The Adventures of Lana and Si Continued

May 6, 2010
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“I’m just telling you what I heard.” Simon muttered looking almost hurt, yet Lana was positive it was a ploy; the kid was always playing tricks on her. Lana had known Simon Fielders ever since the third grade when he moved to Jersey from Everett. He had been a goofy, scrawny kid (he still was) who had seemed the perfect victim for bullies and yet, Simon was much to obnoxious of a kid to let himself be pushed around. Lana admired him for this but wished her friend would grow up, and lately he was just becoming a nuisance to Al and her who had seemed to outgrown him somewhere along the past year.
The lunch bell rang signaling the end of the period, forcing Lana and Al to go there separate ways. Lana settled down in her seat next to Simon in English class, sighing as he pleaded her to let him copy her homework for the umpteenth time.
“Whatever, but you owe me..” she whispered.
“Anything for my lovely Lana,” he grinned stupidly.
She kicked him in the shin in an effort to get him to hush up as none other than Miss Gunther strode into the classroom, high heels clicking against the floor. She scribbled her name hastily on the chalkboard, spun around and cleared her throat.
“Good morning boys and girls. My name is Mizz Gunther. I will be taking over for Mrs. Richardson, poor old dear is in the hospital. But anyway, there will be no talking without hand-raising, no gum-chewing, drinking, eating or disruptive behavior in this classroom as long as I am the teacher. Is that clear?,” Her piercing gaze swept across the room and no one dared speak. Even Simon sat sheepishly in his seat.
Since Lana was sitting in the front, Miss Gunther was plain in sight. Finishing the assignment early, Lana had time to study her new teacher who was the oddest yet. It seemed as if Miss Gunther carried a burden; she seamed very stressed. Worry lines marked an otherwise pretty face and black circles lingered under her eyes. Lana was very observant… and intrigued. As Miss Gunther lifted up her sleeve to check the time, Lana noticed a tattoo of a black cat on her wrist. Miss Gunther, sensing eyes watching her, abruptly looked around as Lana averted her eyes. Black cats?, she thought. Who gets tattoes of black cats these days. Okay, whatever she thought, and began to pack up as the bell rang.
Later that week, Lana and Al visited Lila. Although it was a sunny September evening, the trees provided shade and the three sat on the porch sipping lemonades. It was not long before Lila began to ramble, and Al and Lana found it much easier to simply tune out. Lila was in the middle of describing how she had found poison ivy growing her backyard while a dark-cloak man came for a visit. “Yes, he said he was looking for some ginger root. He was a kind fellow; kind but rather strange. He was rather pale for this time of year and wouldn’t take of his cloak. Claimed he had severe sunburn. Anyhow, he looked a bit familiar, but then again his face was so hidden by the cloak. One never knows these days. I just can’t trust my eyes anymore…” she went on and on, but Lana was not listening anymore. “Al that’s him! See, I wasn’t kidding. He’s real!”
“Ok, so..? There’s some weird guy in town. Big deal.”
But Lana ignored her and went on, “Lila, I saw that guy too. He was snooping around while I was on my way home that rainy day.”
“Probably looking for that root, I expect, nothing more,” Lila answered absentmindedly, stirring around the last of her lemonade.
Yeah, probably, Lana thought, but then again he had made that weird screeching noise. Or was that a car? There were a couple of trailers parked out living in the woods. A car wouldn’t be so strange. Even still, Lana couldn’t expect Al to understand she was still spooked. Al was too much of sensible, no bulls**t type. She would just have to try and get over it and stop being such a scaredy-cat as her dad liked to call her.
So Lana biked home with Al that night since her parents were out of town and Michael was at over-night soccer tournament.
They followed the trail leading out of the woods and biked a couple blocks to the pizza place. Most Friday and Saturday nights, Harry‘s, the pub, was overcrowded with half the town. It was almost impossible to get a table, but Al insisted.
“C’mon Lana, there’s this guy. I told him I’d be there.”
“Figures..” Lana muttered under her breath.
Although Lana and Al were tight, they were complete opposites in a sense. For one, Al was a major flirt, whereas Lana would never dare to do some of the things Al did. Wow, Antonio’s was really crowded that night. It was kind of like an oven, Lana thought, with its brick walls, dim orange lighting and stuffy atmosphere. Once they got in, Lana didn’t expect Al to stick with her. She knew Al was going to go after her mystery guy, so she scanned the mob, quickly spotted Simon sitting at a small corner table with two of her friends Laura and Trish.
“Hey, Lana! I haven’t seen you around in like forever.” Trish exclaimed, flipping back her long Chinese hair.
“Yeah. I’ve been so tied down with school work, you know,” she replied, nudging Simon to scoot over so she could sit down.
“Oh me too. My parents are all nutso about BATs. I’m just like.. whatever. Sarah did amazing and now I have a lot to live up to.” she retorted. Sarah was Trish’s older sister, the angel of the town. Lana sympathized with Trish. She knew how it was to have expecting parents that gave unending lectures in response to bad grades, and having perfect sister Sarah around was anything but a help.
“You wouldn’t believe who got cute this summer though.” she grinned.
“Who??” Al whirled in, dropping down next to Trish.
“Oh, hey you! Oh, I was talking about him,” Trish lowered her voice as she pointed across the room to a lean guy in faded blue jeans, slumped against the bar table, cracking up at a joke.
It was Luke. He had been in Lana’s lab group last year and Lana had found him really timid. He would smile at her shyly while explaining an answer, but would never say more than a few words at a time. One time he even asked her for her phone number but Lana had been so surprised that she had quickly made up a lame excuse. She knew he was conserved, but looking at him today she’d never guess it. She stared a little longer. Yeah, something had definitely changed because he seemed so much more confident. His acne had cleared up and he actually looked kind of cute, she had too admit to herself.
Al, however, always the first to pounce on an opportunity, tapped him on the shoulder and introduced herself. She held his arm while making small talk.
Laura rolled her eyes muttering, “There she goes again.”
Lana watched as Al got Luke to smile and even laugh at a couple of corny lines. She was studying his profile, when he suddenly made eye contact with her out of the corner of his eyes. She looked away, blushing, and began to tell Simon about the strange man, partially to cover up.
“…I dunno Si. Al doesn’t think its anything, but she says I should talk to my mum.”
“Well if your Mum hasn’t told you already and she’s scared about this fella she’s not gonna say anything. I think we should do some investigating on our own.”
“Why not? Finally something exciting is happening in our stupid town.” he retorted eagerly.
Lana, however, felt more dread than enthusiasm at the thought of investigating some weirdo. “And how to we go about ‘investigating’.” she spat bitterly, “As if I don’t have enough to do as it is. Now I have to go be some little detective.”
Simone laughed, “Chill, Lana. It’ll be fun. We’ll start tomorrow night. Its not like you got a hot date or something, right?” he paused, continued, “Sorry, my bad, I’m your hot date.” he grinned stupidly and she shoved him off the seat. “You wish Si, you wish.”
So it was set. The plan was that Simon, Al and Lana would camp out in Lana’s backyard. In the dead of night, Lana would check on her parents to make sure they were snoring soundly. Then the investigation would begin.
It was a quarter to seven when Al and Simon arrived at the cottage, all dressed in black from head to toe. Simon even had on a black beanie.
“Whoa there,” Mr. Hart guffawed. “You two planning on robbing my house tonight?”
Al smiled, “No, Mr. Hart. We were…uh…actually just planning on doing a bit of bird watching tonight. We thought if we were unnoticed we’d scare less birds away.” she smiled sweetly, lying through her teeth.
Mr. Hart gave her a bemused look, “Okaaay. Most people don’t really bird watch at night, but whatever floats your boat.”
Simon added, “She means owl-watching.” he glared at Al for her lousy cover-up.
By this time Mr. Hart was getting suspicious, but was rather amused by the whole thing so didn’t think about it too much. To be honest, Mr. Hart wasn’t much of a overly-concerned parent. The thought that Lana and her friends might be trying to sneak out flitted across his mind for a split second, but was washed away by the sight of his daughter running down the stairs and her black tweety-bird pajamas. Such a good daughter, he thought. If there was a bad egg it was Michael if anything. Lana would never do anything wrong. She was too smart to let her self get in trouble; too self-disciplined. Al’s mother was always complaining to him and Mrs. Hart that, ‘Why can’t Al be more like Lana?’ Yes, he reassured himself, he had nothing to worry about.
After killing the time watching a cheesy horror flick in Lana’s bedroom, the three set up camp in Lana’s backyard. Lana had always wanted a camp-out; to bad this one had to be ruined by the daunting task which lay ahead, she thought.
“Lan… check out that one.. It looks like a tella tubby,” Al giggled.
“Or Eunice Brewster,” Simon chimed in, plopping down next to Al with a bag of chocolate covered raisins. The trio was sprawled out on a musty old quilt from Lana’s closet, pointing out constellations as stars flickered on and off upon the indigo sky.
“Aaaw… don’t make fun of Eunice Si. She’s nice.. she really is. She even let me copy her Spanish homework once.” Lana explained.
Simon sighed, “Oooh, I get it. She’s just a b***h to me, like practically all of the other girls in our school.” Lana glanced over at Simon, shocked to see his eyes glazed over. He was serious. Sure, he was teased excessively at school, perhaps bullied now and then, but what did expect, seriously, Lana thought. He could be so annoying at times…and yet the tears he was holding back at the moment made Lana empathetic for her friend who she had always taken for granted. She looked over at Al, but Al was oblivious; lost in a fantasy of some sort judging by the dreamy expression on her face.
“Cheer up Si… we still love ya.” Lana swung an arm around Si and gave him a fierce, friendly hug.
“Hey Lans…think any guys are cute yet?” Al probed. Lana should have guessed the inevitable question would rear its ugly head.
Simon groaned, “Uuugh, girl talk.”
Lana twisted a finger around her hair, “Uumm…” should she tell her about Luke, that she thought he had gotten cute? “No, not really,” she lied; it was a teeny white lie.
“Well…have you noticed Luke?” Not even waiting for Lana to reply, Al gushed, “He asked me to the Halloween Ball!”
A lie that just pinched me. Ouch. Lana faked a huge smile and responded in a falsetto voice, “That’s great Al. That’s awesome.”
Whatever, he’s still probably the same old loser anyhow, thought Lana, shaking off the momentary flame of jealousy that had just erupted within her and had caused a rush of acid to seep through her stomach.
Hours later, Lana lay beside her two friends. As close as they were she felt quite alone in her thoughts as she stared up into blackness. The midnight air was chilled, the scent of leaves signaling the peak of autumn; it was a scent that reminded Lana of burning. It had in fact grown so cold that Lana wrapped the old quilt tightly around her, very much spooked by the eerie hoots of distant owls and howls of midnight predators, creeping through the underbrush. It was terribly dark -the night sky was so vast and luminous that Lana felt very tiny and vulnerable under its glare. Lana nudged Simon, then Al, but both were deep in sleep. She prodded Al, even shaking her too wake up, but it looked like operation Find out About Wierdo was a complete bust. Lana scolded herself mentally for allowing herself to camp out with two sleep mongers, knowing well enough that she was borderline insomniac half the time. Unless Lana was enervated to the point of no return, did she rarely just collapse. It often took hours of sheer exasperation before she could fall asleep.

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