A Piece Of Daria Fanfiction
By Brandon League
Summary-After Jesse Moreno is killed in a car crash, Trent takes drastic measures to get his friend back. This story was highly inspired by the classic "Tales From The Burbs" series.
Legalities-Daria Morgendorffer and her friends are owned by MTV/Viacom and NOT me! There, you happy? I've said it before and I'll say it again...SCREW NOGGIN!
Sometimes in life, there are choices. These are choices of such gargantuan magnitude that the mind shuts down in order to protect itself from the possibility that impending doom doth approach. These are the ULTIMATE choices...
"Could you repeat that?"
"I SAID, do you want ketchup or mustard on your hamburger, sir?"
Trent Lane was seated in the Tank, his head propped up on his elbow as he stared at the drive-thru order box impassively. Ketchup was always a good choice, but it was red and it made him think of the long-standing mystery stain in the refrigerator at home. He shuddered. Mustard was also a good choice. It had a spicy, almost smoldering zing to it, plus it was a bright cheerful yellow.
Trent's eyes widened and he thought for a second.
"Life is like mustard, that never comes off the bun. Life is like a
T-bone steak that never gets well done. Raw meat resurrection..."
Damn it, and he didn't have his notebook with him. There was a classic tune in that just waiting to get out, he knew it!
"Huh?" Trent came out of his trance.
"Do you want..."
"Oh, sorry. Mustard's fine."
Five minutes later, Trent was pulling up in front of the Lane house with a hamburger in his stomach and a song in his mind. He couldn't wait to get to his notebook.
He entered his house in cheerful spirits. He was grinning ear to ear and humming a tune under his breath. He felt pretty much the way he always did, when a new song lurked just inside of him. Hell, he felt glorious.
As Trent neared the staircase, his eyes fell on something unusual. A copy of the Lawndale Sun-Herald lay scattered at the foot of the stairs, obviously having been thrown there. He rolled his eyes. Ever since Janey had discovered the massive selection of art supplies that Pay Day had to offer, she searched every Sun-Herald she came across for coupons. He smiled. As if five gummi bricks for eight dollars wasn't a big enough deal...
Any other day, Trent would have just stepped over the scattered paper and went about his daily business. As he stepped over the paper, though, he glimpsed something that made his mouth literally water and completely drove any song lyrics out of his head.
GUITAR TEACHERS WANTED.
Trent snatched up the ad and read it carefully. Apparently, they were starting guitar lessons at the Lawndale Adult Education Center and they were looking for experienced guitar players to teach some basic tunes to bored yuppies. Three hundred dollars a week! Trent grinned. This looked like a job for Trent Lane.
Two hours later, the Tank rumbled up to the Adult Education Center with one Trent Lane in tow. Trent wasn't a suit and tie kind of man, and no job in existence would ever make him wear one. He wore a pair of clean, hole-free blue jeans and a plain blue T-shirt. He carried his father's ancient Gibson acoustic in his right hand. It was the perfect audition piece. Vincent claimed, (many times) that he had been playing that guitar in the car on the day that the Beatles' "White Album" was released in stores. Trent had only had to search the attic for forty-five minutes before he found it, right under a box containing his, Jane's, Summer's, Wind's, and Penny's birth certificates.
As he entered the building, he was almost flying on adrenalin. He knew that this job was his already. There was no one else as qualified for it as he. All he had to do was strum a couple of Bob Dylan tunes on the old guitar and they would be begging him to teach the class. There was only one other person who might, possibly, pose a threat to him now, and Trent wasn't the least bit worried.
At least he wasn't worried until he turned the corner looking for the room number specified in the ad and saw his main competition sitting in a chair by the door calmly waiting. He too, had cleaned himself up considerably for the audition. His hair was pulled into a ponytail. He wore a short-sleeved, button necked shirt with an alligator on the left breast and a pair of clean blue jeans. He was also wearing a pair of sandals as opposed to his usual heavy boots, but it was him, just the same.
Trent and Jesse stared at one another in shock. From the shocked look on Jesse's face, Trent knew that old Jess had thought the same thing that he had...that he was the only one who had seen the Sun-Herald.
Jesse looked up at Trent sheepishly. "Hey, Trent."
"What are you doing here, Jess?"
Trent kept his voice level and normal. After all, Jesse was his best friend, and it really wasn't fair of Trent to be angry anyway. The job was open to any guitar player who had access to the Lawndale paper, after all. Trent had just assumed that Jesse didn't read the newspaper.
Jesse stared into his lap, embarrassed, for a few seconds before he answered.
"Um, you know Trent. I...." Jesse sighed. "I thought it would be an easy way to make some bread, you know. I'd finally be able to get a new amp, maybe put a down payment on a new guitar. Hey wait...what are YOU doing here, Trent?"
"I'm here for the same reason, Jess," he said calmly.
"Oh," said Jesse, mildly.
The door opened and a man emerged. He looked to be around fifty, with a thin white beard and a slight gut. He was dressed casually. Like Trent and Jesse, he appeared to be a "blue jeans and nice shirt" kind of guy. What struck the two young men at once, however, were the dark, black sunglasses that he wore and the long, metal cane that he carried. The man was obviously blind.
He looked toward Trent and Jesse and smiled amiably. "You two boys must be here about the job. I'm Carl DeMarco. I guess you could say that I'm the big boss around here."
He chuckled good-naturedly and extended his hand for Trent and Jesse to shake, which they both did.
"So, am I right to assume that you boys have experience playing the guitar?" He paused and a sly grin came over his face. "You saw my ad and ran for your respective cars, no doubt. You thought that this was a plum opportunity to make some green, right?"
Trent and Jesse looked at each other, befuddled. What were they supposed to say?
Carl seemed to read their minds. He chuckled.
"Well, boys. You're right. This IS a plum opportunity to make some cash, if indeed you can play the guitar well. Your students will be middle aged, well-groomed, alligator shirt types who decide to take up the guitar in order to take a break from swimming in their cast-iron money vaults."
Jesse looked down at the alligator shirt he was wearing and softly slapped his forehead.
Carl continued. "Now boys, if you'll step into my office and strum me a few notes, we'll see who gets the plum..."
Later that evening, Trent lay on his bed. He wasn't asleep, but rather he was staring at his ceiling, lost in thought. Trent was remembering the audition earlier that evening.
Both he and Jesse had played extremely well. As it turned out, he didn't have to bring his father's guitar to the interview. In Carl's office he had noticed three battered guitars propped against the wall.
In the interest of fairness, they had flipped a coin to see who played for Mr. DeMarco first. Jesse won the toss. He closed his eyes and held the guitar for several seconds. Then his eyes flashed open and he began to play a surprisingly good acoustic rendition of the old Metallica instrumental, "The Call Of Cthulu."
When he finished, both Trent and Carl had clapped politely. Jesse returned the guitar to its place and took a seat, his eyes packing a satisfied gleam.
Now it was Trent's turn. He took his father's guitar out of the case and, like Jesse, held it for a few minutes before he decided what to play. Finally, it clicked in his mind. He knew exactly what would win him this job. As a weird coincidence, it was also the first song that Trent ever learned to play.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Suitably relaxed, he began to play the Doors' classic, "People Are Strange." As Trent's fingers glided over the guitar's strings, he felt light and free. He knew he had never in his life played as well as he was playing right this second. This was made obvious by the wide-eyed look of surprise on Jesse's face.
When both boys had finished playing, Mr. DeMarco looked at them and said, "Boys, I wish that I had two positions to fill. You're both amazing guitar players." He sighed. "Unfortunately, I only have the one position."
He smirked at the two of them.
"If it makes you feel any better, know that you have ruined my sleep for the next few days. I'll be up, trying to decide WHO I give the job to."
Trent grinned. Mr. DeMarco sure was a cool guy for being in his fifties. It sure would be great to have him for a boss.
If he got the job.
Trent groaned. Dammit, Jesse never read the Sun-Herald. He never READ for that matter. He sure did pick a fine time to start. Trent needed this job. With his parents constantly out in the world doing God knew what and with The Spiral barely squeaking by playing dives and brew pubs, three hundred dollars a week would be like black gold and Texas tea.
Trent's duck phone began to quack. He rolled over and answered it on its second quack.
"Yeah, man. I...I just wanted to tell you that I really dug your audition piece. How come we never played "People Are Strange" on stage? It would have been a killer closer."
Despite himself, Trent smiled. "You know the Spiral policy on cover songs."
For a second there was complete silence. Then, Jesse said, "Hey Trent. I'm sorry, man."
Trent was taken aback. The words flew out of his mouth. "For what? You didn't do anything. Look, you had just as much right to audition as I did. I'd have to be a lowlife to be mad at you for that. Besides, we're Mystik Spiral! Friends forever, man. No job is worth our friendship."
Jesse was moved. "You mean, if I get the job, you won't be mad?"
"Of COURSE not, Jess."
"Thanks, Trent. You're a real pal."
"Hey, man. You started our friendship, remember? In third grade, Dave Keller and Bob Reeves jumped on me in the playground, trying to steal my money and you jumped in and helped me?"
"Oh, yeah. I remember that."
Trent grinned. "You gave Bob Reeves that black eye and we both got suspended for a week."
Jesse chuckled. "You were the one who threw that rock at Dave Keller and split his lip."
Trent and Jesse chuckled.
After a few seconds, Trent spoke. "See man, we're best pals. No job's gonna change that. Friends for life, Jess."
"Thanks, Trent. I'll see you tomorrow at practice. Will you teach me how to play 'People Are Strange?'"
"You know I will."
Trent hung up the phone. "Friends forever," he whispered softly.
Trent Lane rolled over and went to sleep.
It was at noon the following day that Max Tyler called Trent to tell him that Jesse had been killed in a car accident.
Numb. Everything felt frozen and numb. This wasn't real. Jesse couldn't be dead. It was all a bad dream. Any minute now, he would wake up. He'd be lying on the battered couch in Nick's basement and Jesse would be tapping him on the shoulder.
"Come on, Trent, we gotta smooth out the ending of 'Ice Box Woman.' You know that it's not sounding right. Trent, come on...Trent? Trent! Tre-"
Trent came back to Earth. Jane was standing over him. She was dressed in a tight black dress, black hose, and an old pair of high heels that she had scrounged up somewhere. Trent frowned. The whole ensemble showed off his sister's curves. He didn't like the idea of his baby sister having a figure.
Then he remembered where they were.
Jane stared at him for a moment from behind her dark sunglasses. Then she said softly, "Trent. It's time."
Trent had, not surprisingly, been chosen as a pallbearer. He stood up and walked up to the coffin. It was unmistakably Jesse Moreno lying there, wearing a suit that looked almost EXACTLY like the suit worn by Axl Rose in the old "November Rain" video. He looked down at his friend lying there in the two thousand dollar coffin bought by Jesse's mother and father. It was true. Dammit, it was true.
His best friend was dead.
Trent couldn't move. He just stood there, his hands gripping the edge of the coffin. He knew that the lid would have to be closed. He knew that he was supposed to help put the coffin into the hearse, but dammit he just couldn't move.
A hand fell on his shoulder. It was Max. He was wearing one of his father's old suits. His eyes were red.
"You okay, Trent?"
Trent looked at him, his bottom lip quivering. "No, Max. I'm not."
Max looked cowed. "Sorry, man. That was a dumb-ass question."
Trent sighed and looked back into the coffin. Jesse lay there, his hands folded over his chest. He looked as peaceful and nonchalant as he ever did. Trent half expected him to look up and say, "Cool."
Suddenly, a hand fell on his other shoulder. It was the funeral director.
"Son, we've got to get going."
Trent nodded and walked with Max to where the other four pallbearers were gathered. It would be the three remaining members of Mystik Spiral, along with Jesse's father and two of his uncles.
As Trent and Max approached, Jesse's father gave them a quick nod and a quick handshake. They both noticed that, despite Jack Moreno's attempt at keeping his emotions buried, that his hands were shaking badly and his graying mustache twitched in a strange sort of way.
"Boys," he said slowly, "I really appreciate this. You three were Jesse's best friends. You were always there for him when he was with us, and you're here for him now. Nancy and I are grateful that our boy had friends like you."
He gave each of them a glance. He thought a moment and put his hands on Nick's shoulders.
"Nick, my boy. You were always there for Jesse whenever he had a little too much to drink and needed a place to crash because he couldn't drive. I want to thank you for that. My son liked his beer just a little too much. In that aspect, he was just like his old man." Jack sighed. "Thank you, Nick for keeping an eye on him."
Nick nodded stiffly but said nothing.
Jack Moreno turned to Max.
"Max, I remember the first time I met you. You came over to the house to play with Jesse. You were what, six years old? You and Jesse were always getting in trouble. I'd get calls from every family in the neighborhood. You were always up to something. I will never forget the time you guys broke the axle on my new riding lawnmower. Tell me again what you were trying to do?"
"You were cutting the grass in the backyard," Max said softly, "and you went inside to use the bathroom and left the engine running. Jesse and I thought that it would be a real blast to..." Max chuckled softly.
"You thought that it would be a real blast to go to the top of that big hill in our backyard," Jack continued, "and pop the clutch and do a free roll down the hill, dodging trees at random."
"It didn't quite work the way it should have," Max whispered.
"That's an understatement. You hit that old pine tree so hard you snapped the axle clean in half."
Max chuckled, but it sounded forced. "I told Jesse to swerve right. He didn't listen..."
Max collapsed into a chair and put his face in his hands.
Jack Moreno walked over to Max, put his hand on his shoulder and talked softly to him for the better part of a minute. When he stopped, Max stood up and nodded softly. His eyes were still red, but he looked much better.
Last but not least, Jesse's father turned to face Trent.
"Trent, son. You were my Jesse's best friend. I know a lot of people looked down on him. They thought that he was just a dumb musclehead who kept all of his brains in his guitar. You looked deeper than that, and you were good for him. If he hadn't had you, and his band, he probably would have ended up in jail or worse. I'm damn glad that he knew you, Trent."
Trent didn't know what to say.
The rest of the funeral was standard and uneventful. The pallbearers, Trent among them, carried Jesse's coffin down the stairs of Lawndale First Baptist Church to where the hearse waited, idling softly in the newly paved parking lot.
After Jesse's body was placed inside the hearse, the funeral party got into their own cars (or vans) and followed the hearse to the final destination. Max, Trent, Nick and Jane rode the Tank to the cemetery in stone silence.
At the cemetery, the minister spoke his final words, and the remaining members of Mystic Spiral watched grimly as their brother, their bandmate, their fellow criminale returned to eternity...
That was three hours ago.
Had it really happened, or was it just a horrid nightmare that was impossible to wake up from?
Trent Lane sat in his attic. He had removed the horribly constricting tie as well as his shoes and socks. Other than that he was still wearing his dress attire from the funeral. He stared stupidly at the tie gripped tightly in his right hand. He had once sworn that NO job would ever make him wear one, and no job had.
"Only my best friend's funeral could get me to wear a tie," Trent said aloud. Jesse would have found THAT hilarious.
Trent, however, wasn't sure that he would ever laugh again.
Jane was at Daria's for the evening. The second they had returned home from the funeral, she had gotten a shower and changed back into her normal clothes. She came up to the attic to check on her brother, asking if he was okay. He assured her that he was, and she was out the door in a millisecond, on her way to see Daria.
He felt bad for lying to his sister. At this point in time, Trent was anything but okay. He had a sneaking suspicion that Jane knew this; she was just giving him some much-needed time to himself. He was grateful for that.
Thank you, little sister.
"I'm worried about Trent," Jane said quietly to her best friend Daria Morgendorffer. The two of them were in Daria's bedroom. Daria was sitting at her computer going over an old Melody Powers story for the fourth time. Jane's comment made her look up.
"I said, I'm worried about Trent. He and Jesse were close for a long time. They always hung out together, whether it was band practice or hitting a movie, or just fucking around together. They were best friends, and frankly, I don't know how Trent is going to cope."
Daria stared at Jane with sympathy. "Trent will be fine, Jane. His best friend just died, so of course he's at a low point right now. He's hurting and full of remorse, but he'll recover. He just needs time. You know your brother, he's a stable enough guy."
Jane sighed. "I know. I'm just being paranoid."
Daria gave her a small smile. "It's okay. It's perfectly natural for you to be worried about him. He is your brother."
Trent sat cross-legged on the attic floor, next to an old, battered trunk. The lock on the old trunk had been broken for as long as Trent could remember and he was fiercely glad that he didn't have to tear the house apart to find a key.
He reached in the trunk and pulled out the first thing he came across. It was a photograph in a cheap wooden frame. A group of children sat on the steps of a modest brick building. In the background the leaves were orange and all the children wore light coats. This indicated that the picture had been taken in the fall.
Standing next to the group of children was an old woman wearing a flowered dress and a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles. She smiled warmly at the camera. In front of the students was a black message board that bore the following:
Third Grade Class
Lawndale Elementary School
Trent smiled. On the back row, he could see his eight-year-old self-standing next to an eight-year-old Jesse Moreno. Jesse was sticking his tongue out at the camera. Trent chuckled. Old Ms. Hunter gave him hell for that.
He put the picture down and rummaged again through the trunk. He found nothing else useful at first: A Lawndale Sun-Herald from 1974, A photo of his mother pregnant with Summer, a first edition of Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" with the name 'Wind Lane' written neatly on the inside cover, an old pair of magic handcuffs and...
Trent hesitated a moment and pulled out the heavy, dusty book. The words "Ancient Voodoo Rites" were written on the front cover in red lacquered letters. Trent furrowed his brow in puzzlement. He didn't remember ever seeing this book before. A slip of paper sticking out of the top caught his eye. He pulled it out and read it.
Property Of Penny Lane
Keep Your Damned Hands Off
(This Means You, Summer!)
That sounded like Penny all right...but Voodoo? Where did she get this book? Better yet, why the hell did she have it? He opened it and leafed through it slowly. Love potions, Hypnotic suggestion, Classifications of spirits, The different loas and their descriptions, and then Trent came to the final chapter. What he saw caused him to gasp. His eyes widened and he almost dropped the book.
Resurrection Of The Deceased.
Sometimes in life, there are choices. These are choices of such gargantuan magnitude that the mind shuts down in order to protect itself from the possibility that impending doom doth approach. These are the ULTIMATE choices...
Trent Lane knew what had to be done.
After reading the chapter on Resurrection, he felt confident that maybe, just maybe, he could bring his best friend back. It wasn't fair that Jesse lay in a cold, dark grave up at the City Cemetery. He had been stone cold sober behind the wheel. The guy that had rammed Jesse, Trent had come to find out, had been high on cocaine. He was now sitting in a cell at the police station, but that didn't make Trent feel any better.
Trent smiled a little. Mystik Spiral would be better than ever! Imagine the look on Max and Nick's faces when I call them up for practice and old Jesse walks in the door!
Trent turned back to the book and once again went over the final chapter. There were two distinct spells for bringing the dead back to life. The first one involved putting a string tied in twenty-one knots and twenty-one seeds of Pois Congo under a dying man's pillow. Then, at twelve midnight, go to the door and knock three times and bang, instant zombie.
That one wouldn't work. For one thing, Jesse was already buried, and for another 'Pois Congo' was native to the Caribbean. You could find it in Haiti and Bermuda and places like that. You couldn't just walk into Pay Day and say, "Hey, how's the Pois Congo looking?"
But the second one...
Trent read it carefully and grinned. This one would do the trick, and he could do it right here in the attic. There was a small list of necessary items, of course, and an incantation. Trent winced. It WOULD have to be in French. He had taken French in High School and he had passed, albeit barely. Trent cursed himself.
For a friend, he would sweat it out.
As luck would have it, every single item on the list could be found here in the Lane house. That made things a lot easier. Trent got up and, using Penny's warning as a bookmark, lugged the heavy book downstairs to the kitchen. With a grunt, he threw it onto the counter and opened it back to the page that he had marked.
Candles. The book said that Trent needed six black candles. He thought a moment and ran up the stairs to Janey's room. He hated to be in here without her permission, but he didn't think she'd mind, once she saw the results of his hard work. Trent looked around and saw immediately what he was looking for. An old shoebox sat on the floor next to Jane's closet. He picked it up and looked. It was full of cheap, black candles. Grinning, Trent counted out six and ran back to the kitchen. He knew he could count on his sister.
He put the candles on the counter and consulted the list. Next up, was 'three bones of a chicken'. Trent chuckled softly and went over to the refrigerator. He opened it and withdrew the week-old box of 'The Colonel's Original Recipe'. Jane had been bitching at him for a week to throw the box out but he hadn't gotten around to it. Now, he was glad that he hadn't. This box of old chicken was the key to bringing his best pal back, after all. He took a leg and two breasts, and, standing over the trashcan, took off every piece of skin. Then, he washed the bones in the sink and threw the old box away.
He consulted the list. The next thing he needed was 'a possession most beloved by the dearly departed'. This was a little tricky. Jesse had had lots of 'beloved possessions'. What would be appropriate to use? As Trent thought about all the things that Jesse had left at his house over the years, he heard thunder from outside. He walked into the living room and glanced out the window. Sure enough, a light, drizzly rain was starting to fall.
Hmmm, a storm must be coming.
Trent Lane searched his room like a man possessed. Somewhere in all this mess, there had to be something of Jesse's that he considered beloved enough to work. The things that he had found so far didn't look like they would cut it. Under his bed, he found one of Jesse's old Mad magazines that had been there since 1996. It wasn't beloved enough. At the bottom of his closet, Trent found a remote controlled car that he had borrowed from Jesse in the fifth grade. It didn't feel right. Then, he struck paydirt. Stashed in the bottom of a desk drawer, Trent found a perfectly preserved piece of paper.
At first, Trent didn't know what it was. As he read it though, he realized what it was.
It was the original lyrics sheet for 'Ice Box Woman'. It had been in this desk drawer for nearly three years without being touched. His heart jerked a little as he saw that the words had been carefully written in Jesse's handwriting.
That's because Jesse wrote the lyrics, a little voice in his head whispered.
Trent gave a start. That's right. Jesse DID write 'Ice Box Woman'! It was the first, and only, song that Jesse ever wrote alone. I remember how proud he was the first time that he showed it to us. He loved that song so...
It was time to get to work.
Ten minutes later, Trent Lane was back in the attic. He had arranged the items exactly as the book instructed. Five of the black candles formed a crude circle. Inside the circle, Trent positioned the chicken bones into a triangle. Then he took the lyrics sheet, and lay it gently in the center of the triangle. Last but not least, he took the sixth candle and set it on top of the lyrics sheet. There, it was identical to the drawing in the book. He took a cigarette lighter out of his pocket and lit the candles.
He licked his lips. Now for the incantation. He had a feeling that his pronunciation was going to be horrible, but that didn't matter. Trent had faith that the power of the words would be enough.
Hold on, Jesse.
Trent took a deep breath and read:
Je vous appelle
L'Ange de L'Eau Sainte
Je, votte serviteur loyal
Sur cette veille sombre
Je mendie le retour de mon ami loyal.
Beni etre votre nom. Damballa puissant.
As Trent spoke the last line, a brilliant flash of lightning streaked across the sky. With it, came a clap of thunder so loud that Trent winced and put both hands over his ears. From nowhere came a great gust of wind. All six candles winked out at once. The makeshift altar was thrown across the room by the powerful wind. One of the candles struck the attic window so hard that Trent saw a long crack appear in the pane. Trent fell over on his back. The roar of the unholy wind was like a train. Trent was afraid his skull would collapse. The last thing he saw before he passed out was the lyric sheet flapping against the ceiling...
"Trent! Trent! Wake up!"
Trent's eyes snapped open. Everything seemed fuzzy at first. He saw two large blobs standing over him. The big red blob was shaking him while the big green blob stood there watching.
Wait a minute, he thought. Red blob? Green blob?
He sat up, and with a great effort, shook his head hard from side to side. His vision cleared at once, but he had a horrible pounding in his head. He looked at the two figures and gave them a crooked smile.
"Hey, Janey. Hey, Daria."
Jane was looking at him, obviously alarmed. Daria looked as she usually did, but Trent could almost swear that he could see alarm in her eyes, as well.
"Hey, Janey? Is that all you've got to say to me? What in the seven circles of Hell happened up here, Trent?" Jane looked worried and at the same time, livid.
Trent looked around. The attic looked as though a tornado had hit it full force. Old trunks were turned over on their sides. Some of the trunks had been broken open. The cushions on the old love seat had been ripped to shreds. Papers and old clothing were strewn all over the floor. Jane's old tricycle was missing two wheels. He stood up and looked around in shock.
"Christ," he whispered softly. He walked over to the window and gently fingered the long spidery crack in the glass.
"So, it wasn't a dream," he whispered softly.
"WHAT wasn't a dream? Trent, what happened? You know Mom and Dad will freak when they see this, right?"
Trent cocked an eyebrow at her. Jane sighed.
"I know. I know, but...but I'm not cleaning it up, Trent."
Jane stormed downstairs in a huff. Trent sighed. Daria looked at him curiously.
"Trent, dare I ask what happened here last night? You didn't eat some Glitter Berries, did you?" Daria looked at him cooly.
Daria looked at him a second longer and then followed Jane downstairs. Trent rubbed his head and groaned. He supposed he owed his sister an explanation, and he planned to give her one, but not right now. He was simply too ashamed. What had he been thinking? Jesse was dead and he wasn't coming back, a book wouldn't change that! The air conditioner must have gone on the blink again, that was all. It had happened before. The air conditioner went haywire and blew some stuff around. He would have to get it checked.
Trent, you know that the air conditioner wouldn't blow things around like that. Some of those trunks weigh over a hundred pounds!
Of course, Trent knew that. For the time being, however, it was safer just to rationalize things. He decided to change clothes and take a shower and then, maybe he could get to the bottom of things. Yes, a shower would be just the thing he needed. He saw "Ancient Voodoo Rites" lying on the floor by the window and threw it into one of the trunks with a hollow chuckle. It was foolishness...
No, it wasn't. He had simply put hope in something that he had no business putting hope in. He knew better. Jesse had been his best friend, true, but he had to let him go. Trent was about to go downstairs, when he saw something lying on the floor by the door. It was Jesse's lyric sheet, complete with a black wax smudge in the center. Trent smiled and put it back on the floor.
Rest in peace, my friend.
Trent went downstairs and took a shower. Just as he thought he would, he felt much better once he had donned his usual attire. He stretched and joined Daria and Jane in the kitchen. He was helping himself to a bowl of cereal when Jane broke the silence.
"Hey, Trent. You got a phone call while you were in the shower. Some guy named Carl DeMarco wanted to talk to you."
Trent had to think for almost a full minute before he placed the name. Then it hit him. He was the blind guy from the Adult Education Center. With all that had happened in the past couple of days, Trent had completely forgotten about the job he had interviewed for.
"Did he leave a message?"
"Yeah." Jane looked strangely at her brother. "He said to tell you that he had made up his mind about the job and to tell you to be at the Center at two o' clock and he'd tell you who got the plum."
Trent sighed. He dropped the spoon into his newly made bowl of cereal. He suddenly didn't feel very hungry.
"What's this about a job, big brother?"
Trent looked at Jane. "A couple of days before Jesse died, we both applied for a guitar teaching position at the Lawndale Adult Education Center. We both played our hearts out for Carl DeMarco, the self-styled 'Big Boss' there. We were both really excited about the job. We were both nervous about who was going to get it." Trent paused. "I'm not going to take the job, Jane. It wouldn't be right to Jesse. I'd always have to live with the fact that I got a plum job just because my best friend died. I'd go nuts."
Jane looked at Trent for a second, compassion in her eyes. She leaned over and threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tight.
"Jesse was lucky to have a friend like you," she whispered.
Fifteen minutes later, Trent pulled into the parking lot at the Adult Education Center. He was dressed as he usually was. Mr. DeMarco couldn't see him anyway. He walked up the stairs and into the building. The hallways were dark and there was no one around. Trent realized that the Center was closed on Saturdays and that no one was here. He walked down the dark hall and knocked on Mr. DeMarco's door. The door opened quickly and there was Carl DeMarco, a big friendly grin on his face and his usual dark glasses covering his eyes.
"Trent, my boy, come in."
"Thanks, Mr. DeMarco." Trent was amazed that DeMarco knew it was him. He guessed that it was true what they said about blind people having heightened senses and all.
DeMarco's office looked pretty much the way it had the last time. Old guitars were hanging on the wall. There was a cluttered desk in the corner of the room and a window that overlooked the woods in the back of the Center.
Trent felt uncomfortable. "Mr. DeMarco?"
"I just came over to tell you. I appreciate the offer and I appreciate the fact that you took the time to hear me play and all, but I'm not going to take the job. I'm sorry, sir."
DeMarco looked at him kindly. "Trent, son, you're a good player and all, and you're a hell of a nice guy, but I'm not...giving you the job."
Trent blinked his eyes, confused. "Sir, I don't understand."
"Well, Trent, you see. I'm giving Jesse the job."
Trent looked slapped. Obviously, DeMarco hadn't heard about Jesse's death. Well, like it or not, Trent would have to tell him.
"Sir, didn't you hear about Jesse?"
"I don't understand." DeMarco looked perplexed. "Hear what?"
"Sir, Jesse was," Trent swallowed hard, "killed in a car wreck three days ago."
Carl DeMarco gave Trent an ice-cold look. "Son, I don't find that a damned bit funny. Jesse's been here for over an hour. I just talked to him five minutes ago."
Trent blood froze.
"Sir, that's not possible. He's dead. The funeral announcement was in the Sun-Herald."
"Trent, I'm afraid you're mistaken. Watch, I'll show you."
DeMarco felt his way over to the P.A. system. He picked it up and flipped it on with his thumb.
"Will Mister Jesse Moreno please report to Carl DeMarco's office please?"
"That's a hell of a thing to say about your friend. You should be ashamed. No job is worth telling a lie like that for."
"Sir, listen to me..."
Then, Trent heard it. It was a slow, dragging sound coming up the hallway. In his entire life, Trent had never heard anything like it. It sounded like a bag of wet shirts being pulled across linoleum. Trent whirled around to look at the door. He felt a sense of dread horror welling up inside him. His mouth opened and then closed. He had never been so afraid in his life.
Three loud knocks fell on the door.
"Ah, come in, Jesse."
The door opened and Trent Lane screamed.
Jesse Moreno stood in the doorway. He was dressed in the suit he had been buried in. Dirt was in his hair and his skin was ungodly pale. The collar of the suit was open and Trent could see the tip of the ghastly surgical scar from Jesse's autopsy. The thing that had been Jesse Moreno shambled into the room, leaving a thin trail of dirt on the carpet behind him. Trent sank to his knees. He knew that if he opened his mouth, he would scream and scream and never stop.
Carl DeMarco turned his sightless eyes toward Jesse. "Son, I can't tell you how happy I am for you. You got the job!"
The corpse turned its dead eyes toward DeMarco.
"Cool," it said through rotted lips.
Trent Lane and Carl DeMarco were never seen again.
The Lawndale police searched the Adult Education Center as well as the surrounding woods. They were hopeful that they would find the two missing persons rather quickly. Judging from the amount of blood on the walls of Carl DeMarco's office, finding them alive was not an option. For eight months, the disappearances were a top priority, then the cases were marked UNSOLVED and filed away in a back room filing cabinet at the Lawndale Police Station.
Another odd thing happened around this time.
Jesse Moreno's body was stolen from the Lawndale City Cemetery.
The caretaker told police that it appeared that someone (or something) had dug down to the coffin with his or her bare hands and broken open the coffin and disappeared with Moreno's body.
The police deemed that unlikely, as was the theory that Moreno was buried alive.
It was simply impossible.
Tragically, Jane Lane suffered a severe mental breakdown after her brother's disappearance. She had to be institutionalized for a short time, much of which was spent under sedation after she told a nurse that she heard Jesse Moreno's voice at night calling to her from outside her window.
The doctors pumped her full of drugs, kept her restrained and patted her head like a good little halfwit.
"Sure you heard him, sweetie."
That's how it was.
No one ever found Penny Lane's old voodoo book either. It was as though it had never existed, and in a way...it hadn't.
It was just another normal day in Lawndale, USA.
End notes-Whew! There you have it. If ever you needed proof that I could write a story in prose that was longer than 2500 words, I believe this is your answer. I strongly believe that this is the FINEST thing that I have ever written, but maybe I'm just boasting. Feel free to judge for yourself. In case you are wondering, the French voodoo chant is indeed real French. I came across this really helpful site called www.freetranslation.com. I just typed in some spooky sounding stuff and selected "English to French" and presto! Ha! Ha! Feel free to send me feedback. Positive, negative or indifferent thoughts are welcome. It doesn't really matter. I must insist though, no death threats or marriage proposals. I WILL ACCEPT NEITHER! Quick thanks to: Martin J. Pollard, Roger E. Moore, Thea Zara, Mman, Crusading Saint, and Kemical Reaxion. GET WELL SOON, KEM!!!