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I should’ve known it would all go downhill eventually. I mean when is life ever this good?
Up until last week my life was perfect. I had everything I could possibly want. A great family, a loving girlfriend, a beautiful home in sunny California, and all the money I could ever possibly need. I’m still trying to understand how everything got so messed up.
I started to notice the change in atmosphere Friday night at Tim’s party. The boy’s varsity basketball team had just won the big game that would take us to state and me, as the starting point guard was one of the guests of honor. My girlfriend, Elsie, and I had been going out for a month and it was going amazingly. Every teenage male within a 50 mile radius was green with envy. Not only was I starting varsity quarterback, ruggedly handsome, homecoming king, and on the honor roll but now I was also dating the hottest girl at our school.
I spotted Elsie enter Tim’s house, she was wearing dark wash jeans and a purple striped top that made her eyes pop perfectly. She wasn’t heaps of makeup like every other girl at the party, Elsie had a natural beauty that radiated from her long brown hair down to her detailed pedicure. I had been hanging out with my best friend, Drake. Some people say that Drake is just living in my shadows, trying to be like me in every way. But who wouldn’t strive for that? The
only things that Drake couldn’t ever be on par with are my looks. Where I had flawless dirty blond locks that mess perfectly on top of my head he had a horrible, red, curly, jew-fro. I had a glowing tan 365 days of the year; he on the other hand fries like an egg if he gets anywhere near the sun. Nonetheless he was my best friend.
When Elsie came sauntering towards us, wearing a grin that stretched from ear to ear, I decided I would be the gentlemen and quickly grab her a drink. I thought it would be fine to leave her and Drake alone while I went to get some beers for us.
Elsie wasn’t all that hip on being left unaccompanied with Drake. Apparently he had a crush on her back in the fourth grade and really creeped her out. I guess drake had never really gotten over his silly grade school crush considering his reaction when I had told him me and Elsie were going out. He would barely speak to me for a week. But I wasn’t about to allow drake’s stubbornness get in the way of me and Elsie’s happiness.
I assured her it would be fine, and that he was fine with our relationship but she still seemed uneasy. I raced to the keg and balanced three red Solo cups of alcohol in my arms. I was walking back when I saw Elsie standing by herself looking shaken to the core. Drake was nowhere in sight.
“Hey, what’s wrong? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost,” I questioned her in a concerned voice.
“Nothing, nothing’s wrong,” She said in a shaky defensive voice.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’m sure. Can we just enjoy the party now please?” Now she was starting to get frustrated, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 17 years on this planet is to never argue with a hormonal teenage girl when they’re angry.
About an hour later Drake suddenly showed up by my side. “Man, where the heck did you go? I told you to stay with Elsie,” I said.
“I got bored, ok? I’m sorry that I had better things to do then stand around with your dumb girlfriend all day,” he fired back at me.
I decided to lay off. He wasn’t worth it, I told my self.
At about 1 A.M. we all piled into Sheridan Henkle’s car. Sheridan and her boyfriend, Matthew were seated in the two front seats, leaving Drake, Elsie, and me to squeeze into the back, Elsie wedged between Drake and me. Sheridan, being way too tipsy to drive, had gladly forfeited her keys to Matthew, and Matthew, in turn, had sacrificed his basketball shoes to prevent his girlfriend from having a fatal trip in her three inch high heels.
Since Elsie’s parent’s house was just down the street we decided to drop her off first. Drake swiftly got out of the car so Elsie could exit through his side. After muttering a quick goodbye and a chaste kiss to her lips she scooted out of her seat and into the cold night air. Once out I caught a quick glance at Drake whispering something to her and then she ran to her door and hastily slipped inside.
Elsie’s parents happened to be out of town that weekend so once I got home I quickly texted her to make sure she was safe and sound.
I lay awake all night waiting for her to respond. Something was very wrong. I tried calling her about twenty times on Saturday. By 8:00 P.M. I was getting really concerned about her but I held off going psycho. I tried to rationalize. She was probably just sleeping off her hangover from the night before and had forgotten to charge her phone. Sunday rolled around and I decided I had had enough waiting.
When I arrived at Elsie’s mansion-like house the lawn was eerily quiet. I sauntered up to the antique knocker and rapped it on the door three times. No answer. I rang the doorbell that I could hear reverberating off the walls inside. Still no answer. I walk around the house, looking for another point of entry. That’s when I saw a shattered window.
My heart was pounding in my chest. I could barely breathe. What had happened? Even worse was the shoeprints leading up to the broken glass. I stealthily jumped through the shards without getting cut and started searching the house for Elsie. I started screaming her name, my voice echoing off the walls of the over decorated home. I searched in every nook and cranny. Bedrooms, basement, bathrooms, even closets for goodness sakes! I had torn up every inch of her house looking for her. Just then I saw a post-it-note on the refrigerator with the number of a hotel room on it. I quickly pulled out me cell and dialed the digits
“Hello, Wendy Bradshaw speaking,” a friendly female voice answered.
“Hi, Mrs. Bradshaw? It’s Braden Grant, you know, Elsie’s boyfriend?” I said in a shaky voice, hoping she would remember me from the dinner Elsie had invited me to the week before.
“Oh Braden! So nice to hear from you. But rather surprising. May I ask why you called?”
“Umm, well you see Mrs. Bradshaw… I’m really worried about Elsie. You see, I think she’s been kidnapped,” I didn’t want to believe what I had just said. How could she be gone?
Elsie’s parents came how right away and called the authorities. They said she had most likely already been killed, considering how much time has passed. Though they assured us that they would do everything in their power to bring her back. They told us that until that day came it was best to just go along with our daily day-to-day activities, try to maintain some sort of normalcy. So my parents made me go back to school on Tuesday.
Most of the student body had heard about what had happened. Gossip spreads fast when you’re a teen. Drake was the first one to try and talk to me.
“Hey, dude. I’m real sorry about what happened with Elsie. But don’t worry bro, I’m sure that she’s going to be ok.” he said in a false happy tone.
“Yeah whatever man. We all know that she’s never coming back, so just drop the act ok?” I could feel the anger bubbling up inside of me.
“I was just trying to make it easier, sorry if I hurt you. How about we do something productive in this case?”
“Like what?” I scoffed.
“We could interrogate suspects! Think of it, no one knows the people Elsie was close to better than us!”
“That’s true,” I responded.
“We could be like that Holmes guy! You know the one with the hat and the pipe,” he said in an overexcited voice.
“We could even look for clues. Anything to try and bring her back,” I was determined now. I had a goal and that goal was to have Elsie too be back in my arms no matter how long it took.
* * *
“I’m telling you I didn’t do it!”
Chord Evans was a junior here at Sunset High. An emo haircut, thick black make up lining his eyes, a few piercings. He claimed he was a “misunderstood poet” who was dying to make people listen.
Him and Elsie had a fling way back when they were freshman. Elsie was in her rebellious phase and wanted to defy her parents by dating someone they didn’t approve of. When she realized she didn’t really like Chord, and only used him to disregard her family she broke it off. There was a lot of fighting and some yelling on Chord’s part. People say he had never really gotten over her, so here I was, accusing him of kidnap.
“Why should I believe you?”
“One because I would never stoop to such a low level to get a girl back! Two, you said you saw shoeprints at the scene of the crime? I heard the fuzz say the tracks belong to a very specific shoe that I know for a fact only the members of the basketball team own!” Chord responded raising his voice.
He had me there. The party at Tim’s had been right after a successful basketball game. But there were almost 30 guys on the team that had those shoes. How was I going to narrow it down to just one? Just then I thought popped into my head.
* * *
“I know you stole those shoes from Matt. Don’t even think about lying!”
“Yes, ok? I wore my boyfriend’s shoes. But that doesn’t mean I’m that one that took Elsie! She was my best friend. Why would someone do that to their best friend?” Sheridan questioned me.
“I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me? I know you were always jealous of Elsie. You lived in the shadow of her spotlight, always outshined by her beauty and personality. You just couldn’t take it anymore, could you?”
“Look I know I was envious of her. Who wouldn’t be, she has everything? But I swear to god I didn’t do anything to her,” just as the words left her mouth I heard a knock on the door.
Drake stepped in. “Hey man, you’ve been at this thing for hours. Why don’t you take a break? We could go down to the pier. I know it always calms you down,” he had always known I liked the pier. We used to play by the docks when we were kids. Pretending we were pirates looking for sunken treasure. This time when I walk along the familiar bridge I felt nothing but sorrow. The brisk wind that once brought me such comfort now chilled me to the bone. The creaky planks beneath my feet had me worried that I would plunge to a watery death. Even the salty air only held a melancholy scent. I stood there, on the old railing, and contemplated what had taken place the past few days. And then everything want black.
* * *
When I regained consciousness I was lying face down on a cold cement floor, my head was pounding. I glanced around my surroundings and realized I was in an abandoned warehouse. Then I spotted something I never expected to see. There was Elsie tied up to a chair with a blindfold and gag on. Drake was standing behind her holding a baseball bat.
“Well, well. Look who finally decided to wake up,” Drake said tauntingly.
“It was you all along! I should’ve known,” all the evidence was there. The way Elsie acted around him, what he had whispered to her, and the basketball shoeprints.
“Just now figuring that out, huh? About time. You know, Braden, you’ve always taken everything away from me. First grade. You got to be Joseph in the church play. What did I get? The Donkey! Sophomore year. You got on the varsity basketball team. Me? I played second string on the JV squad! Junior year. You became starting quarterback for the best football team in the state. I broke my foot and had to sit out the entire season! You getting the girl of my dreams was just the last straw. So now you’re going to pay,” he started towards me with the bat and I knew I had to act quickly or things would get very messy very fast.
I lunged forward, trying to pry the bat out of Drake’s hands. But he flung me off of him and into a corner of the warehouse. Just as Drake was leaning over me, ready to strike I remembered my Swiss Army knife I always kept handy. I frantically tore it out of my pocket, flipped up the knife and plunged it into Drake’s stomach. As the blade punctured the skin Drake dropped the bat and grabbed at his abdomen as he crumbled to the ground.
I slowly untied Elsie and she cried in my arms as we heard the sirens of police cars whirling.