Bay wasn't that surprised when Jonah didn't show up to carpool to work the next morning. Not being surprised didn't mean that she wasn't disappointed, and that disappointment (and the waiting on someone who clearly wasn't coming) made her late for work. She didn't have time to take the long route to the park, following the roads all the way, so, once again, Bay abandoned her bike in the dirt on the edge of the woods that ringed Arcadis. She emerged several minutes later and out of breath in the back side of the park.
The place was weirdly empty. Completely empty. The sky was heavy with grey, low clouds, but that didn't mean that the park should be deserted, especially not on a Saturday. Mr. Calvin wouldn't close the place without a torrential downpour, and that certainly wasn't the case. She hadn't gotten an allhands email telling her that the place was closed, either.
Still, the sheer emptiness of the park made her feel like she was walking through a dream. Just to check, she pinched herself, felt the pinch, and continued on towards the front, looking all around for any signs of life. The only things around were squirrels who ran away as she passed and the ever-present whine of the cicadas.
As she passed the normal pool, someone yelled out to her.
"Stop! What are you doing?"
Bay skidded to a halt, looking all around for the source of the voice. It wasn't immediately apparent, but then the person spoke again, and Bay identified that they were standing atop the changing rooms. "How did you get in here?"
The speaker was a police officer, a young man with a beard and short cropped hair. He seemed distinctly unpleasant, and Bay had a bad feeling in her stomach about the day.
"I work here," Bay said. The man stood on the edge of the building and looked down at her.
"How did you get in?" he asked again.
"I came in through the back, like I always do."
"Stay right where you are. I'm going to escort you out through the front."
"But—" Bay began to protest, wanting to say that her bike was in the back, but the man disappeared down the ladder. He emerged about thirty seconds later, and glared at Bay.
"This place is under investigation," he said. "You shouldn't be here."
"Sorry," Bay said, just to get him to stop talking to her. He walked her towards the front gates, and there the noise of people was apparent. Bay could pick out the strains of voices of staff members she knew, and the sound of Mr. Calvin yelling, as well as a general hubbub of guest voices.
Bay was forced to hop the turnstile that let people into the park to get out, as there were people leaning against the edit doors, preventing Bay from exiting. Satisfied that she was outside, the police officer turned back and left to return to whatever his duty had been.
"What's going on?" Bay asked, spotting Genesis in the crowd and heading towards her. Since Genesis manned the information desk, Bay figured she'd have more information than random other lifeguards around.
"Police were here before I got here," Genesis said, pointing out the cruisers in the parking lot, some with their lights going. "They blocked the entrance and said the place was under investigation. Mr. Calvin's over there yelling at them."
"Is the park going to open?" Bay asked.
"I dunno. You'd have to ask them."
Bay had absolutely no intention of drawing further police attention to herself, or the attention of Mr. Calvin. She was slightly worried about Jonah, though, as police being here and Jonah not being here were a worrying thread. If Andover had changed his mind and decided to arrest her... The thought was unpleasant.
"Hey, Genesis, are we getting paid to stand around here, or can I go home?" Tom asked, leaning against the entrance turnstile.
"I don't know, you'd have to ask Mr. Calvin," Genesis said. "Why do people think that I have these answers?"
"Because you work at the front desk," Bay said, then pushed past Genesis towards where Mr. Calvin was yelling at a police officer.
The woman taking the brunt of his anger seemed mostly bored with it. "Where's Andover?" Mr. Calvin asked. "I want to talk to him."
"Officer Andover is not on duty right now. I'd be happy to take a message for him."
"I don't want to talk to the human equivalent of a voice mail. I want someone to explain to me why exactly you are obstructing access to my park. I have paying customers here."
Mr. Calvin was perhaps optimistic in saying that, because most people seemed to be driving into the lot, observing the police presence, and turning tail and driving away as fast as they could. Bad business to have police close down your waterpark.
"Mr. Calvin, you have seen our warrant," the woman said, sounding like she had already said this about a hundred times.
Bay decided she didn't want to be directly in Mr. Calvin's line of fire, so she sidled along the fence away from him, back towards the group of staff, bunched up and talking, clearly enjoying their non-work, but also grumbling and asking if they could go home and go back to bed. It was rather reminiscent of the couple times that Bay had been in a lecture hall and the professor had been late-- people wondering what their actual obligation to stay in class was, and considering if they were likely to get in trouble if they left. If the prof doesn't show up in fifteen, we're legally allowed to leave. If the cops don't let us open the doors soon, Mr. Calvin has to pay us for the day AND we can go home and sleep. It seemed too good to be true.
Amanda was there, looking more exhausted than her usual blase attitude. "You look wiped," Bay said, coming over to her.
"No thanks to you," Amanda said.
"Have Kyle or Zach contacted you?"
"Literally what makes you think that they would?"
Bay shrugged. "You were dating one of them, and friends with them."
"I broke up with Kyle, in case you don't remember that."
"I know, I just wasn't sure if you were actually serious."
"Why wouldn't I be serious?"
"I wasn't sure that you ever take things seriously."
Amanda had enough energy in her to chuckle. "You got me there."
"So you haven't heard from them?"
"Were you not listening, or is your brain just broken?"
"Okay, okay," Bay said, backing off.
"Is Jonah around?"
"I haven't seen her."
"Did they arrest her?" Amanda whispered, nodding at the cops milling around.
"I somehow doubt it."
"She always shows up to work, though."
"Maybe Mr. Calvin told her that the place was closed."
"Hah. Maybe. Are you going to try to talk to her?" Amanda asked.
Bay scuffed her foot on the asphalt, scattering a couple pebbles out into the parking lot. "I don't know."
"She was being really stupid."
"Yeah," Bay said. "I don't know how I feel about that."
"I'm pissed at her."
"You didn't seem that invested in the whole thing."
"I can be pissed and disinterested at the same time," Amanda said. "Especially if it's, like, two in the morning."
"I suppose so."
"Are you mad at her?"
"I don't know," Bay said again. "She was the one who was going to suffer for it, so it's not like I can say she was trying to hurt other people, so, like, do I have actual justification to be mad at her?"
"Well, you did spend a ton of effort in investigating the whole thing, and she was about to throw that away because Zach asked her nicely, so, yeah."
"You're right," Bay said. But that wasn't the real reason she felt, not precisely angry, more like sad, at Jonah. It was part of it, perhaps, but it was by far not the foremost or only thing. Jonah had claimed she had no future. What about Bay?
Amanda and Kyle hadn't lasted, clearly. So where did that leave the summer's other couple? Bay stared up at the sky, thick with clouds, and the bright point of the sun behind the clouds, until it began to hurt.
"Do you think they're going to catch Zach and Kyle?" Amanda asked.
"Probably," Bay said, but she wasn't really paying that much attention to the question, or putting much thought into her answer. Kyle and Zach would get caught eventually. There weren't that many places they could go and remain undetected, if there were warrants out for their arrest. It would be pretty hard for them to get money, and their parents would be looking for them, too, and didn't they both have colleges to get back to in the fall? If they didn't end up in jail, that was. Bay wondered what would happen, but she didn't think about it too hard. Her own future, and Jonah's, they weighed more heavily on her now than Kyle and Zach's.
"Think they're gonna go to jail?" Amanda continued.
"They didn't actually kill anyone," Bay said. "I don't know." She kept this all to a whisper, because she didn't want the nearby staff, who almost certainly hadn't learned about the drama, to hear. "You didn't tell anyone what happened, right?"
"Good. Wait until the police deal with it."
"If you insist."
"Do you think that they're going to open the park?"
"Amanda, why do you think that I have the answers to any of these questions?" Bay asked, growing slightly annoyed with her.
"If you're going to be pissy about it, I'll go talk to someone else," Amanda said. "I'm just asking for your OPINION."
"Fine by me."
Amanda huffed and walked away, leaving Bay rather alone in the crowd. The atmosphere was weirdly relaxed, or at least Bay was. Having solved the mystery, for real, beyond a doubt in her mind, and feeling like someone was taking care of it now, it allowed some part of her to unclench for the first time in over a week. It was a tension that she only now consciously realized that she'd been holding inside of her. She pulled out her phone.
What would be the point of trying to call Jonah right now? Would it accomplish anything? Would it make Bay feel any better?
She stared through the chinks in the fence at empty Arcadis, watching the morning sun wash the structure of the Ferris Wheel in a greyish yellow glow. What had she come here for? What was she staying for?
She hadn't come to work at Arcadis just to make money, or just to have something to do over the long summer. She had wanted to make friends. And she had, in Jonah. Tracing that thought back, to just the beginning of this summer, Bay realized that she didn't want to be standing there, waiting for the park to reopen. There were more important things than being beholden to a crummy job or a solved mystery.
She started walking away, heading through the parking lot. Behind her, the other staff loudly commented on it, wondering if they could leave too. Bay didn't care if they followed her. She was going, at least for now.
She walked down the parking lot until she reached the place where the fence curved in, and she followed it down until she reached the long path where she had stashed her bike. From there, it was a quick ride to town. The sun was peeking out through the clouds. The bugs were buzzing their tuneless noise.
Bay retraced her path from the night before, following the roads down past the police station (how few cars there were there, since they all seemed to be at Arcadis!), down towards the edge of town.
Jonah's house looked even shabbier in the light, and there was only Jonah's car in the driveway. Bay leaned her bike against the crumbling siding of the house and rang the doorbell. She waited, somewhat impatiently for a minute, then rang again. Rude, but she wasn't going to go away. Jonah had dragged her into this, perhaps, but now Bay was in it, and wasn't going to give up on her that easily.
Jonah answered the door, wearing a long pyjama tunic, with hair that was mussed from sleep. She held the door open wordlessly for Bay to enter, and Bay followed her inside. The house was a mess, and coming apart at the seams. Jonah led her into the kitchen, where a half eaten bowl of cereal sat surrounded by old mail and random objects: dishes; a discarded sweatshirt; some high school textbooks that had no business being there, considering school was not in session. Jonah scooped up an armful of this garbage wholesale and deposited it on top of other things on the side of the table. Some of the junk mail slipped off the table and onto the floor. Jonah didn't bother picking it up. She just gestured for Bay to sit at the now clear spot. "Cereal?" she asked. "It's all I've got."
"No, I ate," Bay said, feeling intensely awkward. Jonah sat back down and continued to eat her own cereal. Bay watched her, unsure of what else to do. The sun was streaming in through the kitchen windows. "Did you forget to set an alarm?" Bay asked.
"I think I'm quitting," Jonah said. She stirred the cereal around. It appeared to be extremely soggy. "What about you?"
"Police shut the park down. I don't know when Mr. Calvin's gonna get it reopened. So I decided I didn't want to spend my whole day there."
They lapsed into silence and Jonah finished her cereal. "Are you mad at me?" Jonah asked.
"If I was that pissed, I wouldn't be here." She looked around the room, at all the mess. She was tempted to say that she understood now why Jonah was so invested in her work at Arcadis, and in getting away, if this was what she had to come home to, but she bit her lip and decided that would be meaner than it needed to be. Jonah probably didn't need anything like that said aloud. It hovered unsaid but mutually understood in the air between them.
"Why are you here, then?" Jonah asked.
"I wanted to make sure you were okay."
"Why do you think, idiot?" Bay snapped.
Jonah offered her a wan smile. "You just can't stop yourself from getting pulled into my messes, can you?"
"Shut it," Bay said, but she smiled a little bit. "I might let you drag me down, but I'm trying to pull you up. Every action has an equal opposite reaction, or whatever."
"It's not worth it," Jonah said. "I don't think it's possible."
"It would help if you weren't so gloomy about it."
"Can't help it."
"Yeah, you can," Bay said. "Look. I, for one, am glad you're not in jail."
Jonah gave a kind of half sigh, then looked across at Bay. A ray of sunlight fell across her eyes, causing her to blink and lean back to escape. "Yeah. I probably should be too. I don't really know. I guess I was being crazy."
"A little, yeah."
"I really did throw the shears in the woods though."
"I stole them out of Kyle's car."
Bay laughed. "It would have been hilarious if he'd come back to find you robbing him, and you'd be like, 'let me dispose of the evidence, asshole.'"
"I really don't know how he would have handled it."
"You'd have been the one with the shears at the time," Bay said with a grin. "You could've just, you know." She made a giant snipping motion.
"I really don't think they're that effective as a weapon," she said, but she was smiling now. "Where do you think they went?"
"No idea," Bay said. "But I doubt they'll get far."
"They're gonna get found," she said. "I'm sure the police are after them."
"Still," Jonah said, and she had a wistful look on her face. "Might be nice to get away."
"You've got too much of your brain wrapped up in Kyle and Zach's troubles. Forget about them. It's over."
"Are you really quitting Arcadis?"
"I don't know," Jonah said. "I want to. But I also don't want to. I'm probably going to get fired anyway, just for bringing trouble down on Mr. Calvin."
"He can't fire you. Zach's fled the country or whatever. You don't have a replacement lined up."
"He'll just pick whatever joker happens to be standing in front of him at the time. You want my job?"
"Oh, hell no," Bay said. Jonah just laughed. "Before you make any hasty decisions, or preemptively fire yourself, maybe we should go find out what actually is going on with the park."
"Nothing good. It's literally never anything good."
"Do you want to know, or do you not care?"
"I want to not care, if that makes sense."
"Yeah, it does."
Jonah stood up and dropped her bowl in the sink. "If I do get fired or quit or whatever, I don't know what I'm gonna do for the rest of the summer. It's not like there's a lot of places around here that'll hire someone for like, two months."
"You could take the summer off and do something fun."
"And be stuck around here?" Jonah asked. "No, thanks."
Bay considered this for a moment. "You could leave."
"And go where?"
"Road trip. Go west, young man."
"Hah. I don't think life works like that."
Bay rested her chin on her hands, arms propped up on the table. "Why shouldn't it? You're an adult. Adults are allowed to take summer road trips."
"I don't deserve fun or nice things. Besides, I don't have the cash. I won't exactly be flush with it if I'm not working anymore."
"Don't want to drive out west to see the desert?" Bay asked. "Get yourself a cute little cactus?"
"Not by myself, no."
"Oh, you're inviting me?" Bay asked. Jonah stared down at her. It was like her face was showing her exact thoughts as she tried to process what Bay was saying, running through confusion to humor to anxiety and back to confusion again.
"Let's go see what Arcadis is up to, before you say anything else silly," Jonah said. "Be right back. I gotta get dressed."
She vanished down the hall, leaving Bay alone with the dripping of the sink, until she returned a minute later, wearing her staff shirt.
"That's probably unnecessary," Bay said. "I doubt they're open."
"We just have to match, don't we?" Jonah asked, pointing at Bay.
"I'd prefer to match in something less ugly. Orange is not my color."
"I think you look good regardless," Jonah said, and Bay blushed a little. "Ready to go?"
Jonah held up her keys, and they got into her car. "Should I put my bike in the back?" Bay asked, though Jonah had already started the engine.
"It's fine," Jonah said. "I can bring it to you later."
Jonah was about to put the car into drive, but Bay said, "Wait."
"What's up?" Jonah asked, alarmed.
Bay hesitated a moment, then twisted in her seat, leaning towards Jonah. "I'm not mad at you, you know. Not really."
"I know," Jonah said. "But you probably should be."
Bay grabbed Jonah's wrist, her hand that was reaching for the shift stick. "Maybe we both just need to figure out how to relax and enjoy the rest of the summer."
"Maybe." Jonah turned to look at her, and Bay tried to make what she wanted clear in her expression. Jonah reached over and tucked her hair behind her ear. Bay shivered at the touch, and closed her eyes.
Kiss me, stupid, she thought. And Jonah did.