The wheels suddenly slowed, and the bottom of her sneakers slid into the gravel as Veronica Genesis stopped her bike at the rim of the garbage-strewn hole in the ground. Rude Rudy came up behind her in a cloud of dust.
“He’s in there?” she asked, pointing down into the trash pit and where an old goldenrod-colored refrigerator stuck out like an alien monolith.
“Yep,” Rudy smacked.
The girl turned to look at him. “You really locked him in there?”
“Yeah. You should have seen him. He was crying and acting like such a pussy.”
Veronica looked back down at the refrigerator. “That’s murder.”
Rudy scoffed. “So. No one’s going to miss him. He was a nobody.”
She snapped her head back in his direction. “He had a family.”
“They probably suck, too,” Rudy laughed, and he climbed off his bike and let it fall to the ground. “Come on,” he said, and he started making his way down the side of the landfill pit.
The girl reluctantly followed after him.
She stood before the nasty looking old refrigerator and watched as he undid the scrap wiring that they had wrapped around it to keep poor Adam Longo securely shut in. When the last of it dropped away, she stepped back as he went to pull the door open. He looked at her and grinned. “Are you ready?”
She shook her head, but her face showed she was frightened.
“You might want to hold your nose because he’ll probably be a bit ripe,” he said, and he laughed and yanked it open.
It was empty.
They stood there and stared inside it, absolutely puzzled.
“You made all this up, didn’t you,” Veronica snapped. “What an awful dirty trick.”
Rusty was stunned for a moment. “No. I swear! We put him in here.”
Veronica rolled her varnished lemon-yellow eyes and scoffed. “You’re so full of shit.”
“Go ask the other guys!” Rudy yelled.
“I don’t want anything to do with your stupid friends,” Veronica said, and she turned and started to make her way back up.
“Wait!” he yelled out. “I swear it. He was in there!”
“I’m going to the mall,” she yelled out without turning to look at him. “And I think we need to reevaluate our relationship.” When she got to the lip of the landfill, she got on her bike and rode away toward the Grainer Falls Outlet Bazaar.
The mall was a mix of inside and outside spaces connected by walkways and manicured green areas and small bricked plazas where there were little booths set up that sold sodas and snacks and homemade trinkets and wares, and they sat in the shadows of the big box behemoths stuffed with China-made crap. Somebody somewhere decided to turn the place into a festival of shopping, a carnival of capitalistic hot iron branding and the cattle came in droves and made animal noises as they grazed the asphalt acres.
Veronica Genesis sat on a slotted wooden bench beneath a tree and licked at a vanilla ice cream cone. She was watching a man on stilts juggling bowling pins. He was dressed as a scary clown for some reason. In the other direction, she saw a bare-chested man with big muscles and hairy arms swallowing fire. People with fancy shopping bags dangling from the crooks of their arms were gathered around him and clapping and yelling out “Oh my!” and “Whoo.” Veronica rammed the tip of her tongue deep into the ice cream to make a fashionable dent. “People are so god damn stupid,” she mumbled to herself.
A figure suddenly appeared at her side, and she looked up. It was Andy Bliss from school. He wore a shirt with horizontal stripes, tight jeans and a had a blue baseball cap plopped atop his head of curly brown hair. Veronica thought he was dreamy.
“Hi,” he said, being very friendly.
She quickly wiped the ice cream from her mouth with her forearm and looked up at him and smiled, hoping to God there was nothing on her face still. “Hey,” she said back.
“Have you seen Rudy anywhere?” he asked her.
“I left him at the dump.”
The boy snickered, climbed off his bike, and sat down next to her on the bench. “He is kind of a piece of trash,” Andy laughed.
Veronica made a noise of agreement as she shoved the last of the ice cream cone into her mouth, her cheeks puffed out like a fish. “You got that right,” she sloppily grumbled. “Sorry,” she said with a white smile. “I shouldn’t talk with my mouth full.”
Andy Bliss studied her for a moment. “It’s okay. I think you’re pretty no matter what.”
Veronica’s heart invisibly swelled, and her stomach tingled with happiness. She could feel the heat rising to her face and she knew she was blushing. “Thanks,” was all she could say.
“I was supposed to hang out with Rudy, but… Do you want to go get high?” He reached into his pocket and carefully showed her a baggie of meaty, glistening buds.
She stared at it. “I don’t know,” she said, and she looked up into his rich green eyes. “I’ve never done it before.”
Andy was surprised. “Really?”
“It will be fun. I won’t let anything happen to you,” he reassured her, and he climbed back onto his bike and motioned to her with his head to follow him.
MORE TO FOLLOW
You can read the previous part of this story HERE.