Stupid bitch. People were so easily manipulated.
“Well?” Her father asked. She was so tempted to lie to him. It’s so easy. He was buying it too. She should have known he would. He always had a weakness for women with no spine.
She’d watched Alexis for years. All that time she was hiding behind a mask of being a weak, pathetic little shit. But it was only a carefully constructed façade of fucking pity. She wasn’t so different. Haley thought she had pinned down how to manipulate people, but no, she’d been out played. Strung along. But it left her with a new tool at least. Haley was practical. You had to learn from the best.
She was also partly forced. A broken nose and fucked-up voice didn’t facilitate fear. But this tactic was shockingly effective. All it took was a week. “She said she’s seen her.”
“I didn’t push, father.” Idiot. He was like a bull in a china shop. Of course, sometimes a bull is what you need. She took care to learn from him, he had a certain vicious creativity.
But tact? No wonder he feared for his job. Haley had to learn that herself from trial an error. It didn’t take long for her to find her talent for manipulation. Most of the teachers thought she was a wonderful girl. Until Alexis started planting seeds of doubt.
She’d noticed the change in the way the staff dealt with her, of course. They took more care to watch her. Turns out the teachers talked, who would have known it? She’d had a long time to think after the incident. It became clear to her that her current course of action wasn’t going to cut it. So much for a bit of fun.
It almost made her respect Alexis. If she wasn’t such a whore, of course. But she was no longer an issue. Her father made it pretty clear that Alexis was out of the picture. She couldn’t show her face, hell her picture was going to be plastered all over the media soon. She was gone. Old news.
Well, new news in this case. Ha.
But there was one thing that was still bothering her…
* * *
“I like your bag,” Haley said, looking around the park. It was the first thing she’d said since they left school.
“What? You always used to mess them up.”
“Yeah… well, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. It’s dorky, but I guess I was kinda jealous of you. You got to wear what you wanted.” She looked down at her feet, “I’m sorry I stole them.”
“Yeah, well, fuck you.” Emma wasn’t one for crude language, but sometimes the situation called for it. Her eyes lingered on the shadows of the trees, half expecting to come across a group of Haley’s friends. Parks presented plenty of places to play ‘jokes’ on people. Relatively deserted, lots of places to hide and abuse your victim. But Haley had changed, or it appeared so. She was nervous. Her hands fidgeted, pulling invisible creases out of her jacket or entwining fingers in twisted knots. She either looked down at her feet, or scanned the barren park, with its bare trees and peppering of fresh snow. “What the hell is going on here Haley?”
“Listen… my Dad’s a cop.” Haley said quietly. Emma stopped. Of course, Haley’s dad was going to do anything to get his hands on the person who beat up his daughter. “Listen. Alexis is in trouble.”
“Come on Haley,” Emma said, “People fight all the time at school, sure no one’s broken anyone’s arm before but it’s hardly for the police– even if your daddy is a cop.”
“No, it’s not about that. It’s something else, something big. They’re going to be plastering her face all over the news tonight.” Haley grabbed her arm hard enough to hurt. Emma barely resisted flinching, but it didn’t seem malicious. “This shit is serious, Emma. My dad was asking me all sorts of stuff. He thought I might have had something to do with her. Told them I didn’t know shit. You should probably do the same if you value your friend.”
They were asking Haley where Alexis was? A jogger was coming the other way and their conversation was mutually halted as he came into earshot.
Haley let her arm go, but remained skittish, tracking the runner until he rounded a wall and fell out of view. When she was confident there was no one nearby she whispered, broken by her already harsh voice, “I think she killed someone.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.” Emma scoffed. Haley sure had an elaborate imagination.
“She’s in some gang or something, I think. I don’t know, I’m going off what I can overhear from dad.” Haley was speaking low and fast, “You said you met her. Tell her she needs to be careful.”
That was it? She didn’t want revenge? “Why are you telling me this?”
“Why?” She frowned, then continued, “You were right, what you said. An apology is just words. I want to show you I’m sorry. To show Alexis.”
* * *
Emma persuaded her parents to switch the TV over to the news that night. Bemused by their daughters newfound interest in the world events they didn’t complain. It was a good thing wasn’t it?
She watched as they covered worldwide stories. The same old report on the tensions with Russia, an update on their ship, whatever it was called, that had found a new planet.
Ah, here. Local news.
The female reporter announced, “And here in Montreal, the police have announced they are looking for a local girl, Alexis Loch, in connection with two deaths. Please, if you see this person call the police emergency line and do not approach her.” Emma’s heart quickened as a photo flashed onto the screen. Alexis’s narrow face was framed in long dark unkempt hair, before she’d cut it. It was no mug-shot, clearly taken in the school office. A background she recognised from her own school ID photo. “There is an unspecified reward for any information that leads to her arrest.”
“That’s terrible,” her father said. “She looks younger than you, Emma,”
“She isn’t.” Emma said, her birthday was one of the latest in the school year. If Alexis was younger, she’d have been one grade lower.
“Hmm? You know her?”
“Not personally.” Best play things safe. “I’ve seen her around school.”
“Really?” He frowned, then looked back down at his tablet, “I thought that school was better than that.”
* * *
“Okay, I believe you,” Emma said after school, “But, whatever you want to say to her, she isn’t going to meet you.”
Finally, Emma was thinking. Alexis wasn’t stupid. If she’d watched the news she wouldn’t trust any meeting. That was if she would have anyway.
But something seemed off here. Haley had seen Emma and Alex together, before. They weren’t close friends. Alexis, seeing the news or not, knew she was in trouble. She’d overheard her father shouting on the phone for about an hour at some idiot who’d let her escape.
Then why would she sneak back out of that rat-hole she was hiding to come talk to this… totally uninteresting girl?
“Yeah, I figured.” Haley sighed. Oh what a shame, she wouldn’t be able to meet the bitch. “Could you give her a message for me then?”
“Oh, err.” Awkward pause. I’m not filling it. “I… When I said I’d met her, I kind of lied.”
Not unexpected. But the girl was lying! Not so boring after all. A bit of guts, at least enough to lie to someone’s face to save her own ass. Her first thought was probably that Haley would be after revenge. Well… That wasn’t totally untrue. But it wasn’t a priority. Alexis being out of the picture? That was ideal.
Now, what’s important. “Have you seen Beth?” Haley asked. Her pulse picked up in anticipation.
“Beth? I suppose… if anyone could get a message to Alexis, it would be her.”