Scott never received his invitation to join Odin at Bad Bill’s. Even though that meeting proved, fictitious Odin did hope to meet someone there. The two murdered women made up two– of a three spoke wheel. Three best friends, the kind that thought they would have kids on the same day and an open backyard between all three of their houses, and only one remained. It seemed likely to Odin that she might have some pertinent information. He knew Val’s schedule because everyone knew it, she followed the same one every week without fail. Today, she would sit in the third booth on the east side wall and eat a bacon avocado burger. The town made fun of her for this quirk, but today it worked in Odin’s favor.
The jukebox blasted ‘Summer Nights’ from Greece as he opened the door. Odin felt that Bad Bill’s deserved the title of ‘greatest restaurant establishment ever made by man.’ All the walls sported records, the booths shined red, and the tile resembled a checkerboard. The best part, the part that earned the restaurant’s title was that kids under 13 got a milkshake for the old time price of a nickel. He planned on taking full advantage of that fact for as long as he could.
There she sat, dressed in a black dress and a hat born in the twenties. He crept up to her. She looked up, a raccoon in a booth. The mascara stained her face and Odin didn’t understand why women put on mascara, if all women ever did was cry. “Are you okay?” he asked. He did that sometimes with his mother, and she seemed to like it.
Val wiped at her eyes, “Hi Odin. What kind of trouble are you getting into today?” He felt like a celebrity, he didn’t know that she knew his name, or that he often got in trouble. He never spoke to her before this moment.
“I wondered if you would like someone to eat lunch with. I’m getting a bacon avocado burger too.”
Val looked at him, and he felt scrutinized. “Is it true what they are saying?” she asked as if he knew who ‘they’ were or what ‘they’ said. He stared back until she continued in a whisper, “did you find her?” Odin nodded, and she reached out her arm signaling that he could take a seat. “I don’t want to hear anything about what you saw, do you understand?” she asked. Again he nodded. He knew that sometimes staying quiet proved the best way to get people to start talking. “I just can’t believe it. Ten years ago I thought that I faced the most horrific thing I would ever go through and now I am going through it again. Although it’s worse. Whoever the killer is, he is attacking those I hold most dear. The only thing I can think of now is if in ten years it will be another one of my friends, or me myself.”
“You guys were best friends right?” Odin inquired.
“Yeah, we were best friends. We used to do everything together. I loved my childhood with them. You never knew what was going to happen. Susan always had some crazy idea and another for backup.” Odin couldn’t picture the woman who followed the exact same schedule all her life participating in grand adventures. “After she was,” she stopped herself, “well you know, I quit doing such unpredictable things. I convinced myself that we caused Susan’s death by what we did.” Odin straightened up and perked up his ears like a dog, this new information could prove critical.
“What did you do?”
Val laughed a bit hysterically, “you know, I try to forget it. But anytime you actively try to push something away it only seems to strengthen your brain’s desire to bring it back up.” She stopped talking as the waiter came to the table.
“Hi Val, your usual?” the waiter asked, although they already started to write on the ticket. They didn’t wait for an answer before turning towards Odin, “What about you Odin?”
“Wait a minute,” Val interrupted, “I would like the chicken finger basket today.” The waiter laughed but stopped when he saw that she actually wanted something different.
Odin piped up to break the silence, “I’ll have that too. And my double chocolate milkshake.”
Val laughed, “I thought you were getting the bacon avocado burger.”
“You were too.”
“Touche.” The waiter went off to tell the kitchen to stop making the burger they already started in anticipation. “We played a prank on Jason, one I don’t think he ever got over. But still, I can’t believe that it was him. He loved Susan.” Odin didn’t dare ask about the prank. “We were only a little bit older than you when it first happened.” She stopped talking, and her eyes looked like she wasn’t seeing anything in the current time or space that she occupied. Tears started to roll, and her eyes stared past him. Odin didn’t pry. Guilt ate his insides as he watched her cry. This woman suffered two horrific deaths in her life, he wanted a story. Odin felt icky.
“I have to go.” He announced abruptly. She didn’t respond. Instead of asking a victim he needed a suspect. It was time to find Jason.