Read Pt. 1.
At five-to-four, Rachel pulled up outside Brunton’s Boxcar Diner. She was curious to see what her niece had to say for herself, what her explanation would be for her unexpected request and secretive ways. Lolly had said something about breaking the law. She hoped the girl wasn’t in too much trouble.
Rachel smiled as she pulled the keys from the ignition. She was glad her niece felt she could trust her. Rachel had been making more and more of an effort to get to know the Racket kids, especially now that she had her own Racket. Shark and Lolly seemed like decent kids, and it wasn’t all that long ago that Rachel herself was a teenager. It couldn’t be easy growing up in the Racket household.
“Do you want something to eat first?” Rachel asked as she took her chair across from the girl.
Lolly shook her head. “I’m not really hungry. This just seemed like a good place to meet.”
“Okay, do you mind if I order? I’m starved,” Rachel exclaimed.
“Go right ahead,” Lolly remarked.
Rachel ordered a hamburger and fries from the window and returned to her chair. Lolly reluctantly let Rachel order her a milkshake, even though the girl insisted it was bad for her figure. Rachel shook her head and told the teen she had no reason to worry about her weight at her age, and that she was beautiful. And beautiful girls deserved a milkshake every once in awhile. Lolly seemed to relax at the compliment and agreed. The two women finished their snacks before Rachel tried to broach the subject cautiously, the reason why they were there.
“So how was school?” she asked.
“Fine… I guess…” Lolly averted her eyes, a slight flush rising in her cheeks.
Rachel politely waited for the girl to feel comfortable to speak.
“That’s kind-of what happened.”
“What? Something at school?”
“Yeah… well… I failed my chemistry test.”
She waited for Rachel to chew her out, but Rachel merely frowned. “Not what I was expecting, but go on.”
“Well, I failed my chemistry test,” Lolly repeated.
“And? I failed a test? I failed a test!” Lolly shrieked, waving her arms around. “I’ve never failed a test. I’ve never failed a class. I’ve never failed at anything.”
“One failed test isn’t going to kill you,” Rachel said softly.
“Yes, but… no… I mean… I’ve never failed. I’m a failure…” Lolly dropped her head, dejectedly, and continued talking, muffled by the wooden table. “I can’t believe I failed. I mean, I studied and everything, but the periodic table is just the pits, you know. Who cares if I can’t remember their order and their significance and the combinations of things. I’m not going to be a chemist.”
“I take it your chemistry test isn’t the reason you’re working at the station,” Rachel tried to move the conversation along.
“No… well… sort of…” Lolly lifted her head off the table, the flush deepening on her cheeks. “I was just so pissed at myself for failing. I ran out of class.”
“You ran out of class?” Rachel repeated.
“Yes, I ran out of class and ran behind the school to cry about my pathetic self,” Lolly admitted. “I didn’t stay to hear what Mr. Johnson had to say after he gave me the grade. I just ran away.”
“And while I was back there… well… there were these guys…”
“Are you okay? Did they hurt you?”
“No, not intentionally.”
“Clarify what you mean by not intentionally.”
“Well, they were drinking something and getting high.”
“Let me make sure I understand you. You ran behind the school and found some other kids ditching class and they were drinking alcohol and doing drugs?”
“Yes, Aunt Rachel,” Lolly looked puzzled. “They offered me some.”
“And did you take it?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t touch the weed. I did drink the booze.”
Lolly frowned, and leaned across the table. “Aunt Rae, this is starting to feel like an interrogation. Can you chill?”
Rachel waved her arms in the air. “Sorry. Habit. From my legal days.”
“You were a lawyer?” Lolly’s eyes widened.
“No,” Rachel replied. “But I went to law school and passed the bar.”
“Oh I see,” Lolly leaned back and shrugged. “You would’ve made a good one.”
“Then why did you go into politics?”
“We’re getting side tracked… why don’t you continue your story and I’ll try not to interrupt again.”
Lolly began to recount her tale. She had gotten drunk, Rachel figured, given the girl said she didn’t remember how much of the bottle in the brown bag she drank. Lolly said the stuff was disgusting, but slowly it helped her brain clear and forget about the bad grade. Instead, she was thinking about happy things like unicorns and puppies and rainbows… and suddenly craving fried chicken really badly.
Lolly stood in front of the diner entrance. The building’s edges were smudged as if someone forgot to finish the painting. She blinked rapidly and rubbed her face. There must have been something wrong with her eyes. She was thirsty… really thirsty. Her throat hurt. And she was hungry, but she couldn’t order anything.
A few minutes before, Lolly had stumbled inside the diner and tried to ask the waitress for a plate of fried chicken. She remembered getting a weird look, and then being asked if she could pay. Can I pay? Lolly thought incredulously. Of course, she could pay. She was a Racket. They had money.
Yet as Lolly reached down for her wallet, she realized, in horror she did not have her purse. She must’ve left it at the school when she ditched class. In fact, she didn’t have her backpack either. She wouldn’t be able to pay for anything, though the waitress took pity on her and brought her a glass of water. Lolly walked back outside, staring up at the diner in confusion, wondering how she got here. After the fog cleared a bit, she turned to bolt away and collided with another human being.
“Oh sorry,” she mumbled to the young man dressed in all white. “Hey… I know you…” she began to laugh uncontrollably.
What’s wrong with me?
“You did the…I mean… you were the angel guy at the toys for tots drive at the hospital last Christmas,” she remarked.
“Uh yeah,” he said, looking down at his toes. “Do I know you?”
“Yeah… uh… I mean… of course… you do…” she laughed and gave him a friendly punch in the arm. “I was the other angel.”
“Oh yeah,” he met her eyes. “Um… Lolly… right?”
“Yeah, that’s me,” she grinned so wide her face hurt as she stumbled forward and nearly fell into him again. “What’s your name?”
“Yeah… good ‘ol’ goody-two-shoes…” she snorted and cackled. “That’s what the hospital staff called ya…” she leaned in close and lowered her voice as she giggled. “…don’t worry… your secret is safe with me.”
He flushed. “What secret?” he protested hotly.
“The goody-two-shoes-thing…” she frowned. “So… ya… Goodwin… Goody…Good Man… do you think you can spot me a twenty?”
“Uh no,” he replied, flipping his hair out of his eyes.
“No… like… I really need a twenty…”
He leaned in and sniffed her rather awkwardly, his eyes widening in surprise. “You’ve been drinking, Lolly. Go home.”
“I’m… fine…” she waved her arms melodramatically in the air. “You just…” she watched him walk away. “…you just… go on…” she swung her arms back down and snapped her fingers. “…and have a good day, you, goody-two-shoes-you.” She flashed a smile at another young man as he passed her by.
He frowned and kept walking.
“Hey!” she called after him.
Author’s Note: I’ve been wanting to spend more time getting to know the individual members of the Racket family. I decided to follow Lolly one day and she kept obsessively going into the Diner to get drinks. I tweaked some of the details… okay a lot of details (since teens can’t get alcohol at the diner) and decided to roll with it. Yes, I enjoy the irony of Goodwin playing an ‘angel’ at the toys for tots hospital drive since he isn’t quite the angel everyone thinks he is, or even he thinks he is.
Previous Chapter: 1.30, Lolly’s Secret, Pt. 1
Next Chapter: 1.30, Lolly’s Secret, Pt. 3