Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Fight Song Chapter 14

Last time in Fight Song, Callie came up with a plan . . . only to end up in an argument with Jonathan. This week, she attempts to go it alone, which goes, well, about as well as you think it will. As always, comments, questions, suggestions, and critiques are welcome. Thanks for reading!

Chapter 14: Lonely

Uhjin wasn’t there when I got home. No surprise. I made a sandwich and settled down to wait for her. I needed to ask her about getting the security camera feeds, and now that Jonathan was out of the picture, I’d need her help with executing my plan too. True, she wouldn’t have Jonathan’s experience or connections. But she was the best option I had— the only option.

Hours passed. I jotted down notes about my plan, such as it was, and practiced my guitar, my violin, my singing. No Uhjin. Apparently I’d missed her; she’d come and gone while I was at the café. I stuck a note to the fridge telling her that we needed to talk about my mission and then went to bed.
The next morning, there was a second note next to mine: “Ok. See U at dinner.” And, sure enough, Uhjin was waiting when I got back from my shift at the music store that evening. We chatted lightly as we made our dinner, sausage and rice skillet, and then she listened and ate silently as I explained my plan. I didn’t mention my powers outright, not yet, just told her that I’d figured out a way to counter Welsh’s power. She didn’t press for details, just asked what she needed to do to help.

We talked for an hour, trying to form my idea into a plan, or something like one, anyway. Planning had never been my strong suit; I was better at improvising. Uhjin promised to ask her uncle about getting a copy of the security feed, and we discussed how we could use that to lure Welsh out, where we should stage the confrontation, how to make sure we got decent video— all without really deciding anything.

The several days passed much the same way. Uhjin and I kept radically different schedules, so our only chance to meet and talk was at dinner. Our progress was further slowed by the fact that neither of us really had any idea what we were doing and we both were all too aware of what the consequences would be if we got this wrong. More than once, I wished for Jonathan’s help; his resources and his knack for planning would’ve made this five times easier.

And, honestly, I missed Jonathan’s company, not just his help. Over the last few weeks, he’d become a friend, not just an ally. Journalist or not, I felt I could trust him in a way that I couldn’t trust a lot of others. And until our last meeting, he’d always listened to my ideas. Always talked to me like an intelligent equal. I guess that’s what made his refusal to hear me out this time hurt so much.

Thursday morning I skimmed the Herald’s webpage in search of an article one of my friends had told me about, an interview with Professor Morris, everyone’s favorite music prof, about her current concert series. As I scrolled through the site, another name caught my eye: Jonathan Davis.

I paused, clicked the article, a lengthy piece about recent immigration protests downtown. So this is what had him stressed on Saturday. It was a well-written article. Unbiased. Honest. I stared at it for a while, lost in thought.

Jonathan was at fault. He was the one who hadn’t listened. He was the one who’d shut me down, who’d turned down my idea without having all the facts. He should be the one to apologize, if either of us did.

But, at the same time, I can’t blame him for being incredulous, maybe even scared. And I can’t say that I was a perfect angel. I could’ve kept my cool better. Been more patient, less defensive. And in the end, he’d said he wanted no part of my plan, but I’d said I wanted no part of him.

After a few more moments of consideration, I grabbed my phone and tapped out a text. Hey. Saw your article. Looked good.

I hoped for a quick response, but— nothing, not until after I’d gone to work and gotten through my morning shift and hit my lunch break. Then, when I checked my phone, there was a message waiting: Thanks. And a second text beneath it, sent a full fifteen minutes after the first one: Are you still going with your plan?

I took my phone and my sandwich and typed my response as I ate: Yes. Trying. Hard w/out help.
Several minutes passed. I finished my sandwich and sipped from my water bottle, watching Rebecca across the breakroom. She was standing just outside the door, chatting with her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s sister— I thought her name was Saxon; I’d seen her when I visited the city library to use their wifi a few times. I couldn’t help a pang of jealousy, seeing them— Rebecca especially. She fit so easily with people; she drew them in and won their hearts and kept their friendships without even trying. No matter where she went, she always found her way inside the circle. And why shouldn’t she? She had no secrets to keep, no reasons to stay on guard even among friends, no murderers to hunt and be hunted by. She could relax and be open with others, and as a result, they liked her. Lucky girl.

My phone buzzed, breaking me out of my self-pity. I bet, Jonathan’s text read. Do you still really think you can keep Welsh from killing you?

Would I be going through with this, or trying to, if I didn’t? I didn’t ask that, though. Instead, I responded: Yes. I think I found a way to neutralize Welsh’s power. Haven’t been able to test it, though.

This time, I barely set my phone down before Jonathan replied. What??? How???

Three question marks. That was impressive. I shook my head with a smile, but before I could respond, Jonathan texted again. Guess I should’ve realized you’d have some plan. You’re not an idiot. Sorry for treating you like one. 

And there it was, what I’d been hoping for. I silently thanked God and then typed my reply. You’re forgiven. Does this mean you’ll help with the plan after all? I hoped he’d say yes. I needed his help— Uhjin was doing her best, but Jonathan knew practical crime better from his journalistic work, and he knew Welsh better.

A minute passed. Two.  I glanced at the clock. I only had a little bit of break time left. Please, respond.

Finally, his message popped up on the screen. Sure. If you’ll let me. Meet at the café on Saturday?

I breathed a sigh of relief and smiled as I responded: See you there.

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