|Photo credit: horror land (silent night)|
“I said I’m coming, do you want to break down the door?” Judy queried angrily in a loud voice as she made for the front door completely aware it was neither her mother nor her father; it was just 3:15pm. She made a rough guess that it would be Pamela, but was disappointed when she looked through the spy hole and saw Eche.
She hesitated for a brief second before she finally opened the door with a frown on her face. There was no need to banter words with him; she knew he did not really like her and the feeling was definitely mutual. Their fake smiles and friendship shams occurred only in the presence of Pamela.
He was wearing a sweater and tracks. He stood with both hands in his pocket and smiled at her. “What do you want, Echezona?” she asked curtly without finding any use of returning the smile.
“How are you, Judy?” he pretended not to be affected by her rude countenance.
She scoffed. “As if you care” and bent her head carelessly to the side before asking again. “What are you doing here?”
He sighed and bit his lips before moving a step closer, but she did not move an inch. She stood blocking the door. “I just want us to talk, Juju”
She scoffed at the pet name he had given her, he did that when he needed her help. “I’m not helping you speak to Pam”, she said sharply as he bowed his head.
“Look, Juju, I know you really hate me”, he paused and thought for a while as Judy kept her eyes fixed on him. “You probably hate me more than you’ve ever hated anyone”
You’re so right.
“But I really need you to help me out here, I’m going insane”, he confessed and Judy sneered even though she was convinced he was telling the truth.
“I really couldn’t care less”
“I know”, it had come out louder than he had expected it to. “I know”, he put out his palms and ensured his tone was lower as he spoke. “I’m sure Pamela didn’t tell you, but we broke up”, he confessed as Judy’s brows came together in bemusement; she wondered why he was telling her that. “I broke up with her”, he emphasized and offered Judy pleading eyes.
“I thought it would be for the best but I can’t think straight anymore; I really-”
“Why in God’s name would you think breaking my friend’s heart would be for the best?” she glowered at him.
“I know and I’m sorry for being stupid”, he begged and kept his eyes locked with Judy’s until her glare softened and she sighed.
“Alright”, she rolled her eyes and pinched her jaw. “If I’m going to help you, I need to know why you broke up with her and why you thought it was for the best”, she finally said as he smiled at her.
Judy had never been that nice to him.
Pamela scurried back to her father with a screwdriver and spanner in hand. He was supposed to have the car delivered in the next two hours and he also needed to take it out for a test run before then.
He thanked her casually and took the spanner. “I hope you understand what I’m doing, Lawson”, he tightened a knot with the spanner and turned to her as she nodded quickly.
He fondly called her by her surname. Pamela had followed her father to his mechanic workshop for as long as she could remember; her mother had left them when she was still little and she could only put pieces together to remember what her mother really looked like. Thanks to her father, she had grown to have a keen interest in cars and the mindset that only men were meant to go under the cars was not for her.
She had joined her father under cars on different occasions but he had never really trusted her to work alone. She just had to watch and tighten knots and screws under his close supervision.
When he was done, she retrieved the spanner and handed the screwdriver over to him before she noticed Judith Ani walking towards them. It had been five days since she had seen her and thanks to her orthodox parents who believed that having a phone would be a distraction, Judy was phoneless.
Judith offered a warm smile to her and turned to her father. “Good afternoon, Mr. Lawson”
He turned briefly and smiled at her. “Miss Ani, how are you?”
“Very fine sir”, she was still smiling at him.
“I can see you’ve really missed your friend”, he paused and turned to Pamela who had not uttered a word of welcome to Judy; she was not even looking at her. “I’ll let you borrow her but don’t take long, okay?” He advised in his usual merry voice and turned his attention back to the car.
As merry and friendly as his voice sounded, the bulky Mr. Lawson was not one to joke with. Judy and Pam were living witnesses.
She dropped the spanner next to him and turned to leave. “Alright daddy”, she said flatly.
Judy definitely noticed the tension in the air and wondered if Echezona was the cause. They both walked to the shed and sat on the wooden bench. Pamela bowed her head and played with her feet on the sand, clearly avoiding eye contact.
Judy turned to her with a questioning stare. “Are you okay?”
Pam simply nodded without turning to her. She was definitely not okay.
Does this have anything to do with the holiday killer? Judy thought to herself as Pamela turned sharply to her with a glower that almost startled Judy.
“Is that what you want?” her tone was serious and it only took seconds for Judy to realize she had actually voiced out her thoughts.
“I don’t understand”.
Pamela smirked. “Sure you don’t”
I really don’t understand what you’re talking about”, she swore in a high-pitched voice as Pamela scoffed.
“Okay Judy”, her round face was instantly plastered with a fake smile. “What are you doing here?” Judith looked confused as she turned to her left and right; and back to Pamela as though she wanted to be sure she was the one being spoken to.
“Since when did-”
“I want to know exactly what you’re doing here”, she cut in as Judith started to say something but sighed and bowed her head instead.
She suddenly regretted listening to Eche; she regretted offering to help. She looked back at Pam and realized she was actually expecting a reply.
“I came to see you, what’s with you?” she heaved an exasperated sigh as Pamela sneered.
“You’re not here to scare me?” she sounded unconvinced as she let her eyes rest on Judy to take in her features.
Judy scrunched her face in confusion. “Scare you”, she repeated as though she wanted it to make sense. “I still don’t understand”, she said finally as Pamela smiled with her eyes still fixed on her.
Good acting Judy, she commended inwardly.
“Well, you have to. You must understand”, her tone was far from friendly as it slowly began to rise.
“Okay, I really don’t know what’s wrong with you”, the frustration was apparent in her voice as she put out her palms towards Pamela and shook her head simultaneously. “And since you’re determined to keep speaking to me in this manner, I guess I’ll see you around”, she sounded calm and matured, just like Pam sounded when she was making a fuss about a holiday killer on the loose.
“Where are you going?”
Judith stared at her for a while; there was something in her voice that Judith had noticed earlier but refused to admit. It had been apparent in her last question: suspicion.
“Home”, she had her eyes fixed on Pamela as she scratched the bridge of her nose.
Pamela leaned in closer to her and with leveled eyes, she asked, “You’re not going to try to scare me?”
“Why would I want to do that?” Judith nearly screamed as her hands lightly hit the bench in frustration.
Pam seemed to get angrier with every passing second; her tone was loud and angry. “I don’t know. Maybe, because you’ve gone crazy and you desperately need a partner”, her light skin turned a bit red as she banged her fist on the bench.
She was definitely talking about the Holiday killer. “I am not crazy”, she retorted with angry eyes. “I do believe there’s a killer but since you don’t-”
“I will never believe there’s one out there no matter the number of notes you send”, her clenched fist banged the table consecutively to lay emphasis on each word.
Judith stared at her for a second and tilted her head to the right with questioning eyes. “What notes? What are you talking about?” she asked opening her palms in bemusement.
Pam laughed lightly as though she had expected the reply. She then looked at her watch and back at Judith. “Is this not your normal delivery time?” she put out her palm as though Judith was supposed to give her something.
Judith looked at her palm and then at her angry face. “You do know this is getting annoying, right?”
She was undeterred. “Give it to me yourself, you don’t have to go home and put it by the door like you’ve been doing for the past five days”, she suggested as Judy’s eyes went to her opened palm and back to her face.
Who’s the crazy one now? Judith almost asked and sighed at Pam. “I really have to go”, she finally said and rose to her feet before Pamela would stop her.
“Sure”, there was a smile tugging at the side of her lip. “Go and put the note right where it belongs. I’ll just toss it in the dustbin like the others”, she said sneeringly.
Judith turned back to her and started to say something, but thought of the fruitless minutes she had spent sitting with her and shook her head instead.
As she stepped a foot outside the shed, she heard Pam speak up once more. “I thought you were smarter than this?” there was an obvious scorn in her voice that made Judith stop in her tracks. Then in a more comported tone, she added, “Well, for your information, I was never scared. I was just very, no, I am very angry at you and how desperate you are to prove to me that there’s a killer out there”.
There is a killer!
Judith turned sharply. “You know what, Pam?” she asked as her friend placed her elbow on her lap and her chin in her palm. “I’m really sorry I bothered you”, she sounded hurt but Pam only frowned at how good her acting was.
“Sure, no problem”, she smirked with heavy sarcasm and rose to her feet. She walked towards Judy and stood an inch away before she spoke up. “Just don’t bother me again. If you think there’s a killer, go to the police and leave me alone”, she stamped her foot to show how annoyed she was.
Judy bowed her head and bit her lips before looking back at her, “I sure will”, she whispered and left.
She had sounded hurt; and it annoyed Pamela to see her playing the role of the victim. Suddenly filled with a dogged determination to catch her in the act, she ran after her without her father’s notice.
She caught up with her eventually but kept a considerable distance and tried not to draw attention to herself. She had always received the notes at a certain time range: 12:00pm-1:00pm. Judy had arrived at the workshop at about 11:50am and looking at her watch, Pam could see that it was already 12:20pm. If she was right, Judy was supposed to be on her way to drop the note, unless she had done that before coming to the workshop.
The latter thought made her reconsider turning back before her father would notice she was gone, but she saw Judy turn right at the junction.
Pamela smiled with a feeling of victory as she hastened her steps; Judy’s house was on the left while hers was on the right, she was going to deliver the note.
In five minutes, Pam hid behind the mango tree in front of their house and watched Judith walk towards the front door. Unable to hold herself and the feeling of anger that was coursing through her veins, she yelled out her name and advanced towards her.
The surprise and shock on Judith’s face was one she would never forget. She managed to admit within herself how good Judy’s acting had been; it had taken all her will power not to fall for it.
“What are you doing here?” Judy asked and suddenly realized how stupid the question was.
Pamela’s look confirmed her thoughts. “Did you come to leave a note for me, Holiday Killer?” she asked sneeringly and chuckled as Judy frowned at her. “Or should I call you HK?” she suggested and shook her head with a light laugh.
Judith was still frowning at her. “Pamela”, she called and bit her lips. “I don’t-”
“Don’t try to play smart with me. Don’t think I’m stupid just because I decided to save you the embarrassment of putting the note there”, her voice rose with intense emotion as her index finger pointed to the front door. “I would have let you put it and watch you unsuccessfully come up with a suitable lie”, she added as Judy looked in the direction of her finger and gasped, but immediately held her mouth with both palms.
Her persistence was outstanding that Pamela had to scowl at her. “Is this another trick of yours, Judith?”
Judith shook her head slowly with her eyes dilated in their sockets and still looking in the direction of the front door. With an exasperated sigh, Pamela turned to the front door and stared in horror at the familiar piece of paper underneath a stone by the front door.
The notes were really not from Judy.
Written by M. E. N.
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