In our last chapter, Della's parents were suddenly and abruptly killed in a car crash. Specifically, "a stray bullet hit their car" (stray from what, we don't know) and Della has decided this means her parents were murdered. She went off to investigate and apparently intimidated the police officers SO much that they just handed over all their information, but this wasn't helpful to her.
Della lay alone in her bed, staring up at the ceiling, which had all sorts of trace marks all over it shaped like bunnies and candy. She rolled over onto her side, her mind full of thoughts of her parents and all the work she'd gone to over the past 24 hours to find their killer. She still wasn't very much closer than she had been at the beginning of the day.
Well, technically, at the beginning of the day, hadn't her parents been alive?
After a lot more badgering, the sergeant had finally agreed to take her to a secret room
Maybe Della would like a tour of Top-Secret Pentagon files too?
in the back of the police station that was full of filing cabinets, metal and silver and full of paper. She looked around in awe as he rushed from cabinet to cabinet, opening and closing them and rifling through the papers. "I know the information's in here somewhere," he said apologetically, as he opened and closed yet another cabinet.
Della really has this guy under her thumb.
She didn't answer, she was so awestruck by the silverness of the room. She just moved from cabinet to cabinet, touching each one along the top and admiring its dustlessness. She knew that the maids must come in here often and sweep through, dusting off the tops of the filing cabinets with their little dust mops.
I seriously wouldn't be making this observation around now... I mean for someone whose parents have just died, her priorities seem to be awfully confused. Also, "awestruck" is much too strong a reaction.
The sergeant finally opened another drawer and exclaimed, "Aha!" and pulled out a blue folder which he then handed to Della. "This should have everything you need," he said, nervously pulling at his fingers.
Sheesh. The military should be studying Della for her interrogation techniques.
"I hope you find everything you need in there," he said again. Della nodded, and thought maybe he was trying to get rid of her, so she thanked him politely, turned, and walked out the door.
On the way home she leafed through the folder,
She didn't even make photo copies or anything, she walked out with the ORIGINAL.
which didn't have very much information. However, at the very back she did find the make of the bullet.
Why would this be at all helpful? No idea.
It was a name she fully didn't understand, but she could find someone to help her look it up. Immediately she thought of Dax. Dax could help her.
No, we haven't heard of Dax before. I just start talking about him like the audience knows he is, but you didn't miss anything.
She went to sleep that night with the free and easy feeling that the next day she would be able to get a little closer to unraveling this terrible mystery - who killed her parents? And maybe Dax would be the next step, the key to opening the door of the mystery of who killed her parents.
When she woke up, the sun was shining outside and birds were tweeting.
Any tension I might have been building was just flushed down the tubes.
She stood up, yawned, stretched, and flung open the window, leaning outside to breathe in the fresh morning air. She then backed up and shut the window and went down to the kitchen to make her morning coffee. She went outside,
Of course, she doesn't drink it... Della is the queen of wasting food when she is bored.
knelt down, and picked up the newspaper from the front porch where it had been tossed by the newspaper boy. She unfolded it right there on the porch and read the words: "TEENS' PARENTS KILLED IN MYSTERIOUS CAR ACCIDENT". It was her! It was her parents!
Della is a high watt bulb, isn't she?
There was a picture of her, looking all distraught, on the front cover of the newspaper. She folded the newspaper angrily and clutched it to her chest and marched back into the house. She was going to call somebody about this.
She's always ready to fight SOMEONE. Doesn't really matter who. Much like Morgan in Quest for Skye...
Once inside, she quickly browsed through the phone book to find out who the editor of the paper was. She finally found the name of the newspaper - the Gazette was the only newspaper in town - and she called their offices. "I'm sorry, Mr. Johnson is out today," said the pleasant annoying secretary on the other end, chomping her gum. "Could I give him a message?"
"Just ask him to call me back," Della said shortly. "My number is 555-2405."
Uh, yeah, that's totally gonna happen.
She hung up, sighed, and then picked the phone up again to call Dax.
Dax must've been sleeping, because he was yawning as he picked up the phone. "Yeah?" he growled into it.
Della felt almost bad for waking up him so early, but not really that bad. She had important things to do after all. "I need you to help me with something," she demanded. "Something about my parents."
"Oh, yeah, I saw that in the papers. I'm so sorry," he said.
Hmm. Clever. He couldn't have possibly seen it in the papers since he hasn't WOKEN UP YET.
Della waved it off. "Never mind that.
It's a good thing Della doesn't get a lot of sympathy cause she sure doesn't appear to need it.
I need you to help me trace a bullet."
"What? You know I can't do that," Dax protested. "It's against the law."
I SO don't think it is...
"I don't care!" Della was furious. "I can't believe you'd be so uncaring and unsensitive!" She pounded her fist on the table for emphasis.
She is really overreacting here. Dax wasn't being mean or anything. He just said he didn't think he could do it.
"You need to help me find these people! I need to make them pay!"
Dax sounded nervous.
She really does intimidate EVERYONE, doesn't she?
"Della, calm down. You're acting like some crazed lunatic. You need to be calm."
Della took a few deep breaths and she had to admit she did feel better after that. She took another deep breath and said, "So will you help me?"
So much breathing!
There was a pause on the other end of the line and then Dax said, "I'll be over in just a few minutes," and hung up the phone. Della smiled as she hung up on her end. She knew she could talk Dax into helping her out. Now all she had to do was find out if he really could help her.
Frankly, I think that would have been the FIRST logical step.
She was tidying up the kitchen when Dax rang the doorbell outside her house.
You know, as opposed to the doorbell inside her house.
She wiped her hands on her apron and hurried to open the door. Dax wasn't looking at the door when it opened, he was looking at the house next door. He glanced up at her when she opened the door but he wasn't really looking at her. "Hi," he said. "Can I come in?"
No. She called you over but she totally doesn't want you to actually enter the house.
She backed away from the door to let him in, and he wandered in. She showed him into the living room, where they both sat down on chairs.
Wow, they have mastered some basic skills! I'm shocked
"Do you want something to drink?" she asked him.
He waved his hand dismissively. "No, thanks." He leaned forward. "Now what was all this about your parents?"
It's really ghoulish how no one in this story is actually sad her parents died... They just want to solve the mystery.
Della brought out the folder from her room and showed it to Dax. "See, here's the kind of bullet that killed my parents," she said, pointing to the relevant column on the page. "I want you to trace it and find out what gun it came from."
Dax raised his eyebrows. "Della, there must be millions of people in the city with guns like this. It's the most popular gun sold on the planet.
Dax has some really interesting facts at his finger tips.
I can't possibly trace this."
"You have to try!" Della insisted. "I can't just let my parents' murder go unsolved."
Well, they can narrow it down to 53,654,234 people now!
Dax sighed and tucked the folder under his arm.
Now he's taking the folder? While she is at it she might as well tell him the location of the secret room too.
"I'll try, but I can't make any promises."
"Good!" Della said. Hey! Don't get carried away, he only said he would try. "How about some coffee cake?"
Dax couldn't refuse that, and Della hurried into the kitchen to get him some. When she came back, he was looking at a photo of her and her parents that was taken on her 10th birthday. "That was when I turned 10," she said as she entered. He looked up at her, saw she was there, then looked awkward and quickly placed the photo back on the table. She put the coffee cake on the table for him, too, and then sat down in the chair opposite him with her cup of coffee.
She made that a really long time ago. It's got to be pretty cold by now.
"I don't remember that day very well, actually," she said. "They took me to a restaurant but I got food poisoning and had to come home. I was sick for three days."
Dax looked sympathetic. "That must have been some birthday."
Della shrugged. "I look happy in the picture, at least." She looked at it. She did look happy. She had her arm around Mom, who had her arm around Dad, and they were a chain. She had a big smile, showing the braces on her teeth, and Mom and Dad had their faces close to each other. She was also wearing a blue shirt, a tank top. She had her arms up in sort of a curve,
I am completely unable to visualize what this picture looked like, and I wrote this.
and suddenly she remembered that they had been at a photo place when they took that picture.
...A photo place? Like a photography studio?
The memory suddenly overwhelmed her, and she abruptly put her coffee on the table. "Excuse me just a moment," she said, her voice trembling a little bit, and she got up and walked into the other room. She couldn't stop the tears from coming, so she just let them come.
Well, if you can't stop them, then chances are that you won't.
The tears fell down off her face onto the floor. Finally when she thought she could stop the sobs, she turned around to head back into the other room to find Dax watching her from the doorway.
"How long have you been there?" she asked, grabbing a tissue out of the box on the counter and quickly drying her eyes. She felt embarrassed.
Tears are a sign of weakness... Della can not afford to be weak.
"Only a few minutes," he said, looking her up and down.
She felt awkward.
As she should.
"Well, um, let's get back to the identifying that bullet," she said, "or anything else that you think might help my investigation."
Dax sighed. "Della, I told you, I'm an archaeologist,
Erm, she went to an ARCHAEOLOGIST for help?
not a forensic scientist or anything. I'm also not a detective. I don't think I could find anything in here that would help you. I don't even think I can trace the bullet."
Della put on a pout. "I just want you to help me look for clues!"
Wow, Della... How old is she?
Dax shook his head as if he couldn't believe he was agreeing to this. "Okay, okay, we'll look for something."
Yeah, cause her argument was so persuasive and all.
They spent the next hour sitting on the couch together, pouring over the folder, saying things like, "But what if-" and "But I don't think that-"
That must have been a really boring conversation what with people breaking off sentences all the time.
when suddenly they noticed something odd. The file stated that the right tire was punctured, but in the picture it was the left tire.
"There's got to be a clue!" Della said, grabbing the picture and jumping up eagerly. "That's got to mean something!"
"It could mean it's a typo," Dax said easily. "Typos happen."
Della had already picked up the phone and was dialing. "I'm going to call them and ask them."
She is going to call them, and ask them. And then maybe speak with them, and say goodbye to them, and then hang up on them.
Dax leaned back against the sofa and put his head against the wall. "Who are you going to call?"
"The police station!" The people on the other end of the phone picked up, and Della asked eagerly, "Okay, who is this?
She forgot who she was calling two seconds after she told Dax.
Since we don't know who it is... just call them "Police!"
I'd like to speak to the sergeant. I have urgent news!"
Love her phone skills.
Dax was looking at her strangely, but she just waved her hand at him and turned away so she couldn't see his accusing eyes. When the sergeant came on the phone, she informed him what she'd found and he assured her it was just a typo but he'd look into it,
Good luck with that, since she has the folder.
and when she'd hung up all her happy spirits had gone away. "I'm no closer than I was," she moaned. "I'll never find them!" She sank down on the couch and put her head in her hands.
Dax leaned over and put an arm for her.
And sometimes I get my prepositions ALL mixed up when I'm speed writing. It's not easy to put an arm for someone.
"Hey, hey, it'll be okay," he said, patting her back. "You'll be fine. You're smart."
Well, there's Della's ultimate romance line.
Della shook her head. "No, I'm not. I don't know what I'll do without my parents. They took care of everything for me." She stood up and walked to the fireplace, as if debating what to say, then turned around and said abruptly, "I don't even know how to cook!"
I beg to differ. But maybe that's why she hasn't been eating anything she's made...
Dax looked taken aback. "But the coffee cake-"
Love how Dax treats this like a major revelation.
"-was Mom's. She had it in the fridge." Della ran a hand through her crazy wild hair. "I don't know what I'm going to do when I run out of things in the fridge to microwave. And I don't have a job, either. I can't support myself." She paced back and forth, thinking. "Maybe I can drop out of school."
Dax stood and firmly shook his head, then grabbed her head between his hands focused his eyes right on hers. "No, don't quit school," he said firmly. "You can't do that. Everyone needs to go to school."
Della was taken aback by the show of passion, but she dumbly nodded and said, "But how am I going to survive?"
He paced back and forth a bit, debating the question, but finally said, "You could move into the apartment next to mine.
And she's going to afford that rent how...?
Or I could cook meals for you and bring them to you. You don't really need very much, do you? Just food? Because I can make enough food for both of us. That way you can keep going to school. When do you graduate?"
"Next June," Della said wistfully. She hoped she would graduate next July, but it was not to be but her grades hadn't been all that stellar, and she was afraid she might get held back.
Since when did bad grades equal LESS time in school?
The teachers had warned it was a possibility, and she had been working so hard to pull her D's and F's up to C's or even B's, and her parents had been all, "Della! Get better grades!" but it was so difficult. She wanted to graduate in June.
Don't contradict yourself too many times or anything, Della. At this point I clearly gave up on explaining the complications surrounding Della's schooling and went back to the plot.
"Well, that's not too long," Dax said, breathing a sigh of relief.
Dax isn't the most generous of friends.
"I can only cook for you until June, and then you can get a job and buy your own frozen dinners or something."
"And then you can buy your OWN food and stop eating mine."
Della stared at him for a moment, then nodded. This seemed like the most plausible plan. "I can't wait until I graduate," she said.
She totally does sound young here.
"Then I can get a job. What kind of job do you think I can get?"
Dax shrugged. "I don't know. What can you do?"
"Not very much," Della admitted. "I can sing and dance."
Dax looked as if he wanted to protest, but didn't. Instead he just shrugged and reiterated that he didn't know, but he would be back to check on her soon. Then he picked up his coat and ran out the door.
Della watched him walk down the street, the street lamps lighting his way. She was glad to have a friend like him. He and her parents had been very good friends back in the days when her parents were alive.
All of yesterday.
She felt really bad now, she was overwhelmed with tears again. Maybe she wasn't ready to remember her parents.
But how is that possible? It's been a whole day!
Silently she turned and climbed the stairs to her own room.
It wasn't long before she fell asleep, and her eyes closed, and she had a dream.
That is such good writing.
When she woke up, it was daylight again. In fact, she remembered she had fallen asleep in the middle of the afternoon. It was a miracle she hadn't missed dinner.
Yeah, wonders will never cease to amaze us...
She jumped up and it was still light outside, she noticed. She walked downstairs to make herself another frozen dinner, but before she could get to the fridge, the doorbell rang again. She went to the door to see who it was. When she opened the door, who should be there but Dax, bearing a frozen casserole.
"I have food for you," he said, thrusting it into her arms.
Yeah, that is terrifically eloquent. This is a romance just waiting to happen.
To be continued.