“Corrine Foxx,” The man in the black suit with a tie strapped around his neck said. “Tell me what you remember from the incident,” He says as he pulls up a chair to the table.
Across from it, I glare at him.
“Well,” I start, keeping my eyes pinned to the table separating us, “I was on my way to my friends house this afternoon. I was going to help her put up some posters around town. When I got there, we printed out the papers and then headed off toward town,” I say, finally meeting his glare. “When we got there, we parked our bikes next to the Santiago’s Pizzeria and went to go put up the posters. Then, this weird man dressed in all black came out of nowhere and bumped into us. He looked all frazzled and panicked, and then ran off quickly. We went around the corner to where he came from, and found a man sitting in the parking lot behind a building in a pool of blood. We called the police as quickly as we could, and waited by the road for them. When they finally came, we went around back again, but nothing was there.”
The man stroked his beard as he wrote down the final parts on his paper.
“So, the police said that there was nothing there and that the whole incident didn’t happen?” He asked, looking puzzled.
“Yes,” I replied. “But my friend and I both saw it.”
“And did you get a good look at the man?” he questioned.
“No, not really. The only thing I really caught was a tattoo of a skull on his forearm. The whole thing happened pretty quickly.”
“All right,” he replies, getting up and moving to the wall. He pressed the button on the com. “Hey, Chief. Can you get Sue Rixnard?”
“She’s headed down,” comes a reply through the little speaker.
He returns to the table.
“Ok , get out of here,” He says as he sits back down.
I quickly get up out of the chair and storm to the door. As I make my way down the hallway, I see Sue coming in my direction with two agents at her side. She turns to me with a terrified face. I wanted to give her support, but I really couldn’t sugarcoat it this time.
Sue and I are the town’s rebels. We were the ones who spent our school days at the basketball court fooling around, the ones who pulled the biggest pranks on the community like the time we bought a ton of paint and started decorating the windows in the middle of town at 2 a.m., the ones who pulled a prank on Mr. Richard one day which resulted in him being in the hospital for the next two weeks. That one was the one where we were almost screwed for life. But this one, this one was the one where it would be the end of it. We knew we were in deep trouble. The police were strict in this town with all the crime going around, so when they claimed that it was a “Prank call”, we knew we were in for it.
That night, I sat at the dining table, poking my food with my fork, wondering what food would be like where we were destined to go soon. Juvenile detention. I wasn’t sure how Sue’s interrogation went, but by the look of things, we were doomed.
“So,” my mother said through pursed lips, “How did it go?” She asked as she cut a potato in half and started eating away at it.
“I guess it went fine.”
“What do you mean, fine!?” She slammed the table.
My body quickly tensed up, and I dared to not breathe one more breath.
“Corrine! You and Sue are about to go to Juvenile Detention because of a prank call to the police! What were you thinking!?” She shouted at the top of her lungs.
“Mom!” I shouted back to her, standing up. “I didn't do it this time! I swear, we walked behind the building and he was just laying there!”
“Then how do you explain the police not finding any evidence?!” She shouted back to me as she advanced with a threatening finger.
“Therisa, calm down,” My father put in as he tried to put her back in her seat.
She obeyed and sat back down, putting her hand on her head and on the brink of tears. I stood there, speechless. I threw down my fork and ran up the stairs to my room.
That night in bed, thoughts raced through my mind at the speed of light. What had gone wrong? I wondered. All I did know was that we were done for, and I turned in my bed and fell into a deep, unsteady sleep.
The next morning, I woke up and put on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt. I came up with an idea to clear our names. I slid downstairs, put on my sneakers and was about to reach for the door when my mom caught me.
“Where are you going?” She asked, arms crossed over her chest.
“Mom, relax. I’m just going to Sue’s. And before you ask, I swear I’ll check with you every hour and you can even ask her mom about what we're doing if you really want to know,” I reassured her.
“Fine,” she replied, making her way upstairs. “But be back in an hour.”
I opened up the door and ran down the path to the garage. I put in the code, and slid under the door to go get my bike. I put on my helmet, kicked up the kickstand, and hopped on and made my way down the road. The air was crisp and fresh, and the birds sang their song as I pedaled my way onto Sue’s road. As I was about to turn onto her driveway, I spotted Daniel Hopkins across the road on his porch. We pulled a nasty prank on him in 8th grade where we attacked a bucket of glue above the house’s door, and when he walked out that morning to go to school, he was bombarded by it as it slid down into his clothes and hair. Sue and I were hiding in the bushes, and we pulled a little string that led to another bucket which threw confetti all over him. There was a clear hatred among us because after that he called the cops and complained to them about it, which just dug our hole deeper. But he’s the real rotten one.
“Hey, I heard about your little situation from yesterday,” He snickers. “Must have been some pretty legit mythical ghosts you and your friend saw!”
My mouth forms a straight line, and I try to ignore him, using every ounce of strength in me to not go after him.
“Hope you and your friend have fun at the asylum!” He bursts out laughing.
“Hey, how would you like to be covered in glue again,” I ask as I stop my bike to stare at him. “Cause I could just go home and get some for you.”
He drops the smile and quickly retreats to his house, slamming the door behind him. I started pedaling again, and made my way into Sue’s driveway. I parked the bike and ran up the walk to the house. I ring the doorbell, sitting on my heels. Finally, Mrs. Rixnard answers. She opens the door, and threw her hands up in frustration.
“Great! Now I’ve got 2 criminals in my house!” She stormed off, and I let myself in and closed the door. I take off my shoes and run up the stairs to Sue’s room. I swing the door open, and find her on the bed staring at the ceiling.
“So, how’d your mom take it?” I asked her as I sat down on her desk chair in the corner of the room.
“Pretty badly,” She started, “I’ve got to take the dog on the walk, clean the dishes, water the plants, and do the laundry for pretty much the entire year,” She says lifelessly.
“Mine’s not much better,” I assure her. “I got yelled in the ear in a bunch, and right after I went deaf, my mom decides to stalk me around and ask where I am every hour of the day. And apparently she added that I’ve got to send a photo to prove it.”
Speaking of which, I hear a ding go off on my phone. I swipe right to the camera, take a photo of part of my face, and send it to her.
I suddenly remembered the plan that I came up with, and was instantly a bit happier.
“So,” I start, “I have a plan to erase our names.”
“Uh-huh,” Sue says, closing her eyes.
I take a binder off the desk and throw it at her.
“Ow!” She shouted, getting up, “That hurt!”
“I’m serious Sue,” I tell her, sounding urgent. “This could be the plan to stop us from going to Juvi.”
“Ok,” She says rolling her eyes. “Whatcha got?”
“I was thinking that if we find evidence of who we think did it, and get proof on camera, then we can report it to the cops and we’ll be off the hook.”
She stares at me as if I’m stupid as a brick.
“How are we going to even know who did it, much rather get proof that they did?” She asks.
To be honest, I didn’t know. I never really thought that far, just came up with the ideas. Suddenly, my stomach swirls around pudding, and I get up.
“I’m gonna go,” I say as I start opening the door, “I’ll come by tomorrow.”
“Ok, not like I got anywhere else I gotta go,” She lets out as she falls back on the bed.
The next day, I’m on my way over to the house, when I spot Daniel outside drawing on something. When I go by, I turn my head and spot his sweatshirt cuff high on his arm. A black skull is revealed, and my brain swarms as it returns to the memory of the man coming around the corner. He had a black skull tattoo on his forearm. Suddenly I lose focus and my bike swerves a sharp left and I fall onto the pavement and hit my chin hard.
He gets up, and looks at me.
“Geez,” He says, coming down the walk, “You know how to ride that thing?”
“I’m fine,” I say as I check my chin. There’s a long line of blood coming from it leading down my neck.
He offers his hand, and as I grab it, I stare at his arm again and the skull is revealed as the sleeve rides up.
“Hey, what’s that?” I ask, peering at it.
He quickly drops me and I hit the ground hard. Again.
“Nothing,” He says quickly as he uses his hand to rub it off. “Just marker. I got bored.”
He makes his way back up the house. I climb back onto my feet, and ride the bike into Sue’s driveway. I quickly run up to the door, and keep ringing the doorbell. Mrs. Rixnard finally opens the door, but continues walking as she barely looks at me. She’s got a bin of dirty clothes that she’s carrying. I run on in, not even stopping to take my shoes off as I leap up the stairs. I charge into Sue’s room, and blurt out,
“Daniel across the street was so weird!”
“What??” Sue asks, her face crumpled in confusion.
“I fell off my bike and when he helped me up I saw a skull on his arm. Just like the one from the man in town.”
She stops what she’s doing and looks at me.
“But,” I continued, “When I asked him what it was, he started to act all weird and say that it was just a marker, and then wiped it off.”
“If it’s marker, it’s no big deal,” Sue says, her focus lost again.
“But something’s up,” I say. “That black skull looked exactly like the one that man had.”
“I don’t know,” Sue says, reluctant. I stare out the window, still wondering about Daniel. All of the sudden, I see a movement out of the corner of my eye. It’s Daniel. He’s sitting down somewhere in his house, probably his kitchen. He pulls off his sweatshirt. The tattoo. It’s there. Right on his arm. But the other arm. Not the one I thought first held it. I stumble backward and start hitting Sue.
She stares out the window and her mouth drops open.
“Now all we need is the proof.”
I held my phone up to Daniel’s window as I was tucked into the lush bushes. He was eating chips and was talking to someone on the phone.
“Yeah. Ok. I won’t tell a soul. Promise.” He said through momentary pauses.
I lean in, trying to get more footage.
“Love you Aunt Irene!” He says as he hangs up and stuffs another handful of chips in his mouth.
The day after that I was near the fence that surrounded his backyard with the phone again. He was in the pool with his friend, and I was trying to see if I could get any intel. Suddenly, a splash of water came over the fence and landed on me. Nope.
The day after that one, I was hiding near his porch on the side. He was writing something on a piece of paper, and I tried all different angles to get a good shot of what it might be. He had his dog, Tucker, out there with him, and he started to bark.
“I guess we’ll go back in,” said Daniel. “I’ll just dump your water bowl out.”
Before I know it, there’s water on my head as he dumps it mindlessly on top of me. Great.
“Sue. I need your help,” I say as I sit on her bed.
“I really don’t know what else to do. I mean, his friend comes over constantly. Maybe he was involved or knows something,” She replied.
That night Sue and I were around his house once again near his bedroom window. A few minutes earlier, we saw a boy around his age get dropped off by a black Mercedes. Now, the two of them were in Daniel’s room talking.
“You know, we have to drop the prop back off at my dad’s workplace soon, right?” Daniel asked.
“Yeah yeah, I know,” His friend replied.
I lean in a little closer to make sure the speaker can get their voices clearly.
“Maybe we should go tomorrow,” Daniel suggests, “I don’t know how much longer I can keep the dummy out of sight from my dad,” He says as he moves to his closet and pulls out a large, rubbery man.
The man from behind the building.
Sue and I look at each other intently, waiting for more to happen.
“Dude, what happens if we get caught bringing it back?” His friend questions. “They’ll know we were the ones responsible for the whole thing. And you still have that bucket of red paint beneath your bed. We only used so much of it for the blood, so what are we going to do with the rest?”
Boom. We have the proof.
RING RING. Shoot!! Mom and her hourly check-ins!
The boys turn the window, where they find my phone recording them.
“Corrine!” Daniel shouts as he runs toward me. I grab Sue’s hand as we run off across the road and grab our bikes. As we start pedaling away toward the Police Station, Daniel and his friend are right behind us. His friend was on top of him as they made their way toward us. We took a sharp left at the stop sign and continued down the road and into town. Cars were piled everywhere due to rush hour, and Sue and I rode along the sidewalks. People shouted at us as they quickly moved out of the way to avoid getting hit. But as we dodged one lady, Daniel hit her head on and got stuck. We took advantage and zoomed our way over the crosswalk and to the station. We threw our bikes down in front, and slammed the door open and ran in.
“We need to see the chief!!” I shouted as we flew in at the man behind the desk.
“Ok,” He said, getting up. “Follow me.”
We followed him down the hallway, and to an open door. Seated in the chair was a big, burly man.
“We have evidence about the “murder” that took place,” I said to him, holding up my phone.
“It wasn’t us, it was Daniel Hopkins!” Sue exclaimed, out of breath from the bike ride.
He leans closer, raising an eyebrow.
I came forward and hit the play button. It rolls and afterwards the chief stands up and grabs the phone.
“Please get Daniel Hopkins to my office immediately.”
Everything turned out fine in the end. Daniel and his friend got the punishment they deserved. The whole story was that he was so peeved at us pranking him, he and his friend used a dummy from his dad's work and layed it behind the alley covered with red paint. He saw us coming and bumped into us to look suspicious, and then when we waited by the curb for help to come, his friend dragged the body away. The police thanked us, and we got the reward we earned. A get out of jail free card.