Dim Sum Mysteries - 5. Chapter 5 - Coin Toss
Chapter 5 – Coin Toss
Sunday, the Liu household, 08:32
I was in a bright mood. I guess, knowing that I kind of helped save a life and stopped the murderer, at least for a while, I felt elated. I sneaked into Anna’s room with a plate of cake in my hands. She was still fast asleep, clutching a large, pink teddy bear. I set the plate on her desk and sat next to her sleeping form. I held onto her shoulders and began shaking her wildly.
“Wake up, Anna! Wake up!”
My sister screamed, her arms flailing wildly, almost knocking out my teeth in the process.
“Ryan!” she shrieked. “What happened? Is the house on fire?”
“Happy birthday!” I yelled into her ear and wrapped her in my arms.
For a moment, she laid still. Then she giggled and laid her head against my shoulder. “Thank you, Ryan. But don’t scare me like that again!”
I released her from my grasp and pointed at the cake on her table. “I got you some cake.”
“Thanks,” Anna said, giving me that sweet smile of hers. “Oh, by the way, Michael called last night. Said he wanted to talk to you.”
“Oh really? Did he say why?”
Anna shrugged. “Nope. He’s kind of cute. Can I meet him sometime?”
I laughed and rubbed the top of her head fondly. “Well, you can’t have him, Annie.”
“Oh?” she said, looking at me slyly. “Are you jealous?”
“Of course not,” I said, looking away before Anna decided that something was up.
I haven’t told her about Michael and I … well, I didn’t think she knew that I was gay. But deep inside, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep it a secret forever, at least not from Anna. She’d have to know eventually.
I got up, went over to my room and brought up Michael’s number on the screen of my phone. I put the phone to my ear, waiting for him to pick up.
“Hey, buddy,” he greeted me.
“You wanted to talk?”
“Yeah. I got a call from the Sheriff again. She was a bit nosy and asked me some more stuff.”
“I didn’t tell her about the message that Fred got. Which kind of reminded me … I wonder if Sharon got a text message?”
I thought about that for a little while. If the murderer continued the trend, she should have gotten a text. But then I remembered what Victoria had said before.
“Victoria said that Yuki was supposed to be the Gunner’s intended target.”
“Yeah, I’ve already asked Yuki about it. She’s been really dodgy. She says her inbox is private. She won’t tell me a thing! That’s why I need your help to … distract her from her phone, somehow.”
“Tomorrow at school, then?”
“Tomorrow it is, buddy.”
Monday, Mac Worthington High School, 09:48
As I headed towards Chemistry, where I hoped to meet up with Michael, I kept a look out for any sign of Yuki or Sharon. I found the latter at her locker, leaning against Bill. I walked up to them, trying to look discreet.
Sharon spun around, flashing a smile at me. “Ryan! There you are.”
“Hi, Sharon,” I said, looking up at Bill, “Hi, Bill.”
Typical for a quarterback of a football team, Bill was more than six foot tall. He kind of intimidated me, but he wasn’t very intelligent, so I didn’t feel so puny next to him.
“Hey, I heard you saved my girlfriend’s life,” he said, grinning at me. “Thanks, bro.”
“Uh, well actually I didn’t technically save anyone’s life,” I said, trying to sound humble.
Sharon giggled and smiled at me. “Still, I don’t know what I’d have done if the three of you weren’t there. I was scared like crazy.”
“Hey Sharon, did you get any anonymous text messages before that whole incident?” I asked quickly, before they could turn their attention away from me.
The cheerleader gave me a confused smile. “Well, I always get anonymous texts. They’re usually just sexy texts from people I don’t know.”
“But, nothing unusual?” I had to make sure.
“Nope. Anything else I can help with?”
I thought for a while. Maybe I could use her help. “Actually, maybe there’s something you could do for me …”
Monday, Mac Worthington High School, 12:19
Michael, Yuki and I were sitting at one table at the cafeteria. I pretended to listen to their conversation about Japanese mythology as I watched for Sharon. I spotted the cheerleader near the counter, waving at me. She winked at me and strode over to where we were sitting.
“Hi, Yuki,” she said in an exaggerated, cheerful tone. “Listen, could you do me a favor?”
Yuki turned around, looking confused. Michael and I eyed her dark violet phone, looking all vulnerable on the table with that little swan chain attached to it.
“What is it?”
“My mom’s company is developing these new fingernail paint colors,” Sharon said, opening up a small bag. “Could you help me out and choose which ones look best?”
“Oh, sure, I guess.”
Now was our chance. I nudged Michael with my elbow and he nodded at me. He glanced around and made sure no one was looking and swiped her phone.
“Hurry,” I whispered, looking cautiously at Yuki. She still had her back turned to us.
“She has a lot of unread text messages,” Michael replied. “A lot of unknown numbers too.”
Meanwhile, Sharon was running out of fingernail paint colors. “Here are the last two – a new rose and canary yellow.”
“I liked that darker blue one, though,” Yuki said, holding up a bottle filled with yellow fingernail paint. “That lime green one is wicked though.”
“Thanks, Yuki, I guess that’s all,” Sharon finished, zipping up her bag. “If you’re interested in buying a set, you know who to contact.”
When Sharon left, Yuki spun around and look at us. She gave us a confused frown.
“What? Is there something on my face?”
“Nope,” Michael said with a convincing smile.
I leaned towards him and whispered, “Did you get it?”
“Yeah, I did,” he replied in an equally quiet voice. “I forwarded it to my phone. Let’s go see Victoria later.”
We both stood up. Yuki called out to us. “Wait, where are you two going?”
“Somewhere private,” Michael said, giving her a sly grin. “Right, babe?” He suddenly slapped my butt, which caught me by surprise.
Yuki visibly shuddered. “Okay. That’s too much information. I’ll just be here alone, then.”
Monday, Mac Worthington High School, 14:04
Neither of us had seen Victoria in school all day, but we knew the Voodoo Club had regular meetings after school on Mondays. We waited in front of the cursed room, trying to listen if anyone was inside. It was mostly quiet.
Michael knocked on the door, but there was no reply. When his hand reached down towards the door knob, I quickly stopped him.
“H-hey, what are you doing?”
“I’m going to go inside,” he stated flatly. “It’s pretty quiet inside, don’cha think?”
“No, don’t. I mean, what if Victoria’s inside? Won’t she be angry if we just barge in?”
Michael shrugged and gave me a cunning smile. He bent forward and kissed me, then just as quickly, broke the kiss and forcefully opened the door while I was off guard. Damn him!
There was no one inside the Voodoo Club’s room, but the strong stench of aromatic incense was still there. The candles were all still lit as well.
“See, no one’s here,” Michael said in an ‘I-told-you-so’ voice.
A noise caught us by surprise. It sounded like someone talking.
“That sounds like Victoria,” I noted quietly.
It was Victoria talking, but there was no one in the room. Another feminine voice joined in with hers.
“Emma, make sure you don’t take any suspicious phone calls and you have to hang up immediately if someone you don’t know asks you anything,” Victoria said.
“Victoria, will you relax? I’m always with my family at home.”
“You can’t be too careful!”
The voices didn’t sound natural, like it was being played through a radio or something. Was it a recording of some sort? Michael signaled me to follow him. He led me to a corner of the room and pointed at a peculiar looking device. The sound was coming from this strange thing.
And then we heard the sound of the squeak of running tap water and a toilet flushing. What the fuck?
“Are we listening to the girls’ bathroom?!” I said, my eyes widening.
The door suddenly opened and we both spun around in surprise. Standing at the doorway was Ned Ross, that snot-faced little brat that was Victoria’s apprentice. He looked at us with a shocked look on his face.
“What are you two doing here?” he asked, his voice all squeaky and high-pitched. “Go away!”
“Ned, did you rig a secret microphone in the girls’ toilets?” Michael accused. “Seriously, man, that’s perverted.”
“No, that’s not what it –”
Ned practically ran towards us, nearly bowling me over and switched off the device. He turned back towards us, breathless. “Please don’t tell Victoria!”
“Fuck that, man. You go and get that thing removed – burn it or whatever. That is just wrong!” Michael reprimanded him.
Ned’s face suddenly became distorted in anger. “Go away! You’re not supposed to be here!”
“You sick pervert,” I muttered in disgust.
“I hate you! Go away!” Ned practically screamed and picked up a nearby chair, ready to throw it at us.
Somebody cried out from behind us. “Ned! Stop it!”
We all spun around, staring at Victoria who had her hands on her hips. Cynthia was perched on top of her head, still looking creepy and lonely.
“I’ll get it removed,” Ned whispered sulkily behind us. “Please just don’t tell her.”
Ned sprinted out of the room with blinding speed before any of us could stop him. Victoria turned to us and gave us a weird look.
“What did you do to him?”
“Nothing!” Michael said quickly. “The kid just kinda went out of it.”
Victoria looked suspicious as she walked up to us. “Oh really? Well, I’ll talk to him later. I assume that you’re here, it means you’ve got that text message?”
“Yeah, you were right all along,” I said. “Yuki had that message in her phone. She didn’t tell us.”
“Maybe she didn’t want us to worry,” Michael suggested, opening up the message on his phone. “Want me to read it out for ya?”
“Forward the message to me first,” Victoria said, fetching her phone from her pocket.
When that was all done and over with, we huddled together, staring at the text on the screen of Michael’s phone. It read: I’ll give you all some time, but I’ll toss a coin. Heads: the sword will be next. Tails: the pen will be next.
“This gets weirder every week,” I commented.
“Well, we know the murderer is referring to the phrase ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’,” Victoria pointed out. “But we don’t know who they’re referring to.”
“It says here that the murderer will give us some time,” I said.
“Can we trust it, though?” Michael asked skeptically.
I looked up at him. “They haven’t lied to us yet. Why start now?”
I knew we shouldn’t have trusted that message, but inside, I kind of hoped for a moment of reprieve. I didn’t want to keep trying to save everyone from dying – it was tiring. Why couldn’t things return back to normal? At least, I could then focus on sorting out my feelings for Michael.
Monday, Astor Bailey Gym, 15:44
Michael had asked me to go with him to the gym while he did a few laps. I readily agreed of course, partly because there was that twinkle in his eyes again and partly because I wanted to perv on him. Okay, maybe I just wanted to perv on him. Don’t judge me!
I sat on a bench to the side, leaning forward with my chin resting against my hand. I was staring at Michael in the water, watching him go back and forth. Maybe I should start taking swimming lessons again – it looked kind of fun.
Just spending time like this helped me to get away from all those murders. It was depressing to think about, let alone try to solve or stop.
After about an hour or so, Michael had waved at me and I just smiled back. And then I couldn’t take my eyes off him as he slowly climbed out of the pool. It was like those corny scenes in movies or TV shows where the attractive actor or actress climbed out of a pool all dripping wet and in slow-motion, a sexy wet sheen on their skin. It was kind of like that now.
I waited at the lobby for Michael to get cleaned up. Then we went over to his car and then all of a sudden, he pushed me against the door and started nuzzling my neck. Then we kissed and things quickly got a little more passionate, as only kisses could get. One thing led to another and we were … making out on the backseat of his car. His car had heavily tinted windows, so there was little chance anyone would sneak a peek at us, but it was kind of exciting.
In the midst of the battle between our tongues, I kind of put my legs on the back of his thighs and pushed his body closer to mine. It seemed to be such a natural thing to do and I did it sort of unconsciously, but then Michael gasped out, “Ryan! Oh God … don’t do that, please.”
I pulled away from him and frowned. “Did I do something wrong?”
“N-no, it’s not that,” he replied, panting slightly. “Uh it’s just … you, in this position underneath me. It’s a bit like a … a-a fucking position.”
I straightened my legs and let him go. “Oh.”
He lowered his body down gently so that his weight didn’t crush me and buried his face in my neck. “I don’t want to force you to do anything, Ryan. I mean, I haven’t even … I’ve never even done it before. With another guy.”
“Well, that makes two of us,” I laughed.
“Okay,” he breathed out, raising himself off of me. “I should get you back home before your parents call the police. Don’t want them to think that I kidnapped you.”
I sat up and grinned at him. “I wouldn’t mind being kidnapped by you, Mike,” I told him, kissing his chin.
Tuesday, Western End Ice Cream Shop, 15:23
School had been boring today. After Fred’s death two weeks ago, it was difficult to get into the mood of studying again. Everyone, even the teachers, seemed to be stuck in this stagnant atmosphere, like we couldn’t move on after the shock of his death. Maybe that was why Michael took me out to the ice cream shop after school. I liked ice cream. I wouldn’t mind eating only ice cream for the rest of my life.
Michael and I had ordered a massive banana split. It was meant to be eaten by one person, according to the menu, but with four bananas and a dozen scoops of ice cream, it’d be impossible to finish alone.
“I hope this isn’t wasabi-flavored ice cream,” Michael said, poking at a green colored mound with his spoon.
“Do you like mango?” I asked absently. “How about chocolate chip with … coffee?”
The two of us kind of started a game together with the ice cream. We gathered different flavors on our spoon and just spoon-fed it to each other without telling the other what the flavors were. It was fun and very messy and we ended up sometimes hitting each other on the cheeks with our spoons or spilling a few melted drops of ice cream on the table. I knew it was a bit childish and we must look like two sickening lovebirds to those who happened to be watching, but at that moment, I didn’t particularly care.
Just sharing this moment with Michael kind of made me feel more drawn towards him. It made me feel like I loved … no, like I really, really wanted to be closer to him. I didn’t want to use the ‘L’ word. It was too soon. But why couldn’t I get it out of my mind?
“Am I interrupting something?” a familiar voice said.
We both stopped trying to cram ice cream into each other’s mouths and looked up. It was Nicole.
“Nicole! What are you doing here?”
Nicole sat down next to us on a spare seat and gave us a smile. “Oh, you two weren’t being very inconspicuous, you know.”
I looked around and just realized the horrified, sickened look on the faces on some of the customers who were stealing glances our way. I hadn’t realized that we were making that much of a racket.
“Oops,” I mumbled.
“No, you shouldn’t care about what other people think,” Nicole said, smiling. She clasped her hands together on top of the table. “I’ll get straight to the point. Are you two having sex yet?”
Michael and I stared at her with our mouths slightly opened. Michael leaned in and whispered, “Nicole, I think that’s a little private.”
“It’s clear that you both are still virgins,” Nicole remarked, rolling her eyes. “I just wanted to help.”
“How could you help, Nicole?” I asked, sighing. “First of all, you’re not gay and second, you’re a girl.”
Nicole stared at me with a sly smile. “That is why I took the liberty of reading up on the joys of gay sex on the internet and all the kama sutra books I could find.”
She retrieved something from her handbag and slapped it onto the table. It was a pile of brochures, different colored, but all had the text ‘SEX FOR GAY TEENS’ printed on it. Nicole grabbed something else from her bag. It was a small book titled Gay Kama Sutra.
“Nicole!” I gasped. “Where’d you get this? I don’t think you should be bringing this out in public.”
“You guys seriously need some sex,” Nicole said, narrowing her eyes at us. “The brochures are yours. I borrowed the book from the library, so you can return it to me when you’ve … educated yourselves a bit.”
She stood up and left quickly before Michael and I had the chance to even recover. I pointed at the pile on our table.
“I don’t think we should leave these here.”
Michael swiftly gathered the brochures and the book and tucked it safely inside his school bag, making sure that no one saw it. Damn that Nicole! What was she thinking? But there was something in Michael’s eyes – oh God, was he actually interested in reading all of that?
Tuesday, the Liu household, 17:45
When we got back to my place, my mother insisted that Michael stay over for dinner. I guess with the knowledge that you’re going to get free, Asian food, Michael just couldn’t resist. I saw Anna trying to steal glances at Michael, but I guarded him with fierce jealousy.
I showed Michael around my room. It was messy and simple, with nothing very intriguing about it, but Michael seemed to be enjoying his time. I switched on my laptop and showed him the novel that I had been working on it. It was still unnamed and very rough, but Michael seemed to like reading it.
“It still isn’t finished yet,” I told him. “I guess I haven’t been able to work on it ever since that incident with Fred.”
“I think it’s already pretty good,” Michael said. “You write really nicely.”
“Um, here’s my wardrobe,” I mumbled desperately. Was I boring him? “Am I boring you? My room isn’t really interesting.”
Michael stood up and gave me his trademark lopsided grin. “Well, I see something very interesting in this room.”
He practically mauled me to my bed and began kissing my face all over. I seriously hoped he wasn’t going to try whatever he had read in those brochures or in that book now. But, well, I just began to enjoy this treatment.
He pushed my legs slightly apart with a knee and began running a hand underneath my shirt up to my chest. I kind of let him have his way with me for a little while.
“Big brother, dinner’s ready – whoa, oh my God!”
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