They said I was free to go and I believed it, but once I was out of that station I could feel Jiminy Cricket hopping around my stomach, and I knew there was only one thing I could do: find Molly.
I went home and glued myself to my laptop trying to get whatever I could on Chicago Fire. They were so edgy they wouldn’t even release a gig schedule and just showed up at different spots unannounced. The main draw was that if you were actually able to find out where they were playing, it meant you were culturally enlightened and would be able to prove it by Instagramming yourself crushing IPAs in a sweaty mass of ripped leather. The following was huge.
At some point I woke up on my keyboard just in time to see the last light of Sunday. In the last 34 hours, the school had rekindled its love affair with Molly Chambers. That same photo of her with her Pulitzer went up all over campus again, except now they were on missing posters. Her case got profiled in every student publication and Morty sent out a whole chain of emails devoted to her.
A vigil was being held for her on Deering that night, and I figured I’d find at least one person there that might know what Molly had gotten into. The field was lit up like a Christmas tree, with over five hundred candles drooping from unbearably sad hands. Deering Days must have been jealous.
I stood toward the back of the field, staring at an empty mic lit up on the Deering steps until the crowd burst into applause for no apparent reason. The surfer girl from Molly’s house, in her most somber black romper and a shawl to balance herself out for the twenty degree air, strode toward the microphone wiping tears from under her Gucci shades.
She announced herself as Amelia Wright, and then read a long speech she’d printed out mostly concerning the fact she and Molly were best friends and that Molly was the youngest ever “Pullisser” prize winner of all time.
When Amelia was done and I’d finished my bootlegger of Wild Irish Rose, she pointed to Officers Brick and Schultzman leaning on their squad car and urged anyone with information that could help to go to them immediately with the offer of a reward, which, even from where I was standing, I could tell took the officers by surprise.
I accidentally crushed the bootlegger bottle in my hand when Amelia had the crowd join her in an a cappella rendition of "Wrecking Ball," declaring it Molly’s favorite song. I started to doubt whether Amelia knew anything about Molly besides her resume.
My hand was bleeding a bit, but my only option was to shove it into my pocket and move toward the Deering steps. If Amelia had any puzzle pieces she hadn’t fit together herself, I needed my hands on them as soon as possible.
As the crowd fled back to the warmth of their dorms, I could see someone had gotten to Amelia first. It was Felix Papadopoulos, by title one of four members on the Rock Executive Board, but by function the Rock Show Emperor himself. He’d personally given me the boot last spring.
Amelia had reverted to her phone while Felix whispered into her ear. His eyes darted at me while I approached, like a lioness on the hunt.
“What’s happening B?” He said through the same goddamn grin he’d put on when he kicked me out. He was just the sort of guy that you could have three conversations with in your life, and he’d cut your name down to one letter.
“A lot Felix,” I said, watching his face jerk at having to hear his own first name. A stilt-like arm shot out and he awkwardly turned a handshake into a man-hug. I heard him sniff the air by my face.
“Still at your old ways I see.”
“Yessssssss,” I said, shooting a quick jet of wine-scented breath into his eye.
“Well, I’ve got to go make sure the PowerPoint is ready for the apprentice meeting tomorrow.”“You use PowerPoints now? Very rock and roll.”
“Take care, Amelia. Let me know if you need anything at all,” Felix said before giving me a hard slap on the back. “Good to see you’re holding yourself together B.”
Amelia waved to him without looking up from her phone.
“Hey Amelia,” I started, “You don’t know me but I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions.”
“Are you another reporter with the Daily?”
“NB – ”
“I’m not with any publication.”
She looked up from her phone.
“What do you want?”
“I just, um….”
She was a lot more intimidating from three feet away.
“I guess I just was hoping we could talk about things, if that’s okay with you.”
I could feel her evaluating me and I knew I was one word from getting turned away.
“I’ve been through a lot the past couple days. I’m really tired.”
“Of course Amelia, but I just thought maybe – ”
“If you really want to talk, you’re going to have to come back to my place.”
“Are you busy?”
“No, it’s just – ”
“Good, then you can call an Uber.”