Walking Backup on the Boardwalk gave Veronica lots of time to think and on this bright Winter Saturday in Southern California she was, as usual, thinking about death. More precisely, Lilly's death. For the last few weeks she had felt that she was getting close to something, that the answers, or at least some of them, were just out of reach. One more twist, one more corner, and everything would fall into place. But, so far, nothing was falling anywhere.
In between pondering all of the facts until her head hurt, she missed her best friend as any normal teenage girl.
As Backup stopped to sniff a potato chip package, Veronica dug into the pocket of her jeans and pulled out her last dollar. With it, she bought a bottle of diet coke from her favorite vender who tossed her dog half a hot dog for free. With a smile and a 'thanks', she was off again, heading leisurely towards home.
The call of "Yo, blondie," stopped her in her tracks and she turned to peer into the wide doorway of a tattoo parlor. Weevil sat on a stool getting something carved into his right shoulder.
"Hey." She ducked inside. "What are you getting?"
"Just a flower."
"Huh?" Weevil didn't look like the flower type. "No bleeding snake mouths or chained damsels in distress?"
He looked flustered for a minute. "For my mama."
"Ah." Not convinced, Veronica leaned forward a bit--keeping out of the artist's light--and frowned slightly. "Looks like a lily."
"Mama's favorite flower."
He was totally not convincing her, but she let it drop. There were a lot of hints that something had happened between Weevil and Lilly but Veronica was afraid to pursue that line too quickly.
And while most of her was convinced he hadn't killed Lilly, there was that little niggling bit...
"You've got your detective face on."
Surprised at the teasing tone of his voice, she smiled and tried to suppress a laugh. "Can't help it. You're a suspicious character, y'know, Eli."
"So everyone tells me."
"Well...I gotta get going."
"Wanna go out later? Pizza? Bowling?"
He shrugged, trying to pretend he didn't care, but she wasn't a detective for nothing, and could see right through him. She'd never really considered dating Weevil--a few erotic dreams notwithstanding--but it was Saturday and it wasn't like her social calendar was full. In fact there were spider webs on the damn thing.
"Okay. Pick me up at seven."
He grinned. "Wear something skimpy."
"In your dreams," Veronica laughed as she tugged on the leash and led Backup out the doors.
"I don't like this."
Veronica smacked her newly painted lips together and tucked her lipstick into her purse. "We're just...well, friends, I guess, dad, and he's not that bad."
"He's a juvenile delinquent motor cycle gang leader," Keith stated, "on his way to full delinquency and suspicious criminal activity that's going to lead to jail time."
Turning to face her pacing father, Veronica smiled and tried to lighten the mood. "Maybe the love of a good woman is all he needs to turn his life around."
Laughing, she kissed her dad on the cheek and slung her purse over her shoulder. Dressed casually in low cut jeans, a pink t-shirt, and her jean jacket, she figured she'd fit in well with the pizza eating, bowling crowds.
"Be home by eleven."
"Eleven, and don't let me smell beer on you."
"Darn. I was planning to drag Weevil into a Jacuzzi of beer." With that, she sailed out the door and jogged down the stairs. Weevil was just starting to get off his bike when she hit the pavement.
"Probably not a good idea you go up and say hi to dad," Veronica said as she slung one leg over the bike and scooted up behind him.
"At least he can't arrest me."
"Oh, he'd try." Taking the helmet he handed her, she stuck it on her head and wrapped her arms around his waist.
"All I need is the love of a good woman."
"That's what I told him!" she laughed as they roared out of the parking lot.
Over pizza they discussed just about everything except for Lilly, which was fine with both of them. Veronica discovered that they had a love of high school basketball, the Ramones, vampire movies, and, oddly enough, Shakespeare in common.
"William Shakespeare, the poet and playwright, right?"
Weevil snorted and stuffed the end of his pizza slice into his mouth. After he finished chewing and swallowing, he nodded. "Had this remedial English teacher who was the first teacher to ever get me interested in anything. Nothing clicked, though, until he made us watch Henry the Fifth. Watching and listening, it all made sense. Plus, y'know, lots of violence and bloody death."
Veronica laughed. "I prefer the comedies."
"Saw some of those, too, and then we read a Midsummer Night's Dream outloud and I could so get Puck."
"I bet. A little horn dog."
He gave her a wolfish grin and drank some soda. "I'll plead the fifth."
After a couple of games of really bad bowling, a lot of laughter, and a couple rounds of cotton candy and arcade games, they left the bowling alley. Somehow their hands had joined and after a jolt of uncertainty, they left them there as they walked through the parking lot. When the reached the bike, Weevil turned to face her and Veronica looked up, suddenly oddly hesitant.
"Next weekend they're showing a midnight viewing of Lost Boys at the drive-in. I can get my grandma's car, if you'd like to go."
Weevil seemed a bit surprised by her answer and she pounced on that. "What?"
"I...dunno. I was surprised you agreed to going out tonight, but this now seems..."
"Like dating?" she filled in.
"Damn girl, there's nothing subtle about you, is there?"
"I'm a woman of mystery but I don't like beating around the bush. I've had fun tonight. If you stay out of trouble and don't get put in jail for something stupid, I'd love to go to the drive-in with you next week."
Grinning, Weevil reached for her other hand and tugged her closer. "This is going to be an interesting ride, Veronica."
"I'm all about the interesting."
Before she could continue with another snappy remark, he lowered his head and kissed her. It wasn't a hard, passionate, wild kiss like she'd suspected he'd kiss and she gasped softly in surprise. His lips were soft, tender, exploring hesitantly, and she responded the same way as their fingers entwined.
There were some interesting layers to Weevil, and Veronica was growing more and more eager to explore them.
When they broke the kiss, Veronica was the first to look away, flushed with desire. Weevil pressed a kiss to her forehead, then helped her up on the bike behind him. As they headed towards her home, she was glad he'd stopped so easily and hadn't pressured her for more. It boded well towards a relationship.
And she couldn't believe she was thinking in those terms.
Pressing her cheek to his shoulder, she couldn't help but grin in anticipation.
After a minor interrogation by her dad, Veronica floated into her bedroom, did all her nightly routine facial and hair stuff, pulled on an old t-shirt, and crawled into bed. The moment she drifted off to sleep the dream came.
Lilly sat on the edge of the pool, dangling her feet in the water. Across the pool, Weevil was swimming lazy laps. Veronica stepped closer and slid her big toe into the water. "You've never been hesitant, Veronica. Don't just test the waters. Jump right in."
"He's worth it."
"So the two of you really...?"
"I'm dead," Lilly stated matter-of-factly, "He'll get over me. You're just perfect for him. Much better than me. Go for it."
"You better be right."
"What are you going to do if I'm not?" the dead girl laughed and splashed her feet.
Laughing, too, Veronica dove into the water and into Weevil's arms.
With a start and a gasp, Veronica awoke and jerked up in bed. Out of the corner of her eye she thought she saw a figure in white and green, but when she turned her head, all she saw was her dressing table.
It took her a minute of digesting the dream to realize something new was on the table top.
A white lily.
"Ghosts aren't real," she mumbled to herself as her shaky fingers reached for the flower, then quickly drew back. "Dad probably put this here or something. It was just a weird dream."
"Sure it was," came the whisper as she drifted back to sleep and into one of those erotic dreams about Weevil.
Return to Other Stories