her slow, calculated way.
“It’s just that someone went and ran his mouth about it.”
J whipped her head to the left in an attempt to glimpse a look at her friend’s face in the darkened cab. She saw immediately that S wasn’t in a joking mood, and, that she meant what she had just said with deadly seriousness.
The taller woman’s voice held a tone of disbelief in it’s query. She held her gaze steadily across the front seat at the driver’s frowning profile.
“Yes, someone who wasn’t arrested, but who also, knew enough to sing on us like a canary.”
S tossed her cigarette butt out the window as the truck eased onto the freeway. The cab was silent for long moments as they headed for the reservoir.
“Where are we going?”
J had true curiosity in her voice as she lit her own cigarette and toyed with the lighter, sparking it unnecessarily in the darkness.
“Don’t you want to know who that someone is?”
Now, it was S’ voice that carried tones of leery disbelief in her question. The last two words of her sentence, the: “someone” and the “is”, seemed to echo in the truck cab for a long time after she re-focused on the road after speaking.
J quietly bit her lip and thought about the query for several moments before turning her face sharply toward S in the dark truck cab and saying finally,
“I really don’t know S…”
The truck speedily swerved up the misty, foggy mountain road, whipping its hefty bed around hairpin turns and bouncing over deep cracks and dips that littered the length of it. They eventually turned off onto a road known as Cannibal Creek that run adjacent to one of the many creeks running down into the reservoir.
“Why the hell are we turning here?” J’s voice was flat as she asked.
“We’re here because we need to be here.” S’ voice was flatter.
As they wound up even higher into the cloudy sky toward the summit of Razor Back Mountain, it began to drizzle lightly; suddenly, water drops were audible all over the forested areas surrounding them outside the truck. It became very quiet and cold as they reached the rickety shanty at the top of the road.
“Who’s in there, S?”
There was no answer. The truck rolled on slowly, pitching and rolling over the bumpy drive until coming to a barreling halt in front of the rain-slick shanty. S threw the truck into PARK and hurried out of the driver’s seat to go inside.
J was screaming after her when the door slammed closed with a loud ‘thwack’.
“Dude, you’ve been in jail for almost a week…how’d you pull this one off from behind bars?!”
She hesitantly pulled the handle that popped the passenger door open, exposing her arms to the cold raindrops that were now coming in a steady stream. Leading to the makeshift doorway of the dilapidated shack were rapidly spinning eddies of growing swirls of muddy foam; each mud puddle was full of pine needles and various sized pine cones awash within its pool. A large owl sat solemnly on a beam that ran across the ruins of what once had been a sun porch connected to the entrance of the tiny place. The bird of prey stared at the women hard; it watched S and J with grey/yellow speckled, quite dilated eyes that followed their’ positions as they approached without a sound.
J was obviously in the first stages of her quite notorious “frustration meltdowns”.
As S’ tiny tinkerbell hand wrapped around the rusty knob, she turned to J and said, almost in a whisper:
“Shhhhhhhh…it’s a surprise…”
J’s eyes rolled upwards with exasperation and her tongue clicked loudly in disgust. She practically growled at S in a low tone now,
“I fucking hate surprises, S…”
The door swung wide.