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Unfair Games! Why Do We Always Get Caught?

We’re sitting in the putrid little jail cell in the local sheriff’s office. It stinks... and here I am without air freshener. The sheriff or one of his men (who can tell those gasetopo guys apart, anyway?) was sitting near us not too long ago, but he’s gone and we’re alone. Who’d have thought innocent little me would be in a prison, confined by bars with one toliet in the view of everyone else?!

Ameko doesn’t really understand. She rarely does. Oh, she’s not stupid--quite the contrary actually. Her English isn’t very good and she hardly knows she did anything wrong. (In my opinion, we were all in the right! But Ameko especially. She really didn’t do anything...) Brian is worried because he’s sort of a neat-freak and this place is crawling with grime. He’s standing in the corner, too afraid to sit down because of the “potential contaminates,” as he calls them. Jay is fretting about what his Nazi-like parents will do when they find out. Every once in a while he looks over at me, almost as if he expects me to magically zap us out of here. It’s times like these (and only times like these) that I’m jealous of Superman.

This whole situation isn’t my fault. Not really. Well, not entirely. Look, we all make mistakes, right? Besides, no one was forced to participate against their will or anything. I’m surprised no one’s talking. Maybe everyone’s too tired or too busy trying to come to grips with reality. Or maybe they’re all mad because they blame me.

It started as a typical teenage revenge plot. It wasn’t part of the plan to end up in jail. It never is. (Just for the record, I’ll tell you right now that this has nothing to do with shooting up the school.)

It kind of goes without saying that I’m not well liked at school. I’m not popular (at least, not in a good way). I think I’m pretty, but a lot of people tend to disagree. I’m a little chubby, I guess, but in a cute way. My friend Jay and I dress like we’re going to a funeral in the 18th century. It’s a style also known as “gothic” to most Thems of the world. Basically, it’s black lace and lots of eye makeup. Naturally, people follow me around in stores to make sure I’m not stealing. People harass us a lot.

“Hey Verona!”

I spun around in shock and my backpack, carelessly left partially unzipped, spit out books and papers all over the ground. Jay, who’s call had distracted me, knelt down to help me gather my belongings.

“Sorry,” Jay said.

“It’s no problem,” I answered, mad at my clumsiness.

By the time we reached the car, I wasn’t in the mood for pranks. “AHHHHHH!” I screamed just before I nearly fainted upon seeing my poor vehicle.

“What now?” Jay asked, frustrated.

“Look at it!” I belted. “My CAR!”

“Hey, heard your distinctive scream...” Brian said as he walked up from the computer lab. He stopped talking when he saw what both Jay and I had been dumbstruck by. My car was a mess (more so than usual). Eggs had been cracked on the windshield and were cooking in the sun. Toliet paper and shaving cream were tossed on the roof and smeared onto the side windows. I forced myself to move, to walk around my car to survey the damage. Written in shaving cream on the rear window were the words “Go to Hell, Gothic Bitch.”

I was fuming, angry that my car smelled little rotten egg, angry that everyone who passed by had seen my car this way--but what really, really made me mad was that someone had managed to embarass me so easily, with such a childish prank. “Verona...?” Jay said softly. I didn’t acknowledge him. I was running through my list of enemies in my head, a list so long it would take forever to identify the culprit. “Verona... are you all right?” Jay asked again.

“I’m going to KILL whoever did this!” I shouted. It’s not every day that one’s car gets covered with goop by heartless vandals. Let me tell you, it’s not exactly a wonderful experience. The worst part was that it had been done and there was nothing I could do to change it. Brian quietly snuck away. I saw him leaving out of the corner of my eye, but I didn’t bother to call him back. He hadn’t been responsible, after all.

I ranted and raved and stomped my feet for about five minutes. Jay watched silently. Good friends will always let you have a tantrum when you need to. Thank goddess everyone who went out to lunch that day had already left; the thought that anyone else may have witness my outraged upset me as soon as I finished flailing my arms.

Brian’s Japanese exchange student, Ameko, joined us and asked what was happening. She was more confused than we were.

Brian returned with papertowels from a nearby restroom. He handed them out to the others and they all started to scrub the windows clean. I spun around and surveyed the empty parking lot. Only a few cars remained and no one was lurking about. I could see inside each car and no one was watching. Damn, no suspects yet!

I sighed. “This isn’t fair. Why does this always happen to me? What did I ever do to anyone?”

“Where should I start?” Jay quipped.

“Shush. I never did this.”

As I walked back towards the driver's side door, which still smelled like sulfur, something shiny caught my eye. Attracted to the silver, I bent to pick it up. It was a familiar pendant from a necklace I’d seen many times before. A silver heart with a small diamond in the center. It belonged to none other than Alyssa James.

I know what you’re thinking. So what? Why do I care? I don’t even know who Alyssa James is. I’ll tell you who she is. Alyssa is the human incarnation of evil. The scariest part about that is, we used to be friends. That is, before she decided she was too good for me. She believes the world revolves around her, meaning that you are nothing. I can’t handle being regarded as furniture. I like to steal the show. There are obvious personality conflicts there, so we stoped talking and starting screaming to each other. After I got that part in the play that she wanted, she became my bitter rival. The thing that really steams me about that is that there are plenty of other (better) reasons to hate me. At any rate, her and her brainwashed followers will do anything in their power to make my life miserable. This henious crime is right up their alley.

“Are you okay?” Jay asked forcefully, yanking me from my thoughts.

“Yeah, yeah...” I said, shrugging it off. “Now that I know what to do.”

“Eh? What?”

Revenge! Get even! But I didn't say it a loud.

“I don’t like that look in your eyes...” Brian said.

“Nani?” Ameko muttered.

I’m used to being messed with. People throw things at me on a regular basis. However, I will not tolerate it when someone dares to mess with my mode of transportation. Especially Alyssa.

Cut to the local supermarket. We pooled our extra money together (hey, even angry people have to eat!) and came up with $13. For us, that’s quite a lot. Oh, and by the way, we took Brian’s car. We made a group decision that we didn’t enjoy my car’s new odor. We went up and down the aisles in search of anything sticky and gross enough to smear all over Alyssa’s white car. I dumped a in containers of mustard and ketchup. Jay added some cottage cheese--low-fat for Alyssa’s health (she’s always on a diet... and a much needed one, if I do say so myself). Brian’s concerned face softened a little. “You’re not really serious, are you?”

I started laughing then, wickedly, uncontrollably. I stopped without warning. “Very serious,” I replied in the most straight-forward tone I could manage. Then I fell into another fit of evil laughter.

“Girls are scary.”

“Brian, you saw what happened to my car! This is a matter of principal. It’s only fair!”

“It’s not big deal,” Ameko said, matter-of-factly. “It was just a...what’s it called...flank.” Blink, blink. “What did I say?”

“Don’t you mean ‘prank,’” Brian corrected her.

“Hai, hai!”

Jay decided to defend my plan. “Anyway, it’s karma, right? That ugly bitch will finally get what she deserves. Don’t tell me you won’t get a kick out of paying her back. The whole school will thank us.”

“I doubt that,” I said honestly. Number one, most people won’t care about us or Alyssa. Number two, no one will ever thank us until we drive ourselves off a cliff. Number three, uh... Well, you get the idea.

This wasn’t the first time Alyssa has done something stupid and immature to me. She cut up my sweatshirt during theatre class when I left it in another room, she stole my Matchbox 20 CD because it was “too good” for me to hear, and she slashed my bicycle tires--and everyone knows how low that is.

Wait until dark to do anything illegal. That’s my advice to you. It didn’t help us in this situation, but it’s good advice nonetheless. Alyssa’s house is on a hill in a vacation-house neighborhood, so it was dark and mysterious. All we needed was fog and we’d have been in the middle of an old horror flick. The moon was half-full and rising in the sky with a few clouds hovering near. Its light was dim.

“I’m not sure we should do this.” A legitimate statement, but let’s face it: Brian is never sure about anything. I just flashed my don’t-even-try-to-get-out-of-this-now look and Brian shut up. He became our look out, keeping his eyes afixed to the house.

Since Alyssa’s family has four cars, two fill the driveway, one’s in the garage, and Alyssa’s car remains on the street. Lucky! Also to our good fortune, Alyssa has no real friends and rarely leaves the house, so her car was there even at nine o’clock on a Friday night.

CRACK! I smashed the egg onto her windshield. Her car is a dinky little white blob, a Toyota Tercel or some other tiny egg-shaped car. Ironic, eh? Brian turned around as quickly as an escaped convict in the spotlight. “You brought eggs?”

“Good thinking!” Jay commented.

“Why thank you!” I turned back to our car and grinned at Ameko, who was in the backseat watching. She didn’t seem to eager to get involved in our illegal affairs.

Brian turned back to watch the house while Jay and I went about our dirty work. We squirted mustard and ketchup onto the white paint, added designs and the numbers “666”. That was Jay’s addition, some sort of joke to him, I think. I pulled the containers of cottage cheese out of our brown paper bag. It rattled noisely, trying to reveal our location. I gave one to Jay and pulled the lid off the other. We looked at each other, then, for some sort of approval. In that second, a slight pang of guilt hit me like a bolt of lightening. I guess that little remainder of a conscience I still have kicked in... but I don’t have time for such details!

Jay dumped his bucket of cheese, that had already begun to rot since its purchase during lunch, onto the roof of her car. I poured mine out as well and spread the cottage cheese around with the lid until I could no longer stand the smell. Suddenly, I heard the loud Clank! Clank! Clank! of metal pieces scraping together. I looked up the house and saw Brian standing like a statue. Further up, the garage door was opening. None of us moved. Alyssa’s psychotic mother descended the driveway in her bathrobe, her hair bent funny from sleep.

“Oh shit,” Jay’s voice resounded with an echoing force.

Alyssa moved out as well, behind Mommy, who smirked when she saw the cop car pull up behind us. She called the police! Aggg! That wasn’t fair at all! I didn’t sick the cops on Alyssa!

We could have run, I suppose, but we’d already been spotted. They knew our names and even where we lived. So, we stood our ground. I could tell you more about it, but the cops are never as funny as they are on TV.

So here we are. In jail. Okay, it’s not a real jail, just a sheriff’s office, like I said. Still, it’s creepy and dark and it smells worse than my car.

“Your parents are on their way,” a cop says to us as he walks in. “They’re going to bail you out.” He is unsympathetic and I don’t like him. None of us speak. I, for one, have little to say to stuck up men of his kind. “You’re all costing your parents a lot of dough,” he adds, as if that will make us beg for mercy. Tough luck, pal.

“That’s none of your business,” I say quietly.

“What, little girl?” he looks at me with his eyes burning.

I don’t answer. I have no need.

Oh great, my mom is on her way. Not only did I face humiliation twice today, but now I’m going to have to hear about it from my parents. And Alyssa gets to laugh it up at home in her warm bed, with a nice breakfast tomorrow morning! Ahh! It’s not fair!

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