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					                                                  Chapter 1

         She fell asleep out on the old wicker chair. She didn’t do it intentionally. It happened to be a
school night, and Beatrice was alone on the open porch. Her last intention was to drift into slumber
cramped in the chair. However, the summer night was cool and perfect. The brilliant stars and the
singing breeze enticed her outside. Darkness wrapped around her tightly as she sat in the paint-chipped
chair. The hours grew late and she lost track of time. Nevertheless, she felt safe when wind blew slightly
rustling the grass on the dunes. Her eyes traveled across the dark outlines of her front yard. Technically
her front yard was the grass that stretched only about eight feet from her house. Her chair, however,
did not face the lawn. Beatrice’s chair was positioned toward her other, more impressive, front yard.
She stared at the waves and their white foam from over the dunes. Absentmindedly, she admired the
yellow glow of the pier stretching into the ocean.

       She lived in Atlantic City all year round with her family. Their neighborhood was quiet and
everyone knew each other. A few blocks over, the pier and the boardwalk vendors were preparing for
when shoo bees from Philadelphia came down and wildly spent all their money. The beaches would get
crowded soon. The summer of ’87 was closing in.

         This night, Beatrice felt peacefully excited. She felt like she was the only person alive, the only
person who really mattered. The waves rustled in the distance to calm her, and the streets were silent
to listen to her. Maybe, when daylight came she would be normal, but at this very instant she felt like
the piece of her soul that was always longing for something was appeased. She comfortably drifted to

         When she opened her eyes the sand was bright yellow again and the sky was a pale blue. The
lights of the city were off, so she could clearly make out all the casinos in the distance. Her first thought
was about the beach. She awoke thankful to have the ocean so close to her house since it was so close
to her heart. As Beatrice wiped the sleep from her eyelids, she realized from the sun how late it really
was. School would be there no matter what time she got there, she figured. She stretched her arms high
into the air, letting out a huge yawn. Beatrice was unusually calm as she stumbled into the house.

        “Beatrice Marino, I can tell you slept in that old chair on the porch; you have lines all over your
face.” Mrs. Marino said, scolding her daughter while frying eggs for breakfast. The atmosphere in the
kitchen was hectic and loud, yet the smells were wonderful. No one could cook like Angela Marino. She
could whip out a full breakfast in seconds flat that never failed to tantalize the senses. Mrs. Marino
never let anyone in her house feel uncomfortable even if it meant scurrying around all day long. “Get
dressed. I’m not driving you today,” she added

       “Okay, okay, jeez lady, I’m here.” She responded groggily. Beatrice never made much sense in
the morning.

        Barefoot, she climbed the pink carpeted stairs to the upstairs hallway. Nicholas was in his room
ready for school with his eyes glued to the large silver television. Dennis the Menace was on television
that morning. Nick was ready for school a good ten minutes ago; he was simply waiting for their mother
to call them down to leave. In many ways, Nick was similar to Dennis the menace. He loved to joke, act
silly, and he got in trouble most of the time. He also wore striped t-shirts every day.

        “Good morning, Nick,” Beatrice mumbled to the little boy as she passed his doorway.

         “Whaa?” he said wide-eyed to his empty room. Confused, he turned back to the colorful

        Beatrice reached the end of the hallway and pushed in Maria’s door as far as it would reach.
With only half her face penetrating the entrance, Beatrice could still make out the enormous piles of
clothes and strewn papers making up the majority of her sister’s room. The Ghost Buster’s poster hung
on the pink wall adjacent to her Ferris Buler poster.

        “Maria, get up, it’s seven o’clock,” Beatrice explained. There was no response from the huge
mass under the covers. “Come on we’re already late.” She emphasized. Still, no movement came from
the purple sheets.

        Suddenly, the fully dressed Maria leapt from behind the door.

        “Speak for yourself, I’m ready,” Maria said smacking her gum. She was dressed in her pink
member’s jacket, shorts, and tennis shoes. She stayed in her room fiddling with her light brown, teased
hair. “Oh gag! Look at your face! Did you fall asleep on the grill?” She said with a smirk.

         Beatrice slammed the six inch opening shut and side stepped into her own room. The walls were
a clean teal. It contained all the necessities like a desk and a dresser. Her desk was piled with books and
papers for school. On the other hand, her white dresser had her jewelry box, scattered sea shells, and
her stereo. Modestly taped against the ocean colored walls, hung her artwork. Colleage and sketches
that she liked layered the walls around her poster of The Beatles. The pink carpet was run down and
covered in sand, just like the rest of the house.

        She threw on her neon blue biker shorts and her large pink tee shirt. She snapped on the radio
and headed for the bathroom. She stared into the mirror and grabbed her makeup bag. Whitney
Houston’s singing and the catchy synthesizer beat that blared out of the stereo made her dance. She
sketched on her bold blue eye liner to highlight her hazel eyes. Her bright pink lipstick made a
statement. One of her earrings was a diamond stud and the other was a long dangling purple heart.
Leaving the radio on in her room, Beatrice spritzed in some hair spray and raced down the steps.

       “Take your eggs and get out. Jackie is already outside waiting!” Mrs. Marino ordered. “Nicholas,
get down here now!”

        “Okay mom, chill out for a sec,” Beatrice said jokingly. She raced out the door, down the porch
steps, and linked arms with her cousin Jackie. Beatrice dragged her a few steps and they both laughed.

        “Your outfit is totally killer!” Jackie said happily, “Where’re the little ones?” she added.
        Nicholas came out the door next. He was walking down the steps as Maria bounded out of the
house knocking him face first into the bushes. She leapt forward to the older girls and started walking
with them. Nicholas pulled himself up and sprinted ahead to lead the group.

        It was a bright day for so early in the morning. They were all warmed by the sun’s rays. In the
afternoon, the heat wave would become fierce and unforgiving. Beatrice put her brown hair up with her
scrunchie. She liked the heat. It felt good on the way to school and it would be fantastic swimming
conditions later.

       Jackie and Beatrice both went to Atlantic City high school. Beatrice was a junior and Jackie was a
sophomore. Maria was fourteen and Nicholas was eleven. They were all intelligent, but they never
bragged. In fact, they would learn from each other. Telling stories and reciting facts to impress each

      “Beatrice,” Nicholas said stopping short in his stride, “I don’t really want to go to school

        “Why not, little man?” she said concerned, “it can’t be that bad. Plus it’s almost summer

        “I don’t know I just don’t feel like it. School is boring.” He whined

       “Come on Nick we’ve got to go,” In the back of her mind Beatrice realized how far school was
and knew that if they talked too long they would miss first period. Nicholas, on the other hand, had his
own agenda. He sat down in the grass of Mrs. Lombardi’s lawn.

        “You guys go, I’ll lie here.” He said reclining into the grass.

        “Okay great, later days, kid” Maria said leading Jackie forward.

       Beatrice laughed at her brother and took a seat next to him. He was the smartest kid in his class
and never complained to anyone. She couldn’t blame him for just wanting to take a break.

        “Hey, I bet you completely forgot about tonight.” She said being coy.

        “What? “ He said lifting his blonde matted hair out of the grass.

        “All that T.V. is melting your brain. I told you yesterday.” She teased him.

        “Beatrice, tell me!”

        “Okay, okay. I’m taking you to the arcade tonight. The one on Ninth Street, you know the one
with the two Pac man machines.”

        “No way! How could I forget that?” He jumped up with excitement “let’s go! Beatrice, get up!”
        She obeyed her brother and they caught up to the other two girls. Nicholas’s school came into
sight and he ran in with the other little boys and girls. He waved them good bye and entered the school.

        “Did you guys see him walk into that preschool? He looks like a five year old in that shirt” Maria
said with a smile.

        “Your stop is next, spaz,” Beatrice joked

        A few blocks and a left turn later, they reached the middle school. Maria headed up the steps
with the other seventh and eighth graders. They all laughed in their little cliques outside the school.
Beatrice wondered why they tried to act like high school students; they still looked like kids to her.

       “Bye honey! Have a good day! We love you, pumpkin!” Jackie said with her hands pressed on
her heart.

          “I packed your lunch, honeydew! Now go get that knowledge!” Beatrice shouted after her
sister. It was important to knock Maria down a peg to balance out her attitude. The fourteen year old
ducked her head and entered the school.

        “Bag your face!” Maria retorted with her famous smirk.

        “Oh crap, Jackie, it’s almost eight! We’re gonna have to book it.” Beatrice said quickly as she
glanced at the old clock on the middle school. They ran across the street dodging a station wagon. The
high school was a straight sprint down the next street. They could see the buses leaving the lot.

        “Ahh! We’re so close!” Jackie said laughing as she ran.

        The bell rang when they reached the steps of the ancient building. They pushed on the doors
but they were locked.

        “Crap, Beatrice! What are we gonna do now?” Jackie said angrily.

        “Alright don’t freak out.” Beatrice said looking around. It looked hopeless. Mrs. De Lucas would
be outside in seconds looking for late students.

         Then she struck an idea. She grabbed Jackie by her denim jacket and they ran to the nearest
class room window. The two banged and shouted against the glass. A tall boy with light brown hair
opened the window for them. Beatrice and Jackie awkwardly flopped into the classroom. Everyone in
the cooking class stared at them with half confused and half amazed gazes.

        “Thanks, Jack” Beatrice said to the helpful student, and they left. Jackie grabbed a muffin off a
desk on the way out.

        “Beatrice that was too close.” Jackie said spitting out chunks of muffin onto the linoleum floor,
“See ya after school, later days.”

        They parted ways in the hall. Beatrice snuck into homeroom almost unnoticed.
        “Ms. Marino, this certainly is a huge shock.” Mr. Johnson said directing all the unwanted
attention on Beatrice. Sure, she was always in homeroom, but being late once wasn’t out of the
ordinary. Was it simply funny to pick on the girl who didn’t talk to anyone in the class? “I thought smart
students like you got to school on time.” He added, grinning.

         Honestly, Beatrice could care less about her incompetent teacher. She didn’t even glance in his
direction and said loudly, “Yes, you’re right I am smart. I am even smart enough to see that your tie is a
clip on,” Before the Mr. Johnson even realized the insult, the bell rang. “Have a nice day, Mr. Johnson.”

        Beatrice grabbed her books and trudged out of the class. Looking at her, anyone could tell that
school held her in involuntarily. Her hair was brown, lively, and curly with natural blonde highlights from
the sun. It was finally warm outside and her skin was copper. The school, conversely, had straight, pale
hallways without any windows.

        Her locker was in a fairly good spot. It was next to the water fountain and the doors out of the
school. Even better, though, directly across from her was Jack Ryan’s locker. They had talked before,
and they knew each other existed, but Beatrice had the feeling that she thought about Jack more that
he thought about her.

       If she looked at the mirror in her locker, sometimes she would see Jack talking to his friends. He
had brown hair and a great smile. He always dressed cool. Beatrice took her hair out of her scrunchie as
she walked passed, a move that she later deemed pathetic.

        “Okay so boardwalk tonight, Jack?” said one of his friends

        “Sure man, the pier is opening up the new roller coaster tonight.” Jack said casually.

        Beatrice walked into English and greeted Mrs. Morgan, her favorite teacher. She was a young
woman with short brown hair and thick glasses. Undoubtably she was the most intelligent teacher in the
school, yet she was the least respected. She was soft spoken and incabable of raising her voice to

        Beatrice had known Mrs. Morgan since her freshman year when she got lost and hid in the girls
room for the entire day. The kind woman had helped her learn the school. Beatrice recalled that this
happened back when Mrs. Morgan was Ms. Monica Bruno. The spunk and ambition that she had once
had starting out had died away and she became reserved. That was what high school did to a person,
Beatrice suspected. But Mrs. Morgan appreciated Beatrice’s diligence and in return Beatrice always
shared her stories with Mrs. Morgan.

         Beatrice’s last period class was history. Mrs. Peterson was asleep at her desk like always. Most
of the time, the students would generously lend her their sunglasses for the period. Some even kinder
students would give her the facial hair that she needed via magic marker. Beatrice considered it an even
trade since Mrs. Peterson gave up on them; they gave up on Mrs. Peterson.
       Suddenly, the announcements for the end of the day began with a loud muffled static on the

        “Hello students, this is your principle, Mrs. De Lucas,” The class ignored the call and continured
their conversations, “As some of you might already know, the curfew for the city tonight has been
moved up to nine thirty. There is no cause for alarm, simply be at your houses by nine o’clock. Thank
you, that is all.” With a loud click the announcements were over without any response from the class.

       The bell rang. Beatrice was the first one out the door. She grabbed her bag out of her locker and
headed for the doors. Outside, she waited for Jackie.

          “Hey B,” said Jessica Lombardi, “I loved your comeback to Mr. Johnson, what an airhead.”

          “Totally,” Beatrice said remembering the incident. Out the doors jumped Jackie in a quick

          “Let’s bounce, “she said laughing, “This place gives me the creeps.”

       They picked up Maria within about five minutes and started heading to Nicholas’s school. The
sun was high and the heat was heavily engulfing everything.

          “I can’t wait to dive into that water!” Maria grunted

          “Me either!” Jackie agreed

       Up a head they saw Nicholas sitting on the bench outside the school. They grabbed him and
kept moving homeward. Beatrice carried his read book bag. They finally ran up the steps and meat their
mother in the kitchen.

          “Hey Ang,” greeted Jackie, “We’re headed to the beach,”

          “I’ve got your lunches right here,” she replied,”I was down there earlier today, it’s perfect.”

           “Thanks, mom,” Beatrice shouted from the top of the steps, “Come on Jackie, grab your swim
suit it’s in the laundry room.”

        They met outside in their swimsuits. The way up to the boardwalk was a long wooden ramp
along the sidewalk. On various streets on the boardwalk there were the wooden steps that led down to
the sand. They crossed the warmed surface of the boardwalk in their bare feet and lined up on the
warm sand.

         “Ready, set, go!” Jackie yelled out. They all ran up the hill and over the dunes. At the apex of the
hill Beatrice could finally see the ocean, clean and beautiful. It was their haven from the insane heat.
They all sprinted across the first yards of thick sand. It was hot and stung their feet. The tan, young
lifeguards sat on their stands with their blank expressions and their aviator sunglasses.
        As the waves rolled in spraying their foam, four splashes hit the water. Beatrice pulled her head
out of the cool ocean. From her shoulders down she was immersed in the refreshing fluid. She couldn’t
help but dunk her head under repeatedly and swim underwater till her lungs almost gave out. It felt

        Chapter 2

          “Everybody’s got a hungry heart, everybody’s got a hungry heart. Lay down your money and you
play your part. Every bodies got a hu-uh-hungery heart.” Beatrice sang into her hairbrush. The radio was
still blaring from earlier that morning. She waved her arms in the air and spun across the floor. Her hair
was wrapped in a blue towel as she reapplied her makeup. The boardwalk was the spot to be tonight
and Beatrice wasn’t going to miss it.

          Nicholas was bouncing around downstairs jingling his huge bag of quarters. He was wiggling his
fingers and warming them up. Jackie was coming along too, but Maria was passed out on the old couch
in the living room. The boardwalk opened at five, but the real action didn’t happen untill seven.

         Beatrice opend up her window and stared out at the ocean. The night was as perfect as before
as she breathed in the smell of the salt. However, the smells of funnel cake and deep fried items were
what intoxicated Beatrice even more. The stands that sold the oily, delicious food were blocks down the
street, but Beatrice could smell them even if she was in another city. She wadded up her money she got
from lifeguarding over the last summer, and bounded down the steps.

         “Ain’t got all day, lady!” Nicholas yelled at his sister, “You got yourself all dolled up to take me to
an old, dark, stinky, arcade. Well at least I know your standards.” He said with a grin.

        “Oh, did I forget my lipstick? I guess I’ll have to wipe off all this make up and start again,”
Beatrice said slowly as she grabed the railing of the stairs.

        “No!” Nicholas said in a sharp whine.

         “Please, I look good. You should take some pointers from me,” she chuckled, fluffing his soft
blonde hair. She couldn’t help but ponder how strange he was. Everyone in the family had dark, Italian
hair, but he was a bright blonde. Maybe he got it from their father; Beatrice didn’t like to make that
hypothesis, though. She shook off the thought and shoved her brother, “Last one outside smells like low

        “Not me! See ya mom, we’re leaving.” Nicholas yelled as he slammed the big white door behind

        “Remember curfew!” Mrs. Marino called after them, “Don’t make me have to come and find

        They ran to the top of the ramp and tagged the nearest bench simultaneously. They were both
out of breath when they began walking the boards. There were no brightly lit shops or fantastical piers
built on this end of the board walk. Scattered office buildings, motels, and condos lined this section of
the strip. Neon signs and long alleys were the only sites. It really didn’t matter; the dark streets normally
were deserted from any disturbances anyway.

        Because of their constant explorations, Beatrice and her friends knew the area all too well. Even
Nicholas could find his way around the neighborhood alone. Old buildings and vacant lots were meeting
spots and hideouts. Kids of all ages would waltz right into each others houses. Whether it was a game of
hide and seek carried out too far or the fact that Mrs. Aiuto made baked ziti for dinner, things were
shared. Looking at the neighborhood with a fresh eye, things looked unkempt and dangerous. But who
cared anyway? The natives weren’t afraid of their residence.

        The two walked on as the dim boardwalk gradually morphed into a huge celebration. Lights and
laughter unfolded as they approached the pier. Colorful illuminations, harmonious sounds, and sweet
smells overwhelmed them. More and more people were walking around fraternizing in various groups.
Jackie waved her hand over her head, rapidly signaling to Beatrice with her huge ecstatic smile. Her
huge ring and collection of plastic bracelets jingled furiously.

       “Beatrice! Check out the pier, right? Oh! Look at those tee shirts!” She said excitedly, “Hey Nick,
how are ya?”

        “Ready to kill some ghosts,” he said enthusiastically, “Let’s go guys!” He tugged on their shirts
and pulled them forward.

        “Okay Nick, chill out, we’re gonna get you set up. Then we’re headed to the pier, okay?”
Beatrice explained, “Do you here me? Stay on the boardwalk,” Nicholas had already set up on the
nearest game and dispensed his first coin. The girls left to the sound of pellets being gobbled up.

        “I’m so amped! The tidal wave is finally open! It’s supposed to be the biggest coaster on the east
coast!” Jackie exclaimed.

        “I know! It’s totally boss! I’ll get the tickets.” She replied. They strolled up to the ticket line
infront of the tiny pink booth. Everyone in the highschool was at the pier. They all wanted to be seen
having fun and looking cool. Beatrice was completely blinded by her excitement. She loved
rollercoasters. When you live go to the boardwalk as often as she did, the normal rides became too
lame. She was numb to their promised thrills. The new wooden tracks of the Tidal Wave were the
salvation from this bordem.

          After snatching the tickets off the counter, Beatrice and Jackie sprinted into line.

       “Hey do you remember when Ms. Bruno used to sell all the tickets real cheap for her students
when she worked here over the summer,” Jackie recalled.

      “Wow I remember that!” Beatrice laughed, “But she’s Mrs. Morgan now. She doesn’t even come
down here much anymore.”
         They watched amazed as the red cart slowly made its trek up the enormous hill. In an instant,
the tiny red speck rocketed down the track twisting and swooping around.

        “Sweeet.” Jackie squealed looking a beatrice.

        The line grew thick as more and more people lined up. At the end of the line, Beatrice could see
Jack with his friend s. His dark hair was perfect as he smiled and laughed. She couldn’t help but think
that jack looked a lot like bruce springsteen.

        “Jackie, check it out.” She said staring at Jack.

         “Well if it isn’t your boy toy. “ Jackie said with a giggle, “Ew, B, look, it’s Jennifer, what a total
betty.” The girl’s teased blonde hair was piled on her head and she was covered in makeup. She stood
in line with Jessica Lombardi and Jack’s group. With just the sight of Jennifer, Beatrice rolled her eyes.
Her mood was utterly ruined; she couldn’t look in Jack’s direction without being repulsed.

        “So have you been running, yet? The beaches open to the public soon.” Jackie inquired.

        “Yeah, I have. I can’t wait, if the summer is as nice as last year lifeguarding is gonna be bangin’.”
Beatrice said as they approached the front of the line.

          “Ohmigosh! Which seat should we get?” Jackie shouted,” The front gets the view, but the best
ride is in the back,”

        “Definitely gotta take the back on this one. The speed will be killer from there!”

        “Your totally right.”

        The cart finally returned from the main track with a burst of whipping air. The breaks halted
with a screech, and the flustered passengers exited grunting and exclaiming the intensity of the ride.
Beatrice hopped through the gates and grabbed the back seat. She was buckling her belt as Jackie sat

        “Girls, I need your tickets.” The ride operator said dully. Beatrice handed her stubs to the man
when she glanced over at her friend. Jackie was fumbling through her pockets when her face went pale.
She stared blankly at Beatrice and showed her the hole in the jacket.

        “I told you that old jacket was worthless!” Beatrice screamed.

        “Your going to have to come with me ladies.” The old man said impatiently

        “No. Beatrice you stay I’ll catch another one.” Jackie said not looking at her.

        “I don’t want to ride it without you, that’s too lame!,” Jackie shot her a determined look “But—“
Beatrice stammered. Then Jackie’s face twitched, Beatrice almost began to laugh, “oaky, whatever you
         Jackie slowly moved toward the front exit as everyone else boarded the cart. She looked around
cautiously and when the old ride manager turned his back she plopped fown into the nearest cart. She
did it do speedily that Beatrice smiled. Jackie turned around and winked again.

       “Alright you guys! Fine!” said a voice near Beatrice’s ear. The stranger sat down next to her and
she simply ignored him. She purely wanted to ride the tidal wave and at least Jackie was on the same

        “Hey Beatrice, are you psyched or what?” Jack said to her. She almost jumped in her seat after
hearing his voice. After the initial shock, she was overcome with a feeling of extreme happiness.

        “Yeah, I hope you don’t mind if I scream, I love roller coasters.” Beatrice said

        “I hope you don’t mind if I scream, this is supposed to be killer!” Jack laughed.

        The ride started up as the man on the microphone announced their departure, “Get ready for
the rides of your lives when you try to conquer, The Tidal Wave,”

        They shot forward as everyone iin the cart cheered joyously. Beatrice saw Jackie throw her
hands in the air, and then looked at Jack. He smiled at her and as they climbed up the gigantic incline he
teased her.

        “He we go Beatrice, the ride of the century. You’ll tell your grandchildren about this amazing
ride. We are so high up, our houses look like shoe boxes.” He joked.

        The chain beneath them clicked and churned as they still climbed higher. Jack grew silent as
they reached the apex of the mountain.

        “Holy crap!” Jack eclaimed as the front cart whipped down the other side. In an instant the back
car was instantly dragged down behind them. Beatrice let out a yell that was a mix of terror and

        “Put your hands up!” Beatrice called out, “Its more fun!”

        “Not on your life!” he smiled squeezing the lap bar in front of them. The cart made a sharp turn
forcing all the g’s on the back cart. Beatrice slid into Jack and he grabbed her. She took his hands off the
lap bar and put them in the air.

        “See!, whoo!” She laughed as a huge smile ran across Jack’s face.

         “This is amazing!” He said letting out a shout of pure freedom. He stretched his arms and took in
the full experience as they accelerated forward.

       They dipped, jerked, spun, and sped as the sea air was rushed across their faces. Everyone let
out simultaneous yells of thrill and excitation.
       They finally reached the end of the rickety wooden track and slowed to a stop. Every single
person was panting to catch their breath. The loud clattering still rung in everyone’s ears. Some people
laughed and some people were rubbing their hoarse throats.

Beatrice turned to Jack, “How wild was that?”

“Totally savage,” he replied, “I thought we were gonna die, that was the bomb!”

“ It was,” she smiled

         They exited the ride and went down the ramp into the sea of people continuing their
conversation. “It was a bangin’ ride with you, Beatrice. I never put my hands up in roller coasters, ever.
Shit, that was cool.”

        “Lets go, Spangler,” One of Jack’s friends ordered, “Gonna go check out the beach under the
pier. Coming?”

“uhh…” Jack glanced over at Beatrice. She was looking around for any sign of Jackie in the thick crowd.
Her hair was a curly mess from the fierce wind of the roller coaster.

“Come on Jack, “ interrupted Jennifer, “Ditch the zeek, we’re headed to a cooler place.” She put his arms
around her and smacked her gum.

“No thanks Jen, I’m gonna check out the pier some more, it’s the first night of the season, ya know?” He
said awkwardly trying to shaker her off.

        “Fine, be a total herb,” she said smirking at him, “We’ll be on the beach.”

        The large gang of teens left the pier. Jennifer and Jessica were arm in arm. Beatrice had to roll
her eyes at them. The incident was years ago, but it still stung her to see Jessica walking with a Betty like
Jen. Maybe if Jess didn’t always try to get her makeup brighter and her hair bigger, they would still be
good friends.

       “So Beatrice, what ride you wanna hit next? You want to help me conquere my fear of the
merry-go-round?” He said grinning at her.

        Returning the gesture she laughed, “Last one to the ride smells like low tide.”

Chapter 3

        “You know my dad works in the Hilton,” Jack said leaning over the steel railing as he pointed to
the Casino in the distance.

        “That’s must be a pretty choice gig, what does he do?” She inquired.

         “Oh nothing, just an architecht,” Jack said wanting to change the subject. He looked at Beatrice
staring toward the beach.
         They had slipped away form the huge crowd and found a deserted spot along the railing of the
pier. Everything was dying down around them as they chatted. Some shops were closing and the lights
were slowly disappearing. The breeze from the crashing waves below became slightly chilling, but she
was so engulfed in conversation that she barely cared.

       She would study the ocean and wonder what layed beneath it. Staring at the beach she
wondered if any living thing was dwelling on it. Was there anyone out there doing anything important?
Then she peered over at Jack.

          “What was your favorite ride tonight?” Jack questioned, not taking his eyes off hers

          “Well, Doy, The tidal wave, “she expressed, “there hasn’t been a ride like that on the boards in

          “Okay,” he laughed, “My favorite was the swings,”

          “You would choose the lamest ride in New Jersey,” she teased him

       “Hey, it reminds me of my youth,” he said trying to impersonate an old man, “Swinging in the
park down the street,”

          She laughed at him, “You sound like a retired mobster,”

          “I figured when I get old I’ll sound like my pops, very angry and very Italian.”

        Beatrice fidgeted on the rails with amusement. Jack’s question forced her to recall their night on
the pier. Now, it all felt like a hazey vision. The tidal wave was where it all started, but the swings was
where it had ended. Jack had talked to her the entire night telling jokes and pointing out the shoo bees.

        She began to feel the chill on her arms when she felt her stomach drop, she had a feeling that it
had gotten extremely late. In the seconds that she looked up she hopped with all her might that she was
wrong. According to the moon, however, it was eleven o’clock.

       “Oh no! I’m such a ditz. I forgot to pick up my brother at the arcade. It’s already eleven!” She
shouted in realization, “I have to bolt. Bye” She began to quickly depart from the railing.

          “Beatrice wait, I’ll walk you home,” He offered.

       Without any hesitation she blurted, “Yes!” She instantly covered her mouth at the desperate
outburst. She wanted to cover it up but before she could uttered a word she was stopped.

          “You got it,” Jack grinned

       When they reached the arcade, the large neon sign that was once brilliantly lit to lure in excited
customers was completely dark. A huge metal gate blocked the once wide entrance.
         “Nick!” Beatrice called in a horrified frenzy, “Nick! Maybe he went home, he probably got bored
and just walked right home,” she said trying to convince herself. She felt like busting down the metal
barrier and running to the Pac man machine where she had so irresponsibly dropped her brother off.
Then she remembered Jackie and she almost fell to the ground with relief. Jackie must’ve taken Nick
home, that’s just what Jackie did.

        Jack saw Beatrice stop her frantic rant and stand perfectly still.

        “So, everything alright?” he asked.

         “Yeah perfect,” She stammered picturing how she must’ve looked scurrying around the arcade
like a psychopath, “You go home its only a short walk for me down that way. I’ll be fine. Plus if anyone is
patroling, we’re dead meat.”

      He reluctantly agreed and continued on in the other direction. Shortly after, Beatrice began her
own walk down the dark strip. As she walked with her back to the glowing city, everything around her
became pitch black. She could barely see her white tennis shoes against the dark wood below her.

        The boardwalk at two o’clock meant swimming. The boardwalk at five o’clock was harmless. The
boardwalk at seven o’clock was entertaining. However, the boardwalk at eleven o’clock became the
perfect conditions for trouble. Filth of the city could only be seen in the dark, and eleven o’clock was
severely black.

         Beatrice was still a long way from her street as she began to feel a cold sweat on her neck. On
either side of her there were the dark expressionless dunes and the mysterious dirty alleyways of down
town. She convinced herself to look straight ahead. She also began to wish that the lights of the casinos
in the distance hadn’t been so greedy and taken away all the stars.

        Suddenly, Beatrice began to hear noises. She jumped stifly when she heard the first sound that
penetrated the silence. It was the sound of grunting whispers. Nervous, she clenched her fists and
looked around. She wanted to see her mother coming from her street with a flash light and a lecture,
but Beatrice knew her mother had fallen asleep by ten at least.

        She began to walk again at a feverish pace, not trusting her ears. A girl like her was an easy
target this late at night. This thought made her angry. She would be picked out for being a girl all on her
own, but God help her, she would fight off anyone in the city who came near her at this moment.

        Another noise came so loud that she thought the entire city would spring back into life. She
heard a grunting, coughing laugh. She looked all around. Her body was paralysed. She felt like something
was close to her and she waved her arms in the darkness. Nothing. Then, she looked down. Through the
cracks of the boards she could see the white glossy film of an eye. Stumbled backwards and fell.

       The hoarse noise shot out into the night for a second time. Beatrice sprung up and ran with all
her might. She didn’t turn her head. She wasn’t even sure if she opened her eyes. She banged her right
knee on the bench by the ramp and hurried to her porch. She leapt into her house. Slamming the large
white door shut she locked herself in.

        “Jeez! There you are! We were two seconds away from calling the cops.” Maria said walking into
the kitchen in her fuzzy slippers.

          “Where’s Nicholas?” Beatrice said running over to her sister.

          “Slow you’re role, Skippy. Jackie brought him home like three hours ago.” She replied.

        A huge wave of relief fell over her. Her surroundings finally came back into her senses. She was
breathing heavily and panting. The only thing she felt like doing was seeing Nicholas and then getting to

        She left Maria to fall back asleep on the couch and went up stairs. She wanted to turn left into
her brother’s room, but she heard the television blaring in her mother’s room.

        Like most nights, Mrs. Marino had fallen asleep to the local news. Beatrice stepped into the
room that was only lit by the blue, radiant glow of the T.V. She was about to hit the power off when she
heard the next headline.

         “Two days ago in the local county of Bayside, there was believed to be a suspected killing on
beach between Fifth Street and Ocean Drive.” Blonde-haired anchor woman said, “No body was found,
but a local school teacher, Chris Bruno, was said to come into the police station in a hysterical state
stating on record that she had heard someone murdered behind her house. However one important
aspect of this aledjed crime is missing. Investigators have yet to find a body. The police are examining
the reported claim, having found other supporting evidence at the beach.”

           Beatrice lived on Fourth and Ocean. She sat down on her mother’s bed and listened to her
breathing deeply. She was still nervous about her walk home. Every door was locked now, but Beatrice
felt like she had let something dangerous into her house. She fell asleep with the news on at the foot of
the bed.

Chapter 4

        “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, then we wouldn’t have to wait so long,” Beatrice sang in
harmony with Maria. They strolled down the hot sidewalk in their bathing suits. The day was a perfect
beach boy type of day. The sun was hot and the water was glistening, yet Beatrice continued to survey
her surroundings.

          “Can we sit on the dunes today? “ Maria asked,” I know its perfect to swim, but I have an

       “Yea… sure.” Beatrice agreed shaking away her distractions, “That’s actually a better idea. Lisa
was walking home earlier today, and she told me the water is filled with seaweed today.”
         “Great,” Maria said clasping her hands together.

         The two sisters made there way across the boardwalk, onto the sand, and up the dunes. The
hills were large and covered in dry reeds. They put their towels down in there secret spot. It wasn’t as
open as the dunes were it was a slight indent between the dunes and it was almost next to the

        There was a rule of thumb for the boardwalk though; you stayed out from underneath it. It was
said that mazes of tunnels ran underneath it coated with trash and worst of all, bums. The dirty, old,
insane bums who slept, ate, and lived on the beach for free. Joe De Lucas was said to have explored
under the boardwalk and run into an angry bum. These angry bums were normally the alcoholic kinds,
and absolutely the worst kind.

        Once Jackie and Nicholas showed up and set up their towels they all sat down in the warm sand.
Maria stood in the center of everyone. She was wearing her neon pink whole piece and violet shorts.
Her wavy light brown hair was blowing behind her. Maria was certainly skinny form always running on
the beach with Nichols.

          Smiling with excitement, Maria began her act, “Hello ladies and gentlemen,” she announced,
“It’s a lovely day here on the shore. Everyone’s tanning and no one, absolutely no one, has a care.” She
started to look over at the crowd, “Especially this group,” she pointed into the crowded of beach goers,
“I wonder which lucky person gets to tell this lady that she should’ve stopped wearing a swim suit six
kids ago,” She said pointing to a large woman in a polka dotted bikini, “And look, the life guards are on
duty. I wonder if all life guards are idiots or the sun just slowly evaporates their brains. “

         “Booo!!!” Jackie and Beatrice hissed, “Don’t bag on the lifeguards!” They protected their craft.

         “Do I have hecklers?” Maria grinned, “What’s your name miss?”

         “Doy I’m Jackie,” she said rolling her eyes

         “Well I can tell by your hair that you’re a mall rat. Haven’t you heard of the expression less is

         “Booo!” Jackie shouted and threw sand at the terrible comdedian.

         “These are the jokes!” She shouted tossing a shell at Jackie’s head.

        “Nice try Maria, but it needs work.” Beatrice said. She lied back into the sand and felt the
millions of grains roll down her arms and her back, “I have a story.”

         “Go ahead Beatrice I love your stories,” Jackie said

         “Okay, well take a look at that old flip flop under the boardwalk,” They all directed their eyes to
the shrivled broken mess of a former shoe. “Well, one night long before this island became the place for
all the casinos there was a girl named Gertrude strolling the beach. She never walked on the beach
alone, but tonight she was waiting for someone,” Beatrice said telling making up her story as she stared
blankly at the sky.

         “The stars were all out and she felt vulnerable. She heard a rustle in the dunes. At first, Gertrude
shuddered. Then she went to investigate. She awkwardly trekked up the dunes and heard the voice of
her friend calling her from underneath. She tried to go down the other side of the sand mountain as
carefully as possible, but she slipped and slid right underneath the boards.”

        “The voice that she had mistaken for her friend was really a scraggly old man. She wanted to run
but he had a hold of her ankle. She violently shook her foot, but the man held it tightly.”

        “She screamed and dug her nails deep into the sand, “Let go of me! Please let go!’”

        “Oh god!” screamed Maria interrupting, “she’s gonna die I just know it!”

        “He pulled her in and said something that made her shudder, ‘Miss, don’t go out there,” he said.
Suddenly, she heard two gun shots rip the silence of the night. She saw a mysterious man walk up the
steep dunes and surveyed the area. Her heart almost stopped when she saw a gun in his hand. She
almost fainted in the arms of the old man when she realized it was her husband.”

          “Gertrude waited until her husband left the beach and slowly emerged from under the boards.
She didn’t thank the man. She had no idea where she was going . She walked the beach in her bare feet.
The only thanks she showed the man was by leaving behind her flip flop that had fallen off in the
struggle. She stumbled into the darkness alone searching for answers. The end.”

      “Wow. Nice one!” Nicholas whispered in awe. He picked up the flip flop and studied it,
“Wouldn’t that be amazing if it really happened?”

        “Didn’t Beatrice tell you?” Jackie asked the boy, “It almost happened to her last night!”

      “No it didn’t. At least I don’t think so. It was dark and I can’t even remember if it really
happened.” She said

        “Well I think it is mad scary. There is no way that any of us are going anywhere alone anymore.”
Jackie suggested.

        “They still haven’t found the killer yet.” Maria said in a whisper.

         “They haven’t even found a body, or even the fact that a murder even happened!” Beatrice said
trying to dismiss their thoughts.

        “Don’t be dumb,” Maria said, “You know that this place is run by mobsters.”

        “Please, those guys died out in the fifties.” Jackie said.

      “I can picture it now.” Nicholas said, “Frankie “The Sand which” had committed a huge insult to
Dom the dingo. He stood under the pier pleading for mercy.
         “’You should’ve never eaten you pasta before me,’ the Dom said. BAM! BAM! BAM!” Said the
little boy as he pointed his invisible machine gun at the girls, “Frankie fell on his knees and kicked the

        “So, Nick, where’d they stash the body?” Beatrice said slyly.

         “They tied cement to his ankles and dropped him in the ocean. There’s no other practical way to
do it.” He said in an Italian accent.

        They all laughed. For such a small kid, Nicholas was filled with clever stories.

        “I have to go to the bathroom now,” Maria said, “Can we go up to the pier and go?”

        “Sure, let’s go.” Jackie said.

         They went up to the pier and entered the old, dirty restrooms. Beatrice decided she might as
well go in while she was there.

        She shut the door and closed the small black latch on the door. Her eyes skimmed upward when
her brain automatically read the writing on the stall. Surprised and struck back, she saw her name in
large red letters. She took a double take and stared at the message, it read:

        “Beatrice is generic loser.”

        There couldn’t have been falser words in the universe. Scrambling around the stall she looked
for anymore of the hateful red marker. She found none. In her search, she did find something else.

        A scribbled piece of notebook paper was on the floor. She opened it up excpecting more hateful
words. Instead she found a ripped note that read, “he dies.” It was written in black ink that ran from the
salt water tracked into the restroom.

        She didn’t know what to do with her discovery, but Beatrice put it in her pocket. As she looked
up she stared at the red marked door and ran out of the stall. She felt the cold sweat gather again.

        “Let’s go swimming,” Beatrice said to her group outside of the bathroom.

        When she reached the water she dove in. She wanted the thoughts forming on her face to be
hidden by the ocean’s water. Everything had come rushing at her at once and she was scared. She felt
that she had begun something bigger than herself as she trugged out of the warm water.

       She stood with her ankles in the shallow gully. She wrapped her arms around her shoulders and
began to think. She kept her mind occupied by counting the baby clams under the mud. She began to
make up another story.

         It would be about a ship that slipped from its dock and floated out to sea. The boat wouldn’t be
big, but it would travel the world landing on beaches and then eventually sliding back out into the
ocean. It wouldn’t have an owner and it wouldn’t have companions it would just go.
          Eventually, she realized that sulking in the puddle would only make her feel worse; she longed
to find the gang again to cheer her up. With one last dip into the waves she slowly walked back to her

        Jackie and Maria were waiting for her at the door. Maria teased Beatrice just like always as they
walked inside together.

        “I guess you were the last one to get inside cause you smell like the friggin’ bay at low tide.”
Maria teased, “Now we both need showers.”

         Beatrice shook her head vigorously, “’Gag me with a spoon,’” Beatrice said ditzily, “We are both
totally gross.” They entered the house arm in arm.

Chapter 5

        Mentally, she was exhausted. There was too much excitement and drama over the weekend.
That night, Jackie called Beatrice.

        “Hey, up to anything important?” She asked.

        “Nope nothing, I don’t feel like going out tonight, can you relate?” said lying on her bed. Her
legs were up against her wall as she stared at her artwork. She was cleanly showered and in her

        “Oh Fer serr,” she said,” I’m already dressed for bed.”

       “Ditto!” Beatrice laughed,”You should come over and watch some movies tonight or

         “You know nothing ever goes on in my house. I’d be happy to. Oh and their playing “Air Plane”
on T.V. tonight. That movie is mad hilarious”

        “Tubular!” Beatrice expressed, “Get over here as soon as you can. See ya in a bit.”

      “Bye” Jackie said hanging up the phone. Not soon after, there was a knock on Beatrice’s
bedroom door.

       “Hey babe, how are you doing?” her mother said entering the room. She was an average sized
woman with black wavy hair. She was tan and fairly young, yet she looked mature from a life of
experience. “Was the beach okay?”

       “I’m fine, mom” Beatrice said fiddling with her nails, chipping away her neon blue polish. “The
beach was perfect as always. How was your day?”
        “Just went food shopping and cooked dinner, pretty lame stuff.” She said, “I think I’ll head down
to the beach with you guys tomorrow.”

       “Great!” Beatrice said happily, “She might have been seventeen, but she loved going to the
beach as a family, especially now. The whole situation two years ago made her appreciate her mother’s
presence. For months after, she didn’t leave her mother’s side.

        Beatrice’s father had passed away. He was a wonderful father. He would take the kids to the
beach constantly when they were young. He was the most hilarious person that she had ever met, and
he was astoundingly creative. Art was his god given talent, but he couldn’t raise his kids on it.

           “Is it okay if Jackie comes over to watch movies?” Beatrice asked

        “When is it not okay for Jackie to come over? We have half her stuff in this house,” she teased,
“Have fun, I’ll be here in the kitchen or watching T.V in my room,”

        “Thanks, ma” she hugged her mother and headed downstairs to fix up the living room for the
sleep over.

       “Hey Maria!” she called, “’Air Plane’ is on!” Her sister bounded down the steps and plopped
down in the middle of the couch. “Hey I was setting that.” Beatrice said annoyed.

           “Shhhh!” Maria said wildly flapping her hand in her sister’s face.

       “You are such a spaz, I swear,” A few moments later, the doorbell rang, and Jackie came inside.
They ran to the kitchen and grabbed all their snacks. Popcorn, some Pepsi Free’s, and saltwater taffy
were tossed down onto the coffee table.

         They laughed and joked on the couch as the movie played out infront of them. It grew later and
later as the girls got more and more energy from their sugary snacks.

       “Beatrice, let’s go upstairs and turn on the stereo!” Jackie suggested. The three girls pushed and
shoved their way up the narrow steps.

           “Hit it!” Maria said.

       Beatrice turned up the volume to the highest notch. “La Bamba” blared out with a chorus of
hypnotizing brass instruments and an amazing guitar riff.

           “Para bilar la bamba!” sang Jackie, “Para bilar la bamba. Say nees see blah blah, un poco a

       Beatrice barely new any Spanish but it was a great song to dance to. They made up their own
words and danced up a storm.

           “Keep it down, girls!” Mrs. Marino called from her room.
         Instantly, Beatrice flicked off the radio and they dropped to the floor in laughter. She glanced at
the digital clock. The red numbers read twelve thirty. As their excitement died down they laid out the
sleeping bag for Jackie and Maria in Beatrice’s room.

        “Beatrice, I know that this is a bad time to talk about it, but I was talking to Jessica—“ Jackie

        “Why would you talk to that total poser?” Beatrice rolled her eyes.

         “Chill, she told me that Jennifer wrote that stupid crap on the bathroom stall. Which I doodled
into a giant flower, you’re welcome.”

        “Uhhh!” Beatrice threw herself onto her mattress.

        “Don’t let that, that spastic freak get you down,” Maria said, “Ohmigosh!” She shouted

        “What?” Beatrice mumbled with her face in her pillow.

        “I have the perfect plan. Grab the phone.” She ordered. The pink telephone was dropped down
on the floor as the cable stretched from the wall. Maria told Beatrice to dial a number she had written in
her trapper keeper.

        “Do exactly what I say,” Maria demanded.

        It rang twice until a man answered the phone.

        “Hello, Gilly’s gifts and party supplies. How may I help you?” said the man on the other end.

         Maria nudged her sister and whispered in her ear. Beatrice whipped around and shook her
head. The two argued in quick whispers until Maria put the phone back up to her sister’s ear. Jackie sat
back in a fit of laughter.

        “I would like to order a singing telegram” she explained.

       “Well, we have many different types of characters. Would you like a bear, the Easter bunny, or
any specific cartoon character?”

       The girl on the phone was going to crack up at any second so she blurted out the first thing that
came to mind.

        “Fred Flinstone, please.” She said formally.

        “Okay miss and what is the address you would like?”

        She gave the adress to the receptionist and said her goodbyes. With a click, the phone hit the
reciever. They all looked at each other and cracked up. Jennifer Strayer dancing with Fred Flinstone
would be the scene of the century.
       After their laughter died down, Beatrice’s eye caught a glimpse of the moon outside. Her
muscles tensed. She stood up and reached into her jacket that was laid on her desk chair.

          “What do you have there?” Maria asked.

          “I found it in the bathroom.” She responded.

        Beatrice sat in the center as the two girls looked down at the paper for the first time with their
hazel eyes. In a flash they had read the thin black letters and looked at each other.

          “You found this in the bathroom at the pier?” Jackie asked, “You don’t think…”

        “Don’t jump to conclusions, Jackie. It could have come from anything.” Maria said standing up
and going over to the window, “An old book report or a just a stupid kid’s note to his friend.”

          “You’re right,” Beatrice said, “I don’t even know why I picked it up.”

          “It’s probably covered in germs.” Maria added with her face twisted in disgust.

        “I’m just wondering.”Jackie said in her defense, “It’s buzzing all over the neighborhood that the
police have found something big.”

          “What do you mean, ‘big’?” Maria said skeptically.

       “I don’t know. Brenda Walsh told me that it was a murder weapon. She said it was a huge knife
covered in someone’s blood.” Jackie said.

          “Please, Brenda Walsh is an airhead.” Maria said shaking her head.

       “They couldn’t even find a trail, though. You would think that if the guy was stabbed that they
would’ve found a trail of blood leading to him.” Jackie continued, “They say nothing this gruesome has
ever happened in this part of town, ever.”

        “This is crazy,” Beatrice said, “It does explain why curfew is so early now, though. Do you think
the school is scared that the killer is lose?”

          “Doy,” Jackie said, “I bet they know everything, but won’t tell us. You know, mass panic and

          “Barf me out,” Maria said, “I’m going to bed.”

          “Fine your right,” Jackie said.

        Beatrice lied down in the sleeping bag. She couldn’t help but stay awake for another hour just
thinking. She thought about her neighborhood and who would murder someone. She thought about
who would be murdered. Her mind drifted from the main ideas of the story into philosophy.
          Death. She didn’t know what to think. Her whole life she was raised to believe in God, and she
still did, but her mind had explored new things. There were so many religions out there. Who’s was
right? Was anyone’s even remotely close to the truth that death held? She would never know.

         She stared at her ceiling and hopped that she would go to heaven and that she could trust her
faith. She knew that people had something that filled them up with their own essence; their souls. It was
so much more than the organs inside their bodies and their minds in their heads.

          Where did this go when death came? Maybe it would be reincarnated to anything in nature so
that life was recycled. Maybe it would go to an amazing place where she could live forever. Or maybe
she would simply leave and fail to exist anymore.

        Where was her fathr now?She began cry thinking such a dreary topic. She had to relax.

        Life was meant to distract us from death, she decided. She might as well live to the fullest while
she could. To fall asleep, she remembered Fred Flinstone and his wacky, immortal, cartoon world.

Chapter 6

        It was surprisingly cold that morning. She wished that she was wearing a sweatshirt. The wind
blew past her as she ran and her sneakers pounded against the boards. She had been running for more
than two miles and was almost ready to turn back. The way home was always more fun, anyway. The
coffee shops and the small cafes on the boardwalk were setting up and dishing out their fired eggs and
sausage sandwiches. She stayed in the runners’ lane and kept pushing herself forward.

        She felt alive and determined. Running was a challenge with every step. It was a bizarre
relationship. When she would run she loved it, but when she sat on her couch she wanted to murder
anyone who uttered the word.

         Being a lifeguard took tremendous training. Rowing the boats miles out into the water and
swimming double that length was intense. Her body would rebel agianst her frequently. She found
herself passing out at eight o’clock. Sometimes she would look at the tourists on the boardwalk with
their extra large tee shirts and their fanny packs stuffed under their bulging waists. They never had to
work out. Life wasn’t hard for them. She would cheer herfelf up by remembering that once she passed
the test things were easier.

       Apparently, lighting does strike twice. Beatrice thought this as she saw Jack reading the
newspaper infront of the Beachfront café. She locked her eyes forward on the horizon and tried to cover
her sweaty tee shirt. Jack, however, didn’t catch the hint.

       The tall boy was immediately on his feet at the sight of her. He left his breakfast on the table
and began to jog beside Beatrice.

        “Hey Beatrice,” Jack said smiling, “You’re training for the season already?”
        “Yeah,” Beatrice said breathily, “Gotta save lives, ya know”

       She felt hideous. Her hair was up in a scrunchie with a blue sweatband. She wore her bulky
sneakers and her high socks. In her opinion, cutting the conversation short would be a miricale.

        “Yeah you probably have been veging out on the coach, huh.” He said

       Stopping short at the remark she answered, “What is that supposed to mean? Do I look like I’ve
been out of shape? Well I’ve been running for your information.”

         “No, No! Wait a second that’s not what I meant. I meant that in the off season you’ve probably
taken it easy, I know I’ve been stuffing my face.”

       “I haven’t been stuffing my face, Jack.” She said beginning her jog anew. The nervous boy
followed closely behind.

        “Look Beatrice, I wondered, maybe, after the lifeguard test you’d want to celebrate with me?”
Jack said to her.

        “How do you know there’ll be anything to celebrate?” She said as her heart jumped in her chest.

       “Please, like Beatrice Marino can fail a swimming test, “ Jack said with a grin, “Maybe you’d
wanna get some ice cream on the pier or something,”

        This time she controlled herself, even though every pore of her body was filled with excitement
and glee.

        “Sure,” she said smiling, “Now let me finish my run you spaz.”

        “Sweet, I’ll see you then,” he jogged off back to the resturant.

        She jogged back to her street and plopped down on the bench. She kicked her legs in the air and
clasped her hands together. Up the ramp, her little brother came riding his bright read bicycle. He wore
his matching red helmet too.

       “Hi Beatrice,” he said getting off the bike and sitting next to her on the bench, “Whatchya
doing?” He looked up at her with his brown eyes and, again, she had to look away.

        “Nothing really, Nick. Do you want to hear the real 411 though?” she asked him.

        “Lay it on me,” he said sitting up straight.

        “I’m going to go get ice cream at the pier on Friday night, just two day from now.” She
explained. The little boy leapt up with joy.

        “Can I come? Are you taking me, Beatrice?” he said. She felt terrible to get his hopes up, but she
had to explain to her brother that Jack had asked her to go.
        “I’m really sorry kiddo. Have you ever met Jack?” She asked him.

        “I’ve seen him at the beach I think,” He answered, “He seems alright I don’t know. I think he
likes me. It wouldn’t be that bad to bring me..”

        “Well this is kind of going to be just us two. Can you relate?”

       “Yeah I get it, don’t worry” Nick smiled, “You wanna ride on the back Beatrice? I’ll take you to
the house if you promise to make the motor cycle noises”

       She stuck her feet into the spokes of the back tire of the bike and let Nicholas pedal them down
the ramp and up the driveway. She listened to her brother and performed the sound effects until they
reached the door.

Chapter 7

        This time, she fell asleep on the small chair near the window in her bedroom. She was extremely
perplexed about why she couldn’t fall asleep in her own bed. Nothing had changed she just never ended
up in the bed before sleep took her over. Nevertheless, that night Beatrice had an amazingly vivid

        She was underwater swimming as fast as she could. She was breathing heavily and splashing
through the waves of the ocean until she ran out onto the beach. A woman greeted her and
congratulated her with a hug. Her hair was dark brown and she had a warm and familiar laugh. Beatrice
wasn’t at all sure about the strange dream, but the woman reminded her of Jackie, only different.

        Suddenly, the two were inside a casino. It was dark and smoke fogged up the spotlight on the
small stage in the lounge. Beatrice felt exposed because she was still in her bathing suit dripping wet.
The comedian walked out bouncing and saying absolute gibberish wearing all pink with an enormous
smile from ear to ear.

         Turning here head to the side, she could see her mother inside the kitchen cooking orders, her
hair was gray and she hunched over while she cooked. A tall distinguished man touched her shoulder
and held up a metallic plate to her face. She saw herself aged almost twenty years as an adult in the
shine of the plate. In an instant she found herself face to face with a wall. She was inside an enormous,
dark maze. She ran and ran until tripped and fell. With a fierce twitch, Beatrice was thrust back to

       She wondered if it wasn’t merely a dream, but a vision. She tried to analyze it, but as the day
continued on she gradually forgot bits and pieces of the fantastic dream.

       This Friday at school was a big blur until the very end of the day. The same group of kids
everyday could get so boring. In her eighth period class Beatrice felt like leaping out the window to
freedom when the announcements came over the intercom. The end of the year meant that it was time
to elect class council representatives for senior year.

        Beatrice considered the notation. She was always organized and she understood everything that
went on in the school. Maybe she could be a good officer on the student council, but which one?
Historian would be too unnoticeable and boring. Should she shoot for President of her senior class?
Shelby Malloy had been President last year, but she had special circumstances that she had to take
maternity leave. She would have to consult her family first.

         “I think you would be an amazing president.” A girl named Veronica said to Beatrice near her
locker, “You’re like a genius.”

        “Thanks Veronica,” Beatrice said with a smile. “I think I might go for it, spread the word!”

        “Will do, later!” said the girl.

       “Omigosh! You totally should be the president,” said another girl down the hall way. This
comment, however, was not directed to Beatrice. “Jennifer, it would be the perfect touch, you’ll be
prom queen and senior class president. You totally will rule the school.”

        “Def,” agreed the blonde haired Barbie doll. Jennifer Strayer had a C average in every class and
was the biggest Betty in the school. That day she wore a mini skirt with her tight neon green tank top
and denim jacket. As always she had her self tanner applied in thick coats on her face, arms and legs
streak marks and all. Her platinum blonde hair was teased in a huge lump on her head. Her make up
made up the majority of her face in a thick outer coating.

        She would mingle with Jack and his friends at his locker and talk about meaningless nonsense.
Sometimes they didn’t even talk to the guys, they simply stood next to them and laughed with each
other. Maybe standing next to them meant something, but Beatrice still thought it was strange.

        At her locker to go home Beatrice glanced into her mirror and saw Jennifer coming toward her.

        “Well if it isn’t the poser of the century? Gag me with a spoon. I can’t even understand why you
think you have any chance at running for president.” Jennifer said with her nose in the air and her posy
behind her.

        “Well if news travels that fast then I don’t think I’ll have any problems getting voters.” Beatrice
said shutting her locker.

        “We’ll see about that,” Jennifer said looking Beatrice up and down

         Beatrice didn’t even flinch, “Just get your tissues ready to wipe up the gallons of mascara you’ll
cry off when I win.”

        “You can’t talk to me like that, Orphan,” Jennifer said trying to tear into Beatrice.

        “Jen! That’s too far,” Jessica said stepping out of the group of girls.
        “Shut up, Jess. Daddy’s girl here and me are talking,” She said moving closer to Beatrice.

       Beatrice grew red and her face became hot. She felt her throat twist into knots as she held
down her emotions. Jennifer’s stupid face stared her in the eyes.

        “ Back off!” Jackie said interrupting from the large crowd that had gathered around, “Let’s go

        “girls!” Mrs. Morgan whispered peeking out of her English room, “Break it up please, no
violence please, no violence.” The meek woman repeated

        She finally began thinking clearly, and as Beatrice went out the door with Jackie she said, “Bye
Jen, have a Yabba doo da da day.”

        She didn’t turn around, but she could tell that Jen’s face grew red as the laughter of the other
teens in the hall burst into laughter. No one had missed the spectacle when Fred Flinstone had showed
up at the blonde bully’s party on Saturday night.

       The walk home was a lot less enjoyable than usual not only was Beatrice upset about her
encounter with the blonde haired beast, but the lifeguard test was in two hours. It was the only thing on
her mind as she decided to avoid the gossip about the police investigation one street over.

         She walked home quickly and silently. Behind her, they all laughed, teased, and moved slowly.
With all her heart Beatrice wanted to slow down and enjoy the walk. At this point, she would even
consider walking slow enough to miss the test completely. Her mother always told her that she couldn’t
prolong the inevitable, but she still wanted to give it a try.

       Finally making it home a good ten yards in front of her family, she raced up the steps and into
her room. She put on her red whole piece, goggles, swim cap, and got her duffle bag full of extra clothes
and towels. Anxiety filled her entire body as she shut her door and went down the steps.

        “Surprise!” yelled Nicholas from the entrance to the kitchen. Behind him was Maria and her
mother both at the kitchen counter. On the table next to them there was a stack of protein bars and
watter bottles.

        “We want to say good luck,” Mrs. Marino said, “You can do it!”

       She grabbed a protein bar to pacify her rebellious stomach, and she hugged her mother to ease
her heart.

         Before she knew it, Beatrice was striding down the steps of the boardwalk to the beach on the
other side. Her bare feet touched the sand and her duffle bag continuously brushed her leg. She wrung
her towel in her hands as the suspense grew in the pit of her stomach. Over the dunes she could see the
life guard tower and the other twenty lifeguards signing in.
        “Marino, great job showing up, are you ready to kick butt again?” said Helen, a senior lifeguard
who had been patrolling the beach for over twenty years. She was about fifty years old, but was in
fantastic shape. Her skin was a tan, almost brown, color with slight wrinkles on her face. She would be
the one to oversee the test.

        “Okay kiddies,” said the elder lifeguard with a smile, “let’s get in the water,”

        Beatrice looked around to see if she could see Jackie or anyone she knew. She glanced over and
saw Jack stretching his quads. Then she spotted Jackie who was also limbering up. However, Beatrice did
not approach her. They both knew they were fighting for a spot so they couldn’t distract each other. It
was the best for the both of them.

         They all stood at the edge of the water. The small surf would reach up at their toes as they all
stared fiercely into the small red flag out in the distance. Everyone was silent. Beatrice had sized up her
competition there were some people who were new and inexperienced, but mostly it was the all
familiar people. Beatrice didn’t fear either.

        “Ready,” Helen said loudly. Everyone’s muscles tensed and they huched forward.

        “Set” she continued as they all locked in their target in the water.

        “Go!” she screamed. Instantly the line of swimmers ran into the ocean. The waves beat them all
back until it was deep enough to dive in. They forced their knees high into the air to cut through the
water so they could begin to swim.

        Beatrice was first to begin her free style. Her anxiety was transformed into fuel as she swam
with passion. Being an experienced swimmer she didn’t go into the competition without a plan. She
needed to get an early lead, pace herself, and then go all out in the end.

        Another thing that she knew she had to take care of was her mind. She couldn’t think about
anyone but herself. She had to trust that even if for a small part of the race if she fell behind that she
could still get back in it.

       She began swimming at an even pace as the rest of her peers came barreling up behind her. She
breathed in a rhythmic pattern every time she raised her right arm above her head to cut into the water.
She could feel them closing the gap.

        They had to swim a mile. They were all in one large group now. Beatrice couldn’t help but hear
their many splashes and the heavy breathing. She had to keep at her pace otherwise she new that she
wouldn’t finish. Her time to let out all her energy was coming soon.

        Then she could see the huge red flag right infront of her as she made the sharp turn. Her
moment had come. She used all the strenghth in her thighs and kicked ten times harder. Her hands cut
through the water a thousand times quicker. She began to pass many of the other swimmers. Infact
within a few seconds she had flew to the front of the pack. She wasn’t, by any means, in the very front.
She pushed herself to go faster and faster pushing herself forward. Her lungs were tight and her muscles
were burnig.

        As they finally reached the part of the ocean where the waves broke, Beatrice made her move.
Paddling her arms with all her might she felt the resistance of a wave forming behind her. As the curve
of the wave hit the excat moment she placed her hands out in front of her and put her head down.

         Just as she calculated the wave took her. She sped forward under the water as the natural force
of the whitewash pulled her along at an unbelievable pace. She threw her head out of the water when
she felt her body scrape the sand.

         She stood up and turned her head to look at the crowd behind her. They were all running
toward her as they ended their swim. Beatrice whipped her head around and started to run to the finish
line just five yards up the beach. Her body was exhausted and her legs were like jelly. Two other
swimmers were only about two feet behind her as she sprinted to the yellow tape.

        Letting go of all her pain she broke the yellow tape and slowed to a jog. Immediately after, she
smiled and threw her hands onto her head to catch her breath. She let out a yell of excitement as she
walked in a small circle. Her entire body was red and warm.

         She was tremendously excited about her win except when she tried to find Jackie. She saw her
friend jogging in last through the finish. She walked off her pain with her head down.

         Beatrice looked studied the beach as she cooled down. She stared up at the boardwalk and saw
a huge bulky mass shuffling behind the wooden steps. She looked around at her fellow swimmers to see
if they had noticed the bum in the day light. No one even faced the boardwalk. When she looked back at
the steps, it was gone.

        “Okay kids,” Helen announced, “We’ll have the list posted tomorrow,”

        Beatrice walked over to Jackie, but the stormed off with a grunt.

        “Jackie wait!” Beatrice said trying to muster some more energy to grab Jackie’s shoulder.

        “What do you want, you already won didn’t you?” Jackie said sharply.

        Beatrice stopped short and grabbed Jackie’s arm. Beatrice could see anger in her eyes. Jackie
was never angry. Everyone else in Jackie’s family was angry or sad. Jackie’s mother was an alcoholic and
her father was out of the picture. One time, Beatrice would never forget, Jackie came running to her
house crying. Jackie’s mother always told her daughter how much of a mistake it was having her. She
never wanted to end up like her parents so Jackie never got too worked up.

        “Jackie, it’s not over yet! You’re still one of the best rowers here, don’t get so angry,” Beatrice
        “You would say that,” Jackie said in frustration, “You always work out without me. Don’t tyou
think that I want to get in shape too? We are both lifeguards you know, or are you too obsessed with
yourself to notice.”

       Beatrice was flabbergasted, but she got out her response, “I’m not a mind reader, Jackie. If you
wanted to run with me why didn’t you ask me? Don’t blame this on me, you’re a great lifeguard and I
know you’ll make it.”

         “Whatever, this whole thing is bogus anyway.” Jackie left the beach in a huff leaving Beatrice all

        “Hey, Beatrice you did amazing,” said a voice behind her. Turning around, she looked at Jack’s
red face and his wet, matted hair.

         “Thanks,” she said trying to shake off the last conversation, “You did really well too.”

         “Thanks,” he lauged, “Are we still on for tonight? We get to celebrate you win.”

         “Sure, yeah,” she said.

         “Awesome. I’ll meet you outside Duckie’s Place for some Ice cream at 7.” He said with a smile.

         Chapter 8

         Beatrice waited outside of Duckie’s. She tried with all her might not to let the fight between her
and Jackie get to her. She hated fighting with friends. She dreaded making the connection, but this fight
reminded Beatrice about her fight with Jessica Lombardi. Only about three years ago, the three girls
were all really good friends. Jessica was a member of the elite. She would sit in and even tell her own
stories on the beach.

        However, as the years passed, Jessica became different. She started wearing fish net stockings
and ratting out her hair to enormous heights. She began to voice her opinion about her friends, saying
that they dressed too lame or they were weird for hanging out with their siblings on the beach. What
was even stranger was that she stopped swimming all together. She didn’t want her eye liner to run.

        One day, Beatrice had called Jessica out for her behavior. Jessica let out all her feelings claiming
that her two friends were too uncool to be around and that they were too goody goody.

         After the fight they barely spoke again. Sometimes Beatrice would catch a glimpse of the old
Jessica, but mostly her former friend’s personality was smothered by Jennifer Slayter.

        It seemed that their fight was the omen to much more horrible things. Just a couple of months
later her father died on duty. He was shot trying to save a kidnapping victim in a car chase. No one saw it
coming, especially Beatrice. That day she hadn’t even seen her father, she was hanging out on the beach
and didn’t get to say good bye to him.
        She had to shake off these thoughts. Her eyes were quivering and Jack would be at the
restaurant any second. The boardwalk was crowded again as she leaned against the purple tiles of the
building . The pink neon sign lit up her face as she stared blankly.

        “Hey there,” Jack said as he strolled up to the building from the crowd, “Sorry to keep you
waiting, I had to pick up some cash.”

         “Sure whatever,” Beatrice answered not looking at him.

         “Hey, what’s up?” Jack said stepping into her view.

         “Oh it’s nothing I just had a bad day,” She couldn’t help but smile when she looked into his blue

         “Well, ice cream will cheer up anybody.” He said with a grin.

         “You’re right. What flavor are you getting?” she asked him

        “Well I normally get vinella. What about you? Pick anything, I’m buying,” he said nervously
fondling his money.

        “I was thinking,” she explained, “If we bought the “Duckie Dock” we could get like seven
different flavors and split it.”

         “Killer,” Jack eclaimed, “we’re totally doing that.

         The pair walked into the restaurant and grabbed a booth by the door. Duckies was the farthest
thing from a five star restaurant but it was the best hangout spot. They sold cheap ice cream and they
had a great stereo system.

        Jack said across from her in the pink pleather chair. The menus were laid out on the black and
white checkered table. They both sat there and stared at each other. Jack began the conversation.

         “So, I heard you’re running for president, that’s pretty radical.” He said fiddling with the menu.

         “Yes,” she said, “I think I’d do a pretty good job, plus I would make it a totally radical senior

         “That would be the bomb,” he said, “You’ve got my vote.”

         Beatrice was skeptical about this response, “You wouldn’t vote for Jennifer?”

         “Are you kidding? She wouldn’t do crap for the school!” He exclaimed, “Plus she’s a total—“

         “Bimbette?” Beatrice said

         “Definitely,” Jack laughed.
       Beatrice did her best valley girl impression, “Like, I’m totally installing hairspray vending
machines in the cafeteria.”

         They both laughed as the waiter came to take their order.

         “She’ll have the Duckie’s Dock,” Jack said, “I told her it’s a lot of icecream, dude, but she
insisted. So if you don’t mind toss on another scoop of chocolate for her.” He gave the waiter an extra
dollar and shooed him away.

         “Very funny,” she said with a chuckle.

         “Well you’ll need extra fuel for you shift tomorrow.” He replied

        “Hey don’t jinx me; I’m not the best rower who tried out. Like you, your one of the best rowers
out there.”

         “Thanks, but your still up there in the ranks”

         “Well then, maybe we’ll get the same shift this year. You’ll do the rowing and I’ll swim.” She

        There order came soon after their conversation. It was an enormous mound of ice cream. There
was strawberry, rocky road, mint chocolate chip, peanut butter, cookies and cream, and the extra scoop
of chocolate all topped with a cherry. Both of their eyes lit up when it was placed on the table and they
dug in with there silver spoon.

        They ate and ate until their brains were frozen and there stomachs were filled. All that was left
on the table was the big bowel of melted ice cream soup. All the flavors had run together into an
inedible mess. Beatrice was so happy, but she felt she had to express a thought that was eating at her.

       “Jack?” she asked getting his attention, “This entire night has been fantastic and all, like truely
amazing, but before we went to the pier last weekend, we hadn’t even had a full conversation before.
What’s the difference?”

        “Well,” Jack said playing with his crumpled napkin, “The thing is, Beatrice, I haven’t been able to
get you out of my head.”

        She sat there in amazement. Beatrice had never been in a situation like this before. She really
and truly liked Jack and he was reciprocating the feelings. She had to let him continue.

         “You’re so funny and nice. It doesn’t seem real.” He continued, “I’m always stoked to see you,”

         “Jack,” she said in a whisper, “You can’t mean that.” Beatrice didn’t consider herself special at
all. Through out her entire life, she only got by with simplest things. She was never treated like she was
special by anyone other than with her family. No one ever really spent much time thinking about
       “I do,” he said finally looking up at her with his tan skin and his famous smile. She felt like his gin
would pull her in.

        Combating her feelings she said, “Let’s get out of here.”

        He had to agree, but Beatrice could see the hurt on his face. They left the restaurant and Jack
turned toward the direction of her house.

       “Wait just a second,” she said. Beatrice grabed his arm and she held his hand as they walked
down the boards.

        They finally reached her porch. The lights were off as they said their good byes.

       “You know, I’m sorry for being so lame in there,” Jack said running his fingers through his light
brown hair. Beatrice glanced up at him; his thick hair would be almost completely blonde by the end of
the summer.

        “Don’t apologize.” She said, “When you said that I melted like all the ice cream at Duckie’s.”

       In a quick second he kissed her. She smiled and looked at him. They both laughed at Jack’s
unexpected impulse.

        “Good night, Beatrice.”

        Immediately after she went inside, Beatrice ran up the steps to call Jackie. After dialing more
than half of her friend’s number, she remembered their terrible fight. So, she went down the hall into
Maria’s room.

        “Maria, wake up.” Beatrice said

        The lump under the covers didn’t move at all.

        “Over here,” Maria answered from on the floor behind her bed.

        “What on earth are you doing?” Beatrice exclaimed. Spread out across the floor, were three
local news papers all open to various pages. Maria had her lamp on the ground as she was reading.

        “They found a body.” Maria whispered.

Chapter 9

         “No way!,” Beatrice excliamed falling to her knees next to her sister. She scooped up the first
pile of papers that was in reach and began reading:

         “Today on Sixth Street and Ocean Avenue the body of a local homeless man, who’s identity is
still unknown, was discovered along the shoreline. Police have matched the body to the ongoing
investigation and have closed the case. ‘We have matched the stab wounds to the murder weapon and
the clothes found at the scene belong to the victim’ Police Chief Buler said, ‘We have found it to be a
simple dispute among some of the homeless in our city about territory.’ No lawsuits have been started
and the city would like to move forward from the terrible incident.”

        “Wow.” Beatrice said, “I guess that’s it.”

        “Don’t you see?” Maria whispered frantically, “It’s too easy, I think the city is hiding something.”

        “So now you’re suspicious?” Beatrice whispered angrily.

         “Look.” Maria said pointing to an additional news paper, “They had to take a picture of the guy’s
face to see if anyone could identify him.”

        “Oh my god.” Beatrice said staring at the picture. She had no idea who the man was, but he was
clean shaven with dark brown hair. At first glance she could tell that he was definitely not a city bum.

      She stared at Maria in disbelief. What was going on? Maria didn’t look like she knew answer
anymore than Beatrice did.

        “Call Jackie.” Beatrice ordered, “We have to let her know what we found.”

         Within the twenty minutes that it took Jackie to get to the house Beatrice read every newspaper
article they could find. The facts were this:

        The alleged murder weapon was a 16 inch fish gutting knife.

        The body found had two stab wounds in the chest.

        Raggedy old clothes were found in a plastic takeout bag.

        “This is so weird,” Jackie said, “This guy is totally not a bum.”

        We have to find out who he is,” Beatrice said studying the picture.

        “How do we do that? And why is it any of our buisness?” Maria said

       “They said that the case was closed, right? And there is no legal action going on. The records are
probably open for us to see.” Beatrice said enthusiastically.

       “And we would just waltz right into the police station? You’re the oldest and youre only
seventeen!” Maria protested.

        “We’ve have to see whats up! I mean this stuff definitely doesn’t match what the police are
saying” Beatrice said.

        “Maybe,” Maria said silently, finally considering her sister’s point.

         There was complete silence in the dim, cluttered room. Jackie was seated on a pile of clothes
staring at the two sisters who stared at each other. Their thoughts were as scattered as the piles of filth
in the little girl’s room. After what felt like an hour, Beatrice knoded her head. In a silent wave of
agreement, the other two girls knodded their as well. They gathered up the newspapers and rolled out
the sleeping bag.

        The next day, Beatrice and Jackie walked into school early. They had a terrible nights sleep on
the ground and they practically stayed up all night long. They chatted and giggled as they made there
way down the hall, Mrs. Morgan would definitely let them chill in her class room before homeroom

       As the duo turn into the class room Beatrice announced loudly, “Hey Mrs. Morgan your favorite
students are here!”

       Glancing around they saw the tired looking woman seated at the back of the room. She didn’t
respond to her visitors.

        “Mrs. M, why did you move your desk back there?” Jackie asked.

        “Oh hello girls you can take a seat up front. I don’t care what you work on just as long as you are
qieut. She leaned forward and rubbed her neck. She didn’t even look at them.

      “Okay, but I wanted to tell you a story I came up with.” Beatrice said hoping to spark the dim
woman’s interest,

        “Not now, Beatrice.” Mrs. Morgan said, “Go and sit please.” The woman put her head down and
ran her fingers through her hair.

         Beatrice was surprised and slightly hurt. Either way, she obeyed her teacher and sat in the front
of the room with Jackie.

        “So, I think after school and after the beach you need to go find Eileen.” Jackie said.

        “Your totally right, she can help us get started.” Beatrice agreed.

         The entire day couldn’t go by quick enough as Beatrice found herself staring at any clock she
could find as soon as homeroom began. Sometimes in the hall she would say hello to a few people and
give her slogan: “Vote for Beatrice, not for weakness.” She had to admit it was a rough rhym, but it was

        At the end of the day she ran to the beach like normal.

        “Apres vous!” Jackie said introducing Beatrice.

        “Okay, this narrative is tittled, ‘The puzzle box.” Beatrice looked at the smiling face of her friend
as she began, “The boy twisted the panels of the tiny cube with extreme intensity. He had no rhym or
reason to how he could ever solve the puzzle inscribed on the colorful sides. In the back of his mind he
believed that maybe his inner genious would spring loose and everything would fall into place as he
rotated the puzzle box. He didn’t try too hard to fix it and after a total of six minutes he gave up.”
        “That’s it?” Maria shouted.

       “It’s a metaphor!” Jackie retored, “You’re not sophisticated enough to understand. She is
comparing the rubix cube to life’s challenges and the boy is how society tries to solve it, but we give up.”

        “Wow!” You fit all that into a tiny story” Nicolas said amazed.

        “I guess so,” Beatrice said, “Jackie is just a really good analyzer. I was thinking that rubix cubes
were like people; they’re colorful and hard to understand.”

        “That’s too much thinking. I heard a dumb short story and I think you should try harder next
time.” Maria said disagreeing.

        “I think you need to cool off.” Jackie said, “Let’s hit the water.”

Chapter 11

        Beatrice walked into the airconditioned casino. Her instantly were filled with the second hand
smoke that hung in the air. Hard liqure stained the carpet and the musical spin of the millions of slot
machines rang through the hall. Every other machine there sat the old wrinkled bodies of women in
their sequin sweaters and their enormous glasses.

        They were addicted for life to try and win that jackpot. The Marino family were born gamblers.
Beatrice’s Uncle had gone to prision six times for counting cards and failure to pay debts. She had to
admit the shinny gold machines ,their beautiful melodies, and the bright colorful lights made her palms
sweat and her fingers twitch.

        You had to be twenty one or older to walk throw the rows of slots, but Beatrice was wearing a
long black trech coat, her hair was tied into a neat bun and she was wearing natural tones of brown and
biege make up.

        She looked around and sat nexted to a specific old woman in bright pink pants and a purple
bejeweld jacket. The ancient woman coughed twice and tapped her right hand on her mickey mouse
watch twice and then pulled the lever. She chanted some familiar phrase under her breath as the
rotating pictures sprung into place.

       As the wheels disapointed again, only giving out two coins, Beatrice tapped the woman on the

        “Back off, Mildred!” The old woman shouted, “This is my machine. Don’t make me tell you
again, you know what happened to Marty last week when he interrupted my streak,”

        “Grandma! Are you threatinging your friends again?” Beatrice said laughing.

      “Beatrice- Marie!” The old woman cried out “What are you doin here? She was a ;wrger old
woman with her fair share of wrinkles her hair was thin and cut very short in a way she looked almost
bald. Her eyes were blue and directly abouve them were her purple, drawn on eyebrows. They were
expressionless in any situation.

        “I need to ask you some uestions,” Beatice said.

        Her grandmother, Eileen Marino, was her father’s mother. Beatrice would always visit her
house, but the woman was usually found at the casinos. She was famous for her crazy antics.

        “You look twenty-five in that get up! Stay young while you can! It is good, though, you fooled
those moronic security men. You know just last week they almost pried me off the buffet just because I
grabbed a few donuts. I had about twelve on my plate and they were harassing me!” The oldwoman said
carrying on, “Well I’m going all over the place. What did you need, my dear?”\

         “How do you get records from the police station?” Eileen was an expert with legal situations and
police proceedings. She had studied law when she was younger, but never got to have a career.
Grandma Eileen would always say how back in her day women didn’t have jobs. Beatrice believed with
all her heart that her grand mother still was the best person to consult with legal issues in the city. Plus
Eileen’s husband and all four sons had been police officers.

       “Well, I think you have to have an ID, and a purpose for looking at them, “ She said plainly, “Why
do you want to know? “

        “Just curious,” Beatrice said quickly.

        “You be careful now, curiosity is how I lost my eyebrows.” She said pointing to the purple lines,
“I was walking home from school when I heard a weird noise coming from a trash can in the alley. I
walked over and peek inside the can when, BOOM! At least five fireworks shot up and burnt my
eyebrows right off.”

        Beatrice sat there smiling, “Thanks Grandma Eileen,” she gave her a hug, “Do you need any help
walking back to your house?” she offered.

       “That’s a fine idea, “The old woman said heaving herself up off the small read stool, “This
machine is busted anyway.” As she walked her purple sweater and all the shiny jewls jingled with the
same happiness on the little old woman’s face.

        Outside, the sun was setting, but it was still far from the horizon. The lavenders and peach
beams of light were gradually coloring the sky. It was a nice evening that would be even more gorgeous
as the twilight grew.

       “You know when I was a girl this city was a lot safer. No strange killings unless you were a
mobster. It just shows, those politicians are always killing each other, it’s always been like that.” She

        “Eileen, you’ve heard of the murder?” Beatrice inquired.
          “You betchya,” the old woman said, “I have my own theories about it.

       The woman had many theories, but she never shared her views. Beatrice didn’t persue the
response. Instead she walked her grandmother home with only little small talk.

 Chapter 11

       In the distance, Beatrice could see a jogger. Her and her grandmother were almost home. As the
mystery person approached Beatrice realized it was it was Jack.

          “Beatrice!” he said from many yards away.

        “Who’s this young man?” Her grandmother said studying the boy in the distance. Jack had his
eyes locked ahead. He was running faster when he stumbled on a crack in the sidewalk. He didn’t fall,
but it was certainly an akward recovery. His arms flailed as they stretched out to the side. His right foot
kicked the inner ankle of his left leg. He took two steps to recover.

          “Idiota,” Eileen whispered.

          “Are you alright?” Beatrice asked.

“Me? I’m fine,” he said pulling down his sweater shirt and dusting himself off, “How are you? Wow!,”
Jack directed his attention to the old woman, “This must be the famous Eileen Marino, the fiercest
attorney out there.”

       “I never was an attorney, little man, but thank you anyway,” she said warming up to his

          “Did you want to see a movie tomorrow or something?” He offered.

          “That would be totally—“ Beatrice began

         “I hope you kids won’t be kissing.” Eileen interrupted, “I lost my eyebrows kissing,” she pointed
to the linear purple marks, “I was in a movie theater and a boy kissed me, I was so shocked that my
eyebrows fell out. They still haven’t grown back.”

          “Grandma!” Beatrice shouted, “Jack I would love to go to the movies, how about eight?”

          “Killer!” he said happily, “I’ll see you tomorrow. Later, Mrs. Marino!” He jogged on down the

         “He certainly was interesting,” Eileen said with a smile. She always gave men a hard time. She
felt it was necessary for them to make an impression before they were trusted. Eileen would always say
that men could find it easy to be accepted by society, but not by her.

       Beatrice helped the elderly woman into her house and made sure she was settled. As she
headed out the door her grandmother grabbed her arm.
         “Beatrice, be careful about what you might be getting into. This isn’t as small as you think.
Promise me you’ll use you wits. Don’t trust anyone.” The normal smile on the old woman’s face became
a thin serious line just like her purple eyebrows.

        Beatrice nodded her head.

        “I need to hear you promise.” The old woman demanded louder.

       “I promise, grandma. I’ll be fine.” She said seriously. Grandma Eileen hugged her tightly and
then smiled.

        “I’ll see you soon, mia carissima,” she said as the smile returned to her face.

        Beatrice headed down the street as she felt her grandmother’s eyes on her back. When she
glanced over her shoulder an d no longer saw the watchfull stare of her grandmother, she took a sharp
turn and headed down the opposite street towards the street where Jackie and Maria were waiting.

         Eileen had confirmed the girl’s suspicions. Maria had grabbed their mother’s drivers licence for
identification. It was strange how much Beatrice resembled the picture on the small plastic card. The
bun and the sunglasses were a nice touch.

        The ID was accounted for, now the girls turned to Beatrice to concoct a purpose for their visit to
the police station.

         “I’ve got it! It’s so simple. We just start by saying we want to identify the body, our distant uncle
was a drug addict and we haven’t seen him at all lately.” Beatrice said, “His name is Uncle Jimmy and the
drug is kocaine. Got it?” Beatrice said to her comrads.

        “Remember,” Jackie said, “Just flash the ID don’t let them see the name.””

        “Got it, let’s go.”

         Quiclly the girls reached the police station. The small brown, brick, building was old and shabby.
It was a simple rectangle shape with huge white security cameras on each cornor. There was a stank of
scum and wrong doing.

         Her stomach was knotted as the other two girls knudeged her foward up the gray, concrete
steps. She glanced at them for some encouragement. They would wait outside, she envied them.

         Beatrice gained her composer and pulled open one of the large glass doors of the police station.
She saw herself in it’s reflecction and was confient in her disguise. A burst of cold air flew into her face
as she looked at the chaotic interior of the station. There were over twenty small desks all lined up down
the hall with one main reseption dest in the lobby. Hundreds of men in blue uniforms walked the halls
with theri own, apparently important, agendas.

        Going up to the main desk Beatrice got her ID ready.
       “Hello miss, how may I help you?” The woman dressed in a formal suit said. The blonde haired
woman seemed so out of place. She was dressed perfectly with makeup on and a smile when the men
behind her had their scruffy uniforms on with deep set frowns and stolid expressions.

       “I was wondering if I could obtain some information about the recent..” she paused to give a
concered effect, “killing.”

        The receptionist leaned in closely with a suspecting eye.

        “What would you like specifically,” she asked Beatrice.

        “I thought that I might be able to Identify the body,” Beatrice said, “I glanced at the article in the
paper and i could have sworn it looked just like my uncle jimmy. He was a distant man, he lost his home
to debt. That’s just what drugs do you know?”

        “Oh my, well I’ll just grab the case files, can I please see you’re ID?”

        Beatrice held it perfectly, her thumb covered the name. “My name is Cyndi Jackson,” she said
supplying the missing information.

         The woman simply glanced at it and motioned Beatrice back with her. They walked down the
hall as the men stared at her. When they reached the filing cabinet at the end of the hall the woman
grabbed the biege folder and took out only a few pictures.

       Beatrice couldn’t get any information from them, they were the same pictures featrued in every
news paper. She needed the juicier stuff. She began to worry.

        “Miss, I said, do you recognize him?” The woman repeated.

        Suddenly, outside there were sharp and quick bangs herd hitting the police station. Almost
every officer ran to their source. The woman tossed down the file onto the cabinet and ran with the

        Beatrice could have sworn it was bullets being fierd at the station. She began to worry about
Jackie and Maria who were waiting outside. However, with more thought, she rembered that Jackie
and Maria would be okay, since they were probably behind the chaos.

        She reached for the file and tucked it away into her coat.

       “I’m sorry for the intteruption,” the woman said as she returned, “Just some kids throwing rocks
from the bushes. Now what did I do with that file?”

        “Oh it’s fine.” Beatrice blurted, “I said that it wasn’t my uncle, thank god, and you put the file
back into the cabient. I was just staying to say thank you. You don’t know how worried the family was. I
aprreciate it.”

        “Your welcome, have a nice day, “ the woman said walking Beatrice outside.
        “You too.”

       When she reenterd the heat of outside, Beatrice knew she wouldn’t find her friends. They
would’ve retreated after brilliantly playing the distraction. She decided to meet them at home.

Chapter 12

        She dropped the tan folder onto the pink carpet as the gils layed around it.

        “Jackie, you open it,” Maria said.

        “No way,” she answered, “You open it!”

         “I worked too hard to chicken out now,” Beatrice said quickly as she slipped her fingers under
the first flap. She could feel the stack of papers as he fingers twitched. She flipped it over.

        The first thing they saw was the grotesque picture of the mangled body. It was horendous. The
corpse was pale and had purple blotches all around it’s wrists and kneck. It’s shirt was removed and they
could see the stab marks in his chest. The blackened, dried blood was caked deep in the wounds and
they were about three inches apart.

        Jackie screamed and looked away. Maria did the same and ran to the bathroom. Beatrice
couldn’t look away. She was utterly repulsed but she had to keep looking. In the next picture the body
was rolled onto it’s stomach. This time the shirt was on and the corpse was face down in the sand.
Beatrice could tell that this was probably how the body was found.

        “I’m going to hurl, “ Jackie shouted as she quivered against the wall.

        Beatrice flipped over the pictures, “Let’s focus on the police report and autopsy,”

        “I don’t think I ever want to see that horrible picture again.” Maira said walking back into the

        “You have to, we all have to look at it sooner or later, maybe we’ll find something.” Beatrice

        They all took a section of the paper work and began reading.

       “Look. Jakcie pointed out.” It says they found paper in his pocket. ‘Victim has shreds of
notebook paper in front left pocket. No ledgible words were found, black ink smudged from water

          Beatrice turned pale , “That has to be the same paper, except my paper wasn’t smudged it was
just alittle wet.”

        “That doesn’t seem too weird,” Jackie said, “This whole report doesn’t make much sense. Look it
says that they found no identification, but this page says they had a wallet with credit cards.”
          “Look they have a photocopy of a buisness card found in this pocket!” Maria exclaimed.

          The card was from the accountant department on Fifth and Moonlight. It had a number and an

        “We’ve found a lead, girls,” Beatrice said excitedly. She was getting a rush from all this
forrbidden research. Piecing together information and trying to find leads. She was excited.

          “Let’s call it right now.” Jackie said, “There is no time like the present,”

          “Why not, we have to search while the evidence is hot.” Beatrice agreed.

       They reached for the pink phone. Jackie would make the call. Her plan was to simply call the
agency and asked who worked there. She dialed the number and prepared herself.

        “Hello, yes, I am looking for somone who could possibly help me with my taxes?” She said in her
adult voice, “I have no preference would you mind telling me who you have on your staff? Yes, I see
mmhhhmmm.” Jackie waved her hand frantically at Beatrice’s face and mouthed the word “Pen!”

        After a frantic search Jackie beagan to scribble down teh names the best she could when she
paused, “Oh ok well isn’t he lucky.” She said into the reciever, “Thank you for the information I will
consider it, good bye.” With a click she hung up the phone. She silently turned around and faced

        “It’s a smal frim,” Jackie said, “A guy named Mike Baker was the only accountant not in, they
said he was on vacation.”

        The girls stood silent in the turquoise room. They went from swiming blindly in the ocean to
being rescued.

        So many things were running through their heads as the sun disapeard bringing the night threw
Beatrice’s window. They tried to sleep but the pictures in the emotionless tan folder were burned itno
their brains. A dead body. They had briefly seen their father at his funeral, but this body was gruesome
and bloody. They didn’t sleep untill the late hours of the night.

Chapter 13

        She played her cyndi lauper album as she reapplied her bright makeup. Apprehensively, she
thought about the last time she was on the boardwalk alone. She felt like running into he room and
hidding under the covers. However, she had to shake off the fear, this time Jackie and Maria were
comming. Nicholas was at his friends house.

       The girls had a plan. Beatrice would see the movie with Jack while Maria and her companion
would see another movie in the same theater, no one was walking home alone.
         The theater was seated right in the center of the boardwalk. It had decent movies and cheap
tickets. She looked out the window and saw that it was about seven. She would leave now and the two
girls would leave ten minutes later.

        She quickly walked down her side of the boardwalk. She felt sick to her stomach. She was forced
to look at her neighborhood in a different way and she hated it. The lights and amusements on the
boardwalk were trying to distract her, but she stared at the brown bricks of the local houses and
pondered their secrets. Deep down she believed that most of them would be eating dinner either with
their families or sitting on the couch watching television, but she began to question the people that she
had known for practically all her life.

        Beatrice knew that the only way to survive was not to trust anyone. She could trust her close
family and even Jackie. They lied to everyone else except each other. It would be a hopless sport anyway
because the girls knew each others voice tones and gestures that would incriminate them. Anyone else,
she couldn’t tell so she didn’t believe anything untill evidence was produced.

        Jack stood at teh entrance of the movie theater calmly with a huge bucket of bright yellow
popcorn. Tehy paid for their tickets for Beverly Hills Cop III, and went inside. Jackie and Maria would see
Dirty Dancing two theaters over form theirs.

        The movie was calming, and like always, hilarious. She felt safer and eventually relaxed in the
old purple seats of the dark movie theater.

       Outside, the streets were quieted and everyone was leaving. It had slipped the girls’ mind that
today was Sunday and everything was closing earlier.

        “That was awesome.” Beatrice said, thanking Jack for paying for her ticket.

        “Not a problem,” Jack said, “I guess I’ll see you on duty next week. You checked the list didn’t

        “Ohmigosh!” Beatrice had completely forgot, “So I made it?”

        “Yes, we’ve got the eight to ten shift. Monday, Wednesday, Friday.” He said.

          “Thats amazing!” Beatrice exclaimed. Her eyes shifted to the right as she saw the two familiar
girls exiting the movie. She had to leave quickly, she just realized how dark it really was. By her view it
was about ten o’clock, “Later days!” she walked off wiht a wave.

        It was a much slower pace and they distracted each other with funny stories.

       “...And as i went out the door grandma yelled at me, ‘I lost my eyebrows making people laugh!
They chuckled so hard that they blew my eyebrows right off my face!’” Maria said.
        Suddenly they heard their laughter echo against the allies. They looked around and not another
human being was on the boardwalk. Beatrice wished she was at her house already and she suggested
they quicken their pace.

        This remark made them too aware of their surroundings. The hairs on Beatrice’s arms were up
as she checked either side of the boardwalk. They stood very close together.

        “Get off me!” Maria shouted loudy.

        “Shhhh!” Jackie and Beatrice said simutaniously.

        “Your too close to me just back off okay?” Maria shouted.

        “Beatrice just move away from Maria, she’s throwing a tantrum,” Jackie said.

        “It’s not Beatrice its you.” Maria yelled.

        “Shhhhh!” Beatrice said angrily.

         They were quiet when they heard the breathing behind them. It was hot and putrid on the back
of Beatrice’s kneck. She turned around and saw a tall looming figure behind her. It was pitch dark and
she could barely make out the person’s face, but she could tell it was a man. He was tremendous in size
with a long blac beard.

        “Dead weight.” He mummbled at Beatrice. She was frozen at the sight of him. There she stood
with her muscles tense and her eyes wide open. She caught a glimpes out of the side of her eyes of her
two friends running way in terror. Beatrice, however, was motionless where she stood.

        The man didn’t look her in the eyes, but that didn’t stop Beatrice from looking at his. They were
an eerie light blue that almost glowed white in the darkness. She was horrified.

        “Dead weight, under there you know. Dead weight.” He repeated. He reached his arm up
towards her. Beatrice backed away and tried to let out a scream but only hissing air exitted her mouth.
The scruffy man looked up at her and gave her a stare that turned her back into a statue.

        “Come under and you’ll see what I mean. He always in the way.” He pointed downward at the
black boards. In a flash he tugged at her sleeve. She pulled and screamed and kicked him. She used all
her might and threw a fiece punch at him. The man didn’t budge. Beatrice felt more yanking and lett out
a blood curtling scream. They were all over her. More bums from every angle, the thought. Fought to
get loose.

         Finally she was pulled away and fell on the ground. She sprung to her feet and ran. When she
finally got far enough to look around as she sprinted she saw Jackie running right beside her.

        Chapter 14
        The next morning Beatrice and her sisters awoke inside the cramped closet in her room. They
had run straight up the steps and they all hid in the closet. None of them spoke a word and they
eventually drifted asleep.

        Maria was the first one up and as she woke up the other two with her exit.

        “What time is it?” Beatrice yawned

        “Ew we fell assleep in our clothes,” Jackie said looking down at her wrinkled pink shirt.

       Down stairs they could smell the warm smell of waffles cooking. Beatrice finally remebered that
they had school that day. She jumped up and ran to the bathroom. Her digital clock read seven fifteen.

       “Jackie let’s go!” Beatrice said returning to the room to shake her friend from drifting back into

        Downstairs, Nicholas was eating a large belgium waffle at the kitchen counter.

        “Gooff moffinngg.” He said wiht his mout full of the golden waffle. She had to get ready quickly
and get to school.

        In a flash, they were ready and out the door. They all looked terrible, but they were going to
school either way.

        This time the doors wern’t locked and Beatrice blended into the massof students hurring to first
period. She moved slowly with an absentminded haze over her eyes.

         She looked around the halls and saw the neon pink signs that promoted Jennifer Slayter. They
blinded her eyes with both the brightness and the utterly slovenliness of their exicution. However, they
also made her feel sad. Just a week a go she wanted to run for president and she was so excited, now
she felt her mind was being pulled away from what she liked doing.

        Tonight, she promised herself, she would make posters that would shame Jennifer Slayter’s
bright pink disasters. She continued the day in silence.

        She was hoping that by fifth period Mrs. Morgan would cheer her up, but she wasn’t in school
that day. A dull and inexperienced substitute sat at the desk as he murdered the names of the students
while taking role.

        On such a cloudy day, Beatrice and her group walked home with little enthusasm.

        Chapter 15

        “Not on you life.” Maria yelled, “Not for a billiion dollars.”

        “Comeone I need someone to come with me, Jackie has lifeguard duty today.” Beatrice pleaded.
       “Never.” Maria said crossing her arms and sitting in the dunes. The sky was gray and the wind
blew her light brown hair. It was most likely the begining of an impending thunder storm. The two girls
both had their sweatshirts on to combat the chilling wind. They had gotten home and headed to explore
the beach. It was too dangerous to swim.

         “I have to go under.” Beatrice said, “There is something under there that is going to help us with
this case.”

        “I don’t even want to go near that wooden death trap, and you shouldn’t either.”

        “Look,” beatrice picked up the flash light and turned it on in her sister’s eyes, “We have to go
and investigate.”

       “I told you before, you ditz, I’m not going. You can go kill yourself under there I’m going up to
the house and eat lunch.” She said being difficult.

        “Fine! I will! Go eat your stupid bolongana sandwhich like the little nerd you are!” Beatrice said
losing her temper. Maria stood up and stommped off the beach in a huff.

         They walked into the house to find their mother and their brother working on Beatrice’s poster’s
for class president

        “Look Beatrice, I followed your design exactly,” Nicholas said proudly holding up the teal posters
with the purple glitter.

        “It looks fantastic, Nick,” she said passing him by, “I can’t wait to hang them up.” She stopped
short and went over and hugged him. Nicholas was the only boy who she trusted and she was glad that
she had him.

        “I guess my posters are amazing,” Nicholas said with a wide smile. Beatrice fluffed his hair as she
picked up a piece of poster paper right next to the eleven year old.

        Chapter 16

         That afternoon, She grabbed the case file from under her bed as she began to skim over the
pages. She looked for anyclue if the two bodies could be connected. Sure all the facts were absured, but
maybe something would stick out. The only lead that they had yet to persue was Mike Baker. Was he
the first body found on the beach? Beatrice thought he had to be, the bum she had found earlier would
never set foot in an accountant’s firem.

       Beatrice kept looking through the papers and decided to pull out the pictures agian. The stab
wounds were as gruesome as the first time she had seen them. She studied the picture more througholy
when she saw someting that knocked ehr off her feet onto her bed.
         With her concentrated eye Beatrice had seen another wound in the picture of Mike Baker’s side.
It was almost impossible to see because it was so close to his back by his ribs. There was no photograph
of the man’s back; Beatrice knew this was intentional. The police were hiding something. Mike Baker
was stabbed from behind.

        It was about four o’clock when Jackie met Beatrice at outside the small office building.

        “Are you ready?” Beatrice asked her friend.

       “I’m more than ready.” Jackie said with confiedence. She wore her mother’s only pants suit
which was only used when she was called to court. Jackie would go in and ask about Mike Baker without
seeming too suspicious. Beatrice would observe as a seperate costumer waiting inside incase they
needed to abort the risky plan.

        Gaining her composure, Jackie ascended into the building and walked up to the main counter.
As she introduced herself Beatrice entered nonchalontly.

        “Hello, “ Jackie said introducing herself, “I was wondering if Mike Baker was in.”

        The resptionist shook her head, “Sorry doll. Mr. Baker hasn’t been in for three week now.”

       “oh darn, “ jackie said disapointed, “My mother in law was just going on about how he did a
wonder on her tax report last april. Last minute and everything. He’s probably on vacation, I no i need to
get away this time of year.”

         “Well, the thing is he scheduled a vacation for last week and he hasn’t been back. The boss is
really upset, and is still trying to contact him.” The secretary said nazely checking the phone lines infront
of her.

        “You know what my cousin Bernie did that before just completely forgot about work and
married a jamacian woman named Cha-cha.” Jackie said shaking her head, “Did he go some where

         “Well I heard him talking in the breakroom about going up to Canada with his fiance. Between
you and me I had no idea the guy was even seeing anybody.” The woman said adjusting her pink framed

         “Oh well, Canada would not be my ideal honeymoon. Oh yeah you get to see the moose but
what else? Just angry french people thats what.” Jackie said rolling her eyes ,”Sounds like he isn’t much
for excitement.”

        “Not at all, he is the dullest man on the planet.” The receptionist laughed, “Barely says a word,
but he is a genious. You shout out a math problem and bingo, hes got the answer in a second.”

       “Wow. Well i’ve got to go like i said my mother in law is in town gotta get back to her before she
eats me out of house and home.” Jackie smiled and waved as she turned to the exit.
         “Nice talking to you,” The young woman behind the counter added.

        A few seconds after her exit, Beatrice began to creep out of the lobby. As she glanced back she
saw the framed pictures on the wall of all the accountants. They were all men. Beatrice skimed the
names in a second and found his name. In a flash she ran back and snatched the tiny frame off the hook
while the recetionist picked up the phone. She sprinted out unnoticed.

         “Ohmigosh, Jackie! That was you did great!” Beatrice said excitedly when they came to the

       “It was just an impression of my mom,” she said with a grin, “I got rid of all her profanity,

        “So we know that he scheduled a vaction in advacned,” Beatrice began to deduce as they slowly
walked home with the setting sun. She caught her breath. “Could it just be a conicidence that he died
during his days off?”

        “It would be the perfect time to get him,” Jackie suggested. They whispered to each other so
that the other people on the street wouldn’t hear.

        “Yeah but it seems like the guy wouldn’t put up much of a fight.” Beatrice said, “The pictures of
looked like he was really beat up... Oh crap! The picture!” Beatrice whipped out the smalled wooden
frame and pulled jackie around into a nearby alley.

        “No way!” Jackie exclaimed as Beatrice held out the evidence, “He looks nothing like the picture
in the police report.”

        The man in behind the thin dusty glass was young with dirty blonde hair. His smile was small and
very forced. His eyes were big and brown with a small light in them. He was also quite pale and he wore
a brown suit. Mike Baker’s buisness card was in the body’s clothes, but he was not the victim.

Chapter 17

         “Grandma, I need more advice.” Beatrice pleaded.

        This time Eileen Marino was at home watching Jeopardy. She was drifting off to sleep when
Beatice had entered her tiny house.

         “What do you need?” she said quietly.

        “What do the police to when they hit a dead end. I heard that the case goes cold. That means
they just give up, right?” Beatrice inquired.

          “Oh no no no,” Grandma Eileen said, “That is the last resort. A case doesn’t go cold untill every
last bit of evidence is examined and every last witness is questioned.”
        “But what about when absolutly nothing makes sense? There are no more connections to go
to.,” Beatrice said running her fingers through her hair only ot have them get stuck in her curls.

       “There is always something.” Eileen said, “The good cops follow their guts even when it doesn’t
make sense. Thats life, it doesn’t make sense.”

        Beatrice sat there silent. She tried to let her mind go wild with crazy assumptions. Her tiny
shrinking grandmother closed her eyes and began to snore.

         “You know I lost my eyebrows trying to follow the rules. “ She said barely audible, “I was
coloring inside the lines when gertrude hubble came up and covered my face with paste. When i wipped
it off my eyebrows were gone.”

        Beatrice smiled and whispered her goodbyes. She walked home and tried to look at the case in a
new way. It was possible that someone had given the victim Mr. Baker’s buisness card, but who could
say that it wasn’t Mr. Baker himself? Mike Baker was directly tied to the crime scene it was time to get
real background on him. And the police were obviously hiding something with their nonsensica reports.
Could someone who was in a high office be involved?

                  Beatrice wanted to go and do her research that very moment, but she had to get ready
for her shift. She had visted her grandmother early that morning, around 7 oclock. Her shift at the beach
began at eight. She would make it and still be early.

        Summer had practically started. The local kids were down to their last week of school. Beatrice
would normally be extremely excited, but now she felt nervous and confused. School had already taken
a back seat to her investigations. She was more concerned with the real world and the strange incident
that happened just streets away from her own house.

         When she reached the tiny lifeguard station she set down her huge douffle bag and threw on
her sweatshirt and sweatpants. She grapped her red drawstring bag filled with water sunglasses and a
book and she walked out the door. The tiny lifeguard tower in the distance was a white structure about
four feet off the ground. It was made entirely out of wood with a small bench inside for the occupants to
sit. There was even a wooden roof above them to give them shade. In bright blue letters the hours of
the swiming were posted. Eight to six were the only times pedestrians were allowed in the water . Any
other time and the lifegaurds were not responsible. This didn’t stop many people, however.

       She tossed her red bag onto the stand and then heaved herself up. There was barely anyone at
the beach now. This was usually the time when the lifeguards would go out on a run, but Beatrice
hunched down inside the stand and stared out into the ocean.

         It was a warm morning but the shade of the lifeguard stand cooled her. She just slumbed down
in the cornor and waited for her shift to be over.

        “Hey there,” Jack said as he walked up to the stand, tossing his black bag onto the woodedn
frame, “It’s supposed to be a hot one today.”
        Beatrice leaned up and smiled, “Hi” she said.

        For the rest of their shift it was the usual, small children playing in the shallow waves and older
kids moiving out as far out into the cool blue water as they could. Occasionally, beatrice was forced to
use her whistle and signal some beach goer to move in as they would got greedy with their distance.

         “Would you mind if I cut out early?” Beatrice said analyzing the darkening sun. It was roughly
five o’clock.

        “Sure,” Jack said, “It’s been a pretty slow day anyway.”

        “Later,” Beatrice said hopping down onto the biege sand. She threw on her red bag and headed
up to the boardwalk. She felt calm which was strange because she really should have feared going
anywhere near the boards after the events that had transpired. Beatrice would always go back, though.
No matter how bad anything was, she would always forgive the wooden playground that she loved.

         It was a long walk home, but the sun was still up so Beatrice felt confident. She gently strolled as
her bare feet slapped against the gray wood. Looking around she saw the houses of all her distant
neighbors. Infact, she was right in the area where Mrs. Morgan lived. Once she passed the woman’s
house she had the urge to go and say hello. Taking the next ramp off the boards Beatrice walked up to
the big, blackened brick building.

        It was a huge difference from Mrs. Morgan’s old house by the beach. Beatrice had gone there to
pick up homework once. The old house was a bight white with patches of mixed matched flowers along
the side of the house. Here the neighborhood was worn out with cracked sidewalks and tattered grass.

        Knocking on the door, Beatrice felt strange. She begna to have thoughts that this wasn’t even
her teacher’s house. Suddenly, the door moved open only slightly. It was stopped by a thick brass chain.
Within the opening, Mrs. Morgan peeked her head.

        “Beatrice” the woman said stammering, “What on earth are you doing here? “

        “I just wanted to wish you a good summer since i didn’t get to see you in class to other day.”

        She looked Beatrice up and down with a frown on her face, “Thank you dear, but I think you
have to go now.”

        “I was just stopping by,” Beatrice said. She knew that she wasn’t imposing and she began to feel
angry at her former teacher’s rudeness.

        “I know now, please go home”

         “Mrs. Morgan, I have to say.” Beatrice began, “I think you have been acting very strange lately.
Is there something wrong?”

       A muffled noise came from inside as the meek woman retreated her head into the house to
examine it.
         “Who’s at the door?” a deep voice whispered, “Let me handle it.”

        “Michael, no,” The woman answered, but it was too late the man unlocked the large door and
swung it open revealing himself and the teacher.

        With a huge rush, beatrice saw the small dusty picture again as the man examined her. She
wanted to run up and touch him to justify his realness. She couldn’t say another word, but she didn’t
have to the man spoke first.

        “What do you need, Ms.?” The man said trying to stand with confidence. As beatrice looked him
over with care she could tell that he was not a powerful man. He was very skinny and his natrual stance
was leaning forward in a slight hunch. He didn’t scare Beatrice. Infact, he looked harmless.

       “I’m Mrs. Morgan’s student. I wanted to wish her a nice summer, the last day of school was
yesterday, mr...?” Beatrice knew exactly who he was, but she wanted him to say it.

         “Well, I am Mrs Baker’s accountant, I mean, I am Mr. Baker the accountant.” He said fubbling his

        Mrs. Morgan stared at the man and with this mistake a small smile crossed her face. Beatrice
was extremely sucpicious. What was Mr. Baker doing with Mrs. Morgan.


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