It had been a full hour since Shauna had come to Bearepaire village but she would not leave until she worked up the courage to step into Cerise’s mother’s bookstore. She’d almost gone in once but a customer had walked out at the same time that she was going in and it had freaked her out so much she went back to her post behind the mailbox. Cerise was nowhere to be seen; it must be her day off. Her mom was inside along with a hipster girl. She could handle talking to two people, one of whom she already knew. This was no big deal. She could do it.
“Hey Van?” said Terry, looking outside the window of the bakery.
“Yeah?” replied Vani.
“Isn’t that Cerise’s stalker?” The girl looked different than she used to, with shorter hair and better clothes, but Terry was still pretty sure it was her.
Vani joined Terry and peered outside. “Porta-potty chick? Indeed ‘tis her. She’s had a makeover I see. I think I preferred her hair long and lank, the better to trap grease, don’t cha know? Quite an ineffective stalker, to stalk someone who isn’t even on the premises. But maybe she’s such a high-level stalker that she stalks all areas where her prey has left an imprint. Admirable work in its own way, you must admit.”
“But seriously, what is she doing here?” asked Terry in irritation. “Is she watching the bookstore? What the fuck?”
“Oh shit, she’s going in!” exclaimed Vani as the stalker squared her shoulders and marched across the street.
“Shauna, what a surprise,” said Cerise’s mom when she walked in.
Shauna’s heart was beating so loudly she was sure they’d be able to hear it but the hipster just smiled and kept doing whatever book crap she was doing. Mrs. Laframboise… or Ms. Simon or whatever stood behind the cash, staring at Shauna. She asked her how she was and Shauna said fine, returning the question. Cerise’s mom was also fine.
“I um, I noticed you have a help wanted sign in the window.”
“Yes,” Ms. Simon nodded.
“Could I have an application?” Shauna tried to smile and worried that it came across like a sneer.
“Do you have a CV?”
Shauna reluctantly handed over her crappy CV, hoping Cerise’s mom wouldn’t see through the lies or find any typos. Ms. Simon thanked her and glanced at the piece of paper then back at Shauna.
“Well, um, thanks.” Shauna rushed out of the store and then walked away as fast as she could. A bus drove by but she ignored it. It would take her about half an hour to get home on foot and she’d need at least that much time to calm down.
“Well she’s gone now,” shrugged Vani.
“Let me know if you ever see her sniffing around here again,” said Terry as he watched the stalker run down the street. He wondered if he should tell Cerise about this. He didn’t want to worry her unnecessarily, especially since she was having such a good time on her road trip. But then again, it was a good excuse to call her. They talked every day but Terry still felt like it wasn’t enough. He missed her even more than he’d thought he would and was desperate for her to come home, if only so he could stop being so horny.
Terry was always horny anyway but when Cerise was around he knew he could take care of business regularly. Even on days when they couldn’t find any private time, he didn’t stress because he knew he wouldn’t have to wait too long to get laid. But with her gone he was dying. Literally dying! Ok, not literally, but pretty darn close. Jerking off three times a day was only doing so much to keep him calm. He needed sex so badly it was seriously starting to hamper his life. He constantly felt jittery and agitated and was starting to snap at people for no reason. Every time a girl walked into the bakery he got hard, even if she wasn’t hot! Hell, even Janice was starting to look good. He knew he’d be able to hook up with her and maybe just a blowjob wouldn’t be considered cheating. Nothing with Janice could be considered cheating, could it? ‘Cause she was such a slut that it barely even counted. And if he didn’t do anything back, if he just stood there and let her suck him off, well it was basically the same thing as jerking off, wasn’t it? Wasn’t it?!
Oh god, he was just like his father: making nonsensical justifications for infidelity. He was seriously going to die if Cerise didn’t come home soon. And she’d only been gone a week!
Lloyd drove them to their next gig as Bernie read a review from one of those free papers in
. “A good show, blah, blah, blah, high energy, blah, blah, charming female lead singer, um clever lyrics, blah, blah, ooh, talented drummer!” Toronto
“I’m charming,” beamed Cerise.
“I’m talented,” cheered Bernie.
Jeff ripped the paper out of Bernie’s hand and read it quickly. “The rest of us aren’t even mentioned. It’s like we don’t exist.”
“Better than saying we suck,” shrugged Tom.
“I’m talented,” repeated Bernie.
“I’m charming,” smiled Cerise.
“Shut up,” glowered Jeff, picking up a different free newspaper. “This one was better. Even though it says we’re unpolished it at least mentions all of us.”
“But it was so short it barely existed,” said Tom. “It was just like, good show, blah, that’s it.”
“Better than bad show, blah, that’s it,” countered Jeff.
“The only bad review has been from that one fucking blogger from that stupid con and like no one even reads his blog so who gives a shit?,” said Lloyd.
“Tons of people read it!” insisted Jeff.
Bernie scoffed. “The only people who read it are like way into the Klingon scene, which at this point is just like my grandpa and a couple die-hard Michael Dorn fans. I seriously don’t think it matters.”
“Seriously,” nodded Tom. “This trip is going fucking awesome.”
“Except now I know why we don’t live in
. Are they fucking serious with this traffic?” asked Lloyd. “Someone else drive, I’m seriously about to kill myself.” Toronto
They were stopped dead so it was easy for Cerise to swap sweats with Lloyd. It was a van that originally could seat seven but the bench at the back had been removed to accommodate all their gear. Since there were now only four seats someone always had to sit on the floor in the back, squeezed in with all their junk. Today Cerise was back there so she quickly called dibs when Lloyd asked for someone else to drive. She crawled to the front and did a little dance with him as she took the driver’s seat.
The guys argued back and forth about what to have for dinner that night, which was ridiculous since they ended up having pizza 90% of the time anyway but whatever, Cerise was having too much fun to care.
Karine walked into the bakery only to have Terry leave a second later. He was apparently going to hang out with Cerise’s family, which was totally weird since Cerise wasn’t going to be there. Had he really become so obsessed with Cherry angel that he was entrenched with her family now? Freak.
Oh well, Karine supposed she’d hang out anyway. Mike was meeting her here and until then she could hang with the guys. Jay and Karl arrived and they all swapped stories about shitty customers. It was good times.
“I think it’s a bad idea,” said Terry with finality.
“Me too,” nodded Simone. “It’s a bad call Ripley, a bad call!”
Cerise’s canned laughter came through the computer speakers. She was sitting in a hotel room and it was kind of hard to hear her with those Parisses Squares dudes making noise in the background. Terry wanted to yell at them to shut up but thought Cerise’s mom might find that rude.
Terry sat with Angela and Simone in their den, which was somewhat nostalgic for him, as it reminded him of the brief period when he’d stayed with the Laframboise’s. That had been fun. Way more convenient than living in NDG. These days he had to fight traffic every day and it was seriously starting to wear on him. He didn’t understand why so many people lived so far away from their jobs and endured long commutes every day. He was supposedly in the prime of his life; young and energetic and yet he couldn’t stand it. Maybe he should ask to move back in here while Cerise was gone. There was an empty bedroom upstairs and they could probably use his help with… lawn mowing or something. Would it be totally weird to ask?
“So, what do you think, Cerise?” asked Angela, raising her voice to be heard over the cacophony on the other end, which wasn’t necessary since Cerise was wearing ear buds.
“I dunno. I actually think maybe it would be good for her. Well, I mean it would for sure be good for her. It would be a nice thing for you to do.”
“But she’s your stalker!” protested Terry.
“She’s not my stalker. She’s just lonely and has a shitty family. Maybe it would help her be more normal if she got a job.”
“But that’s just the point, isn’t it?” said Simone. “Shauna’s not normal. Forget about all the stalker crap. Is she qualified to work at mom’s bookstore?”
“She most certainly isn’t,” said Angela. “Not in the slightest.”
“But neither was I until I started working there. Neither was Trista,” countered Cerise.
“What’s a Trista?” asked Bernie, looming over Cerise and leaning down, his face hovering in front of her screen.
Cerise swatted him away as the other guys laughed. “Would you guys just fucking go? I’m trying to have a conversation here!”
“Oooh, I love you so much Terry!” said Lloyd in a sing-song voice.
“I’m talking to my family!” snapped Cerise.
They were in a Holiday Inn, a hotel above their pay grade but they’d decided to splurge to celebrate their recent successes. Cerise even went ahead and paid for wi-fi access but was beginning to regret it if the guys were going to be annoying the entire night. Hadn’t they said they were going out to dinner?
“So we eating or what?” asked Tom.
“How many times you gonna keep being nice to this girl? She’s a freak!” insisted Terry.
“Yep, let’s motor,” confirmed Bernie.
“She’s not a freak!” said Cerise. “You’re so mean. A few years ago I was just like her.”
“No you weren’t,” countered Terry.
“Just like who?” asked Jeff.
“Come on, let’s go. You coming Cerise?” asked Lloyd.
“Sure she was,” snickered Simone.
“Hello, Cerise?” Bernie plucked an ear bud out of Cerise’s ear and whispered loudly. “Are you coming to dinner?!”
Cerise slapped Bernie on the arm and took back the ear bud. “No, I gotta talk to my family. It’s important. You guys go ahead.”
“Aren’t you hungry?” asked Tom.
“I’ll get something later.”
“We have a show later.”
“Then I’ll get some fries at the bar or whatever. Just… I need to talk to my family now, ok?”
“Ok, I’ll bring you back a slice,” replied Tom. “You coming, Jeff?”
“Uh, I’m not really hungry yet… I’ll get something at the bar too.”
“Yeah,” snorted Bernie. “Could you be more obvious about it?”
Finally Cerise was alone and the noise died down. Terry was grateful for Simone’s presence because she kept saying things he wanted to, but in a more eloquent way.
“Kick her to the curb. She’s a total whack-job. Point final.” Ok, maybe not all that eloquent.
“I agree she’s a little odd,” nodded Angela. “But I do feel badly for her. I’ve always found her parents to be somehow off. And their house is too clean. It’s unnatural.”
“Seriously?” asked Cerise. “You’re not gonna hire her ‘cause her house is too clean?”
“No, I’m saying we should give her a chance because her mother is obviously OCD. It can’t have been easy growing up in that house,” said Cerise’s mom.
“Oh yeah, well I agree,” said Cerise, nodding. “Her parents are more than just OCD. They’re like totally evil. She’s totally scared of them.”
“So? Everyone hates their parents,” scoffed Terry. “That doesn’t mean you hang out in porta potties or run away and… ok, bad example.” Cerise looked at him wryly through the screen. “It’s totally different with me. When I ran away I… well I mean I didn’t come here and… well I didn’t just hang out on the porch! Simone, a little help?”
Simone snickered. “Yeah, it is different. Well it’s a matter of consent, right? You came to Cerise with your problem because she’s your friend. Shauna came to Cerise because she’s a mental case.”
“No, it’s exactly the same,” countered Cerise. “Shauna and I were friends. It was my own meanitude to ditch her. I can’t be pissed because she tries to continue the friendship.”
“Of course you can be pissed!” insisted Terry. “When you dump someone they’re supposed to stay away!”
“Yeah, like you stayed away when Cerise dumped you,” said Simone with a smirk.
Terry made an irritated noise but he couldn’t defend himself any longer. They were right, he was no better than Porta-potty chick. He was totally a Cerise stalker just as much as this Shauna girl. And yet Cerise kept taking him back and kept giving stalker girl second chances. She was such a good person; so unselfish. He had to be grateful for that and he couldn’t really expect Cerise to have one set of rules for him and another for everyone else.
“Ok well,” Terry sighed. “If you hire this girl, just be careful I guess. I’ll be right across the street. So if she does anything weird, just call me and I’ll be right over.”
“What are you, Chuck Norris?” snickered Simone.
“I think we’ll be fine, Terry, but thank you,” said Angela, patting him on the arm.
God, why were they being so condescending! It’s like nobody realized how dangerous this girl could possibly be! Would they all be so chill if it was a dude? Just because stalker girl was a chick didn’t mean she was harmless. As he tried to think of an intelligent way to make this point Angela went on to say how she’d hire Shauna just for the summer so even if it went badly, it’s not like she was making a long-term commitment.
Terry sighed and resigned himself to the situation. They all said goodbye to Cerise and Terry headed home as he’d promised to take care of Britt that night. He sure hoped these Raspberries knew what they were doing.