Dim Sum Mysteries - 12. Chapter 12 - Second Serving
Chapter 12 – Second Serving
Tuesday, the Liu household, 09:44
I didn’t go to school today. I had an unexplainable fever and headache that popped out of nowhere, so I managed to convince my mom to let me stay home for the day. I wasn’t feeling as bad as I was when I woke up and I hoped I’d get better real quick. I had the whole house to myself!
My hopes were quickly dashed, though, when I realized that my parents had hidden the keys to my car. Damn, and here I was looking forward to a nice, solitary drive around town. So I entertained myself by watching a TV show about some doctor who walked with a cane who had no bedside manners at all, which was pretty funny. Eventually, I got bored so I tried to find my phone.
Surprisingly, my mom hadn’t hidden it. I found it on top of my desk. I guess she must have left it there so she could call me or something in case I was still asleep. There were three unread messages.
The first one was from Michael, sent last night: Hey bud, i cant get sum zzzs. Hw r you n ur parents?
The second text message was from Victoria: I heard bout Ned. Im going to talk 2 to him.
The last message was from Michael again – he sent it just fifteen minutes ago: Not in skool?
I lay back down on my bed and replied with: No. Sick. How’s life?
I must have dozed off again, because when I woke up, it was already half past 10. I had an unread message from Michael and two missed calls from him. Oops. I hope I hadn’t made him worry or something. I was about to reply when I heard someone knocking at the door.
When I got to the door, I was hoping that it wasn’t the Sheriff or worse, my parents who had gone home just to check up on me. No, it wasn’t either of them.
“Ryan,” Michael said with a grin.
Oh, hello handsome man. Have I mentioned that he says my name slightly differently than everyone else? And then I tilted my head in confusion at him. “Michael? What are you doing here? Weren’t you in school?”
“Nope, I had to stay home today,” he said. “So … can I come in?”
I let him in and I wondered what he was even doing here.
“You didn’t pick up your phone. I just wanted to make sure you’re fine,” he told me.
“You should have told me,” I said. “I look like a shipwreck.”
Michael let out a small chuckle. “I tried calling you, but you didn’t pick up, remember? Anyway, I think you look fine.”
I pushed him back and sat him down at the couch in the living room. “Stay here while I get cleaned up.”
“Could I join you?” he asked as I turned to leave.
“Not a chance,” I replied.
Once I had showered and gotten myself into decent clothes, I headed back towards the living room. I found Michael lying down on the couch, flicking through some crime TV channels.
“What are you watching?” I asked. I lifted his legs and sat down by his foot, putting his legs on my lap.
“Crime Scene Investigation,” Michael mumbled. “I heard from Yuki about Ned not being the killer. Is that true?”
I shook my head. “I don’t know. I’ll leave the investigating up to them. I just want to get things back to normal again.”
“I’ll keep in contact with Yuki for more info then,” Michael said.
“No, don’t do that,” I said. “Can’t we just be like ordinary teenagers, just living ordinary lives and going on dates and working on fulfilling our dreams or something?”
“You wanna go on a date? With me?” Michael asked me. There was that twinkle in his eyes again. Oh, how I missed it.
I nodded. “Yeah, sure.”
“Okay then,” he said and stood up. He pulled me up with him. “Let’s go get ice cream or something. I know you like ice cream.”
“Wait, what, now?” I stuttered, blinking confusedly. “I was thinking of sometime this weekend actually, if my parents let me.”
“I’m not gonna be playing hooky for nothing, Ryan,” he said, pulling me towards the door. “My dad was pretty light on me, so I still have my car. Come on, let’s go!”
I was still hesitant. “Oh, gee, I dunno … what if my parents find out?”
“They won’t.” He sounded so sure. “I’ll bring you back home before one. Come on – I know you want that ice cream.”
It sure was tempting, I admit.
Tuesday, Western End Ice Cream Shop, 11:03
I guess getting ice cream was the right thing to do. My fever and headache practically disappeared into non-existence as I dug into my banana split. I guess I owed Michael one. I was savoring a spoonful of vanilla ice cream when I saw Michael giving me a gleeful smile.
He shrugged. “Nothing.”
“Is there ice cream on my face?”
“No. I just like looking at you eating ice cream. You’re like a little kid.”
I ducked my head shyly and continued eating my ice cream. A waitress came up to us a few moments later, carrying a sundae on top of a tray.
“Here’s your mocha sundae,” she said, setting the sundae glass in front of Michael. Before she left, she gave me a strange smile.
Michael was laughing out loud now, slapping the table in uncontained mirth. I furrowed my brows angrily at him.
“What? What’s so funny?!”
He held back another chuckle with a fist and then he grabbed a napkin. He reached out and used it to wipe the tip of my nose.
“There was something on my face!” I exclaimed. I pretended to hit him with my spoon, which I didn’t know still had some ice cream on it. The ball of vanilla ice cream catapulted across the table and hit his face, which caused him to burst into more laughter.
I couldn’t stay angry at him so long, not when he was having so much fun. I smiled mischievously at him and took a swipe of his sundae with my spoon. Before he could protest, I had already downed it in one gulp.
“Hey! Who gave you permission to eat my food?” he asked in mock anger.
I couldn’t talk. I screwed up my face to withstand the sudden burst of coldness that stabbed into my brain. “Brain freeze,” I managed to mumble against my spoon.
Michael’s face broke into laughter again as I tried desperately to endure through the freezing sensation in my brain.
Tuesday, the Liu household, 12:14
“Was that a date?” I asked when we were back at my house.
“Sure it was,” Michael said, kissing my forehead.
“You hungry? I can’t cook, but I think I can heat up something my mom cooked last night, or if you want to order something, maybe like pizza, I think I still have the number somewhere …”
Michael shut me up quite effectively when he pressed his lips against mine, harder this time. Well, I wasn’t going to lose the battle, so I returned the kiss with equal passion, if not more. Soon, the growling in my stomach was replaced with another kind of hunger. I think it was happening for Michael too because he was starting to talk dirty into my ear.
“I-I think I should … we should go to my bedroom or, or something,” I stammered.
“No way,” Michael breathed into my neck. “Imma fuck ya right here on your couch.”
Oh man, he was serious. Okay, calm down Ryan. Wait, panic. Panic! I hoped he wasn’t going to return the … favor I had given him during our first time together. Okay, calm down Ryan!
Michael was beginning to unbutton his shirt and I found it kind of sexy the way he did it with one hand, the other rubbing against my stomach.
“Wait, what about condoms?” I asked, stopping him for a while.
“Uh, I don’t think we’ll need them,” Michael stated flatly.
“But … safe sex, y’know,” I mumbled, but I was kind of thrilled by the idea of getting it on, you know, using all natural means.
“Have you ever had sex with anyone besides me?” Michael asked. “I’ve never had sex with anyone but you.”
“Well, yeah, I guess, but …”
“You don’t share needles, right?”
“I don’t do drugs at all, Michael.”
Michael gave me a smirk. “Okay. Then we’re set.”
I nodded at him, still uncertain.
“Hey, don’t panic,” Michael laughed. “I don’t think I’m as bad as you are at this. I’ve … educated myself.”
Yeah, he wasn’t as bad as I had been before. He was actually very gentle. And, oh God, when he hit that spot … I don’t think I’ll ever be able to live a second without Michael touching some part of me after this. Hmm, I felt like a slut. And then I began to wonder how he educated himself.
Well, I suppose you could find those kinds of stuff on the Internet. Or maybe from Nicole’s advice. Definitely from Nicole’s advice.
Friday, Mac Worthington High School, 12:14
I had tried to avoid Nicole, Yuki, Jeffry and Artie throughout the week, but eventually, they cornered me at the cafeteria on Friday afternoon. Apparently, they wanted to talk to me about the murders.
“No is no,” I said firmly. “I don’t want any part in this anymore. Besides, the Gunner’s caught right?”
Nicole rolled her eyes at me. “You know that Ned isn’t the killer. I thought we’ve already established that?” she said through a mouthful of mashed potatoes.
I shrugged at her and focused on my own meal. “Well, good luck with that. I’m just gonna ignore you guys for a while now and focus on my life.”
“Ugh, why are you being so stubborn?” Nicole gritted out in frustration. “Just because you’re getting fucked now, doesn’t mean you can just ignore us!”
The whole table fell silent and I could feel the blood rushing straight into my cheeks. Crap! How does Nicole know these things? Was she just throwing out random guesses or did she have a surveillance camera, or cameras around my house or something?
Artie coughed and broke the silence. “Er, yeah, Ryan … I thought you were doing this for Emma.”
I wasn’t about to get caught in a guilt trip, so I pretended not to hear him. Instead, I focused on beating the peas on my plate to death with a plastic spoon. I guess Artie was right – ever since Emma died, we’ve all been a bit off lately. But no matter what we did, even if we did get the murderer behind bars, it’d never bring her back. So what was the point? It was better to let the police do their job and let us students go back to being ordinary high school students …
Yuki spoke up. “Well, are you going to join the Japanese Culture Club during free period today? We still need about two hundred more paper cranes …”
“Of course I’ll be there,” I told her. Finally; something to take my mind off of the Dim Sum Club.
Friday, Mac Worthington High School, 13:21
I was rummaging through the insides of my locker in the now empty corridor, feeling as lifeless as my surroundings. Even when I was done and Michael came up from behind me and put his arm around my shoulder, I felt so … empty. Maybe I wasn’t really sure I was doing the right thing. I don’t know – but at least helping out with the paper cranes later today would help me, or at least I think it would.
“You okay?” Michael asked me. I guess he must have noticed how down I felt. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”
I looked up at him. “What? No, of course not. It’s just …”
Michael chuckled. “Just what?”
“I feel guilty for not trying to help out the Dim Sum Club. I mean, we were only together for a short time and they seemed to really want me to help,” I said.
“Well what do you want to do?”
“I don’t know. A part of me says I should be helping, but another part of me says I need to get back to my life.”
Michael stopped me and turned me around so that I was facing him. “Do you need some time to figure it out?”
“No, no, don’t go,” I said, shaking my head. “What are you gonna do?”
“I’ll be with ya, whatever you choose to decide, buddy,” Michael said. He then pulled me towards me and we exchanged short, gentle kisses.
I had to pull away quickly though, because it was getting a little too heated. Lucky I did – we soon heard footsteps. Sheriff Elise was walking towards us, holding some kind of surveillance camera. She wasn’t wearing her uniform and her brown hair wasn’t tied back like usual.
“Sheriff Elise!” I said, trying to sound polite.
“Oh, hello,” she said after a short pause.
“You’re not in uniform?” I asked.
She shook her head. “No, the parents were beginning to complain that the presence of the police in the school was disrupting their academic progress. So I tried to blend in.”
“But everyone knows you anyway,” I told her.
She smiled and pursed her lips. “Ah, yes, but it makes a difference. Still, I’m setting up surveillance cameras around the school.”
“Why?” Michael blurted out. “Isn’t the police enough?”
“This will help us keep an eye on all of you,” the Sheriff said, giving Michael a different, almost forced smile. “Now, if you’ll excuse me …”
Sheriff Elise nodded at us before heading off towards the direction of the administration office. I heard Michael let out a sigh.
“Let’s go,” he said.
“Huh? Where to?”
“You’re going to help with the paper cranes, right?”
Friday, Mac Worthington High School, 13:58
I had miserably messed up my fourth crane of the day. That’s when I noticed that Yuki wasn’t with us yet, which was strange as she was normally on time. I told Michael this and he shrugged. He leaned towards Angelica, another member of the club.
“Have you seen Yuki?”
Angelica shrugged. “Said she got a call from her mom or something. She’ll be back soon. Mike, could you pass me the string?”
Michael handed her the end of the string of an unfinished chain of paper cranes. It was pretty beautiful – they were jiggling tentacles of colorful birds and the random, mashed up hues actually accentuated their simplicity. Once Angelica had tied her crane onto the end of the string, she tossed the chain over to a cardboard box behind her.
“Eight hundred down – two hundred to go!” she said, raising her arms in victory.
At the other end of the table, Timothy, another member, reached over the table and high-fived me and Michael. And then I looked at my cranes, which resembled crude spaghetti monsters.
That’s when Yuki came into the room. She looked troubled, a look I rarely saw on her. She went over to her desk and started packing her bag. Even her hair was disheveled.
“Yuki, what happened?” Angelica asked, sounding concerned.
“Nothing,” Yuki mumbled, swinging her back over her shoulders. She practically ran out of the room.
Tim turned towards Michael. “Mike, go after her!” he urged. “Something’s wrong.”
I got up as well and followed Michael out of the room. We managed to catch up to her at the lobby before she could retreat outside.
“Yuki!” Michael called. “Yuki, what happened?”
Yuki brushed away her bangs and looked away glumly. “Something’s come up. That’s all.”
“That’s all?” Michael repeated. “Come on, tell us. You can trust us. You’re usually not like this.”
“Well … I-I don’t,” Yuki began. She paused, took a deep breath and continued, “My dad got shot at work today. I have to go see him in hospital.”
Both of our jaws dropped. “W-what?” I stuttered. “Is he okay?”
“My mom called and she said he’s stable,” Yuki explained. She looked quite strong though, despite the suddenness of it all. “I’m going to see him now. But there’s something else that’s even more – there’s something else I’m more worried about.”
Michael shook his head and held her shoulders. “Yuki, I don’t think you should be more worried about anything or anyone other than your father right now.”
“No, listen!” Yuki said, shrugging Michael’s hands away. “Somebody broke into the station. Ned got away.”
The only reaction from Michael and I was to blink at her as the fact settled into our brains. “You heard what I said,” Yuki said. “Ned got away. That’s what I’m worried about. I-I’m sorry, guys, I have to go.”
Before we could say anything else, she had already bounced down the steps of the school and was making her way to her car.
Friday, Mac Worthington High School, 14:30
Nicole was trying to recount what I had just told her. I leaned against the door of her car, pretending to listen. Anna was beside me, her arms folded, listening intently to Nicole with that serious look of hers. It wasn’t long before Michael and Jeffry joined us.
“So, you said Ned got away?” Nicole muttered to herself mostly. “This isn’t good. This is not good. Oh, Jeff – have you heard about Yuki’s dad and Ned?”
“Yeah,” Jeffry said, nodding. “Michael told me. Pretty bad news, huh?”
“How did they even get into the police station without being suspected, anyway?” Nicole mumbled, shaking her head with a frown. “It just seems so impossible.”
“One headache after another,” Jeffry remarked. “Hey, where’s Artie going?”
Nicole tiptoed and we spotted Artie just about to leave the school grounds. Nicole clapped at his direction and shouted, “Hey, Artie!” to get his attention. He must have heard her as he turned around, looked at us directly and then began heading towards us.
“Where were you going?” Nicole asked.
“I walk back home. I usually walked home with Emma,” he said, somewhat shyly, which wasn’t like him. “What’s up?”
“Long story short, Yuki’s dad got shot, somebody broke into the police station and Ned got away,” Nicole explained swiftly. “Any input?”
Artie raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Is this for real?”
We all nodded at him. Anna piped in, “What should we do, then? Now that Ned knows we’re after him and the killer, we’re probably even more in danger.”
I didn’t like the idea of having Anna with us right now, but sometimes I appreciated her insight.
“We need somewhere safe, a headquarters of some sort,” Nicole said. “Obviously, we can’t use the club room at school or risk suspension.”
We were all quiet for a while and the only sounds we could hear were coming from the background from students chatting and talking as they all went their own ways back home. Then we all felt a dark presence nearby.
“The Dim Summers, isn’t it?” Victoria said. She was wearing a white, gothic Lolita-styled dress today, with Cynthia dressed appropriately.
Nicole gaped at her. “Um, w-what? How did you know about that? I mean, we don’t know what you’re talking about, witch!”
Victoria smirked at her. “The spirits tell me things, whore.”
“What do you want?” I asked her.
Victoria smiled at me, which gave me the creeps. “I’ve come to offer my services,” she said. “The spirits told me that to achieve peace once again in our normally quiet town, I must collaborate with those I considered rivals.”
Nicole shrugged. “Um, yeah, okay. Like, what could you offer us?”
“I overheard you talking about needing a headquarters,” Victoria replied. “My parents recently gave me one of our ancestor’s old manors at Reginald Road. We can clean it up tomorrow and set up our defenses there.”
“Defenses?” Jeffry repeated. “We’re not fighting a war here, woman.”
Victoria shot him an icy, smug glare. “I had unlimited Internet wi-fi access installed in the manor. You’d have the fastest Internet connection in town. I also had a supercomputer bought and placed there already with an unlimited GPS tracking system and satellite surveillance, allowing us to know exactly where a person is located.”
Jeffry turned back slowly towards us, a wide grin plastered onto his face. “Well I’m in.”
“How did you afford all that?” I asked. I knew Victoria’s parents were raking in a few bucks, but a supercomputer and satellite surveillance?
Victoria shrugged and smiled at me again. “The spirits can … grant things to their most loyal followers. That and the fact that I am the only one following them on Twitter. Try following them some time – their username is ‘the – underscore – spirits’ with the ‘s’ replaced with a number 5.”
“Well, the manor is all good and stuff,” Nicole said, rubbing her chin sagely. “But we need more information. If you can provide that for us, you can work with us.”
“I am not the murderer,” Victoria said. “Whatever suspicions you may have of me, get rid of them at once. I am simply trying to help.”
We all looked at each other. Jeffry seemed eager enough to help, Michael nodded at me and even Artie seemed to be weighing the options. Nicole finally sighed.
“I guess it couldn’t hurt,” Nicole said, throwing her hands up in defeat.
“I have something else,” Victoria said. “Ned is … an unfortunate, dimwitted assistant. But he is fiercely loyal and dedicated. It was his mistake to send me the details of the Gunner’s next victim, thinking it would help me avoid harm.”
Michael’s jaw dropped. “You got a text message from him?”
“Yes,” Victoria said slowly, her mouth curving into a satisfied smile. “If you let me work with you, I will hand the message over.”
“Please,” Michael said. He looked cautiously at me. “Sorry, buddy, but Yuki’s dad got hurt. I know the guy – he’s a good man. I can’t let this go.”
I nodded, instantly forgiving him. Truthfully, I was a little curious about this all myself. So I had made a decision. It had better be the right one, Ryan, ‘cause Anna’s looking at you.
“Okay, I’m saying yes,” I announced.
I could see Anna smile at me proudly from the corner of my eye. “Me too,” she said.
“I’m doing this for Emma,” Artie chimed in.
“Unlimited Internet access,” Jeffry added.
It was only Nicole now, not counting Yuki, who was absent. She looked at us one by one and eventually faltered under our combined gaze.
“Fine, I’ll drop you from the suspect list,” Nicole said, shaking her head. “But this better be worth it. Now – the message, please?”
Victoria retrieved her iPhone from out of Cynthia’s dress and with a few swipes, she was done. All our phones began beeping, one after the other. Simultaneously, we all took out our phones.
“How did you get our numbers?” I asked her.
Victoria shrugged and smiled at me, as if she was telling me that I knew the answer already. Right. The spirits. I looked down at the screen of my phone and read our new message.
Roses are red, violets are blue, winning’s not everything and that’s your clue!
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