Wednesday, December 13, 2006

deliciously malicious

(i just want to dedicate this story to my own best friend: NIN. thanks for all your help! :D )

Elvira was washing the dishes when she heard her phone shout “VICTORY!” which could only mean one thing. Jude was calling. She rinsed the soap off her hands, walked in to the living room and flipped her phone open.

“Oh. Em. Gee.” Jude greeted her. “Did you watch tonight, E?” “Did you, did you, did you?!”

E. Jude always called her that, he could never get over that her parents had been such fans of Elvira that they could actually think to name their daughter after her. Elvira never cared about her name, though. E almost bothered her more.

“Yes! Dude, it was hella good tonight,” she responded.

“Veronica is so cute! And she kicks some awesome ass.”

“I know! Man, sometimes I just want to be Veronica.”

“Well, E, my one true lovity love love. Here is your chance, girl.”

“Um, what?” she asked questioningly as she absentmindedly flipped through her hundreds of satellite channels.

“That Religious Studies TA that you absolutely despise was found dead at Stow Lake,” Jude responded devilishly.

“OMG, what?” Elvira instantly dropped the remote and focused all her attention on what her best friend was saying.

“I know, right! Haha, you didn’t do it, did you?” he asked teasingly.

“Haha, of course I didn’t! I mean yeah I fantasized about it, but I could never actually kill someone.”

“Sooooooooo?” Jude asked excitedly.

“Soooooo, what?” E responded in a state of confusion.

“Let’s do it, E!”

“Do what?”

“Solve this case! I mean think about it: you can be ‘Veronica Mars’ just as you’ve always wanted, and I can be your fantabulous gay sidekick. Ohmygod E, I’m already excited.”

“I’m not solving anything, Jude. I have enough on my mind as it is, and besides, I don’t exactly want to be mindlessly wandering the streets of San Francisco to find a murderer. Not exactly my cup of tea. Especially when my ‘gay sidekick’ freaks out at the sound of a bush rustling and runs in the opposite direction…”

“That was only ONE TIME, E! Gosh! So come on! Let’s do this! Please, please please please pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-” he pleaded.

“OKAY! Okay, we’ll do it. I’ll do it, but I’ve gotta go, so I’ll call you back, k?” she said. She really had no plans to solve anything but had just agreed to get Jude to stop talking.

“Alrighty, babe. I’ll see you!”

Elvira closed her phone and stared at it for a minute. It was covered with scratches. She didn’t care though. She tied her sleek, black hair into a ponytail and returned to the kitchen to continue scraping week-old food off plates. The longer she washed dishes though, the more interested she became in the idea of solving the case. Hundreds of fantasies of becoming famous started flashing through her mind. Plus Jude was so super excited about it. And she wouldn’t want to let him down…She supposed it was decided then, E would try and solve this insane case after all.

The following morning, there was incessant knocking at E’s front door. E reluctantly threw her blood-red colored quilt off her body and staggered out of her bedroom. She looked through her peephole and a set of cheesing pearly whites were all that could be seen. E unlatched the weird ancient looking lock her mother had insisted on having installed on her door.

“Goood morning lovely! I’m treating you to breakfast. Café Flore sound good to you?” Jude asked with a wink and embraced E with a hug.

“Ahhh! Jude its seven o’clock in the morning. What the fuck are you doing in my apartment at seven o’clock in the MORNING?!” she shouted.
Jude’s eyes widened in surprise. “My, my, my. Someone sure isn’t a morning person. Luckily I had anticipated this!” He then presented her with a steaming cup of Tully’s coffee and convinced E to get changed. E wasn’t thrilled as Jude suggested Café Flore every single time they went out to eat, due to his crush on the waiter: Wade Valasca. During the car ride over Jude filled E in on some of the details he heard about her TA, Durian’s, death.

“So apparently he was drugged! When the police arrived at the crime scene, they found a silver drug container near the body covered in ancient markings. However, by the time everything went back to the lab, the container had disappeared. Isn’t that crazy?!”

“Duuuude. That is crazy.” Someone was pretty desperate not to get caught. And apparently pretty clever too. “So he was drugged, huh? We should go talk to Ray and see if he knows anything about it,” she proposed.

“Bril idea E. Spoken in a true Veronica Mars esque manner!”

E and Jude arrived at Café Flore and, amazingly, were able to find parking on Castro street. E didn’t know what Jude found so attractive about Wade; he was the polar opposite of her bubbly companion. Wade wore black nail polish, a characteristic E found somewhat intriguing but didn’t know why, and was even borderline-emo. Jude, however, seemed mesmerized by his dark and mysterious character. Wade was also a religious fanatic, taking interest in various affiliations, and even sporting myriad kinds of derived talismans around his neck. The only devout ritual Jude had was his daily religious visits to the mecca of gayness: the gym. E ordered a slice of Bananas Foster pie for her and Jude to split, and made Jude pay for it. After Jude was done drooling over Wade, E called Ray to tell him they were on their way, and the sleuthing pair left the Café.

E took a delight in the multicolored bongs that hung in the window or Ray’s shope, “Ray’s Array.” Ray’s store seemed like the typical drug shop found on every corner of Haight street but Ray’s vast knowledge of drugs made his reputation as a guru of narcotics known throughout the city.

“Heyy E, Jude you guys made it! Come and check out the new “silencers” I got!”

Silencers, as Ray so appropriately named them, are drugs that put people into a deep sleep. They are essentially a type of sleeping drug that comes in different flavors. Ray had discovered them during his trip to Africa by accidentally swallowing a cacao one and subsequently waking up two days later. E always wondered about why so many people had trouble sleeping. The instant a new shipment would arrive; the silencers would be gone before the end of the day. E decided to look in the backroom, curious about what Ray kept hidden from his customers. Placed next to a shipment of the new silencers she found a list that looked like a roll call sheet. On it were different flavors including coconut, cacao, and pineapple, as well as the number of orders placed by customers. The customers were listed by initials and E noticed only a couple had made recent orders. Ones by the name of E.H. and W.V. Stapled to the list was a paper that had pictures of different drug containers. E noticed one that looked a lot like the one Jude had described in the car…

E quickly left the back room and went to discuss the most likely ways her TA was killed. Ray said it was likely silencers since they were all the new rage these days and had amazingly powerful effects. Plus, anyone and everyone has access to them. Elvira still felt uneasy after reading the list of orders, so she made up an excuse that she wasn’t feeling very well and pulled Jude out of the shop.

“What was that about, E? No one, not even 24/7 drugged Ray would buy your lame-o stomach ache excuse,” Jude said while doing that annoying thing of cocking one eyebrow. Elvira really hated that; it always made her feel like Jude was somehow violating her inner mind. She brushed off his question and said it must’ve been the pie at such at an early hour.

E woke up on Monday morning with an uneasy feeling in her stomach. She instantly realized it was because she had her Religious Studies section at four that day. She decided to go to campus so she could question some of the students, and try and find out as much information as possible. She made it to campus around three-thirty, giving her some time before section to talk to her peers. However, before she could even begin, one of her peers found her.

“Oh Elvira, why hello, your presence fills me with an inner glow,” he greeted her.

Eduardo. How peachy. Just the person she absolutely did not want to run in to. He wasn’t sooo terrible. But why did he always have to rhyme?

“Oh hey Eduardo, what’s up? I’m sure you’ve heard about Durian by now,” she responded.

“Of course I did, that crazy kid. I mean I never really enjoyed section, run by a person who lacked such affection. I’d refuse to attend class if it weren’t for you E, my fiery fairy, in whose presence I never feel weary.” Eduardo spoke as he stroked E’s black locks. Elvira tried to back away as this was a complete violation of her personal space, and while she also tried to avoid any eye contact with him, she was forced to look down. All she saw was trash littering the already filthy ground, and Eduardo’s very old, very unfashionable, Sketchers sneakers, taking one step forward for every step she took back.

“Um…right…Well if you hear anything about what happened can you let me know?” E asked taking one final, more forceful, step backward forcing Eduardo to release her hair.

“This case, it excites you no? The thrill of the chase! I see it written all over your face. Whoever the killer may be, perhaps his affection is most worthy of thee…” Eduardo trailed off as he began to finally walk away.

E watched Eduardo walk away with a perplexed look on her face, but he started to turn around so she quickly diverted her attention to the ground. This time she saw an old business card lying in the pile of litter. Had it been there before? It had probably had, but she decided to pick it up anyway. It was just for some random restaurant but there was a phone number scribbled on the back. She stared at the handwriting and she knew she’d seen it before but she couldn’t recall exactly whose it was. While thinking about that, her mind began to wander to Eduardo’s, very apparent, and also quite unsettling, crush on her and became amused at the thought of their names starting with the same letter. E giggled at how their names combined seemed to spell out a shrieking sound, “Ee!” Eduardo wasn’t himself when he spoke to her just now; she observed his words coming out in a drowsier tone than usual. He was probably just tired though, sleep deprivation is a key part of any college student’s life.

It was like this that Jude found her. “What’s the matter? Did Eduardo finally propose and I now have an excuse to request for the gorgeous Fab Five to come and organize your wedding?” he asked mockingly.

“Ha ha. In your dreams, I’m sure,” she responded.

“Everyniiight,” Jude dragged out with an admiring sigh.

“Hey, Jude, have you noticed that lately Ray’s been sounding more tired than usual? That’s seems strange considering his favorite drugs are uppers.”

“Yeah, he told me he temporarily switched over because his newest shipment has a particularly potent affect,” he replied.

E’s mind flashed back to the order sheet, remembering the initials of the two names and the distinct looking silver container. Both seemed all too familiar, but the connection between the two was fuzzy.

Jude, noticing that E had been lost in thought for the past few minutes interjected, “Did I show you the picture I took of Wade this morning? I popped over at the Café for a quick latte and when his eyes were diverted elsewhere I snapped a shot of him.”

Snapping out of her daze, E spoke as Jude handed her his digital camera to take a look, “Okay Jude, I’m pretty sure that verges on stalker stat…” E squinted her eyes at the talisman Wade had around his neck, her eyes widening at the familiar image. She knew she had seen the container elsewhere, and there it was on her BFF’s crush’s neck. E stared at the picture for awhile, and then dazedly handed back it to Jude. “I have to go home,” she said. Jude did his cocking eye-brow thing; E looked down in shame, muttered a quick, “I’ll see you later,” and ran off campus, deciding that going to section probably wasn’t the best idea after all.

She returned to her Haight Street apartment and decided what she needed most right now was a nap. She set her alarm to wake up at 7pm; two hours from now. When she awoke very disoriented five hours later, she forced herself to get up. She sees the Chronicle lying on her coffee table and decided to open the only section worth reading: Datebook. Who cares what’s going in the real world when you can just read cartoons and movie reviews? But while she searched for it, her eyes came across a different article: “SFSU TA Found Dead at Stow Lake.” She read it, but didn’t discover any new information. She did, however, suddenly remember that business card. She decided to call the number, but she only got that message saying this phone number doesn’t exist or has been changed. With that, she was struck with another an idea. Since the police seem to be reaching nothing but dead-ends and getting absolutely nowhere, why shouldn’t she just check out the crime scene herself?

E found the crime scene with no problem, there was practically enough yellow caution tape around to alert the blind not to cross. She ducked under it and looked around. She wasn’t really finding anything useful until she came to an old footprint a little ways away. She recognized it as a Sketchers shoe, because people at her high school had always used to brag how cool their Sketchers were compared to everyone else’s shoes because they created pretty designs in the dirt. Right at that moment, Elvira heard a rustle in the bushes, and though she tried not to let it bother her and pass it off as just some random animal or a possible homeless person, she ultimately became truly freaked out and bolted out of Golden Gate Park. She took MUNI back to her apartment, and ended up falling asleep watching the second showing of Conan.

The next day she decided to play hooky and went to visit Ray. She sauntered off to his shop and was excited to maybe have a little fun with some of Ray’s “samples.” When Elvira arrived at the shop, Ray ran over and gave her a huge hug. “Back on uppers, I see,” she tells him.

“EEEEEE! I looooove you. Wooow, your skin is sooooo soft. It’s like… a pillow,” he said slowly as he rubbed his hands up and down her arms.

E observed bags of weed, among other things, scattered all over the shop. “So you mostly sell your stuff in bags, huh?” she asks.

“Of couuurse, girl. The old-fashioned way is the ONLY way. Fuck that container shit. Who does that?!” he exclaimed as he glared at the few container bottles he kept behind the counter.

“So…does anyone use them?” she asks.

“Iono, I guess so. Had a couple of guys come in recently, asking for them. I give them my look, you know it E, ‘the look,’ but they didn’t budge. So I was like ooookay then. Take your container,” he responded, while still managing to give her a slightly quizzical look. Ray was amazing; he could take almost any drug and still manage to act clean if he really felt like it. But before he could say anything, the phone rang. Ray skipped over to the phone saying something about how excited he was about his new phone company.

E wasn’t really paying much attention to him when she suddenly remembered that Ray kept a list of everyone he sold to. “Hey,” she said, aiming for an offhand tone, “have you ever sold to a kinda weird guy named Eduardo?”

“Now that, my dear friend, I cannot tell you. Buyer/seller confidentiality, you know,” Ray said.

“Hm. Well alright then. Oh wait! I wanted to know if you could hook me up with…uhhhhh….what was that stuff? That you keep so ‘hidden’ cause it’s only for your favorite customers?” she asks.

“Ah ha! I knew you’d like it. Well, now. You cannot see my hiding place so you’d better go distract yourself,” he told her.

E seized this opportunity she created to return to Ray’s back room. She quickly found the list, scanned the names, and found the one she was looking for. EH. Eduardo Herraro. It even gave his address. She was quickly scrawling it on her palm, when she heard Ray calling for her, telling her the order was ready.

She went back to the front, paid for her stuff and left. She knew exactly where she was going.

She reached Eduardo’s apartment in no time and rang the buzzer. Though he looked nothing short of astonished to hear her voice, he buzzed her in. She climbed the long, rickety staircase up to his fifth floor place, wondering how exactly she should approach this. She knocked on his door and he opened it right away.

“My lovely E, what a most pleasant surprise it is to see thee,” he greeted her with a winning smile. Though it was true that the rhyming got awfully annoying awfully quickly, there was something oddly charming about Eduardo nonetheless.

“Hey there,” she said in an attempt in at a seductive tone. Eduardo was so surprised that she just used that tone with him that he dropped the glass of water he got for her. “Shit!” he says.

“No rhyme?!” exclaims E.

“It’s hard, you know. To rhyme. All. The. Fucking. Time,” he responded. “I started it as an act; a thing to get me noticed, you know? Now I’m pretty sick of it,” he admitted.

He looked into her eyes and gave her the once over.

“Known me for all these years, and you’re waiting until right now to check me out?” she asks playfully.

He went to the kitchen to get some paper towels for the water, and she followed him in. She accidentally got too close to him, however, and when he turned around he ran right into her. “Sorry!” they exclaim simultaneously. He dropped the paper towels and grabbed her hand. She looked up into his brilliant blue eyes and as they meet hers she feels her stomach drop all the way down to her toes. She pulled him toward her and their lips met. Shyly, at first, but then it became much more passionate. As they both began to comprehend what was happening, he led her into his bedroom and started pulling off her clothes.

When Elvira awoke early the next morning, she realized her plan of seduction was almost too easy. She got up, found all her clothes, and used this time to look around Eduardo’s apartment. She pulled open his bottom dresser drawer and that was when she saw it. The pill bottle. The one the police had described, but had later disappeared. It really was covered with strange ancient markings. It could have come right out of her Religious Studies textbook. She put it in her purse and got back into bed.

When she awoke again, Eduardo was in the kitchen making French toast. “Morning, sleepyhead,” he said.

“Hey,” she responded simply. They look at each other for a minute. Then Elvira got straight to the point and said, “I know it was you. I know you killed Durian.”

Eduardo looked down. “I kind of figured. Why else would you suddenly sleep with me, right?” He looked at her and she saw the faintest glimmer of hope that maybe his unrequited love was actually requited.

“Right,” she said, kind of pathetically. “I don’t really know how I feel about you, and even though I won’t turn you in…” Eduardo’s eyes lit up. “I still can’t be in a relationship with you.” And the eyes go back to normal.

“Well…” he stammered. “I suppose that’s really more than I could ever ask for,” he gave her a hug and she actually hugged back. “You should really stay for breakfast though. You may think what I say is fictitious, but my French toast is truly delicious,” he said. She smiled.

“Just for breakfast, then,” she responded.

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