A Hard Day’s Fright by Casey Daniels

A Hard Day’s Fright by Casey Daniels

Author:Casey Daniels
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Publisher: Penguin
Published: 2011-04-06T22:00:00+00:00


“That’s Lucy. Isn’t she beautiful?”

Over my left shoulder, I heard Ella expel a breath and watched as she touched a finger to the faded color photograph she’d brought to the office at my request. I recognized Lucy at once, of course, but I couldn’t let on. There she was in that cute little khaki mini, the pink top, the golden lipstick, and the waterfall hair. According to Ella, the photo was taken by her mom when the other kids came to pick Ella up for the concert. In it, Lucy was happy, smiling—and very much alive.

“She was always smiling like that,” Ella said, her voice dreamy and faraway. “It wasn’t just the concert she was excited about. Lucy was excited about life. About all the things she still had in store for her.”

“If she only knew,” I mumbled.

Ella moved down the row of bright-faced teenagers, left to right. “And there’s Bobby. You asked about him.” Her voice dropped. “He was so young.”

She wasn’t kidding. Though I knew Bobby Gideon was going into his senior year and must have been seventeen or eighteen when the photo was taken, he didn’t look a day over twelve, a grinning, goofy-looking kid with big ears.

“It wasn’t more than eighteen months or so after this picture was taken,” Ella said. “You know, when we heard he was dead.”

“Did you hear how?”

“How he died?” She’d dragged my guest chair behind my desk and was sitting in it, and she sat back. “In Vietnam. In combat. That’s pretty much all anyone ever knew.”

Not anyone. Not if Patrick Monroe was to be believed. He’d painted an incomplete but tantalizing picture of the incident. Suicide by Nam, he’d called it. Like Bobby was feeling guilty about something.

For a while longer, I stared into the face of a kid who looked like the only thing he could possibly feel guilty about was filching treats from his mom’s cookie jar, then I moved on. “This has got to be Janice,” I said, pointing to a girl in a bright yellow sheath dress and a teased, beehive hairdo. Now that I knew about Lucy and Darren and suspected that Janice might have had something to do with their breakup, I took an especially close look at her. I remembered what Ella had said about seeing Darren and Janice talking at the concert, about how insistent Janice had seemed. Yeah, she looked the type. It was there in the way she stood, her head high and her shoulders back and her gaze aimed right at Mrs. Bender’s camera in an in-your-face sort of way that wouldn’t have been unusual for a teenaged girl these days, but back then, I imagined made quite the political statement.

“Janice was a pretty girl, too, in her own way.” Ella slid the photo off my desk so she could take a closer look at it. “But she had a sort of harsh beauty, don’t you think? Lots of makeup. Lots of ratting her hair. That sort of thing. It wasn’t a natural prettiness like Lucy’s.


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