The Truth is Rarely Pure and Never Simple
I awoke the following morning to a persistent buzzing noise overtaking and smashing through everything, abruptly shattering me into alertness.
I staggered out of bed, stumbling down the hallway to the front door, picking up the intercom and hollering,
“What?!” Down the phone.
“Open the fucking door.” Hollie’s annoying voice bit back and angrily, without thinking about it or considering the consequences, I buzzed her in and unlocked the front door, staggering back along the hallway to my bedroom and flattening myself back down onto the bed; hoping to drown her out or better yet; hope she’d get lost on her way upstairs.
“What the fuck are you doing? Get out of bed you asshole.” She said from the doorway and I turned to look over my shoulder at her standing in the doorway before I flipped her off and put my head back on the pillow.
“Get the fuck up, Zac!” She shouted, slamming a cushion onto my bare back.
“What the fuck do you want, Hollie?” I demanded, throwing myself into a sitting position, glaring at her frantically.
“Wow,” She said as she looked at me, clearly taken-aback. “You look like shit.”
I glared at her obviously before shrinking under her gaze as her eyes travelled down to my bare torso and I suddenly remembered the cracks over my skin.
“Is there a point to this?” I groaned, rolling off of the bed and snatching my jumper off of the floor, pulling it over my head.
“Yeah, you weren’t at school yesterday, and neither was Scarlett. Want to tell me what that’s about?” I pulled my arms through the sleeves, my ears pricking up at the mention of her name. I turned to look at Hollie to make sure she wasn’t kidding. Her expression told me she was being serious.
“Why don’t you go ask her?” I demanded, running my hand through my hair as I sighed and shoved out of the room.
“Well I’ve tried, but she’s not picking up her phone or answering her door. Andy’s out and so’s her parents and her spare key isn’t under the matt, so you tell me, what’s going on?”
“Like I would know, Hollie!” I snapped, pushing into the living room and groaning as Hollie gasped.
“What the Hell happened in here?” She demanded and I cursed her inquisitive nature.
“Anger.” I mumbled under my breath.
“Is that what happened to your hands?” She guessed, leaning against the kitchen island as I poured myself a coffee from the pot and winced as I realised it wasn’t hot. Turning on the pot I turned to glare at Hollie irritably. “Why haven’t you tidied it up then?” She asked and I rolled my eyes, folding my arms.
“I’ve been busy.”
“Doing what? Drinking up the entire city’s alcohol supply?” When I didn’t answer she pressed on, “And what about your cousins? Couldn’t they tidy up for you?”
“They’ve gone back to Italy.” I snapped.
“Again? When? And Alex too? Does Scarlett know?”
“Hollie!” I yelled, my fist falling onto the kitchen counter in front of me. Slowly I turned to stare at her. “Shut up and get the hell out of my apartment.” I said through my teeth.
“No,” She said defiantly, pushing off of the island to fold her arms and set her shoulders, narrowing her eyes on me. “I’m worried about Scarlett, and for what it’s worth I know you are too, and I’m worried about you too. You guys are freaking me out and you both need your heads clashed together for what was said on Monday.”
“I don’t regret that in the slightest.” I lied.
“Stronzate,” She snapped, the faintest hints of anger cracking through her expression. “Just incase you didn’t understand it in English.” She hit out in Italian and my breath whooshed out in a gust as I remembered just how fluent she was in my native language.
“How do you do that?“
“How do you do that; act like you don’t give a damn when you do!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Bullshit!” She said in English, throwing her hands in the air. “You and Scarlett have one little argument – your first as an actual couple, might I add – and suddenly there isn’t a bar stocked full enough for you to drown your sorrows in, and nobody can contact Scarlett!” She sighed and I could tell how worried and exasperated she really was. “Pull yourself together Zac and get a grip. Something’s going on and I’m not going to stop until I get to the bottom of it. And I’d really appreciate it if you would help me.” She held my eyes for a moment longer before pushing out of the room. A moment later the front door closed behind her.
I threw the cigarette butt behind me as I jogged up the steps of the library, pushing into the front foyer louder than I realised I’d be. I scanned the sign in front of me before turning and taking the stairs two at a time down into the basement, chewing on my bottom lip and pulling a hand through my hair as I took long strides along the corridor to the ancient archives.
As I pushed into the dimly lit, cold hall, there was a few others in here too. One was writing in a notebook at a table; hunched over as her glasses almost fell onto the yellowed pages on the desk in front of her. Another was stretched across on the top wrung of a set of ladders, his bitten fingernails reaching for the book he’d narrowly judged to reach. And the third was pushing his half-moon spectacles further up his nose as I entered the hall, eyeing me knowingly as I inclined my head at him nervously; able to count the age wrinkles at the sides of his eyes as I passed by him to get to the bookcase I needed.
Scanning the shelves as quickly and efficiently as I could took longer than I intended, and fifteen minutes later I finally found the book I was after. Taking it to the back of the hall I sat it down on one of the empty round tables and shrugged out of my leather jacket, hanging it on the back of a chair and plopping the notepad and pen down onto the table next to the book before heaving a deep sigh and taking to the chair.
“No, you’re not listening to me, Jenkins,” I hissed down the phone, rubbing my forehead with my thumb of the hand holding my cigarette. “Yeah well thanks for nothing.” I hung up the phone and threw my head back, trying to gather myself before I properly snapped.
“Not getting the answers you need?” The elderly man from before came out of the library behind me, passing my leather jacket to me with a knowing expression.
“How did…?” I trailed off, puffing on my cigarette before throwing the butt away.
“I know what you’re after, but you’re not going to find it here,” He scoffed. “In ancient archived books or in the telephone directory?” He chuckled and I felt embarrassed almost. “The only way you’re going to get what you need is to go straight to the jugular.” He looked at me pointedly and I nodded my head as I shrugged into my jacket; knowing he was right.
“That’s what I’ve been afraid of.” I sighed and he nodded.
“For what it’s worth, the Jenkins family are a good family; only dig if you need to.” With that sentence said, he took to the front steps and I watched him go in surprise; shocked and overwhelmed that he knew exactly who I was searching for.
The following day I watched as Hollie’s car pulled into the parking lot and she climbed out; alone.
“Where is she?” I asked as she approached me.
“Finally decided to grace us with your presence,” She said sourly and I arched an eyebrow. “I don’t know,” She answered. “I called her at least a dozen times yesterday to tell her she got the part of Whitney in the show but,” She rolled her eyes. “No answer. Rehearsals start tomorrow and I have a feeling she’s going to be a no-show.”
“She got the part of Whitney?” I forced surprise and Hollie nodded with a small smile. “And you?” I forced myself to ask.
“Madonna, of course,” She said in true diva-style and this time I rolled my eyes. “So what’re we going to do about Scarlett? Now that you’re back to normal you can help me. She never even showed for her driving lesson yesterday.” She said and I ran a hand over my face as Percy exited the building with two cups of coffee.
“Good morning babe, still no Scar?” He guessed, passing Hollie a coffee with a kiss. I watched them with a pang of jealousy; missing Scarlett and hating myself for it. Hollie shook her head and I ran a hand through my hair. “Good to see you bro.” Percy nodded.
“And you too, Elton.” I joked.
“Ah man,” Percy sighed and Hollie glared at me. “Unfortunately I wasn’t so lucky,” He said sarcastically. “I have to talk to you about backstage crew actually.”
“Consider it yours man.” I said, putting my hands in the air; guessing that’s what he was heading for.
“Seriously bro?” He asked, surprised and Hollie glared at me angrily again.
“Honestly, it’s yours.”
“Sweet,” Percy laughed. “Well, I gotta go tell them the good news,” He grinned. “I’ll see you guys later.” He kissed Hollie again and entered the building whooping for joy.
“What d’you think you’re doing?!”