Blood on My Hands
“Promise me you’ll come back?”
    “I promise.”
    He starts to leave, then hesitates. I’m hoping he’ll change his mind and stay a little longer, but instead, he takes out his keys and works the penlight free, then gives it to me and goes. Without turning on the lights, he drives out of the parking lot.
    For a long time I was untouched by all the typical teen angst about popularity. The reason? My best friend, Jeanie. Each of us was the other’s protector and support system. As long as we had each other, we were immune to the new styles of handbags, boots,and all the other name-brand items deemed the must-haves of the moment.
    Jeanie was rebellious and daring and had a resourceful style all her own. I’d spend hours at her house helping her streak her hair bright pink, do crazy things with makeup, draw fake tattoos on her skin using colored Sharpies and rubbing alcohol, undo the seams and hems of clothing and resew them tighter or looser or altogether differently. Often she’d want me to change the color of my hair or try a fake tattoo or alter my clothes, and I’d always laugh and say I didn’t have to because I had enough fun helping her.
    But the truth was that I didn’t like to call attention to myself. I was happy to be the sidekick and let her have the spotlight. And that was one of the strange things about the day I met Slade—that even though I preferred to be in Jeanie’s shadow, he only had eyes for me.

Chapter 12
    Sunday 2:51 A.M.
    SITTING ON THE cold floor of the old EMS building, I’m worried about how my mother must be taking the news, but I’m afraid to try to get in touch with her. The police are bound to start watching, listening, tracing. Am I foolish to think I’ll be safe here for the night? This was a place I’d sometimes escape to when the shouting and violent clashes at home between my brother and dad got to be too much. But that was then.
    And now?
    The old police scanner sits on top of the file cabinet. I push myself up and go over to it, fiddle with the knobs and switches, but the thing is lifeless. I turn away, then have a thought. Reaching behind the cabinet, I feel for the power cord and pull gently. It comes without resistance.
    Easing the file cabinet out slightly, I feel along the wall for an outlet and plug the power cord in. It’s only been a few weeks since the EMTs moved out, and maybe the electricity’s still on. The scanner crackles loudly with static and I jump back in frightat the sudden noise. I must have accidentally turned up the volume. I quickly turn it down and look outside, as if the brief burst of sound might bring the police running.
    After taking deep breaths and waiting for my heart to stop drumming, I place the scanner on the floor, where the small yellow LCD is less likely to be seen from outside. From the years of hanging around this place, I know most of the police codes and lingo and used to be able to tell—if I listened carefully enough—where every cruiser and bike cop in town was. Now voices crackle on.
    Female voice: “Bravo five-eleven, what’s your ten-twenty?”
    Male voice: “Bravo five-eleven. Over here on Maple Hill by the house. No sign of suspect.”
    Female voice: “Ten-four. Bravo five-thirteen, your ten-twenty?”
    Different male voice: “Bravo five-thirteen. On the Post Road, just passing Dunkin’ Donuts.”
    Female voice: “Ten-four.”
    Third male voice: “Bravo five-seventeen.”
    Female voice: “Go ahead, Bravo five-seventeen.”
    Third male voice: “I’ve checked around the railroad station. Nothing here.”
    Female voice: “Ten-four, Bravo five-seventeen. Chief wants you to go over to the middle school. Look around the back.”
    Third male voice: “Ten-four.”
    The bravos are patrol cars. Maple Hill is my street. I assume Bravo 511 has been assigned to watch my house. Bravo 513 is patrolling the main street through town, the Post Road. Bravo517 is now going to look for me behind the middle school.
    None of

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