Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dvorak Classic: Chapter Four

Dvorak Classic
Chapter 4 (or, "Up On The Roof")

Previous Episode: Carissa, our heroine, received a letter from a person who saw the same accident she saw Monday morning; she goes to meet them on the roof after school. 

    She couldn’t believe it. But it was true. She had just been talking about him, and he was up here on the roof. Waiting for her. Probably. It could be possible that Mac was up on the roof for other reasons.
    But then he turned from where he had been sitting near the pigeons, and Carissa knew: he was here for her. As he walked, the pigeons became startled and flew up into the air around the two of them.
    “I wasn’t sure if you would come or not,” he said, and Carissa felt her nerves intensify.
    “Well, I’m here. Why did you pick the roof to meet?”
    “To be honest? Because I knew we wouldn’t be followed up here. I’m the only student that I know of with a key to the roof. Mr. Withrow got me one after I asked him.”
    Carissa took a deep breath. It was certainly unsettling to be on the roof with a guy like this. Time to get down to business. “You said in your note that you had witnessed the accident at Saint Arbucks on Monday. You and I are apparently the only people who saw that.”
    Mac nodded, still a comfortable distance away from Carissa. “That’s true. And to be honest, I don’t know why. It would make sense that everybody would remember something like that, but they don’t.”
    “Were you in the Saint Arbucks when it happened?”
    “Actually, no, but I was just getting off the train at 72nd Street and I saw the ambulances there. When the rumor started going around school, I knew that was what I had seen.”
    Carissa nodded, then remembered one fact that Mac had left out. “Do you remember anything else?”
    It seemed important enough to mention. “There was this creepy old lady there, outside Saint Arbucks that morning. I think she was homeless. Said the guy who collapsed was dead. I saw her again yesterday but didn’t talk to her.” And then she added, “Mostly because she creeped me out.”
    “Sounds like it,” Mac said, now standing near Carissa. He was a good three or four inches taller than her, plus or minus the hair that stuck up and defied gravity. “I’m sorry if it was weird to call you on the roof like this,” he said, “but I couldn’t think of another place where we could meet. I’m not sure we’ve ever properly met.”
    “You’re Mac, right? I’ve seen you in class before. I’m Carissa Lopez.” Carissa stuck out her hand, and Mac shook it with a smile on his face.
    “My pleasure,” he said. “Now seriously...why wouldn’t anybody have seen what happened other than us two and that lady you mentioned?”
    Carissa shrugged as she leaned against the door that led back down to the school’s hallways. While the school did have four floors, it was mostly condensed on one address and was surrounded by taller buildings. That meant that some office workers in a skyscraper nearby could be spying on Carissa for all she knew. She wasn’t nervous...mostly because nothing had happened of note on this roof. Yet. “When I went to the Saint Arbucks yesterday morning with Isabel for my chai,” she said, “the barista overheard me talking about yesterday’s events and said that I was lying, or that I had the wrong location. But I always go to that same Saint Arbucks, most every morning. Four out of five, at least.” She grinned. “Gotta have my chai.”
    Mac laughed, and Carissa noticed how carefree he seemed. “I understand. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I do have my own vices.”
    She found herself interested, although she didn’t know exactly why. “Like?”
    He laughed again, but this time Carissa noticed that it was definitely more nervous. “Like coming to the roof, among other things. But I also have a soft spot for science fiction television. Can’t miss an episode or I start showing signs of withdrawal.”
    Now Carissa had to laugh -- she knew what withdrawal felt like. “You don’t talk a lot in class.”
    Mac’s blush was evident as day on his pale skin. “I don’t like to,” he said. “Personal reasons.”
    “Oh.” And Carissa left that at that. “So about this do we go about proving it to everybody?”
    “To be honest, I’m not even sure we should,” Mac told her. “It’s not a huge deal to anyone except for us, because we know we saw it. I say we don’t mention this around school anymore, which was another reason why I had us meet on the roof.”
    “That’s true,” Carissa said out loud. “My best friend is already telling me to shut up about the entire thing.”
    “But that’s just it.” Mac ran both of his hands through his red hair, white starched polo rising as he did so. “We can’t even bother telling anybody else because they are so convinced that we are lying. What we have to do is find some way to first reprove to us that this happened. I think that the fact that someone died is less important than the fact that nobody remembers he died. Because if nobody remembers, then did he die in the first place?” He shrugged. “It’s kind of like that ‘if a tree falls in an empty forest’ kind of thing. Do you know what I’m talking about?”
    Carissa nodded. “You mean where if a tree falls and nobody hears it, did it still fall.”
    “Yeah. That type of thing. People die in many different ways every day here in the city. The difference here is that nobody believes it except for us.”
    Carissa thought about it for a moment. All of this was true. And to think it all started with just an ordinary morning at Saint Arbucks, she thought to herself. “So,” she asked Mac, “you’re the one who called me here. What is our next step?”
    Then, without any warning, the door behind Carissa opened up, and two guards came out onto the roof. Behind them was Peter, with his usual smug look on his face.
    “Well, well, well, look at what we have here,” he said. “A couple of lovebirds on the roof.”
    Carissa felt her face flush -- Peter was so wrong, she didn’t even properly know this Mac guy yet! Besides --
    “In case you’re wondering,” Mac said, not fazed by Peter’s appearance at all, “Mr. Withrow gave me a key to the roof back last semester when I was spray painting bottle rockets for class. He then said that I could come up here for anything, at any time. You’ll have to take this up with him before you get the final say on any of this.”
    “You really honestly believe that a teacher would give you a roof key?” Peter asked. “It’s against the school rules for anybody to be up here. Including teachers. And stuck up seniors like you.”
    Carissa made a mental note to ask Mr. Withrow about the roof tomorrow when she got to class. “You’re on the roof now as well, in case you didn’t notice,” she said.
    Peter realized his goof. “Guards, bring both of them downstairs to Principal Digel’s office,” he said. “I’m excited to hear the rumors that will spread at this school about the two of you on the roof. There better not be any trash left up here when you leave...if you know what I mean.”
    Eww. Carissa couldn’t even begin to wonder how disgusting the entire situation was.
    Before she could react, however, Mac did. He grabbed her by the arm and pulled her to one side. Carissa hadn’t realized how strong he was – she grabbed her duffel and followed him as he started running toward the edge of the roof.
    And then she realized where she was going. “Mac --”
    He jumped off of the roof, and she went with him. They fell a grand total of three feet -- onto the cramped fire escape of the building next to the school. Mac let go of Carissa as she steadied herself on the escape, grabbing onto the railing. Her own apartment building had one of these, but she had never been allowed on one.
    “Careful,” Mac said as he grabbed a hold of the structure as well. Then, he started to go down the stairs. “Hold on tight.”
    “Um, okay,” Carissa said as she followed behind him, white duffel now in tow. They went down two flights of shaky fire escape stairs until they got to the second floor. The ladder used to descend from here was already unlocked.
    “I use this all the time,” Mac explained as he lowered the ladder. “You look like you have never been on one of these things before.”
    “You would be right,” Carissa said, her nerves showing. She then realized that something odd was missing. “Didn’t you bring a coat?”
    “I’ll get it tomorrow.” Mac practically flew down the ladder. “We need to get away from those guys as soon as possible. They’ll know that we’re down here now, and if we take any longer, they’ll get to us.”
    Carissa nodded and forced herself to get over the fear of heights she now had. She took a deep breath, shouldered her duffel, and slowly descended the stairs. When she reached the bottom, Mac was waiting there for her.
    “There we go,” he said. “And we’re lucky enough that the guards and Peter aren’t here yet.”
    “Where do we go next?” Carissa said.
    “Well, you could always go back to your apartment,” Mac said. “Or you can join me in running away from these guys. I need to get back in Brooklyn before they know I’m here.”
    Wait -- what? “You’re from Brooklyn? What are you doing in school all the way up here on the Upper West Side? That’s got to be some commute --”
    “Too late.” Mac grabbed Carissa by the arm. “You’re going to have to trust me. They’re at the front gate of the school. We need to run. Now.”
    Carissa nodded, although she wasn’t sure why -- did she trust this guy? And then she spotted Peter, the last person she wanted to see at that moment, looking left and right for them.
    “Okay,” she said. “But you’re paying for my subway fare.”
    Mac laughed. “I won’t need to.”

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