My name is Lainey. It’s short for Elaine. Liana, my only friend at Chesapeke High, started calling me that when we became friends. She thought it would be cute if we both had names that began with L’s. My mom wasn’t too happy with me changing my name, though.
“That is your grandmother’s name and her mother’s name too,” she told me with a hurt look.
My name wasn’t the only thing that changed when I became friends with Liana. I had always been a little overweight. Well, I wasn’t aware of it until Liana told me that 130 pounds at 5’4 was too much.
“You can’t eat just anything with your weight problem,” she insisted taking my roast beef sandwich out of my hands.
I changed my diet after that, and ever since then Liana has packed a lunch for me. Every day it’s celery, rice cakes (caramel is my personal favorite), saltine crackers, and bottled water. My mother would kill me if she knew I trash the sack lunches she hands me as I walk out the door everyday. But even she praised me when I lost fifteen pounds.
My weight loss wasn’t entirely from eating less. Liana introduced me to smoking cigarettes. It’s her personal way of curbing her appetite and now at a pack a day, it’s my way also. One cigarette after another. We smoke in between classes, throughout lunch period, and behind the dugout during P.E.
“I’ve been smoking since I was eleven,” Liana told me when I first tried smoking. She watched with her dark narrow eyes as I feebly tried to inhale. I choked and coughed out smoke. Liana cackled and grabbed the cigarette from me.
“Like this.” She wrapped her thin lips around the cigarette and inhaled gently, holding the smoke for a moment, and exhaled with ease.
The first time I tried drinking proved to be a disaster as well. It was the night of our junior prom and Liana and I went stag. Several different guys had asked Liana to prom, but she refused because she knew no one would ever ask me. She never admitted to me that that was the reason why, but I know it was.
Later that night after the dance the juniors and seniors were all invited to one of Tracy White’s usual drugged, drunk, and do-it parties. I was a little nervous because I had never been to a high school party before, but Liana told me I would fit in fine if I just let loose and got drunk with her. Together we downed bottles of Strawberry Boones that she shoulder-tapped earlier that evening and danced around wildly spilling wine all over our matching white gowns.
Jeff Underwood, a senior on the wrestling team, offered us shots of Tequila and Liana gulped down one with out even a moment’s thought. On the other hand, as soon as I swallowed the shot I knew it was a mistake. Moments later I couldn’t stand straight, my knees buckled under me, and I fell on my butt. Liana stood over me giggling uncontrollably. The last thing I remember was Jeff pulling me up into his arms and nuzzling his hot mouth on my neck. That next morning I woke up in a sleeping bag on Liana’s floor. After using the bathroom I notice blood on my panties. Liana told me it was a sure sign that I had lost my virginity. My heart dropped, and Liana just stared at me proudly with a devilish grin.
Liana pulled our sack lunches from her bag and handed me mine. “I put a treat in there for you today,” she said.
Maybe a candy bar, I thought excitedly. I opened my sack quickly and peered inside. Down at the bottom of the bag was blueberry Nutri-grain bar. This is my treat, I thought with disappointed. I don’t even like blueberry.
“Yum,” I said with as much enthusiasm as I could work up.
Liana pushed her sack aside and lit up a cigarette. “Since tomorrow is the beginning of spring break, we should go celebrate. Get drunk or something.”
“Tonight”? I spit out anxiously. There was no way my mother was going to let me go out on a weeknight and especially the day before Good Friday. “I can’t go out. It’s Good Friday tomorrow and my mom will want me to observe it early.”
Liana sighed in annoyance. “Every time some freakin’ holiday comes around like Christmas or Easter, your mom puts you on lock down. I mean what’s this shit about Good Friday. What the hell is that”?
She had a point. It’s always one thing or another that keeps me from going out with her. I either I have church on Sunday or my mom wants me to clean the yard, do the laundry, or baby-sit my brother. Maybe I could risk sneaking out for just one night. My parents are always in bed by 8:30 anyway. I could put my teddy bear under my bedspread and sneak out the window. I could get away with it.
I grabbed Liana’s cigarette and took a long drag. “I’ll just sneak out.”
She gave me a smile of approval and howled, “Whooo! Party-eeeeee!”
Liana pulled up to my house in her dad’s silver Camaro. I stamped out my cigarette and hopped in the car. Liana had an open Corona bottle sitting between her lap, and she looked like she had already had a few beers. She was wearing a black hooded-sweatshirt and jeans, and her hair was tied back in a ponytail. That’s kind of odd, I thought. Usually when we go out she gets all dressed up.
“Am I overdressed”? I asked. I was wearing tight blue jeans and a black satin blouse.
Liana didn’t answer me. She didn’t even look at me. She just sped off and turned the volume up on the stereo. She sang loudly along with the lyrics as I sat in silence. She drove us to Joe’s Liquor and pulled up to the side of the store where it was dark.
Liana turned down the music. “Okay, I need to get some liquor for us and everyone else.”
“Who else are we hanging out with”? I asked.
“Just some people.” Liana was fidgety as she lit another cigarette. “Jeff Underwood called me and said he was having a people over.”
I shivered. “You know I don’t like Jeff.”
“Fuck-it! It’s a party Lainey. Get over your problem with Jeff.” She grabbed the bottle between her legs and took a long swig. I grabbed the bottle after her and swallowed the rest.
“What are we gonna drink”? I said deciding to put my troubles with Jeff aside.
“I’ll surprise you,” she said giving me a sneaky smile and got out of the car.
After ten minutes went by Liana came running back to the car with two huge brown paper bags in her arms. When she got in the car she tossed the bags in my arms, started up the engine, and quickly put the car in reverse. As soon as we got out of the parking lot she started howling and laughing wildly.
“What just happened”?
Liana fumbled with her carton for a cigarette, lit one up, and took a couple drags before responding. “Free beer, free liquor, free cigarettes, that’s what happened.” She pulled out a wad of cash from her sweatshirt pocket and put it up to my face. “And, free money.”
I was numb. I can’t believe she robbed the store, I thought nervously. I watched her as she drove with a wicked grin on her face and a cigarette dangling from her lips. I grabbed a cigarette from my purse, lit it, and smoked it feverishly. I felt nauseated though, and tossed it out the window. I peered into the brown bags and saw that there were bottles of beer, Vodka, Rum, bags of Cheetos and Doritos, gum, cigars, and cigarettes. I picked up the wad of money that sat in Liana’s lap and began to count it. Fives, Tens, Twenties…there is nearly four hundred dollars here, I thought with disbelief.
“How’d you do it”? I was shivering now.
“You know how in the movies sometimes someone will walk in a store or something and they will have their hand in their pocket making it look like it’s a gun? Well, that’s what I did. It was so easy. Fuck yeah! What a rush.”
“Liana pull over. I think I’m gonna be sick,” I said clutching my stomach.
“Elaine there’s an officer here to see you.” My mother stood at my door with a worried look and her arms folded under her breasts. As soon as she said that my heart started pounding in my ears. I felt faint, but I knew I had to face the officer and admit everything to him. I can’t believe Liana got me into this, I thought angrily as I pushed passed my mom.
In the living room, a police officer sat with a pad and pen ready for my confession. I stood before him trying not to shake from nervousness. Calm down, I told myself.
“I’m officer Reynolds. You must be Elaine.”
“Lainey,” I corrected him suddenly without thinking.
He jotted it down on the pad. “Where were you last night around nine ‘o clock”?
“She was in bed,” my mother said coming up from behind me. He jotted that down too. He thinks I was here, I thought in amazement.
“Were you here”? He asked me finally.
I thought for only a second. “Yes.”
“Do you know a Liana Lockward”?
“Yes, she is one of my friends, but lately we’ve drifted apart because she’s been hanging around with the wrong crowd.”
“Last night around nine ‘o clock Ms. Lockward robbed Joe’s Liquor down the block. We have her down at the station, and she already made a confession. She said that you were involved too, but, as we can see, you were here all night, right”? He questioned again.
“Yes, I was here,” I said with surprising confidence.
“I’m sorry for coming here and upsetting you two. Thank you for your cooperation.” He got up from the couch and started walking toward the door. “Have a great day…ummm…Lainey, right”?
“Yea- no it’s just Elaine,” I corrected.
Copyright © 2000 Deb Meyer