Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday Writings #7 - Off To The Park

Today's "Wednesday Writing" is a continuation of a story started back with Morning Machinations, and then continued in Communication Between Friends and most recently in Daydreaming Decisions.

Generally speaking, I want to apologize for continuing to string you along with little snippets. I do have a growing plan for this plot and the characters. Writing this story in small chunks one week at a time is kind of strange and as a result, I feel like it's a little disjointed. As an added note, I'm really just typing these in as quick as I can without any real editing, so if you spot errors, feel free to point them out.

Hopefully it's working for those who are reading it.


Off To The Park

The professor finished outlining the reading assignment for next class and then dismissed them. Gabby finished gathering up her notepad and presentation materials. She only half heard the comments from her classmates offering their congratulations on a job well done on her class presentation. Her mind was so far from the classroom she couldn't believe she'd actually given a presentation, let alone that it actually went well.

Her thoughts had been twirling ever since the moment in the computer lab when she had remembered, or dreamed, concrete details about her conversation at the party. Except when she was forced to concentrated, she spent most of the afternoon trying to draw up more images from the party but hadn't had any success. Julie had called 3 times during class and had sent a total of 12 text messages. Gabby had ignored all of it.

Her hip pocket buzzed as she walked down the hall. She pulled her phone out. Text Message 13.

i know your class is out by now CALL ME!!!

She shoved the phone back into her jeans and kept walking. She was sure it was her imagination or the hours spent blindly dazing off during class, but the world seemed a little fuzzy around the edges. Like she was wearing a pair of glasses that were too small and she could see the blurriness around them. Or as if everything at the peripheral was sliding out of focus. She went into the bathroom and rubbed some cool water over her eyes.

Staring at her face in the mirror, she watched a water droplet slowly slide down from the corner of her eye, across the bridge of her nose and then hang on the tip of her nose threatening to fall into the sink. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out with a long drawn out sigh.

Opening her eyes again she stared at her her reflection, then became aware of something moving behind her. It was Evan, the man from the party. Frantically she whipped around to confront him, only to find a very startled looking girl who jumped back with wide-eyed fear on her face and then ran from the room. She turned back to the mirror and saw only herself.

She closed her eyes again, convinced she was going a little bit crazy. She couldn't explain what was happening to her. She couldn't even describe it well enough to try and analyze it and come up with a proper explanation. She didn't know anything about Evan, if his name was really Evan and the memory from earlier wasn't just some dream she'd created. She had no idea who he was, where he came from or why he was interested in her. She didn't even know if she was interested in him.

Actually, she took that back, she was definitely interested in him. She was almost obsessed with him. Which was part of her confusion. She didn't know anything about him. She'd only barely met him and she couldn't remember it at all. And yet, she couldn't get him out of her head. That was so totally not like her she couldn't stand it. And yet, she wanted to find him.

Gabby pulled her phone from her pocket and walked outside to the bus stop. She debated calling Julie and then decided that she didn't want to talk with Julie just yet. She knew what Julie would say and she didn't want to deal with that. Not yet.

Within a few minutes, Gabby was on the bus headed downtown. She'd decided to stop at Indian Star for a quick early bite and then she'd walk to the park from there. Her phone buzzed at her 3 more times while she ate.

As she ate, she kept imagining herself sitting on the park bench, watching as Evan came walking up to her around the playground. She imagined him holding his hand out to her. She would take his hand as she stood. Arm in arm they would to the parking lot and he would announce that he was about to provide her with the most romantic date she could ever imagine.

She interrupted her own thoughts with arguments that she was turning this into some big romantic fairy tale. That this guy may be creative and mysterious, but he was just an ordinary man and would probably just take her out to dinner or bring a picnic or something. Her mind occasionally tried to argue that he might not even show up or that this could all be some big hoax.

Finally, paid for her late lunch and started walking to the park. She glanced at the time and was suddenly a little worried. Time had gotten away from her somehow. It was already nearly 6:30 and she knew it would take her at least 10 minutes to get to the park. She started to run but then stopped, not wanting to risk arriving flushed and sweaty. She resigned herself to walking and possibly being a few minutes late. Punctuality was a big requirement for her in friends and relationships, but she was willing to be a little more relaxed if it meant being more physically presentable.

At 6:42 PM, she stood on the street corner opposite the northwest corner of the park. As she waited for the light to change, she scanned the park benches and was horrified to see Julie sitting in the southern one. Gabby felt her face flush and her muscles tense. Why was Julie there? At least she wasn't on the middle bench, but she shouldn't be there at all. This was Gabby's mystery. Evan had asked her to be there. Julie would just mess everything up.

The light changed and Gabby jogged across the street and towards the playground. As she started towards the benches, Julie saw her and stood, waving softly and smiling. Gabby clenched her jaw and was ready to chew her friend out when she saw a young boy on a bike ride up to the center bench. He looked like he was maybe thirteen or fourteen years old. He had a red and white striped over sized shirt with a large number thirteen on the back and a blue baseball cap pulled down tight on his head. He straddled his bike and put a knee up on the center bench as he turned his head to pan the scene.

He saw Julie first and spoke to her.

"Are you Gabrielle?"

His voice was deeper than Gabby expected but still wavered a little as he spoke. At first, neither girl said nothing. Julie shook her head.

"No. Um, I'm Julie. That's Gabby." She raised her arm and pointed as Gabby took three steps towards the boy. He turned and stared at her. He pursed his lips as he slowly panned over her from head to toe. Gabby stopped walking, a little unnerved at being studied so intently by this boy.

"So. You're Gabrielle?" He asked the question with a sort of finality in his tone that made Gabby feel slighted.

"Yes, I'm Gabrielle. Who are you?"

"It doesn't matter who I am. All that matters is that you're Gabrielle."

He reached behind the seat of his bike and unzipped a seat bag hanging there. He pulled out a large manila envelope and held it forward. There on the plain tan paper were the same block letters from this morning's envelope: GABRIELLE

"This is for you." He extended his arm, then turned his head and looked intently at Julie. "Only for you."

Gabby took a final step forward and took the large envelope from his outstretched hand. She was surprised by the weight of it and almost dropped it. The boy looked back at her.

"Remember, this is only for you. I was told to warn you that you should not share this with your friend. Doing so will have consequences." He stared silently at her a moment longer and then hopped back onto his bike to ride away.

"Wait." Gabby tried not to sound nervous or frantic. "What does that mean? It will have consequences? Who are you? Who is this from?"

The boy turned back to her and grinned. He almost laughed as he spoke.

"I really don't know. All I know is I got a hundred bucks for giving that envelope to you with the message I just told you."

"But who gave you the message?"

The kid frowned now.

"Nobody. I don't know. When I got out of school today, I had a note telling me to go pick up that package from a post office box and bring it to the park at a quarter to seven and I'd get fifty bucks for it. The note had a fifty dollar bill taped to it, so I figured it was for real. Sure enough, the post office box opened, had the envelope in it and another fifty dollar bill. I almost just rode off with the whole thing but I figured that whoever the note was from might be watching. I also thought that maybe I could get more later if I did a good job here."

He started to ride away.

"Don't you even want to know what's inside?" Gabby turned the envelope over to open it.

"No way!" The boy started pedaling slowly. "I don't want to know what you all are involved in. I figure the less I know, the less trouble I'm in if it's drugs or something. It's not drugs is it? No! I don't want to know. So long Gabrielle. Tell your friend thanks for the hundred bucks."

And with that, the boy rode away, leaving a confused Gabby and Julie staring at each other. Julie started walking towards her friend. Gabby held up her arm and took a step back.

"Stop. Just hold on a minute."

"What? Come on, you can't take the kid seriously. There will be consequences. Ooooh. I'm scared. We're best friends Gabby. We're in this together." Julie took another step forward and Gabby took another step back.

"I'm sorry Jules. I just. I don't know what to think about all this. Let me open it and look at it alone first. Stay with with me and you can give your advice after I see what's in it, okay?"

Julie didn't say anything but walked back to the far bench and sat down. Gabby watched her. It was obvious she was hurt, but Gabby needed to do this alone, at least to start. Still, she didn't want to push her friend away. She needed Julie. More than she cared to admit, she needed her.

Gabby sat down on the middle bench and tore open the seal of the large envelope. She then tipped it slightly and pulled the contents into a pile on the bench beside her. Most of the weight was from a large spiral bound book with a plain blue cover. Along with that was a key ring with 5 keys, a small plain white envelope with something inside, and a hand drawn map. She opened the flap of the smaller envelope and found another one hundred dollar bill and a folded up sheet of paper. Unfolding the paper, it was in the form of a bird, black with a white body and a blue stripe along the white. Similar to the first bird note, there was writing across this bird. This time it was orange writing written along the blue stripe.


Gabby was more confused than ever. She flipped through the pages of the book. It looked like blueprints and charts of statistical data of some kind. Most of the writing was in some strange pictographic lettering. It didn't look like any of the character sets she'd seen: Japanese, Chinese or Korean. It also didn't remind her of the stick figure style of Egyptian hieroglyphics. She had no idea what language it was. She looked at the map. It had a dotted path from the park to a big red X in a neighborhood to the west.

Sliding everything into a pile next to her Gabby looked up to see Julie intently watching her actions. Gabby flashed a nervous smile then shrugged at her friend and glanced around nervously. Across the playground, a mom sat reading a book while her two kids raced around. Otherwise, there wasn't anyone in sight. She still felt a little nervous about the boy's warning to do this alone. Still, it couldn't hurt to have Julie read the instructions. She just wouldn't let her participate. Gabby looked back to Julie and waved her over. Julie happily complied and came to sit on the bench with the materials between them.

Julie silently read through the note and looked over the map and the book. Neither girl spoke for a couple of minutes. Gabby was wondering why Evan hadn't been there. She was wondering what this was all about. She picked up the hundred dollar bill and looked at it. She'd made $200 that day. With her four hours at work, she hadn't even made a fourth of that. She didn't know what to think. She looked at Julie, wondering what she was thinking.

Julie stared back at her friend without saying anything. Her mouth opened and closed twice before she finally spoke.

"What are you going to do?" she asked.

Gabby looked down at the book, the note, the keys and the map. Finally, she pressed them all back into the manila envelope and stood up.

"I guess I'm going to deliver a book."

Julie stood beside her and the two girls walked to the parking lot. They looked around. Julie's car was parked nearest to them. A gray minivan was parked a few spots away. They guessed that belonged to the mother at the playground. On the other side of the parking lot, a hundred feet away, were three vehicles. A red jeep, a black pickup truck and a deep blue BMW Z4 roadster, the only car she recognized. Gabby had never been much of a car nut, but all three looked very nice. Julie, on the other hand, was a huge car lover.

"Which one do you think the key's for?" Julie asked as the girls walked across the lot.

Gabby didn't say anything. Instead, she pulled the keyring from the envelope. There were five keys. One was labeled "A", one was "B" and the other three had no markings on them at all. A strange thought suddenly struck her. There were three keys and three cars. She shrugged the idea off as ridiculous as she stepped up beside the truck. The door was locked and the first key she tried failed to open it. But the second one flipped the lock and the door opened. Gabby stepped back as Julie rushed forward to look inside. Julie oohed and aahed over the truck, spewing stats and information about it.

Gabby turned her head to the jeep. She stepped towards it and found the door locked but quickly discovered that another key opened that vehicle as well. Still not understanding the implications, Gabby turned and stepped to the BMW. She'd never been a big fan of cars, but she'd always loved the look of the Z-series BMW. She nervously pressed the key into the lock and held her breath as she turned it. She felt the pressure beneath the key and a moment later, she pulled the handle to open the door.

Julie was still chattering about the pickup. Glancing over her shoulder, she realized her audience had abandoned her. Turning to find Gabby, Julie stared in shock at the open doors of the jeep and the BMW. Gabby stared back at her friend with a stunned look. Then, she slid into the driver's seat, slid the key into the ignition and started the car. Julie rushed over. She leaned on the door and looked into the car. Gabby looked up and let out a giggle, then covered her mouth in embarrassment.

"What are you doing Gabby?" Julie's voice grew suddenly somber. "You can't seriously be thinking about driving this car."

Gabby stared back at her friend for a moment without saying anything. She wrapped her fingers around the steering wheel and closed her eyes. She had no idea what was going on. But for the moment, she planned to enjoy it.

"I'm going to deliver a book. You can follow along in your car if you like. But you'd better hurry. I'm leaving now. I've only got 7 minutes to be there."

Gabby shifted the car into reverse and tugged on the door. Julie reluctantly stepped back, an argument on her lips. She watched Gabby back the car up and then start towards the exit. Then Julie raced for her own car determined to follow her friend and keep her safe.

On the other side of the river, Evan stood leaning against a tree. He grinned as Gabby raced the engine and squealed the tires out of the parking lot with Julie frantically starting her own car and trying to catch up. He quickly turned his gaze to the four men who came out from the house across from the parking lot and got into their own car. They would follow her, that much he knew. What they would do once she delivered the book...that was a mystery even to him.

Evan walked back to the road on his side of the river, started his motorcycle and slowly drove west to the professor's house where Gabrielle would shortly arrive. Nothing more would happen until she was there. But he had to be ready for the next move.


Brian Miller said...

dang, this is good stuff...loving this tale...cant wait for the next...

Phoenix said...

I am totally addicted to this story!

Okie said...

lol..thanks. You're too kind. Glad to hear it's maintaining interest. :)