01-18-2012, 04:50 PM
Seven thousand five hundred dollars. It wasn't much, but it was just enough to start a new life somewhere. After selling her jewelry, cashing in the kids' savings bonds given to them by a well-meaning maiden aunt, emptying the savings account, and hocking whatever items of value she could find in the house (including the antique willow-pattern tea set her great-grandmother had given to her as a wedding present that had been collecting dust in the display cabinet), Pamela Piccucci had amassed this small fortune by the end of the day. Well, it would have to tide her over until she could find some lonely millionaire who desired her company, maybe even marry her if she played her cards right.
The only problem was where was she going to find this well-heeled Mr. Right. Mexico was out of the question. She couldn't speak Spanish to save her life, and besides, the last time she was there with Mike she got horribly ill with what they called Montezuma's Revenge. Canada was too far north and too cold for her tastes, though the skiing wasn't too bad. Europe would be ideal--there were dozens if not hundreds of successful entrepeneurs and even a few titled noblemen who would no doubt be happy to share the wealth with her, but it would be too expensive to live there by herself. The American dollar wasn't what it used to be now that the euro was the standard currency. No, she'd have to stick to this side of the pond for now.
But what about Hawai'i? She had gone on her honeymoon there with Mike and had fallen in love with the Aloha State the minute she had stepped off the plane. It was pricey, but she was bound to run into someone who would take her in, either on the beach or in one of the bars. She couldn't take her car, of course, but she could sell it for cash and arrange for a rental. That would stretch her meager seven thousand dollar budget a bit furthur.
A rental? Pamela stopped short. If she tried to rent a car, she would have to show her driver's license, and being accused of double murder, it would leave a trail for the police to follow. No, if she was going to start a new life, she needed a new identity. At first, she though about reverting to her maiden name, Danvers, but that would be too obvious. Besides, her bathrobe and some of her accessories had her monogram on them: PJP, Pamela Jean Piccucci. Her new name needed to begin with the same letter. Pamela Jean...Pamela Jean...Petersen! Yes! That was it. From now on, she would be Pamela Jean Petersen. But how to get her new name on her driver's license? Easy, just go down to the DMV, tell the clerk she was getting married and wanted to change the name on her driver's license, and they'd do the rest. With luck, the automaton behind the counter would be too busy to notice her. It was an acceptable risk.
Pamela began to pack her summer wardrobe into two large Vuitton suitcases and the matching carry-on bag. For the first time in a month, she felt free as a bird. By tomorrow, this bird would be winging its way to the Hawai'ian Islands. Good-bye, Sin City, hello Honolulu! Pamela Jean Piccucci was dead and gone. She was now Pamela Jean Petersen, private citizen and potential wife or mistress to some lucky man with money, and she was going to live it up island style! And no one was going to stop her now!
Alicia writhed with boredom as she sat in her seat during Final Assembly. It was the last day of school, and she was as anxious to get out of the stifling auditorium as her classmates. But first there was the tedious routine of awards, honorable mentions, and farewell speeches from Father Mike and the staff. She had been there only an hour, but already she could feel her bottom growing numb under the pressure of her own weight. Hurry up so we can get out of here already! she mentally begged Father Mike.
The list of awards seemed as ridiculous as it was endless: Best Attendance, Good Citizenship, Most Improved (at what Alicia didn't know); the top ten in the Gold, Silver and Bronze Honor Rolls; the Altar Society Award for service to the Church; and of course, the coveted Student of the Year. None of which Alicia won, not that she cared. She didn't even bother to applaud those who did win. It was all just a lot of BS in her opinion. She just wanted to get out and enjoy the three month reprieve from school for the summer.
Alicia cheered herself with the happy thought that summer bought an new season of MindFreak. At least, she hoped there would be a new season; Criss had his live shows and his major production of Believe. Would he be able to squeeze in a few new episodes of his TV show? She hoped and prayed he would. She also hoped that it would be shown on Wednesday nights--that was when her mother worked late, and she could slip into the basement and watch it there, wearing the headphones so Kyle wouldn't hear her and tattle on her. Mom was still antagonistic against Criss Angel, blaming him for her daughter's "radical" change in behavior and forbidding her to have anything to do with him. Good thing Mom never read what she really wrote in that forced dictation letter. If she had, well...she preferred not to think about that.
The award ceremony ended, and Father Mike mounted the podium for his customary end-of-term speech. Keep it short, okay, Father? Alicia begged. We all want to get out of here while we're still young!
Father Mike's speech was the longest fifteen minutes of Alicia's life. Her butt ached for relief, and her legs begged to be stretched, but she did not dare move--Sister Angelique was standing guard by the near wall, ready to pounce on the first student who showed any sign of mischief, or at least impatience. Everyone was required to sit up straight, have both feet on the floor (no crossing of legs were allowed), and with hands in their laps like perfect little ladies and gentlemen. To remain in such an unnatural position for ninety minutes was agony. Alicia kept squeezing her fingertips to release a trickle of the frustration building up inside her.
"And so let us walk in the path of righteousness as we conclude this term," Father intoned. "Go in peace, and have a good Christian summer."
Finally! The student body rose from their seats, relieved at last to be free from their bondage. They were all expected to file out in an orderly fashion, but this was their moment of liberty; they bolted out the doors en masse despite the demands of the nuns to exit quietly and in single file. Alicia filled her lungs with fresh spring air, glad to be out of that stifiling auditorium. It was over! She was finally free to do as she liked. Her sentence for running away to Vegas had been served, and so long as she kept her love for Criss Angel a secret, she could keep on living as she had before. It was a pity she couldn't express her Loyalty, but under the circumstances, it couldn't be helped.
If only there was someone with whom she could share her feelings without fear of condemnation or ridicule. Oh sure, she had her online friends, but it wasn't the same as having a flesh-and-blood friend. Where in all of Melvinville could she find another Loyal?
She wished she could go back to Loyalpalooza. She wished she had had more time to get to know her fellow Loyals there, get some addresses and phone numbers, make some new friends. Instead, Detective Meridian had hauled her away and put her on that little plane back home, back to her life of tedium and boredom and isolation. There had to be someone she could talk to in this burg.
Alicia was startled. She turned around to see a girl about her age with jet-black hair cut in a page-boy style pinned back with berettes. Berettes!Geez, that was so Fifties! What time portal did she step through, anyway? She looked harmless enough, so Alicia said "Hey," back.
"I heard of you," the strange girl said. "Some kid was going on about you running away to Las Vegas."
Some kid? "That had to be my brother, Kyle," Alicia said. "He's a big blabbermouth. Don't believe anything he says--he's a brat."
"So did you run away to Vegas or not?" the stranger persisted.
Alicia shrugged. "So what if I did?" she retorted.
The stranger sighed wistfully. "I wish I could have gone with you," she sighed.
Alicia's aloofness turned to curiosity. "Why?"
"Well," the girl hesitated. "That was the weekend of...Loyalpalooza...and I really wanted to go."
Alicia's heart leapt. "You mean you're a Loyal, too?" she asked excitedly.
Now it was the girl's turn to brighten. "You mean you...?"
Alicia eagerly related her adventure in Las Vegas and its disappointing denouement. The girl was awed. "Wow! You were so lucky--in more ways than one," she gasped. "You think you'll ever see Criss again?"
"Well," Alicia replied, pondering the question, "there is the murder trial, you know. Since I'm the only eyewitness, I have to be there, and since Criss was there, I'm sure he'll be there, too."
The black-haired girl nodded. "I wish I could come with you," she said. "But my family is so hardassed they won't even let me mention Criss Angel in the house. They think he's the Anti-Christ. That's why they send me here--to learn 'Christian values' and be all wholesome and pure and all that crap. It's like I have to live a double life."
"I know how you feel," Alicia said sympathetically. "When I got home from Vegas, my mom made me write a letter to Criss, saying I didn't ever want to see him again. Of course, I wrote down the opposite of what she wanted me to say."
"That was smart of you," said the girl. "Oh, by the way, my name is Mary Ann. Not the coolest name--I hate it, but living in an old-school Catholic family like mine, what choice did I have?"
"I'm Alicia." She held out her hand to Mary Ann, who shook it briefly. "So how come I haven't seen you in school?"
"Oh, I've been around," Mary Ann said. "Altar Society, Youth Group, stuff that my folks insist will make me a better person; it takes up all my time. I used to go online to the fanboards in the school library, but they filtered that out."
"What's your domain name?" Alicia asked.
"Oh, wow, I read your poems! They're pretty good."
"Wanna come over to my house this weekend?" Mary Ann offered. "Dad's working all day Saturday, and Mom'll be running errands, so it'll be safe for a few hours at least."
"Where do you live?"
"Corner of Main and Elm," Mary Ann told her. "Big white house with blue trim, Mary statue in the front yard."
Alicia smiled broadly. "Okay, it's a date!"
"Just one thing, though."
"I like to be called MA," Mary Ann said. "I hate being called Mary Ann--it's so Gilligan's Island, you know?"
Alicia laughed. "Okay, MA it is," she agreed. "Anything for a fellow Loyal."
MA laughed. "Thanks. See you Saturday!"
Alicia waved good-bye to her newfound friend and skipped happily to the school bus for the last time that term. Thank You, God! she prayed. Thank You for sending me MA. Now I won't be so lonely anymore. I hope we become the best of friends forever! It's not every day you meet a fellow Loyal just like that! I'm so glad You hooked me up with her! You aren't so bad after all!