By: Maribel Balaoro
“How long did you think I would wait?” Madeline shouts from the car.
“Sorry Mady, I forgot something from the apartment.” Suzy said as she opened the trunk and threw in several trash bags.
“C’mon! Let’s go, we’re wasting precious time.”
“Dude, we have plenty of time. It’s a road trip after all. Big Bear isn’t going anywhere.”
“How was clean-up duty?”
“Once you get used to the smell and sight, it’s really not that bad, it reminds me of chopped up pork.” Suzy replied with a laugh. “And girl, don’t even get me started on the packing.”
“Sorry, you had to do all the labor work.”
“It’s okay, Mady, I understand that you wouldn’t know how to clean up correctly.” The spurt of the engine shook the vehicle as Madeline started the car.
“Okay, I packed all our warm clothes since Big Bear is cold at this time of year.” Madeline informed as she began to drive. “I hope it doesn’t get too stuffy with all the trash in the back.”
“I feel you man. The stench is getting inside the car.”
“It’s fine, I brought the air freshener. Check the backpack.”
Suzy reached over to the back and after searching through the mountain of baggages, she pulled out a black bag.
“Woah! You’re so prepared!” Suzy said astonishingly as she took a peek inside the bag.
“Yeah, I have extra supply of gloves and masks from working at the hospital.”
“Well, that kinda seems to cover the smell.”
It was silent, but the static from the radio resonated off the windows of the second generation Honda Civic. Madeline carefully drove up the rocky trek, as Suzy stared out in the darkness.
“Do you remember how we first met? In high school?” Madeline’s voice broke the silence.
“Yeah. You were a cheerleader and I was in softball. It’s too bad that pink bat you gave me for my birthday went to waste. But why do you ask?”
“I feel like it was just yesterday, he and I were high school sweethearts. Everyone used to envy us about how compatible we were.”
With a grin, Madeline glanced at Suzy, who switched her attention to Madeline.
“Thanks for last night.”
“Don’t worry about it. I mean, you would’ve done the same for me.”
“It was so fast and he just wouldn’t stop. It was as if it was never going to end,” Madeline’s voice croaked. “I can still feel the the punches and kicks.”
“Hey, hey, it’s okay. It’s all gone, alright? He won’t bother you anymore. He’s history now, you don’t need to worry. So don’t cry, everything will be okay.”
“I’m sorry, Suzy. I’m sorry that you had to see him like that, I’m sorry you had to do that. I shouldn’t have called you, he was just having a bad day.” Madeline sniffled while wiping away her tears with her sleeve.
“It was a good thing I had the bat you gave me because I don’t think I could’ve taken him on like that.” Suzy said with a small smile. “Here! This place looks good enough. Park at the shoulder.”
She pulled up her hood as she stepped out of the warm car and made her way to the trunk.
“Pop open the trunk.” Suzy shouted as she lifted the trunk to reveal the pile of bags.
“Do you need some help?”
“No, I’m good. These heavy duty bags really don’t live up to their name and it’s only been an hour of driving.”
She swung the bag over the cliff with a grunt. After the bag descended down the cliff, the sound of the impact intrigued her.
“Woah! This is so cool! Madi did you hear that?”
Without replying, she watched Suzy happily toss the bags over, while keeping an eye for incoming cars. Suzy would giggle at the sound of the impacts, and skip toward the trunk.
“Suzy! That’s enough, we need to go.” Madeline shouted towards Suzy, over her excessive laughter.
“Geez, okay!” Suzy quickly closed the trunk and joined Madeline in the car. “Why are you in such a hurry? Scared that we’ll get caught? ”
“And you’re not? Because it seems like you’re having the time of your life right now.” Madeline agitated by Suzy’s demeanor.
“Aww, is my crybaby upset? Are you hungry? I brought some of your favorite chips. I wonder if we have barbecue flavored chips? Could go for something meaty right now.” Suzy began to rummage through her bag and pulled out a bag of chips.
Madeline’s eyes downcasted toward Suzy’s direction as she continued to drive. Madeline abruptly veered to the side and pulled the car to a stop. The sudden swerve jerked Suzy’s body, causing her chips to fall on the floor. Madeline parked the car.
“What the hell, Madeline! You just wasted a perfect bag of chips!” Suzy glared as she plucked away the stray of chips.
“How could you eat at a time like this?” Madeline spoke with tension.
“What do you mean?” Suzy asked as she continued to toss the dirty chips out the window.
“How are you so calm? How can you not be guilty!” Madeline screamed in frustration.
“We just killed Patrick! And you’re tossing his body away as if it’s trash.”
“But he is trash. He’s nothing but trash.” Suzy’s eyes pierced through Madeline, as anxiety rose in her chest.
“He was going to kill you and I can’t have him doing that. It would be no fun without you around.”
“Are you not scared, that you’ll get caught and thrown in prison?”
“Why should I be scared? You’re not gonna tell anyone, are you?” The gaze that Suzy gave towards Madeline sent chills down her spine.
“Stop looking at me like that.” Madeline put her full attention to the road and continued to drive.
“Don’t be too worried. I clean up well and I didn’t leave any fibers, DNA, or hair behind.” Suzy sighed as her eyes trace back to the window. “It’s not like this is the first time.” Suzy muttered soft enough so Madeline couldn’t hear.
After a few hours of driving in silence, they arrived in the newly established tourist spot, Big Bear Lake. They parked in the parking lot of the lodgings where the office was located.
“I’ll go check in first. You stay here.” Madeline sighed as she left the car with her bag.
Once Madeline had entered the cabin, Suzy opened the glove compartment of the car. She searched for a map and began to search for the Big Bear Lake Dam. When the car door opened, Suzy glanced over to find Madeline.
“I wanna go to the Dam.” Suzy showed the map booklet. “It’s only four miles away.”
Madeline took the thick book in her hands and traced the route in her mind. She didn’t say anything in response and simply began driving. Silence settled in the car once again, only this time the sound that could be heard was the rattling of the exhaust pipe. When the car came to a final stop, Madeline pulled closely to the side of the dam. Suzy left the car and made her way to the trunk. She took hold of a bag, just like how she disposed the bags over the cliff, and began tossing them. Madeline watch the lifeless bags thrown over the dam, the sound of the impact was louder than the previous.
“That’s the last of it. C’mon let’s go, I heard there are some restaurants nearby.” Suzy said cheerfully.
Madeline sat on the hood, catatonic from what happened today.
“I can’t do this, Suzy. We have to tell the cops! This guilt is eating me alive!” Madeline yelled, tears staining her pale cheeks.
Suzy stood distant from her friend, she couldn’t possibly empathize what Madeline felt. Madeline, who once stood her ground, was on her knees, leaning on the barrier of the dam, calling for forgiveness and mercy. Suzy walked to her best friend, kneeled on one knee, and began to attempt to comfort Madeline.
“I’m sorry, Mady. I didn’t mean for you to be involved in this mess.” Suzy sighed stroking Madeline’s hair. “Come here, let’s hug it out.”
Bringing Madeline to her feet, Suzy held her friend tight in her arms. Tears soaked her shirt as she looked over Madeline’s shoulder, staring at the still, moonlit lake.”
“The only way to clean this up, is to tie up loose ends. I’m sorry, Madeline, but it was fun.”
Before Madeline could comprehend what was going on, Suzy retracted her arms from Madeline’s waist and gave her a rough push. With one swift movement, Suzy pushed her off the edge.
Madeline let out a blood-curdling scream before the satisfying sound of the impact drowned it out.