Jarod and I didn’t have to rush to school, which was good considering I still had plenty to talk about. “I really wish we didn’t have school today. Between arguing with Regina and finding out I may have been present for six people dying, I somehow don’t feel like going.” Jarod laughed and responded, “Yeah. I don’t blame you, but you still can’t be sure any of them died while you were there.” I shook my head. “Oh yeah. The fire alarm just happened to go off at the school sometime before or after the five girls died. They were probably perfectly fine when I was there. What could I have possibly been thinking?” The sarcasm merely had him smiling his insane grin. “Well, at least you have a good reason to tell Regina for feeling a bit off. It’ll help the apology go better.” Regina. What was I really going to tell her? I wanted to find out what on earth she actually did, not just to Emma, but to all of the girls Jarod had mentioned the other day.
“I almost feel like writing up a list, handing it to her.” Jarod interjected with “You mean throw it at her.” I shrugged and continued, “handing it to her, politely, and asking her to go down it, explaining what she did to each one. Then after she apologies to every last girl at our school, I would like to take her to Emma’s, so she can write an apology on the cast.” Jarod started laughing. “What,” I asked him. “Sorry, man. I can’t help it. I still can’t believe you went on a date with a girl who’s only into chicks.” I punched his arm. “I never said ‘only.’ She told me that she usually dates girls. That’s all.” Jarod was still laughing. “Yeah-yeah. Tell yourself whatever helps. I wish you had a picture of her, so I could see.” I honestly liked the idea of having a picture as well, so I sent her a text saying that Jarod wanted to see the girl who kicked my butt at Tekken. Then I decided to check something out.
Georgina had paid me the second half of the money for our shopping trip, so I was assuming she had been alive still when I left, although she could’ve paid me while I was passed out but still before she combusted. I brought up my bank statement on my phone. Since my bank updated digital transactions every weekday, I could see what time her second payment went through. I stopped walking. “Dude, what’s up,” asked Jarod. “I was checking what time Georgina had paid me on Thursday, so I could be certain whether I was there or not when she died. I was having trouble finding it, until I scanned through transaction amounts. The payment came through as ‘unknown sender,’ which happens at times when my bank doesn’t have records of the account. The weird part was this: unless Georgina was using two different accounts to pay me, the ‘unknown sender’ was someone else entirely.” Jarod was actually being serious for once when he asked, “So why would someone else pay you?”
“I’m not sure, but I’m definitely wanting to find out.” The only possibility that came to mind was some sort of cover-up, but that would imply Georgina was murdered. If Jarod’s tabloid articles were remotely accurate, nothing that wasn’t on the people got burned, save for the floor beneath them. I couldn’t conceive of any way to torch a person so perfectly, and I had trouble believing a murderer would have left me untouched on the couch. What did that leave? Why would someone cover Georgina’s debt, and how would someone know she wouldn’t be paying? “Do you have any ideas, Jarod?” He shook his head. “Not unless you want a conspiracy theory so out there that even the tabloids won’t touch it.” I couldn’t help a small smile coming to my face. Jarod had a true knack for the outrageous. I was tempted to let him give me this ultimate conspiracy theory. Instead, I told him “I’ll give you some time to pull more facts together before dazzling me with whatever master plan has enveloped me in its web.”
He just laughed and agreed to try finding some information. We entered the school to find several of Regina’s friends giving us dirty looks before walking off. Luckily for Jarod, none of them were Laura. He split off as I went to my locker, not finding Regina anywhere around today. When I got to third period, I was surprised to see Regina wearing light blue sweats with the word “PINK” on them. She didn’t even appear to be wearing makeup, though she still looked gorgeous. She seemed nearly ready to cry when she looked up at me and turned away without saying anything. My phone buzzed in my pocket as I sat down. Emma had sent me a picture of herself wearing a short, strapless, black dress with a silver face that appeared vaguely asian covering everything on the front above the skirt. The pink lipstick on the face matched her hair fairly well, but my eyes lingered on her cast. I couldn’t suppress the anger rising in me as I stared at her cast. Her message stated that was her prom dress, a prom she wouldn’t be able to dance at thanks to my supposed friend.
“James” I heard Regina say. With how she cringed back, I knew the anger was showing on my face. I took a deep breath, slid my phone in my pocket, and tried to relax my face before telling her, “Later. Class is starting.” I doodled through class, not even bothering to pay attention. Every time I thought about the picture of Emma with a cast over her leg, anger rose within me once more. My hands were shaking slightly when the bell rang. I took several deep breaths before I even stood up. “James, can we talk?” I didn’t trust myself to look at her when I spoke. “Regina, I still am upset over Emma’s leg being broken and don’t know what to believe. This morning brought me more bad news, and I don’t really wish to speak with you right now. Later, ok?” I shrugged off her hand when she went to touch my shoulder, and then walked away. I didn’t risk looking at her for fear of seeing her cry once more. At that moment, I wasn’t sure if I could manage speaking with her without yelling.
I showed Jarod the picture of Emma at lunch. “Wow, man. You weren’t joking. She is smoking. How do you manage to get the number of all the hotties?” Typical Jarod. “You mean all of the girls who want to be my friend and nothing more?” Jarod laughed and said, “Maybe she wants you to go to her prom and checkout girls with her. What did you say to her about the dress?” I totally had forgotten to reply. “Thank you for reminding me. The picture arrived right after I sat down next to Regina. I didn’t manage to apologize, since I couldn’t stop thinking about Emma’s broken leg. It’s a bit prevalent in the picture.” Jarod slugged my shoulder. “You’ll get your chance. Give it a day or two. I want to see you texting that girl back right now,” he said, pointing at my phone. I did as I was commanded, telling Emma how beautiful she looked. The girl truly was stunning.
Before lunch was out, Emma had texted me back asking what I was doing on Friday. I told her that I had a client that night, which got a quick reply asking if my school would really be in session on Good Friday. “Do we really have Friday off?” Jarod gave me a look which implied he knew I had lost it. I sent Emma a message, saying I would be free until 5. By the time lunch was over, Emma and I had plans to hang out, but I hadn’t caught Jarod peeking at my phone. “Man-slave? Seriously? She calls you her man-slave?” He was laughing like the lunatic he was. “She claims that being a best friend for hire is about the same thing. Besides, you would have been waiting on her too.” Still laughing, he replied, “Because of the broken leg or because of something else?” Then he took an awkward pose and started making kissing faces. “Friend-zone, remember? You said it yourself.” Jarod nodded and shrugged as he said, “What? Friends can kiss. She can definitely kick my butt any day. Send me a text if you two end up doing some gaming on Friday, unless you get busy in other ways.” This was followed by him making out with the air in front of him.
The rest of the day passed by with me still being in a daze from the morning. I wasn’t happy with how things turned out between Regina and I, but I was ecstatic about seeing Emma again. Regina was apparently gone when I finished track practice, which was a relief. I still wasn’t ready to speak with her about what happened yet. I walked home quickly, needing to get ready for tonight’s client. Nathan Webb apparently had a revoked license and needed a ride to several places tonight. He wanted me to pick up a car he rented and then drive him to several stops as he paid bills, picked up some sort of package, and that sort of thing. I wasn’t sure if I would truly be cheaper than taking a taxi everywhere, but he claimed I would be. He also said his timetable was too tight for public transportation. With how valuable time was for me anymore, I definitely could understand from where he was coming. I just hoped I would be able to focus on work instead of the problems in my life. Things were crazy anymore.